Come do the Crawl!
NOSA Arts Crawl to feature diverse art and artists – Friday, August 12
The 2016 edition of North Omaha Summer Arts has seen the addition of new events and community partners and now NOSA’s gearing up for its 6th Annual Arts Crawl on Friday, August 12.
Founded in 2011 by North Omaha resident Pamela Jo Berry, NOSA is an entirely free, summer-long festival dedicated to the proposition that the arts can heal and build community. Berry, a mixed media artist, saw a need to infuse more art in all its forms into North Omaha and to give artists more opportunities to explore and showcase their work. The festival features some recurring events, such as the gospel concert in Miller Park in June, an Art and Gardening class at the Florence Branch Library in July and the Arts Crawl in August. A weekly women’s writing series just concluded and its students’ work will be published in an anthology.
New this year to the NOSA schedule are a variety of Pop-Up Art events, including the recent Thoreau Meets the Harlem Renaissance and Painting Bird Houses events. More Pop-Up Art happenings are planned. NOSA often works with community partners to present events, including recent collaborations with Compassion in Action, Girls Inc. and the Intergenerational Human Services Campus.
The highlight of NOSA each year is the Arts Crawl. This walkable, continuous art show presents the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. This year’s Crawl runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on August 12. It starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between.
The public is invited to walk or drive to each location to view art in various mediums, enjoy art demonstrations and speak with artists about their practice. Live music will be performed at some venues.
Many of the featured artists are from North Omaha.
For this year’s Crawl, each veteran artist is showing alongside a younger or less experienced artist with whom they share a close connection. For example. Gabrielle Gaines Liwaru is showing her art photography beside her daughter Cheamera Liwaru’s own photographs and Aaryon Lau Rance Williams is showing his paintings next to art created by youth from the after school arts program he operates.
“NOSA would like to welcome art lovers from around the metro to come out for this each-one-to-teach-one and it-takes-a-village celebration of community, family and art,” Berry said. “We are thrilled to be in our sixth year with North Omaha Summer Arts and we are thankful for all the partners, artists and volunteers who help make it happen and keep it a free event.”
A reception kicking off the Crawl will be held at the Charles B. Washington Branch Library, 2868 Ames Avenue, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tara Evans and the Golden Thread Quilters, sponsored by Community Quilting Center Inc., will feature approximately 40+ quilts throughout the library. Both traditional and artistic quilts will be on display.
Free snacks and refreshments will be abatable at each stop along the Crawl route.
For more information, call 402-502-4669.
Visit the NOSA Facebook page at–
Visit the Arts Crawl event page at–
Follow and like NOSA at–
https://www.facebook.com/NorthOmahaSummerArts/?fref=ts# or https://www.facebook.com/groups/1012756932152193/
Scenes from NOSA’s Painting Bird Houses Pop-Up Art Event
North Omaha Summer Arts has added Pop-Up Art Events this season, including a recent Thoreau Meets the Harlem Renaissance event at the Malcolm X Birthsite. The images posted here are from the Painting Bird Houses event held at the home of the artist Evance, who hosted and facilitated the class/happening on the wrap-around porch of her beautiful North Omaha home. Adults and children participated.
©Photos by Hans Hillie
NOSA is collaborating with more community partners than ever before for arts events, including recent collaborations with Compassion in Action, Girls Inc. and the Intergenerational Human Services Campus. Look for posts about these happenings.
Meanwhile, the Women’s Writing Classes and Retreats have been going strong throughout the summer. Participants’ writing will be collected and published in an anthology.
And don’t miss the 6th Annual NOSA Arts Crawl happening in August–
Friday, August 12
Reception at Charles Washington Branch Library
The Crawl at several venues on or near North 30th Street
6 to 9 pm
This walkable, continuous art show showcases the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. The 6th Annual Crawl starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between. Walk or drive to view art in a wide variety of mediums, to watch visual art demonstrations and to speak with artists about their practice. Enjoy live music at some venues. Many of the featured artists are from North Omaha.
