I am notoriously anxious when it comes to navigating downtown, so my heart nervously started pounding as I stared though my windshield at the monstrous building before me. I almost thought I was in the wrong place as I turned off the ignition of my car and craned my head around to get a better look at the street signs. They read 16th and Leavenworth Streets. I was definitely at the right address. My heels clacked their way from the car to a heavy metal door that marked the entrance to my destination. As I as stepped inside, I was instantly reminded of why Omaha is becoming the cultural centerpiece of the Midwest. The space I entered was vast, yet inviting. Stillness hung in the air but not in a stuffy way. I felt perfectly welcome there. By there, I mean Gallery 1516: a fine art gallery whose mission includes providing a free space for Nebraska artists to showcase their work.
The artist I came to support that day was Jeremy Caniglia and an exhibit entitled: Illuminating Dickens. I work for the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) and I suppose you can guess where I’m going with this. You are correct! This exhibit is all about A Christmas Carol. And what an exhibit it is! The artwork consists of over 40 paintings and sketches that were created for a now, sold out limited edition version of the novel published by Easton Press. Fans of the OCP’s A Christmas Carol tradition will recognize some of their favorite scenes such as the appearance of Jacob Marley or the arrival of the Crachit Christmas pudding, immortalized in oil paint or ink upon canvas or paper. More than a few times, I found myself staring at the intricate details in Scrooge’s scrunched up face or the colors mixed together to form the perfect shade of red for Tiny Tim’s coat. I was in awe of how well the artist had captured everything I loved about the story with the stroke of a pen. I was thrilled to be able to visually immerse myself in the story. As I gathered my things to leave, I wished I was heading back to the theatre to watch our production all over again.
If you are a fan of Charles Dickens, fine art, A Christmas Carol or new experiences, I highly recommend adding a visit to Gallery 1516 as part of your holiday adventures this year. They are open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. I intend to take my family there before our yearly excursion to see A Christmas Carol together. (Yes, I see it multiple times.) I can’t wait to see the look on my son’s face as he recognizes and names the characters in each of the drawings. That joy to me is what this season is all about.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Henry Fonda Theatre Academy!
By: Mackenzie Dehmer – Henry Fonda Theatre Academy Director