Reflecting on the First Year of “Kearney Creates”

A Journey of Kearney's Artistic Culture

This website chronicles and celebrates the spirit of integration and progression, recovered from the past and found today, that energizes this Kearney Creates project.

As we look down Central Avenue in Kearney, Nebraska, we see an endless roadway with a clear path forward. This limitless horizon encourages us to reflect on our community and its culture – how we got here and where we’re going, the community’s past and present, our work and recreation, early pioneer exploration and today’s technological advances. With a look behind us, we know the literal foundations of its artistic culture housed in the Museum of Nebraska Art and its determination and foresight to document the community’s innate artistic energy. In the look forward – the limitless horizon of the path – we realize the inherent potential of today’s commitment to cherish and support the artistic culture. It is this initial spirit of integration and progression, recovered from the past and found today, that energizes this Kearney Creates project.

Thousands of work hours on research and content design have gone into the project and presentation site. Though we originally thought of the project as a definite survey, we soon discovered more and more information about our artists and their creative environments that could not be contained in a one-shot, exhibition. And so the original idea and its consequent website presentation has shifted to accommodate the transformative character our artists and the Kearney community. Since we could not represent all the artists, musicians and writers, we have now created an ongoing production to include periodically new artistic entries, new contributors, new images of Kearney’s artistic life. In other words this website is indeed a living document of Kearney’s culture.

At this point Kearney Creates offers a fairly wide-ranging view of its community arts – their unique and extraordinary presentations celebrate and chronicle their development from pioneer times to today. This first edition is the collaborative result of a local Editorial Board’s research and knowledge as well as support from community organizations, especially Museum of Nebraska of Art and Buffalo County Historical Society. The site covers the many Kearney arts. Art – painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media. Music – musicians, orchestras, bands, instrumentalists, vocalists, groups, venues, stages, production companies. Literature – writers, poets, essayists, fiction writers, naturalists, journalists, teachers.

The current Editorial Board is comprised of volunteers. Chuck Peek – Editor in Chief. Kate Benzel – Managing Editor. Lauren Bonk – Assistant Managing Editor. Editors-at-Large – Rick Brown, Jerry Fox, Nathan Tye. There is a growing list of contributing editors, currently including Broc Anderson, Steve Bennett Kim Dart, Mark Foradori, Javier Fox, Kerri Garrison, Pat Jones, Rob Luscher, Lindsay Lund, Jason Miller, Brad Modlin, Terry Lee Schifferns,Terry Sinnard, Laurinda Weisse. Each of these people bring an immense expanse of experience in practicing and supporting the arts, many of them with long ties to our community, its history, its institutions, and its culture. Webmaster Kelly Nowicki‘s work as website artistic designer and manager has perfected our purpose of preserving and presenting Kearney art. His unique insights into the arts culture and computer travel have created an interactive site whereby you can engage with artists and their works, can hear their music performances, and read their variety of writings.

On our journey down Central Avenue, we have created this living and breathing virtual reality, and to continue it, we will generate a timely Newsletter where we will feature yet more of Kearney’s artists, musicians, and writers. We will have guest contributors and announcements of new and upcoming publications, presentations and performances. As we travel down this highway of artists, let’s celebrate those who have laid the bricks for us to continue the journey and urge us onward.

Written by Kate Benzel.
* Photos "Brick Laying on Central Avenue, 1919" from "Kearney Hub," "Downtown Central Avenue, 2020."

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