This week's must-see art shows

Austin Swearergin

Austin Swearergin ©2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Art doesn't always just have to be something you see. Sometimes it's a total experience. Whether you're walking outside through Franconia Sculpture Park for its 20th anniversary, letting the sounds and sights swirl around you in a dance at the American Swedish Institute, or you're at House of Balls for the special Munir Kahar exhibition, this week let art take you for a ride.


Artist Talk: Austin Swearergin

Where it's at: MAEP at Mia, 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis.

What it's about: Pencils, inhalers, and melted down pennies are just some of the materials artist Austin Swearengin uses for his latest exhibition, "Sweetheart the Rent Is Due‚" now on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as part of the museum's Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program. On Thursday, Swearengin will provide insight into his work, which transforms crude materials into a fictional narrative that reflects the daily struggle of being an artist.

Why you should go: With masks constructed of pennies, course drawings made out of pine, houseplants formed of brass, and other strange and poetic feats of imagination, Swearengin's latest exhibit is worth checking out. The artist talk gives you a chance to find out more about Swearengin's process in creating this mix of design and free association.

When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.



Munir Kahar Art Show

Where it's at: House of Balls, 1504 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis.

What it's about: Artist, musician, and performer Munir Kahar opens a solo exhibition at the fantastically weird House of Balls this week. Kahar, originally from Java, Indonesia, is a frequent collaborator with Barebones and In the Heart of the Beast, and plays for International Novelty Gamelan, among other groups, when he's not creating performance art. House of Balls' Allen Christian will also be showing work.

Why you should go: If you've ever been to the MayDay Parade or the annual Barebones Halloween Outdoor Puppetry Extravaganza, you've probably seen Kahar's work. For this show, you'll get a more in-depth look at Kahar's visual work, including his intricate, fantastical drawings based on life experiences.

When: 6 to 10:15 p.m. Friday.



Cocktails at the Castle

Where it's at: American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis.

What it's about: Public Functionary's Tricia Heuring steps in to curate Cocktails at the Castle: A Different Way of Seeing at the American Swedish Institute. The evening will include music, art, and socializing. On the the docket is iNMiGRATiON, improvisational music group sans le system, and an art installation provided by Jennifer Davis. DaNCEBUMS will be on hand with some pop-up dance performances, with DJ Sarah White setting the tone for the dance party. You can also visit ASI's latest exhibition, "A Different Way of Seeing‚" spanning a century of Swedish art from 1877 to 1990.

Why you should go: The deal with ASI's Cocktails at the Castle series is that it's more than just seeing art or performance. It's really all about the immersive experience of being surrounded by delicious sights and sounds, all while sipping a cocktail and having tasty bites. And don't forget: If you bike, your helmet unlocks discounts on drinks.

When: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $20.



Franconia Sculpture Park's 20th Anniversary

Where it's at: Franconia Sculpture Park, 29836 Saint Croix Trl, Shafer.

What it's about: After 20 years of nurturing artistic growth and creating beautiful, large-scale artwork in an idyllic setting, Franconia Sculpture Park is throwing itself a party. The all-day celebration features tours of new sculptures, food, puppetry, music, and lots of arts activities for all ages.

Why you should go: It's a wonderful time of year to visit Franconia. The leaves are starting to change color, and the brisk air invites easy walking as you visit the work artists have been creating all summer. Plus, seeing the sun go down over these magnificent sculptures is surely a sight to behold. So chill out to music by Bruise Violet and Communist Daughter, and take in performances by Open Eye as this wonderful institution looks toward another 20 years.

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free, but it's $5 to park.