Well, the world didn’t end in 2012 despite such predictions by those who misinterpreted the Maya calendar. Fittingly, while many were preparing for doomsday or using it as an excuse to party and dance like a Mayan, it appears those of that descent simply celebrated Dec. 20th as an end of a 5,125-year cycle and the beginning of a new one.

Meanwhile, those disappointed with the 2012 presidential election licked their wounds and consoled themselves watching the film “2016: Obama’s America,” the imaginings and predictions of soothsayer and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza. His followers have now begun a cycle of their own as they foresee a socialistic state in their future. This despite compromise after compromise in the president’s political maneuverings past and present to move the country forward.

Of course, crystal ball gazing is risky at best, but predictions for a year ending in ’13 is especially challenging, even for optimists and those who think the future is a least half-full of opportunity whether it’s a fiscal cliff, Go Big Red or even the wonderful world of art. Yet, even if the first two don’t exactly come up roses, as it were, one can always find inspiration in the visual arts, especially at the local level.

While it has been something of a rocky road for some arts venues in the Metro as they begin to reorganize and regroup, others have already finished their schedule of events and exhibits for 2013 and are eagerly anticipated. Continue to view Reader’s arts calendar online for all happenings on a weekly basis, but what follows is less about forecasting and more about the highlights and challenges the coming year has for Metro art galleries and centers as well as their supporters.

The Metro anxiously awaits the announcement of a new director of the Bemis Center of Contemporary Arts after the departure of Mark Masuoka last year. Board Vice President Todd Simon says the search is on schedule and “our hope is to have a new director hired early (this) year.” Although budgets must still be approved and exhibition and event schedules set, “2013 will be an amazing year for Bemis,” Simon said. “The Bemis will assist in placing major art commissions at Project Harmony, Temple Israel and other locations in the area…and we will host 36 world class resident artists in our studios.”

Although the popular Underground was closed in 2012, Simon said “projects previously destined for the Underground will continue to be realized through exhibitions, events and projects that take full advantage of the organization’s unique spaces and resources. Bemis will see more than 30,000 visits and the word will be out that if you love art then you’ll love the Bemis.”

Supporters of KANEKO: Open Space for Your Mind may have to wait a bit longer for a new leader as explained by Dr. James Linder, Board president and Interim Executive Director:  “After the departure of Mr. France (former director) the board chose not to begin recruitment of an executive director. Why? KANEKO was commencing on facility renovations, which affect our programming schedule, and because key programming areas were being defined.  The Board is actively involved in the facility and program planning.”

So far in 2013, Kaneko will continue its lecture series, What Modern Art Tells Us About the Mind, with renowned scholar, curator and author Jonathan Fineberg, NU’s Visiting Presidential Professor. Lecture 3, “The Nature Theater: Art and Politics” will be held Mar, 12 and lecture 4: “Desire Lines in the Mind” is scheduled for April 3. Details are at thekaneko.org.

Meanwhile, Joslyn Art Museum will offer at least two significant exhibits of modern and contemporary art, The Masterworks from the Whitney Museum of American Art and Jennifer Steinkamp: Madame Curie. Both shows open this Jan. 26 and continue through May 12. The former features masterpieces by early 20th century artists who pushed the boundaries of American art; the latter from video artist Steinkamp presents a monumental projection of the titular Nobel Prize winner.

Omaha’s two full service galleries, Anderson O’Brien and Modern Arts Midtown, will continue to schedule exhibitions with some modifications on behalf of their stable of artists as well as others. AOB will no longer exhibit in Countryside Village, choosing to show only at its site in the Old Market. Featured artists include: sculptor Peter Millet, March 7, painter Christina Narwicz, April 18, German photographer and painter Christian Rothmann and mixed media artist David Sebberson, May 30.

MAM’s show schedule has yet to be finalized but the gallery will begin 2013 with a show by Lincoln artist, Merrill Peterson. On Reflection: Paradox and Ambiguity will open Jan. 11 with Peterson’s representational oil paintings that promise to do justice to Italian painter Giorgio Morandi’s conundrum, “Nothing is as abstract as reality.”

Though not a full service venture, The Moving Gallery of The Old Omaha Association has had as big an impact on the Metro arts scene as any local venue with its annual exhibitions of local, regional and international artists. This will continue in 2013 with at least four planned shows: Curator and installation artist Humberto Chavez, well known in the Omaha area, brings the quirky and perceptive photography of Mexican artist Jesus Jimenez in Transactions, which opens January 17 in the Garden of the Zodiac in the Old Market Passageway.

