The mentor-student relationship is a defining experience for many successful artists. An exhibition spotlighting the Minneapolis College of Art and Design MFA Mentor Program explores this relationship through the work of seven students paired with their mentors. The connecting thread between the pairings — whether reciprocal action, effect or influence — is at the heart of the exhibit. Among the mentors are illustrator Allen Brewer and renowned interactive designer Piotr Szyhalski, who also serves as co-director for Art(ists) on the Verge, a mentor-based fellowship program. (Free opening reception 6-9 p.m. Thu. Ends Feb. 24. Burnet Gallery at Le Méridien Chambers, 901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-767-6900 or www.lemeridienchambers.com/art.) Jahna Peloquin
When the independent gallery Art of This closed in 2011, the Twin Cities lost a unique voice in cutting-edge arts programming. Thankfully, AOT co-director David Petersen got back on the scene when he opened his own gallery last fall. With its focus on commerce and developing collectors, the David Petersen Gallery is a decidedly more grown-up venture that aims to exist within the broader context of the international art world. Its latest exhibition, “Softside,” features the work of McKnight Foundation fellowship recipient Joe Smith, a Minneapolis-based painter, sculptor and photographer. The exhibition combines Smith’s three media to explore the possibilities within an expanded field of painting. Judging by this show, it looks as though Petersen still has a knack for showcasing the experimental and the innovative. (Free opening reception 7-9 p.m. Fri. Ends March 16. David Petersen Gallery, 2018 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. 612-276-6541 or www.davidpetersengallery.com.) J.P.
Heads up, painting fans. For the first time in 12 years, Walker Art Center has organized a painting show. Featuring recent work by 15 young artists from Europe and the United States, it promises an exploration of “new directions in abstraction.” While deeply skeptical about the relevance of the medium, Walker curators decided to trust the artists to do whatever they do. The sample pictures include smears, daubs and spatters on shaped canvases and boards in post-modern hues. Who knows what surprises await? (Free on Sat. Panel discussion with artists 3 p.m. Sat., $10. Open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Wed. & Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thu. Ends Aug. 11. $8-$12; free Thursday evenings. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 612-375-7600 or www.walkerart.org.)Mary Abbe