Visual arts guide: What’s going on in the galleries

Samurai!
Samurai!

Through April
‘Me Love You Long Time’
Through April 7
Mills Gallery
Boston Center for the Arts
Free, 617-426-5000
www.bcaonline.org
This exhibit is a survey of two decades of contemporary art, mostly by artists of South Asian extraction. The list of more than 50 participating artists or collectives is too long to copy here, but the sheer number should give you an idea of just how crazy-extensive it is.

Betsyann Duval
and Laurie Alpert
April 3 through 27
Bromfield Gallery
450 Harrison Ave., Boston
Free, 617-451-3605
www.bromfieldgallery.com
Betsyann Duval’s contribution to this dual exhibition, “Infinite Progression,” began with a series of tiny paintings on sheets of adhesive note paper. Each was meant to be a tiny moment in time. Now, she’s expanded the concept into larger works that show a progression of moment. Laurie Alpert’s half, a set of prints and artist’s books entitled “Milori Blue,” takes a surprising subject for inspiration: the cracks, ridges, and paint drops on artist’s studio floor.

Karen Meninno: ‘Sculpture Remix’
April 3 through 28
Kingston Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston
Free, 617-423-4113
www.kingstongallery.com
The great challenge of cartography is to accurately render a three-dimensional object (the Earth) on a two-dimensional surface (the map). With these works, Karen Meninno is trying something similar — but in a much more abstract sense — by digitally manipulating her whimsical, oddly-shaped sculptures, transforming them into flat, symmetrical prints. Though the pieces have lost a spatial dimension, they seem to have gained, or perhaps revealed, a previously unknown artistic dimension.

Through May

Anders Zorn: ‘A European Artist Seduces America’
Through May 13
Isabella Stewart Gardner
Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, $5-$15, 617-566-1401
www.gardnermuseum.org
Victorian art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner was best known as a Renaissance enthusiast, but some of her museum’s jewels actually come from her own era. Among these are works by Swedish portrait master Anders Zorn, who was wildly popular in those days but tends to be forgotten today. One look at these vibrant works, which include paintings from Gardner’s collection as well as selections from museums across the world, will have you wondering why.

Views from Cape Cod and the Massachusetts Islands
April 3 through May 13
Panopticon Gallery
502c Comm. Ave., Boston
Free, 617-267-8929
www.panopticongallery.com
We know what you’re thinking: snapshots of the Cape and Islands? Yawn. But these photos by Neal Rantoul and Brian Kaplan are hardly typical postcard fare.
Through June
‘Portugal, Jesuits, and Japan: Spiritual Beliefs and Earthly Goods’
Through June 2
McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College
140 Comm. Ave., Chestnut Hill
Free, 617-552-8100
www.bc.edu
This exhibition features rare examples, on seven folding screens, of nanban art — 16th and 17th century Japanese works inspired by contact with European missionaries and merchants, whom the locals called “nanban-jin,” which translates, rather unflatteringly, to “southern barbarians.” A sense of the strangeness, even silliness of the European figures, with their comically profuse facial hair and oversized, balloon-like pants, is palpable — it’s an enlightening view from the other side of the cultural looking glass.

Through August

Samurai!
April 14 through August 4
Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Ave., Boston
$23-$25, 617-267-9300
www.mfa.org
Legends of the samurai, the knights of medieval Japan whose fierce warrior skills were matched only by their elevated code of honor, are so numerous and popular that it’s easy to forget that they, like their European counterparts, actually did exist. Anyone in need of proof should check out this fascinating exhibit of samurai armor and accoutrements from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection. And no, you can’t try it on. matthew dinaro

Through fall

Barry McGee
April 6 through September
Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave., Boston
$10-$15, 617-478-3100
www.icaboston.org
San Francisco-based artist Barry McGee first began showing in the ’80s — the era of AIDS panic and punk rock, two major influences on his early work. McGee also draws from graffiti, comics, hobo art and radical politics. He’s an artist as much at home in the street as in the gallery, and his work is always striking.


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