Omaha honors its artists at the OEAs
February 13th, 2012
Omaha, NE – Omaha recognized its finest artists and performers Sunday night at the 6th annual Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards ceremony.
Close to 500 artists, performers and musicians gathered downtown at the Hilton Hotel to recognize each other for helping to create a pretty thriving Omaha’s arts scene. Two slam poets hosted the evening: Andrew Ek and Katie F-S.
“What a wonderful evening we have in store for you!” Katie F-S announced, after the two performed a slam poem, which included a notable Pterodactyl impression from Katie F-S. (The poem is from their upcoming performance in a variety show next week, The Encyclopedia Show, where the topic will be dinosaurs).
“Let’s start off by welcoming you to the 6th annual Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards show, known to us all in our heart of hearts as the OEAs.”
The OEAs are a sort-of combination of the Oscars and the Grammys – on a local scale. They’re presented to Omaha’s favorite artists and performers. Over the summer, the OEAs hold a city-wide vote for Omaha to nominate its favorite artists in a number of categories. Those are whittled down to the top five picks. Those five are presented to the OEA Board, made up of industry professionals and established artists, and that group picks the winner.
“This is the only time so many artists from so many disciplines – visual arts, performing arts and live music – gather together to be celebrated,” F-S said.
In the visual artists’ categories, world-renowned Jun Kaneko and Vera Mercer took home the prize as Best 2D and 3D Artists respectively. Mercer also won Best Visual Artist overall. A new artist on the scene: Ying Zhu, who spent the fall in the artist-in-residency program at the Bemis Center, took home two awards as Best Emerging Visual Artist and Best New Media Visual Artist.
In the performing arts categories, the awards were spread around throughout Omaha’s theater world. The Blue Barn picked up best dramatic play for Three Tall Women; Brigit St. Brigit Theater took home best comedy for Distant Music; and the Omaha Community Playhouse earned the award for best musical for its production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Robin Welch, the long-time artistic director of Omaha’s Nutcracker Ballet, won a lifetime achievement award. Welch is now the co-director of the Heartland Youth Ballet.
But the headline-grabbers of the OEAs are typically the musicians. Rock Paper Dynamite, which won the music award for Best Rock, performed at the event, along with Tara Vaughan, who was nominated for Best Singer/Songwriter. The award for that category went to All Young Girls are Machine Guns. (Click Listen Now to hear Tara Vaughan perform)
Omaha’s established indie music scene took somewhat of a backseat this year. While the city’s most famous indie export, Bright Eyes, predictably took home Best Album of the year, Best New Artist went to rock band Snake Island! And the final winner of the night beat out Bright Eyes for Best Artist. Making a splash in a genre that’s generally negligible in Omaha: hip hop group Galvanized Tron, who also took the stage for a joint performance with Somasphere, which was nominated for Best DJ/Electronic Dance Music.