Tag Archives: Jerry’s Bar

Nadia Shinkunas

June 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The shapes and forms in many of Nadia Shinkunas’ works have a geometric rigidity about them. To achieve their three-dimensional feel, the angles are sharp and defined. Her career path, on the other hand, is anything but a straight line. 

Born in San Bernardino, California, Shinkunas’ family moved to Iowa when she was 5 years old. She returned to California to study at Riverside City College in 2002. In 2005, she moved to Omaha and took photography classes at Metro Community College. She later studied at the Omaha School of Massage Therapy, and moved to Tulsa in 2008. A year later, she returned to Omaha and considered studying architecture, but instead opted to pursue a field in sculpture. In 2014, she received a Bachelor of Studio Arts at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Her education isn’t done yet, though. This year, she is pursuing a tattooist apprenticeship at Artists Unbound. 

“I love everything about tattooing,” Shinkunas says from her studio in Council Bluffs. “I always thought it would be a really cool thing for me to do, but I never focused on drawing.” 

On top of the 30 to 40 hours she puts in a week at her apprenticeship, Shinkunas also runs Random Arts (formerly Random Arts Omaha). The group stages pop-up art exhibits each month with several artists participating in each exhibit. 

“The theme is always really loose,” Shinkunas says. “But even if the theme is love, you can still make a piece about anger or hate, because it all connects.” 

One of Random Arts’ exhibits last year, Portrait of a President, was nominated for an Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award for Best Presentation in a Non-Traditional Format.

Shinkunas’ experience with running exhibits began in 2012 when she submitted a piece of work for Benson First Friday. Alex Jochim, director of Benson First Friday, saw her work at one of the events. Soon after, Shinkunas was asked to handle the First Friday events at Jerry’s Bar. 

“I love working with Nadia,” Jochim says. “She’s all about helping artists in the community.” 

Laura Vranes and John McIntyre, two notable art collectors in Omaha, saw one of Shinkunas’ earliest First Friday forays at Jerry’s Bar. Impressed with Shinkunas’ energy and creativity, the couple began working with her on the Random Arts exhibits. McIntyre focused on promotions while Vranes contacted other artists to submit their work.

 “The common thread was to help Omaha artists have a voice—to be seen by more people,” McIntyre says. 

Like many artists, Shinkunas has worked “non-art” jobs to pay the rent. But last year, one of those jobs briefly sidelined her artistic work. While working in the bakery at Costco, Shinkunas began to experience pain in her arm. She went to the doctor, and had two MRIs. She went back to work, and the pain got worse. 

“I was at work, and my left arm just went dead,” Shinkunas says. “It felt like all my bones were being crushed by a huge vice.” 

More doctor visits followed. She was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Then more tests showed she didn’t have an auto-immune disease. She left Costco and went on disability, and the pain started lessening. 

“Now, I have no pain at all,” Shinkunas says. 

This July, Shinkunas’ work will be featured as part of an exhibit in the Michael Phipps Gallery, located on the first floor of the W. Dale Clark Main Library. She’ll share the exhibit with two other artists, Joe Addison and Jamie Hardy. In August, her work will be displayed at Petshop in Benson. Between the apprenticeship and the upcoming exhibits, Shinkunas said she had to put Random Arts on hiatus. 

“With everything else going on, I don’t have time,” Shinkunas says, but not before adding with a laugh, “unless someone wants to pay me.”  

Shinkunas does not take a commission for Random Arts. She says she took on the role because she wanted to see how different artists interpret a theme. 

“Solo shows are great, and I love them, but seeing 50 artists together, and their ideas of love or hate is really, really cool,” Shinkunas says.


Visit nadiashinkunas.com to learn more about the artist. 

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Encounter. 

It’s a Sexy Weekend of Mud Play, Beer Bellies, and Art

May 17, 2018 by

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Saturday, May 19: Play like a kid again (and bring the real kids, of course) at Fontenelle Forest’s Mud Day this Saturday, a partnership with the Henry Doorly Zoo designed to make you forget your adult-world worries. You can go for a barefoot hike, dig in the dirt, build a mud castle, make some tracks, and even do a little mud painting. No matter what you decide on doing, just be sure to have fun. And don’t do too much adult overthinking. There will be a cleanup station available as well, though you may want to bring along a towel or two. Also, (in case you didn’t know) you can rent a family membership to Fontenelle Forest for the day from your local library in Omaha, Bellevue, or Council Bluffs! Keep track of all the fun you can have at Fontenelle here.

Thursday, May 17: Start winding down a little early this weekend while learning about local food as you grab a drink and make some new friends. Head to No More Empty Cups for their Local Food Happy Hour w/ Cooper Farm Urban Ag Education Center with program coordinator and Extension educator John Porter. You may want to RSVP to this free event, as space on the beautiful NMEC patio is limited. Keep in mind donations are certainly welcome, so even if you can’t attend in person, you can still feel good about doing good by donating online here. Find out more about the space here and RSVP to the event here.

Friday, May 18: Experience the culmination of the Rad Women of Omaha service learning project at the Omaha Design Center. Curated by artist-in-residence Kim Darling, this collaboration was inspired by the book Rad American Women from A to Z, by Kate Schatz. The project developed at Blackburn Alternative Program (in collaboration with University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Speech-Language students, the UNO Writing Center, and the UNO Service Learning Academy). This show will feature artwork inspired by real women of Omaha, and includes both narrative and visual works. Learn more about the project and the event here.

Pick of the Week—Friday, May 18 to Saturday, May 19: Get to Elkhorn this weekend for the Main Street Studios Open House. This is a two-day event, so even if you can’t make it out on Friday, you have all day Saturday to check out the updates, new exhibits, live blues and jazz music, and of course, all the new artwork! Plus, if you’re going out on Saturday you can check out the “Alley Gallery.” Appetizers and (free!) beer and wine will be offered throughout, as well as some tasty apps. Get more info about the event and the space here.

Sunday, May 20: Drink beer and do some good this Sunday by attending Beer Bellies for Full Bellies at Jerry’s Bar in Benson. This event has it all: a silent auction, live raffle, drink specials, T-shirts, and button making! Best of all, your beer drinking habits will benefit the Food Bank of the Heartland. Plus, a Food Bank staffer will be on-site showing off the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen and letting you know how your donations will benefit children in the Omaha community. Get all the details here.