OBJECTS opens oct. 6

Jason Steady’s OBJECTS opens Friday, Oct. 6, at the little gallery. An opening reception is set for 6:00 to 9:00pm at 5901 Maple Street in beautiful downtown Benson. Below is a Q+A with the artist.

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

I think I first thought of myself as an artist as a little kid, but life, school and people have a way of convincing you that it’s not a worthwhile pursuit. “Sure, you can be an artist, but what are you going to do for a living?” Despite making a living doing some sort of art in some sort of capacity for nearly 20 years now, I’m still not comfortable telling people I’m an artist. I usually just say I’m unemployed and making it work.

Q: Describe your process.

I’ll have a weird dream or a strange idea about an Object, an illustration or a concept, and then I just have to make it. When I don’t even have the right skills to make something happen, I either read up and do some research to learn a new skill or just wander the aisles at the hardware store looking for solutions and pieces to the puzzle. After that, I completely zone out and hope I have a cool Object and all my fingers when I’m done.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

I love when someone comes to me wanting to know if something is even possible. Often, just wondering how to do something is inspiring enough. You know when a dog hears a weird sound and tilts its head to the side a little bit? Intrigued? I’m inspired by anything that makes me do that. Sounds, materials, tools, ideas, experiences. If it makes me tilt my head like a dog, I’ll run with it.

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

I suppose tools and things are the most important, but I’ve had the same space for over 10 years and just installed adequate lighting this summer. Last winter, I installed a heater. Being able to see and not freeze to death are really very important, even compared to tools.

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

Everything not discussed thus far should remain medium-mysterious to encourage people to come to the show and ask me a question or whatever.

OBJECTS runs through Oct. 28. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more info, call 402.681.1901.

three part harmony opens aug. 4

Stoneware teapot by Lisa Kalentjakos

If there’s one artist in the family, chances are there may be others. Such is the case for longtime Omaha theatre and music educator Carole Waterman and daughters Lisa Kalentjakos and Marie Adams. The three will showcase their work at Benson’s little gallery in August with Three Part Harmony, an intertwining of painting, sculpture and other art objects. An opening reception is set for Friday, Aug. 4, from 6:00 to 9:00pm.

Several years ago, Waterman became interested in creating jewelry with recycled materials, which led her to “wanting to ‘bead’ the world.” After being offered the opportunity to study backstrap weaving in Guatemala, she began to consider the possibilities of weaving natural objects.

Daughter Lisa said if media were people, then clay would be her first love and painting her second. “Nothing comes out of me unless I have hours at my disposal and can dive into the process, losing sense of time and space,” Lisa said. “My background in music and dance seeps through an abstracted humanist element when I paint.”

The quote “life is art – paint your dreams” hangs on the wall of daughter Marie’s art studio, reminding her that each day is an act of creation. “That creativity for me has been expressed in family, home, flowers, food and even painting,” she said. “There is great joy in making your life a work of art.”

The little gallery, powered by Polecat Communications, is located at 5901 Maple Street in downtown Benson. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm, the second Sunday of the month from 9:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment.

Three Part Harmony runs through Aug. 31. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

5 with myles dunigan

untitled (seasons in the abyss #1) 2017

“Everything Always – Already Ends,” the work of visual artist and printmaker Myles Dunigan, opens Friday, July 7, at the little gallery in downtown Benson. A reception is set for 6:00 to 10:00pm. The exhibition coincides with the 2017 edition of Frogman’s Print Workshops, based at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Below is a Q&A with the artist.

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

As long as I can recall. I was encouraged to draw as soon as I was able and have been amassing a library of sketchbooks ever since.

Q: Describe your process.

My process always begins with some sort of model, be it a small-scale construction in my studio or a space constructed digitally with 3D modeling software. I then choose a method of documentation, which is typically a combination of printmaking and photography. In my recent work, I have made use of laser-engraving to achieve this end, engraving photographic imagery into plywood or plexiglass that can then be printed on a traditional press. I am always seeking ways to trouble the relationships between information technologies and am constantly moving between digital and analogue techniques.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

Much of my inspiration comes from landscape painting that emerged in western Europe and the Hudson River Valley in the 1800s. The works of Albert Bierstadt and John Martin are particularly influential for their depictions of a chaotic, sublime landscape. In addition to these historical influences, I also look toward the aesthetics of video games and other modes of experiencing digital spaces.

