Nebraska's Top 10 Contemporary Art Galleries You Should Visit
Nebraska has a thriving contemporary art scene. Native American artists are re-interpreting their own traditions, whilst Nebraskan artists are exploring new avenues in abstract art or regional landscape painting. Here are ten must-visit galleries, from the state capital, Lincoln, to Omaha.
Modern Arts Midtown is one of the leading galleries dedicated to contemporary art in Nebraska. Based in Omaha, the gallery houses an extensive permanent collection featuring leading American and international artists. There is a strong focus on providing a forum for artists working locally within Nebraska, with artists such as Don Williams and Edwin Carter Weitz featuring strongly. But the local emphasis is far from dominant – you will also find the works of exciting contemporary figures from across the USA including the innovative sculpture of Chris Cassimatis and the extraordinary abstracts of Marjorie Mikaesen, as well as the work of international artists such as Jean Gaudaire-Thor and Fulvio de Pellegrin. The exhibits range from ceramics and paintings to sculptures and prints.
Kiechel Fine Art, Lincoln | Courtesy of Kiechel Fine Art
Located in Lincoln, Kiechel Fine Art has been exhibiting some of the finest 20th century and contemporary American art since 1986. The gallery possesses a superb collection, including works by the great American Regionalists of the mid-century such as Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton, along with leading contemporary artists. Kiechel have supplied works from the collection to galleries including the Met and the British Museum.
Anderson O’Brien Fine Art has been based in the Old Market in Omaha since 1980, and focuses on promoting local and national contemporary artists in all mediums. You can find sculpture installations, photography exhibitions, paintings and jewellery on show. The gallery stays open until 8pm on most weekdays, perfect for after-work browsing. Jane Booth, who works out of an old ranch near Kansas City and has previously had her works permanently installed in the Kansas Governor’s office, exhibited her broad color-filled canvases at Anderson O’Brien. Other previous exhibitions have focused on the wonderful Great Plains photography of Nebraska local Michael Forsberg and the impressionistic, abstract nature paintings of Christina Narwicz.
The Blue Pomegranate Gallery has been operating since 2001 under the curatorship of Sondra Gerber in Omaha as a gallery for both local and national artists working in wide range of mediums. You will find exhibits in glass, metal, jewellery, clay, paint and mixed media and an emphasis on bright colours, textured glass, and brushed aluminium in the metal sculpture of Gerber. The gallery has a wonderfully intimate feel to it, with a real stress on handicraft, exhibition exclusively American handmade art. There is a new exhibition on the first Friday of every month, so look out for the innovative and intricate glass artists Anne Nye, Lisa Becker and Ebba Kararup. Blue Pomegranate Gallery relocated in 2014 to the Village Pointe mall.
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha | Courtesy of Joslyn Art Museum
The Joslyn Art Museum is housed in two magnificent buildings in Omaha – the original 1931 art deco museum, and the Walter and Suzanne Scott Pavilion designed by the modern master Norman Foster. Inside there are over 11,000 works that cover all periods from Greek Antiquity up to the modern era. The 20th century and contemporary collections feature great American figures such as Jackson Pollock, Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler. Amongst the ever-growing contemporary works are pieces by the installation artist Robert Irwin, sculpture by the African-American Martin Puryear, and the leading minimalist Donald Judd. The Joslyn Museum also recently acquired the brilliant Nogara by the leading post-war painter Frank Stella from the Phillip Schrager Collection of Contemporary Art.
Gallery 9 Professional Artist, Lincoln | Courtesy of Museum of Nebraska Art
Gallery Nine is an independent gallery in Lincoln run as part of the Professional Artists Affiliation. In total there are around 30 artists affiliated to the gallery, with further artists being invited to exhibit at Gallery Nine. Situated in the same building a several artists’ studios, Gallery Nine showcases contemporary work across various mediums, so expect to find ceramics, paintings, and sculpture on show. Currently the gallery is displaying the works of two of the affiliated artists in an exhibition entitled The Earth Itself – Nebraska native Su Harvey is exhibiting her art tiles and painted vessels, whilst Willie Sapp is displaying ceramic designs featuring natural imagery. The gallery’s July Invitational will feature the abstracts of Lincoln painter and art professor Brad Krieger and the brilliantly fun designs of Cat Rocketship from Des Moines, Iowa.
The Museum of Nebraska Art is the official collection of the state and has been growing since it was first established in 1976. Now situated in what was once the Kearney Post Office in a building that dates back to 1911, there are over 5000 works to see in the collection, which includes pictures from the early years of the state’s history all the way up to the present day. The museum runs regular Nebraska Now exhibitions that profile and promote contemporary artists from the state in the Yanney Skylight Gallery.
The Sheldon Museum of Art houses the collections of the Sheldon Art Association and the University of Nebraska. There is a hugely varying selection of contemporary and modern work within the collections – everything from abstract expressionism and pop art to minimalism and video installations. The museum is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska in an iconic building opened in 1963. The museum is especially noted for the contemporary Sculpture Garden, featuring works by Mark di Suvero, Juan Hamilton, and Roxy Paine.
Colleen Friday, 2012 Best Emerging Artist Prize Piece, Great Plains Art Museum | Courtesy of Great Plains Art Museum
The Great Plains Art Museum is part of the University of Nebraska, and its emphasis is on studying and promoting the culture and history of this unique region of the USA. The museum is made up of several collections left to the University of Nebraska, with much work featured coming from contemporary Native American artists. Amongst the Broder Collection are works by Plains Indian, Hopi, and Navajo painters who have taken the motifs, designs and symbols traditionally associated with their tribal murals, hide paintings, and pottery and transformed them into modern abstract forms and conceptual approaches.
Lewis Art Gallery is amongst the oldest and largest independent galleries in the region and is still run by the family who established the venue in 1971. The gallery is something of a treasure trove crammed with artworks; the work on show showcases all types of paintings by contemporary artists, modern furniture, sculpture and jewellery. You can find work by the noted contemporary Nebraska oil pastellist Jane Scott, who died in 2011, or traditional designs and abstract works by local artists working today including the extraordinary oil glazes of the Nebraska artist Gary Pummel.