Every autumn the visual arts in the Metro offer a new harvest or peak of its own. This year is no exception. Venues of all sorts and sizes citywide are ramping up with an aesthetic as varied and colorful as the great outdoors…indoors.
But first meet the writers who look forward to previewing and reviewing several fall highlights in vivid detail. Reader’s current stable of arts writers is as diverse and devoted as the arts scene itself. Take a moment and see what they have to say about their mission, motive and favorite arts venues to just hang out.
Carol Dennison, freelance writer, educator and arts organizer: Artists, like authors, have something to say. What’s important is to spread the messages of artists to our culture. They sense the pulse, the heart, the beauty, the sadness and our role is to help share their work.
When I review an artist’s work, I am always wondering how that artist’s materials and their process function to convey their intellectual or emotional message. I have many questions and reviewing art helps me and, hopefully, my readers, to develop another point of view.
Gallery 1516 on Leavenworth St. has it all, visual art with a focus on Nebraska artists, featuring great talent from Opera Omaha, UNO Music Department, local jazz and blues artists and dramatic readings and plays.
Melinda Kozel, free lance arts writer and arts and community organizer: When I was young, I only heard about fine art as something that happened somewhere else and was only for certain people. So, my goal is to share something I’m excited about with others and to show them what I get from the work I write about whether emotionally or analytic
And if they haven’t felt like art was for them before, they hopefully will see it as an invitation. My frequent art spots show a diverse roster of artists, take chances on innovative concepts, and make it accessible to build a collection: Project Project, Petshop, The Little Gallery, Union for Contemporary Art.
Janet Farber, freelance arts writer and curator: Despite following Metro art happenings on social media, there’s still a big information gap about the content and significance of exhibitions that serves both audience and artist alike.
Coming from a curatorial background—where giving the viewer an entry point into the complex world of contemporary art was my mission—I see writing for Reader a thoughtful, enjoyable kind of important public service. A venue where I can always expect the unexpected? Project Project, whose DIY ethos prompts its artists to go for it.
Hugo Zamorano, artist, mentor and community organizer: Covering arts in the metro area is important to the continuation of cultivating culture that is a crucial part of what makes our city great. Writing about the arts connects me closer to the people and artists making it happen.
My favorite place to hit for art is the south side of my city (South O). This is where I see occasional graffiti writing and community murals, where there’s an art museum and several art galleries that display part of the diversity that is the Metro.
Kent Behrens, photo artist and freelance arts writer: I enjoy being on the team of writers promoting the arts in Omaha. To have even a small influence on the success of this vibrant art scene is highly rewarding.
I most value the concentrated focus required for in-depth reviews; one style, one artist, one theme, as in a group show. Through research and interviews, I hone my understanding and often I discover a whole new perspective on a group of works.
I revel in discovering art in less conventional places, but I also look forward to new shows at 1516, mainly because of the variety of art included in the many group exhibits and the myriad possibilities in exhibit design.
Mike Krainak, Reader Contributing Visual Arts Editor: Metro Arts is fortunate to have the sophistication of Joslyn, Bemis and Kaneko, the independent means and spirit of Garden of the Zodiac and Gallery 1516, the professionalism of Modern Arts Midtown, RBR G and Anderson O’Brien, the commitment of U-CA, Amplify Arts, Benson First Friday and Project Project, the non-profit Lied Art, Michael Phipps, Fred Simon and UNO Fine Arts galleries and the perseverance of Connect and Hot Shops galleries
It’s our mission to cover it all, but for someone who misses the unpredictable creativity of Bemis Underground, I most look forward to the next site specific, DIY pop-up of Project Project.
The annual fall arts preview will highlight many exhibits patrons can anticipate, and there is a lot to look forward to — especially if you’re willing to explore outside your comfort zone or bubble. Below is a sampling of fall’s bounty waiting for your appreciation, particularly in the months of October and November.
Connect Gallery: Featured artist Rachel Droppers’ New Directions in Fiber Design opens October 2 and closes October 26, with artist reception Friday, October 11, from 5:30-9 p.m.
