Time on your hands this holiday weekend? Unexcited about the wall-to-wall football games on TV?

The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Toledo Museum of Art would each like a word with you.

Both museums have special shows up now — “30 Americans” and “Degas and the Dance,” respectively — that are well worth the trip, no matter where you live in the metro area.

The DIA’s “30 Americans,” which comes down Jan. 18, is a show of 31 contemporary African-American artists drawn from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.

“The work deals with a range of topics,” says Valerie Mercer, curator and department head at the DIA’s General Motors Center for African-American Art, “but I guess the overarching idea is the complexity of identity, especially African-American identity. The artists deal with race, gender, sexuality, politics as well as cultural issues.”

This special exhibition highlights some of the most important black American artists working today, including Cranbrook Academy of Art grad Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Carrie Mae Weems, Mickalene Thomas and Hank Willis Thomas.

Mercer notes the show underlines the evolution in African-American portraiture over the past century.

“Artists in the Harlem Renaissance tended to depict African Americans in dignified poses,” she says, “to overturn the legacy of racist imagery. But current artists have advanced beyond that, and have the freedom to present African Americans in much more complex ways. So the work can on occasion be provocative.”

Serenity, not provocation, is the underlying theme of “Degas and the Dance” in Toledo, up through Jan. 10.

This boutique show — nowhere near as large as the DIA’s 2002 “Degas and the Dance” — brings together works from the TMA’s own collection as well as loans from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to name just a few.

In addition to bronzes and paintings, the free show features six Degas sculptures, including the iconic “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” from the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.

‘30 Americans’

Through Jan. 18

Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward, Detroit

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sunday (closed Thanksgiving Day)

$17.50 adults, $10.50 children (includes regular admission plus special exhibition); $13.50 adults, $8.50 children for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb residents

(313) 833-7900

‘Degas and the Dance’

Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe, Toledo

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays (closed Thanksgiving Day)


(419) 255-8000

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