For this year’s Crawl, each veteran artist is showing alongside a younger or less experienced artist with whom they share a close connection. For example. Gabrielle Gaines Liwaru is showing her work beside her daughter’s and Aaryon Lau Rance Williams is showing his paintings next to art created by youth from the after school arts program he operates.
NOSA invites you come out for this each-one-to-teach-one and it-takes-a-village celebration of community, family and art.
Historically, South Omaha is the city’s receiving community for new immigrants and refugees, though North Omaha plays some of that role, too. Blue collar jobs in the commerical, industrial labor sector have provided the livelihood for succeeding waves and generations of ethnic groups to have settled there. South O once had and to some extent still does have neighborhoods with distinct concentrations of ethnic groups. Traditionally, these ethnic enclaves become communities within the larger community. At one time, there were neighborhoods where Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, Croats and other peoples of Eastern European origin established their own enclaves. There were also strong Italian, Irish and Mexican contingents. And the Great Migration brought many African Americans from the Deep South here as well. The railroads and packing houses were the main employers for many of these new arrivals. World War II-era manufacturing jobs were lures as well. The residents living in the various ethnic neighborhoods that took shape were bound by their shared birthplace, language, customs, religious affiliation and so on. They had their own churches and community centers that reinfoced their tight-knit connections. Festivals celebrated their hertiage and traditions. Having long ago assimilated and with second-third generation descendants moving to other other sections of the city and with the wartime, railroad and packing house jobs disappearing, those once ethnic-centric areas in South Omaha became more homogenized over time. Today, only trace elements of their once ethnic identities remain. The last three decades have seen the emergence of new emigrees from Latin and Central America, Asia and Africa, thus repeating the patterns that happened with earlier groups in the late 19th century through the late 1920s. All of this is context for an art project now underway in South Omaha that celebrates the different heritages that have made it such a melting pot over time. The South Omaha Mural Project is creating a mural for each of the major ethnic groups that have populated the area. A future mural may also commemorate the stockyards-packing plant epoch that dominated the South Omaha landscape for decades with that industry’s acres of buildings and structures that emplpyed thousands of people and with all the ancilliary businesses that served those workers.
Mural project celebrates mosaic of South Omaha culture
©by Leo Adam Biga
Appearing in El Perico
What began as a one-off neighborhood mural by Richard Harrison and his daughter Rebecca Van Ornam has morphed into a project with several artists depicting historical South Omaha ethnic groups and landmarks.
When historian Gary Kastrick saw the South 13th Street mural Harrison and Van Ornam did illustrating the area’s Czech heritage, it sparked an idea for a mural culture series celebrating South Omaha’s role as a gateway for ethnic immigrant and refugee assimilation.
More murals followed through the help of the South Omaha Business Association (SOBA), who secured grants for a history mural at the Metropolitan Community College south campus and a Magic City Mural at 24th and N. Thus, the South Omaha Mural Project was born.
Artist Hugo Zamorano joined the team for a Lithuanian mural on the Lithuanian Bakery at 5217 South 33rd Avenue. A Mexican mural in the Plaza de la Raza was unveiled July 10. New murals are planned for the Polish, Irish, Croatian, Italian, Jewish, African-American ethnic enclaves that traditionally called South Omaha home. The more recently arrived Honduran, Guatemalan and El Salvadoran communities will get murals, too. There’s talk of one celebrating South O’s stockyards-meatpacking legacy as well.
The Polish mural will adorn a wall of Dinker’s Bar at 2368 South 29th Street. The Irish mural will grace another popular hangout, Donohue’s Pub, at 3232 L Street.
“We’re looking for walls that have good visibility in relationship to the neighborhood,” Harrison said. “Size is a good thing.”
Every wall poses its own challenges.
“When a wall is rough and covered with obstacles like water meters and things we are coming up with solutions of putting up
profile cut sign boards with characters and symbols on them, so the wall has sort of a pop-up book, three-dimensional feeling to it,” Harrison said.
Project funding comes from SOBA, the Nebraska Arts Council, the Mayor’s Neighborhood Grants Program, the City of Omaha’s Historical Grant initiative and various community sources.
