INA world of online data mining, the constant tracking of consumer Internet activity and the omnipresence of CCTv cameras, it's no wonder that some people feel as if they're living in a big brother-type postmodern dystopia where every move is scrutinized by a nameless entity with less-than-noble motives.
Toph beck explores this idea in his mutli-disciplinary, multi-sensory exhibition "Pick best move," starting this weekend at split Gallery. It's an idea he began exploring some 20 years ago with "Tyranny," which he developed as both a film and a web series.
Both follow the story of a man who volunteers for a brain-mapping experiment.
"It's about characters who discover they're being used in a game and being used without their knowledge," beck said.
Both the film and series built upon beck's primary career. For 20 years, he worked as a Nasa documentary filmmaker and composer in Los angeles before moving back to omaha in 2015 to focus on his art, which consists of painting, drawing, music and film.
Beck designed his debut solo show as an immersive experience that draws connections between consumerism, casinos and conspiracies. Paintings and drawings complement the gallery itself as an interactive game board, with a multi-screen projection installation on the lower level and an original soundscape played throughout the space.
Conspiracy is subtly emphasized throughout the exhibition. The date of the opening, Nov. 22, ties to the JFK assassination, which spawned countless conspiracy theories, while the final weekend falls on black Friday.
"It's a perfect tie into consumerism," beck said. "The world feels like a casino. everybody is being monitored, and we don't know we're being manipulated."
The artist's bold and colorful paintings feature a repetitious mixture of abstract design, nonsensical graffiti and satirical word play, which often revolve around a faceless character who is unknowingly manipulated in thought and action.
"his name is Frank," beck said. "he's my game piece. he has no face and can be anybody, but is usually me."
While his works show a variety of influences, including Jean-michel basquiat, Jackson Pollock, Franz Klein and Wassily Kandinsky, omaha artist Judith Welk, who died earlier this year, is of primary import for beck.
"I was fortunate enough to meet her and become friends with her and her husband, bob, when I moved back in 2015," said beck, who grew up in dundee with several of Welk's paintings in his family home.
"This was the inspiration for the design of Frank, the blocky character with the suitcase, as he reminded me of how she would paint her characters — very simple and lacking any defining detail."
Split Gallery, 2561 Leavenworth st. "Toph beck: Pick best move." 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, 3 to 9 p.m. saturday, 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 29 and 3 to 9 p.m. Nov. 30. split. gallery.
NEW THIS WEEK
American Arborist, 1215 N. 11th st. "aa Wood artists open house." Features work by local wood craftspeople. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. saturday. facebook.com/freckledpebble.
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 s. 12th st. "artist Talk with richard Ibghy and marilou Lemmens." The artists discuss the questions that drive their practice, their approach to research, the ways in which they develop their ambitious projects and their production strategies. 4 to 6 p.m. saturday. bemiscenter.org or 402-341-7130.
Cali Commons, 518 N. 40th st. "open Life drawing." a donation-based, open/inclusive figure-drawing get-together. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Also at Cali Commons: "Closing of the erotic art show." a closing reception for the year-end show. 6 to 10 p.m. monday. calicommons.com or 402-513-2321.
El Museo Latino, 4701 s. 25th st. "saturday art Fun." Free hands-on art activities for the family." 10:30 a.m. and noon saturday.
Also at El Museo: "Public Guided Tours." a tour of the current exhibition. Noon to 1 p.m. saturday. elmuseolatino.org or 402-731-1137.
The Living Room at Mastercraft, 1111 N. 13th st. "2019 show exhibition." 5:30 to 10 p.m. saturday. a celebration of Nebraska design work. aIGa members: free; nonmembers: $15. nebraska.aiga.org.
Media Corp., 515 N. 33rd st. "Tiny art show." Features small works by local artists. 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and saturday. mediacorpgiffordpark.wixsite.com.
Simplicity Wellness Yoga and More, 14450 eagle run drive, suite 250. "art With a Cause." Features artwork by Josh audiss, with proceeds benefiting shatterproof. $5. 6 to 9 p.m. saturday. simplicityomaha.com.
Union for Contemporary Art, 2423 N. 24th st. "Tell martha Not to moan." a new play by Clinnesha d. sibley centered on a family home in detroit in 2007 as the presidential election campaign plays out on the national stage. 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and saturday, 4 to 6 p.m. sunday.
Also at the Union: "Transgender day of remembrance & Candlelight vigil." an annual observance honoring the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. u-ca.org or 402-933-3161.
UNO Art Gallery, Weber Fine arts room 129, 6001 dodge st. "bFa Thesis and basa senior exhibitions." Features bFa candidate alec Paul, ba candidate Colleen riordan and basa candidates Lexie borron, delaney Fisher, anthony Jackson, mark sabaliuskas, mari sayer, erin spencer, brianna Williams and Zhanxiang (sunny) Zhang. opening reception: 3 to 5 p.m. sunday. Through dec. 21. unomaha.edu or 402-554-2796.
Westside Community Conference Center, 3534 s. 108 st. "2019 arTitudes holiday art show & sale." Includes original paints, pottery, glass, wood, jewelry, fiber and mixed-media art. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. saturday. facebook.com/pg/arTitudesNebraska or 402-943-9221.