Tag Archives: photography

Eye Vibe

August 30, 2017 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

Twenty-six-year-old Omaha native Michael Garrett isn’t simply a photographer—he’s a visual communicator. “I’m a photographer, graphic designer, content creator, and  overall creative,” he says.

The son of a hardworking single mother, the University of Nebraska-Omaha senior grew up around 18th and Pinkney streets and the now-defunct projects near 30th and Lake streets. Eventually, he transferred to South High School, where he experienced yet another segment of Omaha’s  diverse demographic. Despite his challenging circumstances, he managed to beat the odds and will soon be the first college graduate in his family.

As the founder of MGPhotog and co-founder of The Creative Genius collective, the burgeoning entrepreneur is clearly becoming a master of his own destiny, and he understands photography is more than meets the eye.

“Photography is oversaturated. I think it’s due to social media,” Garrett says. “Everyone feels they can do it. But in doing so, they don’t really know what it takes to be a photographer. The goal should be more than taking a picture. As a visual communicator, I treat it more like an experience. And what I’m trying to capture, it depends on the client, but I go in with a strong idea of what I want to do to communicate visually. When you see it, you should feel exactly what I want you to feel from the image.”

With a firm grasp on what it takes to set him apart from other photographers and graphic designers, Garrett takes the time to truly get to know his clients, which he believes is one of his defining characteristics.

“I kind of put me as a person first,” he says. “If I need to do work with a client, I meet with them and go into who I am, just so they’re a little more comfortable with me. To me, I’m building a relationship. I feel good communication is more effective and delivering the work becomes a little easier once you have that open communication with your clients.”

It all started the day he was fired from his job at a bank. Four years after he graduated from high school, Garrett was at a crossroads in his life and not quite sure what he wanted to do next. Getting fired, he says, was the best thing to happen to him. It was from that moment, he realized what he wanted to pursue.

Michael Garrett

“It was a random thing,” he says. “I got into an argument with my manager, and she wasn’t too fond of the things I said. The same day I lost my job, I went to the camera store at Nebraska Furniture Mart and bought a camera. I figured it would give me something to do and get my mind off of losing my job.”

It didn’t take him long to put his camera to use. He was a huge sneakers aficionado and  loved taking pictures of them. As an avid collector, he jumped on the Instagram trend of posting an array of specialty shoes online. Subsequently, owning a camera made perfect sense. His love affair with the lens had begun.

“Sneakers on Instagram took off,” he says. “That started it all. As far as my work, I model some of my work after some [photographers], but I’m very versatile. I can shoot a wedding, food, children, shoes—everything.”

In 2013, he was invited to a celebrity basketball game at the Mid-America Center. At the encouragement of a few of his predecessors, he quickly realized he could make a living out of his passion.

“I met a few other photographers at the tournament, and they took me under their wings. They said I should start charging for my work. From there, it took off.”

While he predominately grew up with his mom in a single-parent household, Garrett says it was difficult not having a male role model around.

“It affected me in a way, but I had to learn to be a man about things,” he says. “I had a bunch of mentors in school because I was active. I did journalism, basketball, track. I had male figures there, but they weren’t an authoritative figure outside of the sport. I could do what I want, but on the leadership side, it was good.”

His life circumstances forced him to grow up quickly, which undoubtedly led to his fierce work ethic. In addition to school, graphic design, and his photography business, he also works part-time at the Boys and Girls Club as he continues to garner more and more attention for his work. The sky is the limit, he says.

“For me, I’m more in love with the process of communication…I’m just living. I want to leave my plate open to the possibilities.”

Visit facebook.com/thecreativegeniuscollective for more information.

This article appears in the July/August 2017 edition of Encounter.

The Missing Piece and a Journey to Healing

August 22, 2017 by
Photography by Tim Guthrie

Tim Guthrie, an art professor at Creighton, produced the award-winning documentary Missing Piece. The documentary details Guthrie’s journey to find peace with the death of his wife, Beth, from complications of Parkinson’s disease and dystonia.


Sometimes I cant believe I can go on without her.

The loss feels too great, too heavy. We didn’t simply have each other as companions. We had each other to lean on when we needed one another—when I was struggling with work or my master’s degree, when she was devastated over a pregnancy that ended in an emergency room, or as her diseases put her through increasingly more pain.

Now she’s gone. She’s not here to lean on.

I’ve done everything I can to find ways to live without her, to find a way for life to be a little less difficult and painful. I spend a lot of time revisiting pleasant memories, working to get to a point where I can feel happy—to a point where those memories can overpower the persistent image of finding her that awful morning. I want to do anything to erase that vision from my memory bank. I wish for a willful and controlled amnesia.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

I made a film about, and for, her—my wife, Elizabeth Broderick.

Showing the film has been a challenge. I don’t attend most of the film festivals, but during the screenings of the few I have attended, I usually leave the theater before her film begins. The film is my love letter to Beth, but it’s also painful for me to watch.

Sometimes, I think the film, and the Missing Piece photos I took, are too personal for me to talk about. Mostly, though, everything from Beth’s death until now has been extraordinarily painful and personal to talk about, so why should the film or photos be any different?

I started a blog, “Traveling with Virtual Beth,” for family and friends who wanted to track some of what I have been doing, and where I’ve been going—especially for my parents, who wanted to follow my travels. I’ve openly shared both the physical and emotional journey. I’ve opened up on the blog. I’ve opened up on my Facebook page, as well. Most people are respectful. I don’t mean to make people uncomfortable. I don’t mean to make my grieving process seem worse than anyone else’s. I know I’m not unique in losing a loved one. It’s a pain that is unfortunately universal.

Original photo taken at Tim Guthrie’s apartment (early 1990s); revisited in their house (2017)

I’m aware that I’ve been grieving pretty publicly, which was an issue as I began to be approached by reporters. One by one, I turned all but one away. Everyone expected that I wanted to talk more about everything, but it has always been a struggle. It adds to the challenge when someone else who didn’t know her, or even me, wants to tell a story I’m still struggling with myself. I somehow still want to protect her, even in death.

One reporter, who assumed I’d want to talk more openly than I did, wanted to write about details I have never talked about online or in the film. When I pointed out that if that’s what she wanted to include in the story, I ultimately wasn’t interested, her response was, “I’m the reporter, I decide the story.”

