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.

Looking is my Livelihood

KK Pluhacek - Daisy Bullseye - 2013 - pastel -34x34

Daisy Bullseye – 2013 – pastel -34×34

 

Kristin’s Story
I was raised by parents who were scientists and seekers, and who quietly encouraged me to recognize the expansiveness of everyday life. For our family, the joy was in the discovery rather than the containment.

When I work with students, I encourage them to study the subject closely, and in many different ways. We talk about representation, but we focus on simpler things – line, shape, value, space. In this way, the students break down the concept of the object, and open themselves to that which can only be expressed through experience. They can carry this experience with them into life beyond their educational experience.

As an artist, I feel compelled to recognize and celebrate the grandness in ordinary things, and to do so by capturing and containing them.

Burble - 2012 - pastel - 42x40

Burble – 2012 – pastel – 42×40

It’s a bit of a conflict: As an artist, I feel compelled to recognize and celebrate the grandness in ordinary things, and to do so by capturing and containing them. So I try to maintain the immediacy of a subject by focusing less on a physical or emotional connection and more on the joining of several visual pieces, employing the language of the visual as purely as possible in an attempt to prolong the life of the subject. I think abstractly, even when my work is representational.

But for the artwork to survive, the viewer must be willing to continue the conversation begun in the studio, somehow connecting with the work and allowing it to inform daily experience. I try to keep my imagery open and engaging, inviting a viewer to participate differently with each new interaction and to embrace the digressions that appear with each new viewing.

Lane 2 - 2012 - oil on canvas - 30x20

Lane 2 – 2012 – oil on canvas – 30×20

To do this, I study a form many times before I consider it part of my repertoire, often relying on other senses to help get me to a truer expression. Then I can draw the same item over and over and it will become something new to me each time. Such experiences allow me to feel satisfied with never feeling fully comfortable with a subject, with needing to constantly look – because I know that what really changes in each equation is me and my ability to clearly see; and that in the end, I am only documenting myself.

About Kristin

Kristin Pluhacek profile image - in studio working on Conflict

Kristin Pluhacek profile image – in studio working on Conflict

Kristin Pluhacek lives and works in Omaha, Nebraska. Her drawings and paintings have been exhibited extensively in the Midwest, and her work is represented in numerous public and private collections. She has led many project workshops, most recently a mural project in Omaha’s Hanscom Park in collaboration with the UNO SummerWorks program. Kristin is a BFA graduate of Creighton University, a roster artist for the Nebraska Arts Council AiS/C program and a drawing instructor at Metropolitan Community College. Currently, her work can be viewed at Anderson/O’Brien Gallery in Omaha and on line at kkpluhacek.com. She will have a solo exhibit at the Cathedral Cultural Center in Spring 2015.