David Catalan served as SOBA president when the organization decided to support the mural project. He said the project aligns well with SOBA’s mission of “preserving the diversity and heritage of South Omaha.”
Some ethnic organizations hold fundraisers to help underwrite their individual murals. The South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance is a new partner.
Harrison is a project facilitator and a supporting artist. Giron and Zamorano trade-off as lead artist. Kastrick serves as the history consultant. Catalan is an advisor and liaison.
This labor of love entails extensive community engagement and input for each mural. Multiple public meetings elicit information and ideas. The public can view the final sketch projected on a wall and can join community paint days.
“We are connecting with a lot of people in each successive community we focus on,” Harrison said. “We’re happy how fast this connects with people and how much it matters to them. They come to the meetings and share their stories and memories. Everybody we talk to finds it meaningful to them.”
He believes the community taking ownership of the murals explains why none have suffered graffiti.
After the communal paint days, Harrison, Giron, Zamorano and other artists paint for a month or two – working in acrylics to sharpen images and to apply shading and highlights. A clear protective sealer is added at the end.
When a mural’s finished, a public celebration is held.
This community-based approach is much more involved than the private commissions Harrison does under his A Midsummer’s Mural business but he said it’s all worth it.
“What’s really special is bringing the community together to talk about what’s important to them and what memories they have.”
Kastrick, a retired Omaha South High history teacher who leads South Omaha history tours, hopes the murals educate and entertain about South O’s long, unfolding melting pot story.
“It’s about rekindling South Omaha roots in people who moved away and reestablishing those roots with their children and grandchildren. I envision people coming to see the murals and talking about the people and the history they see on them.”
He and Harrison believe the murals can be destination attraction urban maps for residents and visitors wanting to learn about the area’s cultural history.
None of the primary artists working on the project are originally from Omaha and for these transplants each mural is an education.
“There is a lot that I did not know before this project and still more to learn.,” said Zamorano.
The Mexican mural he took the lead on is a perfect example.
“Almost everything I learned was new information to me. I learned about some of the different waves of Mexicans that moved to Omaha, why they moved, and where they came from. I never knew how much the Catholic church and Lutheran church were involved in the community helping people move forward in education and empowerment. The list goes on. I never knew how much history there is in South Omaha alone.”
Fostering appreciation for place is what the project team wants every mural to encourage. Zamorano said Mexican mural images represent “topics and themes about unity, struggle, education, work, identity, education and celebration.” A working couple eats dinner with their family. A “Dreamer” graduates high school. Community anchors, such as the American GI Forum and Chicano Awareness Center, loom large. “In the center,” he said “an ancient Aztec god and two children share a history book to symbolize the past and future.”
Follow the project’s progress at http://www.amidsummersmural.com/for-communities/south-omaha-mural-project/.
North Omaha Summer Arts continues its art and nature themes with Thoreau Meets The Harlem Renaissance – Friday, July 15
North Omaha Summer Arts continues its art and nature themes with:
Thoreau Meets The Harlem Renaissance
Come and join us…
Friday, July 15
9 am to 1 pm
Malcolm X Mermorial Foundation
3463 Evans Street
We are exploring the connection between American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist and historian Henry David Thoreau with The Harlem Renaissance.
Drawing instruction by artist Ronald Sykes.
Writing instruction facilitated by author Kim Louise.
We will take time to walk, draw and write in the beautiful woods located in the middle of North Omaha at the Malcolm X birthsite.
Lunch and discussion, plus spoken word performance by Felicia WithLove Webster. And we will document pictures of your creations for our virtual gallery on the North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA) Facebook page.
No drawing or writing experience necessary.
This class is free of charge.
Bring your chairs and blankets
For registration or questions, call 402-502-4669.
Follow and like NOSA’s free community-based arts festival at–
Mark you calendars for the 6th Annual Arts Crawl on Friday, August 12 from 6 to 9 pm at several North 30th Street venues.