And like that, I was done with the interview and never talked to her again. Granted, months later, another writer, Kim Carpenter with the Omaha World-Herald, gently got me to open up, finally, so a story was eventually written from someone’s perspective other than my own. Still, it was a challenge. It actually felt a bit as though she was my therapist over months of talking with her.

At Fontenelle Forest (early 1990s); revisited at Red Rocks Park in Vermont (2016)

I don’t talk about it often, but I actually saw a therapist. It was helpful for about a year, but I stopped going this past summer, mostly for financial reasons. I think spreading Beth’s ashes, revisiting places and taking photos, keeping the blog, and making the film probably helped more than a therapist could.

In the first six months of this journey, I kept arguing with people who insisted the photos were works of art. For me, they weren’t art, but a very personal process that was helping me deal with the loss. I initially loathed thinking about them as art. I never, ever, ever wanted to reduce Beth to an art project, and calling them art somehow felt insulting to her memory and shameful to me. Grief makes one say and think absurd things.

I’ve thought about ending the blog many times, and, even though I know I will ultimately bring it to a close by the end of the year, I find myself recalling comments I’ve received—like the many messages from people who have thanked me for sharing—comments that expressed gratitude because sharing my journey has helped others deal with their own grief. The comedian/writer/actor Patton Oswalt even sent me a message after his wife died, and after he discovered and read every post on the blog. It felt like an odd honor, but also like being part of a widowers’ club. Such messages have made the blog worthwhile, though. Knowing it has helped others is strangely comforting.

At Durham Museum (early 1990s); same location (2016)

It’s one thing for me to get through this myself, but the thought of it helping anyone else actually motivated me to continue for as long as I did. I thought I’d only continue the blog for a year. It will have been two years by the time I bring it to a close. When I imagine it has assuaged anyone else’s grief by sharing my own, it makes her death a little less difficult to bear. If anything good can come from her death, it eases my mind and soothes a broken heart to think she is helping others, even long after she’s gone. Yet, as I run out of photos and work to move forward, it feels like the right time to end it.

I know I can’t return to the person I was, but if I can get to a place where I can at least move forward again, and spend less time curled up alone, then maybe that’s something. To be honest, everything I’ve done to honor her these past couple of years has been worth it.

She may not be here to lean on in times when I need her most, but I’ll keep the good memories, which the photos help me recall.

I can’t move on without her, but maybe I can move forward with our shared memory, learning to carry it all with a little more ease. Hopefully the loss will someday be a little less heavy, more bearable.

The simple fact is, I miss her so damn much; that’s one thing I know I’ll carry until the day I die. 

Honeymoon at Dolwyddelan Castle, Wales (1994); same location (2016)

Visit virtualbeth.wordpress.com to view Tim Guthrie’s blog. A screening of the documentary, Missing Piece, is tentatively scheduled at Film Streams on Nov. 7 (7 p.m.). Photographs will be exhibited at Gallery 72 in November with an opening reception Nov. 9 (5-9 p.m.). A special preview at the gallery will follow the Nov. 7 screening.

 

 

 

Acclaim for Missing Piece

Missing Piece was accepted into several national and international festivals. Here is an abbreviated list of screenings and recognitions.

Omaha Film Fest

Best Short NE Documentary

Audience Award for Best Short Film

Global Independent Film Festival

Best Documentary Short Film

2017 Humanitarian Award Winner

Sydney Film Festival

Best Documentary Short Film

Canada World International

Film Festival

Best American Film

High Coast Film Festival, Sweden

Honorable Mention

Sweet As Film Festival

Honorable Mention

Hollywood International

Independent Awards Festival

Finalist

This essay was printed in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Honeymoon at Llandanwg, Wales (1994); same location (2016)

Dream Team

May 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There’s a dazzling, eye-catching photo that adorns the bare-bones brick wall inside the photography studio at 1820 Vinton St.

A lovely girl sits in a deep-blue cloud of a dress, highlighted by silver accents. In the background, the grayish sky is streaked with pink-gold clouds. It’s a striking image, and an excellent example of the kind of work one can expect from the gentlemen of Elite, a boutique photography studio based in the historic Vinton Street Business District in South Omaha.

Elite’s Bernardo Montoya and Eric Gutierrez are an impressive pair. Montoya is dressed impeccably in light, subdued colors and wearing a fedora, a signature look for him. Gutierrez, on the other hand, is wearing a simple black T-shirt with dark blue jeans and a rust-colored vest, his brown, gray-streaked hair pulled back from his face.

Despite their contrasting appearances, it’s clear these business partners have an inspiring, deep, mutual respect for one another.

The two met about six years ago at an Omaha Police Department holiday event Montoya organized. At the time, Gutierrez was working in construction, but had long been interested in taking pictures.

“Photography has been a hobby for—the last 20 years,” he says, somewhat questioningly, chuckling a little.

After discovering Gutierrez was an amateur photographer, Montoya asked if he would like to volunteer his services for some of the events Montoya put together. Eventually, they were getting asked to do so much side work, they decided they should try to really make a go of it and invest in themselves and their talent.

Initially, the two worked out of Gutierrez’s Elkhorn home, using his living room, dining room, and kitchen as studio space. But about two years ago, they started working on their brick-and-mortar studio on Vinton Street.

Montoya says when they moved into the space, it was in “awful” shape, so they immediately started renovating.

“Walls were demolished, the false ceiling was removed, original floors were salvaged, and a new bathroom was built,” he says. “Every day we want to continue making modifications.” He said their next project is the façade.

Renovations aside, the neighborhood itself seems like the perfect place for Elite Photography. The developing business fits right in with the community’s burgeoning art scene, and they couldn’t be happier with their location. Montoya says it’s a great neighborhood with incredible potential that he believes the city plans on developing.

Gutierrez agrees: “I think that this street opens a door to, not just the Hispanic community, but to the community in general.”

“I never imagined the possibility of having a photography business like this, because I am a graphic designer,” Montoya said. He previously worked as a reporter in Mexico and in the U.S., taking pictures for articles and other projects as a part of his job. “But this was not my priority,” he says. “I discovered my passion for photography talking with Eric.”

