"Jack" - Digitally Enlarged Woodcut - 2018 - West wall of Bärchen Beer Garden
If you have walked around the the Benson Area and noticed the life sized black and white portraits in the alleyways or ever looked up at the buildings at Midtown Crossing and saw the colorful murals, these will be the works of Watie White. Watie White is an Omaha based artist who works in the fields of printmaking, painting, and public art projects. Originally from Palo Alto, California and raised in Southern Illinois, Watie attended Careton College. He earned his Bachelors in Fine Arts at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago and his Masters in Fine Arts at American University.
Watie's has worked on various different projects and series in different mediums. These range from oil to acrylic to linocut prints. His studio series called "Pulp" is a acrylic on paper project illustrating covers of pulp novels from the 1960s and 1970s while combining them with parts of entries from his personal journal. "Stolen" is a series of oil on canvas paintings and linocuts on paper that Watie asked the models of what their favorite painting is. After they have chosen one, Watie would make them mimic the painting and he would paint them as the models of the original painting.
"Laith" - Digitally Enlarged Woodcut - 2017 - East wall of Ted & Wally's
Watie White has also been doing large scale public art projects. He has worked for Habitat for Humanity, InCOMMON Community Development, Justice For Our Neighbors-NE, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, and Omaha Public Schools to develop murals and installations for them. Some of these include "New Nebraskans": a series of woodcut portraits depicting immigrants and refugees that recently became Nebraska citizens, "All That Ever Was, Always Is": a collaborative project with Peter Cales of installing paintings based on the residents stories of the neighborhood into the houses of the homes that were going to be demolished, and "Lead Stories": a series of woodcuts telling the stories of people in the community who had childhood experiences to lead poisoning.
One of the current ongoing public art projects that Watie is doing is the "100 People" Mural Project. The "100 People" Mural Project is a series of digitally enhanced woodcut portrait murals which focuses on activists and advocates throughout the Greater Omaha Area. The subjects of the murals are people that Watie admires and provides a voice of them through the print of the mural. Recently, Watie has installed several of the "100 People" murals around the Benson area as part of the Benson Out Back Project; an art mural project to improve the alleyways of Benson. He has also installed several murals in The Blackstone District and the Vinton Street Area. As of the posting of this blog post, there are 27 7x4 woodcut murals spread across the Greater Omaha Area with plans to add many more to come in the upcoming months and years.
"Poplars (Collegiate Peaks)" - Woodcut - 2018
With studio work and public art projects, Watie’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the Frist Center for the Arts, and the Joslyn Art Museum. He has also been featured in New American Paintings, Almagre, OYEZ Review, Omaha Magazine and the Omaha World Herald. He was also a featured speaker at the Art Expo Chicago, State of the Art Symposium and the Plains Art Museum.
"Related Histories" - Works of Waite White & Brent Houzenga - The Petshop Gallery
Currently Watie's studio work is on display along with Brent Houzenga, a New Orleans based painter and musician, in a gallery show named "Related Histories" at the Petshop Gallery in Benson. Stop on by The Petshop Gallery and check out the works of Watie and Brent! Be sure to check The Pet Shop Gallery's Facebook and Instagram for gallery hours and future Petshop Gallery events!
3/7/2020 12:34:43 am
I appreciate this information on Watie. I have one wish before I die, to acquire a piece of Watie’s work. He is an extraordinary artist in a class of his own. I have been an admirer for many years. Since I am in my 80’s, I think I had better get over to the Petshop!
4/13/2021 05:44:06 pm
Wow, what an inspiring story, I really like arts, sometimes if I have free time I go to a quiet place and start painting on whats my mind, I think I will visit the Pet Shop to check more of Watie's artwork.
Leave a Reply.
Our Newsroom editors are current interns of BFF - most are students at UNO.