402 Arts Collective offers artistic opportunities to locals


Will Patterson

The 402 Arts Collective provides art enthusiasts of Omaha a chance to learn, practice and display their craft. The endeavors of this quaint place are diverse and plentiful.

The space is located in the heart of the Omaha’s Benson district. The first floor houses the Aromas Coffeehouse. These two groups operate in tandem, giving community members a place to relax and enjoy art.

A key component of the establishment is its gallery. This gallery, which shares hours with Aromas Coffeehouse, gives local artists a chance to display and potentially sell some of their artwork.

402’s gallery is unique in the sense that it maintains high traffic throughout the week. With heavy foot traffic being brought in by Aromas Coffeehouse, artists are given a real opportunity to be seen in the competitive world of galleries. This makes the gallery stand out, said Sydney Chase, the community engagement coordinator for 402 Arts Collective.

The collective takes 25 percent of sales money and gives 75 percent to artists. If an artist doesn’t sell any work, they don’t have to pay anything for the gallery time.

“It’s all, for the most part, local artists,” Chase said. “We have some people coming from Kansas City that will up here.”

Benson First Fridays play a big role in most Benson establishments, and 402 Arts Collective is no exception. On the first Friday of each month the 402 Arts Collective hosts an event that invites community members to participate.

In addition to hosting First Friday events, the 402 also uses this day to debut the new month’s gallery collection. Artists have this time to mingle with fellow art enthusiasts and potential buyers.

Education is another service available at the 402 Arts Collective. Private and group lessons are available for a variety of arts including music, dance and visual arts.

“The really cool thing about the 402 is one-on-one instruction.” Chase said, “You can really build the lesson around that specific student.”

Recitals are incorporated into the learning experiences of the 402 Arts Collective. Visual art students can have their art displayed in the gallery, while musicians get a chance to play for audiences at the gallery.

Each week the 402 hosts an open mic event starting at 7 p.m. that runs until 9:30 p.m. During this time artists of all times are allotted time to take the stage and show a crowd what they can do. Performances range from playing instruments to spoken word.

“It’s kind of this atmosphere that’s very friendly and open,” Chase said. “It’s a great place to meet new people who are like minded if you’re artistic or musically inclined.”

Sign up begins at 6:30 p.m. before the show and is first come, first serve. Performers at all levels of experience are encouraged to participate and watch.

Those interested in having art displayed at the 402 Arts Collective are encouraged to contact the gallery. Information regarding gallery space and availability can be found through contacts on the collective’s website.