North Omaha Summer Arts doing art workshops and projects with youth at community organizations
North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA) is partnering with many organizations this season. A new partner is Compassion in Action led by Teela Mickles. Its RAW DAWGS Youth Corps Gang Prevention Program works with boys and Teela arranged for NOSA founder-director Pamela Jo Berry, who is a mixed media artist, to do an art workshop with these children. You can see some of the boys engaged in the project in the photos. Teela shares her testimony below about the workshop.
NOSA is also working with Girls Inc. on an art project led by the artist Evance. Look for a future post reporting about that activity.
If your organization is interested in partnering with NOSA, call 402-445-4666.
NOSA’s free community-based arts festival continues with:
Wednesday, July 13, 9 am to 1 pm, 2004 Binney Street
w/the artist Evance and a bird expert Tisha Johnson–
Thoreau Meets The Harlem Renaissance
Friday, July 15, 9 am to 1 pm, Malcolm X Birthsite, 3463 Evens
w/artist Ronald Sykes, guest performer Felicia WithLove Webster and author Kim Louise–
Friday, August 12
Reception at Charles Washington Branch Library
The Crawl at several venues on or near North 30th Street
6 to 9 pm
This walkable, continuous art show showcases the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. The 6th Annual Crawl starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between. Walk or drive to view art in a wide variety of mediums, to watch visual art demonstrations and to speak with artists about their practice. Enjoy live music at some venues.
NOTE: Watch for posts about Crawl’s visual and performing artists roster.
Follow and like NOSA at–
Here’s what Teela Mickles said:
Compassion In Actions RAW DAWGS Youth Corps Gang Prevention Program participated in the North Omaha Summer Arts Program with director Pamela. The boys were asked two questions to express their art. What gifts has God given you?” and ” What is something you do from your heart?” The next day, the parents came to our Art Exhibit for the boys to show their art and had light refreshments. We are thankful and honored to have been chosen to participate in this wonderful summer project with the North Omaha Summer Arts Program. Thank you Pam for choosing us and God bless you.
REMINDER – North Omaha Summer Arts continues Saturday, July 9 with–
Art and Gardening from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Florence Branch Library. We are painting great art on clay pots and planting flowers. The theme is Artists, Authors & Gardens – The Power to Transport. Details below. Hope to see you there.
Omaha artist residencies for area visual artists are popping up with more frequency. That’s a welcome development in a city that for a long time pretty much only offered these opportunities to visiting artists, other than those grant funded residencies in schools and such, which left locals searching for residencies elsewhere. The Union for Contemporary Art and Carver Bank opened up the local artist residency scene here and now El Museo Latino has added to the mix. As any artist will tell you, it’s important to have local residency options because artists everywhere, including here, struggle finding access to studio space, equipment and venues to show their work. A residency typically addresses all those concerns, at least temporarily, by givng the artist a concentrated period of time to focus on their practice and to grow themselves personally and professionally. If nothing else, it exposes the artist and his/her work to new opportunities, communites and networks that might lead to commissions and patrons. The barriers to practice and exhibition artists face can be even greater for artists of color and that’s why the Union, Carver and Museo artist residency programs are potential game changers for participants. The Union program is undergoing some tweaking with the organization’s move to the Blue Lion this fall. The Carver is dormant as the Bemis tries figuring out its purpose. That makes Museo’s new program even more important. Two questions I’m sure many artists are asking are, Why aren’t more arts organizations stepping up to offer artist residencies and will the same old artists get the residency slots that are available? Another question which I know fr a fact has already been asked is whether the Museo residency will be opened to non-Latinos and to non-area residents in the future.
New Artist Residency Program at El Museo Latino supports the practice of local Latino artists
©by Leo Adam Biga
Now appearing in El Perico
Artists are a diverse lot but a fundamental issue they all face at some point is finding space to practice their craft and showcase their work. The challenge can be greater for artists of color who may lack access to facilities and materials as well as to circles of influence. El Museo Latino is helping fill that gap with its new Artist Residency Program in support of area Latino artists.
The program builds on international residencies the museum’s hosted and it realizes a long-held dream of founder-executive director Magdalena Garcia to offer a residency for local artists.
