“brace yourself” tenacious karma” opens march 6

BENSON – the little gallery is pleased to host “Brace Yourself: Tenacious Karma” by John Stillmunks during the month of March. The opening reception is Friday, March 6, from 6:00 to 9:00pm at 5901 Maple Street in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

Born and raised in North Omaha, Stillmunks studied at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Metropolitan State University in Denver before graduating from Iowa State University with a BFA in painting. After college, he and his wife opened the Independent Thought Gallery and Studio in Des Moines, where he shared his work and promoted local artists for 15 years. His art has been featured in shows across the country, from Phoenix to Miami.

Stillmunks recently returned to Omaha and established his studio at Bench. He describes the show as “”17 new paintings examining life’s influences, variables, options, and choices – which often lead to resulting events arriving just as God begins to laugh heartily.”

Below is the artist in his own words.

“My work always has a nod to schadenfreude – also I have been gravitating back to my roots in blue collar North Omaha in terms of color, texture, grit, humor, tenacity, variation, improvisation, perspective and resilience gained from growing up there. Ironically, I have spent my whole life trying to get away from what I am now embracing in middle age.

“I use multiple perspectives and patterned movement to convey energy and emotion. Colors and patterns come directly from Midwestern African American folk art. Textures and imagery are without a doubt influenced by urban Midwestern architecture, graffiti, Catholic church symbolism and graphics and the “edge” acquired from urban environments in the upper Midwest such as Omaha, Minneapolis, KC, and Chicago.”

View his work at:

john-stillmunks.square.site
www.facebook.com/munksie
www.twitter.com/johnstillmunks
www.instagram.com/johnstillmunksart

the little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications in downtown Benson. Winter hours are Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5pm, Saturday from 10am to 1pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901 or email info@polecatcommunications.com.

“hatch” by pecha opens feb. 7

BENSON – the little gallery is pleased to host “Hatch” – a meditation on line, surface, movement and scale – by Pecha during the month of February. The opening reception is Friday, Feb. 7, from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday. All are welcome to attend.

About the Artist
Pecha (pek’-ah) is a creator working in the Benson neighborhood of Omaha, NE. He uses positive and negative space to invoke a sense of depth, while using line to deny the space and create movement across the surface of the work. The resulting dynamic tension draws the viewer in and simultaneously keeps them at bay.

A graffiti artist in his formative years, he was inspired by Keith Haring, Egon Schiele, and Willem de Kooning, who relied on their use of line to convey emotion.

Drawing upon extensive travel throughout Morocco and Spain and guided by the Moorish art and architecture he experienced, his latest creations move past the figurative work of his past and into a more calligraphic and meditative mode. His construction background has begun influencing technique and material choices – drawing with welding wire and plasma cutters as well as using common and discarded building materials to create his art.

While given the name Patrick Jensen at birth, he creates work under his mother’s maiden name in homage to his Bohemian heritage and the grandparents who helped raise him.

Artist Statement
“With this latest body of work, I am working out some thoughts and ideas that I have been kicking around over the past few years. One of them is the incorporation of discarded and common construction materials I come across in my construction career. The other is to engage with an ancient mark common in art, engineering and architecture – the hatch and crosshatch.

“I have found the act of hatching allows me to move deeper into the individual marks I make as an act of meditation. Instead of a word or sound, the repetition of the line acts as my mantra; deepening my concentration. I focus on making every line with intention. Whether it is with an eraser, plasma cutter or marker, the process of drawing each line is an individual act. No attachment. Embracing imperfection. Letting go of desire again and again. The marks all culminate in a surface that begins to undulate, move and work as one.”
– Pecha

“Hatch” is open through Feb. 29. Winter gallery hours are Thursday and Friday from 3:00 to 5:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more information or to schedule a viewing outside regular hours, call 402.681.1901.

conditions opens jan. 3

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host “Conditions” – a group show featuring the work of four artists with chronic medical conditions – during the month of January. The opening reception is Friday, Jan. 3, from 6 to 9pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

The artists – Mary Ensz, Jeff Mack, Jennifer Novak Haar and Jennifer Shannon – bravely create art while quietly battling a wide variety of medical issues. Often the daily struggle of dealing with ailments can also be a source of inspiration. The exhibition features painting and photography.

