It’s not unusual to find paint in an auto body shop.
It’s canvas that’s a little more rare.
Saturday, Dingman’s Collision Center hosted five local artists in its downtown Papillion location, giving the creative types a space to work, collaborate and converse about the multifarious nature of the immanently social practice of art.
That conversation continued to circle back to one theme: the burgeoning art scene in Papillion.
“People need art, as human beings,” said Bonnie Patterson, a transplant to Papillion from Colorado who works primarily in the vein of painting Western landscapes and wildlife. “Art helps to build community cohesiveness. Putting art here, at Dingman’s, it helps people see what an artist does.
“It’s always neat when families come through and kids see how this happens. It’s mesmerizing to them. They want to go home and get all their art supplies out. That’s how we keep the cycle going.”
Patterson, along with her colleagues, all working their own projects in their own media, belongs to an emergent group known as Papillion Art Creative, a collective of artists and artisans living and working in the city who are looking for outlets to create, to show and to connect with others in the creative class.
Kim Shaw, a photographer and painter with a studio in the Bell Place Shoppes on Washington Street, is one of the organizers of Papillion Art Creative.
Standing in the wide, well-windowed entryway of Dingman’s, Shaw worked on a painting of the old Prairie Queen school which stood at 126th Street and Cornhusker Road and which is now the namesake of an under-construction school in the Papillion-La Vista School District.
“We’re each kind of in our own niche as artists,” Shaw said. “What the collective does is bring us together to connect over our common pursuits as artists. When that happens, the community takes notice.
“There is still such a major need for public art and I think we all share that as a goal. But first, we must value our own art before anybody else will.”
At Dingman’s on Saturday, that idea unfolded with every brush stroke and pen scratch.
Boyd Dingman, the owner of the body shop, said opening his space up to artists is an easy way he can help promote art in the public sphere and provide a new dynamic for both his business and his customers.
Dingman said he hopes to provide the space for artists on a monthly basis.
“It’s been working out really well,” he said. “There are a lot of good people doing good work. As artists, they always have all kinds of things going on in their brain. If I can give them a space here on a Saturday once a month, it’s one more opportunity they have to do what they do.”
For the artists of Papillion Art Creative, it’s also a chance to show the public that art doesn’t necessarily take place in a cramped, dim studio, practiced by a tortured, embittered soul. It happens all the same in the bright sunshine pouring through the windows of an auto body shop lobby.
“The moral of the story is that Dingman loves art,” said Nicole Raphael of Papillion, a photographer and painter who worked by that light Saturday on a floral still life. “He’s been very supportive of what we’re trying to accomplish in bringing art to life in the public space.”