The LUX Is My Livelihood

LUX Pottery Wheel

Jo Ann’s Story
My Livelihood is making art accessible to lots of different people.

The question most frequently asked is what medium I work in. Because I think I’m funny, I tell people I’m the chief bureaucrat of LUX Center for the Arts.   I’ve worked for a variety of non-profit organizations prior the LUX.  The commonality for me is trying to make the world around me just a little bit better. Somewhere along the road, that led me to art.

Making art is a perfect conduit for expression. It is a way to communicate that transcends language, age, or ability.  Just recently, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with my husband’s 101-year-old uncle.  We planned a day that would easily tire someone half his age!  On our list was a tour through the LUX and the Sheldon.

LUX Saturdays mean many children coming in for art class. Art (that’s his name!) and the rest of the family toured the center, but when we came to the studios, Art just stood there—barely needing his cane—and smiling–watching the children working on paintings around the table.  As we left the room, Art said that he has hope for our future.

The man has seen a lot in his years, but watching youngsters making art gives him hope. His words stuck with me–an “aha” moment.

In a world where there is hunger, disease, war, and poverty, it is sometimes difficult to IMG_4891justify why funding for the arts is important. While we provide those vital things that make the present better, we also have to plant the seeds that make tomorrow worthwhile.

Opportunities to create are few for today’s children. School principals, especially those with high needs populations, make tough decisions about how to spend their resources.  While art classes are mandated, they are underfunded.

This is why my livelihood is the LUX. I get to work with trained artists every day.  They use their talents to teach—to make tomorrow worthwhile.  We take on the responsibility of teaching art classes for children in our community—especially for kids who live in low-income households. We work to level the playing field so all children have the chance to become tomorrow’s innovators and creative problem-solvers. That gives me hope.

About Jo AnnDSC_5165
Jo Ann Emerson has called Nebraska home for the past 12 years. She is passionate about building community through shared arts experiences.  When not working she can be found in her kitchen either cooking or reading about cooking.  She considers cooking her art.

Jo Ann loves warm and beachy vacations with her husband and friends. She loves hanging out with her daughters and five grandchildren. Lloyd, the Golden Retriever, is her biggest fan.


To learn more about The LUX

100th Blog Posting for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment


This is the 100th Blog posting for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment since beginning the blog, “What’s Your Livelihood?” in November 2012.

What does “livelihood” mean to Nebraskans?

We created this blog to help answer that question. This is a place for our community to come together, embrace culture, and share how the arts and humanities have played an essential role in inspiring our livelihoods.

“What’s Your Livelihood?” has received nearly 14,000 views from 99 different countries. Here is a look back at some of the past livelihood blogs and people that make our state so rich in the arts and humanities.

Band Is My Livelihood

IMG_1003Tony’s Story: I didn’t come from a musical family. My mother was an English teacher and my father was a mortgage banker. There were pianos at both of my grandparents’ houses though, and I suppose my earliest musical curiosities were explored on those instruments. It became clear early on however that my inclinations were percussive.  Posted on January 27, 2014 .

Tribal Culture Is My Livelihood

Taylor KeenTaylor’s Story : Our identity is everything to us as human beings. I was born into two tribes, the Omaha, and the Cherokee. I was adopted at birth into the earthen Bison clan (Black Shoulder or Inke’cabe). My name is Ba’gee-zha, which means Bison Mane, literally, but refers to the transformation of an alpha male whose head and neck enlarge dramatically as he must physically fight for the vitality of the tribe. Our goal as Omaha Indians is to live up to the metaphor of our names so that our tribe will thrive.  Posted on June 11, 2013 .


Seven Doctors Project Is My Livelihood


Steve’s Story: Seven Doctors Project, which I formed in spring 2008 at the Nebraska Medical Center, was an experiment—of the non-scientific variety. I wanted to see what would happen if mid-career physicians who were encountering job dissatisfaction or burnout joined a writing workshop led by area writers. I also wanted to see what would happen if the physicians were placed, maybe for the first time in quite a while, in the apprentice position.  Posted on August 12, 2013 .

