Tag Archives: The Union For Contemporary Art

Byron Anway

August 21, 2018 by
Photography by Keith Binder

When Byron Anway talks about his art, he doesn’t say he “paints.” He says he “makes a painting.” As an artist, educator, and musician, this emphasis on making—on investing in the process—colors all aspects of his life.

A military kid growing up, Anway is familiar with the practice of starting to build a life and develop relationships, only to be uprooted from them in a couple of years. After getting his bachelor’s degree in studio art, with a teaching certificate in K-12 art education from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, he packed up again, transplanting to teaching jobs in Brussels, Casablanca, and Minneapolis. Within a few years, the artist/educator/musician was ready to put down roots and invest in something different.

He asked himself one question when choosing his next move: “If I could win the lottery for jobs, what’s the job?” The answer led him to graduate school in Lincoln, Nebraska, and a career as a college art instructor.

After a lifetime of exploring different scenes, Anway has a refreshing take on building a life as an artist. “There’s a lot of different art worlds. Finding your place has to start with doing the work, and figuring out what it looks like to do the work over time.”

His professional experience reflects this search for his place in art, with shows at galleries scattered all across the Midwest and his work featured in an extensive list of publications. In Omaha alone, he has participated in solo and two-person shows at The Union for Contemporary Art, Fred Simon Gallery, and Project Project as well as group shows at Joslyn Art Museum, Modern Arts Midtown, and Hot Shops Arts Center.

Now married and enjoying the stability of a studio and a full-time teaching job at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Anway is focused on cultivating his career. “I have made a conscious effort to sort of try and live a little more instead of feeling like it’s one foot in, one foot out all the time,” he says. There is no quick fix for the type of sustainable artistic life he wants to continue nurturing.

The payoff of this kind of intentional focus is clear in Anway’s paintings. His most recent works feature expansive crowds of people, with hundreds of meticulously detailed individuals carefully arranged in vibrant color to form sometimes overwhelming scenes. “I think that large gatherings of people represent something about our time right now,” Anway says. Whether it’s a crowd gathering in protest or in celebration, he wants his art to spark conversations. “I want it to be re-evaluating what it means to come together.”

This sense of togetherness goes beyond Anway’s visual arts practice, extending into his musical career as well. When he isn’t teaching or creating art, he can be found bringing high-energy vocals to stages across the country as lead singer of the rock band Red Cities. Through “active effort at cross-pollination,” the music fuels the art. And vice versa. Research about global issues for songwriting percolates into thematic elements of paintings, and performance skills push the boundaries of teaching and art.

His upcoming 2019 show at Project Project will build on a collaboration with bandmate Josh Leeker and will continue to re-evaluate togetherness and separation. “The show is going to sort of focus on experiences of mine where I’ve looked for, or found, middle ground between different groups.” 

As he continues to stay active in the art, education, and music scenes in the area, Anway hopes to inspire people to focus less on the search for easy answers and more on discovering what the questions are.


For more information, visit byronanwayart.com

This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Encounter. 

July/August 2018 Stage Performances Calendar

June 19, 2018 by and

Stage Performances

Once on This Island
Through July 1 at SNAP! Productions, 3225 California St. A collaboration with Omaha South High School, Once on This Island is the story of a peasant girl who falls in love with a “grand homme.” Ti Moune and Daniel Beauxhomme must find a way to make their love work in a land ruled by four gods, social inequality, and racial problems. 2 p.m. Tickets: $20 general, $15 for students, seniors, and military. 402-341-2757.
snapproductions.com

Shakespeare On the Green: King John
July 1, 6, 8 at Elmwood Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road. In this history show, King John finds a way to fight his family, the French, and the Pope in order to keep his throne. The outdoor event includes pre-show entertainment, and be sure to bring a blanket or chair to sit on. 8 p.m. Admission: free. 402-280-2391.
nebraskashakespeare.com

Shakespeare on the Green: July 1-8

Shakespeare On the Green: Much Ado About Nothing
July 2, 5, 7 at Elmwood Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road. Misunderstandings, love, and deception make this Shakespearean comedy a classic. The outdoor event includes the pre-show entertainment, and be sure to bring a blanket or chair to sit on. 8 p.m. (10 p.m. on July 2). Admission: free. 402-280-2391.
nebraskashakespeare.com

James Johann
July 6-8 at Omaha Funny Bone, 17305 Davenport St. Johann’s boyish appearance, self-deprecating sense of humor, and high energy all come together to create a unique onstage persona. Times vary. Tickets: $18 Friday and Saturday, $16 Sunday. 402-493-8036.
omaha.funnybone.com

