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I am often asked at what point during my life did I decide I was an artist. In spite of the poor grammar, I usually respond with a quote from Will Rogers…”An artist is the only thing a man can say he is and nobody can prove he ain’t.”
I do believe I was born to create. Growing up in the middle of Nebraska in the 1970’s, there was not a lot of exposure to the arts. As a child, I was compelled to draw, paint and construct all sorts of things. If I wasn’t outside exploring the landscape, I was indoors creating. Although my mom kept an immaculate house, she never denied me the opportunity to make an explosive mess of art supplies and found objects. My parents even let me wallpaper an entire bedroom with sheets of abstract designs I created with Mr. Sketch markers.
In 1985, the Nebraska Art Collection took up permanent residence in my hometown of Kearney. The Museum of Nebraska Art gave me the opportunity to enter a “real” art museum for the first time. I found the works that resided there utterly inspiring. Over the next few years, the collection fueled my desire to create pieces of my own.
During my high school years, I took as many art classes as could fit into my schedule. Those classes were my saving grace and the one bright spot in my school day. I was not an athlete, nor was I musically inclined. I wasn’t particularly good at school, and math made my stomach turn. Art was the one thing that felt right, and the only thing that provided me with a much need dose of self-esteem.
I went on to study painting at Colorado State University. I graduated with honors in 1994 and spent the next several years teaching art along the front range of Colorado. It was during my commute to work that I began to notice an increase of human presence on the landscape. Billboards, cell towers and strip malls began popping up along the greenbelts which separated one city from the next. I felt compelled to preserve these quickly vanishing spaces through paintings.
”An artist is the only thing a man can say he is and nobody can prove he ain’t.” – Will Rogers
In 1998, I married my high school sweetheart and moved back home to Nebraska. I was astonished to discover the Nebraska landscapes I explored as a child had also been altered. And so, my preservation through painting continued. This interaction between man and landscape is still reflected in my work today.
In each of my pastels, I add an element of human presence. It might be a road, a passing car, the distant light of a farmhouse or simply a tree planted by human hands. These are reminders of the impact we, as humans, have on our land. It is my hope that by pointing out the beauty in the ordinary, people will better appreciate what they see each day.
I agree with Will Rogers, and I am glad he said what he said. I proved to myself somewhere along the way that I am an artist. I hope those who see paintings passing by them every day have the courage to prove to themselves that they are artists. Because nobody can prove that they ain’t.
After graduating from high school, Jennifer Homan attended Colorado State University where she studied painting. She graduated from CSU in 1994 with a BA and teaching endorsement. During the mid 1990’s, Jennifer taught art at Thompson Valley High School, The Loveland Art Academy and The Loveland Museum.
After marrying her high school sweetheart, Jennifer returned to Kearney where she has been actively involved in supporting the arts and the environment. She works from her studio in downtown Kearney and currently serves as chairperson of Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary Stewardship Board. Jeni devotes much of her spare time to working with aspiring young artists. She is a member of the prestigious Pastel Society of America and her work has been awarded honors at various juried exhibits. Her paintings have been featured in Nebraska Life Magazine and shown at the Museum of Nebraska Art and Omaha’s Cathedral Arts Project.
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.
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
Music isn’t my career, but it’s always been an important part of my livelihood and well-being.
I grew up surrounded by music primarily due to my clarinet-flute-saxophone-piccolo-wash board wielding father. He loved the law and was a very good lawyer, but traditional jazz was his passion. His band played every Wednesday night at a popular local restaurant in the Dundee neighborhood and he toured and produced several albums. I just thought it was normal to fall asleep listening to live late night jazz coming from our living room.
I started taking piano lessons at a young age as did my flute and trumpet playing sisters, but it didn’t take me long to figure out drums and percussion were going to be my thing. We all became second generation attendees of the internationally known Interlochen Arts Camp (my kids will become the third generation this summer), and I played in rock bands in high school and college.
The 5:30 a.m. alarm clock can come quick some mornings, but making the time for the art form that inspires you is always worth it.
I continued to play on my own, but it didn’t take long before political, business, and family pursuits overtook the time commitment needed to play in a band.