Shakespeare Is My Livelihood


Mike’s Story: In my time as the managing director of the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, I was fortunate to witness countless examples of how the arts transcend the creative experience to touch and affect the rest of our lives—and, how public funding for the arts makes that possible. Posted on January 21, 2013 .

Textiles Are My Livelihood

Orange Dots DetailMary’s Story: I grew up in the 1950s in Niles, Michigan. I went to the neighborhood catholic grade school and it was there that I was first initiated into the rituals of color, symbols and cloth. My mentor, a catholic nun named Mother Padua, suggested I give up my recess time and spend it, instead, in church, dusting statues, cleaning holy water fountains, and laying out the liturgical vestments for daily mass. I routinely tore through my daily church chores so I could linger in front of the massive wooden armoire full of liturgical garments, arranged by color and ancient code, long, flowing, magnificent robes, covered with symbols and embroidery, gilded as if angels had made them. What was cloth this magical doing in my little church in my little town? Posted on June 3, 2014.

What’s your livelihood?  Share your story with us. 

At the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, our mission is to cultivate a legacy of stability, advocacy and leadership for the arts and humanities in Nebraska. Learn more.





Writing Is My Second Livelihood


Lydia Kang at Comic Con

My path to publication isn’t typical. I’ve always had a passion for literature, arts and the sciences, but didn’t know where it would take me. In college, I remember volunteering at St. Luke’s Emergency Room and helping a patient with AIDS hobble to the bathroom. It was a single moment, but it solidified a decision to pursue a career in medicine.

After practicing internal medicine for several years, I still found myself hungry for a creative outlet. I began writing essays about the singular experiences that physicians are honored to have with patients. Along the way came a move to Omaha, and after the birth of a third child came an opportunity to join a doctor’s writing workshop (The Seven Doctor’s Project). I’d been curious about poetry and fiction, and within a year of joining the workshop, I began writing novels. I self-taught much of what I learned by voraciously reading writing websites, blogs, and forums on writing.

I don’t find myself confined into having to write only science fiction, or literary, or romance.

So. Why do I write young adult literature? YA encompasses so many “firsts” for the characters. First love; first foray into adult decision-making (whether the character is ready or not), first heartbreak–all the while crossing that unstable bridge away from childhood. Every story delves into these emotional landmarks with a different camera lens, and I don’t find myself confined into having to write only science fiction, or literary, or romance. I love the possibilities of them all, and I never grow tired of beautifully wrought YA books.

I never expected to have a dual career, plus a thriving family. It’s all a gift, and one that I don’t take for granted. It’s also a lot of hard work, which is a message that I deliver to young writers often. It took a while to get here. It’s always been an uphill hike and with publishing, the trail never really gets flat. But the journey has been unforgettable—and comes with some amazing views.

About LydiaLydiaKang
Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine and currently practices internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her work has been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. CONTROL is her first young adult novel (Penguin). “A sweet, edgy romance rounds out this smart, futuristic medical thriller,” says Publisher’s Weekly. The sequel, CATALYST, releases in March 2015.

Somehow ,This Is My Livelihood

todd brown work

More and more, I have been describing myself as an artist.  I had always linked that title with some external indication, like income, publication, or time spent in the studio.  Only recently have I come to realize how integral every aspect of my life is to the portion of it which is art.  Removing or replacing any part of it might be detrimental to my process.  There is a balance that allows me to pay the bills while building my resume and exploring my ideas.  My background and work in graphic design has improved the ever growing need for marketing my work.  My construction background and workshop have allowed my photographic work to develop into sculpture.  Some of my first photo-shoots took place in the abandoned buildings that I was remodeling.  My inclination towards architecture leads me to photograph and create space.  This is my version of living an artistic life.  Everything is taken together.

