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Omaha Magazine

Joseph Broghammer

May 13, 2016 11:23AM ● By Allison Janda

It has been said that art imitates life. Joseph Broghammer’s art is based on his life, acting as a sort of diary that captures his minutes, his hours, and his days. Talking about the role art has taken in his life, it’s clear that being an artist has shaped Broghammer into who he is today. Art is so much more than something he just wakes up and does. It is part of him.


Broghammer says. “I use symbols, icons, religious objects, and more to spell out something that happened to me, that interests me, or something that I can learn from or someone that I can learn from.”

While Broghammer creates quite a few pieces centering around birds, he says the works aren’t always about the birds. They are more of a symbol to him and sometimes have nothing to do with the story he is trying to tell. It is always the story that matters most to Broghammer. However, seeing as birds come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and even textures, they make an enjoyable subject.

This can be seen on his website, which is filled with images of birds. They aren’t quaint chickadees and bluebirds, but more often are imaginative images such as “King of the Lollipop Fatties,” a pastel of a realistic-looking bird covered in candies. He often creates art based on the Sandhill Crane.

Broghammer stumbled into the role of artist his senior year of high school when he took art as an extra class. At the suggestion of his art teacher, he also applied for a scholarship to the University of South Dakota. He won the scholarship, obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He also started working on a master’s degree, but his art career nearly ended there.

“I got burned out from graduate school,” Broghammer recalls. “I took time off from art.”

Broghammer clearly recalls his return to the world of art. One day he walked into The Antiquarium, a combination bookstore and art gallery located in the Old Market. The Antiquarium’s director of the art gallery at that time, Al Strong, asked Broghammer if he was an artist. When Broghammer confirmed that he was, Strong asked if Broghammer wanted a show. “I said sure,” he recalls. “I decided then to make whatever interests me and I wanted to focus on my life.”

Broghammer’s work was described by the great Norman Geske (known as the father of Nebraska art) as “dry paintings.” In other words, Broghammer’s work is too bright and full of color to be considered drawings; however, they are not acrylic or oil, which would categorize them as paintings. They are instead dry versions of wet painting.

“I started to use chalk pastels in college because I liked the look and feel of them,” Broghammer shares. “I like the quickness of the medium and I can do images in chalk that I just can’t do in paint.”

Broghammer also regularly participates in art shows. His art is currently being displayed at The South Dakota Art Museum and Museo de Filatelia in Oaxaca, Mexico (in collaboration with El Museo Latino in Omaha). Encounter

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