Juno’s Swans: A reading of Julius Caesar
July 7-8 at BlueBarn Theatre, 1106 S. 10th St. Juno Swans, a part of the Connect with Shakespeare Series, explores gender perspectives of Shakespeare’s tragedy and characters with an all-female ensemble. When Rome announces Julius Caesar as the emperor of the free world, a rebellion quickly sparks as people wonder about the effects of Caesar’s tyranny. 2 p.m. Admission: free. 402-280-2391.
nebraskashakespeare.com

The Dairy Maid-Right
July 13-Aug. 5 at Shelterbelt Theatre, 3225 California St. It’s summer at the Dairy Maid-Right when co-workers and recent Pioneer High graduates Courtney and David encounter a child migrant. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 6 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $20 adults; $15 students, seniors (65+), and TAG members; $12 on Thursdays. 402-341-2757.
shelterbelt.org

Dance Chance Event
July 14, Aug. 11 at Bancroft Street Market, 2702 S. 10th St. Be mesmerized as dancers perform a variety of dances with impressive choreography and style. 7-9 p.m. Admission: $2. 402-651-2327.
bancroftstreetmarket.com

Shake, Rattle and Roll Comedy Show with Honky Tonk Man and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
July 16 at Omaha Funny Bone, 17305 Davenport St. WWE legends “The Honky Tonk Man” and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, also known as “Rhythm & Blues,” reunite for a once in lifetime tour in which these superstars give the audience the inside scoop on the whirlwind life of pro wrestling. 7 p.m. Tickets: $20-$40. 402-493-8036.
omaha.funnybone.com

All-Star Comedy Jam
July 20 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Lil Duval lives a single, happy life filled with signature catch phrases. Kountry Wayne (Wayne Colley) uses short funny clips to captivate his audiences, and DC Young Fly combines his in-your-face personality with a raw comedic style. 8 p.m. Tickets: $42-$58. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Omaha Under the Radar
July 25-28, various locations. This four-day engagement showcases performances from local and national dance companies, theater collectives, open art discussions, and workshops. Times vary. Tickets: $40 pass or $75 VIP pass.
undertheradaromaha.com

You Had To Be There
July 25 at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Ryan de la Garza hosts a live comedy show including a myriad of stand-up comedians and improv performers who will interact with random strangers via online webcam. 8 p.m. Admission: free. 18+ only. 402-884-5707.
reverblounge.com

Spunk
July 27-29 at The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N. 24th St. Spunk is three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston adapted for the stage by George C. Wolf that feature music by Chic Street Man. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission: free. 402-933-3161.
u-ca.org

Gabriel Iglesias
July 28 at Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. Known comically as “Fluffy,” Iglesias is an American comedian, actor, writer, producer, and voice actor. 8 p.m. Tickets: $45-$70. 402-934-9966.
ralstonarena.com 

Billy McGuigan’s Rock Twist
Aug. 1-12 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. This show features McGuigan with an all-star lineup of musicians, backed by a four-piece horn section. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $42. 402-553-0800.
omahaplayhouse.com

Brad Williams
Aug. 2-5 at Omaha Funny Bone, 17305 Davenport St. Williams’ ability to make humorous observations is winning over audiences and proving that anyone can overcome their shortcomings. Times vary. Tickets: TBA. 402-493-8036.
omaha.funnybone.com

Miranda Sings Live…No Offense
Aug. 8 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Miranda Sings is the fictional character developed on the internet, created and portrayed by American comedian, actress, and YouTube personality Colleen Ballinger. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $39.50. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show
Aug. 9 at the Orpheum Theatre, 409 S. 16th St. Houston’s musical legacy is brought to life for this once-in-a-lifetime concert starring Belinda Davids. 8 p.m. Tickets: $29.25-$79.25. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Fun Home
Starting Aug. 17 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. When Alison’s father dies unexpectedly, she explores her past to tell the story of their tumultuous relationship. Times vary. Tickets: $42+. 402-553-0800.
omahaplayhouse.com

Paula Poundstone
Aug. 24 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Poundstone is known for smart, observational humor and spontaneous interaction with the crowd. 8 p.m. Tickets: $39.25-$49.25. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Paula Poundstone: Aug. 24

David Cross: Oh Come On
Aug. 26 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award nominee David Cross is an inventive performer, writer, and producer on stage and screens big and small. 8 p.m. Tickets: $40 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

