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It’s hard to believe that throughout his career, the versatile Tj Templeton, artist and gallery curator, has been forced periodically to interrupt his artistic production. “At one point, I stopped making real art for about ten years,” he explained. Originally from Kansas City, he is today a fixed denizen in the Lincoln art scene, a definite artist to watch as he develops his ever-evolving oeuvre. His 2016 project and exhibition Narcissus Smirked: A Snapshot of Our Selfie Culture, on view at Gallery 105 through 29 August, is an example of his deep interest in social dynamics and his ongoing explorations with portrait making. Templeton’s diverse work—painting, drawing, encaustic, and mixed media—has a particular tone to it: a trained contemporary formalism that moves from experimen-

tal and free to controlled, obsessive, and insecure. Because he has a range of skills and talents, and creates in series format, he doesn’t have a defining signature motif or style. Nevertheless, his ability to change and evolve may be his greatest strength as an artist. Walking into his studio you get an immediate sense that he’s being pulled in many different directions, welcomes chaos, and enjoys the opportunity to battle with and solve problems. Narcissus Smirked, which he admits is a personal exhibition revealing his technical experimentation with various manners, follows last year’s ambitious and time-consuming Youthful Commodities, which was a show of encaustic assemblages highlighting the role of child labor at the turn of the twentieth century. What these projects


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(Opposite) “Selfie Dichotomy featuring Roger Bruhn and Lena Marie Peterson,” mixed-media encaustic image transfer on cell phone, 11" × 7" (each).

have in common is that they present subject matter dialoguing about complex historical, social, cultural, and economic realities. Templeton doesn’t create decoration and easy art. With each project he is creating visual statements encouraging emotive discourse that is equal parts serious and— sometimes—playful. His work forces the viewer to move slow and pay attention to details and nuances.

The Narcissus project and exhibition is, at its formal core, a presentation of portraiture. Templeton explained, “I’ve always viewed a well-executed self-portrait as a lofty goal for an artist like myself. I’ve always held the self-portrait in high regards. Today, it’s becoming commonplace. In just the past few years, social media has become saturated with self-taken images. With this series, I decided to create painted explorations of the self-portraits of others.” The “selfie series” is his response, as a painter, to our contemporary ease in constructing and sharing photographic images of ourselves immediately. He is trying to elevate the selfie manner into true portraiture while asking: When is a selfie, in its pure, digital, social-media form, a form of art? Talking casually about the project during a studio interview, he remarked sarcastically, “Selfies are like fast food; I’m trying to turn it around.” The “selfie series” project took several years to grow into its current form. As a result of time and direction shift, it’s messy technically, lacking formal focus. What holds it together is concept and theme. The exhibition at Gallery 105, which presents new and old work, is roughly divided into two components: oil portraits of selfie photos, demonstrating Templeton’s ongoing exploration of the human figure, and mixed-media constructions utilizing discarded cell phones as frames for encaustic portraits. Some of the cell phone encaustic

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(Left) “Avian Sammy,” mixed-media encaustic transfer image on cell phone with bird feet, 10" × 3" × 3", 2016.

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constructions, which the artist calls the “avian series” include real bird feet attachments evoking the idea of the social-media “tweet.” What’s obvious in Templeton’s work are the three prominent themes present in various forms in all the compositions, either real or imagined: the human figure, which he explores and depicts in many painted and drawn styles; geometric form and space, specifically architecture and structure, either interior or exterior; and the idea of juxtapositions and fragmentation, combining mixed-media materials as well as ideas. The process of deconstructing a subject and re-forming it is central to his process. His goal is to achieve a solution. He explained it as “searching for ways to answer questions.” “I’ll try a variety of methods to solve a problem,” he said. “The subject matter drives the manner and materials I use.” Friends who know Templeton and have collaborated on projects with him, such as the Brooklyn-based writer Chris Packham, who contributed a selfie to Narcissus

Smirked, consistently mention Templeton’s ability to tackle projects with an investigative and probing approach. He will take on and internalize the energy derived from the ideas and physicality generated from the work itself. If Templeton’s work seems disorganized, it’s because of his interest in engaging continuously with his audience instead of focusing in on the subject in the studio. In a social-media post referring to an unfinished painting, a reinterpretation of a digital selfie photo, he wrote, “There’s going to be a lot of fingers in this show.” The statement was layered, cheeky, and observant, pointing to two concurrent themes in the exhibition: public engagement and selfie type. The reality of creating such a monumental series required the involvement and contribution of many willing friends. A number of people did indeed have a hand in making Narcissus Smirked possible as a collaborative project. Templeton’s casual social-media statement highlighted one type of style: the mirror-reflection selfie. This particular form, where the hand, holding the camera phone, is visible as a prominent feature, is worth examining. The “hand” is a crucial motif to understanding the power of the selfie as a curated self-portrait in which self-determination and awareness of one’s own image and physical features are completely personal. Your image is “in your own hand.” You are in control. It is in the selfie/self-portrait where we can curate and manipulate our own identity. Contributors to the project included artist Sunny Gibbons, who, on her public Facebook page, is particularly fond of using the selfie style as a way to command her appearance; and curator and master photographer Roger Bruhn, author of A Self-Portrait.

Bruhn views the selfie as the evolution of the self-portrait, with historical roots derived from classic portraiture. In his conversations about selfie culture he points to the important impact self- or auto-portraits have made in the development of photography as an art form overall. Some of the most creative photographers who’ve used the form include Vivian Maier, Francesca Woodman, and Lee Friedlander.

(Opposite) “Random Acts of Violence,” mixed-media, 10" × 8" × 2" (Above) Tj Templeton with a few of his paintings.

