BENSON First Friday August 5th 2016 A Photo Story by Bill Sitzmann

It was 1917 when Benson was annexed into Omaha. Almost 100 years later, it has become home to one of the largest outdoor art galleries in the state. Alleys are enhanced by local artists, adding to the makeup of this impressive Omaha neighborhood. I spent an evening capturing the August Benson First Friday where diversity in culture and thought are celebrated. I saw everything from a shrine to Husker football legends past, juxtaposed against a giant mural tributing Mother Earth and all she enables. It was an inspiring evening. Take a look.

Many artists painted murals, live, during BFF, making this sort of an interactive art crawl. If you were early enough, ice cream was provided, compliments of Ted&Wally's. I ran into an artist I follow on Instagram, @christography.

Chris was working on a mural named "Double Volcano."

The mural is on the rear of Lovers Luxuries.
Artists mingled with each other and anyone who came by. The landscape was changing by the minute and by the end of the evening the alleys appeared a little different.
I walked down the alley directly South of Maple street. (In the hunt for outdoor art do NOT dismiss the alley directly North of Maple. It has a lot of great murals if not more than the south side.) I encountered maybe 4 separate artist working. Many people pulled up a seat and watched the artist work. Note the coolers filled with ice cream on the right side of the frame.
Maggie Heusinkvelt
Ted and Wally's has been a favorite of mine since my first time visiting Omaha in 1996.
This piece has a sticker placed dead center that reads: "Stop Living Like It's The End Of The World."
Fittingly this mural sites on the rear of Janes Health Market.

I couldn't help but note that there was a large range of ages making the neighborhood an urban playground for everyone. These kids had a blast spending a Friday evening exploring the art and getting a parqore run in.

Dancers and singers from 3 different cultural backgrounds provided a backdrop against an artist marketplace with work made by local refugees.

The performers had a great stage and large audience to perform to.
The performers appeared a little nervous to begin with until they got going on the stage.
There was a solid mixture of acts for the night.

I stumbled into what I would later find out was The New American Arts Festival, which was taking place right in the middle of BFF. This included scheduled workshops and a pop up market place on the same street where the weekly summer farmers market takes place.


The market place offered refugees hand crafted goods and art. Children helped sell family goods and even posed for pictures.

I finished the evening grabbing Ted & Wally's to take home and eat later, I was pretty exhausted and the store was still a little busier than I was in the mood for. As I waited for my order I stepped outside to see if there happened to be any last photo ops before I packed up the gear. Sure enough I ambushed this couple just long enough to get their picture. They were kind enough to let me point my camera at them but understood they had found a special spot.

That's a wrap on a great night!
Bill Sitzmann has been an editorial and commercial photographer in Omaha, Nebraska for 14 years. He currently serves as Creative Director at Omaha Magazine providing him a front row seat to what truly makes Omaha unique. The people.
Here, you earn everything you get. There is no standstill. No off switch. Only momentum, fueled by a drive to let go and do what we love.We are passionate about this community. Here in the heartland, we are more than a cozy place to live; we are a great place to be alive. Maybe not for everyone. Just anyone who wants to be someone. This is who we are. We Don’t Coast.

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