Fresh off community-based art projects in North Omaha in the last three years, artist Watie White is ready to launch his latest effort on behalf of Midtown, specifically in the Park Avenue area.
On May 17, a mural, 80’ tall and 40’ wide and created by White, will be unveiled on the north face of the Park Ave Tower, 1340 Park Ave. It will take place in conjunction with a neighborhood block party from 2-5 p.m. co-sponsored with InCommon, an organization dedicated to uniting and building stronger Omaha neighborhoods.
The mural features 28 portraits of specific people who live on or work on Park Ave, all nominated by other residents of the community. It also depicts specific contemporary trees of Hanscom Park as well as its neighborhood setting.
White says the mural is the result of extensive community interviews, “a personal process of trying to find the area of common ground between the values of the diverse people and perspectives I encountered. The result is an attempt to make those values as specific as possible-the individual people and personalities which give Park Avenue its flavor, which steward it to an optimistic future and share the history of the community.”
Initially, the artist designed and printed 10 posters based on portraits of the people he met and interviewed. The posters were a mix of drawn elements, photographs and first person text where the models would talk about their lives in the neighborhood, their perspectives and hopes.
Then White held a series of public forums to have a slightly different conversation with larger groups of residents and business owners, all with the intention of getting a grasp of how the community saw itself, what they loved and wanted to hold onto most.
Following the unveiling and block party, May 17, a reception will be held at the same site, May 20, from 4-6 p.m.