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

My computer, my sketchbook and my tackle box full of intaglio tools.

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

I want my audience to question the verity and authority that images possess. With the advent of fake news, the reality we know is more and more mediated by our digital experiences. I aim to craft other worlds that question how technology mitigates how we view nature.

Frogman’s began back in 1979 when Professor Lloyd Menard led five school teachers from Sioux City, Iowa, to the Black Hills of South Dakota for a drawing class. Prints were first introduced in 1981, and the workshops evolved into the Black Hills Print Symposium, which took place at various sites in western South Dakota. The Black Hills provided an amazingly beautiful backdrop, but by 1996, the workshops had outgrown the confines of the Hills and moved to Beresford, South Dakota, the home of Frogman’s Press & Gallery. The workshops would only spend two years based in Beresford before moving to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. 2016 marked Frogman’s first year at UNO, where the Frogman took his first-ever print class more than 50 years ago.

5 with courtney kenny porto

“Switch It Up” opens Friday, June 2, at the little gallery with a reception from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Below is a Q+A with the artist.

Q: Describe the impetus for “Switch It Up.”

A: I first came up with the idea of painting light switch covers as a less expensive way to buy an original piece of art. It could be the beginning of an original art collection or a unique addition to a collection that is running out of wall space. I also liked the idea that these pieces could be used functionally, as true light-switch covers, or displayed in groups as a multi-paneled painting. As I began to dive deeper into this idea and its potential, I realized that I wanted to cover an entire wall in light switch covers. I loved the thought of being completely engulfed in hundreds of small pieces of art. After a little math, I realized it would take about 450 to cover a 19.5′ wall.

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

I have loved art, crafts and making since I was able to hold a pencil. It was always what I was meant to do, a deep part of who I am. I began college as an art education major, but realized after doing a short practicum that I was never actually interested in the teaching part. Creating is an addiction for me; teaching was a way for me to justify it. I switched my major to studio art and decided that I needed to be an artist.

Q: Describe your process.

Most of my pieces are meticulously planned and executed according to that plan. This project has been a little different. While some of the light switch covers were planned as usual, particularly the realism pieces, many were not. Working more loosely and reacting instead of planning was extremely exciting and frustrating at the same time.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration through research, other artists’ work and everyday life. A couple of my covers were inspired by a dead butterfly I saw on a walk with my husband. Others were inspired by patterns in nature, macro photography, my life and experiences as a woman, and experimentation.

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

The three most important things in my studio space are my materials, hard floor and the ability to work from the wall. Materials are a given, the hard floor allows me the freedom to spill and make a mess, and working vertically from the wall helps with perspective.

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

I work in a variety of media; most commonly charcoal, graphite, acrylic and yarn. I have been both criticized and commended for this diversity. In reality, this is the only way I can work productively and sanely. Each medium gives me something unique and utilizes a different portion of my brain and ability. Switching between media keeps me engaged and challenged. Much of my work is meant to spark a conversation about women’s issues and feminism, though some of it is intended to be taken at face value – for its humor or esthetic.

5 with jim pattavina


Jim Pattavina’s “Flowers, Bunnies, Sex” opens Friday, May 5, at the little gallery with a reception from 6:00 to 9:00pm.

A native of Omaha, Pattavina attended art school in Ohio. He’s been many places and done many things, but he lives for art, music (he plays guitar/bass and has been in two touring bands), vintage cars (he fully restores them – all the way down to welding, painting and interior work) and bicycles (he currently works at the Omaha Bicycle Company). “I find inspiration when riding in the spring, when everything is alive and beautiful,” he said.

Below is a Q&A with the artist.

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

More than likely high school. I had this crazy art teacher who let us do whatever we wanted. She taught us the rules of art and then allowed us to break them.

Q: Describe your process.

Kind of free form. If I see, hear or feel something that inspires me to make art, I make art.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

In nature and in cities, in music and in silence, in beautiful things and ugly ones as well. Inspiration is all around us. You just have to open your eyes.

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

Music, supplies and a little inspiration. My studio tends to be where ever I find inspiration.