UNO Art Gallery: Witness: The Art of Samuel Bakopens Tuesday, September 3, in the UNO School of the Arts’ Art Gallery, housed in the Weber Fine Arts Building. The collection, which features work over five decades, includes pieces that have been shown in major museums across the world, in cities such as Tel Aviv, New York, Paris and Rome. The art will be on display through Thursday, November 14.
Creighton University’s Lied Art Gallery: Opening September 6 and running through October 6, a solo exhibitofwork byLydia Thompson. The artist says her work investigates the ideas of migration and residual ancestral memories that impact culture and social practices in surrounding communities. The exhibition will include Thompson’s stoic ceramic figures, cats and wall tiles.
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts:The Bemis Benefit Art Auction and Concert will climax October 25 after a two-week exhibit of all the works up for bid. In addition, a new multimedia installation by Canadian artists Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens,curated by Sylvie Fortin, Bemis curator-in-residence,will open November 21 after being developed this summer in collaboration with members of Omaha’s birding community. Also on November 21, Bemis will open Jillian Mayer: TIMESHARE, curated by Rachel Adams, Bemis chief curator and director of programs.
Joslyn Art Museum: Paul Anthony Smith opens October 5in the Riley CAP Gallery. Drawing on the historical artistic traditions of pointilism and geometric abstraction, Paul Anthony Smith creates “picotages,” named for a pattern-printing technique that entails pressing textured blocks onto fabric.
KANEKO: This multidisciplinary gallery in the Old Marketwill exhibit Influence, opening October 1 and coinciding with its major fundraiser, Open SpaceSoirée,September 27. Influence explores the results of living and collaborating within a creative environment, showcasing the shared history of the creative community and KANEKO in Omaha with an eye to the future.
Amplify Arts: GRAVE 2: Back from the Grave, Friday, October 18, 2019, at 6 p.m., an annual fundraising event featuring installation work by Ian Treadway and Ghost, a costume contest with original, artist-designed creations by Bart Vargas, Sarah Kolar, Angie Seykora, Kaitlin McDermott and Celeste Butler.
Gallery 1516: The annual MONA2Omaha exhibition features work from the Photo Ark project by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. A Nebraska native Sartore’s intimate animal photographs archive the world’s biodiversity. Many of these animals are endangered due to poaching, habitat loss and other threats. Photo Ark opens at Gallery 1516 October 25 and runs through January 5, 2020.
Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour: More is better this year. Set for October 5-6, tour organizers have added Crescent Moon Pottery, with Wes Galusha as host and local potters Peter Scherr, Kathryn Schroeder and John Cohorst, recently from Carbondale, Colorado. With more than 20 clay artists and five stops, ONHPT continues to showcase quality ceramic art. Find a map and artist information at www.omahanorthhillspotterytour.com.
The Little Gallery: This Benson gallery will feature the folk-inspired works on paper of Bill Hoover in Lost and Found and Lost opening November 1 to coincide with Benson First Friday.
Project Project: This alt gallery on Vinton Street will exhibit ceramicist Lauren Scheele in October, opening the second Friday of the month, October 11.
Michael Phipps Gallery, W. Dale Clark Library: A two-person exhibit of Jaim Hackbart and Albert Rhea will open November 1, from 4-6 p.m., and continue through December. Hackbart describes her paintings as “contemplative abstractions,” nonetheless inspired by what is seen, sensed and heard. Rhea’s mixed media 3D work is based upon cosmology and the study of galaxies, alternative universes, black holes and stars.
Fred Simon Gallery: An Etymology solo exhibit of Reagan Pufall opens October 11, from 5-7 p.m., in this Nebraska Arts Council venue and continues until December 6. In this series, Pufall’s imagery deconstructs the visual language of science fiction while maintaining a distinct air of the future or other worlds.
Anderson O’Brien: Paintings by Rein Vanderhill (working title) opens October 4, from 5-8 p.m., and continues until October 31. According to the show statement, Vanderhill’s “monumental flowers…grab your attention with their painterly realism,” but it is really about the artist’s use of dramatic light and shadow.
The Union for Contemporary Art: Pittsburgh-based artist Vanessa German’s exhibit, sometimes.we.cannot.be.with.our.bodies, continues until November 30. This is a multimedia installation addressing violence against people of color, particularly members of the LGBTQ+ community. See Picks for more.