5 with jun lee

verdant prohibition speakeasy | woodcut | 43 by 64 inches | 2017

Jun Lee’s “Competition Contemplation” opens Friday, July 5, at the little gallery, 5901 Maple Street. Get to know her via our “5 with” series.

Q: When did you know you were going to be an artist?

As long as I remember, but my mom said it started when I was three years old. I asked her to draw me a snail, but she was stuck for a second. Then I took the crayon and paper from her and drew her snails. In her opinion, it was a good snail drawing for a three-year-old. From that snail drawing, I started saying I want to be an artist when I grew up.

Q: Describe your process. 

For the woodblock, I use 3/4” cherry veneer plywood. Before I start drawing, I check for any gaps or rough areas on the block. Once I have filled in any gaps with wood filler, I sand the block with 300, 400 and 600 grit to make the surface of the block very smooth. When the sanding is completed, I draw directly on the block in pencil. After the pencil drawing is finalized, I use black permanent Sharpie markers and color Sharpie markers to mark the outline and the color layers. I then spray shellac evenly on the block so I can seal the Sharpie to prevent bleeding when I print and facilitate cleaning between layers. When the shellac has dried, I finish the block with one more round of sanding with 600 grit, then I carve the area that will be white in the image. I use Futatsu Wari Moku Hanga, Pfeil and Powergrip for carving tools.

In a reduction woodcut, a single block is used for a multi-color print, and it usually begins with the lightest color and progresses to the darkest layer, which is the key image. After I finish carving the white layer, I print the first color layer, the lightest color. After printing the first layer, I clean and dry the block overnight. I then carve out the area of the previous layer on the block so it’s ready to print the second layer. This is why the process is called a reduction woodcut, because you carve the block progressively as you print the layers in order and reduce the printed area with each layer. Once you finish with the block, you cannot reprint the block because the block has been carved out and is only left with the key image. I print with Gamblin Relief ink and Cranfield Relief ink.

Q: Name the 3 most important things in your studio space.

  • Printing press and large table surface.
  • My tool box. My carving tools, “lucky egg”, tape, markers and other materials are all in it. I work between the printshop and my home, so I have to have my tool box with me.
  • My printmaking “lucky charm”, a Gudetama lazy egg doll. It’s in my tool box so I won’t forget it wherever I go for a residency or to teach classes, whenever I carve or print. It started as a joke, but it’s been working as a lucky charm, so I don’t print without it.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

The memories from my childhood, books and current events. Most of my work is about competition, so I draw inspiration from memories from my past and how I view them through the lens of my current experience. I also take examples of competition from news stories and apply them to the general themes I use in my work. I like to focus on more personal stories versus larger issues because I feel this makes the issues surrounding competition more relatable to the individual viewer of my work.

Q: What do you want others to know about you/your work?

How I found printmaking was an accident. I majored in illustration for undergrad, and I was very happy with the choice of my major. It was my senior year, and my goal was to spend most of my time on my senior thesis project. I needed one elective studio credit and didn’t want to retake the same studio classes I took previously. My studio mate recommended that I take a printmaking course. I had never taken a printmaking course, so I signed up for lithography and screenprinting. At first, I really disliked the process. It took so much work and time for processing one layer, and we didn’t even have one single layer on the paper yet. But when I pulled the first print off of my first stone, it was like nothing I had ever done before. It totally got me hooked, and I’ve been on the printmaking road since then.   

competition contemplation | jun lee opens july 5

the burden trophy | 6 layers reduction woodcut, 2018 | 30 by 42 inches | $2,500

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host “Competition Contemplation” by Jun Lee during the month of July in conjunction with the 2019 Frogman’s Print Workshops. The opening reception is Friday, July 5, from 7:30 to 10:30pm at 5901 Maple Street.

Lee, a printmaker from Falls Church, VA, works in large format woodcut using animals as metaphors to convey competition in our daily lives. She currently serves as the printmaking artist in residence at the Lee Arts Center in Arlington, VA, where she has focused on large-scale woodcuts and screenprints.

Lee attended the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, where she earned a BFA in illustration in 2002 and a post baccalaureate in printmaking in 2004. In 2007, she received her MFA in print media from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI. 

Lee was awarded the 2018-19 DC Art Bank grant by the Government of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and was one of the semifinalists for the 2018 Sondheim Artscape Prize (Baltimore, MD). Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Below is her artist statement.

My body of work attempts to evoke the different moments of our competitive lives; pieces that express the spectrum of competition from hiding away to preparing for a fight. The reality is that all life is competition, and we create barriers in our minds that allow us to think we have a space we can step into where the competition stops. That constructed space allows us to regroup and enter the next fight toward our goal. Every attempt might not succeed or look glorious, but every victory is built upon the foundation of loss, suffering, effort and sacrifice. The ability to be successful is not dependent on the number of triumphs you have but rather your willingness to get up and continue the struggle after a defeat.

