Autumn Art Smart – The Reader

Jun Kaneko with “Sanbon Ashi” sculpture, hand built glazed ceramics and steel, 1971

Outdoor super spreaders in Milwaukee, Chicago and Sturgis. Wildfires in states west of the Mississippi and their smoke polluting air quality as far as the East Coast. Extreme flooding in the Midwest previously threatened with drought. 

After a year indoors compliments of COVID-19, we were anxious to enjoy the great outdoors in record numbers this past summer. But viruses and climate change have had their way with ignorance and denial. What with variants and other gathering storms on the horizon, will we once again shelter in place this fall and winter, or will museums, sports arenas, cinemas and theaters, bars and restaurants be a part of our indoor activity?

Intrepid visual arts centers in the Omaha metro have scheduled a harvest of autumn exhibits to welcome their patrons back inside. But not without caution and a list of entry requirements that vary from site to site. If you wish to attend, pay special attention to each venue’s level of tolerance for in-person events. Whether vaxed or vexed, most likely, you will be asked or told to mask up and keep your distance.

If you do venture forth and eschew both the viral and the virtual, Reader’s Fall Arts Preview below features a cornucopia of promising visual art exhibits and events from more than a dozen Metro arts centers on display in September through November. But before you do, be sure to check each

venue’s website and facebook page for updates on viewing requirements and gallery hours. As usual, you can count on the “big boxes” to lead the way.

Karl Bodmer, “Chan-Cha-Uia-Te-Uinn Lakodta Sioux Woman, 1883, watercolor and graphic on paper, gift of the Enron Art Foundation, Photograph by Bruce M. White

Joslyn Art Museum’s 90th anniversary isn’t until November, but the museum is kicking off its celebration early with a new collection-highlighting exhibition, Faces from the Interior: The North American Portraits of Karl Bodmer (Oct. 2, 2021, to Apr. 17, 2022). The exhibition will also feature a new consideration of the legacies of this cultural encounter and debut four short films about the diverse histories, beliefs and practices embodied in Bodmer’s portraits.

Opening simultaneously in the Riley Cap Gallery is a multimedia presentation by Israeli artist Guy Goldstein (through Jan. 2, 2022). The inaugural resident artist in Bemis’ Sound Art + Experimental Music Program in 2019, Goldstein spent his time in Omaha conceptualizing a project for this exhibition. 

After the Sept. 19 close of its current show, All Together, Amongst Many: Reflections on Empathy, Bemis Center will pause to install for its much-anticipated fundraiser, the 2021 Benefit Art Auction + Concert. Featuring hundreds of contemporary artworks available for purchase, the display will be on view Oct. 15–29, culminating in the silent auction plus concert event Oct. 29.

Celebrating the creative career of its eponymous co-founder, Form: Jun Kaneko opens soon to the public at the Kaneko and runs through Feb. 25, 2022. Its Bow Truss Gallery will be devoted to the ceramic artist’s retrospective, featuring works that are part of the institution’s permanent collection. The exhibition honors Kaneko’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center recognizing his exemplary contribution to the field of sculpture; the award will be bestowed the evening before the organization’s annual Soirée event on Oct. 22.

Debra Joy Groesserd, “Rebirth into the Light,” oil on linen panel

Every year the American Impressionist Society holds its exhibition in a different city; its 22nd Annual National Juried Exhibition will be on view at Gallery 1516 in Omaha from Sept. 10 through Dec. 12. The exhibition features 200 impressionist paintings by artists selected from across the country. Artwork represents a wide variety of impressionist styles and subject matter, including landscapes, cityscapes, portraits and still life. 

The Aliento a Tequila (or The Spirit of Tequila) exhibition at El Museo Latino, Sept. 3 to Oct. 23, explores and celebrates the landscape, culture and traditions that gave birth to tequila, Mexico’s mestizo national drink. Additionally, opening Sept. 17 and running through Nov. 19 will be El Museo’s 2021 Invitational exhibition, featuring drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures by Nebraska artists.  

Neil Griess, “Sunset Valley, 2021,” 2021, acrylic on prepared water color paper.

The conceptual photographic realism of Nebraska painter Neil Griess will be presented in his new exhibition, Roam, at the Nebraska Arts Council’s Fred Simon Gallery from Nov. 1, 2021, to Jan. 7, 2022. His layered renderings, often at the rural-urban interface, expose the artist’s personal take on the real, virtual and imaginary American landscape.

Colin Smidth, “Malarkey,” 2021, resin and pigment on aluminum

UNL alum Amanda Breitbach is featured in the Lied Art Gallery’s fall season opener, exhibiting her Oil and Water series of color photographs from Sept. 7 to Oct. 8. Breitbach has been exploring the dual nature of the Texas Gulf Coast as a site of vital habitat for wildlife and the economic hub of the global petrochemical industry. Omaha artist Colin C. Smith brings his Soft Geometry next to the Lied Art Gallery with an exhibition of recent resin/pigment paintings and sculpture Oct. 22 to Nov. 22. 

Steve Joy, “Sacbe (Coba) 1” 2021, fiberglass and wax on paper

The Garden of the Zodiac Gallery will open with Steve Joy: Traces Oct. 7 through Nov. 28, centering on nine new paperworks. These are part of Joy’s series based on the sacred roads of the Mayans called Sacbe and influenced by his many stays in the area of the Coba ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan. 

