Since October 2013, the Michael Phipps Gallery at the Omaha Public Library has been transitioning into a premier public art project in Omaha with expansive reach. I have supported over 75 Omaha-based artists with exhibitions and projects as the volunteer curator. My support comes in the form of organizing one of Omaha’s only open call for exhibitions to any artist living and working within the Omaha-metro; a thorough application review process; in-depth studio visits with selected artists; working with Omaha Public Library to institute an artist stipend of $150; designing all didactic information; full installation and lighting of all objects on display; writing a short essay about each artist/exhibition; instituting regular Facebook events for exhibition openings; using my connections with local publications to secure coveted press; as well as providing a consistent voice and tone for all exhibitions at Michael Phipps Gallery.

Beyond the 75 artists that have received curatorial support and the 12 that are slated to have exhibitions in 2017 and 30 in 2018, the Michael Phipps Gallery has a major public impact beyond objects in the gallery. While most arts institutions are free and/or open to the public, there are still social and cultural barriers that prohibit some to visit and feel welcome in these art spaces. The Michael Phipps Gallery at the Omaha Public Library is different. As a public art project, but more importantly as a public art space, the gallery works beyond conceptual ideologies around art to provide a tangible space to view art beyond lived realities. Michael Phipps Gallery, in turn, is one of Omaha’s only spaces in which art is for anyone and everyone. With over 250,000 visitors a year, the continued impact of the gallery is exponential to the public at large, but also to the artists showing their work.

Yet, Michael Phipps Gallery is more than a gallery. It is a place housed within one of Omaha’s largest cultural institution—one that is consistently filling the socio-cultural needs of the city. Providing rich content through public programming and resources, Michael Phipps Gallery aligns effortlessly within their mission for radical inclusivity and forward thinking for the broadest and widest cross-section of Omaha.

Alex Jochim + Kristin Pluhacek + Sarah Jones: Screen Shot – September 01–October 28
Derek Courtney: Folklore of Labor – July 07–August 26
Sarah Kolar + Brian Wetjen: Interwoven – May 05–June 30
Angie Seykora + Dan Crane: All is Vanity – March 03–April 29
Victoria Hoyt: Twenty-Six Forms Relating – January 06–February 26

Camille Hawbaker: Memoir– November 04–December 31
Travis Apel + Launa Bacon + Reagan Pufall: Science Future – September 09–October 30
Katie Temple: Sense of Home – July 01–August 28
Kim Darling: Self-Governance – May 06–June 06
Jave Yoshimoto: The Fractured World – March 04–April 28
Stuart Chittenden: 830 Nebraska – January 08–February 28

Public Public – November 06–December 27
Gabi Quiroz – September 11–October 31
Teal Gardner: A BABY IS BORN – July 09–August 29
Carlee Pakes: Animal Entities – May 08–June 28
Mary Jo Wentz: Artist as Chemist – March 07–April 25
Alicia Armentrout: Motivating to Grandeur – January 09–February 27

2014 Survey: Omaha Artists – November 07–December 31
Laura Carlson: Social Studies – July 01–30
Curtis Cates: Coloring Book – June 13–30
Riccardo Marchio + Thomas Rossi: Fractals – May 01–31
Angela Pickman: Natures Silhouette – April 05–27
Heather Johanson: Seeking Wilderness – March 09–29
Great Plains Black History Museum: Past Present, Future – January 03–31

Monday Morning Paintings – December 02–31

Photos: Omaha Public Library