Though Gutierrez had initially chosen a more cautious path, the passion had been there since he was young.

“At some point, when I was going to college, I told my mom that I wanted to be a photographer. She said, ‘No, don’t do that. Just do it as a hobby.’ And that was a mistake,” he says. “I always talk with parents about that. I tell them, you know, you’ve got to encourage your kids to do whatever they want.”

Fortunately, Gutierrez and Montoya have many opportunities to speak with and encourage parents, thanks to a partnership with Omaha Public Schools and the many high school senior and quinceañera photos they do.

Montoya says his inspiration and motivation comes from the looks on peoples’ faces when they first see how they look in their photos.

“We are talking about dreams, the dreams of the people,” he says. “When they talk to you and say, ‘I want to take a beautiful picture…I want to see a picture where I feel beautiful,’ it’s more than taking a simple picture. It’s making a connection with a person—seeing what they want.”

Making those dreams come true is their goal. Which makes perfect sense, since that’s what they seem to have done for each other, something that is very clear when they talk about their life’s work.

“I always say Bernardo was like an angel for me,” Gutierrez says, “because I didn’t know if I was going to do this for a living.”

But while they’ve been fortunate to find each other and develop a successful business, Montoya and Gutierrez have faced plenty of challenges, including Montoya’s recent diagnosis of a rare form of cancer—stage 2 soft tissue sarcoma.

In his typical, always-moving-forward style, Montoya is not letting the disease slow him down.

“Now I can see life with a different color,” Montoya says. “Yes, I have cancer, but it’s like I have the flu. I’m OK right now. I don’t know what will happen with me tomorrow. But you never know what will happen tomorrow—or in a couple of weeks.”

Instead, he says he’s using the diagnosis as a reminder to enjoy life, and his family, friends, work, and the connections he makes with
new people.

“I don’t want to think any bad things,” Montoya says. “I have a future, a plan. I know what I want. I have dreams and I am working toward my dreams.” 

facebook.com/EliteStudioPhotography

This article was printed in the May/June 2017 edition of Encounter.

Art Rage

February 23, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Editor’s note: Cassils is a gender non-conforming trans-masculine visual artist. Cassils uses plural gender-neutral pronouns (they, them, their) and asks that journalists do likewise when referring to them. This plurality reflects through language the position Cassils occupies as an artist. For more about gender non-conforming issues, go to: glad.org/reference/transgender 

Powerful art does not need to be explained, though for the uninitiated, sometimes it helps.

Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Cassils thrives on the power of art. The artist (who prefers to be referred to in plural, gender-neutral pronouns) launched their latest exhibit, Cassils: The Phantom Revenant—now on display at the Bemis Center— Feb. 2 with a thrilling live performance called Becoming An Image.

Cassils’ performance involved the transgender, body-building artist attacking a 2,000-pound block of clay using only their body, in complete darkness, with the occasional flash of a camera that illuminated both artist and object, burning the images into viewers retinas.

It was a blend of performance, photography, and sculpture. “I use all parts of my body—my fists, my knees, my elbows,” Cassils says. “I beat this clay to the best of my ability, blind, until I’m basically compromising my ability to hit it properly.”

At the performance, the only sounds were those of Cassils’ labored breathing, as the artist kicked, punched, and even jumped on the earthy clay, accompanied by the click of the camera as the photographer blindly tried to capture the “full-blown attack.”

Becoming An Image was originally conceived of and executed for ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, the oldest existing LGBT organization in the United States, which also happens to house one of the largest repositories of LGBT materials in the world.

“I was asked to make a piece in relationship to the missing gender-queer and trans representation in that archive, because like many archives in museums, it’s filled with the work of, in this case, dead, gay white guys. So rather than making an artwork that spoke to the one or two subjectivities that perhaps matched this description in the archives, I decided to make a piece about the troubling mechanisms of what makes it into the historical canon and what doesn’t.”

Cassils’ Powers That Be installation—on display through April 29—presents a six-channel video that is a simulation of violence, a staged fight that could be taking place between two, three, four, or five people. But in this fight, Cassils plays the role of both victim and perpetrator. “If you have two people doing stage combat, it looks really realistic, but if you take one person out, and the other person’s doing it well, it really looks as if they’re fighting a ghost, or a force.”

Cassils says “Any work is about responding to the socio-political circumstances that we’re living in …  Art doesn’t change things like laws do, but it generates discussion.”

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

Calendar of Events

January 5, 2017 by

The following online calendar of events appears as it does in the print edition of Omaha Magazine.
To be considered for publication, please send your event three months in advance to editor@omahamagazine.com

Art & Museum Exhibits

Passion & Obsession at KANEKO

Passion & Obsession at KANEKO

Passion & Obsession: From the Collection
Through May 6 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St.
This exhibit celebrates both the passion of the artist to create and the obsession of the connoisseurs who collect. Admission: Free. 402-341-3800.
thekaneko.org/passion

Dirt Meridian: Photographs by Andrew Moore
Through Jan. 8 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
During the past decade, artist Andrew Moore made more than a dozen trips to photograph along the 100th meridian, from North Dakota to the Texas panhandle. This is a ticketed event: $10 adults, free for ages 17 and younger, college students with ID, and Joslyn members. 402-342-3300.
joslyn.org

Hayv Kahraman
Through Jan. 8 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.
Hayv Kahraman draws on sources including Renaissance painting, Japanese woodblock prints, and Persian miniatures to create work that considers the repercussions of being displaced from one’s home. Admission: Free. 402-342-3300
joslyn.org

The King is Dead! The Regicide of Charles I
Through Jan. 8 at The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
This exhibit shows the rise and fall of England’s King Charles I and his kingdom. Running in conjunction with this exhibit is “War, Wealth, and Stable Repairs.” Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors, $7 children ages 3-12, free to ages 2 and under. 402-444-5071
durhammuseum.org

War, Wealth, and Stable Repairs
Through Jan. 8 at The Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
This exhibit shows the old monarchs of Europe did not always yield absolute power that changed the course of history. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors, $7 children ages 3-12, free to ages 2 and under. 402-444-5071
durhammuseum.org

YMCA of Greater Omaha: 150 Years of Providing Firsts
Through Jan. 8 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
On April 2, 1866, the YMCA first began to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all citizens of Omaha. Today, they continue to strengthen the community through programs focused on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors age 62 and older, $7 children ages 3-12, and free to ages 2 and under. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org

exhibits01-01americanspirits

American Spirits at The Durham.