The fall migration of hummingbirds makes a stop at Anderson O’Brien Fine Art with the exhibition Fatties: Joe Broghammer, Sept. 11 to Oct. 5. The artist crosses the boundaries of Audubonian observation with Boschian fantasy to produce highly personal, witty and subversive portraits.

Joe Broghammer, “Mighty Little Albatross”, chalk pastel on paper

Prairie Landscapes: Ray Knaub follows from Oct. 9-30, offering new atmospheric paintings from this Neo-Regionalist Nebraska artist. ICONS: Bart Vargas rounds out the fall with an exhibition of new work from Nov. 5-30. 

Kate Stevenson. “Castaway”, 2021, goldleaf on driftwood

Kate Stevenson, based in New York City, is the second artist-in-residence at Baader-Meinhof and currently working on her next show. Her solo exhibition, Pseudomorphs, will open Sept. 10. The exhibition will feature new sculptural works and engage the gallery in atmospheric installation-based presentational strategies. Taking an indirect approach to political and ecological concerns, such as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot or genetic modification, Stevenson’s exhibition will animate these co-emergent phenomena by way of theatrically staged artifacts and synthetic amalgamates, meat gelatin cast transparent leaves, with bloody veins, objects in fugue.

In Benson, Maple St. Construct offers three month-long key exhibits: Jerry Peña, who explores his culture identity as a first generation Mexican American, Sept. 3-30; Shane Darwent and Daniel Paul Schubert open Oct.1 at 6 p.m. with large-scale sculpture, and site-responsive installations that distill the commercial vernacular along American roadways into experimental photographic works; and Francesco X. Siqueiros, who opens Nov. 5, with details to come.

Another Benson venue, Petshop Gallery, has scheduled two, two-month-long exhibits: solo artist Juan José Castaño-Márquez, September/October, explores contemporary issues on historiography, archivization and personal identity; and in November/December, McKenzie Phelps focuses on concepts of femininity, pop culture and identity in oil paintings and quilts.  

Lamp work, glass birds and angel on wood pieces by artist Margie Ehlers

Creating Community opens Hot Shops’ fall schedule, Sept.1, as a month-long, progressive exhibit that invites viewers to create work of their own at one of several creation stations inside the empty gallery. All artwork will then be hung in the gallery. Attend the closing reception Sept. 26 from 1-3 p.m. to see the completed exhibit. 

Emergence from the Midwest Lampworkers Guild is featured in October and Omaha Artists, Inc is on view in Dreamscapes in November with a reception November 7 from 2-4 p.m. Dreamscapes are a dreamlike scene or picture having surreal qualities, a landscape within a dream.

Travis Apel. “Three Blades, 2021, goldenrod stems, grassroots, hemp cord, acetate, Masonite

Fiber Position opens at The Little Gallery Sept. 11, for two months with artist Travis Apel’s series of mixed media sculptures made of garden and yard waste and in the artist’s words: “Other plant fibers drawn out my intrinsic affinity for their contrasting fragility and strength. Fiber Position informs us of our stance and impact on this prairie land.” 

Delita Martin. “Spirit and Self”, mixed media

Delita Martin re-opens Union of Contemporary Art Sept. 8 to Nov. 6 with vintage and family photographs as a source of inspiration. Martin’s finished works combine collaging, drawing, painting, printmaking and sewing techniques, placing her figures amid patterns to “visually represent what it looks like when we become the spiritual other.” By fusing this visual language with oral storytelling in this different space, she offers other identities and narratives for women of color. Leslie Diuguid, an alumna of the Union Fellowship program (Fall 2012) and the founder of Du-Good Press, a fine art printing platform established in 2017, opens Nov. 27.

Adrian Silva & Harry Wiese “Glitch Debris”, 2020-2021, Digital Environment (work in progress)

Amplify Arts’ Generator Space hosts Squiggles, Spirals, & Straight-Line Splices: Glitches of The Off-Modern Revolution, Sept. 10 to Oct. 15. Organized by Adrian Sliva and Hilary Wiese, the exhibition engages architecture, photography and emerging digital processes to investigate the Western body’s conflicted, changing relationship to deep time, entropy and planetary systems.

Shawn Ballarin. “A Version of You,” Woodcut and etching combination.

RBR G on Vinton Street wil show of Shawn Ballarin’s new fine art prints Friday, Sept. 10, from 5 to 9 p.m. Most of the prints are layered prints in multiple colors and often with a combination of woodblock and metal plate etching. Included with the show are an interactive gallery talk and two Saturday afternoon print making workshops for community members from 12 to 8 p.m.  Ballarin will give his gallery talk Wednesday, September 15, 7 p.m.

Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour returns to in-person mode Oct. 2-3 with some new faces. Joining this mostly open-air tour are Sean Scott of Battle Lake, Minnesota, Sarah Hummel Jones of Omaha, and Jenni Petersen Brant of Dubuque, Iowa. Scott’s nature-inspired teapots, Jones’ playful feminine forms, and Brant’s tactile, elegant pastel-glazed pieces add to the scope and form seen on the tour.

Teapot by Minnesota potter, Sean Scott

This five-stop tour stretches from The Florence Mill in north Omaha at I-680 and 30th St. to Big Table Studios north of Blair and offers the work of 21 nationally recognized potters from Omaha and the region.  Other stops include Crescent Moon Pottery, Dennison Pottery and Too Far North Wine Tasting.  For a map, a full list of participating potters with their contact information, as well as future updates on COVID guidelines closer to tour time, visit

(Janet Farber also contributed to this story.)

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