It was a warm day, one of the first reaching sixty degrees this March. Locals can be seen outside biking, walking and talking. At the Union for Contemporary Art, it is wild with artists and people viewing artwork, conversing, attending workshops and reconnecting in the beginning of spring.
The Omaha Zine Fest has been a part of the community for the past few years and takes the spring by storm. It has always been hosted at the Union for Contemporary Art but with attendance rising it is likely a new space will be needed to hold all attendees and booths.
The fest features over 30 booths of local artists, organizations and designers displaying and selling their work. It was an incredible opportunity to personally connect with artists and analyze their work while viewing work ranging from photo accumulations of 20 pages to small poetry compilations of 5 pages.
There is a multitude of topics addressed in work ranging from social justice to mental health to activities such as skateboarding. A majority of the artists are local Nebraskans but many travel to attend or have a booth from all parts of the United States.
Zine Fest also featured fun educational lectures. They featured topics such as knowing ones rights, prison abolition, the history of spices, making low budget zines, and mapping ones assets.
2019 was well attended and featured sales of artwork, many booths selling out even. The warm and positive attitude in the space was welcoming and enlightening to see after the length of our rough winter. It is an incredible event that is highly recommended to put on your calendar for 2020!
For more information, please visit: https://www.omahazinefest.org
The Joslyn Art Museum was built in Omaha originally in 1931. It was funded by Sarah Joslyn in honor of her husband. The museum works to foster love and appreciation for the arts featuring artwork from the past in its permanent collection and contemporary work in its temporary exhibitions. The current exhibition is "30 Americans". It is an exhibition from the Rubell Family Collection. The show is on display from February 2 to May 5 of 2019. The museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am- 4pm , Thursday from 10am-8pm and Sunday from 10am- 4pm. The museum is free of entry and the special exhibition does have a small cost.
The exhibition "30 Americans" is from the Rubell Family Collection that is Miami based. It is a traveling show that has graced Omaha with its presence. This show is phenomenal for its examination of social justice and political issues in the United States particularly that of race and sexuality as examined in the work. It examines discrimination and oppression through a lens of the 1970's to the current climate in the country and how privilege and power has allowed these issues to continue. The show features a mixture of mediums ranging from instillation, painting, sculpture, mixed media, and video.
The intentions and subject matter of the pieces is strong and at times may make the viewer uncomfortable but as mentioned by many of the artists, is necessary to initiate conversation about the status of these issues today. The subject matter ranges from discussion of lack of students of color in schools and historical paintings to stereotypes of race. Other pieces such as one from artist Wangechi Mutu showcase the difficult path to achieving citizenship and Nick Cave who created suits of found materials to hide bodies and provide unbiased interactions. The meaning of Cave's piece is to make the viewer consider that they may have personal bias' in their own interactions and initiate work to change this.
"30 Americans" is an extraordinary exhibit and one of the first showcases at Joslyn to survey contemporary work from all African American Artists. It is worth the visit and will leave one with profound feelings and concerns about the status of race and oppression in America currently in comparison with the past. If you get the chance, please stop by to experience and consider the issues these artists have faced and express in their work.
The show features the artists: Nina Abney, John Bankston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Robert Colescott, Noah Davis, Leonardo Drew, Renee Green, David Hammons, Barkley Hendricks, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kale Linzy, Kerry James Marshall, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu , Pope.L , Rozeal , Gary Simmons , Xaviera Simmons, Lorna Simpson , Shinique Smith , Henry Taylor , Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker , Carrie Mae Weems , Kehinde Wiley and Purvis Young.
For more information on "30 Americans", visit https://www.joslyn.org/collections-and-exhibitions/temporary-exhibitions/details.aspx?ID=1498. For more information about the Joslyn Art Museum, visit https://www.joslyn.org.
The stage is set, the lights are dim, a well-curated music playlist fills the room. It’s a Wednesday night at The B Side of Benson Theatre, and Riverside Chats is about to begin.