Bart Vargas, Hugo Zamorano and Aaron Olivo, all of Omaha, comprise the first class. They will toil away at Museo in July and August during their two-month residencies. Garcia says each is at different stages in their careers and each works in different mediums. Supporting diverse artists where they are at and giving them a blank slate to create is the residency’s mission. So, too is exposing residents to seasoned art professionals with national and international resumes.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of need in the local Latino artist community,” Garcia says. “It isn’t just about giving them the space, it’s about giving them the resources to develop their work. We want to provide them with a framework of opportunity and see where they can run with that.”
The most established of the three, Vargas, a University of Nebraska at Omaha art educator, says, “One of the things I hope this residency does is promote awareness of Latino artists in the Omaha community. We have a thriving art scene in the metro area, but I feel Latino artists, or for that matter artists of color, are quieter or not seen as much. I hope this residency brings more visibility.” He adds, “Space, materials and time to make art are all costs to the artist. Anytime an artist is given free space and financial support, it is a blessing.
Zamorano, a recent UNO graduate, says, “The experience will grow me in practice because I will have a space to work in outside of home. I will also be working alongside two great artists, which I think will be great for learning off each other and talking about art. I am currently working with Aaron (Olivo) on a mural at 25th and N in La Plaza De La Raza. I have never worked with Bart directly, so I am excited for that.”
Olivo says, “El Museo Latino has been a part of our neighborhood for a long time and I have always felt a connection as an artist and South Omaha native. I am by no means a studied artist. This is a first for me, so every aspect will help me grow. Just the environment alone will broaden my view as an artist as well as someone who works directly in the neighborhood.”
Garcia has built in a mentoring component. Mexican artist, art educator and art administrator Humberto Chavez and president-founder of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Carlos Tortolero, will share their expertise and experience about exhibiting and venues.
“Both guests will make studio visits with our resident artists and engage in discussions with them. Hopefully we can expand our network of working with other institutions as well as other artists,” Garcia says. “That’s a real plus with our residency. We’re not just giving you a place to work, time to work, and a stipend, but we’re trying to provide some other opportunities you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get otherwise.”
Garcia has a history of making Museo a conduit between local and visiting artists. Just last year she developed the exhibition Maiz with Museo de Filatelia de Oaxaca (MUFI), a postage stamp museum in Oaxaca, Mexico. Twelve local artists showed work alongside that of 10 Oaxaca artists. The theme of corn was chosen due to its importance to both Nebraska and Latin America. Prints of five postage stamps depicting different varieties of corn were selected from the MUFI collection and the artists created works inspired by the images. The exhibit ran five months here and traveled to MUFI last April, where it’s on view through September. Maiz is among many cross-cultural exchanges Garcia’s organized. Her opening doors for the international community of artists of Mexican descent earned her a lifetime achievement in the arts award from the Mexican government in 2015.
Her efforts include a long association with the well-connected Humberto Chavez, whose artistic relationships extend throughout Mexico. Those ties offer the possibility for Museo resident artists to get their work seen by wider audience. “That’s a huge window of opportunity for our artists,” Garcia says.,
Magdalena Garcia, ©photo by Bill Sitzmann
Other than showing up 15 hours a week, she says, “There are very few requirements with the residency. We’re giving them the freedom to create, to experiment and to explore as they see fit. We’re not demanding they have work ready to exhibit at the end. But we will accommodate their work when it’s ready.”
All three artists plan trying out new mediums or returning to mediums they used to practice in or to further projects already underway. Aaron Olivo echoes a shared sentiment by saying, “We are responsible for paving a path for artists here in South Omaha as well as the surrounding area” and for using the residency to its “full potential.”
Garcia expects the artists to be program ambassadors. It has already drawn interest from Latino and non-Latino artists around the nation, though for now it’s only for Latino artists living within a 70 mile radius of Omaha. She intends to expand the program to two or three rounds of residents in 2017. Applications for the next round open in January.
The residency is made possible in part by a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant that marked the first time Museo applied for direct funding from the NEA.
“We were thrilled to receive that and hopefully people see it as a reflection of our growth and the continuation of what we started out to do 23 years ago,” Garcia says.