I feel like by just simply saying "thank you" to Brigitte, Jeff, Paige, Josh, and the rest of the folks at The Union for Contemporary Art would severely undermine the appreciation I have for the recent things they've done for me. And if there's anyone here reading this that knows me, you'll know that I have the tendency to ramble on about the topics that I'm most passionate about, so my apologies in advance if this goes on forever. But I can't really sum this up into words...if I could, then I would probably say something that would classify this entire experience as being the absolute best that I've ever had.

But if you know me, then you know that's not good enough. Allow me to explain...

I was approached by Brigitte McQueen Shew back in July about my possible involvement with The Union, and soon after we discussed a few details regarding an exhibition opportunity with local artist Jeff King. For starters, I appreciated that Brigitte didn't come off as a car salesperson to me. She provided me details that involved the overall purpose of what's she's looking to accomplish with both the Union and the North Omaha community, and I couldn't be any happier to be a part of it all.

Also, she didn't hit me with the typical "this will be good exposure" or "this will look good on your resume" nonsense that I always get from other promoters and curators. I felt like she was genuinely here to help me.

Some time had passed before learning that I'd be collaborating with Jeff King, a man that I met during a local street art event last summer. After becoming an avid fan of his work and seeing how ridiculously skilled he was (in a lot of different forms, not just his graffiti style), I later realized I was tasked with a sort of indirect test; to not come off as a giddy high school girl going to her first Backstreet Boys/Boyz II Men concert whenever I come across other amazing talents. He was easily approachable and was simply down to earth whenever I spoke to him in public, and our week and a half long preparation for our exhibition made matters much easier to deal with, when we were finally able to go crazy in Wanda D. Ewing's gallery space.

Here's a quick sidebar...The Subconscious Element was, to me at least, about embracing those underlying things that make us into who we are, and in many cases, what we're able to become. You can find these "elements" in many different places, whether it'd be through your choice in music, what you're attracted to, what makes you feel determined or doubtful, etc...but whatever it is, it may not always be right there in your face for you to directly identify.

For me, I felt like there was something big I needed to prove with this exhibition; maybe it was to show others that I'm just as creatively sound as the other heavy hitters in the local art world, or that I could be easy to work with...or maybe it was to get over my resurfaced insecurities as a visual artist, or see how far I could go with such an opportunity before it failed. After spending the first few days of working in the gallery and speaking with Jeff, the confidence came back in such a way that helped me rid all this self doubt from my system...and I feel like I could finally identify what this subconscious element was.

I feel like the success of this exhibition came from not only my confidence as an artist, but by the faith that came from others...which I also feel is the entire point of this 3,000 page essay I'm writing. I learned quite a few aspects about Jeff's character, along with his viewpoint on what it means to be an artist, and I can truly say that he's an amazing person, both on and off the canvas (okay that was a little corny, I'm sorry. haha). But in truth, I believe that this all came from our faith, the freedom to do whatever we wanted, the confidence that we both had in each other, our willingness to understand each others personal standpoints...I'm sure I can go on and on, so I think it's time to wrap this up before I get all up in my feelings.

My Thanks //

To Jeff; you have my highest thanks and respect for allowing me to have the freedom to express myself in this exhibition. I don't know about you, but I felt like we really showed Omaha what's up that night. Not only do I feel like our styles mesh together very well, but I'd like to point out that you helped me further strengthen my confidence as a visual artist, also. I feel like I can do anything.

To Brigitte; I really appreciate the amount of faith you have for the North Omaha community, and I consider it to be an absolute blessing that you spent the time to reach out to me in regards to this exhibition. You are among the wisest people that I've ever met, and I absolutely enjoy listening to all of your advice. Also, I'd like to put this on record again and say that if there's anything else you need from me, I'd be down to lend my visual arts skills to you in a heartbeat!

To Paige Reitz and Josh Norton; you two are amazing, and have made this event beyond worthwhile. Thank you both so much for putting up with my gallery mess and tardiness with responses to all those emails! I really appreciate everything you've all done for us and the entire organization. Much love to you both!

And a big thanks to everyone that showed up to the opening ceremony! The energy was insane. Also, I need to send a big thanks to Kethro/Keith Rodger for coming out and DJing for the event!

That's it folks. Can't wait to show you all what else I have up my sleeve :)

-Reggie LeFlore

#RAL86

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