A few of the works available through the Omaha Art Lending Library.

Lawrence Hernandez is an intergalactic art defender. At least, that’s what he called himself and a group of like-minded artists, tongue in cheek, when they banded together in late 2016 following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would cut funding to the arts.

Concerned what this would mean to the Omaha arts community — specifically, the local artists who strive to make ends meet — Hernandez and his wife, Jennifer Joseph Hernandez, founded the Omaha Art Lending Library, which begins its inaugural loan period Saturday at Cali Commons.

The mission is to create a relationship between the public and the artists who live and work in their communities.

“Our goal at the OALL is to give the public the opportunity to live with unique, locally crafted art,” Hernandez said. “We hope that the program helps people to understand that there are artists that live among them who rely on government funding and sales from local events to create their art. As they do so, they also contribute to the local economy.”

Since many people can’t afford to buy original art, the couple wanted to create an opportunity for them to live with art created by local artists. This, the Hernandezes hope, will get them thinking about artists in new ways.

“Many people tend to think that ‘the arts’ are a thing that people with money participate in,” Lawrence said. “They don’t understand that government funding is used by local artists as well, and when that funding gets cut, it affects regular people that live in their communities.”

The library is based on other successful libraries that operate around the world in a similar fashion. The couple gained pointers from the Minneapolis Art Lending Library, which walked them through its process.

The library will function much as a regular library does, except patrons check out art instead of books. Loans will be on a three-month basis. Patrons will be required to provide a photo ID and proof of residency — just as they already do for public libraries. Loans are for individuals only, not corporations.

Only one artwork is allowed per household. Since some of the pieces are quite large, the library is providing gratis delivery and installation for this lending period.

The art lending library will stage new events every few months in different parts of the Omaha metro. The goal is eventually to reach every neighborhood.

The first round of art includes work by Brian Tait, Jason Smith, Liz Boutin, Travis Apel, Sabina Eastman, Emil Kozel, Travis Sing, Daren Jud, Lawrence Hernandez, Luke Armstrong, Lyndsay Dunn, Molly Nicklin, Cathy Sugar and Bart Vargas.

It’s a heavy-hitting list of impressive professionals.

Vargas has exhibited internationally, and his work was presented in a solo gallery during Kaneko’s recent “Re•Purpose” exhibition. He says loaning his work to the library is a way to bring art into the homes of people who typically don’t have the disposable income to collect art.

“A lot of my friends and supporters can’t necessarily afford art. I can’t,” he said. “An art lending library helps make art more democratic and accessible. This was a natural fit for me and a very easy ‘yes.’”

Lawrence hopes the endeavor helps to discourage people from purchasing arts and crafts from big-box stores.

“Most people don’t think of artists as local businesses. But they are,” he said. “Local artists are producing unique products using locally sourced materials, and often employing local people to help. These artists are contributing to the regional economy in many ways.

“I hope that one day people stop buying boring art in stores and start buying more art from the creators in their communities.”

Cali Commons, 518 N. 40th St. “Art Lending Library Opening,” 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. facebook.com/pg/OmahaLovesArt.

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This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready.


American Arborist, 1215 N. 11th St. “Serenity: Craft.” Features recent works by Amanda Caillau in the non-traditional space. Opening reception: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Through Sept. 30. facebook.com/freckledpebble.

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, 724 S. 12th St. “The Ocean: Performance by Chris Duncan.” Taking compositional prompts from a field recording of waves breaking in an ocean cave on the coast of Northern California, “Inner Ear Vision” exhibiting artist Chris Duncan responds with tones created by harmonica and electronics. 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Free. bemiscenter.org or 402-341-7130.

Cali Commons, 518 N. 40th St. “Design Commons #4: Collaborative UX Design Meetup.” Includes a focus on user journey mapping, process mapping, storyboarding, wireframes, prototypes and collaboration to form a new kind of creative community. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. calicommons.com or 402-513-2321.

El Museo Latino, 4701 S. 25th St. “Lunch & Learn Gallery Talk: Symbolism in Guatemalan Huipiles.” A discussion of the current exhibition. Noon Thursday. elmuseolatino.org or 402-731-1137.

Hutchfest 2019, 11th and Nicholas Streets. Features 250-plus handmade artisans and vintage dealers. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. 402-403-4590 or hutchfest.co.

Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St. “The Art of Seating Public Lecture.” Design scholar Mark Hinchman, Ph.D., discusses the presentation “Battle of the Chairs: Victorians and Moderns in American Interior Design” and examines some of the most renowned masters of American interior design. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Also at Joslyn: “Garden Yoga.” Instructors from YOGA NOW guide participants through basic poses to help strengthen the body and center the mind. Suggested donation: $5. 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday. joslyn.org or 402-342-3300.

Le Ventre Collaborative Space, 1226 S. 20th St. “Ven a MexicanArte: Victoria Drake.” A culturally immersive exhibition by the artist. 7 p.m. Saturday. $5. facebook.com/thedopestart or 402-708-1540.

Saratonin Studios at BENCH, 1441 N. 11th St. “Grand Opening.” Features multimedia art based in resin. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. facebook.com/pg/saratoninstudios or 707-601-6357.

Split Gallery, 2561 Leavenworth St. “In Search of My Artistic DNA: Ursula Garbien.” Features the artist’s multimedia work. 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. split.gallery.

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