Theatre Is My Livelihood

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Recommended Reading For Girls – Two Dogs Photos

I sometimes have trouble throwing things away.  I still have this ratty (but exceedingly comfortable) t-shirt that I picked up in high school.  The lettering on the front reads, “If you love me, tell me a story.”  I like the simplicity of it.  It sounds like the truth.

While I identify professionally as a playwright, I have tumbled through a few art forms on my way here.  I was deeply serious about music (but not so deeply talented).   Music is a beautiful foundation for any rigorous discipline.  There are no shortcuts. It requires daily commitment and offers opportunities to be part of something greater than oneself.  Music teaches listening.  It is excellent training for writing.

I studied creative nonfiction in undergraduate school, which was excellent training for arts administration.  I studied that at an art school– while learning about voice.  In visual art, it is easy to see the individual.  Even when the still life is the same for everyone, the interpretation and line is unique to each artist.

It is a story and a present; it is an expression of love.

Working in arts administration has taught me to appreciate the entire collective.  Making arts accessible to everyone is a group project.   I am proud to live in a state that supports the arts and am exceedingly grateful for the Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Cultural Endowment.  The cultural landscape of a state requires a chorus of unique voices working together.

I love that theatre makes use of all these skills.  I can have music, language, and art together.  I can keep everything and get a little bit extra.  There is a generosity in our theatre community that continues to astound me.  When we make a new play, directors, actors, designers and writers collaborate.  Ultimately, the play is a series of gifts, much like our cultural endowment.  The playwright gives the play to a director, the director gives it to the actors and designers, everyone works together to give the play to an audience.  It is a story and a present; it is an expression of love.  For me, it is an art form that wears well.

About Ellen

Ellen Struve is an Omaha-based, Omaha-raised playwright.  Her TAG and OEA award-winning play, Recommended Reading for Girls, was part of Omaha Community Playhouse’s 2012-13 season.  She is a Great Plains Theatre Conference StageWriteEllenStruve Headshot(11) (2) and Mainstage playwright.  She is a WhyArts? Resident Artist and Literary Manager at Shelterbelt Theatre.  Her plays have been produced in five states.  She is a Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow.  She has degrees from University of Iowa and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  This fall she will be working with Great Plains Theatre Conference and Omaha Community Playhouse to develop a new work.

To read more about Ellen’s projects:

Arts Advocacy Is My Livelihood

Gretchen Peters serves on the Advisory

Board of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

To learn more about what the NCE does:

Forest Floor

Forest Floor

There is something about hanging art on a wall in your house.  It reflects who you are, what you’re interested in, what you see as beautiful or provocative. It can hang there for a really long time, or just a while. It is part of the whole space. There’s the furniture and rugs and books but when the art goes up, it makes the space come to life, it makes the soul.

Appreciating and learning about visual art, and all the arts, can be a lifetime exploration. Living with art and seeking out art makes us all more interested and interesting. It’s for everybody.

It is so important to educate the whole child, the whole human being.

To make it possible for everybody, it’s important to teach little kids about art so they can make their own creative choices about what goes up on their walls, or the sounds that go in their ears or the sights on their screens. In the current learning cycle, students are drilled with rigorous repetition of words and numbers and are missing the joy of creativity and invention. It is so important to educate the whole child, the whole human being.

Frost on Hosta

Frost on Hosta

As for the way I make art, I work with nature’s forms, making representational pencil drawings in blocks of color and movement. Like Georgia O’Keeffe’s floral explorations, I am interested in shapes of color that travel the eye on the page. And then adding light and shadow to shift over those surfaces to build depth and interest.

About Gretchen
Gretchen Peters is an advocate for the arts. She volunteers for the arts, makes art and gpteaches art.

She taught art at Gering High School for 35 years and now makes art derived from her surroundings using colored pencil as the medium. She has received numerous awards for her teaching and drawing skills and her works are in collections across the country.
She serves on the boards of  Humanities Nebraska, Judicial Nominating Commission, West Nebraska Arts Center, Theatre West and the Advisory Board for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.  Gretchen’s  previous board work includes: Nebraskans for the Arts, Nebraska Arts Council, and the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Gretchen earned degrees at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Chadron State College. She works and resides in Gering, Nebraska.