Like everyone else, I am connecting memories to ideas.  Thankfully, I have ways to show them.



table/pitcher/oranges 60″ x 1200″ Collection of Kathy and Marc LeBaron

For me, sincerity is a process of immersion.  My models are my friends (I recently traded modeling time for building a wardrobe), my preferred scale for prints is based on making the characters larger than life and the perimeter of the frame large enough to evoke a room.  These large scale prints can reach the sizes such as 80″ by 120″, and I print them by means of photo transfer, a process that requires good deal of had rubbing of paper and panels with the help of my wife, leaving us with smooth sore fingers and palms but a strong attachment to every finished piece.  If you see one, you will note that it looks worn, imperfect.  If it’s large, you might imagine stepping into a room.  Within that room/space are my ideals and fears.  Like everyone else, I am connecting memories to ideas.  Thankfully, I have ways to show them.

About Toddtodd brown
Todd Brown is an artist, carpenter and designer living and working in the Hastings, NE area.  Todd graduated, along with his wife, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a masters degree in Architecture.  He began showing his work publicly 5 years ago.  Since, he has had solo shows, been awarded Juried prizes and has been profiled in several publications.  His work can be found in several prominent collections including a large photographic sculpture in the Karen and Robert Duncan Sculpture Garden.  Todd is the featured artist at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, NE, October 11, 2014 thru January 4, 2015.  He is represented by Modern Arts Midtown of Omaha.





The Art Of Editing Is My Livelihood

Kevin Reiner edit

The weight of my work is in creating videos in Advertising and Marketing – commercials, corporate videos, capital campaign videos etc. The wonderful thing about Clark Creative is that we also get involved with many local arts and nonprofit organizations, including The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, The BLUEBARN Theater, KANEKO, Omaha Performing Arts, and Opera Omaha.  Because of this, I always feel that my work is going for worthwhile causes.

In 2005, artist Jun Kaneko approached Fred Clark, the owner of Clark Creative Group, and me to seek our help in creating video animations for his upcoming opera production of Madama Butterfly done in collaboration with Opera Omaha. It seemed like a fun project, one that landed outside our usual territories.  Jun was very organized and specific about his needs, so the job was more about bringing his visions to fruition than creating something from scratch. The experience turned out to be a great success. When Kaneko was asked to design the production of Fidelio for Opera Philadelphia in 2008 and a production of The Magic Flute for the San Francisco Opera in 2012, he graciously brought Clark Creative Group along for the ride.

My whole role in all 3 opera productions was to provide background animations that were projected during the performances. Each opera production seemed to get a little more complex, culminating with The Magic Flute which contained a total of 9 screens using over 11 hours of animation for each performance.  For The Magic Flute, I animated in video what Jun does with the art. Using a program called Adobe: After Effects, I recreated the drip art and lines that Jun had created and animated them according to his storyboard.

The equally difficult challenge came in delivering the files. During the live performance, all of the animations must be cue-able to the score; the tempo can change drastically from night-to-night.  This entailed a ton of planning and cooperation between the opera technical staff and myself.  I ended up learning how to follow an opera score and timing my animations to that score, making sure that my animations were able to be looped and allow for correct cueing.  Difficult enough for one screen, but we were working on up to 5 screens at one time.  All of those screens had to stay in sync.  It was a challenge to say the least.  I leaned on my editing partner Mark Grossardt and after many long nights, we delivered The Magic Flute animations to the San Francisco Opera. One of my proudest moments was when the crew in San Francisco asked if I could bring two or three of my crew members out there.  Little did they know it was only two of us working on the entire production.


About KevinKevin Reiner

Kevin Reiner grew up in a tight-knit family in Omaha, NE. After graduating from Omaha Creighton Prep, Kevin went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

In 2000, he was hired by Clark Creative Group as their video editor. With the use of books, online user groups, and trial-and-error, Kevin taught himself the art of editing.  Kevin’s loves in his life include all types of music (indie, pop, punk, folk, alt, alt-county, classical, ska etc.), film (Coen brothers being the favorite), and food (cooking and eating).  Kevin states the most important aspect in his life to be family, his wonderful wife, Kim, and their two kids, Henry and Charlotte.  “They keep me going.”

Kevin’s work can be seen in April 2015 when Opera Omaha presents the Jun Kaneko production of Fidelio.