2017 Upstream Art – Lincoln
This unique and educational program utilized art to communicate the function and importance of storm drains. Area artists painted semi-permanent murals on storm drains with messages to protect the water and environment.
What was the UpStream Art – Lincoln Program?
The purpose of the UpStream Art - Lincoln Program was to draw attention to the usually discreet concrete and iron infrastructure with the hope that observers stop and think about where the water goes after it enters a storm drain. If residents understand that stormwater flows untreated to streams, rivers and lakes, they will be more conscious of potential pollutants that can enter those waterways and, in turn, change their behavior to minimize these risks.
There were 10 storm drains identified for the project that were part of an open call for artists. A committee selected designs from those submitted, with a goal of promoting the message that storm drains lead directly to local waterways. The committee looked for designs with water or water quality-related themes. Designs featuring native wildlife that live in or near the water and their habitat were encouraged but not required.
The storm drains were painted during the summer of 2017. The semi-permanent artwork lasted 1 to 3+ years before they were removed. Although most are no longer available, photos and artist bios can still be viewed below.
Jenna Raef “Pond Scene” Location: Sunken Gardens2641 “D” St.
About the Artist: Jenna Raef
Jenna Raef grew up in Lincoln, graduating from Southeast High School and the Arts and Humanities Focus Program in 2010. She studied English and Art at the University of Iowa, and moved back to Lincoln upon graduation. Today she teaches English as a second language and sells her art online through her store: Cats, Crafts, and Geekery. You can find her online at CatsCraftsAndGeekery.etsy.com or reach her at CatsCraftsAndGeekery@gmail.com or @CatsCraftsAndGeekery on Facebook.
Artwork Interpretation: “Pond Scene”
My idea for this project was to create a visual reminder of the kind of place that the water from these storm drains ends up. By transforming the surface of the concrete into the surface of a pond, and populating it with immediately recognizable wildlife, I hoped to forge a personal connection with the viewer, and make them think twice about what they allow to flow into storm drains.
Sally Cox “Clean Water Happy Dance” Location: Antelope Park1650 Memorial Dr.
About the Artist: Sally Cox
Sally Cox was born in Michigan, and has lived and worked in Lincoln for many years. She studied art at UNL and then attended Kansas City Art Institute, graduating with a BFA in Painting and Printmaking. Using calligraphy, illustration, printmaking, photography, and book arts, she explores her many interests and love of nature. She is a member of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Sally has worked with local artists, learning techniques such as stained glass and brick sculpting, and now works as a bookbinder. She and her husband, Timothy Kettler, live in Lincoln, with their two happy dogs. They have two (wonderful) adult sons.
Artwork Interpretation: “Clean Water Happy Dance”
The happy raccoon is to remind us that the wild creatures and their habitats depend on good quality water. He and the duck will appreciate Nebraska’s sparkling ponds and rivers. The Lincoln Watershed Management Division protects this important ecosystem. Like the hummingbird, the smallest individuals can do their part in helping the environment.
Abbey Ahmed “We Are All Interconnected” Location: Lincoln Children’s Zoo1222 S 27th St.
About the Artist: Abbey Ahmed
I am a graphic designer, web designer, artist, animal lover, and horse enthusiast. I started drawing horses at the age of two, which still remains to be my favorite subject matter. In the spring of 2015, I graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UNL and am currently employed with the university as a graphic/web designer in the School of Natural Resources. My primary focus at my job is to raise awareness to the public about One Health, which is the idea that the health of humans, plants, and animals is all connected. I help educate the public through designing outreach materials, attending outreach events, and creating a One Health resource portal website. I have also been designing heavily illustrative, veterinary health manuals for pastoralists in Tanzania who are unable to read. Drawing animals is what I love and I am so happy to get to do it for a living.
