Omaha Public Library (OPL) welcomes the community to attend a reception showcasing newly-installed public art at Downtown Branch, 1401 Jones St., on Saturday, October 28, from 2-4 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and the six artists whose works are featured throughout the building will briefly discuss their work starting at 3 p.m.
OPL has been working to commission and install public art by local artists in its newest branch since early spring. The building–originally designed by renowned Omaha architect John Latenser in 1912 to serve as the home of the David Cole Creamery–opened as the new Downtown Branch on May 21, 2023. A percentage of the budget for the branch was earmarked for public art, and a community-wide request for artists was sent out in April. A committee of OPL staff, the director of Omaha Parks & Recreation, and members of the Omaha Public Art Commission then narrowed down submissions and identified nine areas within the two-story structure for potential art installations. Select artists were invited to submit proposals for the spaces, and finalists completed installation of their works in September.
“Rivers, Roads, Remains” by collaborative artists Lori Elliott-Bartle, Marcia Joffe-Bouska and Tom Quest consists of three mixed-media panels featuring ceramic, glass mosaic, collage, found objects, oil colors and beeswax. “River,” also by the trio, consists of five clusters of their signature mixed-media work spaced along a long wall. Both concepts explore ideas related to place, memory and connection around the Missouri River, and examine connections between nature and manufactured structures.
“Dissociation,” “Candy Carmen Jude,” and “Don’t Blame Me, This Is All I Can Remember” by abstract artist Jada Messick are acrylic mixed media works on canvas. According to Messick, her work “combines color, pattern, form, and textures to create movement in the imagery, allowing the viewers’ mind to wander and explore.”
“A World of Stories” by Ilaamen Pelshaw consists of two acrylic-on-canvas panels featuring illustrations of storybook characters, and a wooden bookmark dividing the two. Another acrylic diptych by Pelshaw, entitled “Flourishing,” features birds and open books, illustrating how the mind flourishes through reading. “Take the Call,” also by Pelshaw, is a geometric graphic painting that incorporates outlines of multiple modes of communication (from a cell phone to a pair of tin cans connected by a cord) along with two faces.
“Together” by Weston Thomson is a large piece of ⅛” plasma-cut steel with a multicolor patina which captures a group of friendly faces. Inspired by the fast, gestural work of street art, the work is composed of a single, continuous contour line which emphasizes the notion that we are all connected.
"Together, the artists’ work embodies creativity and imagination, and celebrates the power of story and of building connections in our community,” said art selection committee member and OPL Adult Services Librarian Amy Mather. “We hope the public will enjoy this art for many years to come.”
For more information on this event and additional upcoming events at Omaha Public Library’s 13 metro locations, visit omahalibrary.org