It is like peeking into someone else’s dreams, as you walking into a world not seen before. Those are the dreams of Founder and Executive Director Brigitte McQueen Shew. The Union for Contemporary Arts captivates anyone the moment they set foot within view on the sidewalk, as the golden glimmer of the front door sign warmly welcomes them. The front double doors open up to a wide hallway, with a welcome desk to your left, and gallery to your right.
Throughout the gallery guests can see the hearts of local artists sprawled across the walls. The buildings’ tall ceiling and exposed structural beams play more into the notion of “raw” in our expressive humanity. Those seeking an inviting environment to express themselves and enjoy art can find just that at the the Union for Contemporary Arts at 2423 N. 24 St. in Omaha. Holly McAdams Olson, the Development Manager for the Union, said that the organization seeks to provide and produce “fellowships, local artists home studios, community projects and ample engagement within the community.”
Olson’s excitement, joy and passion for the project is warming, and because of that enthusiasm, it will surely soon mean just as much to the community. She said she believes in “utilizing art as a tool for justice and civic engagement.” This belief of using art as means for improving communities plays into the organization’s mission to strengthen the creative culture of greater Omaha.
“I see a vibrant, active community now because the good is in the art, providing a means for people to enjoy things,” Lynette McCowen, a local community activist, said. “The Union gives a means of union, like it once was upon a time.”
Visitors touring through the building will find a design studio with every form and capacity of marking known, and ample forms of surfaces to apply your expression. Clay, ceramics, sewing, graphic design, water colors, pastels, pencil, paints, crafts and paper mache.
“We strive to provide affordable access to spaces for community, by performing projects within the community, and utilizing art as a catalyst for the community as a whole,” Paige Reitz, the director of programs and projects, said, “Giving everyone a voice.”
For $10 a day, or a $120 per year, one can utilize everything within the Union. The true beauty of the organization is simple. The beauty is in the fluidity of passions merging, uniting many from anywhere and providing a catalyst for hope.