Deeply observant and willing to challenge and explore self-portraiture, Bruhn became one of the most important contributors to the project, taking on the subject on social media as a way to investigate contemporary forms of portrait making. Bruhn observed that humans are naturally curious about themselves first, and want to share themselves with others as a form of connection

and validation. The selfie gives people who may feel invisible an important voice in today’s busy culture. He also observed the harmful aspects of our contemporary technology and the easy manner in which we are able to broadcast ourselves. He explained, “[What] seems obvious with all self-portraiture/selfies is the narcissism inherent in the enterprise. We live in a totally self-absorbed culture. But what happens when an artist makes a selfie? [Are] selfies art? I make art; I don’t try to define it. A self-portrait, usually made by artists, is thought to be more freighted with serious intent.” As an artist creating metaportraits, Templeton noticed the many different manners in which people created their individual selfie via phone. He became intrigued by the source photo and wanted to reinterpret the form in a different medium as a way to explore context and purpose. He doesn’t answer the question of whether self-portraits made via phone have value as works of art, but he does open the dialogue, saying, “Considering that an arts career is essentially showing as many people as possible what you’ve made, I have no problem at all with more people joining me in sharing the fruits of their own narcissism. It’s that very phenomenon that I explore and celebrate in this exhibition.” Narcissus Smirked is a lesson in the dangers of unfocused, fragmented living, particularly for an artist. Templeton himself was deeply distracted during the evolution of the series. It will be interesting and exciting to watch how the ideas generated from the series expand and influence Templeton’s future projects. Note: At the time of this preview, Narcissus Smirked was still in evolution; the final exhibition at Gallery 105 includes additional material outside of the selfie theme, yet within the idea of portraiture.

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A little over a year ago, friends and coworkers Becky Boesen and Petra Wahlqvist were teaching process-based theater workshops to children at the Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff when the big skies of western Nebraska brimmed with their joint realization that the world needs more of what Boesen calls a “professional and creative autonomy,” something they had glimpsed in their time with the kids. You could say that lightning had struck the two friends’ visionary brain trust. Enter BLIXT, a growing presence of resources for artists and arts communities—and also the Swedish word for lightning. Boesen and Wahlqvist have an impressive track record in arts engagement and creative services. They’ve spent a great deal of their professional lives executing other artists’ visions, notably at the Lied Center for Performing Arts—Boesen as former creative

services specialist and Wahlqvist as former education and community engagement director. Now Boesen, an actor, teacher, and award-winning playwright, and Wahlqvist, a teacher, artist collaborator, producer, and superstar project coordinator, have embraced the opportunity to use their past experience to propel the spirit of BLIXT forward. BLIXT is essentially a way for artists and communities to utilize the “Three Cs”: consult, collaborate, and commission. Individuals and organizations can consult about things like event planning, grant writing, and theater classes. Collaboration is open to anyone ready to drive an ultimate creative experience. Boesen and Wahlqvist are also at the ready to assist in commissioning stories on an epic scale. While BLIXT doesn’t have a physical home base, it’s becoming an imperative arts resource in Lincoln and beyond. Last year,

(Above) Wahlqvist, left, and Boesen, right. Photo courtesy Jenny Gegg Photography.


What are some of the biggest things BLIXT can do for the Lincoln community and beyond?

BLIXT provides services that are entirely

is a mutual need. Every artist we champion is one that we believe in and [with whom we’ve had] great professional experiences. We are firm believers that when talent is nurtured and championed, everybody wins. What is the toughest thing about being an artist and an entrepreneur, and how is BLIXT sensitive to these challenges? Artists are often overlooked as viable members of the entrepreneurial community, yet it is essential that an artist in today’s world is an entrepreneur. BLIXT bridges the gap for artists by teaching through application. We are building a workforce of artists and taking away the mystery of, “How do I make a life in this?”

process oriented. That means we go through experiences . . . not around them. Our mission is, “Making life worth living through the ARTISTS ARE OFTEN OVERLOOKED What is some of the arts.” Every part of life upcoming “epic shit” that AS VIABLE MEMBERS OF THE and community can be people will want to see? improved with a healthy, ENTREPRENEURIAL COMMUNITY, We believe in taking big process-based arts comYET IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT AN risks with non-convenponent that takes a true ARTIST IN TODAY'S WORLD tional partners. We work inventory of the status IS AN ENTREPRENEUR. with artists and people quo. BLIXT is a catalyst we love. We do what we for positive change in a personal, artistic way. In addition to our daily say we’re going to do. These steps help us create work, we provide certain hours of free service “epic shit that people want to see.” Snowcatcher, to organizations and people who need [them] a new commission by Homestead National most. Giving back is vital and will remain part Monument is an example of upcoming work we’re very excited about. We refuse to comproof our vision. mise the process, and if we do our jobs well, Tell us about some of the artists BLIXT works you’ll leave transformed. That’s always the goal. with (artists whose services are offered as part of BLIXT’s special event offerings). How did What else can we expect from Snowcatcher? they get involved? When we as contemporary people think of We work with a variety of artists including the homesteaders, it’s easy to go straight to visions amazing D-Wayne Beatbox, actress Courtney of prairie snoozeville . . . but there is nothing Wood (and her one-woman show The Syringa boring about vulnerable children freezing to Tree by Pamela Gien) and embi, a fantastic death. There’s nothing easy about land rights. dance collective. We seek world-class perform- There’s nothing simple about surviving the ers and teaching artists and integrate them into impossible. Snowcatcher will capture a brucommunities, schools, and venues where there tal part of American history. You can expect

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it worked with clients around Nebraska, and this year its clientele has expanded to New York and Florida. Boesen and Wahlqvist plan to go anywhere there is an exciting possibility to nurture. Art Move took some time to chat with Boesen via email about some past and upcoming “epic shit” from BLIXT as well as how the creative process, arts education, and support for the arts can “make life worth living.”

