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Weekend picks: From Rock the Garden to Northern Spark, let’s revel in the festival season

Plus: Lela Pierce at the Bockley Gallery, Davu Seru at Jazz Central Studios, Teatro del Pueblo’s “Real Women Have Curves” and “Take Root Among the Stars: Black Abstraction in the Midwest” at SooVAC.

Bockley Gallery is extending the run of Lela Pierce’s first exhibition at the gallery, and hosting a reception this Friday.
Bockley Gallery is extending the run of Lela Pierce’s first exhibition at the gallery, and hosting a reception this Friday.
Bockley Gallery

Summer festival season is in full swing this week. If you play your cards right on Saturday, you could conceivably attend Rock the Garden at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and then take the train to St. Paul to Northern Spark. Why not? The solstice approaches and you might as well soak up this wonderful weather and goodness while it lasts. Also this week, stop by Bockley Gallery on Friday night for a reception for Lela Pierce; then on Saturday, familiarize yourself with Black abstractionists from the Midwest at SooVAC. Teatro del Pueblo presents “Real Women Have Curves” this week, and Davu Seru takes the stage at Jazz Central Studios with members of No Territory Band.

Lela Pierce: ‘Variations on a Sun Star’

Bockley Gallery is extending the run of Lela Pierce’s first exhibition at the gallery, and hosting a reception this Friday. In “Variations on a Sun Star,” Pierce draws on iconography from her African and European ancestry to explore notions of rebirth and transformation. The walls of Bockley Gallery have been painted black for the exhibition, making Pierce’s bold colors and geometric forms pop. Evoking the concept of the African Sankofa, which often manifests as a bird looking over one’s shoulder, to “Ukrainian eggs” (pysansky), Pierce’s work creates a spiritual, de-colonialized space. Reception held 5-7 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Bockley Gallery, through June 18 (free). More information here.

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Davu Seru

Composer/percussionist Davu Seru brings the audience along on a journey of experimental sound and rhythms Friday night when he takes over Jazz Central Studios in St. Paul. Seru will be performing with trombone player JC Sanford and Levi Schwartzberg on vibraphone, both of the group Seru composes for, No Territory Band. They’ll be playing originals and work by modern composers. 8 p.m. at Jazz Central Studios and livestreamed ($10). More information here.

Abigail Chagolla in a scene from “Real Women Have Curves.”
Teatro del Pueblo
Abigail Chagolla in a scene from “Real Women Have Curves.”

‘Real Women Have Curves’

The film, “Real Women Have Curves,” shot a young America Ferrera to fame back in 2002 with its message of hope and body positive message. The play the movie is based on, by Josefina López, dates back to 1990, and its message rings true today just as it did at its premiere. Taking place in a sewing factory in East Los Angeles, the story touches on the Latina immigrant experience, gender politics and resilience of a community in a racist and anti-immigrant society, and learning to love one’s own body and identity. Co-directors Adlyn Carreras and Lelis Brito take on a new retelling of the story for today’s world, in a production by Teatro del Pueblo. Among the cast, watch out for the ever talented Xochi de la Luna as Rosali. 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 10-Sunday, June 12, through June 26 at the Conn Theatre inside Plymouth Congregational, 1900 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis ($23). More information here.

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‘Change is God-Take Root Among the Stars: Black Abstraction in the Midwest’

Curator Gregory J. Rose has organized an exhibition of Black abstract artists all based in the Midwest, opening this week at SooVAC in Minneapolis. Each of the artists shares who they are and their stories, taking space and being in this place they call home. Taking its title from science fiction writer Octavia Butler’s “The Earthseed Books,” the show offers new ways of thinking about Black expressionism in the aftermath of tremendous world change. Among the artists in the show are Ta-Coumba Aiken, Christopher E. Harrison and Sarah White, among others. Opening reception 7-10 p.m. Saturday, June 11, through July 31 (free). More information here.

Low
Courtesy of the Walker Art Center
Low

Rock the Garden

Low is getting another stab at Rock the Garden, after a rather controversial appearance back in 2013. That year, the beloved Duluth band caused eyebrows to rise by their extended drone music jam session that went on for nearly 30 minutes. Perhaps more hotly anticipated is the appearance of Riot Grrrl-era band Sleater Kinney, featuring the star of “Portlandia,” Carrie Brownstein, along with Corin Tucker. Also joining the two-stage lineup is Bombino, beabadoobee, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Divide and Dissolve, and DāM-FunK. 1-10 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden ($84). More information here.

Painting of a turtle on water with an Anishinaabe medicine wheel on its back by Sylvia Houle.
Northern Spark
Painting of a turtle on water with an Anishinaabe medicine wheel on its back by Sylvia Houle.

Northern Spark

The annual Northern Spark Festival heads to St. Paul this year, with interactive art and performance taking place in the Rondo, Frogtown and Little Mekong neighborhoods. This year’s festival is themed around re-connection, memory and letting go. It’s kind of like giving yourself a re-start after more than two years of living during COVID and all that has happened since 2020.

Look for projects like “Post Office to the Ancestors” at the Victoria Theater Arts Center, or the live, improvised shadow puppets of “The Official Bureau of Lost Things,” created by Felicia Cooper, Kallie Melvin & Alex Young. If you can stay up that late, the closing event led by Sequoia Hauck and collaborators at 2 a.m. at Raspberry Island should be a treat. There’s going to be a large installation of two cloth rivers that span the island in a multi-sensory experience of music, storytelling and movement. 9 p.m. Saturday, June 11, through 5:30 a.m. Sunday, June 12, at various locations in St. Paul (free). More information here.