BENSON – When a group of Benson businesses and organizations heard there wasn’t going to be a zombie walk down Maple Street this year, they decided to take action. As a result, zombies and zombie lovers across the metro are in for some good news: the 2017 Omaha Zombie Walk is set for Friday, Nov. 3, in downtown Benson. This year’s event will coincide with the November edition of Benson First Friday.
“The annual Omaha Zombie Walk has become synonymous with Benson, so a group of us got together to make sure it continues,” said Alex Jochim, executive director of Benson First Friday.
There is no cost to participate in the walk, but donations will be accepted on behalf of Siena/Francis House. Representatives of the organization will be present at Burke’s Pub, 6117 Maple St., and several other spots during the walk to collect donations.
Participants will gather in the parking lot of the Citylight Arts Project (CAP) Building, 5603 Northwest Radial Highway, at 6:30pm. The walk route runs down Maple Street and ends at 1912, 6201 Maple St. As in years past, Maple Street will not be closed to traffic, so all walkers should use the sidewalks and heed all traffic signals. Drivers should be aware of increased pedestrians in the area.
Jochim said the 2017 theme is Zombie BFF, which means all zombies are welcome. Several makeup stations will be set up at Burke’s Pub from 4:30 to 6:30pm.
For those zombies who enjoy the spotlight, a photo booth will be set up at the CAP Building at 6:00pm, and Barchen, 6209 Maple St., will host a zombie fashion contest following the walk at 7:30pm. Both events are free and open to all zombies.
In addition, a group of Maple Street businesses will be offering specials for the dead that night. Visit www.facebook.com/zombiewalk-omaha for details.
Hey, Omaha - meet MacKenzie Weaver, the talent behind our September BFF poster.
MacKenzie is a full-time student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she studies studio art and art history. She also works at The Sydney and Scooter's, so she's super busy, but she did make time to answer a few questions for us. Take a look below:
What was your inspiration for the poster art?
I was inspired by Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergére. In my work, I focus a lot on positive feminine energy. For this Benson First Friday poster, keeping in mind that Femme Fest was also this month, I wanted my lady to look strong and command attention. I thought it was important to make her delicate and authoritative at the same time. I really enjoy working in black and white because I feel like it immediately draws the eye in and allows the use of more detail that may get lost in the mix of a lot of color.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I've been an artist my whole life. My parents always encouraged the arts when I was a child, and my passion never went away. I feel very fortunate that I was able to find something so powerful that I love and plan to keep pursuing the rest of my life.
Where can people see your work?
People can see my work via instagram (@oheydare). A website is in the works.
What's your favorite thing about Benson?
The focus Benson has on the local arts is awesome. It gives so many musicians and artists the opportunity to showcase themselves to the rest of the community. It is such a wonderful community filled with amazing people.
Like this month’s BFF poster? It’s the work of Jeff Armstrong, creative director at Sleight Advertising/SA Production Studio. By day, he’s a cinematographer/editor/animator, but he’s always loved photography and graphic design.
“I’m not much of an artist in the traditional sense, but the opportunity presented itself to take part helping the community,” Jeff said of his BFF work. “I love showing others what Benson is all about. I love that the whole neighborhood gets together to celebrate art and music. It's nice to wander around, duck your head in and meet people that you might not cross paths with on a regular basis. We are all guilty of getting stuck in a routine (St. Andrews for me), but it's nice to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things in Benson that you didn't know were there.”
We asked Jeff what inspired the July poster, and here’s what he told us:
“When I first started working on the poster, I knew I wanted to incorporate photography into the design. St. Andrews is one of my favorite places in Benson, so I wanted to take the photo from the point of view I’m familiar with. It's great sitting out on the benches in front and east of St. Andrews, talking with friends and meeting new people in the neighborhood.”
We also asked Jeff when he knew he wanted to be an artist:
“I grew up in an artistic family. My grandmother (Kay Armstrong), who volunteered at the Joslyn for 25+ years, got me interested in art at a very young age. From there, I continued learning under the direction of Monica Baxter at Skutt Catholic High School. She was a great teacher, and I learned a lot from her and my peers (who were a lot more skilled then me!)
You can see more of Jeff’s work at:
Ever wonder how Benson First Friday is able to get so much done? This summer, we have three secret weapons: The Intern Squad. They are, in a word, amazing, so we want to introduce them to you, one by one.