Riverside Chats is essentially a live podcast, recorded on a stage with an audience invited to participate in the conversation. A collaboration between Aksarben Creative and Benson Theatre, the show began in January, commencing with local comedian Cameron Logsdon as the featured guest.
The show takes the format of an hour-long conversation between the guest and host Tom Knoblauch, a local filmmaker. Knoblauch, who co-founded Aksarben Creative, strives to help people tell their stories.
“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to do a live talk show,” said Knoblauch. “I’m very excited to partner with Benson Theatre to make that happen.”
The B Side of Benson Theatre aims to raise funds for restoration of the historic Benson Theatre through community events such as Riverside Chats.
Knoblauch and Aksarben Creative have taken an interest in exploring Omaha culture. When pursuing a venue for the show, Knoblauch sought an opportunity to partner with a business or organization with strong community connections. The theatre restoration project in the heart of Benson caught his attention.
“The Benson Theatre renovation is a great local project. It will be a great venue for Benson upon completion with the support of the community.”
Future guests include Rachel Jacobson of Film Streams (March 6) and congressional candidate Kara Eastman (March 27). Knoblauch encourages anyone doing something interesting in Omaha to reach out about being a featured guest on the show.
For more information on Riverside Chats or to listen to previous episodes, please visit aksarbencreative.com/riverside-chats. More information on Benson Theatre can be found at bensontheatre.org.
KANEKO, a public, arts and culture non-profit institution, debuted its newest exhibition, Human Condition, on January 12, 2019. The exhibition will continue through May 4, 2019 and is free to the public. The hours of the exhibition are Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday from 11AM - 5PM, and Friday from 11AM - 8PM.
As a KANEKO volunteer, I took a sneak peek of the artwork and learned the details behind the exhibition's theme. The human experience encompasses an array of emotional, physical, environmental, and situational circumstances. Through the study of humanities –– art, music, literature, history, philosophy, and language –– the human experience can be thought of as universal. Ultimately, it is through shared experiences that helps humans to better understand themselves and others.
KANEKO exhibition manager, Molly Hobson, went into greater detail and said, "With the Human Condition season, we are exploring the humanities through the artists and programs we are incorporating. Whether issues of societal roles and politics or history and mythological –– the arts allow for physical, audible and visible representation of the human experience. These artifacts are used to help answer or continue to question what is the authentic human condition."
Featured artists of the exhibition include: Sunkoo Yuh, David Helm, Jim Krantz, John Buck, Viola Frey, Ken Little, and Misha Gordon.
Many of the art pieces are intentionally interpretative, and KANEKO volunteers encourage guests to share their interpretations freely and without judgment. Some of my favorites of the exhibition include Sunkoo Yuh's ceramic work and John Buck's, March of Folly, a kinetic wooden sculpture that attempts to define what the new norm of policy making and social relations has become.
I strongly suggest visiting the exhibition, connecting with the artwork, and asking yourself what "human condition" means to you.
According to KANEKO's website, their mission is to "encourage and explore creativity" through "exhibitions, performances, lectures, and education". For more information on the Human Condition exhibition, visit, thekaneko.org/seasons/human_condition/.
The Union for Contemporary Art is a wonderful space located in North Omaha that works to engage the community in programs, classes and direct artist support. It was founded in 2011 and is motivated by the power of art in all mediums and accessibility to them giving way to social change and engagement. The organization utilizes its programs and artist fellowships and accessibility to resources in hopes to affect this change in North Omaha. The organization was originally founded by Brigitte McQueen-Shew and has grown to enact fellowships for artists, provide equipment and studio space, community projects and acting programs.
The Union is opening the performance of a new play entitled “More Than Neighbors”. The play is an original by Denise Chapman. She utilizes this work to showcase a family in North Omaha’s experiences. The piece focuses around the changes erupted in the neighborhood and their life after the construction of the Interstate 75. The highway was originally begun in 1926 and Chapman’s writing explores the separation of businesses and homes in North Omaha when she grew up there in 1986.
