The clothespin artist who delighted and confounded Omahans still won’t reveal who they are.
“I enjoy the anonymity,” they said.
But the artist, who we’ll refer to as a gender-neutral they, did pull back the curtain a bit in a recent telephone conversation, sharing that they liked the recent publicity about the clothespin drawings and didn’t mind that people gobbled them up.
The guerrilla artist posted dozens of pieces of art — each depicting a clothespin, each with the initials “T.M.,” each dated and numbered, each nailed to a power pole — all over town.
After an article about the drawings ran in The World-Herald, the artist estimates that only about 3% of them were left unclaimed.
“They belong to no one. I firmly believe that,” they said. “Once they are out, they can be taken.”
The project was winding down anyhow, they said. Plus, the drawings would have disintegrated even more in another Nebraska winter. Once taken, and hopefully hung inside, they’ll stick around a lot longer.
Most people hadn’t even noticed the drawings until the article appeared.
About 150 had been hanging on power poles since November, mostly in midtown Omaha and a few as far as Lincoln and Kansas City. There would have been more, but someone broke into their truck and stole about 45.
“That set me back,” they said.
About 50 were wood-block prints and the rest were one-of-a-kind. They chose clothespins to honor their grandmother and mother, who spent thousands of hours putting clothes on the line to dry.
Wood power poles in midtown made them easy to hang. It was a way of claiming some public space, too.
“I didn’t want to flirt too much with graffiti or vandalism,” they said. “It’s like a community bulletin board right there.”
Contrary to speculation, they weren’t hanging them in middle-of-the-night forays. Daytime worked just fine, and no one seemed to notice. A few fellow artists did hear about the project from friends who spotted the clothespins and speculated that they might be involved.
Artists do crazy things, they said, and the whole project was about their emergence as an artist.
“Not that long ago, I gave myself permission to go full-on artist and say that in the light of day,” they said. “I came full out. I’m an artist. That has really opened up some opportunities. But if I call myself an artist, I better act like one.”
For those who didn’t spot a drawing this time around, take heart: The artist does a lot of three-dimensional work and said objects in that genre will be the next project put out there for the public to talk about. There just won’t be as many this time around.
If you find a drawing you like, they won’t mind if it grabs your fancy. Just no hoarding, please.
They’re enjoying the whole storyline, after all, especially that they pulled all of it off without anyone discovering their identity.
“I was pretty thrilled,” they said. “I thought that was the definition of a coup.”
1 of 72
A mural painted on the alley side of the O street apartments in South Omaha.
Linda Williams, right, walks past a mural while giving a tour of north Omaha at 24th and Lake Streets with Restoration Exchange Omaha on Aug. 2, 2013.
A hand-painted mural of a brick alleyway in Tuscany is in the Cast Iron Bistro & Venue.
Children run past a mural depicting Jesus with children at Augustana Lutheran Church on July 12, 2017.
A small portion of a mural by Richard and Rebecca Harrison of A Midsummer's Mural on the west side of the Koenig|Dunne Divorce Law offices. The mural is intended to represent the diversity and vibrancy of the 13th Street neighborhood and can be seen at 1266 S. 13th St.
The Bohemian Cafe mural on the side of the building at 1406 S. 13th St.
Eileen Hill walks past a mural near the intersection of Park Avenue and Leavenworth Street on Sept. 13, 2012.
Cars pass the grain elevator mural on Interstate 80 in Omaha on May 23, 2012.
Craig Lee steps back for perspective while painting his 10-year-old yellow lab, Georgia, into a mural near the corner of 35th and Center Streets on July 17, 2012.
Weston Thomson, education director for The Kent Bellows Studio and Center for the Visual Arts, works on a new mural painted to commemorate the Gifford Park community at 33rd and California streets on Sept. 21, 2013.
Lisa Kalantjakos, 50, with the non-profit called WhyArts, puts finishing touches on a mural on the backside of Tip Top Thrift Shop Inc. in Benson near 60th and Maple streets on June 5, 2014.
A mural by Richard and Rebecca Harrison of A Midsummer's Mural on the west side of the Koenig|Dunne Divorce Law offices. The mural is intended to represent the diversity and vibrancy of the 13th Street neighborhood and can be seen at 1266 S. 13th St.
The mural "Fertile Ground," located in north downtown Omaha.
The "Homer" mural is located in the alley behind the Pizza Shoppe in Benson, 6056 Maple St.
"The Mother’’ in the Benson Business District portrays Mother Nature as the trunk of a tree. It was a collaborative effort by Renee Ledesma and Jasmine Ruch.
The "Hitchcock" mural located on west side of Film Streams in downtown Omaha.
This mural, titled "Community Visions," is one of several in an underground parking area at the UNO Community Engagement Center. The series was painted by a six-person team of Omaha high school students and adult artist mentors, including UNO student Hugo Zamorano.