About a year ago, however, I became inspired to tune-up the drum set and get back in the game! Part of my inspiration came from my work on the City Council to renovate our neighborhood business districts. In particular, the resurgence of Benson into one of the city’s hottest spots for new restaurants, art, entertainment, and live music. Just recently, my band played its first show at Benson’s newest live music venue and had a blast.
The Omaha World-Herald covered the band’s formation and first performance and the response has been gratifying. We’ve all received numerous contacts from people with successful careers in something other than music – business, medicine, and politics – who continue to pursue their love of music or have now been re-energized to do so.
The 5:30 a.m. alarm clock can come quick some mornings, but making the time for the art form that inspires you is always worth it.
City Councilman Pete Festersen was elected to the Omaha City Council in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. He is currently President of the City Council and is the owner of his own small business, Strategic Business Development, LLC.
Prior to serving on the City Council and starting his company, Councilman Festersen helped shape Omaha’s future in senior management positions with the Peter Kiewit Foundation, The Mayor’s Office, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and Alegent Health, one of Omaha’s largest private employers. He has also served as Chairman of the Omaha Planning Board for three years and on various community boards such as the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Benson-Ames Alliance, College World Series Inc and AK-SAR-BEN Future Trust.
Pete was born and raised in Omaha and graduated from Central High School and Connecticut College before earning his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is a graduate of Leadership Omaha and has been recognized for his work as a business leader by the Midlands Business Journal. He also received the Excellence in Public Service Award from the UNO College of Public Administration and Community Service in 2012.
Pete and his wife, Paige, have two children, Anna and Caroline and they attend Dundee Presbyterian Church. Pete enjoys racing sailboats by competing on the regional and national levels and is a former Nebraska State Champion in both soccer and curling. A lifelong musician, he also spends time playing the drums.
The act of gathering and eating is what compels the art I make. Through functional pottery I am able to convey a sacred idea; that we should gather, make food and eat together. The sculpture I create extends my thoughts beyond the table, using symbolic schema and historically inspired forms like tablets, tools and weapons.
I learned to work in my childhood home. Stacking firewood and tending the garden were common. That time has inspired my present life as a child-rearing homemaker and dedicated gardener. I’m an outlier in the traditional world of domesticity and this has influenced my work in ceramics. Currently, making pottery and growing food is the bulk of my effort. This adjustment reveals a message; home making and handmade pots are essential because we need to gather and eat.
The place of pottery in everyday life helps me to recognize the potentials it has for building a community – we should gather and eat, drink and discuss
The forms I make are full in volume but reserved in character. I use brick clay that is mined in Southern Nebraska, near Endicott. It is fired to a mid-range temperature of 2150 degrees F. Throwing on a wheel, pinching and coiling, and pounding flat slabs are my typical forming techniques.
A way to describe my decorative technique is analogous to how I dress. Pots are painted on the inside with a white slip, like a t-shirt. That gets covered with a bright colored glaze, like a dress shirt. I paint a dull matte slip on the exterior to unify the form, like a coat. I prefer earth tones on pottery exteriors, and sometimes interrupt this surface with spots, stripes or non-representational characters. Sculptures are painted with varied colors of slip, drawn through and stained with oxides. I use illustrative images to convey contemplations about the world I experience.
The place of pottery in everyday life helps me to recognize the potentials it has for building a community – we should gather and eat, drink and discuss. I am compelled to make art because it engages my intellect and allows me to express what I read and think about. The fundamental process of transforming clay engages my curiosity and rewards my mental and physical effort.
PETER SCHERR was born and raised in Hastings, Nebraska. He is a ceramic artist – making both functional and sculptural pieces – living and working in Bellevue, Nebraska. Peter assisted in the studio of Jun Kaneko (1999-2000) where he learned and experienced the labors of a studio practice. He later received his BFA (2005) from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, under the tutelage of Gail Kendall, Eddie Dominguez, and Pete Pinnell. He and his wife live and garden on an acre South of Omaha, raising two young daughters, a toddler son, and laying hens. History, trains and food are his favored discussion themes.
See more of his work at peterscherrceramics.com
He is also on Instagram.