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to feel that and the hope that comes with [the] morning after the storm, too. This is a very visceral, physical, sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying family show in the making. Expect anything. We’ll see what happens. [Speaking of epic shit:] Since we didn’t get a chance to see the recent Puddin’ and the Grumble, could you give us a quick overview of what the show reveals about some current issues and how and why you decided to write such a piece and have it be a part of BLIXT?

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Puddin’ and the Grumble came to be after Petra and I heard a news story about elementary school kids in Utah who had delinquent lunch accounts, and as a result, had their lunches taken from them and thrown away at school. We were both sick about that. Angry. When a local opportunity was presented to create a musical that dealt with the issue of child hunger (with support from the Lied Center, Lincoln Community Foundation, and Food Bank of Lincoln) we jumped. The key was this: We had to tell the real story. No sugar coating. No patronizing. The Grumble character is an abuser. We didn’t back off of that, because there’s nothing fun about unrelenting hunger. It’s natural that BLIXT would be the vehicle for providing future rights to other venues, as that allows us to continue to workshop and nurture this work, which by musical standards is barely a toddler. “Wuzzlebutted” is a term used a lot on your Facebook page, in reference to Puddin’ and the Grumble. Could you clearly define it for

us? And, how can we “wuzzlebutt” or apply “wuzzlebutting” to those around us? “Wuzzlebutt” is Puddin’s stuffed, purple llama. We ordered him online, and I swear he was touched by something special, because everyone who comes in contact with Wuzzlebutt loves him. He is the symbol for the underlying theme of the musical: Take care of yourselves and take care of each other, too. We’ve been very fortunate to have some great local, regional, and Broadway friends send us selfies in their Wuzzlebutt shirts as a way of sharing that sentiment. If you’re Wuzzlebutted, it’s a really good thing. Wuzzlebutting someone equals sharing kindness and love. Can you further define the “Arts Intervention” program that BLIXT offers? Our “Arts Intervention” program is one of our favorite services to offer. It takes an hour. In that time, we guide the creation of an original piece of live performance that is reflective of the group. This is a safe, inclusive process that is accessible to all people. This experience is a special way to connect people in a very human way and is perfect for a board of directors, teachers, and business executives. Tired of PowerPoints at your retreat? So are we. So is everybody. Let us intervene. We beg. It seems like BLIXT, in its workshop offerings, et cetera, is very interested in nurturing the process and not necessarily always the product. How does this mindset compare


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Fourth and fifth graders participate in “Puddin’ and the Grumble: Unpeeled,” a behind-the-scenesfocused Artistic Intervention workshop at KANEKO, last June. Photo courtesy KANEKO.

This is such a good question! Within every person resides a full spectrum of possibility. If you dictate product, you miss out on the majority of that spectrum. Good artists trust the process, and if you allow it, kids already go there. Adults can be re-taught to trust themselves, too. That’s very important to us, and ever present in our work, regardless of the project. Can you further define how BLIXT “makes life worth living”?

When we talk about “making life worth living” we mean that the arts are vital to humanity. The arts are an essential way to know yourself and know the world around you. The arts heal what is broken and create what is missing. I had a teacher once who called the arts an escape from reality. We dismiss that. The arts are a submersion into reality. Living authentically in the world is a gift. Trust the process. The arts will get you there. To learn more about BLIXT, visit their Facebook page or website at A R T M O V E M AG A Z I N E   I S S U E 9   AU G U S T 2 0 1 6

to how some people (maybe critics and the mainstream media) view the performing arts and arts education?


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That moment when you leave the city of lights, pavement, and traffic noises, when you find yourself alone, driving slowly down a crunchy gravel road, something strikes you at the core. You start to notice the call of nature and the odd slant of the sun. You smell the dirt and hear the gentle buzzing of insects and the lovely choir of bird songs. Suddenly, you start to relax. Time seems to slow down and you feel like you’re back to where real life exists. Dennis Pope’s farm near Martell is a mecca of real life set in the serenity of nature’s abundance. Trees and wildflowers are everywhere, along with a large vegetable garden, fruit trees, and rows of grape vines. In a nearby field he has twenty bee hives. You can see the bees all over the fields of yellow sweet clover, one of their favorite flowers, gathering nectar and pollen. Pope, who’s been keeping bees for the last ten years, says, “It’s always a challenge.” Much depends upon the available flower sources the bees need for food from spring until fall. Clover is good, he says, but it only comes up every other year. Dandelions and flowering trees are helpful, but he admits it’s getting harder to find wildflowers these days, having much to do with modern farming practices. “People don’t use wildflower hedgerows or borders anymore,” he says. Many “weeds” are flowering plants needed for bees’ survival. He adds that the use of chemical pesticides—particularly those containing (Clockwise from top) Dennis Pope’s bees buzz around on his farm near Martell; honey soap made by Jim Brunner; grasses sway in the breeze on Pope’s farm; Pope dons his bee suit.

neonicotinoids—modern monoculture planting, and the varroa mite have also had a major impact on today’s declining bee population. Bees are the most important pollinators of the fruits and vegetables we consume, the flowers we love, and the crops that feed our farm animals. We would not have chocolate or coffee without bees. In fact, more than one-third of the world’s crop production is dependent on bee pollination. But bees are decreasing by staggering numbers. Beekeepers all over the world are seeing an annual loss of 30 to 90 percent of their colonies. We’re already in the midst of a dysfunctional food system. It’s time we humans learn something from these small but mighty givers of life, who work together diligently for the sake of all. Our individual actions can help the whole community. Plant bee-friendly native flowering trees, shrubs, and vines in your yard; even flowers grown in pots or window boxes will help. Use a diversity of plants that bloom over the entire growing season. Keep a small area of your yard in the spring dedicated to clover and dandelions. Don’t contaminate the earth with chemical pesticides that harm the ecosystem. Support your local beekeepers who embrace traditional, in-season-only, lowstress beekeeping—happy bees produce superior bee products. And consider keeping bees yourself! Small-scale beekeeping in large cities has become increasingly popular. You can get more information on how to get started by going to

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Mike Edholm

Mike Edholm is an award-winning graphic designer, cartoonist, illustrator, and writer. His cartoons and illustrations can be found in books, magazines, printed calendars, graphic novels, and comic books. His work has appeared across the country and overseas in design competitions.