American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
Through Jan. 29 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Step back in time to an era of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance workers, and legends like Al Capone and Carry Nation. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors age 62 and older, $7 children ages 3-12, and free to age 2 and under. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org

Homebrew: A Spirited History of Omaha
Through Jan. 29 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Krug. Storz. Metz. These were some of Omaha’s founding brewers. Local brews fueled the workers who helped the city expand so rapidly and gave power to the mob bosses of the Prohibition era. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors age 62 and older, $7 children ages 3-12, free to age 2 and under. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org

exhibits01-04operationivy

Operation “Omaha Ivy” at Lauritzen Gardens

Operation: “Omaha Ivy” by E. Taylor Shoop
Jan. 4-Feb. 20 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.
Shoop has focused his lens on ivy to create his unique, kaleidoscopic compositions. This show focuses on the city’s collection of ivy. Included with garden admission: $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12, free for members and children younger than 6. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

Imagination: Celebrating 40 Years of Play Exhibit
Through April 16 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St.
The museum is bringing back fan favorites from the past 40 years. Admission: $12 adults and kids, $11 seniors, free for children (under 2) and members. 402-342-6164.
ocm.org

First Friday Old Market
Jan. 6 and Feb. 3 at various Old Market locations (Harney to Jackson streets and 10th to 13th streets).
Stroll distinctive brick streets to live music, ride Ollie the Trolley for free between venues, and ignite your imagination with art. 6 to 9 p.m. Free.
firstfridayoldmarket.com

exhibits01-14legos

Nature Connects at Lauritzen Gardens

Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks
Jan. 14 through May 15 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.
Sean Kenney’s third indoor exhibit features 13 displays with larger-than-life sculptures. Included with garden admission, which is: $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for members and children younger than 6. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project
Feb. 18 through April 30 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St.
Drawing inspiration from the Great Depression-era Farm Security Administration photography project, the photographers of the Environmental Protection Agency’s DOCUMERICA project created a portrait of America in the early and mid-’70s. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors age 62 and older, $7 children ages 3-12, free to age 2 and under. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org

Art Exhibit: Omaha Artists Co-op
Feb. 23 through April 3 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St.
Local artists will exhibit their works in the gardens. Included with garden admission: $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 12, and free for members and children younger than 6. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

Performing Arts

The Met: Live in HD 2016-2017 Season—Nabucco (Verdi)
Saturday, Jan. 7, and Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
The legendary Plácido Domingo brings another new baritone role to the Met under the baton of his longtime collaborator James Levine. Tickets: $10-$24. 402-933-0259.
filmstreams.org

Thumbelina
Jan. 14 through Feb. 5 at the Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
Thumbelina is a flower-sized girl determined to discover the true meaning of friendship. This world premiere production uses inventive puppetry and innovative design. Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 and 11 a.m.; select Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Tickets: $12. 402-345-4849.
rosetheater.org

Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company’s The Legacy Project: A Dance of Hope
Jan. 19 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
Told through the lens of the Holocaust and its devastation, hope inspires the journey to a land that promises new beginnings. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15-$36. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Around the World in 80 Days at Omaha Community Playhouse

Around the World in 80 Days at Omaha Community Playhouse

Around The World In 80 Days
Jan. 20 through Feb. 12 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St.
Two men journey around the world to win a simple wager, but they leave an incredible story about loyalty and friendship in their wake. Wednesdays: $28 adults, $18 students; Thursdays-Sundays: $36 adults, $22 students. 402-553-0800.
omahaplayhouse.com

The Met: Live in HD 2016-2017 Season—Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)
Jan. 21 and 25 at Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater, 1340 Mike Fahey St.
Giana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo perform as opera’s classic lovers in Charles Gounod’s lush Shakespeare adaptation. Gianandrea Noseda conducts the sumptuous score. Admission: $20 for Film Streams and Opera Omaha Members, $24 adults, $10 students. 402-933-0259.
filmstreams.org

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
Jan. 27 through Feb. 12 at the Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
Join intrepid go-getter journalist Lillian McGill live in the ready-for-reality-TV courtroom for the trial of the century to determine if the wolf we all know as Big Bad is truly guilty of the crimes of which he has been accused.  7 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m Sundays. Tickets: $20. 402-345-4849.
rosetheater.org

The Sound of Music
Jan. 24-29 at the Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
The hills are alive in this brand-new production of The Sound of Music, directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien. Tickets: $35-$110. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

ætherplough
Jan. 27-28 at the KANEKO, 1111 Jones St.
This group will perform genesis 2.0, a variety of dance styles that aim to provide tools and infrastructure to encourage risk taking and innovation. Dance forms explored include butoh, aerial silk, burlesque, and modern dance. Back-to-back performances Friday and Saturday with one performance at 6 p.m., and the next beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-341-3800.
aetherplough.com

HIR at the Bluebarn Theatre

HIR at the Bluebarn Theatre.

Hir
Feb. 2-26 at Bluebarn Theatre, 1106 S. 10th St.
Somewhere in the suburbs, Isaac has returned from the wars to help take care of his ailing father, only to discover a household in revolt. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 12 and 19,  and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb 26. Tickets: $25-$30. 402-345-1576.
bluebarn.org

Where the Wild Things Live with photographer Vincent J. Musi
Feb. 7 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
For a story on “Exotic Pets” that appeared in the April 2014 National Geographic, Vincent J. Musi explored the deep connections some people have with creatures you can’t get at the pet store. Tickets: $10-$25. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Elvis Lives! at the Orpheum.

Elvis Lives! at the Orpheum.

