The work of three University of Nebraska–Lincoln art students and a faculty member is featured in “Abierto,” which opens April 1 at Tugboat Gallery, 116 N. 14th St.
An opening reception is 7 to 10 p.m. April 1 at the gallery. The exhibition runs through April 30. To view the show outside of the opening reception, visitors can access the gallery through the employees of Gomez Art Supply.
Curated by Byron Anway, assistant professor of practice in the School of Art, Art History and Design, “Abierto” is a show of drawings, paintings and sculpture by Anway and students Belen Catalan, Chas Hyman and Qiqe Panqeqi Martinez.
In “Abierto,” which is Spanish for “open,” the four artists reimagine their past, present and future selves. Stories become memories; personal and cultural heritage are evaluated for honesty and accuracy.
Tugboat Gallery is the combined effort of School of Art, Art History and Design alumni Peggy Gomez, Nolan Tredway and Lisa Guevara and provides showing opportunities for emerging artists and established professionals.
“Due to the distancing protocols of the COVID-19 pandemic, many arts institutions suspended gallery programming for nearly two years,” Anway said. “For more than 15 years, Tugboat has provided exhibition opportunities for both emerging and established artists. This exhibition is both. Since the pandemic disrupted in-person art exhibitions for the better part of two years, many first- and second-year art students have never been to Lincoln’s galleries in person. ‘Abierto’ is intended as a way of reintroducing Tugboat’s programming to the undergraduate UNL studio art students.”
Anway invited Catalan, Hyman and Martinez to exhibit their work with him.
“Thematically, much of the work is tied to gender, race, figuration, introspection and the relationship between childhood, memory and imagination,” Anway said. “All three of these artists have thriving studio practices and make art outside of assigned coursework. Each has established themselves as talented, hardworking and committed to making art a career. Each student has expressed interest in actively exhibiting work during their course of study. Finally, these students have self-identified as ready to show mature work in a professional setting.”
Martinez said she is looking forward to exhibiting her work.
“I think the Tugboat and Parrish Studios are some of the best places to see fresh, challenging and risk-taking art,” Martinez said. “I hoped to exhibit there since I first got to Lincoln. Seeing all the unique perspectives in this shared space will be a much-needed celebration of community.”
Anway’s recent work draws on memories of teaching and traveling overseas, particularly in Morocco. Among other venues, his work has been exhibited at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha and the Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. His work has been published in “New American Paintings: The West,” Manifest Creative Research’s “International Painting Annual” and the “Prairie Schooner.”
Catalan graduated from Grand Island Senior High School in 2020. Currently, they are based in Lincoln. Catalan works with several media ranging from plaster, fabric and found objects to graphite works on paper. Their work explores themes of cuteness, fragility, feminity and Mexican queerness.
A contemporary painter and drawer, Hyman is a black female surrealist. She creates magical and imaginative portraits that are representative of her childhood and experience coping with mental illness, grief and isolation. She currently lives in Lincoln, but hopes to move to the Pacific Northwest.
Martinez is an artist from Grand Island. Her paintings and drawings explore transgender identity and first-generation Mexican experiences.
“I use artwork to bridge the gaps in my communication,” Martinez said. “I think of my drawings as descriptions, dialogues and even prophecies. I’m especially looking forward to the show because of the other emerging artists whom I’ve admired and am very honored to exhibit with.”