Tag Archives: Americana

An Expressionistic Representationalist Take on Dirtbags

March 16, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Stephen Dinsmore was meant to be a painter. It just took him about three decades to be at peace with that fact of his life.

“I was not one of those kids who thought of being an artist or had anything to do with it really,” Dinsmore, 63, says from his Lincoln studio. “The art kids always seemed a little bit out there to me. So I went in a different direction.”

The Omaha native went corporate out of college despite becoming hooked on paint and canvas at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. But as Dinsmore began accumulating stuff and status through his steady 9-to-5 as a technical writer, the urge to paint only intensified, which took a toll on
his happiness.

“I finally said one day, ‘I’m either going to die the most unhappy, corporate, schlemiel writer in the world or I’m going to start painting,’” Dinsmore says.


At 32, he quit his job, sold his house, and moved to New York City where he painted by night and handled Francis Bacon and Mark Rothko paintings by day. Indeed, it was during this period of Dinsmore’s life—in a warehouse next door to the famous Marlborough Gallery—where the self-described “expressionistic representationalist” says he developed his style and craft.

“I just kept at it and kept at it and I got better and felt stronger and more confident. I started showing and started selling and it started to take hold and I quit my day jobs after five years,” Dinsmore says.

He hasn’t had another job since.

“The key is, the real measure is, if you’ve got that flame that doesn’t go out—that’s really what’s required, that’s what’s going to drive you on through the whole thing,” Dinsmore says, describing how he’s battled artistic setbacks and self-doubt throughout his career. “But without that, it’s unlikely you’ll make it.”

Dinsmore’s style is a polygamous marriage between Expressionism, Americana, and Ashcan art. It’s Norman Rockwell minus the warm fuzzies; Edward Hopper without corrective lenses. There’s a meditativeness and vitality to his soulful landscapes and still lifes. And his baseball paintings drip with mythos and nostalgia.

“There’s such a poetry to the game: the beauty of the field, the ironwork of the stadiums, uniforms, of course, and some of the insignias,” he says. “It’s all really quite beautiful to me. Yet there’s an ennui to it—there’s an emotional pull.”

The artist’s gritty, sometimes bleak depictions of America’s national pastime, he says, can be found most summers at Anderson O’Brien Fine Art during the College World Series. Dinsmore is also represented by Modern Arts Midtown and is a regular at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, among the plethora of galleries that represent him nationally.

Although validating, showing art will never define his career, Dinsmore says.

“If I never sold another painting again and that was the end of it, I’d still be painting,” he says. “It’s something that, when it works, is just so deeply satisfying to me.”


The Essential 
Brad Hoshaw

March 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The legend of Brad Hoshaw and The Seven Deadlies began in 2008 with a one-off show that has since tumbleweeded into two acclaimed full-length albums and five Omaha Entertainment
and Arts Awards.

Hoshaw—who was raised on healthy doses of Johnny Cash and murder ballads—started releasing his virtuous blend of Americana, folk, and pop in 1998 against a chicer Omaha indie sound that would render him somewhat anonymous for most of the naughts. After joining forces with Matt Whipkey, Vern Fergesen, and J. Scott Gaeta, or The Seven Deadlies band, the 35-year-old eventually achieved name recognition as a regional songwriting powerhouse. He’s been committing songs against humanity ever since.

Gluttony: This isn’t your older brother or sister’s Brad Hoshaw. The raucous first chords of “Powdernose”—the leading track from 2009’s Brad Hoshaw and The Seven Deadlies self-titled album—assure the listener of just that, kicking in like a renegade cowboy ready to shoot up the place. Tragically, the lyrical patrons of Hoshaw’s fictitious saloon are too sick with vice to fight back.

Envy: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Hoshaw’s cover of Kyle Harvey’s “It Falls Apart” sincerely takes the former local singer-songwriter to task. For as much as the woeful coda to 2014’s Funeral Guns espouses the same message as Harvey’s experimental effort, it’s clearly not the same song. Of course, Hoshaw’s more palpable rendition isn’t a conscious critique of the original but rather a byproduct of his master craftsmanship.

Sloth: One of the premiere tracks from Funeral Guns, “8 Ball” is the coming-of-age tale of heartbreak and a once popular fortune-telling toy. Throughout the idling experience, Hoshaw looks to a Magic 8 Ball for a clue as to why his former sweetheart of five years got hitched, thus axing their fated reunion. He’s left without an answer, forgetting to pose his inquiry in the form of a yes-or-no question.

Lust: The narrator of Hoshaw’s “Face of Man” could’ve limped off the pages of a Cormac McCarthy novel. He’s a murder ballad in the making, “Hey Joe” before the crime. But whether the brooding antihero is a lecherous madman or just a run-of-the-mill misogynist remains to be heard in The Seven Deadlies redux that first appeared on Hoshaw’s 2003 album Sketches from the Dream State. Either way, any hope that he’ll one day become a well-adjusted person is eventually shattered by a piercing Matt Whipkey guitar solo in the song’s eleventh hour.

Greed: Originally written for the local roots act The Black Squirrels, Hoshaw’s sonic act of charity, “Delta King,” later became the ninth track on Funeral Guns after the band broke up in 2011. While the cautionary folk tale betrays the album’s tough cowboy exterior, its commentary on excessive pursuit defends Hoshaw’s cynical theme: humankind is depraved.

Wrath: Judging from Hoshaw’s complete body of work, it’s tempting to think there isn’t a mean bone in it. Enter “Gone in a Minute,” the slightly spiteful track that admits, “You were wrong to think I was kind.” Ever the nice guy, Hoshaw instantly returns to his sympathetic ways, threatening to leave in a minute’s time…for two and a half minutes. If it’s any consolation, it’s still his shortest Seven Deadlies song.

Pride: Born from the deepest stirrings of Hoshaw’s ego, “Funeral Guns” came to the crooner in a dream, or so the story goes. The track, from the album with the same title, is a pseudo eulogy to Hoshaw’s deceased father, whose ascending ghost seems haunted by how he’ll be remembered by those he loved most. In the end, the proud son forgives and his song never forgets.

Visit bradhoshaw.wordpress.com to learn more.


Americana Meets Bohemia

June 29, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Article originally published in July 2015 Her Family.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I have a bit of an obsession with American flags. They are all over my house, my keys, my clothes, etc. I consider my personal style to be a “Franken-style.” I start with some vintage Americana, stir in a pinch of natural history museum, throw in some grandma chic, and heck, why not mix in some hookah lounge?

This DIY project fits into any of these personalities (since I seem to have multiple). So, whether you are a free spirit, a shabby chic princess, or just looking for something for your kids Fourth of July party, this flag is sure to be a conversation piece.


Lightly mark the dowel rod 8 inches from the end on each side. This will give a guideline for centering the flag on the rod.

Cut out a 10×10” square of denim. I painted the stars by hand, but a star-shaped stencil or sponge may also be used if you seek a more refined look.

After the paint dries, align the left edge of the denim with the left-side mark on the rod and hot glue in place.

Cut the ribbons to varying lengths of about twice as long as you would like them to be. Fold ribbons around the wooden rod, and tie them in place until you reach the right-hand mark on the rod. Hot glue shorter pieces on the back side of the denim to complete the pattern.

Glue a ribbon across the top of the flag to conceal the knots and give the flag a finished look.


DIY July 2015