"Super Heroics" by Mark Newport at Arizona State University Art Museum: Fiber artist and ASU professor Mark Newport pokes fun at traditional gender roles by using the feminine art of knitting to make manly superhero costumes. His empty Daredevil and Spiderman suits hang flaccidly from the museum walls, waiting for someone to fill them, but no one can. They're cable-knit versions of the unrealistic expectations our culture places on men, and they're nothing short of brilliant. Through Sept. 3. 10th St. and Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-965-2787. -- L.P.
"Surrealism U.S.A." at Phoenix Art Museum: This spirited exhibition that includes works by artists such as Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Robert Motherwell is the first major survey of American surrealism in 25 years. Some of the works are as melodramatic as a 13-year-old's art project. But whether the art is good or bad isn't the point. One of Surrealism's basic tenets was that such snotty aesthetic distinctions didn't amount to a hill of melted watches. It's an idea that lives to this day in popular culture. Through Sept. 25. 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-257-1222. -- L.P.
"Water, Water Everywhere" at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: There's not a stale idea in sight in this water-themed exhibition of work by artists from around the world. The show includes a video about the injustices of the cruise ship business, and another about sexism and jellyfish. But the piece that will haunt you is Brazilian Rivane Neuenschwander's video about transience and loss. Fish swim in an aquarium, each pulling a lone word on a banner. The fish -- inconsequential creatures bearing misunderstood messages -- are a suitable metaphor for existence in an age that can leave one feeling like bait. Through Sept. 4. 7374 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, 480-484-ARTS. -- L.P.
"Fur, Feathers, Family: Our Relationship With Animals" at ASU Art Museum: Aimed at kids, this group show broaches the grim aspects of our treatment of the beasts as well as the happy ones. A pair of etchings by British artist Sue Coe will rip out your heart. One shows a sad little bear trapped in a roadside zoo; the other, a farmer tending a mother pig and her bouncing babies as buzzards circle overhead. It's as subtle as a tire iron, but that naive muckraking is what makes Coe's work so wrenching. Through Aug. 6. 10th St. and Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-965-2787. -- L.P.
"Will Wilson: Auto Immune Response" at the Heard Museum: How do you survive in a postapocalyptic world? According to Will Wilson, the key to survival lies in an understanding of the past. The Navajo photographer explores this, as well as the concepts of Native American identity and connection to the land, through a series of powerful, in-your-face, mixed-media and photo-based installations. Wilson draws from his own past (the alienation felt as a child in exile at Phoenix Indian School) and that of his people to produce moving images that challenge established stereotypes of Native American art and the people who create it. Most poignant is a life-size steel hogan -- a refashioning of the traditional dwelling and its contents as a result of exposure to Anglo society and technology. "Auto Immune Response" is part of the museum's series "Artspeak: New Voices in Contemporary Art." Through September. 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-252-8848. -- C.C.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Phoenix art and theater scene.