Elvis Lives!
Feb. 14 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.
Elvis Lives! features hand-picked finalists from Elvis Presley Enterprises’ worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35-$65. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Huck Finn
Feb. 24 -March 12 at the Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam St.
The great American novel comes to life in a thrilling and deeply funny adaptation. Huck Finn flees the claws of “civilization” for the freedom of the mighty Mississippi. Along the way, he comes across Jim, an escaped slave. The journey downriver is a real education for Huck. 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $20. 402-345-4849.
rosetheater.org

Concerts

Casey Donahew
Jan. 6 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
In just over 10 years, Casey Donahew has risen from being a favorite on the local Texas music scene to a nationally popular touring act who sells out venues across the country. 9 p.m. Tickets: $25. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

concerts1-07mckeeAndy McKee
Jan. 7 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Andy McKee is among the world’s finest acoustic guitarists. He entertains both the eye and the ear as he magically transforms the steel string guitar into a full orchestra. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 advance/$25 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

No Getter with Mom Jeans, Sports, and Graduating Life
Jan. 8 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave.
Four Omaha dudes with similar and different influences. Emo/punk songs came together with ease—their EP, Fitting, was released last year. 8 p.m. Tickets: $7. 402-884-5707.
-reverblounge.com

Cold Cave with Drab Majesty
Jan. 15 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
This band has become a name synonymous with the contemporary resurgence of darkwave and synth pop sub-genres. 9 p.m. Tickets: $12 advance/$15 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

concerts01-17lumineers

The Lumineers at CenturyLink Center Omaha

The Lumineers: The Cleopatra World Tour
Jan. 17 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St.
Two-time Grammy-nominated artist The Lumineers will be embarking on their first-ever North American arena tour. 7 p.m. Tickets: $30-$60. 1-800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

Jamison Ross
Jan. 20 at the Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Drummer and vocalist Jamison Ross delivers his hard-hitting, rhythmic jazz in Omaha for the first time. 8 p.m. Tickets: $30. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

No Shelter with Badmotorfinger
Jan. 21 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
No Shelter is a Rage Against The Machine tribute band, and Badmotorfinger offers the ultimate Soundgarden tribute experience. All ages. 9 p.m. Tickets: $8 advance/$10 day of show. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

Bazile Mills EP Release
Jan. 21 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave.
Bazile Mills is based around songwriter David Mainelli and features lead guitarist Tim Rozmajzl, singer Laura Streeter, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Sam Vetter, bassist/lap steel guitarist Dan Stein, and drummer Robb Clemens. 9 p.m. Tickets: $8. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Josh Abbott Band
Jan. 25 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Josh Abbott Band has become one of the leading country acts in Texas music, winning four trophies in the inaugural Texas Regional Radio Awards. 9 p.m. Tickets: $20. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Turnpike Troubadours with Dalton Domino
Jan. 26 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Turnpike Troubadours are a hard band to define. Take some steel-guitar country music, throw in some punk rock, and add that fiddler from the honky-tonk. 9 p.m. Tickets: $30. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Cherry Glazerr with Slow Hollows
Feb. 1 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
The off-kilter noise pop sound of L.A. quartet Cherry Glazerr was born in 2012 when high school student and singer-songwriter Clementine Creevy began recording songs in her bedroom. All ages. 8 p.m. Tickets: $12 advanced/$14 day of show. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

Twenty One Pilots at CenturyLink Center.

Twenty One Pilots at CenturyLink Center.

Twenty One Pilots
Feb. 1 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St.
Twenty One Pilots currently consists of lead vocalist and keyboardist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. The duo rose to fame in the mid-2010s, after several years of touring and independent releases. 7 p.m. Tickets: $39-$49. 1-800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

Excision—The Paradox Tour
Feb. 2 at Sokol Auditorium, 2234 S. 13th St.
Excision DJ shows are like no other—a virtual apocalypse of twisting and morphing sounds turn massive crowds into a frenzy. Also performing: Cookie Monsta, Barely Alive, and Dion Timmer. All ages. 8 p.m. Tickets: $33.50 advance/$36 day of show. 402-346-9802.
sokolauditorium.com

Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy
Feb. 3 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
This international concert phenomenon features Nobuo Uematsu’s stirring music from one of the most popular video games of all time. 8 p.m. Tickets: $30-$100. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Kevin Garrett
Feb. 4 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
Garrett is known for poignant out-of-love songs that combine a reverence for classic soul with modern electronics and traditional instrumentation. All ages. 8 p.m. Tickets: $12 advance/$14 day of show. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

Lemuria with Cayetana, Mikey Erg
Feb. 5 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
Lemuria, from Buffalo, New York, creates what sounds like sugary indie-pop, but is actually discordant notes, odd time signatures, and brutal riffs creating menacing yet catchy music. All ages. 8 p.m. Tickets: $13 advance/$15 day of show. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

An Evening with Dawes
Feb. 7 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Dawes is an American folk-rock band from Los Angeles and is composed of brothers Taylor (guitars and vocals) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums), along with Wylie Gelber (bass) and Lee Pardini (keyboards). 9 p.m. Tickets: $23 advance/$25 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Ariana Grande at CenturyLink Center.

Ariana Grande at CenturyLink Center.

Ariana Grande
Feb. 7 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St.
The international pop sensation brings her signature cat and bunny ears to Omaha as part of her “Dangerous Woman Tour.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $30-$200. 1-800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

Susto
Feb. 8 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
Susto is a Spanish word that frontman Justin Osborne learned as an anthropology student. The word refers to a folk illness and means “when your soul is separated from your body.” It also roughly translates to a panic attack. All ages. 8 p.m. Tickets: $8 advance/$10 day of show. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

The Five Irish Tenors
Thursday, Feb. 9 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
The Five Irish Tenors fuse Irish wit and boisterous charm, with lyricism, dramatic flair, and operatic style to bring you a unique Irish tenor concert experience. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15-$35. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Keller Willams
Feb. 10 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Williams’ music combines elements of bluegrass, folk, alternative rock, reggae, electronica/dance, jazz, funk, and other assorted genres. 9 p.m. Tickets: $23 advanced/$25 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Tribal Seeds with Raging Fyah and Nattali Rize
Feb. 11 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Tribal Seeds is a reggae band based in San Diego, California. They have shared the stage with Slightly Stoopid, Matisyahu, The Wailers, and others. 9 p.m. Tickets: $17 advance/$20 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Mike Doughty with Wheatus
Feb. 15 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Doughty is touring his largest band ever: a cello/bass player, drums, another guitar player, an organ player, and a backing vocalist. Using hand gestures, Doughty acts as an improv conductor for the band. 8 p.m. Tickets: $17. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Hippo Campus with Magic City Hippies
Feb. 16 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Hippo Campus is an indie rock band that has performed at South by Southwest, Lollapalooza, Red Rocks, Conan, and Reading and Leeds. 9 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Hot Club of Cowtown
Feb. 17 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Hot Club of Cowtown has ascended from its unlikely beginnings in NYC’s East Village a decade ago to become the premier ambassador of hot jazz. 8 p.m. Tickets: $35. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

