It’s the holiday season, and I’m writing a post for a lifestyle blog.

So, what does that mean?

You guessed it: the ubiquitous holiday gift guide!

Rather than focusing on a roundup of gifts made by people who don’t live in my area code, I’d prefer to highlight those doing (and making) cool things where I call home.

In partnering with the Omaha organization Heartland 2050, I continue to realize the importance of positive community development. Shopping local is a wonderful way to support your city’s residents and its economy. (And listen: you live where you live for one reason or another. Don’t you want that place to be a better city? One with a richer culture and greater opportunities? I thought so; you’re smart like that.)

There is a Makers Market this weekend where some of the items I’ve suggested will be available. I’m sure the event will feature plenty of other worthwhile items that aren’t on my list, but could certainly pique your interest.

If you’re not in Omaha, a few of these suggestions are available online.

1. Film Streams Membership

This past Thanksgiving weekend, I went to a late night showing of “Birdman.” I sat alone, drinking a Dark Side (a delicious beer brewed in Lincoln, Nebraska) in this charming nonprofit theatre “committed to screening films based on their creative, artistic, and social merits.” It was a treat – an incredibly relaxed, entertaining, and rewarding evening. I often have those experiences at Film Streams. And I feel proud that it is in my city.

2. Joslyn Museum Membership

Opened in 1931, the Josyln is Nebraska’s largest art museum. An impressive collection of art, ranging from American Indian to Modern, pepper the walls within the beautiful art deco architecture. It also regularly welcomes temporary featured exhibitions. General admission to the permanent collection is free to everyone. But a membership helps supports the museum, and provides free access to ticketed exhibitions and events.

3. The Object Enthusiast:

Emily’s ceramics are stylish and functional. She expertly (and tirelessly )makes everything herself, and each piece feels like a one-of-a-kind. My pick is the large mint teardrop vase with polka dots.

4. Beansmith Coffee

I’m late to jump on this local bandwagon, but jump I have! This coffee is delicious. My favorite is the Mockingbird blend, maybe just for the smell alone. (Oh, and word on the street is they are opening up a second location downtown.)

5. Intro to Woodworking Class at Bench

This is not just for the men. Anyone can appreciate learning basic woodworking skills. And playing with power tools is awesome.

6. Heather Kita Jewelry Design

We interviewed Heather earlier this year, and her work has remained with me. I already own a geometric pendant necklace, and plan on investing in a few other statement pieces. I’ve got my eye on the Turquoise Crescent Pendant.

7. A donation to The Union for Contemporary Art

Art should be about connectivity. It shouldn’t be divisive, and something only certain sects of the population are encouraged to appreciate. With a goal of “the arts to become a bridge, connecting our diverse community in innovative and meaningful ways to create a stronger, more inclusive Omaha,” the Union is doing some amazing work.

8. 1877 Society Membership

I’m the committee chair of this new group of library enthusiasts in their twenties and thirties who support and advocate for the Omaha Public Library, its programs, patrons, services, and staff. Clearly, I couldn’t overlook including a membership to the 1877 Society on my list! And did I mention it supports our library system?

Happy holidays!





November 14, 2014

Bits and Pieces

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.18.51 AM

From my bathroom stall at Whole Foods this week. 

I no longer feel guilty taking some time to read blogs, newspaper articles and magazines. Staying abreast of current cultural conversations informs my work, and more importantly, my humanity.

And I really like playing on the internet.

Here are a couple of pieces I found interesting this week.

Stop Taking Pictures of Homeless People

“If you want to make a statement about the state of public health care, mental health, affordable housing, or abuse, then do that. Spend time with people, talk to them, have an agenda and a message you formulate yourself and commit to it. That is interesting. Taking a picture of a dude passed out in a park isn’t telling; it’s annoying.”

For real.

Showroom vs. Sanctuary

I can’t begin to describe the impact this article has had on me. I’ve been struggling with the sometimes frivolous world where I make my living and my absolute passion for what I do.

Sharing Synesthesia with Kaitlyn and Matt Hova

I was fortunate enough to meet Kaitlyn and Matt at a party before they left for California. She discussed synesthesia and it was incredibly interesting learning about it and how it affects her music. It’s even cooler that Matt has developed a way to share in his wife’s super power.

Happy Friday!

Deborah Kass

Deborah Kass,  feel good paintings for feel bad times. Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans.

I turned thirty-two in August. That event bookended a summer full of conversations with my good friend, Amanda. We kept coming back to the idea that we were feeling a bit stagnant personally (though not necessarily professionally) and would bounce ideas about ways to push ourselves creatively.

After a couple of bourbons, we developed elaborate plans to visit Puerto Rico, complete a yoga retreat in Bali, or take a road trip across the United States.