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

Beautiful things in nature tend to be my main source of inspiration – even if they are surrounded by a vast emptiness or cold, man-made things.

“Flowers, Bunnies, Sex” runs through May 27 at the little gallery, 5901 Maple Street in beautiful downtown Benson. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm, the second Sunday of the month from 8:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. Questions? Call 402.681.1901.

5 with sean jackson

“They’re at The Door” by Sean Jackson opens Friday, April 7, at the little gallery from 6:00 to 9:00pm.

The installation, inspired by an ad Jackson saw during the recent presidential campaign, will transform the little gallery into a typical living room. Once the transformation is complete, he will take stock of his surroundings and create ways to protect his family from the objects he has access to. This process will be videotaped, and the creations Jackson makes will be available for sale.

During the reception, people will be able to talk to the artist, walk through the aftermath of his creative process and watch the video of him at work. Below is a Q&A with the Omaha artist behind this installation.

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

I didn’t start painting until I moved to Omaha in 2008. Before that, I stayed away from the visual arts and focused on creative writing. When I began painting, I started with strictly paint on canvas. As I grew more sure of myself, I ventured into different mediums.

Q: Describe your process.

My process changes depending on my medium – most of my painted works are maps, so I spend a lot of time scouring old city records to find fun and unique maps. For my more experimental installations, almost all of my time goes into the planning – getting help, finding and purchasing materials, and having others set up the space so that what I create in my limited time is genuine and unplanned.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

For “They’re at The Door,” my inspiration came from a Trump smear ad during the election. A woman is asleep in her room, and she is jolted awake by the sound of breaking glass. She runs to the phone, and as she is calling 911, she unlocks a gun case on her dresser and reaches for the loaded pistol inside. At this point several things happen – the gun she is reaching for disappears, and a voiceover tells viewers that Hillary could take away her right to self defense.  There is a cut to a scene in front of the woman’s house with crime scene tape up and the words “Don’t let Hillary leave you defenseless” on the screen.

This ad left me speechless. As a husband, father and one of the many Americans who do not own guns, I found myself looking around my living room and thinking, “I don’t think I’m defenseless just because I don’t own a gun.”

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

Good, loud speakers with music constantly pouring through them, a freshly steeped pot of tea and my apron with pockets overflowing with both necessary tools and random bits and bobs.

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

I want others to know that being an artist and creating doesn’t always have to be paint on canvas. If you have an idea that seems outrageous or intriguing, you should run with it. As for my work, I want to change how people view the objects we interact with on a day-to-day basis.

“They’re at The Door” runs through April 29 at the little gallery. For more info, call 402.681.1901.

buff is back, but better

Josh Kaufman from Benson Machine Works and the new and improved BUFF.

A few weeks ago, someone plucked BUFF – our Benson Underground Film Forum mascot – from the planter outside the little gallery at 5901 Maple in beautiful downtown Benson.

We purchased BUFF for about 8 bucks from one of Benson’s vintage stores a good while back and have no idea where he came from or why he was created. He hung out in our planter during the winter months in lieu of plants and flowers.

When we discovered BUFF was gone, we circulated some ‘missing’ fliers, hoping a neighbor might spot him and return him. About a week ago, we got a call from a guy named Josh. He said his wife had seen our flier, and he asked how big BUFF was, saying the couple would keep their eyes out for him.

Late last week, Josh stopped by the little gallery after he got off work. When he opened the trunk of his car, there lay BUFF – but bigger, smarter and a lot less rusty. The folks at Benson Machine Works, where Josh spends his days, had laser cut us a shiny new BUFF based on the photo in our flier. They even went one step further, adding his name to the base.

This is why we love Benson and why we’re honored to be part of such a thoughtful, caring business community.

Benson Machine Works, now located at 1604 Fort Street, is a locally owned and operated metal working facility that’s been in business for more than 60 years. So if you need laser cutting, CNC machining (we have no idea what this is but you will if you need this service), fabrication or welding, stop by Benson Machine Works.

Tell ’em BUFF sent you.

The Benson Underground Film Forum screens free, short films in conjunction with art openings at the little gallery on Benson First Fridays. Are you a local filmmaker looking for a place to show your work? Contact us at 402.681.1901 or info@polecatcommunications.com.