David Cross: “Oh, Come On.” Aug. 26

A Man a Fish
Aug. 28 at The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N. 24th St. Prosper is a fisherman trying to get by in the face of everyday problems when a slippery eel salesman arrives in town peddling progress to the rural community. 7 p.m. Tickets: $20 advanced, or inquire at the box office day of show to reserve one to two “radical hospitality” tickets. 402-933-3161.
u-ca.org


Event times and details may change.
Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Heart and Soul

May 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Edem K. Garro has a penchant for spontaneous musical combustion—meaning that it’s quite common for her to break into song mid-sentence. Like a chemical reaction right before your eyes, elements of passion, sheer musical talent, and miscellaneous magical mystery ingredients move Garro to express herself musically.

Garro says a love of music has always been within her and she’s been breaking into song her whole life. As a child, she religiously tuned in for Showtime at the Apollo—where the talented are cheered on and the talent-challenged are booed offstage—determined to become “undeniably good.” Her innate musical knack and her mother’s “brutally honest” guidance steered her toward that goal. Much like the ethos of the Apollo, Garro believes that “both negativity and positivity help mold and shape us into the Davids or the Mona Lisas we really are.”

“I would sing and my mother would say, ‘Why are you always singing somebody’s else’s song? Why not sing your own song? You’re just as good.’ So I started writing my own music,” Garro says. “Her constructive criticism helped shape me into who I am today. Even though at the time I just wanted to enjoy my TV show, she instilled this sense that I could be great if I worked at it. That you can do anything with practice and passion.”

Garro, who typically performs as Edem Soul Music, is a composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, motivational speaker, and “a musician at heart.” Similar to her diverse pursuits, Garro’s musical style is a delicious gumbo of genres including world, soul, R&B, folk, and more—bordered only by what moves her soul and the souls of her listeners. Her musical mission, after all, is “to revive music, and to bring it back to the loving arms of the people who long for it.”

“When people think of soul music they think of the Temptations, Motown Records, James Brown, but soul has no genre. Soul is something that comes from an indescribable, immeasurable place and it reaches everyone—no matter what language or belief, it reaches everyone—that is true soul music,” Garro says. “My genres are all over the place, but I am soul music in every essence of the word. I produce music and words from my soul and I can’t do anything else.”

Garro, a 26-year-old Maryland native who’s lived in Omaha since age 11, when her father died and her mother relocated the family, says her work as a motivational speaker is an extension of her music.   

“Everything I do, from songwriting to speaking, focuses on bringing awareness to identity,” Garro says. “I’m a first-generation American and my whole family comes from Ghana, West Africa. My culture teaches that it’s important to know where you come from, because once you understand where you come from, you’ll know why you are where you are, and then once you know that, you can better figure out where you’re going. With that comes a sense of power and certainty that no one can take from you. Finding out your identity, staying true to it, and loving yourself, is the best way to navigate this life and ensure some form of growth. That’s my message.”

Although it’s a shame to box it in, Garro’s music is most easily defined as world music because she sings in English and Ga, a language spoken in and around Ghana’s capital of Accra. She also sings in what she calls “no language.”   

“I mostly sing in Ga and English, sometimes both. But when I sing in no language, it’s just pure, raw, emotion and intent,” Garro says. “I find it beautiful because you and I are on the same page regardless of language. Music crosses all barriers and you don’t have to understand the language to find it beautiful. It promotes a different kind of thought and understanding.”

Edem Soul Music consists of a wide array of styles and production. Garro sings and plays the ukulele, harp, piano, guitar, djembe, violin, and alto saxophone. As a multi-instrumentalist, she is largely self-taught. Often, she plays with flutist/percussionist Jason Horacek and support vocalists/dancers Brittney Thompson and LaTryce McAnderson.

Garro had a banner year in 2017. She was a fellow in The Union for Contemporary Art’s inaugural cohort where she created her emotive Sounds of 24th St. project, incorporating the 24th and Lake soundscape into her music. She also earned Omaha Creative Institute’s Omaha Gives Back Grant, which birthed her three-act project African Body, Soul, & Movement, a musical exploration of generations affected by the African slave trade through African drumming, singing, and dancing. Garro kept the momentum and mojo flowing, winning her first Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award for Best Soul in February 2018.     

“In 2017 I started to feel like the community that wants to support and advocate for artists was really coming together,” Garro says. “My [Union] residency allowed for my growth as an artist and an individual—to define who I really want to be and how I want to serve this community. It was a road to self-discovery.”