For inquiries about Gretchen Peters’ work email

Fashion Design Is My Livelihood

Nebraska Cultural Endowment:

Originally posted March 2014, read about fashion designer, Buf Reynolds on the cusp of presenting Phaesporia, a beautiful new collection that strikes a balance between art and fashion. To experience Buf’s collection go to
Omaha Fashion Week begins August 18 and runs through August 23, 2014. For more information:

Originally posted on What's Your Livelihood?:

Buf’s Storyimage001
I am a fashion designer.

I am so much more than that, though. I am simultaneously a designer, coordinator, seamstress, manager, parent, partner, doughnut-eater, Sherlock enthusiast, and plenty more. Some of those are more important than others, but many require a great deal of time and energy.

I have been a designer for a greater amount of years of my life than not. If I had to say one thing is my livelihood it would have to be that. It pushes me to my limits. It tests my strengths and sheds light on my weaknesses. Designing has become its own being inside of me that I need to nourish, control, and discipline.image

Accepting the label “designer” took a long time to do. I kept thinking that there were some special qualifying factors that came into play that when I achieved them, I would be able to validate the label…

View original 342 more words

Celebrating Art Is My Livelihood

kids art kara

Kara’s Story

The art that our society as a whole creates, supports and preserves speaks for all time about who we are as a people right now at this time and in this place. I look at the art world from an art historian’s point of view and that obviously influences my opinion on the historical importance of the arts. But long before I began my formal education in art history I was a young girl in Wayne, Nebraska who was moved by the power of the arts. My earliest art memories are like jewels that I cherish; powerful bursts of color, light, sound, emotion and creativity that set my life path in motion. But in my heart and mind I truly believed northeast Nebraska was not the place to discover great art nor a place that would ever celebrate creativity and artistic communities. As the executive director of the Norfolk Arts Center I strive to present programs that inspire our patrons by fully celebrating the brilliance of creation and the boldness of both exhibition and performance.

I believe one of the true powers of great artists is their ability to facilitate communication across boundaries; whether the boundaries be social, economic, generational, ethnic, or regional. The arts allow us to communicate, one soul, one mind, one human to another. When one travels to another part of the world the art may look and sound very different; yet a visitor will be moved by the rhythm, shape, or design of that art.  You can comprehend a foreign artist’s struggle or passion even if the exact context is lost in translation. The arts facilitate communication at many levels.

Patronage speaks loudly and as a non-profit administrator it is my task to listen …

The arts are a window into a society.  A piece of art obviously speaks about the creator but it also tells us about the audience for which it is produced. As we look back through history and analyze various civilizations it is often their artwork that gives us a true measure of the people.  What does the art that we produce and support say about us as a people?  By purchasing a ticket to a performance or buying a painting from a gallery today’s audiences are letting us know which art forms they find valuable. Patronage speaks loudly and as a non-profit administrator it is my task to listen and help facilitate this conversation between artists and patron.  And believe me that task can sometimes lead to amazing rewarding opportunities such as watching a theater full of elementary students transfixed by actors bringing storybook characters to life or the waves of communal joy during a musical performance.

Today my life is dedicated to proving the misguided thoughts of my childhood wrong. Northeast Nebraska is the perfect place to discover great art! This opportunity has once again reminded me how much I adore artists and the thoughts they think and the artworks they produce. These people are not setting out to change the world, they are setting out to produce great artwork and in turn the world is changed. That is what I’ve now dedicated my life to celebrating. The power of creation. The open mind. The willingness to play and discover and push boundaries and then take a moment every once in a while to look around and celebrate our creative Nebraskan selves.

About Kara

Kara Weander-Gaster holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Art and Art History from Kara Prengers croppedthe University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While attending UNL Kara worked at both Morrill Hall and Sheldon Museum of Art (then called the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery). She attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York working on a Masters Degree in Art History while also taking graduate courses in the Museum Studies program. She has worked in a variety of art settings from student galleries and poster shops to for-profit galleries and corporate art sales before taking on the position of Executive Director at the Norfolk Arts Center.