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I hope Lincoln knows what a great art show they have. I have been fortunate enough to get juried into some of the best shows in the country and am proud to be a part of the Lincoln Arts Festival. It takes not only great artwork, but the support of the community to make a show flourish. Thank you, Lincoln, for helping support the arts and for attending and raising the Lincoln Arts Festival towards becoming one of the best art shows in the country. —Scott Hartley, Infinity Art Glass of Benton, Kansas

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This glowing recommendation comes from a favorite artist and vendor at the Lincoln Arts Festival. He makes a great point: it is community participation in an event like this that energizes it and makes it viable. Thank you for doing a professional art show for Lincoln. I’m just glad to know that we’ve got such a good one. —Arts festival patron

A thriving arts festival is good for our community on many levels and supports the arts in ways that you may not realize.

* Local artists can be proud of their home-

town show. Each year, out of nearly one hundred artist vendors, about one-third of the artists are local. The festival provides a great opportunity to learn from, network with, and show alongside some of the finest traveling artists in the country. This is often the next step for an artist deciding to take their art on the road. * Local collectors shop high-quality art. The Lincoln Arts Festival is the largest juried art show in the city. The show attracts artists with a variety of excellent work to suit all tastes at price points to suit all budgets. * Lincoln Arts Festival is highly accessible. For a suggested one-dollar donation (ages thirteen and up) at the gate, visitors can browse fine art and enjoy live music on the hour from dance and music groups from

(Above) Performers with Orgullo Latino Mexican Folkloric Dance of Lincoln. Photo by Stephen McAlister.

FYI many of the cultures represented in Lincoln. There are also make-and-take crafts for children. All ages can experience this celebration of creativity. * Scholarships available to emerging artists. Each year, at least one emerging artist is selected to have their first festival vending experience without having to pay the booth fee or provide their own shelter. Festival selling requires a lot of work, time, and risk, not to mention a hefty investment in displays and inventory. For artists at the right point in their professional development, being an Emerging Artist can be a game changer. It is one way that we invest in tomorrow’s creative class. The Lincoln Arts Council has hosted this festival since 2001. SouthPointe Pavilions is a great partner and the site host for this beautiful outdoor fall event. In addition to creating a fine, family-friendly event for the entire community, the festival is an important source of funding for the work of the Lincoln Arts Council, primarily through sponsorships. It fulfills in every way the Arts Council mission: championing the arts, connecting people, changing lives. Would you like to keep the Lincoln Arts Festival a robust event for our community? Participate! We compete with other festivals to attract the best artists, both locally and nationally, and local support is an important feature. How can you make a difference? Volunteer! It takes more than a hundred volunteers to take care of artists and the thousands of guests who attend the festival each year. Lincoln has a wonderful reputation for event organization and for hospitality, thanks to many dedicated volunteers who welcome attendees, booth-sit for artists, and generally

take care of everyone who enters our festival zone the fourth weekend in September. What else can you do? Buy art! One way for the community to demonstrate commitment to artist support is through the Patron Program. Becoming a Patron means a prepurchase of “art bucks” that can be spent with any artist vendor during the festival. When we report strong intended sales, this tells the artists that Lincoln is serious about buying original art, which makes the Lincoln Arts Festival even more attractive to artists. In addition, Patrons enjoy the perk of a special Patron Breakfast first thing Saturday morning and the opportunity to start shopping one hour before the festival is opened to the public. Make a difference in your hometown arts festival. To sign up for volunteer opportunities and to subscribe to the Patron Program, visit our website at Check out the visual artists and see the lineup for the Southeast Community College World Entertainment Stage while you’re there.

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Although Sam Herron, who recently transitioned from Omaha to New Haven, Connecticut, before finally settling in Lincoln to work, continues to be physically homeless, struggling to maintain a permanent residence, he has found a deep and fulfilling home in photography and writing. The act of journaling about and visually documenting his experiences and producing his still-unpublished book Street Life Fragments has been his spiritual salvation. His engrossing, beautifully composed, black-and-white and silver-toned, documentary and street-style photographs, candid and sensitive, made using a simple pawnshop digital camera, are powerfully effective, spotlighting the fine line between pathos and glamorization. Herron presents his subjects with such sublimity that we forget, for a moment, that these are real flesh-and-blood human beings. The reason Herron’s images look so good is because he approaches photography and writing like a painter and a storyteller. He composes visual narratives, and the figuration has a sculptural tone. In this manner, he is going beyond simple “document” to create layered, textured, and complicated vignette-portraits and genre scenes. Ironically, even though his work has won him serious critical praise and attention, making him a rising star in the art scene, the photographs have not yet led to financial success. Part of the reason may be the reality of the subject being presented. He is forcing us to confront topics of moral importance: the unpleasantness of economic inequality, substance abuse, mental illness, and alienation. Herron is a master at making his disquiet subjects—the people we try to ignore—aesthetically gorgeous and majestic. By finding and pulling out the subject’s soft humanity, and transforming ugly details into attractive features, he’s metamorphosed the outsider into someone worthy of bringing home to mother. The homeless person, often cast as threatening and potentially violent, is now someone we care about and want to know. Through his many


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“Knowledge without Mileage Equals Bullshit (Biker),” digital, 2015.

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“As You Were, I Was. As I Am, You Will Be (Conversation),” digital, 2015.

exhibitions and projects such as Street Life Chronicles and Live through This he’s asking us for compassion, asking us to see beyond the surface and investigate the story which led to the person’s present reality. Herron is in his early fifties and is the former bass player of the band Grave Danger, who recorded two full-length albums and toured with such luminaries as AC/DC in the 1980s. He was for a time a highly successful stock trader who accumulated a sizable fortune before falling into a crippling depression after the passing of important friends and his mother. Follow Herron on Facebook to see more of his photographs and read his philosophical insights about contemporary life.

