One of the highlights of the visual arts component of the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards is that every year patrons see new faces and diverse points-of-view—demonstrated in the winners’ showcase currently on view at Gallery 72 this week.
The 2017 awards were given out last Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Omaha Design Center with categories including 2D, 3D and New Media Artists, Emerging and Overall Emerging Artist and Solo, 2-Person, Group Exhibitions and Public Art.
You may have missed the original exhibits that featured all the nominated artists, but the winners and virtually all the nominees are on display at the Vinton Street venue through this Saturday, Feb. 25.
The work in the showcase provides a glimpse into the wealth of talent and technique in Omaha. Displays of the Public Art nominees tell the story of their conception and completion, including a photo story of the category winner, Del Futuro al Pasado a mural by the Plaza de la Raza group on the El Mercado building.
The project included contributors Hugo Zamorano, Mike Giron, Gerardo Vazquez, Jair Rodriguez, Ian Rodriguez, Sedra Caseneda, Rhianna Giron, Quin Slovek, and Richard Harrison.
Samples from solo exhibitions from this year vary between 2D, 3D and New Media installations. Among them are pieces from Phil Hawkins, winner of Best Solo Exhibition for Paradox at Sunderland Gallery. Hawkins was also the winner for Best 3D Artist, a category that featured sculptors who work in ceramic, metal, stone, plastic and cardboard.
The Best 2D Artist contributors included emerging and mainstay artists alike, with a piece from category winner Joseph Broghammer that demonstrates his expressive style through symbolic and satirical form.
The Best New Media Artist was a strong category featuring video, fiber, light and multimedia installations. Susan Knight emerged the winner with her technique of cutting and connecting Tyvek & Mylar to illustrate patterns and data in water conservation.
Knight also took home the coveted Best Visual Artist prize at the awards, besting such talented artists as Phil Hawkins, Stephen Cornelius Roberts, Sarah Rowe and Jar Schepers in this category.
Nominees for Best 2-Person Exhibition also represented a variety of mediums and technique. Sculpture, video, assemblage and painting received recognition in this category. The abstract show “Common Origins/Separate Destinations” featuring Jacqueline Kluver and Larry Roots at Modern Arts Midtown took home the trophy.
Group shows always provide a great mix of artists with different perspectives, resumes and mediums and this year was no exception. These exhibits always illicit interesting takes on their respective themes with the category’s winner, Nebraska Rising at Bemis Center of Contemporary Art, the interpretations of landscape by Phil Hawkins, Heron Bassett, Mary Elizabeth, Roberta Leaverton, Joey Lynch, Liana Owad, Kristae Peterson, Christopher Prinz, Craig Roper, Barbara Simcoe, and Michael Villareal organized and curated by Alex Priest.
The Best Emerging Artist category is always a favorite as it serves as a forecast of new talent and intriguing work coming to the surface. This year’s group featured painters Katie B. Temple, Shawn Teseo Ballarin and Anthony Deon Brown, photographer Geoff Johnson, printmaker Federico Perez and the category’s winner, painter and street-artist Hugo Zamorano who also worked on the winning public art project.
But the evening climaxed for the visual arts crown with a special honor for Eddith Buis, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for her decades of work in Omaha as an artist, educator, activist and mentor.
Even as some artists take time off while others have a creative storm, annually, the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards and the corresponding showcase recognize a fresh body of work.
It is the OEAA’s goal to look for diversity, innovation, and originality and honor those that stand out each year. Nominations come from the public and can be entered anytime through the end of the voting year on August 31 at vote.oea-awards.com.
The 2017 OEAA Visual Arts Showcase is currently on display through Feb. 25, at Gallery 72, 1806 Vinton St. For details and gallery hours, go to gallery72.com or call 402.496.5797.