“More Than Neighbors” is based upon sights and interviews conducted from the area. Chapman explained in an interview with Channel 6 news that she found the stories and publicly sharing them has a strong meaning. This tale occurs in many places beyond Nebraska and continues in modern construction. The importance of this play is within the stories of neighborhoods that are disenfranchised and do not have financial or social means to fight back against community destroying alterations. The story was written and is being shared in hoping of redefining the community.
The play “More Than Neighbors” opens this Friday, February 15 with its first showing at 7pm. It will run Thursday’s through Sunday’s until March 3. Thursday, Friday and Saturday showings will be at 7pm and there will be Sunday matinees at 4pm. The play is a wonderful way to grow in knowledge about the community and revitalize its strength. To support and purchase tickets you may visit the Union’s website at http://www.u-ca.org/events/2019/2/15/more-than-neighbors.
Image of Chapman from The Union for Contemporary Art Website
It's December and the last Benson First Friday is a few days away. This BFF will be having a special event in it's Mayflower Mobile Gallery: Speak Up, Scale Down. Speak Up, Scale Down is a juried design show where student designers and local designers collaborate together to create small Riso prints. Each of the Riso from the show will be sold for $10 each. All proceeds bought at Speak Up, Scale Down will be donated to Benson First Fridays. So come on down to the Mayflower Mobile Gallery (Citylights Church Midtown Church) this Benson First Friday to see all the professional and student designer's Riso prints!
Speak ■p, Scale Down
Friday December 7th, 2018
6:00PM - 9:00PM CST
The Mayflower Mobile Gallery
Citylights Church Midtown Location
4383 Nicholas St, Omaha, NE 68131
Jennifer Young: Founder of J. Diane Creations
From crafts to gifts to weddings and greetings, Jennifer Young can do it for you! Jennifer Young is a local artist and event planner that specializes in the art of making handmade greeting cards and decor. She owns a local handmade crafts and event services business in the Benson area: J. Diane Creations. Before J. Diane Creations, Jennifer started out as a freelance wedding planner in 2007. She knew that she wanted to be a wedding planner for the longest time. After her first wedding, she love crafting weddings. The amount of creativity and being apart of someone's special day made her want to go into wedding and event planning. In 2010, Jennifer created her first company: JDY Event Planning. this was later expanded into J. Diane Creations. But Jennifer's company not only makes handmade crafts and plan wedding events, Jennifer also host DIY Craft Events. From DIY Halloween costumes to sneaker designing, Jennifer teaches various crafts to her guest to make them feel inspired to create.
Various Handmade Greeting Cards from J. Diane Creations
When making greeting cards and decor for her weddings and events, Jennifer's inspiration for her work comes from three difference sources. The first two inspirations are everyday beauty and the color of nature. From various plants to the floral patterns of the Lauritzen Gardens, Jennifer states that she is likes to go on walks in the outdoors. This allows her take inspiration of nature's beauty and the beauty of her surroundings. This can be seen throughout her works. Jennifer represents the bright and color patterns of nature with mixes of various floral patterns on the front of her greeting cards and decor. She also states that she is inspired by the people in her life. The various things they like and bring them joy and phrases her friends commonly say inspire her to create and implement into her designs. By combining all three inspirations together, Jennifer's colorful and creative handmade decor comes to life.
Jennifer Young's various works will be displayed at her first art exhibit Choose Your Words next Friday (November 2nd) during November's Benson First Friday. The event will be taking place at Revival Clothing from 5:00PM to 9:00PM with beats from Marcey Yates and Poetry On the Spot by Ella Young. Jennifer's work will be displayed throughout the month of November.
Choose Your Words
6007 Maple Street, Omaha Nebraska 68104
5:00PM - 9:00PM
Refreshments Will Be Provided
J. Diane Creations:
It's October and Halloween is just around the corner. But this year, Benson is starting off the Halloween celebration early with several events all day on October 27th!
