Art: Soap Factory's 'R.U.R.' | Updated 3/1/2013

Saturday: The Soap Factory’s group exhibit explores themes of man vs. machine.

Katie Murken’s “Continua,” part of “R.U.R.” at the Soap Factory.



Over the past quarter-century, John Snyder has dipped deep into American folk painting, pre-Renaissance Italian frescoes, arts-and-crafts porcelain, Hudson River landscapes, Buddhist cave painting and, most recently, imagery from Africa and Oceania. From this heady stew of images and ideas he has concocted vast tableaux of allegorical figures caught up in enigmatic stories. Now settled near Decorah, Iowa, Snyder returns to Minneapolis for his first show in a decade, with woodcuts, drawings and paintings on new themes and moral conundrums. Nothing is simple or straightforward in his elaborate pictures, but their narrative power is always arresting. (Free opening reception 6-9 p.m. Fri. Ends April 6. Bockley Gallery, 2123 W. 21st St., Mpls. 612-377-4669 or Mary Abbe




Many have speculated that humanity is becoming more robotlike. But the man-vs.-machine conflict is an old one, as evidenced by a 1921 Czech play about an artificial man who overthrows his master, “R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).” The Soap Factory’s latest exhibit takes its name and inspiration from that play (which coined the term “robot”), exploring the role of handmade work in the age of mechanical reproduction. Site-specific works by nine artists — including Amy Ritter’s blown-glass sculptures formed by denim jeans and Katie Murken’s towering stacks of hand-dyed phone books — seek to question what constitutes “real” and “artificial” in a time when that line has blurred. (Free opening reception 7-11 p.m. Sat. Ends April 21. The Soap Factory, 514 SE. 2nd St., Mpls. Jahna Peloquin