That birthday, and those conversations, have sparked a maddening desire to challenge myself scholastically. Something that forces me to grow and learn about the world, meet new people, and better understand art and its history. I thought about going to graduate school, but I really don’t want to have student loans screwing with me until I’m fifty.

Instead I’m thinking more like an Eat, PrayLove moment, minus the pasta (and, hopefully, the self-absorption).

I have a new goal: visit as many art galleries and museums, and talk to as many artists and makers, in as many cities (including Omaha) as I possibly can over the next two years. Kind of like an independent study, where I’m developing my own curriculum and can go at my own pace. And hopefully share most of these experiences with other people.

I’m not referencing my age because I think I’m old. I love being in my thirties. My birthday, however, was the catalyst toward this weird realization that I’m an independent adult. And a very fortunate one, too. I’m in a position where I might have a friend or family member who I could stay with in another city. Or I could have an opportunity to work on a project somewhere new and exciting.

After years of networking I have developed some fantastic relationships with people who could put me in positions to meet other fantastic people. I can spend my budget how I choose and don’t have to care for anyone else besides my dog. I understand that it would be harder to do as I please if that weren’t the case.

My mother and I recently took a lovely trip to Santa Fe where we visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. I’m marking that as a start date for this endeavor. (I almost used the word journey there. Don’t worry. I gave myself the side-eye and tried to make a less clichéd diction choice.)

Birdhouse is working on a fun project in New Orleans and a couple of weeks ago I ventured down south to work on it. While there, I was able to attend Art for Art’s Sake with my friend and project manager, Amanda.* I’ll share more about that soon.

Finally, today I’m headed with Amanda (from the first paragraph) and another Jessica to California. We’re making stops in LA and San Francisco. The LACMA and the Legion of Honor are on our agenda.

Now I need to get packing.

*Because if you are an American female born in the 1980s, there’s a good chance that your name is Amanda or Jessica.


September 24, 2014

Santa Fe

Growing up in New Mexico, I often took for granted the beauty of its many cultures – Spanish, Mexican, Pueblo, Navajo, European – and its varied landscape, from desert to mountains. I’m sure that was partly because my hometown felt more like the west Texas plains than any Land of Enchantment. But mostly, it was because I didn’t pay enough attention.

I recall visiting relatives throughout the state when my family made its way to underground caves, historic Pueblos, and tiny mountain villages. I’ll always have a strong connection to the southern city of Las Cruces. Or more specifically, the town of Mesilla, where I lucked into sharing a beautiful adobe house, nestled among lush alfalfa fields, with five strangers (no, not on “The Real World;” just college). I also developed friendships that are still going strong for more than a decade.

Last weekend I met my mother in the oldest capital city in the United States: Santa Fe.

And I truly fell in love with my home state. I realized how much it is a part of me.

Santa Fe | COOP

The courtyard at Las Palomas.

If I were to act as a tour guide, I would recommend staying on the plaza. You’ll be able to walk to all the shops, restaurants, and museums. But, overlook the large hotels and consider a charming  casita instead. We stayed at the Las Palomas, and it was fantastic.

Las Palomas

Our little patio outside our casita.

Santa Fe | COOP

 Across the street from our casita.

The state question really is “red or green?” Though I didn’t get any photos of the glorious New Mexican food I happily devoured, I always lean toward red (chile sauce). But, you’ll be a winner either way. If you do find yourself in the area, The Shed,

Casa Chimayo, and  La Casa Sena all had great atmospheres, lovely patios, and delicious food.

turquoise jewelry

Turquoise bracelets I love. Via Jennifer Garcia of San Felipe Pueblo.

Turquoise jewelry is on-trend right now, but it’s been around for a long time and won’t ever really be out of fashion. In Santa Fe, you can bypass purchasing pieces from a shop and buy directly from a Native artist. Most days, dozens of artists set out their wares under the long portal that fronts the Palace of the Governors. They are part of the Native American Vendors Program, which insures that all jewelry and artwork is authentic, of high quality, and sold by the artists or their family members.

Santa Fe | COOP

Recreation of the artist’s view and studio at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum.

If there is one thing I wouldn’t miss on a visit to Santa Fe, it would be the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.  The woman was fiercely original and endlessly inspiring. If you have time, venture to Abiquiu and tour her home and studio.

georgia o'keeffe museum

Georgia O’Keeffe, My Last Door, 1952 / 1954. Oil on canvas, 48 x 84 inches. (Photo taken at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.)

georgia o'keeffe museum

Georgia O’Keeffe, 1956. Photograph by Yousuf Karsh. (Photo taken at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Peeking into dimly lit corridors.

The midwest is gorgeous with its plush greenery and giant trees full of changing leaves. Sometimes, however, I miss the barren land and clay architecture of the desert.