Baright Gallery Exhibits

Alex Wiles gallery opening


Current Exhibit

Nebraska’s Deep Roots (2023)

(Exhibit dates: April 2023 to Dec. 2024)

About the Exhibit: In 1823, a trading post was constructed on the banks of the Missouri River, located within the boundaries of present-day Fontenelle Forest. The trading post became an important connection between the major fur trade center in St. Louis and the fur trappers who lived in the Rocky Mountains. This exhibit tells that story.

Fontenelle Forest is celebrating the 200-year anniversary of the Fontenelle Trading Post, with a history exhibit located in the Baright Gallery. We are excited to bring you this new experience, which tells the story of how the Fontenelle Trading Post came to be and what a trading post during the 1800’s may have looked like.

Learn More



Past exhibits

100 Years of Fontenelle Forest through the Eyes of the Artist (2021)

About the Exhibit:  In 1920, Fontenelle Forest made its first land purchase of approximately 360 acres. By 2021, the Forest had grown to over 2,100 acres. This exhibit shared the rich history of Fontenelle Forest land, through the unique view of the artist. 

Thank you to all of the artists featured in this exhibit, for graciously sharing the beauty of Fontenelle Forest as seen through your eyes. Special acknowledgment to Catherine Kuper, Fontenelle Forest archive volunteer, whose hard work, dedication, and vision brought this exhibit to life.



“Community” Artworks of the Fontenelle Forest Community (2020)

  • About the Artists: Community is a non-juried, salon-style exhibit that celebrates the creativity of local artists, members, neighbors, staff, volunteers and friends. This show is a portrait of a vibrant, diverse, and multifaceted ecosystem of makers featuring artists of any age and working in any medium, style theme or concept.

“Forest of Fibres” by Agneta Gaines (2020)

  • Agneta is a Swedish-born fiber artist who resides in Omaha.
  • About the Artist: “I was born in Sweden, raised in Stockholm, and came to America when I was 20.  I’ve spent most of my American life in Omaha and Lincoln.  My educational background is Swedish – majoring in languages. I belong to numerous local and national fiber groups and have participated in many local art shows throughout the years. I am a member of the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery in the Old Market and share a studio with another fiber artist at the Hot Shops Art Center in downtown Omaha. My work seems to be linked to my Swedish background – lots of “surface interest” with the use of old-fashioned techniques and Swedish fibers, either purchased in Sweden or in U.S.A. I like to work with natural fibers and to be open to unusual materials and unexpected treatments – many with botanical themes.” – Agneta Gaines

“Natural Exposure” by Fontenelle Forest Photo Club (2019)

  • Members of the Fontenelle Forest Photography Club displayed some of their award-winning nature photographs.
  • About the Artists: The Fontenelle Forest Photography Club is dedicated to the pursuit of photography and friendship with like-minded people from the Omaha metro area. Our membership includes photographers of all levels, from beginner to advanced.

“World’s Apart” by Barber (2019)

  • “Worlds Apart are visual works of art speaking to my experience in Omaha, particularly North Omaha. There is no better place to juxtapose these experiences than with the beautiful nature found at Neale Woods” -Barber
  • About the Artist: Barber is an interdisciplinary artist with a focus on painting and performance art. Born in Detroit and graduating cum laude from the University of Iowa’s MFA program, Barber was invited to move to Omaha to become a fellow with the Union for Contemporary Arts. “In 2004 I broke free from conventional figurative painting into abstracted figures to address the fluidity of personhood and to bypass race and gender,” says Barber. “All that the figure represents including stereotypes or whether there is a commonality depends on the viewer.” Earlier this Spring, Barber moved his studio into the Neale Woods nature Center, owned and managed by Fontenelle Forest. As the building has been vacant Barber and Fontenelle Forest executive Director Merica Whitehall saw an opportunity to use the empty space as a large artist’s studio, with views into North Omaha, into the prairie and over the River for inspiration.
view Barber’s website and artwork here


“Strengthening the Circle: Revitalizing Ancestral Teachings” by Steve Tamayo, Paul High Horse, Donel Keeler (2019)

