Committed To The Art Of Writing Is My Livelihood


Paul’s Story

I particularly like the title of this blog – Livelihoods – in how it reflects the artistic attitude and the artistic challenge. Pursuing one’s livelihood is an act of securing all the necessities of life. For many authors and artists, it is difficult to do that in a single career or a single passion. Those of us committed to our art or writing know that the basic necessities of life include not only food, water, shelter and clothing, but also the exercise and sustaining of the imagination. But often what puts food on the table does not fuel the imagination, and often artistic work does not provide the other necessities.

What is one to do? Well, one gets by. Somehow. I learned from Rilke as a young man that if one must write, one will write. To a poet, poetry ever is “louder than a bomb” (as others on this blog have said) and also “quieter than a stone,” or perhaps both at the same time. For the playwright, the poet, the visual artist, the indie film producer, the songwriter, the actor, and others, art is not a “hobby” and don’t you dare call it that to them.

One is first nourished by the strength in the art of others until eventually one must walk on his or her own legs, regardless how weak.

One is first nourished by the strength in the art of others until eventually one must walk on his or her own legs, regardless how weak. In high school and then college, I absorbed rock lyrics (1960’s) and particularly soaked up Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as I studied philosophy at Wichita State University and Indiana University. In writing workshops at WSU, I fed on Rilke and W. D. Snodgrass and the mid-20th century Moderns. At Indiana, I studied the no-nonsense positivism and empiricism of Carnap, Popper, Quine and Wittgenstein.   For me, the life of the mind and that of the heart came together paradoxically in my own quirky, personal human imagination (and that is how I hope to speak now as a poetic voice.) But then I only yearned (though not yet had learned) to write my own story, not echo the words and lyrics of those I loved and admired.

That was a long time, a long time coming, as Sam Cooke sang. In grad school, I had envisioned a coordinated pursuit of all life’s necessities as a university professor in the Philosophy of Science. But that did not work out for me and for many years I segmented my efforts to earn life’s essentials as many authors and artists must. For years, I worked as a computer programmer and in emerging areas of technological research and projects, including artificial intelligence and online stock trading. The 1980’s and 1990’s were exciting times in microcomputer technology and it was a good life, but poetry took a back seat and it seemed often like I was no longer a poet or worse, perhaps had never been one. Eventually though, things changed and the common provisions were secured. Fortunately, my need years ago as a young poet to develop the imagination had persisted. To my awe and amazement, I found poetry was still “louder than a bomb” and “quieter than a stone.”

About PaulDickey Lincoln

Paul Dickey grew up in Wichita and began publishing poetry in the 1970s. Dickey has a Bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University and a Master of Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington, in the History and Philosophy of Science. In 1985, he moved his family to Omaha. After a hiatus begun in 1980, Dickey started to publish again in 2003 when he retired from a career in information technology, online stock trading, and management. Since then, he has published poetry, plays, creative non-fiction and fiction in about 150 literary journals.

Dickey’s first full-length book of poems, They Say This is How Death Came into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January, 2011. A second book, Wires over the Homeplace was published by Pinyon Publishing in October, 2013.

Paul won the $5,000 2015 Master Artist Award for poetry from the NAC Individual Artist Fellowships (IAF) program. Besides writing, Dickey teaches philosophy at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.  To read online work by Paul or get additional information, please visit his website.

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 She will have a solo exhibit at the Cathedral Cultural Center in Spring 2015.



Arts Education Is My Livelihood

Tom’s Story
At Metropolitan Community College, we believe creativity drives job creation, produces workforce growth, and fuels economic development. That’s why our visual arts classes combine creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship._DSC1105

My passion is to ensure faculty and students have the tools they need to be successful and produce great art. Not only are they producing great art, but students are developing their conceptual skills, their creativity skills, and their problem solving and critical analysis skills. My reward is seeing MCC students and faculty succeed. During the past year:

  • MCC received the 2014 Thomas C Woods Partner in the Arts Award from the Nebraska Arts Council, and adjunct ARTS instructor Steve Tamayo is the 2014 Heritage Award winner.
  • MCC ARTS instructor Jamie Burmeister was the 2013 Omaha Entertainment and Arts award winner as best 3D artist.
  • Three MCC students produced and directed short films that were accepted into the Omaha Film Festival.MCC art
  • MCC’s Photo program cohosted, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln photo program, the Midwest Regional Society of Photographic Educators conference in Lincoln.
  • MCC ARTS student Lisa Schlotfeld painted one of the pianos for the, “Play Me I’m Yours,” public art project.
  • MCC Interior Design Students teamed up with Habitat for Humanity and local design professionals to create room vignettes, using items from the Habitat ReStore. The vignettes were on display at Westroads mall.
  • MCC playwriting and acting students wrote and produced one act plays and performed these plays at each of our campuses and centers.
  • We established the Commonwealth Gallery, where students create work that is available to the general public for purchase.

The highlight of the academic year is our annual student art exhibit at our Gallery of Art and Design at the Elkhorn Valley Campus, 204th and West Dodge. The student show includes Art, Animation, Graphic Design, Photography and Video. Students earn scholarships for award-winning work and, thanks to the MCC Foundation, some student work is purchased and added to the college’s permanent art collection. The student show opens April 24th, with awards announced at 6:00pm. Hope to see you there!

About Tom McDonnell, Tom
Tom McDonnell has been Dean of Humanities and Visual Arts at Metropolitan Community College since 2008. He has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University, a Master’s in communication from Eastern Illinois University and a Doctorate in higher education leadership from Northcentral University. He has more than 23 years of experience in community colleges, working in a variety of capacities. He also chairs MCC’s Public Art Committee, which seeks to identify good locations for public art on MCC’s campuses and acquire work which speaks to the mission of the College as a comprehensive institution of higher learning.