Conversation Is My Livelihood

Mike, Russell, and John - Dannebrog - 8.17.15 copyright Stuart Chittenden

Mike, Russell, and John – Dannebrog – 8.17.15 copyright Stuart Chittenden

Stuart’s Story

As an expat Brit new to Omaha ten years ago, I wanted to crack open the rigid carapace of “Nebraska nice” and reveal the intimacy of a people’s truer characters. In 2010 my wife and I began hosting conversation salons in our home reminiscent of those from Enlightenment France. Since then, spurred on by a spirit of curiosity, my belief in conversation’s benefits has motivated an active artistic and humanities practice centered around conversation-based interactions. I develop and deliver a variety of conversational programs and engagements for individuals and organizations.

 Telling and hearing our stories is an affirmation of our common dignity and a simple act that contributes collectively to our sense of togetherness.

Having read Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley in my teens, I long imagined embarking on the archetypal American road-trip experience. Some thirty years later, and now with a belief that community thrives through conversation, I devised the project, a couple of 830 mile long conversations. Approaching Nebraska with honest warmth, open acceptance and sincere curiosity, I am traveling the side roads of the state in an RV to engage with Nebraskans. Honoring a long line of oral history tradition, from traveling troubadours to Alexis de Tocqueville to John Steinbeck to Charles Kuralt, I am creating or engaging in public conversation spaces in towns on the route. In each conversation, I am inquiring into our shared culture and evoking a place and its people, connecting us to Nebraskans, their stories and their lives.

a couple of 830 mile long conversations is especially concerned with using the art of conversation to explore the nature of our togetherness and our lived experience of community. Owen in St. Paul expressed a personal desire for community, saying that “everybody wants to feel appreciated.” In Hastings, Lisa observed, “The differences are what make us more, not the similarities.” When I asked a morning coffee group in the Danish Baker in Dannebrog, the simple response was community is “What you see right here.”

Telling and hearing our stories is an affirmation of our common dignity and a simple act that contributes collectively to our sense of togetherness. I believe that conversation enables us to live better and well, and it is my calling.

About Stuart

copyright Andrew Marinkovich

copyright Andrew Marinkovich

Stuart Chittenden is a British expatriate who, with his wife Amy, has called Omaha home since 2004. He believes that conversation helps us to live better and well, as individuals, families, and communities. Driven by that belief, he founded Squishtalks to design conversation programs for corporate and non-profit organizations and for public, personal, artistic and community purposes. Stuart also is a partner at the branding consultancy, david day associates, where he consults on brand strategy with local and national clients. As an amateur poet, his work has been published in The Antigonish Review, the Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, Euphony Journal and the Tulane Review.

To read more about a couple of 830 mile long conversations, visit http://830nebraska.com/ .

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NCE 2015 Road Trip Review

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The Nebraska Cultural Endowment exists to serve you by providing reliability and sustainability for the arts and humanities programs supported by Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Arts Council. Hundreds of organizations around the state benefit from their grants and programs. Continue reading

Aspiring to a Livelihood

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Oliver’s Story

We live in exciting times. I watch the changing Nebraska environment and ambience and relish its growing complexity. On Thursday March 12, 2015 we had to choose between a Georgia O’Keeffe lecture at the Joslyn, a lecture on kimonos at the KANEKO and a potluck at Gallery 72 feting father and son artists, all were free, two came with food. As a professional historian I see accomplishments and unmet goals, both encouraging and disappointing. We have a crisis of abundance and a dearth of social resources, thus inequality of opportunity and income. We have no family in Omaha. Our children fled to Kansas and Wisconsin and landed in Berkeley and San Francisco. Our work colleagues, religious affiliation, and people with like minded bicycling, art, music, culinary, wine, and liberal political pursuits has made a “family of friends.”

I want to elevate the common, the mundane, the human condition, into the universal, turn the autonomic into the noteworthy and remarkable, as in “who knew.”

My books are my friends. I read, mark the margins, jot down notes, and record how the text enhanced or confirmed my understanding. I am Google computer literate, but lag behind Facebook, Twitter, and whatever. I like sunrises (though prefer to sleep late), Nebraska’s piercing spring sun and rosy sunsets. I am in awe of the flight path of birds in a V formation, the backyard creek with the sound of cardinals, yellow finches, paired doves, woodpeckers, errant turkeys, rousted squirrels, and frequent four-engine behemoths flying low toward Offutt. I see the world through the eyes and sensibilities of an emigrant from England, (my parents escaped the Nazis in the late 1930s), a Vietnam veteran, a recipient of a UCLA education and Creighton law degree, forty years of teaching and thirty of practicing law, and almost fifty years of marriage — a wonderful maturation.

Historical methodology, reading, gathering and organizing evidence transcends time and place. Burma, Southern Africa, England, legal history, print culture, Jewish history, foodways, became playing fields for a process of analysis and narrative, turning ideas into paragraphs, articles and books. I want to elevate the common, the mundane, the human condition, into the universal, turn the autonomic into the noteworthy and remarkable, as in “who knew.”

People should read and write joyously. This is a personal essay, a feuilleton. I wrote these words and approve this message.