Learn more about this artist: http://abigailahmedarts.com
Artwork Interpretation: “We Are All Interconnected”
Fresh water is vital for the survival of every living being. Everything I chose to depict in this work depends on one another, starting with the water. Water provides life to wildflowers, pollinators, and animals. The water helps bring the plants to life, thus attracting butterflies, pollinators, and other insects. Pollinators play an important role in human food production, because they help with the pollination of crops, fruits, and nuts. Also, some small animals rely on insects and plants as their main source of food, which in return may be prey for larger animals. Without clean water, plants would not thrive, we may see a decrease in crop production due to the lack of pollinators, and our wildlife may face a shortage of food. Precautionary measures can be taken to help reduce the chance of these outcomes. One step to maintaining a healthy ecosystem is to make sure that the storm drains are free contaminates such as chemicals, trash, pet wastes, and other toxic substances. In conclusion, make sure only rain goes in the drain.
Grace Gaard “Wonder of a Wetland” Location: Lincoln Children’s Zoo1222 S 27th St.
About the Artist: Grace Gaard
Grace Gaard’s connection to nature escapes through her images of the iconic species and scenery of the Midwest where she has spent most of her life. She also loves creating detailed portrayals of living things and places far from where she has grown up. While working in the field of outdoor education is her top priority, she enjoys bringing landscapes and wildlife into focus with graphite, ink, oil pastel, watercolor and acrylic paints.
With very minimal teaching through high school art classes and a wide variety of themes and mediums, Grace’s self-taught artwork is unique and completely her own. She hopes that by painting and drawing these awe-inspiring spaces and species, those who see her work will feel more connected to the world around them, finding a desire to explore it for themselves and stand up for its preservation. If you would like to see more of Grace's work follow her on instagram @prairie_porch_paintings.Location: Lincoln Children’s Zoo - 1222 S 27th Street Admission payment is required to enter Lincoln Children's Zoo.
Artwork Interpretation: “Wonder of a Wetland”
This work is meant to open the eyes of all ages to see the beauty that is right here in Nebraska! All of these native species are directly connected to our waterways, which are intricately connected to the storm water drains throughout our cities. From the endangered Salt Creek Tiger Beetle to the proud Kingfisher and elegant Great Blue Heron, they all need our help in keeping the water we share clean!
Richel Jordan “What Goes Around, Comes Around” Location: West HaymarketCanopy St., South of “P” St.
About the Artist: Richel Jordan
I am a K-5 art education specialist at Hill Elementary School. I studied art education at the University of Nebraska -Lincoln. I grew up here in Lincoln so this city holds a lot of memories and love. I have always had a love for the arts and it is important to keep advocating for them at every chance. I hope to keep teaching art with the kids while creating my own artwork as well into the future.
Artwork Interpretation: “What Goes Around, Comes Around”
Everything in life is a continuous flow that is always changing. We need to do what we can to keep this process as pure as possible. What you do affects the world around you. Be mindful of what you consume and discard because what goes around, comes around. Putting things in the drain has a direct effect on the waterways around us. We need this fresh water, as well as many animals who call it home.
Joseph Humpal “It All Starts Here” Location: West HaymarketCanopy St., South of “P” St.
About the Artist: Joseph Humpal
My name is Joe Humpal. I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I currently work at an art studio which is also a vocational center for adults who receive services from RHD Nebraska. I was fortunate enough to have two individuals whom I work with at the studio join me on one of the days I worked on the painting. Their helped keep me on track for the deadline and they did a fantastic job. I hope to be involved in community art projects in the years to come.
Artwork Interpretation: “It All Starts Here”
This is basically a stylized version of the Lincoln NE border and the creeks and lakes that reside within it. It is supposed to illustrate the reality of what is at the other end of the storm drain and showcase just two of hundreds of animals that call those areas home.
Jeanie Krejci Sterns “Drainbow” Location: Lincoln Station201 N 7th St.
About the Artist: Jeanie Krejci Sterns
Jeanie Krejci Sterns received her degree in Fine Arts from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2004. She also studied art in NYC at Parson’s School of Design and abroad in Paris, France as part of a summer intensive study through Parson’s Paris School of Design. A classical training in photography, ceramics and painting led her to enjoy mixing the mediums together to create innovative and unexpected results. Jeanie is an artist in tireless pursuit of self-transformation with open eyes and an open heart. Her passion is painting and color.