Benson Boo Bash
Location: Downtown Benson
Time: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Trick Or Treating starts earlier in the day with the Benson Boo Bash! At the Benson Boo Bash, trick or treat at the local Benson Businesses, play games at the Benson Community Center, and take photos at various photo stations! This family friendly event begins at 10:00AM and runs to 1:00PM!
Benson Community Center:
Bethany Lutheran's Trunk or Treat
5151 North Radial Highway, Omaha Nebraska 68104
Time: 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Bethany Lutheran Church is having it's free annual Trunk or Treat Event this October. This event includes trick or treating from trucks, a spooky maze, food, a bake sale, games, laser tag, a glow in the dark dance party and of course candy! This family friendly event begins at noon and ends at 2:00pm!
Bethany Lutheran Church:
Benson Baptist's Trunk or Treat
Benson Baptist Church
6319 Maple Street Omaha, Ne 68104
Time: 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
At the same time, the Benson Baptist Church is having it's own annual Trunk or Treat! This Truck or Treat Event is an Halloween Event with several themed trunks and of course candy! This family friendly event begins at 1:00PM and ends at 3:00PM
Benson Baptist Church:
Benson Out Back
South Alley from 60th St. to 60th Ave.
Time: 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Benson Out Back is a collaboration between Benson Neighborhood Association, Benson First Friday, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, and Benson BID to make the alleyways of Benson safer, greener and more accessible and welcoming! The alleyway from 60th St to 60th Ave. will be closed off and be filled with music, food, vendors, and public arts. There will be new public arts from Brent Houzenga, Watie White, and Nolan Treadway with existing public art from Maggie Weber, and Barrett Ryker!
There will also be a public demonstration on sawmilling from the Omaha Permaculture!
For More information about this event or how to get involved, please go to:
The Crepe Beyond Pop Up #3
5918 Maple St. Omaha, NE 68104
Time: 5:00 PM - 2:00 AM
The Crepe Beyond is doing a pop up shop at the Sydney this Sunday October 27th! Every crepe sold, $1 will be donated to the Heartland Family Services!
The Crepe Beyond Website:
The Sydney Website:
Heartland Family Services Website:
Omaha Zombie Walk 2018: The Roaring Twenties
56th North Radial Highway - 62nd Maple Street
Time: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Gee Whiz! It's that time of the year again! The Annual Omaha Zombie Walk is ghoulifying the streets of Benson for the final event of the night! This year's theme for the walk is the "Roaring Twenties!" So feel free to wear your favorite pinstripe suit and fedora or your favorite evening dress and Clouche Hat and come on down to doll yourself up at one of our many makeup stations across the Benson Neighborhood.
The Zombie Walk begins at 6:00PM and will start at 56 NW Radial and end at 62nd Maple Street. All proceeds to the Omaha Zombie Walk will be donated to the The Sienna Francis House!
Be sure to follow the official Zombie Walk Facebook page to keep up to date on the latest news for the Zombie Walk!
The Siena/Francis House Website:
These are the sponsors this year to make the Omaha Zombie Walk the bee's knees:
"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!
Here is a small photo gallery of abandoned pieces of furniture throughout the Benson area.
After an hour of wandering aimlessly through the Benson neighborhood just south of Maple St., we stumbled across this beauty that looks like it could've been stowed away in a hospital for the past 20 or so years. You can take a look at this shabby old girl on the intersection of Ohio and 56th St!
Next we have a pretty sweet velvet couch complete with a '90s feather pattern. This comfortable sofa only has a few stains and a limited amount of old cat hair. Old and a little sad, this "FREE" couch can be spotted resting at the corner of 48th and Wirt.
After about 3 hours of galavanting, we decided it was about time to retire, but not before snagging some pictures of this little blue recliner boy stationed behind Benson High School.
By Savannah Pickard
Our Newsroom editors are current interns of BFF - most are students at UNO.