Other Moving Gallery expositions will include a portrait photography show in June by four Korean artists curated by the previously mentioned Rothmann; a two person show in August featuring oil paintings from Italian artist Paolo Dolzan and calligraphy and ink-wash paintings of Chinese artist Yu Jihan; and an exhibit in November of 2D and 3D artist Joe Girandola, the director of the MFA program at the University of Cincinnati.

On behalf of Nebraska artists exclusively, the Fred Simon Gallery in Omaha has planned shows for the following: Chad Fonfara (glass) and Travis Hencey (drawing), opening Jan. 7, Brian Poloncic (drawing) -March 4, Christina Renfer Vogel (painting)-April 29, Nancy Lepo (drawing) and Corey Broman (Glass)-June 24, and Ron Parks (installation/sculpture)-Aug.12.

Of the three area University/College galleries, the most interesting show scheduled thus far is a show of Bart Vargas’ work at the Hillmer Gallery on the College of St. Mary’s campus opening April 4. Another non-profit venue, the Sunderland Gallery of the Cathedral Arts Project will show found wood sculpture of Robert Miller, opening Feb. 10 and painting “On the Morning of Creation” by Paula Wallace from June 9 to Aug. 30.

Two additional art venues with an educational mission have exhibits and/or events planned for 2013. The Union of Contemporary Art, dedicated to enhancing a creative culture in the Metro at large as well as maintaining a presence in North Omaha at its 2417 Burdette St. location looks forward to two new projects: the North Omaha Tool Library and the Abundance Garden under the direction of its new employee, artist and Facilities Coordinator, Kjell Peterson. Details can be had at u.ca.org.

The Kent Bellows Studio/Gallery, 3303 Leavenworth St., established to serve the creative needs of young people after school and during vacations in various intern/mentoring programs will host student shows in May, August and December. In addition it will exhibit mentor shows for Amy Nelson and Matt Jones. As part of its community outreach KBS will continue its Bike Trail Mural program and a project with Douglas County Youth Center. Details for these and other programming can be found at kentbellows.org.

Not to be outdone with a similar mission, the Artists Co-op at 405 S. 11th St. offers a mentoring project of their own, the 2012-13 Emerging Artist Mentorship program that rewards one artist a three-month internship in the gallery. The winner will be chosen by patrons who attend an exhibition of seven candidates in a show of their work at the Co-op which open this Friday, Jan. 4. Voting will continue in January and the winner will be announced at the show’s closing reception, Jan. 2 6.

Several local commercial galleries on both sides of the River look forward to a mix of familiar and unfamiliar work during 2013. In Council Bluffs, the RNG Gallery will shift to second Saturday openings while offering  a very active, varied schedule of exhibits with the following highlights: In February, RNG will collaborate with the Omaha Creative Institute and Hooton Photography to present the ambitious “Conversations on a Bus,” circa the Metro Area Bus System; March will see another provocative multi-media circus mixing science, art and the absurd from Tim Guthrie; painters Freddy Rincon and Avery Mazor will show in April and May respectively and the rest of the year feature work from Vargas, new media artists Russ Nordman and Jodi Boyer, sculptor Iggy Sumnik, fiber artist and printmaker Wanda Ewing and the exotic, erotic drawings of Rebecca Herskovitz.

Speaking of provocative work, Les Femme Folles’ Sally Deskins will present What Will Her Kids Think? at the Star Deli Gallery in Benson, Feb. 1. The show offers body prints, drawings, some photography, possibly a video all dedicated to Deskin’s relationship to art, nude modeling and motherhood.

Two venues in NoDo have interesting shows planned as well. In the Mastercraft Building, artist Bill Hoover’s relatively new Studio/Gallery will offer work from Jake Gillespie in March, Caolan O’Loughlin in April, Erin Foley in May, Meghan Boylan in June, and the very visible Vargas in July, The venerable Hot Shops will feature an invitational exhibit in cooperation with Opera Omaha exploring the many themes of “The Magic Flute” and “Bluebeard” as part of the latter’s 2012-13 season. The show opens this Jan. 11 from 6-9 p.m.

That same Jan. 11 at Hot Shops, the 2012 OEAA art nominees will open their own exhibit in anticipation of being honored at the 7th Annual Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards Night, February 17th at Hilton Omaha. Mark your calendars and see what the fuss was all about art-wise in 2012.Even if your own predictions of last year’s winner don’t come true, 2013’s schedule of art events and exhibits offers a sure entertainment bet for the coming year.   

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