(Downtown) omaha lit fest starts Thursday with “Defining Omaha: Writing about local arts and culture” a panel featuring culture writers Sarah Baker Hansen, Leo Adam Biga, Kim Carpenter, Michael Krainak and Jasmine Maharisi at W. Dale Clark Library.  The festival follows with art exhibits, book signings and discussions based on the theme of Silk and Sawdust: The Heart and Mechanics of Literature (see 8-days). October 19 House of Loom hosts “Lit Undressed: Fashion in Literature” (full disclosure: I co-produce this event) in conjunction with the festival, a performance of nude literature also featuring art by Drink n Draw Omaha artists Eric Guerrero, Gerard Pefung, Cale Oglesby, Maggie Svoboda, Rachel O’Brien and Dan Richters.

A big weekend for Bemis Center, as well, with the 13th Annual Art Auction UNDERGROUND auction October 13, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. and the Gala Art Auction October 15 starting at 5:30 p.m.  The auction exhibitions include nearly 400 works in all media and span 12,000 square-feet of the Center’s first floor and Underground galleries.

The residents and staff of Quality Living, a post-acute adult rehabilitation nonprofit, and the teaching artists of WhyArts?, a nonprofit supporting artists with disabilities, present art work at Hot Shops Art Center opening October 13 through October 26. Curators Dar Vande Voort and Paula Wallace celebrate the “triumph of creative voices in the most challenging circumstances, and the teachers who guide residents as they rediscover their creative voices.” Throughout October, November and December, Whole Foods will donate 10 cents for each reusable bag used when shopping to WhyArts? at shoppers’ request.

Also at Hot Shops October 15, Art in the Bag, an evening of food, libations art and live music with a silent auction of handcrafted bags, will benefit cancer awareness. artinthebag.com.

Artist and University of Nebraska-Omaha Professor Christine Reed opens Still Wild: Horses of the Bighorn Canyon at Omaha Healing Arts Center Gallery October 12.  The exhibit features photographs of wild horses in the Western landscape thru November.  Last weekend the UNO Art Gallery opened Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, featuring letterpress broadsides and artists’ books; and Selected Words on Paper and Video: Pedagogical University of Cracow, work by faculty and students from the Fine Arts Department, thru November 3.

The Jewish Community Center Gallery opens the Annual Silver Palette Show presented by the Bellevue Artist Association October 16. The juried show showcases the work of award winning and new artists in a variety of art media.

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