Garro embraces Omaha’s influence on her identity. She muses that had her father not passed and her mother not subsequently been called to move the family to Omaha, Garro may never have met her husband or “come to know music the way I have.”

“I’ve grown a lot here and become who I’m meant to be,” Garro says. “I always say that one person’s ripple in the ocean can create a tsunami on the other side of the world. We have each others’ destinies wrapped around our hands. Who I am is understanding that, being mindful of my words and actions, and trying to help others be mindful as well.”


Visit edemsoulmusic.com to learn more about Edem.

This article appears in the January/February 2018 edition of The Encounter.

2018 May/June Performances

May 3, 2018 by

Comedy Shows
Recurring Thursdays-Saturdays at The Backline Comedy Theatre, 1618 Harney St. Primarily long-form improv, the Backline also hosts standup shows, short-form improv shows, and occasionally sketch shows. INTERROGATED, the Backline’s premiere show, recurs every Friday. Times vary. Tickets: $3-5 Thursday, $5-10 Friday and Saturday. 402-720-7670.
backlinecomedy.com

Three to Beam Up
Through May 13 at Shelterbelt Theatre, 3225 California St. Directed by Roxanne Wach, this performance tells the story of a man who believes he is the captain of a Federation starship trekking around space. His children have to fight to keep their father’s feet firmly planted on Earth. 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 6 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets: $12 on Thursdays. $20 general, $15 students, seniors, and TAG members on weekends. 402-341-2757.
shelterbelt.org

The Mountaintop
May 4-27 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. This Olivier Award-winning play of historical fiction, The Mountaintop imagines the final night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Times vary. Tickets: $24. 402-553-0800.
omahaplayhouse.com

The Best of Chicago with Brass Transit
May 5 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The Omaha Symphony presents the ultimate Chicago experience with the eight piece band of Brass Transit, who performs flawless renditions of hits like “Saturday in the Park,” “25 or 6 to 54,” and more. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$89. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
May 5-6 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Shakespeare’s best-loved romantic comedy comes to life in the form of ballet. 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets: $27-$92. 402-345-0606
ticketomaha.com

An Evening with David Sedaris
May 7 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Master of satire and observant writer of the human condition David Sedaris is one of America’s preeminent humor writers. Hear him live and be ready to laugh. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $50-$55. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Jessica Lang Dance
May 10 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. Choreographer Lang has a knack for blending modern design elements and classical ballet to create emotionally moving performances. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$45. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Omaha Symphony: The Planets
May 11-12 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. From Mars, the Bringer of War, to Neptune, the Mystic, Holst depicts the planets of myth and mystery, leaving the audience breathless. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$72. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Big Canvas (Short-Form)
May 12 and 25, June 9 and 29 at various locations. Looking for the kind of improv you see on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Big Canvas performs every month’s second Saturday (The Backline at 1618 Harney St.) and last Friday (Sozo Coffeehouse at 1314 Jones St.). Times vary. Tickets: $5.
bigcanvasne.com

Mick Foley
May 15 at Omaha Funny Bone, 17305 Davenport St., Suite No. 201. Listen to this professional wrestler’s tale of the most famous match of his career. With humor and ease, Foley talks about the “Hell in a Cell” match, which made him a wrestling legend. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $25-$75. 402-493-8036.
standupmedia.com

Wicked
May 16-June 3 at Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St. This Broadway sensation tells the untold story of what happened in Oz long before Dorothy, and from a different perspective. Times vary. Tickets: $54-$164. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Arturo Sandoval: The Dear Diz Tour
May 17 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. This renowned trumpeter and 10-time Grammy Award-winning artist brings his tour celebrating the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie to Omaha. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20-$45. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

The City in the City in the City
May 17-June 17 at BlueBarn Theatre, 1106 S. 10th St. After the death of her mother, Tess and a mysterious woman set off to the ancient city-state of Mastavia and together encounter strange places and people. 7:30 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 6 p.m. (Sunday 6/3 & 6/17), 2 p.m. (Sunday 6/10). Tickets: $30 adults, $25 students, seniors, TAG members. 402-345-1576.
bluebarn.org