P.O.S. with DJ Fundo and Ceschi Ramos
Feb. 18 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Stefon Alexander, aka P.O.S., makes tight, declamatory music that builds on DJ Fundo’s penchant for grinding beats and radical lyrics. 9 p.m. Tickets: $15 advance/$18 day of show. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Nebraska Wind Symphony: “Past, Present, and Future”
Feb. 19 at Omaha Conservatory of Music, 7023 Cass St.
Music selections help reflect on our past, present, and future. 3 p.m. Admission at door: $10 adults/$5 students/seniors; free to children under age 12. 402-216-0325.
nebraskawindsymphony.com

Florida Georgia Line at CenturyLink Center.

Florida Georgia Line at CenturyLink Center.

Florida-Georgia Line
Feb. 24 at CenturyLink Center, 455 N. 10th St.
This popular country-music duo’s latest album, Dig Your Roots, includes songs with guests Ziggy Marley and the Backstreet Boys. Tickets: $28-$75. 1-800-745-3000.
ticketmaster.com

Valerie June: The Order of Time Tour
Feb. 24 at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St.
Valerie June encompasses a mixture of folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, and bluegrass. 9 p.m. Tickets: $15. 402-884-5353.
waitingroomlounge.com

Sean Jones Quartet
Feb. 24 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St.
Sean Jones, the former lead trumpet for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, stands out with his bright, muscular tone and impeccable sense of swing. 8 p.m. Tickets: $35. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Lettuce
Feb. 26 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
For more than two decades, Lettuce has brought a new vitality to classic funk, matching their smooth and soulful grooves with a hip-hop-inspired urgency and mastery of beat. All ages. 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 advance/$25 day of show. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

Miscellaneous

Shane Mauss at The Slowdown

Shane Mauss at The Backline

A Good Trip with Shane Mauss
Jan. 6 at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St.
Sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), comedian Shane Mauss has appeared on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, Showtime, and has specials on both Comedy Central and Netflix. 8 p.m. Tickets: $10-15. 402-345-7569.
slowdown.com

Improv on Fridays
Jan. 6, 13, 20, 27, at the Backline Comedy Theatre, 1618 Harney St.
This weekly comedy show features local improvisers and special guests. If you are familiar with the Upright Citizens Brigade, The Backline is the closest in style in the entire Midwest. Tickets: $5. 9 p.m. 402-720-7670.
backlinecomedy.com

Cocktails & Coloring
Jan. 25 and Feb. 22 at the Apollon, 1801 Vinton St.
Come with your friends! Bring your own materials or stop into Oracle Art Supply to pick up coloring books and colored pencils. Cash bar. 6 to 9 p.m. Free. 402-884-0135.
apollonomaha.com

Kevin McDonald
Jan. 21 at the Backline Comedy Theatre, 1618 Harney St.
Known for the TV sketch show The Kids in the Hall and as the alien Pleakely from Lilo & Stitch, McDonald will be in Omaha as part of a weekend workshop. 9 p.m. Tickets: $12. 402-720-7670.
backlinecomedy.com

Joke & Dagger Standup
Saturday, Jan. 7 at the Backline Improv Theatre, 1618 Harney St.
Hosted by Winslow Dumaine, this improv show is unique, morbid, and enjoyable. Tickets: $5. 402-720-7670.
backlinecomedy.com

2017 Nebraska Chinese Lunar New Year’s Celebration
Feb. 4 at Westside Middle School, 8601 Arbor St.
This event showcases Chinese culture and heritage with kids’ activities, Chinese cuisine, and traditional cultural performances, such as lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, folk dances, and more. Admission: $15 members, $20 non-members. 402-515-4491.
omahachinese.net

Kim Darling

December 27, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Omaha-based artist Kim Darling (also known as Kim Reid Kuhn) is relishing a moment of “when one door closes, another opens.”

Darling, a prominent Benson First Friday contributor known for curating provocative exhibitions and performances at Sweatshop Gallery—and arguably one of the reasons why Benson’s aura is what it is today—is now applying her passion for community arts advocacy in new ways.

“Sweatshop Gallery was always a launching point for larger social ideas,” she says.

Since the gallery’s closing in October 2015, Darling has accepted four artist residencies at four different Omaha schools. She has collaborated on two projects, Swale and Wetland, with former Bemis Center artist Mary Mattingly. Those “socially engaged projects” were both featured in The New York Times, Art Forum, and ART 21.

Darling is many things to many people: community activist, curator, mother, teacher, advocate, tastemaker, and artist. It is within their nexus that she has found new momentum—namely, public and socially engaged projects that define and build community through art with artists.

Recent iterations include exhibitions and subsequent public programming at both The Union for Contemporary Art and the Michael Phipps Gallery at the Omaha Public Library. Darling presented her paintings and photographs in a gallery setting that later set the backdrop for public conversations around topics of police brutality, definitions of “public-ness,” and how race, gender, and socio-economic realities frame perceptions of place.

Yet despite a very public persona, her zeal for her own private painting practice is on fire.

Darling’s iconography is distinct. With a distilled color pallet of coal black, turquoise, dirty white, and cotton candy pink, her canvases are peppered with oddly familiar shapes and punk references.

Her aptly named “Rat’s Nest Studio” is nearly at capacity with in-progress paintings and sketches of future projects—each influencing the other. It is in her studio where the visible traces of a focused artist are on display. In the duality of social engagement and private studio making, inspiration is constant. For Darling, “these different perspectives feed me, helping keep my marks and ideas raw.”

