Cochance and Black Jonny Quest (right)
If I had a nickel for every time I overheard someone mutter the phrase “there’s nothing to do in Omaha”, I’d have enough nickels right now to buy an Hermes Birkin bag. And yet, on any given weekend, I’ll wind up with a Facebook event invite list so long that I could probably read ‘Crime and Punishment’ from start to finish in less time than it takes me to actually sort through all of them. (Granted I only own the Sparknotes version, but still…) For quite some time the question continued to plague me: with so much going on in Omaha, how could anyone still be under the impression that this city is uneventful? I think I’ve finally solved the mystery.
One of modern society’s most brilliant psychologists Barry Schwartz developed a theory called “the paradox of choice”. The theory states that: when presented with too many options (no matter how great each individual option is) the outcome will almost always result in a feeling of discontentment regardless of which option the individual chooses. Schwartz also theorized that people will often become so overwhelmed when faced with multiple options that they’ll end up choosing nothing at all. This theory can probably be applied to Omaha’s night life, specifically the local art scene. With so many concerts and art shows to choose from, you’re bound to miss out on something. Schwartz says the only way to avoid this “paradox of choice” is to combine all of your options so that, in the end, you’re left with just one. Recently, that’s exactly what Miguel Cedillo did for Omaha when he created The Omaha People’s Party (OPP).
Hard to define but probably best described as a multimedia pop up show, OPP isn’t a single event but rather an ongoing project that aims to provide a platform for local artists. Cedillo’s brainchild was successfully brought to life and materialized for the first time a few weeks ago at the New BLK gallery with some help from Gerard Pefung and a variety of different artists. Local painters, musicians, fashion professionals and filmmakers united together under one roof to support and promote local art.
“I think this event is a combination of everything our local artistic community already loves and does well”, said Cedillo. “Now, we’re simply reaching out to different corners of that community. Music, art, film and fashion are the four main pillars of OPP. Those four pillars will be featured in some way, shape or form during every single pop up show. Ideally, we would like to have a new show every 6-8 weeks. The main featured artists will be kept a secret. We’ll eventually reveal the featured artists, location and time of The OPP in an announcement shortly before the event is set to start. The mystery will, hopefully, help to create some anticipation.”
The first OPP's main featured artist was Black Jonny Quest. The pop up show coincided with the release of his first solo album "Smells Like Good News", which is available for download now.
With free entry, a complimentary open bar and a room full of local artists all eager to donate their time and talent toward the cause, it wasn’t hard to see why the first ever OPP garnered such an impressive crowd. Local painters like Erick UnCool participated in a live art show downstairs while Dirty Diamonds and Op2mus provided live music. Conchance, Black Jonny Quest, Kethro and Dojorok (who, all together, form the Midtown Marauders) took over as the main attractions towards the end of the night.
“The incentive for coming out and performing at an event like this is pretty much just the event itself. Just liking the concept behind the event and wanting to be a part of it,” said local hip hop artist and multiple OEA winner Conchance. “Anything like this that encourages local artists and musicians, I’ll support. Also, I’m pretty close with a lot of the people who helped organize this. They’re all good friends of mine. So, if they ask me to do something for OPP again in the future, I’ll do it. I want to help or be involved in any way that I can.” Fans of local art, music, fashion and film should see this as a way to discover new artists, musicians, fashion designers and filmmakers that they may not have otherwise been exposed to. Venue and bar owners in Omaha can use an event like this to their advantage by offering to provide the location (which will almost undeniably be good for business). And most importantly, new artists can utilize The OPP events to showcase their work and broaden their fan base.
“When it comes to finding new artists to feature in our future pop up shows, I encourage feedback from the community. If there’s an artist that people would like to see featured, even if it’s an artist I’ve never heard of before, I want to know about it,” says Cedillo. “We have a Facebook page that people can go to. They can post pictures and videos from the first pop up show and they can make suggestions for who they’d like to see featured in the future on our official Omaha People’s Party page.”
**Make sure to visit the event’s facebook page for exclusive pictures and video, and check the page periodically for announcements regarding the next OPP’s secret featured artist and location!