The annual Bemis Center auction has always been one of the most anticipated Metro arts events in the fall, but this year things have changed. The auction, that is, not the anticipation.
The 15th Annual Bemis Gala and Auction, Oct. 26, is still our lead in this autumn’s visual arts preview. But after last year’s less than satisfactory experience for patrons, this fun- and fundraiser has undergone significant changes on both accounts under the leadership of its new director, Adam Price, who knows something about creating a fine arts vibe and happening.
Those changes include: The event is a one-nighter, 6-9 p.m., and includes: A silent auction without digital bidding which proved unpopular last year; two additional events, works for sale by Bemis residents past and present organized by Kansas City’s curatorial collective, Plug Projects, and an exhibit, An American Conversation by artist Mel Ziegler; the evening concludes with a live auction conducted by Christie’s auction house and features art and packages from such luminaries as Betty Woodman, Theaster Gates, Vera Mercer, Jun Kaneko, Christo, and Catherine Ferguson, among others.
But, as they say, the price of poker has gone up: The Gala entry fee is now $99 per person which includes access to both auctions, beverages and hors d’oeuvres by Chef Paul Kulik of the Boiler Room, an individual annual Bemis membership, and perhaps most motivating of all, a $75 credit toward purchase of any art. Furthermore, purchase a ticket before 5 p.m., Oct 1., and the $75 credit doubles to $150. A limited number of tickets are available this year Bemis says but early birders can purchase online at bemiscenter.org. Preview artwork online now or in the galleries from Oct. 12-25.
Ironically, to help set October’s stage for all things art-wise—viewing, celebrating and buying fine art--Bemis unwittingly has an opening act in the private sector at Gallery 72. This venue on Vinton in South Omaha will host a unique-to-the-Metro Fine Art Auction, Oct. 3, dedicated to serving the secondary market; that is, works that have been purchased by patrons but may be sold again in this manner.
The live and online auction commences that Thursday at 7 p.m. via Proxibid, but Gallery 72 will also hold two previews, Oct. 2 from noon to 7 p.m. and on auction day from 4 to 7 p.m. Admission is free to the previews and auction and refreshments will be provided..
Though these two auctions have little in common, Bemis being a non-profit institution and Gallery 72 for profit, the proximity of these two events may eventually benefit both as well as help to contribute to what has always been a seasonal return to arts events of all kinds in the Metro area. It even presents an interesting possibility for future collaborations.
“I offered to have four to six pieces Bemis has collected over the years in our auction,” said John Rogers, owner of Gallery 72, “but they are in the process of inventorying and evaluating the work. I would like to help the Bemis in the future.”
Price concurs saying, “the timing of their auction did not work this year, but I plan to attend personally. I think John had a terrific idea to develop a secondary market, and I look forward to working with Gallery 72. We are always looking forward for opportunities to work with the local arts community.”
A similar fun(d)raiser on behalf of the Kent Bellow Studio occurs Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. with its annual Wishbone event at the Joslyn Castle. This progressive gala includes student and alumni art, live art making workshops, refreshments, music and an exclusive collection of the studio’s namesake. Proceeds will benefit KBS mentoring programs which target young artists from age 14-18.
Of course, all three events offer patrons an opportunity to view as well as possibly purchase artwork, if in a limited, non-curated show. Another major event the Metro enjoys on both levels is the annual Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour, Oct. 5-6, which occurs in that area and beyond in four locations: Big Table Studios in Herman, NE, Too Far North Wines in Fort Calhoun, Dennison Pottery and the Florence Mill, both in North Omaha.
A list of participating artists can be found at omahanorthhillspotterytour.com, but new this year is the “lacy, Persian” work of Jenni Brant, executive director of Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the “elegant, hand-built porcelain and wheel-thrown forms” of Tara Malley at the Mill.
But whether purchasing or not, several non-profit and private art venues offer viewers a harvest of contemporary art as varied as autumn’s own palette. Below in no certain order are a dozen of what promise to be interesting and worthwhile exhibits in the Metro:
1. Joslyn Art Museum offers Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection of paintings, sculpture and works on paper from American artists since the 1960s—including Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha. The exhibit runs from Sept. 28—Jan. 5, 2014.
2. Modern Arts Midtown gallery will feature new 3D work, The Objects of My Intention, from Catherine Ferguson in November as part of its Fall trifecta of exhibits.
3. A Small Group Show at the Fred Simon Gallery in December will highlight recent work from Milton Heinrich, Barbara Simcoe and Sheila Talbitzer.
4. The UNO Art Gallery will exhibit paintings of Nate Burbeck and drawings of Joel Starkey from Oct. 14—Nov. 14. And the Hillmer Gallery at College of St. Mary’s will show Best of Omaha Artists from Nov. 14—Dec. 14.
5. The Union for Contemporary Arts, which opens a new gallery of its own on 24th St. in October, will collaborate with Creighton’s Lied Gallery to showcase a group of its fellows in Prediction and Echoes, opening Oct. 4 with a reception on the 25th. Meanwhile, Watie White’s All That Ever Was continues in the Lied until its closing Sept. 29th.
6. The Kaneko welcomes Fall with Arch #2, Sept 20-Nov. 15, featuring models, renderings and images of three Omaha architectural firms, RDG, HDR and DLR. And the annual AIGA annual awards show of Nebraska’s best graphic design will run Nov. 11-15.
7. Not to be undone, the above venue’s namesake, acclaimed artist Jun Kaneko will exhibit twice this fall with Fremont Dangos, Sept. 20-Jan. 10, a set of six 11’ ceramic pieces and then with Stacked-An Exploration in Density & Line, same dates, consisting of three ceramic and three glasswork lattice pieces.
8. The Moving Gallery offers two fall shows: Lincoln artist Jar Schepers who creates unusual, surreal sculpture made from recyclable material, Oct. 10-Nov. 14, and the duct taped drawings of Cincinnati artist Joe Girandola, a former Bemis Artist Residency Director, Nov. 21-Jan. 29.
9. Plains Talk, which opens Sept. 19th at Anderson O’Brien and runs until Oct. 27, highlights landscape and figurative work from Vince Hron, Wendy Hall, Stephen Dinsmore and Ray Knaub, among others.
10. Galley 72 has several works on paper exhibits this fall including bookends It Was All Just a Dream, Sept. 13-Oct. 12, woodcut and litho prints of Endi Poskovic and intaglio and relief prints of Amy Haney, Nov. 1-23.
11. Hot Shops Art Center will host Unraveled, a visual response to the Ravel/Unraveled Project in December. Deadline for submission is Oct. 1. Details at ravelunravel.com
12. RNG Gallery in Council Bluffs will finish its successful year with shows opening Sept. 14 (Paul Konchagulian), Oct. 12 (Bart Vargas) and Nov. 9 (Wanda Ewing and Rebecca Herskovitz).
13. Omaha’s Dundee Gallery opens Nov. 1 with serigraphic landscapes from Judith Welk and the Artist Co-op in the Old Market offers Connections now in September with work from Frank Daharsh, Virginia Ocken and Darlys Vande Voort.