Omaha is a city bursting with talent, and art lovers and collectors will be hard pressed to leave without purchasing a treasure by a local artisan.
With two centers dedicated to the arts—both conveniently located in the Old Market area—Omaha is an art lover’s dream come true. Plan to spend a day wandering through boutiques, art galleries and studios. The 92,000-square-foot Hot Shops Art Center, which got its name from its three anchor shops that use forges, welders and kilns to create “hot” art, boasts 50 art studios, numerous showrooms and four gallery spaces. Less than two miles away is the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, which has earned praise for its artist-in-resident program and exhibits of emerging and established artists. Many of Omaha’s best are represented by the center, through which their works can be purchased.
Vibrant color plays an important role in Dar VandeVoort’s paintings, whether it be a portrait, landscape, still life, conceptual or nature piece.Incorporating puzzle pieces into her works has become VandeVoort’s signature style. The artist also hosts classes in her studio, which she describes as “intense but receptive.” Her works range from $500-$2,000, and you can find it at the Hot Shops Art Center.
Ron Loken of Loken Forge, one of Hot Shop’s anchors, uses heat to create his art, which, in addition to pure sculptures, includes architectural pieces such as candleholders, wall sconces, lamps, gates, tables and more. Loken Forge takes pride in the fact that all of its pieces are hand forged by blacksmiths, utilizing techniques that are thousands of years old. His items start at $20 for a coat hook, and he “can build anything you can pay for.”
Textile weaver Mary Zicafoose is represented by the Bemis Center. Her tapestries and rugs can be found around the globe, from Canada to U.S. embassies on three continents. A largely self-taught weaver, Zicafoose is known for her bold use of color, working with large fields and planes of reds, yellows and blues. Her work, which costs $250 per square foot, can also be purchased directly from her studio.
Photographer Larry Ferguson has had his work exhibited in more than 400 galleries and museums in the U.S. and Mexico. He is internationally known for his nature photography, including his photos of icebergs, terrain and animal life in Antarctica. Ferguson, who is represented by the Bemis Center, sells $4 postcards, $20 image CDs as well as middle-sized prints ranging from $200-$800, which are also available at his studio.