Tiffany Haddish: #SheReady
May 19 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Dubbed the “funniest woman alive” by Vanity Fair, Haddish is quickly establishing herself as one of the most sought-after comedic talents in TV and film. She recently starred in the hit comedy Girls Trip. 7 p.m. Tickets: $35-$55. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Life on the Vertical with climber Mark Synnott
May 22 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. Rock-climber Synnott has made legendary first ascents of some of the world’s tallest, most forbidding walls. Although he has many passions, one of Synnott’s hobbies includes sharing his life as a professional climber and explorer. 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $11-$26. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Omaha Improv Festival
May 24-27 at various locations. Catch local and national comedians with improv performances and workshops at The Backline, KANEKO, The Dubliner, and Bourbon Saloon. National headliners include Kevin McDonald of The Kids in the Hall and Seth Morris of Upright Citizens Brigade. Times and ticket prices vary. 402-720-7670.
omahaimprovfest.com

Lazarus Syndrome
May 31-June 24 at SNAP! Productions, 3225 California St. Elliott has spent most of his adult life as a person living with AIDS. He struggles with the emotional toll of Lazarus Syndrome. A quiet evening is suddenly interrupted with the unexpected arrival of his brother and father, who arrive carrying homemade matzo ball soup and family baggage. 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 6 p.m. for Sundays. (June 24 show is at 2 p.m.) Tickets: $20 general, $15 for students, seniors, and military (Friday-Sunday). All Thursday shows are $12. 402-341-2757.
snapproductions.com

Omaha Symphony: The Beach Boys
June 1-3 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. The one and only Beach Boys return with favorite hits like “Good Vibrations,” “California Girls,” “Surfin’ USA,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and more. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $29-$109. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Disney’s Newsies
June 1-3, 8-10, 15-17 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farman St. This Disney musical tells the story of Jack Kelly, a rebellious newsboy who dreams of life as an artist away from the big city. 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. depending on the date. Tickets: $22-$27. 402-345-4849.
rosetheater.org

Tom Segura
June 7-9 at Omaha Funny Bone, 17305 Davenport St., Suite No. 201. This actor/comedian/writer has become one of Hollywood’s most in demand and highly regarded talents. Segura is best known for his three Netflix specials, Completely Normal (2014), Mostly Stories (2016), and Disgraceful (2018). Times vary. Tickets: $35. 402-493-8036
omahafunnybone.com   

Omaha Symphony: Beethoven’s Ninth
June 8-9 at Holland Performing Arts Center, 1200 Douglas St. At The Ninth’s premiere, a critic said Beethoven’s “inexhaustible genius revealed a new world to us.” It continues to amaze with its celebration of humanity in the “Ode to Joy.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $19-$72. 402-345-0606.
ticketomaha.com

Singin’ in the Rain
June 1-24 at Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St. The classic movie musical comes to life on stage with charm, humor, and stormy weather that made it so beloved in the first place. Times. Ticket sales start April 10. 402-553-0800.
omahaplayhouse.com

Shakespeare On the Green: Much Ado About Nothing
June 21-24 at Elmwood Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road. A story of quick tongues and a false death kick off this Shakespearean tragedy of misunderstandings, love, and deception. Don’t forget to bring a picnic basket and seats. Times vary. Admission: free.
nebraskashakespeare.com

Sonya Clark’s Translations
June 23 at The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N. 24th St. Translations consists of the artist reading poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Audre Lorde, and Nikki Giovanni on the subject of hair, written in Twist—a font resembling hair clippings. The piece is performed in a beaded barber’s chair, and represents the sharing of cultural knowledge through hairdressing traditions, and the complex and fraught relations between black women’s personal and political identities. 1-4 p.m. Admission: free. 402-933-3161
u-ca.org

Choir Boy
June 26 at The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N. 24th St. Known most recently for his Oscar Award winning movie Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy explores the intersections of black masculinity, sexuality, and respectability politics as it holds a mirror to us all, calling us to do better. 7 p.m. Admission: $20 advanced tickets/free day of show. 402-933-3161
u-ca.org

Shakespeare On the Green: King John
June 28-30 at Elmwood Park, 411-1/2 N. Elmwood Road. Pack a picnic and bring lawn chars or blankets as John must fight his family, the French, and the Pope in order to keep his throne. Times vary. Admission: free.
nebraskashakespeare.com


Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

May/June 2018 Exhibits Calendar

April 27, 2018 by
Photography by provided

Art & Museum Exhibits

BFA & BASA Thesis and Senior Shows
Through May 5 at UNO Criss Library and Weber Art Gallery, 6001 Dodge St. Thesis students in the art gallery and BASA graduating seniors from UNO showcase their work. Admission: free. 402-554-3206.
unomaha.edu

