WE ARE YOUR BFF_______ BFF to the Arts_______ BFF to the Community_____ Benson First Friday (BFF) is dedicated to supporting the region's emerging and established artists by creating opportunity, exposure and experiences that help them move forward while enriching the cultural competency of the greater Omaha area.
MONTHLY ART WALKS ( .year round since June 2012. )
Year round, FREE.99, family friendly, interdisciplinary.
Visual art, performance art, musicians, artist market, community engagement, youth outreach, fashion, food, and more.
NEW AMERICAN ARTS FESTIVAL
Highlighting refugee and immigrant arts and cultures within the Omaha area and creating a dialogue amongst artists of all cultures and backgrounds.
Creating a vibrant and creative public realm through the visual arts: ie., 2017 Banner Project - original art works by 16 artists on light poles throughout Benson; 2016 Tiny Mural Project - 9 murals, 9 local artists, 9 buildings; 2017 Lincoln Calling Murals, the largest by Maggie Heusinkvelt (20' x 50' !!); 2018 Oceanside Mural Project (stay tuned!)
Facilitating youth engagement through interactive elements designed for youth.
A NEW event and art space dedicated to area youth next door to Yoshitomo Gallery.
BFF Junior coming soon...
Our first publication highlighting the visual arts, literary arts, and the community. BFFzz becomes quarterly in June 2018 - Available at Lions Mane Vintage.
Monthly Artist Market May-Sept and Dec. Showcasing local makers, crafters, designers, artists, organizations, and shakers. Free to vend b/c we love you.
MAYFLOWER MOBILE GALLERY
Thanks to Douglas County Visitor Improvement Fund, we're turning a 45-foot semi trailer into an art gallery and event space that will tie every Omaha neighborhood together! Coming Summer 2018...
INTERACTIVE ART BOOTH
Giving local artists and organizations an opportunity to provide an interactive element for the public during our monthly events May-Sept.
BFF teams up with local artists to create one-of-a-kind image/art based merchandise line as well as original "Benson" themed merchandise. Available exclusively at Lion's Mane Vintage.
Operating since 2012 as an artist-run studio and art space, Petshop lent space for BFF to grow. Now BFF is able to give back to the space, by calling Petshop our official Headquarters - we'll be expanding to add more studios and gallery opportunities for artists, and hosting more community event space.
Lincoln called, BFF answered. We provide the visual art and performance art elements to the Lincoln Calling music festival. Our first regional event, we bring artists and musicians alike together during the weeklong festival, and try to bridge that large gap between Omaha and Lincoln.
INTERNSHIP PROGRAM via UNO
We work with Visual Art (and other) students from UNO to facilitate art shows/events during BFFs, gallery work, program and project work, event volunteer, special projects etc. All interns have the opportunity to earn college credit!
MEMBERS ONLY BALL
In 2017, we launched the Friends of BFF membership program. Members not only get all the swag and special treatment, they also get a special invite to the annual BFF Members Only Ball - a one-night only event that you don't want to miss. Coming Fall 2018.
-Amber Barcel, co-chair of the New American Arts Festival 2015
"I consider the Benson area as the literal "ground zero" to my success as a visual artist. Some of my first features and live performances come from here, which were all made possible through the efforts of the hard working BFF folks."
-Reggie LeFlore, Artist
"As the owner of a few drinking establishments in the Benson area I knew the place needed something more to take the next step as a neighborhood. Alex and Jamie starting BFF was huge in establishing an art scene to go along with the music and nightlife already present and beginning to flourish. For us to truly establish ourselves as a premier destination neighborhood for the long haul we needed diversity in our offerings. BFF worked closely with up and coming retail establishments as well as longer residents of the neighborhood to bring everyone together as a community. I've had more fun at the special events thrown by Petshop & Sweatshop than just about anything else and made me so proud to be a part of the scene in Benson. BFF has also been great for my businesses. It's increased traffic on First Fridays which has in turn boosted patronage during the rest of the month as the city of Omaha has come to discover all that Benson has to offer."
-John Larkin, owner of Jake's Cigars, The Beercade, St. Andrews
"I have had the great fortune of attending every BFF since its inception! I am a lifelong Bensonite who has seen the area flourish, fade, and then return once again to explode with success. I credit several groups of people for re-inventing the area in a positive way. One of the most integral teams would be the curators of the Benson First Friday. Their creativity, passion, and fair open mindedness have given so many artists the opportunity to share their work and allow them to shine thus making our community closer and stronger. It has created a deeper bond within our neighborhood by giving people the incentive or reason to take a walk from home and view the many talents all while gathering together and sharing the experience each month. It has also drawn people from many other parts of our city which has helped surrounding businesses to grow and in turn support the BFF events. It is rare that I don't walk home with some new creative to frame and admire or at minimum I learn or see something new at each of the collective presentations. Their pride has become our communities pride which can only continue to grow with the positive energy, heart, soul, sweat, and dynamic human factor that the BFF team puts into this project month over month. Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts."
-Lauri Labs, Bensonite
"BFF makes Benson better. It's one of the reasons why I decided to locate my business on Maple Street."
-Teresa Gleason, owner Polecat Communications & the little gallery
"As an artist, BFF provided me with opportunities to show my work to a more diverse audience at businesses in Benson and meet other artists who also sought alternative spaces to exhibit. As an intern at Petshop, I was able to see firsthand all the time and work that Alex, Jamie, and the rest of the crew put into each First Friday. With each new idea, implementation, and experience, their ef- forts have built a community and created a network that has enhanced the area."
- Heather Peebles, Artist