Art is for Everyone | Exploration by Design

Art is for Everyone | Exploration by Design

Hello again, Urban Explorers!

Welcome to the next installation of Exploration by Design! Each week for the next month, we’ll be coming to you with a curated invitation to safely explore and uncover our region’s hidden gems. These missions will challenge you to explore digital guideposts on a journey to discovering the physical elements that make the Greater Omaha Metro such a remarkable place.

Exploration by Design offers an outlet to continue learning about our region’s public spaces, art, architecture, and development – all while practicing safe social distancing. You can easily follow along from the comfort of your home. Or, you can choose to safely venture out, incorporating these challenges as a part of your mental and physical health breaks. Either way, we strongly urge you to adhere to the rules and recommendations set forth by local officials and public health agencies.

Even though we’ll be exploring separately, let’s learn together! We encourage you to share your discoveries on social media with the hashtag #ExplorationByDesign.

‘Altered Perspective’ by Destiny Palmer | The Union for Contemporary Arts

At Omaha by Design, we know that the environment we inhabit is a reflection of our communities’ values. Public art is an integral component of this environment, defining public space and encouraging exploration. It has the power to inspire, educate, comfort and delight.

Simply put, public art enhances our shared quality of life.

Sprinkled throughout the Greater Omaha Metro, this remarkable public art collection includes outstanding works by local, regional and national artists, reflecting a variety of styles and traditions. Some pieces are publicly funded, but many are the result of private donations. A series of public art projects in recent years has helped draw attention to this vital civic contribution.

This week, we invite you to explore the following public art installations across Omaha and Council Bluffs. Each has a story to tell: Expand the map to learn more.

And – as these are only the tip of the iceberg – we want to hear from you!

What are your favorite public art pieces?


Lafayette Ave. & N 2nd St., Council Bluffs

Daniel Chester French | sculptor | bronze statue

This statue atop a picturesque hill in the Fairview district of Council Bluffs, overlooking a cemetery was created in the image of an angel that came to Ruth Ann Dodge three times in her dreams. Shortly after the angel’s third visit, Dodge died. Dodge was an opinionated woman who spoke her mind (an out-of-character trait for a woman in 1854). She used her spunk and drive to fundraise for and develop the first free public library in Council Bluffs. Legend has it that after sundown, she takes flight from her statuesque pose and zips around the graveyard. You’ll have to explore and find out for yourself!

The true story of the Black Angel of Council Bluffs | The Omaha World Herald


Pearl & Main Streets at West Broadway, Council Bluffs

original artist unknown | ornamental cast iron fountain

Abe Katelman + Katelman Foundry | 1973 restoration

In 1890, the historic, cast iron, Bayliss Fountain was installed as a centerpiece of the oldest park in Council Bluffs, Bayliss Park. In 1973, the fountain was restored, revved up, and relocated adjacent to the Historic Dodge House.

Bayliss Fountain | The City of Council Bluffs


South 4th & Worth Streets, Council Bluffs

Cory Peters | resident artist and neighborhood advocate | collage installed as a mural with tension frame system

This colorful installment was created with the help of the Iowa West Foundation and the 712 Initiative, celebrating Council Bluffs’ rich history with an infusion of pedestrian-scaled visual storytelling. The mural was a collaborative effort among multiple neighborhood associations, the public library, and others who all contributed their favorite photos to be featured in the mural. When sharing this work on social media, use the hashtag #UnleashCB.

Council Bluffs Convention + Visitors Bureau


1001 Cass St., The Hilton Omaha

Jun Kaneko | sculptor | ceramic statues

“Dangos,” a Japanese word meaning “dumplings” graced the title of this series of ceramic statues created by Jun Kaneko. They live here in Omaha, at the Smithsonian Institute of American Art, and at the Honolulu Museum of Art, just to name a few locations.

The Smithsonian Institute of American Art Museum | Dangos


13th & Webster Streets, Omaha

Meg Saligman | Philadelphia muralist | painted mural

In 2006, the Peter Kiewit Foundation sponsored the largest mural project in Omaha history. Artist Meg Saligman portrays the historical development of the city in a unique present-to-past rendering as opposed to a typical left-to-right timeline. In 2017, the original artist and a team returned to Omaha to restore the original project.

The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art | Omaha Mural Project


12th & Izard Streets, Omaha

Nicholas Miller, Reggie LeFlore, and norm4eva | a collaboration with Amplify Arts for Millwork Commons | painted mural installed on three stacked shipping containers

Capturing the creative energy of the innovators coming together at Millwork Commons, this larger-than-life artwork consists of three stacked shipping containers. The original intent was to showcase the individual work of three unique artists that, when stacked, would create one unified piece. However, the selected artists chose instead to collaborate on all three pieces – resulting in a brilliant composition that is surely greater than the sum of its parts.

Titled The Keeper of Stories, this three-dimensional mural can be thought of as a book representing a “collection of ‘legends, knowledge, and wisdom’ spanning generations.”

