Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

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The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art is located at 724 South 12th Street in the Old Market Historic District of downtown Omaha, Nebraska. The Bemis was founded by artists Jun Kaneko, Tony Hepburn, Lorne Falke and Ree Schonlau in 1981. The spirit and programs of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts are based on the conviction that exceptional talent deserves to be supported.[1] Its artists and exhibits regularly receive local, regional, national and international awards for presentations.[2] The Bemis Center is home to one of the most sought-after artist-in-residence programs and is regarded as one of the nation's premier artist colonies, and has been referred to as "the largest urban artist colony in the world".[3]


In 1984 Ree Schonlau established a consortium consisting of the City of Omaha, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, private and corporate foundations and the Mercer family, who owned the vacant 170,000-square-foot (16,000 m2) Bemis Bag Building. That year Schonlau convinced the group to develop an artist-in-residence studio program in building. By the late 80s renovation began, with facilities including eight living spaces with heating, air conditioning, kitchens and baths. The first floor was renovated to produce an exhibition space, administrative offices, and sculpture studio complete with three large-scale gas kilns.

Today, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts is located in the old McCord, Brady, & Co. building on 12th and Leavenworth and is an internationally recognized artist-in-residence program. The program provides well-equipped studio spaces, living accommodations and a monthly stipend to artists who are awarded residencies. These artists come from around the world to work within a supportive community of like-minded people. The atmosphere and environment offer an ideal situation for creative growth and experimentation and encourage artists to confront new challenges. The band Tilly and the Wall were the first band in residence in 2005.

The Bemis Center also presents over 20 cutting-edge exhibitions annually. These shows, which run in the Center's 3 main galleries.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mission and History", Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Retrieved 12/20/07
  2. ^ Garriott-Stejskal, R. "Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts - Fostering Creative Growth", Artwell. Retrieved 11/26/07.
  3. ^ (2006) Insight Omaha: The Art of it All. Hemispheres Magazine. Retrieved 6/7/07.

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