“JOIN or DIE,” digital, 2015.

“My Life is a Perfect Graveyard of Buried Hopes (V—for Victory),” digital, 2015.

“If I Bet on Humanity, I’d Never Cash a Ticket (Self-Portrait),” digital, 2016.

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t should come as no surprise that brilliant lyricists sometimes prove to be formidable long-form writers. The same genius for words and gift for storytelling that create an entire world in short, poetic stanzas can be employed to flesh out novels, essays, and even compelling autobiographies. Though many musicians’ bios are born through a ghostwriter, the subject merely providing the plot details, the well-written and self-reflective memoir is a joy to consume, much as one savors a long-awaited album. The artists profiled here have stepped out of their rock-star boxes to share lives driven by the creative spirit. Elvis Costello is a wordsmith first and foremost. His love of language and the evocative power of his clever turns of phrase are trademarks of his long and incredibly prolific career. When reading Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink (Blue Rider, 2015), all 674 pages of it, the reader senses immediately that she is in competent hands. Costello wouldn’t let his fans down by simply rehashing his rise to fame and the inevitable low points in chronological fashion. Instead, his book is a bit of a collage, a collection of stories about his musical origins, who he was influenced by, the vast catalog of

his collaborators and heroes, and, surprisingly, a candid exploration of his career lows. Those hungry for a scoop on Costello’s personal life will come away disappointed. He casually mentions, one-third of the way into the book, that he felt especially desperate financially because he had a wife and child to support. His young family had not been previously introduced, and though we later learn their names and details about the family’s life, they remain in the background, obscured by the musical driving force Costello was consumed by. There are anecdotes about women who became songs or wives, but no detail, which comes as a surprise from a writer whose directness is part and parcel of his persona. Costello reserves his confessional passages for discussing the role arrogance and alcohol played in creating trouble in his career and in his marriages. Though his musical persona was the quintessential “angry young man,” Costello himself seems more bewildered as a young musician, all nervy bravado. In his later collaborations, he stands humbled alongside his musical heroes Burt Bachrach, T Bone Burnett, Johnny Cash, and June Carter, among many others. Writing about his songwriting process, he says “If I had wanted to be a poet, I’d have needed to be a damn sight more accurate with my word choices, but I didn’t, and still do not, necessarily see poetry as a higher, superior calling to that of the lyricist.” Überfans of Costello will adore the details he provides about the origins of his songs


and the abundant anecdotes on his wide-ranging career. I especially enjoyed watching him connect the dots in his musical lineage, writing about not just the family he came from, but the artists whose music shaped his. Patti Smith started her career as a punk rock poet, rising in the alternative music scene of New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her 2010 memoir, Just Kids (HarperCollins), beautifully recreated her artistic coming-ofage alongside her friend, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Like many artists, Smith moves seamlessly between the written word, photography, and music, all connected by her poet’s heart. The M Train (Knopf, 2015) is not so much a memoir as a series of incantations, each conjuring an episode, a moment, or a mood. As such, this book touches on Smith’s lifetime of obsessions with writers and artists such as Brecht, Rimbaud, Plath, and Genet, and the recurring themes of loss, wandering, and paying homage to those who’ve gone before us, and died before their talents were fully realized. In a ten-year period in the late 1980s, Smith experienced profound loss: her husband, her brother, and her best friend, Mapplethorpe, all died. It’s clear that Smith associates the objects of her beloveds strongly with the people who once lovingly used them. The black-and-white photos scattered throughout the book of the beds, the clothes, the chairs of her heroes and lost loved ones hold talismanic charm, as if, captured in a photograph, these items are part

of the person, containing some piece she can hold on to. The oddly titled Things the Grandchildren Should Know (St. Martin’s, 2008), by Mark Oliver Everett, the frontman of the band the Eels, is an autobiography of a more straightforward kind, recounting Everett’s youth and adolescence and his subsequent rise to a modicum of indie-music fame. Because Everett has no children, I prefer the German title of this book, Lucky Days in Hell, presumably from the Eels song of a similar name, “Your Lucky Day in Hell.” Present are all of the expected obstacles to success, like being an introvert and an oddball that no one understood, least of all his dysfunctional family. His aloof physicist father, alcoholic mother, and mentally ill sister all die unexpectedly when he is a young adult, signing on to record labels, touring, and garnering a fan base large enough to sustain him. “Just living another day,” he writes, “has always felt like some kind of success to me.” For an artist whose song titles include “Novocaine for the Soul,” “Rotten World Blues,” and “Nowheresville,” one expects a catalog of rueful recollections. The material in someone else’s hand would seem self-pitying, but in Everett’s perceptive and touching memoir, a sense of gratitude comes through for the quirky way that life is beautiful, turmoil included. All of these books are, of course, available at your public library.

(Clockwise from left) Elvis Costello, Cardiff, 1979. Photo by Tim Duncan, via Wikimedia Commons; Patti Smith performing at Provinssirock festival, Seinäjoki, Finland, June 16, 2007. Photo by Beni Köhler, via Wikimedia Commons; Mark Oliver Everett at the Arena in Vienna, July 2006. Photo by Alexander Frick, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Conceptual installation artist and curator Craig Roper, widely known for his “photo bundles”—layered, mixed-media constructions in the form of miniature geometric haystacks made of industrial materials—continues his exploration into how the landscape has been altered by human intervention. In Nebraska Rising, he is showing some of his most iconic work. The juried exhibition is curated by artist Alex Priest and features eleven artists living within one hundred miles of Omaha. Using approaches ranging from site-specific installations to photographic hyperrealities, it examines the myriad ways in which contemporary artists are responding to Nebraska’s topography. The artworks published here were submitted to Priest for inclusion in the exhibition, but were rejected and are not featured in Nebraska Rising. They are presented here because they offer another powerful insight into Roper’s conceptual narrative and working methods. In all Roper’s compositions, the prominent motif, either real or imagined, is aggressive human trespassing upon the land. Roper creates his smart dialogues, which are sometimes quite poetic, with a serious comic awareness, generating a cheeky and witty energy that often mystifies his audience. His installations are fragmented, immersive interpretations, evoking the act of passing through wideopen spaces while carrying with you, leaving behind, or discovering the artificiality and constructs of civilization. He pulls out details and nuances that are often ignored, or highlights conspicuous features to generate anxiety and questions.