I grew up in Seoul, South Korea. When I was in first grade, there was a man who sold chicks outside of my school. They were so cute and appealing I had no choice but to buy one. I prepared my chick a bed and some food, but it passed away within a week. I did not know why it died and cried for days. Over time, I purchased several more chicks, but none survived longer than a month. After that, I promised myself I would never get a chick again.

This unforgettable childhood memory has been my obsession and inspiration for quite some time and made me realize the inescapable truth of life – that competition always surrounds us. All the chicks were equally cute, desirable and wanted to get picked so they could come out of the box, even though they knew nothing of the challenges that waited for them. This mirrors our own development as people; during childhood, we want nothing more than to become adults without knowing all it entails, yet once we become adults, we seek ways to cope with the constant pressure of competition that surrounds us. My work uses the chick as a metaphor of desire and fear in this competitive thing called life; a rooster symbolizes a winner or a loser, but one that can anticipate the demands of the fight. The rooster still has fear in his eyes, but hides the fear with his vicious comb, fearless feet and exotic feathers. Every time he walks into the fight ring, he stands with pride and holds his head high. I used to see myself as a chick, lost but still fighting. Now, this chick has finally gotten what it wished for – to be a rooster, the last fighter standing.

The exhibition runs through July 27. The little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

2019 indie pet parade july 5, enter your pet via facebook

Boone, the 2019 official mascot of The Indie.

BENSON – Boone, the 2019 official mascot of The Indie, cordially invites all Benson pets to enter the first-ever Indie Pet Parade. The family-friendly event, set for Friday, July 5, during BFF, is part of lead-up activities to the 10K/5K road race, which will be held July 28 as part of Benson Days.

The parade will take participants along downtown Benson’s south alley, starting behind the Citylight Arts Project (CAP) at 5603 Northwest Radial Highway and ending in the parking lot of BFF headquarters at 2725 N. 62nd Street.

There is no registration fee to participate in the parade. Pet owners can register by submitting the name and photo of their pets to https://www.facebook.com/theindie2019/ by June 30. You can also register the afternoon of the event at the CAP building from 5:00 to 5:45pm. The parade will get under way at 6pm.

All entries will be judged by Boone and an esteemed panel of experts. The winner will receive free Indie gear and have one of the race’s top 5 hills named after them.

Representatives of Yeak Inc. of Benson, the 2019 sponsor of The Indie Pet Parade, will serve as the grand marshalls.

For more information, email info@theindieomaha.org.

The 2019 Indie Pet Parade is a production of The Indie, Benson out Back and BFF. To register for the 10K/5K road race, visit www.theindieomaha.org.

america | trudy swanson opens june 7

BENSON – The little gallery will celebrate its fourth birthday Friday, June 7, with the opening of “America” by Trudy Swanson. The reception runs from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with BFF. It’s free and open to the public.

Re-purposing items easily recognizable in American culture, Swanson shifts the focus of interpretation to consider them within the context of addressing current conversations. The show will also feature a collaborative installation piece by Swanson and Omaha artist Shaun Ilahi.

In conjunction with “America,” Swanson is encouraging people to participate by posting their responses to the question “What does America mean to you?” on the show’s Facebook event page.

“America” runs through June 29. The little gallery, powered by Polecat Communications, is located in downtown Benson at 5901 Maple Street. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday from 3 to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 1pm + by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

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“r a w \ b e a u t y” opens may 3

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host “R A W \ B E A U T Y” by Omaha artist Shaun Ilahi during the month of May. The opening reception is Friday, May 3, from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

The show is broken into segments that explore human perceptions, feelings and thoughts regardless of our own perceived uniqueness. “Devoid of our own social constructs and stripped to our core, it examines the ways we are connected to one another,” Ilahi explains.

The first segment is a selection of mixed-media artworks consisting of photos, paint and words. These various mediums are incorporated together to play and act as filters for one another, pointing to how our inner perceptions filter our surroundings.

The second segment is pictures of street photography taken in Pakistan. These images depict various aspects of life that capture moments that flow within all of us. Seemingly everyday urban scenery opens a window onto a more universal connection.

The final segment is an assortment of walls and markings that explore our inner and outer walls as humans.

Ilahi is a self-described world traveler and global citizen who captures simple moments through different mediums. He attended school in Nebraska and New York City and currently serves as general counsel for Habitat for Humanity.

R A W / B E A U T Y runs through May 25. The little gallery at 5901 Maple Street in downtown Benson is powered by Polecat Communications. It’s open Tuesday through Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.691.1901 or email info@polecatcommunications.com.

mfaa little show opens april 5

“Sign Off” by Shelly Burge.