Runners and walkers run past the Fertile Ground mural during the Color Vibe 5K in downtown Omaha on April 18, 2015.
The iconic mural at the original Jams restaurant off 78th and Dodge Streets stretched the length of the restaurant. It was auctioned off in 2015 after the restaurant was sold in 2014 and then renovated.
A mural created by ten men from the Sienna-Francis House hangs at American National Bank near 90th and Dodge Streets.
Peter Wheeldon, top, and Alex Thatcher with Heartland Scenic Studio hang the mural on a wall below the tree. Salvation Army's tree of lights display at American National Bank, 90th and West Dodge Streets, will include a 16' x 48' mural painted by Jeremiah Neal, a formerly homeless person who works at Immanuel Village as a dishwasher.
Artist Richard Harrison stands outside of the Lithuanian Bakery, 5217 S. 33rd Ave., on March 11, 2016. The mural on the building is called, "Sieninis Paveikslas." The South Omaha Mural Project aims to create a series of 10 murals depicting the cultural traditions of immigrant groups who have settled in South Omaha neighborhoods.
This is the "Magic City" mural located at 24th and N streets. The South Omaha Mural Project aims to create a series of 10 murals depicting the cultural traditions of immigrant groups who have settled in South Omaha neighborhoods.
Jack Koraleski, acting CEO and president of Union Pacific, in the lobby of Union Pacific headquarters in downtown Omaha. The mural behind celebrates Union Pacific's history and their 150th anniversary.
The Mexican Heritage Mural on El Mercado building, 4913 S. 25th St.
People work on a mural by Artist Christine Stormberg on July 28, 2016, near N. 30th and State Streets in Florence.
This mural, painted by 2010 Bryan graduate Hugo Zamorano, graces the Rubicon AgroBox at Bryan High School.
A close-up view of an eye mural by Maggie Weber in the Benson business district.
A photo of the mural at 36th and W Streets celebrating Croatian immigrants.
Betni Kalk was the mentor for this mural on the silos near 35th and Vinton Streets. She worked with a group of students through Joslyn Art Museum’s Kent Bellows Mentoring Program.
Betni Kalk did this mural at 31st and Parker Streets for the Prospect Village neighborhood.
Daria Hlazatova is known for her magical murals. This is also in Benson.
The Avanza mural near 29th and Leavenworth Streets was done by Mike Giron, Rebecca van Ornam and Richard Harrison.
Another mural located along Leavenworth Street.
Maggie Weber’s "Sedusa" located on 45th and Leavenworth.
This mural by Chor Boogie, at the Salem Food Pantry, is one of several near 24th and Burdette Streets.
Murals on Leavenworth Street by Maggie Weber range from a welcome to the Morton Meadows neighborhood on 42nd Street to “Sedusa’’ on 45th Street, with its giant snakes and Medusa-type figure. “I love public art because it is so accessible,’’ Weber said.
Another mural located along Leavenworth Street in Omaha.
The First Nation Bank of Omaha mural sign visible from the rooftop.
A piece of art by Boris T. Bally titled, Converging Ripples, is a mural using street signs displayed on the Jewish Community Center.
A staircase mural created with Joslyn's Kent Bellows Mentoring Program.
David Brice takes a photo of the Reggie LeFlore mural titled "The Ancestor, The Identity, and The Seed" on the southwest corner of 24th and Ohio Streets on Oct. 6, 2018.
The mural at Omaha Fire Station 31, located at 4702 S. 25th St.
A man riding a motorcycle while wearing an American flag helmet travels past an artistic vote mural on South 10th Street in South Omaha on Sept. 25, 2018.
The Neil family of Gretna — Jill and Mike with their children 14-month-old, Syrus, Ashton, 13, Hailey, 9, Kailyn, 12 — walk past a large mural while arriving at Werner Park for the game between the Kansas City Royals and the Omaha Storm Chasers in Papillion on March 25, 2019.
A historical mural painted on the north side of Florence Hardware, 7915 N. 30th St. The handprints along the bottom belong to students of Florence Elementary.
A mural in the Benson neighborhood.
A mural located along Leavenworth Street.
Another mural located along Leavenworth Street.
A mural painted on a building along Leavenworth Street.
A Leavenworth Street mural depicting a snake.
Another Leavenworth Street mural.
A mural painted on the side of Barrett's Barleycorn Pub & Grill, 4322 Leavenworth St.
A mural depicting a bike, located on a building along Leavenworth Street.
An abstract art mural located along Leavenworth Street.
An octopus mural located on a building along Leavenworth Street.
A mural depicting vegetables and fruit along Leavenworth Street.
A vegetable mural located on a building along Leavenworth Street.
A mural depicting fruits and vegetables on a building along Leavenworth Street.
A mural depicting fruit and vegetables on a building along Leavenworth Street.
A mural located in the Gifford Park neighborhood.
A "Love" mural located in North Omaha.
A mural located in North Omaha.
A mural located in North Omaha.