Meet Michael Johnson. She loves making art, swimming, and riding her bike around town. Michael is a senior majoring in art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and she thinks plants are really neat. She is helping with several BFF projects this summer:
Hey, all - we've got a special activity planned for our official Friends of BFF July 7.
Stop by the BFF HQ Table in the Artist Market and participate in a Make & Take activity. If you're a member, you get to participate for free! If you know anyone who's interested in becoming a Friend of BFF, they can sign up that night at the table or go online any time:
The Artist Market runs from 5:00 to 10:00pm where Military meets Maple. We've got more than 20 artists and vendors signed up to participate. Make sure you're around at 8:30pm for a belly dancing performance.
Click here for more on what's happening up and down Maple Street July 7. See you on the street.
Our friends at KANEKO will be hosting the BFF Art BooFF July 7. This street-style booth - kind of like an art-themed newsstand or kid's lemonade stand - is hosted by a different group each month.
KANEKO will be promoting KINETIC, an interactive exhibit that explores the art and science of movement and the perception of motion. Stop by the booFF and make a pinwheel. You can either take it home or leave it to become part of the exhibit. The KANEKO folks will also be creating a giant pinwheel at the booFF. Other BFF-featured artists will be asked to make pinwheels to display.
Look for the booFF where Military meets Maple. For more information about KINETIC, visit thekaneko.org/seasons/kinetic/,
Hey - we've got a great way for you to help us celebrate our fifth birthday: become an official Friend of BFF! That's right, friends, we're launching our official Benson First Friday Membership Campaign, and we want you to join us at a level that makes sense for your wallet.
All Friends of BFF will be listed on our web site and will receive:
Choose from the following membership levels - two tiers are available:
$20 - Student
$30 - Individual
$50 - Family
$150 - Business/Corporate
$250 - Alley Cat
In addition to all the perks above, Alley Cat Members will receive a BFF SWAG T-shirt of their choice and a special invitation to a private guided mural walk this summer.
$500 - Radial Highway
In addition to all the perks above, Radial Highway Members will receive a bronze Friend of BFF window decal and a copy of our annual project book.
$1,000 - Military Avenue
In addition to all the perks above, Military Avenue Members will receive a silver Friend of BFF window decal, your logo on the web site, a silver-printed BFF Members-Only jacket (you can order additionals at a discounted price) and two tickets to our annual day of workshops.
$2,500 - Maple Street
In addition to all the perks above, Maple Street Members will receive a gold Friend of BFF window decal, one gold-printed BFF Members Only jacket (you can order additionals at a discounted price), your logo on our monthly maps and posters, and a monthly mention on social media.
So get to it! Follow the directions below:
Tell everyone you know. Thanks, friend!
It began as a one-time street party and has grown into an official nonprofit that’s making a difference in the culture of its community and the lives of the artists it touches.
Benson First Friday (BFF), founded in 2012 by Jamie Hardy and Alex Jochim, will celebrate its fifth anniversary Friday, June 2. “It started as a dream,” Hardy said. “It was a time when our artist community needed an outlet, and our neighborhood had the kind of open spirit to help make it come true. Five years later, we’re not only still here, we’re moving forward as an organization.”
Mud wrestling, a bicycle flash mob, a fashion week for dogs - you name it, and BFF has pulled it off. On the first Friday of each month (except January), Maple Street in downtown Benson takes on a carnival-type atmosphere. Shops that show and sell art hold opening receptions for new exhibits, and other businesses are encouraged to host events that add to the atmosphere. Most months have a theme, and the accompanying activities are as creative and original as the organization’s staff and extensive volunteer base. “All are welcome, and we’re up for just about anything,” said Jochim, who currently serves as BFF’s executive director.
In recent years, the organization has launched a number of projects that mirror the goals of each first Friday event – celebration, inclusion, and exposure to other cultures and new ways of thinking:
The June 2 anniversary celebration will include:
Jochim said a few longer-term goals for the organization are to grow its volunteer staff into paid positions and launch a mobile gallery that will bring BFF’s independent spirit and celebration of the arts to other Omaha neighborhoods and communities throughout the region.
“This moment would never have been possible if it wasn't for the openhearted and encouraging nature of our friends, neighbors and business owners in Benson,” Hardy said. “I feel like this five-year celebration is not only for us and the artists involved but for the neighborhood itself - thank you for being such a rad place to live, love and create!”
Our Newsroom editors are current interns of BFF - most are students at UNO.