Word/Play: Prints, Photographs, and Paintings by Ed Ruscha
Through May 6 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. The first major exhibition featuring Ruscha in his home state of Nebraska, Word/Play brings together prints, photographs, and artist books, complemented by a selection of major paintings. Ruscha’s use of the written word is a signature element of his work. Tickets: $10 ($5 from 4-8 p.m. Thursdays), $5 students with valid ID, free to members and youths 17 and under. 402-342-3300.
joslyn.org

Metamorphosis: Works by Sayaka Ganz and Aurora Robson
Through May 13 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. This exhibit is constructed of found, recycled, and reused plastic objects. Equal parts artistic and educational, it will feature fine art accompanied by a message of environmental stewardship. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children 6-12, free for garden members and children under 6. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

beginning.break.rapid: Kenji Fujita & Barbara Takenaga
Through June 2 at Bemis Center, 742 S. 12th St. These artists use a variety of mediums including vinyl, paint, spray paint, gesso, paper, calcium carbonate, wood, plywood, and linen. Admission: free. 402-341-7130.
bemiscenter.org

Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying
Through June 2 at Bemis Center, 742 S. 12th St. The artists in this exhibit examine how support for the body in states of illness and rest prompts us to re-imagine the world collectively. The exhibit aims to bring attention to how the body is articulated in capitalism and health-related discourse. Admission: free. 402-341-7130.
bemiscenter.org

Widespread Flowering
Through June 4 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. Motivated by the beauty and passage of time, space, and geometry of the world of nature, Ann Brugenhemke explores life and love through art. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children 6-12, free for garden members and children under 6. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

Wedes
Through June 4 at Darger HQ, 1804 Vinton St. Artists Angela Simione and Sarah Rowe are inspired by traditional craft. Their work embodies illustrations of everyday objects as metaphors of self-identity, boundaries, and protection. Admission: free. 402-209-5554.
dargerhq.org

Tuskeegee Airmen: Who Called Nebraska Home
Through June 30 at Great Plains Black History Museum, 2221 N. 24th St. (Jewell Building). The exhibit will highlight photos, historical information, and artifacts about the Tuskeegee Airmen who called Nebraska home. Admission: free. 402-932-5554
gpblackhistorymuseum.org

Wearable Art—Kiss of the Wolf
May 3-6 at Anderson O’Brien Art, 1108 Jackson St. Artist Lori Bacigalupi explores different techniques in fabric design, such as screen process, natural dyeing, and mono-printing in wearable art. Admission: free. 402-884-0911.
aobfineart.com

Awakening
Starting May 4 at Omaha Artists’ Co-op, 405 S. 11th St. Enjoy works of art by Jasmine Greenwaldt, Alan Smith, and George Skuodas. Admission: free. 402-342-9617.
artistscoopomaha.com

Salon Time: Sonya Clark + Althea Murphy-Price + Nontsikelelo Mutiti
May 4-June 30 at The Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 North 24th St. Salon Time features three artists who examine and celebrate the ritual time and material culture surrounding black women’s hair care. Admission: free. 402-933-3161.
u-ca.org

Missouri Valley Impressionist Society
May 11-June 30 at Gallery 1516, 1516 Leavenworth St. This national juried exhibition features pieces from the Missouri Valley Impressionist Society, a painting group striving to bring impressionism throughout the Missouri River Valley Region. Admission: free. 402-305-1510.
gallery1516.org

Amy Haney
Starting May 25 at Fred Simon Gallery, 1004 Farnman St. An Omaha native, Haney has practiced her artwork in several U.S. cities. Currently a professor in the college of communication, fine arts, and media at UNO, she is excited to share her printmaking pieces. Admission: free. 402-595-2122.
artscouncil.nebraska.gov

Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: Secrets of the Sewer
Starting May 26 at Omaha Children’s Museum, 500 S. 20th St. Leap to the rescue and learn teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving through puzzles, mazes, and obstacles just like Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello. Also showing at this time is: Children’s China: Celebrating Culture, Character, and Confucius. Admission: $12 adults and kids, $11 seniors, free for children under 2 and members. 402-342-6164.
ocm.org

Reality
Starting June 1 at KANEKO, 1111 Jones St. Reality will dissect the notion of truth, history, and the presentation of what is “real.” This exhibit will investigate art, science, and technology that creates, alters, and reflects upon the sense of real. Admission: free. 402-341-3800.
thekaneko.org

The Eye Perceives
Starting June 1 at Artists Co-op, 405 S. 11th St. View works by Richard Markoff, Gabriella Quiroz, and Duane Adams. Admission: free. 402-342-9617.
artistscoopomaha.com