Kara has served as the Executive Director of the Norfolk Arts Center for nine years and has spearheaded the current vision and direction of the organization. She has raised the Norfolk Arts Center to a new level of excellence, embraced by the community and strongly supported by area individuals, businesses, and organizations alike. Kara is the northeast Nebraska regional captain for Nebraskan’s for the Arts and serves on the Philanthropy Council of Northeast Nebraska. Kara grew up in Wayne, Nebraska and has a passion to see the successfully presentation of the arts positively impact the communities and citizens throughout northeast and north-central Nebraska.

Painting Is My Livelihood

Celestial Navigation, 30 x 36, mixed media and acrylic on canvas

Bud’s Story

“Livelihood” is an alteration of the Middle English word, livelode, “course of life,” first recorded in the 15th century. And in that sense, painting is my “livelihood,” my course of life. “When all else fails, I always say, paint a flower,” I like to say. I’ve always loved art, artists, and their contributions to culture but only began working at it in 2004 at the age of fifty-three. I’d always wanted to be an artist –so after ending a long time career as a union organizer, I started painting day after day and night after night. Ten years and thirteen hundred plus paintings later, I’m still discovering creativity in myself that I thought I had, but needed to dig down to, reveal, and express. I am now semi-retired and paint whenever I can. I teach writing part time at Metropolitan Community College, maintain a social/political commentary blog, play my saxophone in an oldies rock and roll band and in a jazz quartet at my church, and sell the occasional painting.

I like living in a synesthetic and creative mix of music, and painting, and writing. Combining mixed media and paint melodies and color metaphors and visual sounds in a silent explosion of color on a multi-dimensional flat canvas satisfies me. With touches of Van Gogh, Matisse, Dufy, Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollock, Lee Krasner, Stuart Davis, Peter Max, Merello, and others, I try to weave together these sensory threads of life into my work.

Living in that place between memory and hope, I continue to explore the desire for meaning we humans experience

Living in that place between memory and hope, I continue to explore the desire for meaning we humans experience—that searching for patterns we can recognize, that comfort zone of the familiar. And yet I find that many of my pieces exist in that world between the recognizable, safe, comfortable — and the illusory, discordant mysteries of structure and form. Some of my works capture the frustrating lack of clarity and meaning we too often witness or experience, but most lean toward the world of comfortable pattern and include the lighthearted whimsy of creation. Sometimes after a long day or week of working on abstract compositions or contemplating the meaning of life, the relativity of perception, the inadequacies of language, and the devaluing of knowledge, I need to paint a flower or a sailboat on the ocean, a happy dog playing a saxophone, a chicken, an abstract world-scape, or go play a round of golf.

My Studio, 30 x 36, acrylic on canvas

I like to say my work has been exhibited at Joslyn Art Museum, and it was, but really it was just a one night only fundraising silent auction dinner in the Atrium! Nevertheless……….

About Bud
Bud Cassiday graduated with English from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1976. He has exhibited his work at several fine art galleries in Omaha and Eastern Nebraska. Bud has been a guest artist at The Omaha Community Playhouse Stage Right art auction. The Backwaters Press has featured Bud’s work as the cover illustrations for two of its poetry publications. Bud’s sketch of the Durham Science building at UNO has been featured on the cover of several UNO Algebra textbooks. Bud regularly donates his art for non-profit fund-raising events.

Bud was an honorary judge for the YWCA’s Children’s Art Against Violence contest in 2007 and 2008. Bud’s art was featured in 2012 at the UNO Criss Library H. Don and Connie J. Osborne Family Gallery and in 2013 at the Dr. Joyce Norene Wilson Gallery at Bellevue University. Bud’s work can be seen at UNO’s Criss Library, Midlands Hospital in Papillion, Ne., as well as corporate and non-profit organizations including Zaiss & Co., The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation office, and The Nonprofit Foundation of the Midlands. Bud’s liturgical art hangs in the sanctuary at First Central Congregational United Church of Christ at 36th and Harney in Omaha. Hundreds of Bud’s paintings are in private collections.