“Conditions” runs through Jan. 25. The little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications. Winter hours are Thursday-Friday from 3 to 5pm, Saturday from 10am to 1pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

Learn more about the artists below.

Mary Ensz

Growing up, my mom had a set of Matryoshkas, or Russian Nesting Dolls, on her dresser. I was captivated by how cozily they fit inside each other and how the forms felt in my hands. The littlest doll was my favorite, painted one color with a simple bud on her belly – unadorned and unchanged by the outside world, solid and without fear.

As a young girl, my art was without fear: I enjoyed it, so I did it. However, as a teenager, truths I wasn’t ready to see started showing up in my art. Everything I made resurrected trauma I didn’t want to remember or presented circumstances I didn’t want to acknowledge. My solution was to stop making art.

After unsuccessfully seeking alternative realities in many forms, I visited my hometown and found the Matryoshkas on that same dresser of my childhood. They reminded me why I want to create—​to look beyond the exterior, find truth and connect with others​. So I began using the shape of the nesting doll to ground me in my work and help me move through recovery from addiction and the diagnosis of Bipolar I disorder.

My art materials continue to change, but like the littlest nesting doll, the truth is unadorned and unchanged by the outside world, solid and without fear. My art instigates viewers to examine their truths, and through this awareness, transform ourselves and our hurting communities.

Jeff Mack

In the dim light of a fall morning in 1977, held close by my parents, I slipped into unconsciousness. At the time, treating juvenile diabetes was an even greater challenge than it is today. My artwork reflects my nearly lifelong struggle with an invisible disease. Through my artwork, I educate and entertain the viewer with images derived from my life experience.

Like most long-term diabetics, there have been many challenges I’ve had to face. From vision issues, cost of treatment and day-to-day management of my health, my illness is present in every facet of my existence. Communicating these obstacles is a central motivation in my art. I am constantly looking at the world around me for a way to transform utilitarian things into something beautiful.

In 2017, I began to use an insulin pump to manage my diabetes. The process creates a regular stream of waste products. I have been collecting the syringes, needles and other waste ever since. I use these objects, combined with an early photographic process called cyanotype, to create works of art.

Cyanotypes were originally used to create blueprints, and my work has that distinct blue hue as well. Building a pattern of objects on top of surfaces prepared with the cyanotype chemistry and exposing that combination to ultraviolet light, I create abstract shapes that show the source objects clearly.

Photography is another process I use to communicate and create images related to my disease. I combine digital, analog and historic processes to make my imagery. I use macro images, printed onto transparencies, to create abstract cyanotypes that remind me of the visual and perceptual challenges I sometimes face.

My practice allows me to investigate the relationships between the objects I create my images with, myself and society. The resulting artwork is a dialog between a single patient and a public that usually cannot see my struggle.

Jennifer Novak Haar

I have been sick my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are in the hospital. Despite years of trying to find answers, I have only a probable diagnosis – Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia – an extremely rare cilia disorder that affects the lungs, sinuses and ears. Because the cilia can’t move mucus out in a normal way, I have frequent infections and irreversible lung damage. I’ve had most of the insides of my sinuses removed to help drainage, and I have constant issues with my ears. I’ve had more surgeries and hospitalizations than I can count. Even a simple cold can be life-threatening; in 2011 I nearly died of a viral pneumonia and was on life support for five days. I needed oxygen for several months as I recovered.

My disease affects me on a daily basis. To compensate for the cilia dysfunction and lung damage, twice a day I do about 45 minutes of respiratory therapy, consisting of mechanical chest percussion, inhaled antibiotics, sinus rinses, steroid sprays and inhalers, and I need IV antibiotics several times a year. I have to make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. People stare at me because I have a terrible hacking cough.

Despite this, I lead a very active and busy life. Since getting a port 10 years ago, I’ve been able to do IV antibiotics at home, which has drastically cut down on my hospitalizations and allows me to keep working even when I’m sick. I’ve taken on photography and enjoy taking photos of wildlife, zoo animals and pets. I like catching animals in funny poses and expressions, and being able to see what they look like extremely close up, seeing things that would be impossible with the naked eye. People respond to these photos with interest and amusement, which is how I feel when taking them.