There is no mistaking Darling’s passion. Navigating a newly trodden path of community building through arts advocacy can be complicated, but for Darling, “there is a simple power in art making and storytelling.” This is where her art and life meet—an intersection of public discourse and art with an emphasis on communal and social concerns.

With Darling’s ongoing efforts, this new chapter will continue to be a revolving door for opportunity, inspiration, and evolution.

Visit kimdarling.net for more information.

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Chloe

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Rat Terrier. Hates cats. Free.

When Joe Horejsi saw this ad in the Thrifty Nickel, he could never had anticipated the impact it would have on his personal and professional life.

Horejsi is the owner and operator of Joe’s Collectibles, a unique antique store at 1125 Jackson St. that has been a staple in the Old Market for over 25 years. Six years ago, Horejsi decided that he wanted to liven up his shop. He’d seen dozens of thrift shops with cats roaming their aisles, so he started “kicking around the idea of having a dog.” He found the Thrifty Nickel ad the next day and headed out to meet this cat-hating terrier.

The dog’s owner was smoking a cigarette outside when Horejsi arrived at her trailer home. The first words out of the woman’s mouth were “she don’t do no tricks.” That was the moment Horejsi decided that he was going to be a dog owner.

Chloe1Chloe, the rat terrier that hates cats, adjusted quickly to life with Horejsi. She was comfortable in the shop and soon began to sleep on the checkout counter while Horejsi worked. On one portentous day, Horejsi saw Chloe curled up on the counter with an open book. He decided that she needed a pair of reading glasses and was surprised to see her roll back her ears when he went to place a pair on her head. He was even more surprised when the glasses remained in position as she went about her daily routine. Being the shrewd businessman that he is, Horejsi knew that he was on to something big.

Horejsi started collecting fashionable pairs of glasses for Chloe and, before long, she was dressing up in full costumes. Horejsi’s customers loved seeing Chloe in her outfits and unfamiliar faces began to flock to the store to take pictures with the friendly and fashionable rat terrier.

A lot has changed in the six years since Chloe met Horejsi: Chloe now has over 500 pairs of glasses and dozens of masks and hats. Hundreds of pictures of Chloe are collected in piles on the checkout counter and in thick photo albums. There are photos of Chloe dressed as Zorro, Batman, the Red Baron, Tony Soprano, and Warren Buffet.

But Chloe does more than just pose for the camera. She also offers companionship and comfort to those in need: Dozens of children, shoppers, strangers, and nursing home residents have had their spirits lifted by Chloe’s loving nature and human-like hugs (yes, she gives actual hugs).

If you’d like your own photo op with Chloe, or if you’d just like a hug from a dog, you can visit Joe’s Collectibles any day between  the hours of 12:30 and 7 p.m. Chloe loves people and attention, and will usually strike a pose for a photograph. Keep in mind that Chloe’s lifestyle and career demand a lot of beauty sleep, so she may be resting if you visit before 3 p.m.

And don’t underestimate this dog. She does a lot more than tricks.

Call 402-612-1543 or visit omahadowntown.org/shop for more information. Encounter

Jason Fischer

April 19, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The design team for Omaha’s bold “We Don’t Coast” campaign included 30-something Jason Fischer, owner of boutique marketing-branding firm Surreal Media Lab.

“It’s great to know it’s been used so well and been so widely accepted,” Fischer says of the slogan.

This master visual stylist grew up drawing, airbrush illustrating, and acrylic painting. Then he turned to graphic art. He taught himself photography, film-video production, software programming, and computer coding as digital, Web-based platforms came in vogue. All the while, he fed wide-ranging interests in art, culture, media, and history.

“I just wanted to do something creative for a living. It’s nice to be able to have these disciplines and ultimately connect all these dots. I think that’s what really helps me be successful in the marketing-branding area. My brain lives on the big picture scale.

“I like the challenge behind the collaboration of taking what a client wants and creating something that is me but that captures their vision.”

His diverse clients span the metro but he’s done “a body of socially conscious work” for the Urban League of Nebraska, No More Empty Pots, Together, the Empowerment Network, and others.

“At one point I was asked by a few community leaders to get involved. I would be the fly on the wall at meetings and events. That led to opportunities. I really care about community and want to see changes. Everybody has their own part they play. I’m just doing my piece, using what my calling is, to be an advocate the best way I can.

“I am really inspired by the work these nonprofits are doing.”

His feature documentary Out of Frame gives voice and face to Omaha’s homeless. His short docs Project Ready and Work Their Best won festival awards. His new art film, I Do Not Use, puts images to Frank O’Neal’s powerful poem decrying the “N” word. He’s in-progress on another feature documentary, Grey Matter, about being biracial in America.

Fischer’s M.O. is “asking the right questions and getting people to tell their own story,” adding, “I go in with the end in mind but I’m fluid enough to be open to the unexpected. Then it’s piecing it together.”

He’s known tough times himself. Raised by a single mom who labored hard to make ends meet, he used that work ethic to build The Lab. Then a burglary nearly wiped him out. Insurance didn’t cover the loss.

“It put me at ground zero. I was fortunate to have enough resources to get a loan through the SBA (Small Business Administration).

He moved his business from North O to the Image Arts Building’s creative hub at 2626 Harney Street.

“If it hadn’t happened I feel like I would still be stuck doing the same thing, smaller jobs, just turning the wheel. The move brought greater expectations and bigger opportunities to express myself and raise the bar. Before, it was more the hustle of making the dollar. Then it switched from dollars to passion. I think the passion part has definitely shown through and propelled the work and the business.”

Visit surrealmedialab.com to learn more.

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The Great Unknown

September 23, 2015 by
Photography by Sam Herron

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Herron’s life would make an interesting movie. The synopsis almost pitches itself: a millionaire-turned-homeless-man finds himself living on the streets of Omaha and seeking redemption in the unlikeliest of places—through the lens of a pawnshop camera. Will he find it?

“That is the great unknown,” Herron says. “Yet to be determined.”

Since 2012, the Omaha-based photographer’s haunting-yet-tender work has been steadily cultivating an international audience and the admiration of his colleagues. Now he’s about to publish his first book: Street Life Fragments: Stories and Photographs from Homeless America. Slated for a 2016 publication by Loyola University-Maryland’s Apprentice House Press, the book combines photography and memoir into an unflinching examination of what it’s like to be down-and-out in a thriving city.

