Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts

Hopey Changey Things

Opening Reception: Friday, June 11 | 6:00 - 9:00pm
Artist Talk: Sunday, June 12 | 12:30 - 3:00pm
June 11 - September 4, 2010

Sarah Palin's recent barb "How's that hopey changey thing workin' out for ya?" sent a penetrating, shrill, cynical and knowing shot to the heart of our country's public life. Deep divides surround fundamental concerns such as the health of capitalism, the role of government in relation to individual liberties, desires for social justice and sustainability, and belief in the free market. Our political discourse wielded to address such rifts, however is fraught with useless oppositions. In a political landscape where gamesmanship trumps dialogue, contemporary art makes space for openness, belief, hope and change rooted in an authentic attempt to understand what our world is, and what it could be. The exhibition Hopey Changey Things believes that artists enliven our democracy in ways that our political structures delude.

Hopey Changey Things celebrates artists who transform places, communities and subjective histories. Plato thought artists disturbed social order by traversing classes, yet their unique ability to infiltrate social structures allows omniscient perspectives. Artists have long harbored utopian impulses, both in creating the dream and digging through its ruins; however the current collapse of political and economic structures has rendered normalcy exotic. The artists in this exhibition have adopted a kind of radical pragmatism; their sense of wonder is tempered by making do with what's at hand to produce work of subtle and sweeping import for their worlds.

Hopey Changey Things traces myriad ways artists understand their place in the world, carve new ways out of existing problems, and reframe the symptoms of our present condition. Including highly personal forms of documentation, social and community interventions, and works that re-imagine our shared public sphere, the exhibition triangulates three positions: apocalytic urgency, the right of an individual or community to re-envision their place, and a gleeful acceptance of the absurdity of our current moment.

Artists: Jesse Albrecht once upon a time David Dunlap and Pete Schulte, Jody Boyer, Carnal Torpor with Min | Day, Mel Chin, Matthew Cusick, Design99, Dana Fritz, Fundred Dollar Bills by the People of Omaha, Theaster Gates, Gregory Green, Patrick Greene, Natalie Jeremijenko, Lucy Raven, Eric von Robertson, Larry Schwarm, Morgan Schwartz, Aaron Storck, Matt Wycoff...

There is benevolent danger in the way art can bring us to our culture's frayed edges, places of lurid complexity and renewed possibility. These artists are not rogue figures; they pare down the extremism of our political life to ask large questions and form hyper-rational answers. It is a beautiful contradiction to find political frontiers in the normality of artists. Art and artists can do something new for our public life, because not much else can.

Hopey Changey Things is organized by Hesse McGraw, Bemis Center curator.

Additional Public Events
Jody Boyer's Bancroft Bayliss Loop (BBL) is a community-forming bicycle ride and cultural exchange engaging artists and cyclists between the Bancroft Market in Omaha, Nebraska and the West side and downtown areas of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The ride is free and open to the public every Saturday May 22 through October 16, 10 a.m. Rides begin at Bancroft Street Market at 2702 S. 10th Street, Omaha, Nebraska. Participants must wear a helmet.

Metal of Honor | Michael J. Krainak, The Reader | 2.3.11
Art of Politics: Hopey Change Things answers Palin’s question | Michael J. Krainak, The Reader | 8.10.10
Politics the inspiration for summer exhibit at Bemis Center | John Pitcher, Omaha World Herald | 6.17.10

Exhibition Presenting Sponsor: Omaha Steaks
Sponsors: Clark Creative Group, Design8, Midwest Airlines, Min | Day, Nebraska Arts Council, Quail Distributing, Rybin Plumbing & Heating, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Sound Environment, Sherwin Williams, Upstream Brewing Co., and Warren Distribution

All photos by Larry Gawel

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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
724 South 12th Street
Omaha, NE 68102
Admission and Parking: FREE
Phone:: 402.341.7130