Most people aren’t aware of the extent of my illness, and as a freelance musician, I don’t want people to know and then consider me unhirable. When I was asked to be a part of a show on chronic illness, I was at first excited and then terrified. I wasn’t sure I wanted to put this part of my life on public display for all to see. It has taken some courage to show what living with my disease is like through the means of photography. Some find these photos disturbing or confusing, but to me, it’s just normal life. My hope is that these images convey the stark reality of my disease, but also my determination not to let it define me or hold me back.

Jennifer Shannon

The beauty in nature and landforms has always captivated my attention. Finding ways to intertwine hidden suggestions of the human anatomy within our world is a new obsession of mine. Some may see rolling hills, where I might find forms of a ribcage. Colorful veins flowing through the heart may turn into a twisted tree when rotated, converting nature into anatomy and life into nature. My mind has been bursting, trying to create an apparatus to create interactive canvases that will allow you to easily view my work from a variation of perspectives. This new mechanism allows the viewer to create different scenarios within the work and how they correspond between each other

I often replicate images of life and health with delicate, flowing movements. Contorted skeletal structures are used to convey experiences with my own birth defect – Diastematomyelia – while including a variety of health concerns faced in our society today. I feel a longing to cultivate enthusiasm and educate viewers within my creative process by transporting the viewer into the human body. Formations of hearts emanate in hopes to bring awareness and comfort, while acting as a form of therapy due to the loss of my dad.

At times, I use thick and textured paint and sculptural pieces to build tactical forms that can be experienced from a variety of angles. I feel it’s important to be able to experience the texture, weight and temperature of each piece. This provides opportunities for observers who are visually impaired to be able to experience art as well. At times, random bits of found objects are used to connect the viewer to the subject with familiar unexpected content, whether it is seen or felt.


5th annual little show opens dec. 6

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host its fifth annual little show during the month of December. The opening reception is Friday, Dec. 6, from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

The annual show, just in time for the holiday season, features works by local artists that are 12 by 12 inches or smaller and retail for $100 or less. The exhibition includes some of the smallest art we’ve ever had on display, and it’s spectacular and affordable!

Featured artists include:

  • Christina Arellano
  • Erica Bailey
  • Ranae Boggess
  • John Brumbach
  • Lori Fox
  • Jaim Hackbart
  • January Kristine
  • Becky Lee
  • Joe Liebentritt
  • Bob Mathews
  • John D. Munoz
  • Christina Nelson
  • Daryn Richardson
  • Jonathan Seevers
  • John Stillmonks
  • Lori Tatreau
  • Michael Trenhaile
  • Lynda Vik
  • Haley Whitesel
  • Sarah Wynn

The little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications. Winter hours are Thursday-Friday from 3:00 to 5:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm + by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

bill hoover’s “lost and found and lost” opens nov. 1

The little gallery is pleased to host Bill Hoover’s “Lost and Found and Lost” during the month of November. The opening reception is Friday, Nov. 1, from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

Hoover has been making art and music in Nebraska for more than 25 years. Encouraged by a mentor in 1993, he began exhibiting his childlike oil-based crayon drawings in Associated Artists of Omaha exhibitions and at The Radial Cafe. Years later, Hoover’s paintings are highly sought after by collectors in Omaha and around the United States. His style has matured and deepened, evolving into a complex and layered vocabulary of narrative and symbolism.

“Lost and Found” explores the losses we experience using collage, paper sculpture, found scraps of paper and 30-year-old letters. It runs through Nov. 30.

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

the little gallery to represent john stillmunks

john stillmunks | robbing a thief | copyright 2019 | mixed media

18x24x1.5 | cradled wood panel | $800


BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to announce its representation of John Stillmunks.

Born and raised in North Omaha, Stillmunks studied at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Metropolitan State University in Denver before graduating from Iowa State University with a BFA in painting.

After college, he and his wife opened the Independent Thought Gallery and Studio in Des Moines, where he shared his work and promoted local artists for 15 years. His art has been featured in shows across the country, from Phoenix to Miami, and he’s currently showing some small sculptures at Artistic Indulgence in Minneapolis.

Stillmunks recently returned to Omaha and established his studio at Bench. Below is the artist in his own words.