In installations such as “Paintings Crushed by Rocks, Stumps, and Debris” (seen here) (Opposite) he’s commenting on the ridiculousness of the “  Dirty Shooter,” formalist and academic art world itself while undated, mixed at the same time elevating his observations materials, 52" × 26" × 4". about the destruction of natural beauty. He’s Courtesy of the artist. also a deep observer of contemporary culture, borrowing without judgement pop-culture (Above)   “Paintings Crushed motifs and transforming them into insightful by Rocks, Stumps, and sometimes uncomfortable narratives that and Debris,” undated, spotlight the contemporary polemic against mixed materials, masculinity. There is a Wild West feel to Rop- 20" × 16" each; 13 total. er’s work that is coupled with a raw urban aes- Courtesy of the artist. thetic. Roper engages the fine line between primitivism and fine art. The ugly is beautiful to him. His work is a powerful, slow-burning mixture of studied planning and involuntary emotionality. Nebraska Rising is on view through September 17, 2016 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, 724 South 12th Street, Omaha.

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(From left) Chris Muckey, Mishone Feigin, Christina Marie Leonard, and Jaime Moss. Photo by Melanie Recker.

Michael Uribe and Christina Marie Leonard. Photo by Melanie Recker.

Early in the summer of 2007 Christina Marie Leonard got up around noon after a wild night of performing with her folk metal band, Loch Ness. She was the keyboardist for the Omaha-based group, but also their unofficial fan manager. The first thing she did was check the band’s MySpace page to see how fans had responded to the show. There she found that the band lineup no longer included her. Her bandmates had kicked her out overnight, removing all of her information and photos from their page. Christina was heartbroken, and angry, but she wasn’t that surprised. For months she had been secretly breaking the band’s number one rule: No Dating in the Band. At the show the night before her secret “bandmance” with their lead singer had become messily public when his girlfriend had surprised him by showing up at the club. Heavy metal music and Loch Ness had gotten Christina through her last two years of high school. Both had given her an outlet to express anger and made her feel more powerful. Being kicked out of Loch Ness felt like the end of everything. After a few days and a lot of tears Christina reminded herself that she would have had to quit the band anyway. In September she was leaving for college. Besides, it was time for her to refocus on being an actor, a calling she’d felt since she was nine years old. A high school metal band wasn’t going to get her where she wanted to go. Late in the winter of 2013 Christina Marie Leonard sat in the living room of her Los Angeles apartment and stared blankly at the television. She had just returned from a Christmas visit with family in Omaha. Six months ago she had arrived in Los Angeles for the first time and had quickly gotten a paying role in an award winning web series, a good job, and representation. But now she had no auditions, no representation, no money, and no job. She felt like a failure and her depression was so intense she could barely move. Her roommate Dave looked at her with sympathy as he got ready for work. She had told him everything when she had gotten back, including the fact that she couldn’t pay her part of the rent for the month. “Maybe you should write about it,” he said on his way out. After Dave left Christina thought about what he had said. Write about it. Write about what? Depression tossed up the memory of how


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shocked Dave had been when he found out she was into metal. As if listening to Steel Panther made her a freak, she thought. Then she remembered the stories she had told him about the folk metal band she was in during high school. In the spring of 2016 Christina Marie Leonard released all five episodes of the web series Loch Ness on YouTube. At an entertaining thirty minutes, the series is a Judd Apatow– influenced, over-the-top retelling of Christina’s actual band experiences, following the misadventures of Joey, Steve, Kyle, and Donna, all members of a high school Viking– folk metal band called Loch Ness. Much like in real life, the band’s biggest concern—other than hiding all the making out, pot smoking, and metal lyrics from their parents—is finding a lead singer who will stick around. Their keyboardist, Donna (played by Christina), keeps getting involved with their lead singers, and when it doesn’t work out—and it never works out—the singer quits the band. During the five episodes of the series, the band finds a new lead singer, discovers they’ve stepped on the toes of a metal rock god who could destroy them, and is given the opportunity to play in a band competition that could make their careers. Christina made the series a comedy as a

way to poke fun at herself and admit the role she played in the actual band’s breakup. And she found that writing and performing in the series helped replace some of the negative feelings from the past with positive memories. She reached out to the other members of the original band about the series as well, meeting with them in Omaha to shoot a fundraising video in 2014. It was the first time some of them had seen each other since the band had broken up. Loch Ness represents three years of writing, producing, and performing for Christina. But it’s also a very personal example of how art, entertainment, and creativity can change lives and feelings. Christina continues to focus on acting and stand-up. She doesn’t have the time to go to as many metal shows as she’d like. But she listens to metal when she drives, when she works out, and even when she washes the dishes. She feels like metal makes it possible for her to keep pushing forward as an actor. She’s not sure how people are able to act without being metalheads. Metal makes her happy. It gets her where she wants to go. Watch Loch Ness at Check out Christina in Riley Rewind on Facebook or YouTube.

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(From left) Josh Saleh, Chris Muckey, and Mishone Feigin tune for an episode of Loch Ness. Photo by Max Holm.


