Tag Archives: Urban Abbey

Planting Seeds for the (Chinese) New Year

March 1, 2018 by

Pick of the Week—Saturday, March 3: They say those born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature—kindness, honesty, loyalty, etc. Celebrate all that goodness at the Nebraska Chinese Association’s Lunar New Year Gala this weekend. One of the largest annual celebrations of Asian culture in the Midwest, you do not want to miss out on this year’s celebration. Omaha Magazine will be there with our latest issue, marking our 35th year and featuring several stories on the history (and future) of Chinese people in Omaha. The gala showcases Chinese culture and heritage using cuisine, traditional performances, and of course, the lion dance. Let’s hope this new year brings out those good traits in all of us. Purchase your tickets to this festive yet educational event here, or you can pick them up at Asian Market on 76th Street in the Heritage Plaza.

Thursday, March 1: Start talking, and listening, tonight at Me Too: A Community Dialogue about Coercion and Consent at Urban Abbey. This is a community conversation regarding sexual violence and how we can do better. The #MeToo movement serves as a catalyst to discussion regarding coercion, consent, and change. Hosted by the Women’s Center for Advancement, The Women’s Fund of Greater Omaha, and Urban Abbey, this event is open to everyone. Find out more here.

Friday, March 2: Kick off this beautiful weekend with some sweet live music at Slowdown at 8 p.m. Kait Berreckman is leaving her new home in Denver and bringing it back to Omaha, She’ll be killing it Friday night with Edge of Arbor and Miwi La Lupa. Support your favorite local (and formerly local) acts now. Tickets are only $7, so this is a don’t-miss-it show. Better get your tickets here.

Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3: Get out and enjoy the promised (fingers crossed) good weather this weekend during the Historic Preservation Conference and Exhibition, courtesy of Restoration Exchange Omaha. There will be speakers, building tours, walking tours, and even some free food and drinks. See the up-and-coming areas around Omaha and talk to the people making it all happen. For the complete schedule of events, go here.

Sunday, March 4: Have you been thinking about sprucing up your yard, but aren’t sure where to start? Worried that you have more of a black thumb than a green one? Then get to Starting Seeds: An Informative Discussion and Hands-on Workshop at Lanoha Nurseries. The informative discussion starts at 1 p.m. and will cover everything from picking the perfect seed to transplanting that grownup seed. There’s also a hands-on workshop you can sign up for, though that part isn’t free. Learn more here.

Sunday, March 4: There are only two shows remaining in the Omaha Symphony’s Family Series, and this next one promises a little mystery for your Sunday afternoon. Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Music is playing out at the Holland Performing Arts Center at 2 p.m. Everyone is a suspect in the case of the orchestra’s missing melody, so you’d better have a solid alibi. Watch Holmes investigate to Gershwin, Shostakovich, and, fittingly, Mancini’s “The Pink Panther Theme.” Get your tickets to this mystery adventure here.
Or, take your chances and visit Omaha Magazine’s Facebook page (@omahamagazine) to learn more out more about winning free tickets to Omaha Symphony performances of Sherlock Holmes: Case of the Missing Music and Symphony in Space.

Weekend Picks

January 18, 2018 by
Photography by Contributed

PICK OF THE WEEK: Thursday, Jan. 18: Scotch aficionados, rejoice. Tonight is the first night of Joslyn Castles Speakeasy Series, and they are kicking it off with a Scotch Tasting. Omaha’s own Scotch expert Mary Tomes of the Dundee Dell will be there to guide you through. Certified cheese professional Miranda McQuillan will be on hand with pairings for the flight of six Scottish whiskeys you’ll get to try. Start the evening with a rare tour of George Joslyn’s “mancave” basement. What better way to combine a love of history and booze? To keep an eye out for future speakeasy events, ring the buzzer here.

 

Friday, Jan. 19: If you’re in the mood for some hip-hop, but you like to keep it refined, A Night of Symphonic Hip-Hop featuring Wyclef Jean is a show you’ve got to see. Not only do you get to see the Grammy Award-winning former Fugee present his fusion hip-hop with a live orchestra, you’ll also get to see Omaha’s own Kethro and CJ Mills open for him at the Holland Performing Arts Center. Get your tickets here now, and don’t forget to show your support for the local acts.

Saturday, Jan. 20: In what looks to be an annual event, this Saturday you can get out and show your support for women and resist what has become the status quo by attending the 2018 Omaha Women’s March. LGBTQIA people and any people who don’t quite identify with those labels are all welcome here. Design your own sign beforehand at Urban Abbey downtown, but be sure to get to the starting point on 14th Street by 1 p.m. Don’t forget the after party at Slowdown starts at 6 p.m., so you’ll have plenty of time to warm up before dancing any lingering anger away. March on over here to find out more.