About Oliverpollak_o

Oliver B. Pollak was born in England to Ruth and William Pollak during World War II. His parents were refugees from Germany and Austria. The family emigrated to America in 1952. After living for a while in Ohio they settled in Los Angeles. Oliver earned his doctorate in history at UCLA and his law degree at Creighton University. He has written 10 books and more than 100 scholarly articles and writes popular columns for several publications. He is a co-founder of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society and has served on the boards of the Nebraska Humanities Council and the Nebraska Center for the Book.  Oliver is a member of the Humanities Nebraska Speakers Bureau.

Art, Education, and Music Are My Livelihoods

 

King of the Hill 2014 10 X 12 inches oil on linen

King of the Hill 2014 10 X 12 inches oil on linen

Byron’s Story

I am an artist, educator, and musician.  I am also a lifelong producer of creative content.  Education is my vocation.  My livelihood comes from my training and aptitude as a teacher.  The content of my teaching practice is parallel to my striving for a painting practice that is authentic, contemporary, and ambitious.

I learned early on that I was much happier when I was a little too busy rather than a little too bored.  I have the tendency to think that everything is a good idea.  I have a hard time separating my personal interests from my professional life.  As an artist and art educator, this relationship between my enthusiasms, being emotionally invested in work, and always having new problems to tackle has been a happy union.

Fight 2014 10 X 12 inches oil on linen

Fight 2014 10 X 12 inches oil on linen

My favorite aspect of being an artist is that there is no creative terminus.  There are always new goals, new ways to improve, new projects, new collaborations, new collectors to meet, and new context for the work.  The rewards of an art practice are also related to finding something that resonates bigger than the original intention.  The idea for a work and the final result almost never match.  Allowing the work to surprise me never gets old.

Red 2014 6 X 8 inches oil on panel

Red 2014 6 X 8 inches oil on panel

Nebraska has been very good to me.  I came here for Graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Painting.  I met my fiancé here. I have taught classes at UNL, UNO, and Nebraska Wesleyan University as well as working as the gallery preparator in Elder Gallery at NWU.  I have a beautiful and affordable painting studio.  I have a band, Red Cities that is tons of fun and has a growing fan base.  My livelihood comes from being a teacher but my success as a teacher is tied directly to my life as an artist and my active pursuit of sustained production of creative content.

About ByronHeadshot

Byron Anway is an artist, educator and musician living and working in Lincoln NE.  Byron received his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Studio Art and a BA in Art and Education from Luther College in Decorah IA.  He has taught Drawing and Painting at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The University of Nebraska-Omaha, Nebraska Wesleyan University, the International School of Brussels, in Belgium, and the American Academy-Casablanca in Morocco.  Byron is a founding member of the artist collective Sexy/OFFENDER and the guitarist and vocalist for the rock band RED CITIES.

To see more of Byron Anway’s work check out the Modern Arts Midtown in Omaha and Art Seen: A Juried Exhibition of Artists from Omaha to Lincoln at the Joslyn Art Museum from 6/21/2015 – 10/11/2015. byronanwayart.com

 

 

Theatre Directing Is My Livelihood

The Drowsy Chaperone at Omaha Community Playhouse.  Photo by  Christian Robertson

The Drowsy Chaperone at Omaha Community Playhouse. Photo by Christian Robertson

 

Hilary’s Story

livelihood

The word “livelihood” comes from a combination of two Old English words that translate to “life” + “course.” My lifecourse centers around theatre and the use of creative imagination.

When I look back over my lifecourse, it comes together as a narrative about the examination of story, of people, of our lives here together through the medium of theatre. A lifecourse must have purpose, the reason for continuation forward, the verb behind the noun of life. The purpose that moves my life forward is to give back.

I see stories as the main way that we orient ourselves in our timeline; stories are a tool through which we understand where, why and how we are. Theatre provides an opportunity to step into other timelines, to see from other perspectives, and to safely examine consequence and difficult narratives.

…it was clear from early in my childhood that theatre somehow spoke to me in a way that made it more than an entertainment, more than something that I could visit on occasion.

Theatre was something I have been fortunate to have access to my entire life. My mother and her mother were both avid theatre, opera, ballet and symphony attendees. It was their intention to cultivate and appreciation for the arts, not necessarily that I’d go into it as my vocation, my life’s work. However, it was clear from early in my childhood that theatre somehow spoke to me in a way that made it more than an entertainment, more than something that I could visit on occasion.

Since I started acting when I was five, which makes it almost four decades of theatre being the center of my world. It is a rare thing, I feel, to be able to do what you love as your way of providing your daily bread. Now in Omaha, I am finding a new community of theatrical artists to create, collaborate, make glorious fictional worlds with. It is my hope that I can give back to this incredibly artistic city, using theatre as a tool for not only artistic growth and achievements, but also community development, social and personal growth, and as a catalyst for dynamic conversations and engagement with arts in all forms.

About Hilaryhilary

Hilary Adams joined the Omaha Community Playhouse as its Artistic Director this June, where she’s directed The Drowsy Chaperone, Hands on a Hardbody, and is about to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Prior to joining the Playhouse family, Hilary was based in NYC where she worked for 18 years as an award-winning professional director. Highlights include a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play, a Drama League Fellowship and receiving five Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellowships.  On Broadway, Hilary assisted Richard Jones (Titanic), David Henry Hwang (Flower Drum Song) and assistant directed for Robert Falls (Aida) and Mark Brokaw (Reckless). She has a Master’s in Applied Theatre from CUNY, School of Professional Studies. Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and League of Professional Theatre Women. www.hilaryadams.com

Click here to read more about the Omaha Community Playhouse.