Various Venues—Perhaps it's the anticipated fierceness of the political primary battle about to go down on our home turf or the endless glut of debates we've been subjected to, but the ongoing state primaries are definitely stirring an interest in larger-than-life heroic promises and themes on the local art scene right now (like, for instance, the recently closed Heroes show at Lump Gallery). In Come Super Tuesday, opening tonight at Flanders 311, Jonathon Kimbrell goes straight for the biggest do-gooders of all, creating superhero reality works depicting Batman, Spiderman, Captain America and company engaged in political rivalry rather than battling their usual forces of evil in the comics' pages. These works explore the iconic nature of character, reputation and ethics, with an enthusiasm suggesting that maybe Superman really could run the country better than a politician. The melding of such childlike innocence and optimism with the soaring promises of the campaign trail are an unlikely combination but Kimbrell's dead-on depiction style and strong comic book color palette are highly convincing.
Rachel Herrick's works at Artspace are robustly physical while they investigate the delicate topic of familial nurturing. Online previews of her latest mixed media pieces, titled Rescue, signal they are literally about the sensitive nature and complexity of our contemporary relationships.
Of all places, Herrick found inspiration in an old lifeguard manual from the 1920s: She noticed how the depicted rescue moves and techniques could just as easily inflict even more bodily harm upon drowning swimmers. Utilizing this odd yin and yang as a starting point, Herrick has crafted works that are intricate juxtapositions of word and image, all the while portraying an odd sense of mystery—like trying to decipher some weird Prohibition-era, wrestling-family's values. Their effect is a bit like the notion of family itself: caring, loving and sensitive yet layered with its own frustrations, ambiguities and individual yearnings.
Over in the warehouse district, DesignBox opens Matt McConnell's Momentum. McConnell's show harnesses geometry in poetic studies that use a wide variety of materials, such as steel, glass and acrylic. Using the raw basic stuff of the world around us such as motion, time and the forces of physics, he has crafted elegant swooping works that also display an acute sensitivity to material finesse. The delicate balancing act and abstraction occurring in the composition of these works brings to mind cyclic forms found in the natural world in leaves, seed pods and shells. Pay attention to the play of light and shadow when viewing the pieces' edges, lines and planes: The elegant simplicity and economy of means warrant prolonged inspection and attention to process. —Dave Delcambre
Local 506—Langhorne Slim's songs—led with the urgency of a punk-influenced acoustic guitar and backed by a drums/ upright bass combo called The War Eagles—smack you in the face, his beautiful, frustrated, pleading voice an invitation to the flitting truth that we are alone together. His shows are high-energy and somehow intimate, acoustic dance parties with rock 'n' roll catharsis. Pay $8 at 9 p.m. for openers American Aquarium and The New Familiars. —Andrew Ritchey
The Arcade Fire, Superchunk
Carrboro Town Commons—Barring inclement weather, the area around Carrboro Town Commons Friday afternoon will be more crowded than the law may allow. But don't fret: A shade tree a few hundred yards away should do just fine, as the two bands playing this Early Voting drive supporting Barack Obama's presidential bid—Superchunk, the flagship of Durham-based label Merge Records, and its superstars, The Arcade Fire—are nothing if not emphatic and pretty loud. Superchunk's tightly wound, pogo-pushing anthems have been indie-rock kindling for going on two decades now. This marks the band's first local appearance in two years. The Arcade Fire hasn't visited Carrboro since a sold-out Cradle show in 2005: In the meantime, its charging, rambunctious melodicism has taken the band to the cover of Spin alongside Bruce Springsteen, to an awkward guitar-smash spot on Saturday Night Live and to the No. 2 spot on The Billboard 200. Whether or not you're on their preferred side of this year's scrap for the Democratic nomination, this double-bill is as perfect as they come. Gates open at 1 p.m. —Grayson Currin