Week Fifty Two

Artists get creative, redux

Posted in Art news, general interest by sarahbakerhansen on 26 March 2009

So last week I wrote about a story I read in the NY Times about museums getting creative in a time of recession. Yesterday, the World-Herald ran a story about artists doing something pretty creative in Omaha. My friend Dane Stickney wrote the story; I copied the full text below.

An unusual marriage: Art and autos


Thomas Hamilton’s stoneware pot soon will be on display a few feet from a Mercedes-Benz S63 luxury car.

One was fired in Council Bluffs and sells for around $200. The other was made in Germany and retails for $140,000. But thanks to an unusual marriage between art and autos, the two are sharing the same showroom in west Omaha.

Officials at the Mercedes-Benz of Omaha dealership, south of 144th Street and Industrial Road, have recruited members of the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery to fill the showroom’s massive white walls and empty glass cases with locally made artwork.

New owners purchased the dealership in November. The vast, open showroom was puzzling, said Angie Quinn, the dealership’s president. Quinn didn’t want to hang huge promotional posters on the walls, and she didn’t want to acquire a permanent collection of art.

Instead, she wanted to mix local art with foreign cars. She wanted to meld oil paintings with oil changes.

“Omaha has so many world-class artists who don’t get the recognition they deserve,” said Quinn, who visits the Artists’ Co-Op Old Market location and is a big fan of Omaha ceramist Jun Kaneko. “I thought we could give them a space, so they could share their work.”

Quinn doesn’t necessarily think the artwork will help sell cars. But it will hopefully make shopping for one or waiting during a tire rotation a more enjoyable experience. And, let’s face it, folks who buy cars that are more expensive than some houses probably expect a little more from a dealership.

She turned to the Artists’ Co-Op, which boasts 33 members in an array of media. At first, co-op president Hamilton was a bit puzzled. Then he visited the dealership with a roughly 4,000-square-foot showroom full of windows and boasting a contemporary early 2000s design. Hamilton envisioned his pots in the glass cases, stained glass on some of the windows and huge abstract paintings on the 20-foot walls.

“It got my motor running,” he said.

He discussed the idea with the co-op members. Many thought it was a joke at first, but 22 eventually signed up for the exhibit.

They’ll install more than 100 works of art this week. They hope to have the exhibit up and ready for public view by Thursday. The work will be on display through May. If all goes well, Quinn would like to green light hanging another co-op show.

The partnership is a winner for the co-op, too. Its artists are vagabonds of sorts. They rent a gallery at 405 S. 11th St. through a sweetheart deal with the Mercer family, which owns a bunch of Old Market real estate and staunchly supports local art. But the Mercers also organize an exhibition schedule called the Moving Gallery, which has displaced the co-op for the past two months.

The artists will get their space back in early April, but they welcome the chance to exhibit for a different audience at the dealership.

Most of the artwork at Mercedes-Benz of Omaha will be for sale, and the dealership won’t take a commission like conventional galleries.

Selfishly, Quinn is excited, too. She and the other employees will have interesting things to look at during the workday.

“We could have put up promotional banners or posters or a permanent collection,” she said. “But what would that mean? It’s a lot more rewarding to show off local artists.” ,

• Contact the writer: 444-1220, dane.stickney@owh.com

Copyright 2009 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved.
———- End of Story ———-


One Response

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  1. kumquatkween said, on 31 March 2009 at 10:21 pm

    “It got my motor running.” ha ha. laff riot ENSUES!
    But seriously, this is a wonderful idea and hell yes to a dealership who doesn’t simply opt for pier 1 “stock” art.

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