Treasures of British Art 1400-2000: The Berger Collection
Starting June 2 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. Take a look at 50 masterworks from one of the most private collections of British painting in the U.S. Tickets: $10 adults ($5 on Thursday 4-8 p.m.), $5 college students, free for Joslyn members and ages 17 and younger. 402-342-3300.
joslyn.org   

Patriotic Perches
Starting June 20 at Lauritzen Gardens, 100 Bancroft St. This exhibit features a collection of 51 handcrafted birdhouses by Richard Yost. Yost combines art, geography, and horticulture to educate visitors about state birds and flowers. Each birdhouse is decorated with knick-knacks that represent each state. Admission: $10 adults, $5 ages 6-12, free for garden members and children under 6. 402-346-4002.
lauritzengardens.org

Fighting for the Right to Fight: African-American Experiences in World War II
Through July 15 at Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St. This exhibit features artifacts, photographs, and oral histories to highlight some of the extraordinary achievements and challenges of African-Americans during World War II, both overseas and at home. Admission: $11 adults, $8 seniors (62+), $7 children (3-12), and free to children age 2 and under and members. 402-444-5071.
durhammuseum.org


Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Radical Inclusion

April 10, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For the uninitiated, zines are small, handmade magazines typically made from standard printer paper folded, cut, and stapled together. Variations of the form exist, and subjects are limited only by interest: journalism, politics, art, activism, poetry, fan fiction, DIY, superheroes. Anything cool, hip, instructive, subversive, or enlightening is fit to print.

No matter how you slice the printer paper, Omaha Zine Fest is cool and getting cooler by the year. How cool? Cool enough for Vice Magazine to include OZF as the Nebraska entry in their series “50 States of Art.” Founded in 2016 by Andrea Kszystyniak, Daphne Calhoun, and Kaitlin McDermott, OZF has grown. The March 2017 fest at The Union for Contemporary Art drew hundreds of artists and fans from the Omaha metro and across the Midwest to buy, sell, trade, share, and learn.

Kszystyniak is a Rhode Island native who studied journalism at the University of Missouri and moved to Omaha in 2013. Her personal philosophy is radical inclusion. Her interest in zines started because she was, like many artists, a discipline case.

“I was grounded a lot as a kid, so I was often trapped at home and forced to amuse myself,” Kszystyniak says. “I spent a lot of time engaging with people online and really growing my understanding of art and DIY culture that way.”

A voracious consumer of music and music journalism, Kszystyniak was influenced by the feminist punk Riot Grrrl scene of the ’90s.

“Zines were a huge part of that culture, so I really grew to love them as a medium that way,” Kszystyniak says. “I used to play around on this now-defunct mail art forum called nervousness.org when I was a younger teen. The website encouraged you to collaboratively make and share work with people across the globe. A huge part of that forum was exchanging art, zines, collages…whatever.”

Daphne Calhoun came to Omaha from Grand Island to study social work and public health. For her, zines are great because anyone can get involved.

“You don’t have to have a resume,” Calhoun says. “You can make anything you want to do: DIY, poetry, science fiction, fantasy. The sky is the limit.”

Calhoun worked previously at Valiant Studios, an art and music studio for individuals with developmental disabilities.

“One of my favorite zine memories is compiling an art zine with them. Accessibility is the only thing that matters to me, and zines are such an accessible medium,” says Calhoun who once got her grandmother to make a short zine about interdimensional space aliens. “You don’t need to be an expert or have any expensive equipment. All you need is paper and some scissors and anyone can make a zine.”

In the spirit of radical inclusion and accessibility, Omaha Zine Fest has a safer spaces policy to provide for an open-minded, nonthreatening, and respectful environment where participants learn from one another. It is the essence of the festival, according to Kszystyniak.

“The everyday person needs an outlet to speak out against injustice or even just to teach others things,” Kszystyniak says. “Our No. 1 goal is to make sure everyone comes in and is comfortable and feels safe spending time in a creative community with everyone else there. Our priority is always accessibility, safety, and radical inclusion. It’s really the reason we started the fest in the first place: to make sure everyone has a place at the table.”

Visit omahazinefest.org for more information. The 2018 Omaha Zinefest is April 14 (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) at The Union for Contemporary Arts.

From top: Andrea Kszystyniak and Daphne Calhoun

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

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.

kimdarling1

Visual Dialogue

July 8, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The work of multimedia artist Sarah Rowe is often described as having a “sense of playfulness and a hint of sarcasm,” and Rowe herself says that art sometimes speaks in a way that is provocative and challenging more than serving as a thing of beauty.