Saturday, Jan. 20: If you haven’t been to The Trap Room yet (and weirdly, some of you haven’t) you now have the perfect excuse. This Saturday is the Inaugural Trap Room Showcase with Brad Hoshaw. Listen to some sweet acoustic music while sipping the finest cocktails made by the finest bartenders in town. The music only lasts from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., so be sure to get there and find a comfy seat early. For more details, click here.

Sunday, Jan. 21: Get your nostalgia fix this Sunday with the Tom Petty Celebration/Benefit with Ventura Boulevard at Chrome Lounge. Ventura Boulevard is a supergroup of Omaha musicians coming together in their love and appreciation of Petty and his music. This doesn’t have to be your last dance. Come out and help them celebrate the weird one’s life while supporting a good cause, or causes in this case, including two of Petty’s own favorites. Time to move on—over here for more information.

 

Artist Erin Blayney

October 2, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For visual artist Erin Blayney, who grew up in the great outdoors, it’s all about light and space. She has plenty of both at her Old Market apartment that doubles as her studio.

Natural light from six large, south-facing windows cascades over her easel and houseplants. “Not only is that perfect for the type of lighting I need to do my best work, it’s healthy for my overall well-being,” says Blayney.

erinblayney2Exposed brickwork, high ceilings, and an open floor plan contribute to a sense of spaciousness. Extra-wide windowsills provide great perches for her collection of succulents.

“I love nature and the outdoors,” she says. “This apartment allows me to integrate that love into my living quarters, and not feel cramped or experience cabin fever.”

Her spot above Urban Abbey in the historic Windsor Hotel building puts her right in the thick of things. “The Old Market for me is very welcoming, unique, and nourishes a diverse group of people of all ages and backgrounds,” she says. “It’s urban yet has some aspect of a small neighborhood as well.”

A Florida transplant and Art Institute of Chicago graduate, Blayney creates figurative drawings and paintings. She previously worked as an art preparator for California museums.

Her mother preceded her to Omaha to be near a sister, and Erin followed. “My mom lives three blocks away from me, so it’s wonderful to conveniently meet for coffee or go for a bike ride together,” she says.

This self-described “people person” is drawn to the human form. She variously works from live models or photographs.

“Drawing and painting people, mostly gestural, seems to be pretty consistent for me,” she says. “It’s capturing the physicality of a person expressed through facial expression or movement. I love capturing the realness of their character, even if it’s subtle.”

Recently, Omaha restaurant mogul Willy Theisen commissioned her portrait of his granddaughter for his new Paragon eatery in Dundee.

When approaching a new work, she says, “I never know how it’s going to look, so it’s a little adventurous. If I stop thinking about what I’m doing and just let it flow, it comes out naturally. That ‘diving into it’ mindset is what I have to be in for the work to really evolve. It’s mysterious.”

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Blayney’s work is not all figurative. “Occasionally, I’ll do still life,” she says, gesturing to an in-progress oyster shell rendered in a swirl of pastels. She is contemplating an oceanic-themed series motivated by her love of the water, marine life, and nature.

“I was brought up on water. I swam in the Gulf of Mexico. So that’s in my bones.”

In Omaha, she has twice worked at Jun Kaneko’s studio (most recently in 2006 as a painting assistant). Of the celebrated artist, she says, “We had a good connection. He’s very quiet, polite, observant, receptive. He was very trusting of me. Like when I did some mixing of colors, pigments—he trusted my instincts. I’m not a ceramicist, but I felt in my natural element.”

She feels at home in Omaha, where she says, “The connections I’ve made are so important.” The same for her day job at Alley Poyner Macchietto, where she curates art shows. She admires the local art-culture scene.

“I feel the creative community in Omaha is very supportive rather than super competitive. The friends I’ve made here are very authentic, genuine, and loyal.”

She enjoys what the Bemis and Joslyn offer as well as how “smaller, contemporary, progressive galleries like Project Project and Darger HQ are pushing the envelope. I’m a huge fan of Garden of the Zodiac. 1516 Gallery is just gorgeous.”

In the spring of 2016, Petshop Gallery in Benson exhibited her portraiture work. She regularly shows in the Bemis Benefit Art Auction and had a piece in the October 28 show (she described the colorful abstract portrait as “a little mysterious looking”).

Blayney also contributed to the Old Market Art Project; hers was one of 37 banners selected (from nearly 300 submissions) to be displayed outside the Mercer Building as renovations followed the M’s Pub fire.

“It’s an abstract painting that took forever,” she says. “There’s a lot going on in it. Finally, it just came together. I collaborated with another artist in the process of painting it, and then I finished it.”

She sees many opportunities for local artists in Omaha, but there is room for improvement, too. “There’s definitely room to grow—I’d like to see even more galleries because there’s so much talent here,” she says.

Going into the fall, several commission projects were “consuming” Blayney’s time. Her projects come from anywhere and everywhere. “Lately, it’s been more people coming to me and asking either for a portrait of themselves or of a family member. I can be surprised. I’ve given my card to someone and then a year later gotten a commission. It’s unpredictable.”

Visit erinblayney.com for more information.

Encounter

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