Tag Archives: RAW

RAW Aesthetics

January 22, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Other than a rather arid climate and the identical first four letters of their names, Australia and Austin, Tex., share little in common, but those are the places that cemented an artistic vision for Amber Keller.

“I had worked a couple graphic design jobs here [in Omaha] before I realized something was missing,” Keller says, “so I sold most of my belongings, threw my art supplies in the car, and hit the road, creating as much art as I could along the way.” It was when she unpacked her bags in Austin for a few months in 2011 that she discovered RAW: Natural Born Artists, an international nonprofit program that acts as an incubator for new and emerging artists. They described themselves, Keller recalls, as being “for artists, by artists.”

“I did my first RAW show in Austin,” says the woman who is now director of Omaha’s RAW affiliate. “I knew the model could succeed here because our city has such a strong arts community. There’s just an amazing amount of talent here.”

Before returning to Omaha, Keller further satisfied her wanderlust by paring down her already meager possessions to backpack through Australia, where she did a RAW show in 2012.

RAW held its first annual local RAWards Semi Finals in November at Sokol Auditorium. Three finalists in nine disciplines showed their work to vie for the honor of winning a shot to advance to nationals in Los Angeles. Artists competed in the categories of visual arts, photography, film, music, performance, fashion, accessories, makeup, and hair.

Amber Keller’s look is thanks to a few RAW:Omaha artists: Her dress is by Haus of Donna Faye, her earrings by Juan Mora-Amaral, makeup by Lyndee Marie, bodypaint by Alyssa Keller, and haircolor and style by Tammy Cox.

Amber Keller’s look is thanks to a few RAW:Omaha artists: Her dress is by Haus of Donna Faye, her earrings by Juan Mora-Amaral, makeup by Lyndee Marie, bodypaint by Alyssa Keller, and haircolor and style by Tammy Cox.

The L.A.-based RAW now operates in 60 American cities along with an increasing footprint in foreign countries. Omaha’s roster of 120 RAW artists ranges in age from 17 to near retirement age, and various artists displayed their work in a series of four showcases throughout 2012. There are no membership fees to become a RAW artist, but showcase participants are expected to sell tickets to the events so that RAW reaches the widest possible audience.

“RAW helps build an artistic community, but we do it as team,” Keller says. “The semi-final event was a competition, yes, but we’re still working together, not against each other. RAW helps foster collaborations between artists, and we support each other here in Omaha in a way that is kind of rare for a city our size.”

Tim Guthrie, a visual artist and experimental filmmaker who is a Creighton University professor of journalism, media, and computing, was one of three judges for the event. Joining Guthrie on the panel were Andrew Norman of the music-centric Hear Nebraska and Shane Bainbridge of design-focused The New BLK.

“It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know anything about RAW,” says Guthrie, “which is almost kind of appropriate in that it parallels the theme of what RAW does in terms of building visibility for artists. Omaha’s art scene is amazing, but it can be a little cliquish. It’s still a very friendly atmosphere, but there is a hint of ‘the haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ when it comes to being widely known. With a lot of dedication and hard work from these artists, it is my hope that RAW helps more of them into the category of ‘the haves.’”

RAW Artists 
Advancing to 
Nationals:

Film: Rob Kasel

Visual Art: Madeleine Thoma

Photography: Michelle Woitzel

Fashion: Haus of Donna Faye

Makeup: Lyndee Marie

Hair: Brogan

Accessories: Casey Jones

Performing Art: Flying Eagles Acrobalance Troupe

Music: Omaha Street Percussion

Work and videos by these and other RAW artists may be seen at 
rawartists.org.

Art Show + Party

November 18, 2013 by

This Thursday at 7 p.m., Sokol Auditorium will host Omaha’s inaugural RAWards semifinals. Twenty-five local artists across nine categories will compete for a chance to be one of nine finalists at the National RAWards in Los Angeles in January.

While RAW as an international, independent arts organization is itself five years old, RAW:Omaha is only now trying out its wings. “We just started in April,” says RAW:Omaha director Amber Keller. “So we didn’t have a full season.”

Due to the short 2013 season, the filmmaker category will be represented by one artist, Rob Kasel, as opposed to the usual three per category this Thursday. The remaining nominees are:

“It’s a mix between a nightlife event, an art show, and a party,” Keller says, attempting to describe the look of the evening. “Every artist that’s involved will have a booth section, but musicians will play on stage, and we’ll have a runway for hair, fashion, and makeup.” Artists will have decorated their space according to their craft, and “anything that anybody sets out will also be for sale,” Keller says.

A few examples of artistry to expect include Omaha Street Percussion, who will play for guests waiting in line; the Wetworks special effects team’s live demonstration of making up a model; and Alyssa Keller, who will be painting a canvas at her booth.

Given that the goal of RAW is to empower artists professionally, $15 tickets are available online to sponsor a particular artist. Otherwise, general admission tickets online are $17 and $20 at the door.

“Door money doesn’t go to artists directly,” Keller points out. Those fees go instead toward two showcases, one local and the other in another participating RAW city, for each artist plus a media packet. The packets include materials for the artists’ promotional use, such as video interviews of each artist, professional headshots, and candid photos and B-roll footage at their shows.

C.J. America Bergner will host this Thursday’s RAWards semifinal, and Brent Crampton will DJ. The Sokol bar will be open, and Scotty’s Go-Go Grill will be parked outside. Guests should note that the RAWards after-party at House of Loom at 10th and Pacific streets will feature $10 bottles of champagne.

RAWards Gen Flyer