My work always has a nod to schadenfreude – also I have been gravitating back to my roots in blue collar North Omaha in terms of color, texture, grit, humor, tenacity, variation, improvisation, perspective and resilience gained from growing up there. Ironically, I have spent my whole life trying to get away from what I am now embracing in middle age.

I use multiple perspectives and patterned movement to convey energy and emotion. Colors and patterns come directly from Midwestern African American folk art. Textures and imagery are without a doubt influenced by urban Midwestern architecture, graffiti, Catholic church symbolism and graphics and the “edge” acquired from urban environments in the upper Midwest such as Omaha, Minneapolis, KC, and Chicago.

Stillmunks will show at the little gallery in March 2020. View his work at:

john-stillmunks.square.site
www.facebook.com/munksie
www.twitter.com/johnstillmunks
www.instagram.com/johnstillmunksart

The little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications in downtown Benson. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 1pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901 or email info@polecatcommunications.com.

CARTÓN | john muñoz opens oct. 4

The little gallery is pleased to host CARTÓN by John D. Muñoz during the month of October. The opening reception is Friday, Oct. 4, from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

Muñoz was born in Boston, raised in Puerto Rico and currently lives in Omaha. His cardboard series is the result of images he sees in the shapes and random lines he draws. It’s during the process of adding color that he gets a sense of what the finished work will be.

“Art, for me, has served as a way to communicate my interpretation of the human experience,” Muñoz said.

CARTÓN runs through Oct. 26.

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

robert klein engler memorial show opens sept. 6

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host the work of the late Robert Klein Engler, writer and artist, during the month of September. The opening reception is Friday, Sept. 6, from 6:00 to 9:00pm at 5901 Maple Street in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

Mr. Engler held degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana and the University of Chicago Divinity School. He received Illinois Arts Council awards for his poetry. Many of his poems, stories, and paintings are set in New Orleans.

The Omaha writer and artist was an active volunteer. He helped organize a committee to maintain the stained glass windows at St. Mary Magdalene Church in downtown Omaha. The artist’s proceeds will benefit that fund.

The exhibition runs through Sept. 28 at the little gallery. Regular hours are Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

submissions sought for 5th annual little show

BENSON – Hey, local artists – we’re currently seeking submissions for the fifth annual little show, which opens Friday, Dec. 6, at the little gallery. 

All submitted works must be 12 by 12 inches (or smaller) and retail for $100 or less. The registration deadline is Friday, Nov. 1. Please email your intent to submit to info@polecatcommunications.com by that date and include:

  • Your name
  • Your contact information
  • Your medium

The entry fee is $5 per submitted piece. All work must be dropped off at the little gallery the week of Nov. 25 – no exceptions.

Questions? Contact us at 402.681.1901 or info@polecatcommunications.com.

Happy creating!

5 with shawnequa linder

Shawnequa Linder’s “Remixing: An Experimental Portrait Series” opens Friday, Aug. 2, at the little gallery, 5901 Maple Street in downtown Benson. The reception, which is free and open to the public, runs from 6:00 to 9:00pm in conjunction with Benson First Friday.

The Omaha artist has exhibited at Omaha’s RNG Gallery, Hot Shops Art Center, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and MONA, among other venues. She also has been featured in The Reader and The Encounter magazine.

Get to know Linder via the little gallery’s “5 with” series.

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

It wasn’t until probably around 2003 when my friend, Wanda Ewing, asked me to do the “Crazy Eights” slide jam at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. I had no idea what I was doing because I didn’t think at that time that I was an artist, but she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. So I started hanging out with all these cool artists who thought I was an artist. Since then, I finally allowed myself to think of myself as an artist because I was growing into one.

Describe your process.

My subject matter is movement, texture and color, whether it’s applied in a nontraditional landscape or portraits. The work explores the varying relationships between pop culture and fine art.  

Name the 3 most important things in your studio space.

  • My SpongeBob coffee cup
  • My Art Fundamentals book
  • All my paints

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration pretty much everywhere, from a nature walk or attending an art show or just eating food, LOL. But make sure you have a pen to write out the idea because it will fade away like a morning dream.

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

I have met so many incredible and interesting people since I started my art journey, and I’m hoping to continue sharing my gifts for the world to see.

“Remixing: An Experimental Portrait Series” runs through Aug. 31 at the little gallery. Regular hours are Tuesday-Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.