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Daffodil, home to fantastic traditional Persian cooking, has moved—but not too far. The new space is in the Old Cheney Center, which is wonderful news for the Sunday farmers’ market crowd. It houses more tables and has a big new kitchen. The regular customers who eat there during the market now have the option of going inside to sit and cool down while dining on their favorite dishes. Convenient parking is a bonus too, especially compared to the previous spot, where regulars patiently waited to get their favorite lunch—though the wait was always well worth it. Narges Montazer is a master chef, preparing traditional Persian entrées and baked goods entirely from scratch. Everything she makes is gluten free and prepared fresh from start to finish, using only the finest ingredients. While there are several vegetarian dishes to choose from daily, her meat dishes use only high quality beef, lamb, and free-range chicken. The saffron she uses is of the best quality in the world and extremely expensive, but she has a great passion for it. “I have never cheated on saffron,” Narges says. “It’s between me and God.” She doesn't use any kind of oil except for the occasional olive oil and believes freezing destroys the integrity of the flavors, so she makes just enough food for the day, ensuring people get that home-cooked experience. The flavors and presentation of her dishes can’t be matched—indeed, they are as lovely to look at as they are delicious. Perhaps the most important ingredient Narges puts into her scrumptious Persian

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fare is love. Some days she doesn't even go notice are smiles and hugs. Without a doubt, home, so dedicated is she to her work. She Nebraskans love her too. stays up all night with no sleep, cooking Daffodil Mediterranean Cuisine and and baking for the next day. She oversees Catering is located at 5500 Old Cheney every step, making sure Center, Suite 21, in LinI LOVE EACH AND EVERY everything is perfect for coln. They’re open for her customers, whom PERSON. WHEN THEY WALK lunch and dinner, Tuesday she thinks of as her famthrough Saturday from INSIDE THE DOOR, THEY ily. “Nebraskan people 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. are the best people I've FEEL LIKE MY FAMILY. EACH and Sunday from 11:00 ever seen,” says Narges, a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CaterPERSON IS MY HEART. beaming. “I love each and ing is available for parties, every person. When they walk inside the weddings, sit-down dinners, and more! door, they feel like my family. Each person is Follow Daffodil on Facebook for mouthwatermy heart.” Whether you see Narges at the farmers’ ing photos of the latest offerings at facebook market or Daffodil, the first things you .com/DaffodilMediterranean or call (402) 570-3840 for more information.


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My favorite venue in Lincoln is about to die. From our downtown bars to our houseshow houses to nonstandard venues all over the city, there are lots of places where phenomenal music gets made in this town, but for me, CHURCH DIY bested them all. Not because of a killer sound system, not because they booked anyone famous, and not because their acoustics were good. But because of putting the art first, because of striving for representation, and because of the friendliness that those two things together foster. With that combination, CHURCH quickly became my favorite place in town to see a show. And now it’s just about gone. ... Longtime friends Margot Erlandson and Dustin Rymph had dreamed for years of finding a church to convert into a space for community-driven music and art. Early this year, when a small one was up for rent in the South Bottoms, they saw their chance. It was a neighborhood they’d both lived in and loved. And the church had a lot going for it—enough open space on three sides to keep noise down for neighbors, a house for rent on the fourth so Rymph could live close by, a little vestibule that could serve as a coatroom and place to take donations, and a main space as well-suited to live music as it had been to the worship it was built for, with a raised area for bands to play on and a small room backstage for gear. They

signed a six-month lease and got the keys on the first of March. Right away they introduced themselves to the folks on the block, going door to door and explaining what they were starting and why they believed in do-it-yourself art, and giving their new neighbors their phone numbers in case anyone had questions or there was ever an issue with noise. They dubbed the space CHURCH DIY, cleaned the building, hung art on the walls, and put out the word about the events they’d booked. Then they threw down. Omaha emcee Sleep Sinatra hosted Good Gospel, a monthly local hip hop showcase. Angela Barber and VJ Herbert held the Sound Sauna sound meditation every other Saturday morning. Local bands played shows and touring acts came through— New York three-piece Haybaby delivered one of the tightest and most rocking sets I’ve seen anywhere. Erlandson and Rymph, along with a host of committed friends, worked hard and long to book a rich schedule of events and make sure they went off well. Showcases, concerts, meditations: listeners came—lots of them, packing the little church full—and they liked what they heard. ... Putting music above money was one part of what made the place so good. Much as I love Lincoln’s downtown bar venues, at the end of the day they’re there to turn a profit,


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Yellow performs at CHURCH DIY on 26 March, 2016. Photo by Stephanie Eads.

haven’t felt since house shows in college, shows where I knew much of the audience and all of the band, and everyone was part of a tiny community of close friends and collaborators. That same spirit of friendliness and powerful focus on the music were present at CHURCH , and while I do feel it at other DIY spaces in town—and even sometimes at bar shows—I’ve yet to find anywhere else in the city where it’s as strong as it was at CHURCH. It was truly beautiful. ... Though Erlandson and Rymph had given their neighbors their personal phone numbers so people could address any problems directly, at least one neighbor wasn’t interested. Near the tail end of a full day of events on Saturday, 30 April, there was an especially loud set going on, and some showgoers hadn’t respected the neighborhood as they arrived, walking through yards and in one case hitting a trashcan as they drove up. Someone called the cops. The show was shut down, and the police said if they were called back they’d issue a ticket for disturbing the peace. Anarchist though I am, I have a pretty high regard for laws that actually help people,