The project evolved from a dark period in Herron’s life. Having lost the considerable fortune he’d made as a self-employed daytrader, he moved here from the Greater Chicago area to get his life back on track.

At first, the move was a success: he quit partying, got a job in a factory, fell in love. It was a dramatic about-face for a man who had spent his youth playing bass in a Los Angeles hard rock band that recorded two albums while signed to MCA/Universal.

(Even after he could afford to eat at restaurants where most of us could never score a resevation, he still rode with motorcycle gangs in his spare time.) But he welcomed the change of pace.

Then a work-related injury cost him his job. His relationship failed. He was asked to move out. With no savings or support network, he started sleeping in his car. He shaved in restroom sinks, carefully applying the façade of a man who sleeps in a bed at night, so he would be ready for that elusive job interview. To keep the panic attacks at bay, he began to drink heavily. Often going days without eating, he entered a mental state he calls “borderline seizureland.” He wrote about these terrifying episodes for the blog he started to document his homelessness. Eventually, despite never having considered himself a photographer, he took out his cheap digital camera—one of the last items that hadn’t been sold—and started taking pictures of people he found interesting: rail-riding old men, teenage vagabonds, etc.

Thus began the project that would lead to the publication of his first book, which is written in the streetwise style of Henry Rollins and Charles Bukowski.

Herron’s work can be seen at Lincoln’s LUX Center for the Arts in the “About Human” group exhibit, which runs September 4 through October 30. You can view the photos and read excerpts from his forthcoming book at the Street Life Fragments Facebook page.

Count among his fans the influential documentary photographer Janette Beckman, whose photographs helped immortalize the burgeoning punk rock and hip-hop scenes in England and New York in the ‘70s and ‘80s. During her residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts last year, she took an interest in Sam’s work.

“[He] takes beautiful, gritty portraits of people on the streets of Omaha,” Beckman says. “His powerful portraits of faces tell unheard stories about life on the streets. He is the real deal.”

Photographer Atiim Jones, whose ongoing Face of Omaha project has portrayed thousands of visitors to the Old Market, also attests to the power of Herron’s portraits. “I’ve been following his work for a while now,” Jones says. “It’s intense.”

Herron appreciates the kind words, but he might be too focused on his work to take them to heart.

“From a humility standpoint, I can’t allow myself to even begin to think of myself as some great photographer,” he says. “I want to be as egoless as possible. That said, I do have people say it frequently, which is astounding to me.”

Still, his living situation is tenuous. He often forgoes meals just to save gas money to make it to the coffee shop where he edits his photographs. And although he was recently promoted to assistant director of the Siena/Francis House Miracles Treatment Program—an inpatient addiction recovery program—Herron remains technically homeless, albeit with a bed to sleep in.

Now that his career as a photographer is picking up, the disconnect between his budding success and reality is especially striking. He has a book coming out, but he also has to spend his days breaking up fights. Thanks to the wisdom he’s gained from his experiences, he’s been able to maintain a Hemingwayian grace under fire. Chalk it up to the redemptive process of his photography, which he says has deepened his understanding not only of the human condition, but of each individual as well. As he works to document the lives of the marginalized, he says, “I literally can feel myself becoming a different photographer, a different person.”

Tom McCauley, the writer of this story, has helped Sam Herron with the writing and editing of Street Life Fragments.

Sam Herron. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Sam Herron. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

The Object Enthusiast

June 26, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article appears in May/June 2015 The Encounter.

For artists dreaming of making a living from art, Emily Reinhardt’s life must seem like the ultimate fantasy. Every day, the 26-year-old turns down high-end retailers and specialty boutiques who are clamoring to carry her distinctive ceramic vases, tumblers, vessels, tableware and signature ring dishes. Demand is so high, in fact, she’s having difficulty keeping up with orders.

Object Enthusiast 5

It’s a great problem to have, one Reinhardt never would have envisioned several years ago. That’s because she didn’t set out to be a ceramist. She initially studied photography at Kansas State University, but after receiving oblique praise from a professor while taking a ceramics class, she realized clay was her medium. “For my first project, I made sculptural mounds with indentations to hold bowls, and a professor walked by and said, ‘That’s pretty good,’” Reinhardt recalls. “My teacher said, ‘He never says that! You should definitely change your major!’ I walked right over to the office and made the switch.”

The professor was Yoshi Ikeda, a ceramist known for works imbued with serene symmetry. He saw something in Reinhardt, so much so that when he retired, he gave her his kiln and wheel. “He told me, ‘I wouldn’t give this to any of your other classmates,’” she remembers. “Yoshi had a way of seeing something in you before you saw it. Without that equipment, I never would have been able to do what I’m doing.”

Object-Enthusiast-6

Before then, however, Reinhardt needed a lucky break, one that came via a broken foot in 2013. Her boyfriend received a job in Omaha, but instead of joining him that summer, she had to wait until September. In the meantime, she prepared for the move by opening her store, The Object Enthusiast, on Etsy. “I ended up doing it purely as a way to get rid of pottery,” she explains. “I was just getting rid of stuff. I wasn’t planning on starting a business. I really didn’t think it was feasible.”

Feasible it was. Shortly after opening, Etsy contacted her about featuring her work on its homepage in September. Reinhardt’s profile skyrocketed. “It led to a lot of sales,” she says. “I had to make everything to order. That first holiday season was insane!”

Object-Enthusiast-3

Things got crazier. In 2014, retailer Anthropologie approached Reinhardt about carrying a limited run of her small dishes, which can be used for rings, bracelets, and other delicate sundries. Additional retailers quickly took note, and today Reinhardt’s elegant ceramic wares can be found in shops as far away as Australia as well as closer to home at Hutch in Midtown Crossing.

All of this has led Reinhardt to move her studio from her cramped basement into a downtown workspace, where she is expanding her collection to include tableware as well as other new items.

The young artist associates Omaha with much of this success. “When I moved here, I started making what I wanted to make,” Reinhardt reflects. “I feel like I can kind of equate all of the good things that have happened with Omaha. This is such a great place.”

Object Enthusiast 2 Object Enthusiast 1