Artwork Interpretation: “Drainbow”
I simplified my design down to the elements: rainbow, water, and sun. This simplicity reminds the viewer of purity; the pure conditions we would like our waterways to be. "Only Rain In the Drain" is a metaphor for life -- only allowing positive things into your heart makes a person happy and healthy. Guided by this simple, pure positivity, humans will in turn treat the earth well.
Mallory Williams “Nature's Colors” Location: Pinnacle Bank ArenaPinnacle Arena Dr. & “R” St.
About the Artist: Mallory Williams
My name is Mallory and I am a 24 year old artist. One thing I have always known was that art is my calling, it is my passion and I will seek any opportunity that I can to share what I can create with the world. Each piece of work that I do, I do with all my heart. And the best part about the art is seeing the reactions and happiness it can bring to those who view and receive it.
Artwork Interpretation: “Nature's Colors”
The colors in nature are what bring the beauty, and to keep the beauty in nature we must take care of it because in the end, it is all linked. Taking small steps and starting local will have rippling affects in our water and with our wildlife. To make a difference you must be the difference.
Isabella Catalano “Keep Our Rivers Clean” Location: Student UnionN 14th & “R” St.
About the Artist: Isabella Catalano
Isabella is a UNL student double-majoring in Psychology and Environmental Studies; as such, getting to paint in front of the Nebraska Union was a real treat. She also cares deeply about the environment, and bikes past a creek every day on her way to school--seeing lots of litter in the process. She hopes the Upstream Art murals will help inform the public on where the storm drains actually drain to, and thus work on keeping Lincoln's waterways clean.
Artwork Interpretation “Keep Our Rivers Clean”
The scene is based on Antelope Creek in the summer. The ducks take the centerpiece because they are often the most easy-to-spot inhabitants of the stream; getting to see a heron peeking out from the grasses is a rarer but no less exciting sight. Painting the various flora, however, was what actually took the most time.
Rosalia Roger “Splashing in Puddles” Location: Lincoln Children’s Museum1420 “P” St.
About the Artist: Rosalia Roger / Girl Scouts Troop 20811
Rosalia Roger is a Lincoln, Nebraska artist who moved to the area four years ago, from Los Angeles, California. She, along with her family, dedicate their lives to volunteer work throughout the community – including endless efforts with Girl Scouts. She regularly participates in her daughter’s troop activities and is the 2018 Chair of the artVenture Program that pairs local girls with local artists right here in Lincoln. Rosalia believes “giving children diverse opportunities to grow and learn in every way is important”. This includes participating in outdoor activities, arts, sciences, and making sure her kids know how valuable philanthropy is. Her civic duty is a priority and she has found a way to include that in all her outreach. For this project, her oldest daughter’s troop (20811) wanted to complete a community project that would benefit Lincoln. The girls were thrilled to be able to “leave their mark” on the town and worked together to create this concept.
Artwork Interpretation: “Splashing in Puddles”
The painting is a representation of the rain in Lincoln and as kids they love splashing in puddles and the rainbows made when the rain and sun come together at the right moment. In addition, the rain helps all living things grow, which is why there are flowers and grass. The water drops and soil helps people to have water for all their needs.
Related News Articles
- Artists reinforce message that storm drains lead directly to local waterways Journal Star (8/9/17)
- Murals on storm drains bring beauty, awareness to waterways Journal Star (7/24/17)
- Storm Drain Mural Project Under Way This Week (7/18/17)
- Artists Needed for Storm Drain Mural Project (5/19/17)
For More Information
Questions regarding the program may be directed to:
- Erin Kubicek
Art is in the eye of the beholder. Links to artist websites and/or social media pages are provided for informational purposes only. The content found on these websites and/or social media pages do not reflect the views of the City of Lincoln or its departments. The City of Lincoln has no control over the contents of any linked websites and/or social media pages and is not responsible for these sites or their content.