Reader review: Artists explore dark side of American dream


May 9th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Artists explore the dark side of the American dream in a new multi-media exhibit opening at the UNO Criss Library this month.

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“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse
that sends me down to the river though I know the river is dry?”

These lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” inspired The Apollon Director Ryan Tewell to produce Full-Time: Struggle and Satisfaction in Working America, a multi-media exhibit and performance at the UNO Library.

"I Wanna Play" by Jacqueline Bequette.

Along with the live evening original theatre performance chronicling the dark side of the American dream, music by Midwest Dilemma and a gourmet meal by local chefs, the UNO Library Gallery showcases the work of six local artists exploring what it means to earn a living and to make life in this country in different manners.

Jacqueline Bequette’s fanciful mixed media seem cheerful with expressive splashes of neon pinks and greens. “I Wanna Play” shows a collaged image of a wide-smiled woman drumming, with music notes, a butterfly and the title words written lightheartedly on the wood panel. “Creative Mind,” also mixed media, displays two abstract human faces, too with the neon hues and animated brushstrokes. Though, a darker interior is hinted at with purposefully left drips of murky red and black paint.

Artist Beth Hanson’s realistic interpretations include “What Do You See?” a lithograph mixed media, showing an outstretched hand reaching for what appears to be an enlarged doorknob.

"What Do You See" by Beth Hanson.

The hand seems to be ours at its angle and perspective, jutting out from under us, making it personal. The reflection on the knob isn’t quite visible, but dark, mysterious, perhaps an eyeball looking back at us. Do we see the light coming through from the window, the bright future? Or the ghostly shadow, the dark future? The piece seems to blur the two.

Other work in the show equally moving includes Mike Loftus’ always-provocative figurative oil paintings, photography by Sam Chesters and Ross Hickerson, and sculpture by Elizabeth Pozzi.

It is also poignant for its location the university library—where students come to study and ponder these questions—what will I do with my life? Will I make it? How?

Well, Bruce Springsteen sure did. And, the Full Time exhibit artists’ ability to display this continuously-challenging notion of what it means to be successful in life in all their different fashions proved interesting, insightful and successful, too.

Full-Time: Struggle and Satisfaction in Working America opens Friday May 11 with a live performance at 6:30pm. The exhibit will be open during library hours, with evening performances Friday-Sundays through May 20.

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