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Omaha Magazine

Online, On-Air, On the Coasts, Omahans Create Art Everywhere: July/August 2020 Editor's Letter

Jul 10, 2020 02:14PM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
managing editor Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Instead of being a year of perfect clarity, 2020 has proven to be a year of change, in a variety of ways. One was the violence sprouting from the protests against the death of George Floyd, which became local on May 30 (one week before our press deadline) with the death of James Scurlock.

Omaha Magazine’s motto is “It’s About All of Us.” To that effect, we have five core company values: community, respect, passion, integrity, and creativity. 

We adhere to this motto, and these values, in the creation of our magazine, where we provide our readers with articles about Omahans. We feature people who live in Omaha proper as well as people from the surrounding area. People who create as a hobby and people who have made a career of creating. This month’s issue is all about Arts & Culture.

Creating is something that helped many people who spent this spring in their homes, hunkered down as they tried to avoid COVID-19. Several people are still avoiding leaving their homes as much as possible. Large events have been canceled, and people are replacing those events with other forms of art and culture, whether that means baking, picking up the kids’ colored pencils and reminding themselves how much they enjoy drawing/coloring, learning to play that guitar bought years ago on a whim and left in the corner, or curling up in the corner chair reading a classic novel that has eluded them for years.

I have watched performances of Shakespeare from the Globe, read three thick books that I had picked up and put down a couple of times, practiced yoga from free videos, and learned to make candied orange peel.

In Omaha, several organizations provided and/or are continuing to provide online art options, including KANEKO, which is producing the Tessellation Project, and Omaha Community Playhouse, which is holding classes online and has streamed past performances. One of our features takes a look at several arts organizations in the city and how they are showcasing art while staying apart.

Who else is sad that Kurt Andersen has retired? I know we in the editorial department are disappointed to not hear Andersen’s voice on-air anymore. The popular host of American Public Radio’s Studio 360 is originally from Omaha—he graduated from Westside before making his way to the East Coast for college. Omaha Magazine caught up with him for another feature article.

The magazine then takes readers to Los Angeles—without straying far from our city. Omahan Maurice Bailey has worked with musicians such as Bell Biv Devoe and En Vogue, and created music for movies and television shows. Although his work ultimately comes through L.A., he creates from his Midwestern home.

Our final feature this issue celebrates the Omaha Symphony. The venerable organization turns 100 this year, and prepares to say goodbye to music director Thomas Wilkins. His final season (2020-2021) might include performances by well-known guests such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and musical group Pink Martini.

If this virus has taught us anything, it is that art and culture play a vital role in our lives. We at Omaha Magazine knew that, which is why we bring you arts and culture-based stories in each issue—those of local artists performing side gigs while working a day job, chefs who have created local restaurants that leave us craving more, and people who have created careers for themselves working in the arts. 

One other word of note: July and August around here means voting season for our Best of Omaha contest. Each year brings great new additions to the list. This year, one category I am excited about is “Bloody Marys.” I may need to conduct some research before casting my ballot. A great Bloody Mary in my book includes the perfect combination of olive juice and horseradish—I can live without the Worchestershire sauce and clam juice. Do you agree or disagree with my choice? Go to bestofomaha.com to cast your vote July 1 through Aug. 20.