“I’m just a firm believer in not questioning what it is that you’re called to do. I’m not trying to please anyone, not even myself necessarily,” she says.

SarahRowe3Native American themes from symbology to history are prevalent in many of Rowe’s works; she is of Lakota and Ponca descent and is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. “I was brought up with Lakota ceremony and tradition,” she says. “I identify with both, but I would say my spiritual ties are definitely Lakota.” Through her art, she has confronted issues from self-identity to the history of exploitation of Native Americans as well as honored the traditions of her ancestors.

“It’s been an interesting journey, certainly, as an urban Native. And there’s been a lot of discouragement there, but in a way it’s inspired me to carry on and use that part of me and that voice. I almost feel like I have a responsibility,” she says. “Using art as a platform is such a great way to raise awareness and have a dialogue…I want people to feel comfortable to approach me, and share my ideas and history, and connect as human beings that way.”

Her calling has led her to explore a wide spectrum of media, from metal to photography to performance art including traditional flute and dance.

“I went to art school as a sculptor but I was so interested in learning all of these new techniques that I left with a studio degree,” she explains. Rowe received a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Webster University after studying in both St. Louis, Missouri, and Vienna, Austria. “I kind of just gave everything a try.”

SarahRowe2Rowe is not only a visual and performing artist, but also a practitioner of the healing arts, or as she succinctly puts it: “Very hands-on.” She works as a licensed esthetician at Curb Appeal Salon and Spa in the Old Market, where she’s been able to integrate her heritage by practicing holistic, multisensory body treatments with aspects of Lakota healing ceremonies. Rowe says she believes sharing knowledge of these healing ceremonies “enriches connections to ourselves and the earth, promoting well-being and balance of mind and body.” She also enjoys connecting to nature through hiking and exploring with her 11-year-old daughter, who’s already showing her own artistic talents as a writer and illustrator.

Rowe has exhibited through numerous galleries and arts organizations including the four-year project Sweatshop Gallery in Benson (which she co-founded), RNG Gallery in Council Bluffs, The Union for Contemporary Art, and Joslyn Art Museum’s Art Seen. She is currently represented by Darger HQ Gallery, an international artist collective based in Omaha. Some of her pieces are commercially available at Hutch, a furniture and home accents retailer in Midtown Crossing, and samples of her artworks can also be seen on her website, saroart.net (the name winks at her lifelong experience of people running her first and last name together as “Saro”).

“You can never learn it all, and I think that’s part of the fun,” Rowe says. Encounter

Visit saroart.net for more information.

Art School

February 11, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Are those balloons?” the instructor asks a young girl dressed warmly in pink sweatpants and a purple sweatshirt. The girl looks up and nods enthusiastically before returning to her drawing.

No, it’s not a school day. It’s Saturday at The Union For Contemporary Art, but the youth program is in full swing—just as it is every Saturday.

Established in 2011, The Union for Contemporary Art, located just south of 24th and Lake streets, was founded to provide opportunities to local artists and connect North Omaha youth to the arts. Founder Brigitte McQueen Shew says that the non-profit arts organization was badly needed to not only provide opportunities for artists, but to bridge gaps in the community.

Ending up here on a whim in 2001, McQueen Shew decided to move to Seattle not long after. Having come to Omaha after living in New York City, she says the divide between North Omaha and the rest of the city was overwhelming to her. But, eventually, she moved back. “I realized running away from that issue wasn’t the right thing to do. That’s something you fight against, it isn’t something you let drive you away,” she says.

A journalist, McQueen Shew had no experience in the world of non-profits. However, after she returned, she began to research North Omaha and found herself falling in love with the community. She decided to start an arts organization, not only one for local artists, but also one for area youth who would benefit from mentorship, access to materials and space, connections with professional artists, and programs designed for both them and their parents.

The Union For Contemporary Art is no doubt a place where local artists can find support and visibility—especially through the Studio Fellowship Program—but it’s greatest gift to the community may be the role it plays in offering mentoring to the area’s young people. Many of the other local after-school programs in the area revolve around athletics, McQueen Shew notes. Perhaps too many. “I’ve had parents tell me: ‘My kid can get a scholarship playing basketball but they can’t get a scholarship with art,’” McQueen Shew says. “I really wanted to address that.”

She says that while she doesn’t expect that every child who comes through the mentorship program will go on to be an artist, it still matters, she says, to immerse North Omaha youth in art. “It’s part of our everyday—from graffiti on buildings to the ways we dress ourselves,” she says. “To know art is to better know the world around you.”

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