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and their booking choices are tied to how much money an act will bring in. It’s a compelling approach when you need to survive in a capitalist society, but it doesn’t always lead to good art or to taking many chances. At CHURCH, Erlandson and Rymph trusted in the audience’s support on the audience’s terms: donations were encouraged at the door to keep the space running, but with a give-what-you-can structure where no one was turned away for lack of funds. What took things beyond good, and what our city will most be hurting for in CHURCH ’s absence, was the way it was trying to balance the scales in Lincoln’s largely straight, white, male music community. “First and foremost,” Rymph explains, “it was to be a place where everyone was invited and hopefully felt welcome. Specifically we wanted women, queer people, and people of color on stage for as many performances as possible.” While I haven’t heard of other Lincoln venues being actively hostile (which isn’t to say none are), proactive inclusion remains too rare. At CHURCH, it was part of the mission. That it was small, that it was emphatically accepting, and that none of it was a business transaction gave it a kind and cozy vibe I

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including excessive-noise laws, depending on the situation. I also get frustrated quickly when people are happy to come be entertained somewhere, but don’t treat the place with care—like the members of the audience who didn’t respect the fact that they were in a residential neighborhood. But it makes me sad that it was the cops who were called first, not Erlandson and Rymph, despite their efforts to make themselves available and be the kind of neighbors you hope to have. After the shutdown, though, they maintained their neighborly commitment. They soundproofed the space, they asked attendees to come to future shows via the alley and to enter through the side door, and things were going well. They tried to find the neighbor who’d called the cops, so they could address their concerns in person, and though they weren’t successful, there were no more complaints, and it looked as if CHURCH would carry on. But a friend of the space, with good intentions, asked a cop for advice about how it should be run, and around the same time a neighbor phoned the police with concerns that alcohol was being sold there (it was not, then or ever). The advice request and the alcohol worries reached the same officer, and they put in motion more serious measures than a single night’s shutdown. Erlandson and Rymph were called in for a meeting with liquor control, fire, and zoning officials, where they were flatly informed that, contrary to what they’d heard from their landlord, the property’s zoning would allow it to serve only as a residence (for which it was not up to code) or an actual religious center. A DIY venue would not be allowed.

Striving to keep the space alive, Rymph and Erlandson tried for a time to formally organize as a legally recognized house of worship, with the object of their veneration being sound itself, but the barriers proved too great. They started a GoFundMe to cover the remaining months of rent they could no longer pay through concert donations, and CHURCH DIY was shuttered. ... Friends still come play and listen to acoustic music next door on Rymph’s porch, chatting and laughing and brushing away mosquitoes as the sun goes down. But CHURCH stands empty. Good Gospel is gone. There are no raucous electrified shows packing the little space with a cheering crowd, and no out-of-state bands are getting to play one of the warmest, freshest, and most beautiful venues in Lincoln. Asked whether the dream of a church venue is still alive, Erlandson says “I think we’re always keeping an eye out for a truly special spot but I’m not personally in a hurry to find one. I welcome the break, to be honest.” The spirit behind any law should be to improve life. Overzealously applied, even laws with good intent behind them can prove harmful. CHURCH DIY was created out of a desire to unite people and inspire them with art. It was apparently destroyed to sate an urge to tick every last box on zoning law paperwork. I dearly look forward to any future space Erlandson and Rymph may bring to life, or perhaps to the work of others, inspired by their example. In the meantime, I’ll remember.


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For Next Year, Then Owing to early heat and lots of rain, everything this spring was early, and I came late for the asparagus: under a thatch of spotted stalks and grass not a single rose-tipped spear. The last good spot was gone, as I had feared. And then last week, along the Kramer road, in a dry pasture corner, the unmistakable sprinkle of green of airy fronds against the rusted wire. As we passed, they caught your eye; everyone else had sped unheeding by.

Rudy Pozzatti: Serenade (engraving on copper, 1950)

What have we here? One of the many heirs of Orpheus or of Assisi’s saint, shown as he charms a bird down from the air? It is an awkward-looking bird, for sure, and outsize too, but then so is the hand the turbaned youth spread out so it could land a moment or two back. Drawn by a tune that now runs freely in the flutist’s head, momentum quickly taught the bird to stand, fanning its short wings backwards. Awkward too the single hand that’s holding up the flute and reaching for the stops. When a long trill makes the bird cock its head, it chirps and hops. The boy plays on. Music pours from him still.

Roy Scheele is the author of A Far Allegiance (The Backwaters, 2010)and the recent chapbook of sonnets The Sledders. His poetry has been published in former US poet laureate Ted Kooser's column “American Life in Poetry.” He lives in Nebraska.

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As a digital illustrator, I have been able to print image-dominant covers and posters, build novels, and move into cartoon-like infographics. I’m really happy with the diversity of content that I can make distinctly my own. An important part of my routine is walking. It’s made me and my work very local. I print with local silkscreeners and digital shops whenever possible so that my prints are limited editions and a little more valuable.

I got really into local food-to-table cafés and producers as a result. These are simple recipes, with ingredients that can be found on foot or along bike and bus commuter routes. They’re not just simple to make—they’re also easy to visualize, as in “How many items do I need to pick up from the store?” — Andrea Davis, from the Spring ’16 issue

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Artist George Sisson loves eggs. He decided to get some chicks and build a coop so he could watch them grow and eventually produce eggs for him and his six-year-old daughter, Adella. He purchased beautiful Polish variety chicks and brought them home, constructing a temporary hut inside his house to care for them while he finished the outside coop. Adella gave them all names, chose her favorite as kids do, and helped with their daily care. Normally places that sell baby chicks sex them, so it was a big surprise when he realized they were roosters. When

he explained the consequences to Adella, she cried out, “Oh Elsa!” He’s making arrangements for the roosters to go to good homes but says he’s been spending a lot of time looking up slowcooker chicken-stock recipes. “The sign might have said they were broilers,” Sisson said, “but I didn't look.” He is moving forward with the completion of the outside coop, and plans on giving it another go. When we asked if he was going to make chicken art now, he said, “Yes, I made a sculpture out of a couch cushion; it’s a snail.”



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(Below) Sisson’s chickens hang around at home.



Art Move Issue 09  
Art Move Issue 09