art beat

Eye on the Ball

The spectacle surrounding the Super Bowl and big-league sports in general easily pulls a wandering attention span away from the on-field drama and intensity.

Whether at the stadium or on the couch, the experience is saturated with distraction: listen to this, look at that, buy this.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons David Rathman’s high school football paintings look so strange and unique. Set in rural Montana, the small-squad football scenes strip the sport of the sideshow.

What’s left is a focused portrait of the game at its purest.

“Home and Away,” which runs through March 10 at the Weinstein Gallery, includes more than 15 new watercolor and ink paintings by the Minneapolis artist.

Most of the paintings are based on photographs Rathman took of six- and eight-man games in small Montana towns near his boyhood home.

Where we’re used to seeing truckloads of advertisements, the sidelines give way to big November skies. Hills shoot up beyond a flat line horizon dotted with the occasional pick-up truck.

The artist says personal memories were one thing that drew him to the project, but also what interested him was that the high school players “are men, but they still show the boy.” The body types include the sturdy, the stocky and the substitutes. Gear in the paintings include uniforms, helmets, shoulder pads and gloves.

Devoid of big stadiums and hype, they describe boys playing the game for the love of the sport.

Rathman lives and works in Minneapolis. “Home and Away” is his first show in the city since “Dialogues” at the Walker Art Center in 2002. That show revolved around dark, humorous paintings derived from classic Old Western films.

His last project was “Somebody’s Got to Go,” a look at the grit and melodrama in the boxing ring.

Rathman’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, including at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, Galerie Weiland in Berlin and the Clementine Gallery, also in New York.

His work is also in permanent collections at the Walker Art Center, the Art Institute of Chicago, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

“Home and Away” runs through March 10 at the Weinstein Gallery, 908 W. 46th St. 822-1722. www.weinstein-gallery.com.

Art beat

Badlands, good art

LOWRY HILL – It’s a landscape so odd, visitors could swear they’d somehow stepped onto Mars.

It’s so alien, in fact, that directors inserted scenes from Badlands National Park as a backdrop when Bruce Willis and his crew landed on the doomsday asteroid in the 1998 film Armageddon.

The scenery captivated the artistic eye of East Isles painter Charles Lyon, too.

In a Groveland Gallery exhibit simply titled “Badlands,” Lyon displays the work of a month-long artist residency at the geologically bizarre South Dakota park.

“The real key for me was trying to get what the color is like out there,” Lyon said. “The soils are very neutral in color and reflect what is going on in the sky. If there’s a brilliant sunset, they pick up those oranges.”

Lyon’s medium is oil painting, but the park’s routinely extreme weather made it nearly impossible to paint in the field, he said. So, instead, he spent his time drawing and taking photographs.

Since he returned from the October 2005 trip, he’s worked on reconstructing and altering his images into oil paintings on canvas at his Northeast Minneapolis studio. Twenty-two are featured in the Groveland exhibition.

“I tried to get to some areas that were less accessible, where hiking and camping was required, to get some unique views,” Lyon said.

One of the paintings includes a bison, but the rest focus on only the park’s landscape, which is what interested the former Arizona resident most about the area.

“I thought the Badlands was a very unique area in that you have desert-like forms, yet you also have prairie grasses,” he said.

“Badlands” opens Jan. 26 and runs through March 3 at the Groveland Gallery, 25 Groveland Terrace. 377-7800. www.grovelandgallery.com

Snapshots

The show’s title is a mouthful: “Pictures of People and Things I Take Pictures of Taking Pictures of People.”

An opening reception Jan. 26 at the Soo Visual Arts Center welcomes home photographer and former Lifter Puller drummer Dan Monick.

Monick was born and raised in Minneapolis and currently lives in Los Angeles, where he does commercial and magazine work for the likes of Spin, Vice and Fader. He also co-curates a gallery, works with a T-shirt company and is involved in several book projects, including one on the history of local hip-hop crew Rhyme Sayers.

The gallery calls Monick’s work “street photography,” a laid-back style he developed while touring across the country in Lifter Puller. His subjects range from people to hand-scrawled signs.

The Soo Visual Arts Center show features a glimpse of his current work, rarely shown in the Midwest.

“Pictures of People and Things I Take Pictures of Taking Pictures of People” opens Jan. 26 and runs through Feb. 24 at the Soo Visual Arts Center, 2640 Lyndale Ave. S. $2. 871-2263. www.soovac.org.

art beat

Connecting to nature

A sculptor who uses organic materials and earth tones to tie her work to nature will be showcased in an exhibition this month at the Tychman Shapiro Gallery at the Sabes Jewish Community Center.

Jody Winger, a graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, has had her work shown at Art Attack, the Hemmingway Ceramics Gallery and the Columbus Museum in Georgia.

Alongside her show &#8220Sifting” at the community center will be &#8220Lost and Finding” by Aimee Orkin. The show is described as a celebration of life's journeys through joy, sorrow and Jewish rituals. Orking currently teaches art at the Minneapolis Jewish Day School.

&#8220Sifting” and &#8220Lost and Finding” run Jan. 14 through Feb. 22 at the Tychman Shapiro Gallery, 4330 S. Cedar Lake Road. 952-381-3416. www.sabesjcc.org.

Coloring winter

As of writing this, the colors of winter in Minneapolis this year have been mostly shades of browns.

The Museum of Russian Art is promising something less drab than our snowless December in a new exhibition called &#8220Colors of a Russian Winter.”

The show, which opens Jan. 8, includes 52 paintings showing the diversity of Russian winter life.

&#8220This exhibition is definitely not a visual reincarnation of scenes from the movie ‘Dr. Zhivago,' on which many people base their views of winter in Russia,” said Bradford Shinkle IV, president and director of the museum. &#8220To the contrary, the exhibition is structured to bring life and color to the cold season, and to dispel the notion that winter in Russia is simply a panorama of white ice and snow.”

The paintings show people conducting their daily lives and enjoying the &#8220seasonal realities” of the Russian climate - skiing and sledding, even in the arctic region. It's all something Shinkle said many Minnesotans will be able to relate to.

&#8220Colors of a Russian Winter” runs Jan. 8 through April 21 at The Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Ave. S. 821-9045. www.tmora.org. $5.