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host The MFAA Little Show during the month of April. The exhibition features small works of fiber art from members of the Midwest Fiber Art Alliance (MFAA). The opening reception is Friday, April 5, from 6:00 to 9:00pm at 5901 Maple Street. The event is free and open to the public – are all invited to attend.

MFAA members explore textile manipulation and the diversity of multi-media as an art form. The organization encourages artists and educates others about contemporary fiber arts through member exhibitions, technique and inspiration sharing, and demonstrations.

Participating artists:

• Dianne Duncan Thomas
• Peg Pennell
• Gail Dickel
• Cindy Erickson
• Aimee Mahan
• LaVonne Dunetts
• Shelly Burge
• Marcia O”Donovan
• Cynthia Levis
• Wendy Maliszewski

The MFAA Little Show runs through April 31. The little gallery is located in downtown Benson at 5901 Maple Street in the east bay of the John J Mercer Masonic Lodge #290. Regular hours are:

3:00pm to 6:00pm

10:00am to 1:00pm

+ by appointment

The little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications. For more information, contact us at 402.681.1901 or info@polecatcommunications.com.

2019 indie to benefit citylight arts project

BENSON – Do you like Benson’s growing art scene? Do you need another reason to enter this year’s Indie?

Proceeds from the 2019 road race – set for July 28 in conjunction with Benson Days – will benefit the Citylight Arts Project (CAP), which seeks to empower the next generation of creatives. The nonprofit, an outgrowth of Citylight Benson Church, was selected as 2019’s race beneficiary by the Benson Neighborhood Association, which hosts Benson Days each year.

The mission of CAP, located at 5603 Northwest Radial Highway, is to:

  • Pioneer a new space to learn, create, and cultivate
  • Partner with like-minded community organizations
  • Promote emerging creatives and their work  
  • Produce a new generation of art patrons  
  • Provide for the underprivileged in our neighborhood

Registration is now open for the 10k and 5k courses.

The early bird cost through May 1 is $25 for individuals and $20 per person for a team of five or more. For more information about the race, visit www.theindieomaha.org. For more information about CAP, visit www.citylightartsproject.com.

the indie is 5 july 28, registration is now open

BENSON – The Indie, north Omaha’s premier road race, will celebrate its fifth birthday Sunday, July 28, in conjunction with Benson Days 2019. The event, hosted by the Benson Neighborhood Association, is presented by 1912.

Registration is now open for the 10K and 5K races, considered to be among the region’s most challenging courses due to the Benson neighborhood’s hilly terrain. “We call them the Benson Alps, and we’re challenging all of the region’s runners to come and scale them this summer,” said Ryan Morrissey, The Indie’s 2019 race director.

Early bird pricing, in effect through May 1, is $25 per solo artist (individual runner) and $20 per band (team) member. A band (team) is 5 or more members.

Activities will get under way at 8:00am July 28 at race headquarters, located at 6201 Maple Street in beautiful downtown Benson. New this year is birthday cake at the finish line, a pet parade, pre-race training runs, a contest to design the official race T and new sponsorship options. Watch for details soon.

Back by popular demand are:

  • Gold records for the overall male and female 10K and 5K race winners
  • The official mascot
  • The after party high above Benson on 1912’s fabulous rooftop deck

For more information, contact The Indie at 402.681.1901 or info@theindieomaha.org.

try again opens march 1

my curse | joe liebentritt | acrylic on black velvet

The little gallery is pleased to host “Try Again” by Joe Liebentritt during the month of March. The opening reception is Friday, March 1, from 6:00 to 9:00pm at 5901 Maple Street in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

An Omaha artist, Liebentritt has been drawing and painting his entire life. After attending The Kansas City Art Institute, he returned to Omaha, got involved with local art groups and continued to refine his craft. He served as president of the Associated Artists of Omaha, organized and judged several midwest art shows, and was co-owner of a local art gallery.

The inspiration for Liebentritt’s work originates from his everyday life and experiences. He seeks to connect with viewers through his unique perspective and style. His vignettes from travels and local locations range from portraits to city scenes. The images are pulled from his past and present, and are painted with his figurative, realistic brushwork.

“Most of the work featured is painted on canvas, but I also enjoy working with other materials and textures,” Liebentritt said. “They have their own story and add a different feel and connection. The skulls appeared to be a reoccurring theme from my old sketchbooks, so I wanted to pay homage to that in the show with the darkness of black velvet.

“Over the course of the past 10 years, I have gone through some serious life changing events. I keep having to refocus and adapt all over again…and again…and again. I found myself consciously reflecting on those experiences and the need to continually reinvent myself. The focus of this show is exploring and coming to terms with who I am as a person and artist.”

Liebentritt’s artwork has been featured in numerous art shows and events. His artwork is owned and enjoyed in private collections locally and across the country.