The Omaha Mural Project’s Fertile Ground is a collaborative effort made possible by the participation of a staggering array of organizations.
The Peter Kiewit Foundation
Fertile Ground is a gift from the Peter Kiewit Foundation to the City of Omaha. “We hope that this project will add new energy and visual impact to the rapidly growing NoDo area and contribute buzz about Omaha as a progressive city with an enviable quality of life,” said Peter Kiewit Foundation executive director Lyn Wallin Ziegenbein. “Peter Kiewit loved his hometown and he was especially committed to the vitality of downtown,” she continued. “We can think of no better place to present a project of this magnitude as a tribute to our community and citizens than in the heart of downtown Omaha.”
The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
As the area’s leader in managing public art programs, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts was selected to oversee The Omaha Mural Project’s Fertile Ground. From artist selection to managing all aspects of planning and execution, to ongoing responsibility for maintenance and “curating” the completed mural, the Bemis Center was the logical choice for such an important and ambitious effort.
The 70-foot tall, 328-foot long east wall of the NRG Energy building at 13th and Mike Fahey Streets is the canvas for Fertile Ground. “It almost never happens that someone comes to tell you that they want to enhance your property with no strings attached,” senior vice president Dan Markham explained. “And all we had to do was step back and allow them room to work so that our building could become the center of attention in a major civic project that will mean so much to the NoDo area and to the rest of Omaha. We are proud to be the home of Fertile Ground.”
Central to the science of Fertile Ground are the “lab coats” at Sherwin Williams. They lose sleep over issues like UV protection, corrosion resistance, color, and gloss retention and all-around weather durability.
Acting as a de-facto general contractor extraordinaire, Davis Erection has provided extensive project coordination services across a broad spectrum of disciplines to ensure that the full power of Omaha’s resources are brought to bear as Fertile Ground rises above 13th Street.
Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center
“With all the effort that goes into the planning of large murals, it’s really sad that many are crumbling only seven or 10 years later,” said Julie Reilly. The associate director and chief conservator of the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center aimed to change all that. Rescue Public Murals, an arm of the Washington D.C.-based national nonprofit Heritage Preservation, has made Fertile Ground a best practice focus for materials and techniques to ensure a longer life for America’s treasured murals. Reilly, who serves on the board of Heritage Preservation, and Fertile Ground artist Meg Saligman, who serves as an advisor with Rescue Public Murals, will bring to bear the formidable resources of the Ford Conservation Center in coordinating a strong local presence for regular paint testing, colorimeter readings and photography that will chronicle the making of Fertile Ground and the longevity of Saligman’s innovative materials and techniques.
Based in Washington D.C., the national nonprofit exists to save the objects that embody our history as a people. Partnering with conservators, museums, civic groups, and concerned individuals across the nation, Heritage Preservation represents the vanguard of conservation efforts to “freeze time.” Rescue Public Murals selected Fertile Ground as a best practices effort to benefit muralists worldwide in employing technologies that will extend the life of outdoor murals.
University of Delaware
The Winterthur / University of Delaware program in art conservation’s mural materials research team is another key ally in making Fertile Ground a best practices focus for muralists around the globe. They’ll test samples of all materials used in the project, including the special non-woven fabric that is the base “canvas” of the mural, and advise on the best protective coating for the project. Omaha’s own Laura Kubick is one of the University of Delaware graduate students involved in the science behind Fertile Ground.
Every moment of construction in Fertile Ground will be captured in video provided by Hawkeye Vision. “Our military and law enforcement clients have serious problems on their minds, so it’s been fun to work on this project because it is so different,” said Hawkeye Vision CEO Robert “Gus” Gustafson. “And it’s cool to use all this left brain technology in such a right brain project.”
ADDITIONAL PROJECT PARTNERS:
Baird Holm Law Firm
City of Omaha
Leo A Daly Company
Darden Gloeb Reeder
Douglas County Historical Society
John Lajba, Sculptor
Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority
NP Dodge Company
Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau
Omaha Public Power District
Oxide Design Company
River City Barricades
Union Pacific Corp