Grace: 3 shipping containers turned into huge mural in Omaha’s Millwork Commons | The Omaha World Herald


24th & Lizzie Robison Dr., Dreamland Park, Omaha

Littleton Alston | sculptor | cast bronze sculpture

“Littleton Alston got his degree from VCU, and an MFA from Rinehart School of Sculpture. He is Associate Professor of Sculpture at Creighton University and maintains a private studio. Among his awards, the most recent is Midtown Business Association’s 2013 City of Omaha Community Excellence Award for “The Jazz Trio,” located in North 24th’s Dreamland Plaza. Alston has worked in abstract style, but prefers figurative.”

Littleton Alston | Jazz Trio

Omaha Magazine | Littleton Alston


24th & N Streets, Omaha

Mike Giron with assistance from Richard Harrison, Rebecca Van Ornam, and Jiar Rodriguez, painting assistance from South Omaha youth | mural artists | aerosol painted mural

Artist Mike Giron collaborated with the community to gather their input on the essential elements of South Omaha to be included in the mural. He then hired several youth, many of whom were on probation, to join in painting the mural based on their familiarity with aerosol art. Following this collaborative mural painting, each of the young men went on to field opportunities ranging from trade workforce experience to receiving art scholarships to attend college.

A Midsummer’s Mural | Magic City


Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center | 45th St. & Dewey Ave., Omaha

Jun Kaneko | sculptor | granite pedestal, hand-cut, hand-blown antique stained glass sculpture

At the University of Nebraska Medical Center, innovation is everything. When the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center opened in 2017, art integration was a critical part of the healing philosophy for its patients. One percent of the cost of the building was obligated to be set aside for art within the facility to support patient healing. Renowned artist Jun Kaneko developed Search Tower which stands 82-feet high and is illuminated at night through stained glass elements. The black and white bands of the tower are representative of human chromosomes, whose mutations can cause cancer. Kaneko’s tower is accompanied by a Chihuly Sanctuary inside the facility.

Search Tower dedicated at Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center


Underwood Avenue & Happy Hollow Boulevard, Omaha

Jay Tschetter and Susan Horn | artists/sculptors | brick wall monument

“Dundee owes much of its early success to the Omaha streetcar line that connected it with downtown. In 2001-02, the Dundee Memorial Park Association worked with artists Jay Tschetter and Susan Horn to create a brick relief wall monument to honor the streetcar’s importance to Dundee. The monument is located at Happy Hollow Boulevard and Underwood Avenue, near the turnaround for the streetcar line that ended service in 1955. The monument was constructed entirely with private donations.”

Dundee Memorial Park Association | Streetcar Monument 2002


Keystone Trail underpass at Mercy Road

A Kent Bellows Mentoring Program Mural | aerosol painted mural

This particular installation titled “Beyond Limits” is not credited to a specific artist. Rather, the piece is a collaboration of the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program facilitated through the Joslyn Art Museum. The Kent Bellows Mentoring Program provides artist mentors to approximately 70 high school students each year. These students have the opportunity to practice interdisciplinary art and facilitate full scale projects such as these murals.

Joslyn Art Museum | Kent Bellows Mentoring Program

Map of all Kent Bellows Mentoring Program Murals


7802 Hascall Street, Omaha | Pipal Park

Sidney Buchanan | sculptor | steel from buildings destroyed in 1975 Omaha tornado

In 1975, a devastating tornado struck central Omaha, destroying much of the area and Pipal Park as it were. Sidney Buchanan, a sculpting professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, constructed the sculpture as a memorial to order being reestablished in the community after the storm. Buchanan called the sculpture “Patrick” and today, it overlooks the hilltop near Pipal Park.

Pipal Park was rebuilt after the storm as well and dedicated in 1985. It has a completely barrier free playground for ease of accessibility for children who use wheelchairs for mobility.

City of Omaha | Pipal Park

Pipal Park | Wikipedia


Sheehan Drive at the entrance of the Boys Town campus off West Dodge Road, Omaha

Matthew Placzek | sculptor | bronze statue

Enter the campus of Boys Town from North Dodge Road and you’ll be greeted with “The Work Continues,” the third iteration of an original statue “He ain’t heavy, Father…he’s m’ brother.” The original statue name shares a slogan that has followed Boys Town throughout its history and was included in the 1938 film, “Boys Town.” Today, (and since 1979) Boys Town has additionally welcomed girls into their program and “The Work Continues” commemorated this shift with a more inclusive statue, one featuring a young lady being carried, as opposed to two boys, one carrying the other. The first two versions of the statue remain on campus today in the museum and Visitor’s Center, respectively. Boys Town Historian, Tom Lynch, believes that Father Edward J. Flanagan would have supported the inclusive update.

Boys Town | Our History

New statue to grace Boys Town campus for 100th anniversary | The Omaha World Herald