  • This exhibit celebrates the contemporary and modern artwork of three First Nations artists, Steven Tamayo, Donel Keeler, and Paul High Horse. All of their work seeks to revitalize current and future generations in ancestral teachings of indigenous people using different mediums, color palettes, and traditions from different Plains tribes.
  • About the Artists:
    • Steve Tamayo learned the traditional arts under Howard Wolf. Currently, he leads study and service groups on the Reservation and travels to museums and colleges throughout the country, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the Native American where his most recent work is centered on traditional Native games and toys.
    • Paul High Horse is a member of the Sicangu (Sičháŋǧu) Lakota tribe. Son of a Lakota father and Italian mother, Paul was born in New Jersey; however, at the age of three, his parents moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota so Paul and his siblings could be immersed in their native culture. He lived on the reservation until he left to attend college at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Paul’s artistic philosophy incorporates a modern approach to communicate a rich historical context of the Lakota people. His art captures the symbols, traditions, and values inherent to the Lakota tribe. His work also explores different media including acrylics, archival pens, watercolor, and ledger paper.  Paul currently teaches 7-12th grade art at Fort Calhoun Community School in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, but resides in Council Bluffs, Iowa with his wife and three children.
    • Donel Keeler is an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Tribe of South Dakota with Northern Ponca of Nebraska ancestry. He started drawing at a young age after watching his grandfather draw. “He was and remains my best inspiration into the world of art,” Donel said. He has won prizes regionally in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and the Red Cloud Art Show in South Dakota and displayed in shows at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s Morrill Hall as well as Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. His work has been purchased by private collectors and was chosen for the Native American Cultural Awareness and History Nebraska License Plate. “It is a life I love,” he said.


“Nebraska Phase People through the Work

 of Robert Gilder” (2018)

  • How did people survive and thrive in the Forest nearly 1,000 years ago? This is a first-of-its kind exhibit set to answer that question through artifacts unearthed at Fontenelle Forest nearly 100 year ago, unseen by the public until now. Local archaeologist and artist Robert F. Gilder conducted digs on what is now Fontenelle Forest property, discovering artworks, tools, and homes.A series of unearthed artifacts that are at least a century old are on display at Fontenelle Forest. With support from Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Fontenelle was able to host seven expert lectures on subjects like “The Daily Life of the Nebraska Phase People,” “Symbology, Artwork, and Creation in the Lakota Tradition” and “The Archaeological Work and Legacy of Robert Gilder.” Visitors can also take guided or self-guided hikes along the area’s trails, which follow alongside the house depressions that the Nebraska Phase people left behind, as explored by Gilder (via Nebraska Archeology).
  • About the Archeologist: Gilder’s early career was as a printer for several Omaha newspapers but after his retirement in 1919 he devoted his full attention to painting and archaeology. His findings were published in journals from Harvard to Yale. He later served as chief archaeologist of the University of Nebraska Museum.

“Legacy of Nebraska” by Todd A. Williams (2018)

  • Fontenelle Forest showcased a curated mini-showing of the vast “Legacy of Nebraska” exhibit. Fontenelle Forest was the last stop of
    this Nebraska 150-year anniversary exhibit. The exhibit heralded the nostalgia and history of Nebraska. Internationally recognized artist and Nebraska native, Todd Williams’s mission was to depict significant historic, geographic, and figurative elements from each of the 93 counties. He has worked with historians, sponsors, and leaders in each county to help him determine significant subjects.
  • About the Artist: Born in the small farming community of Central City, Nebraska, Williams has always been aware of the natural beauty of the world around him, an awareness that he continues to cultivate today through the art of painting.Todd was eager from an early age to pursue art. At a time when most of us leave our crayons behind, he was being accepted and encouraged by his classmates as an artist. After studying painting and illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute, he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Williams went on to be an in-house Senior Artist/Designer for Hallmark Cards and DaySpring Cards for the next ten years. Today, he excels in his ability to paint all subject matter using spontaneous brushwork and creative virtuosity. Most of the time he can be found painting en plein air. Through this discipline he has found his own recognizable voice, which is now becoming his signature style. (via Todd A. Williams Fine Art).
view Todd ‘s Website and artwork here


“Floodplain: A Clear View of Life in the Big Muddy”

 by Alex Wiles (2018)

  • To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, photographer Alex Wiles displayed the animals living in and sustained by the Missouri River, in clear view, which is often obstructed by the river’s muddy water. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act aims to protect certain rivers in the United States with ecological, cultural, and recreational value. The National System currently protects over 12,734 miles of river, including 98 miles of protection for the Missouri River. Following its premier, the exhibit traveled to other nature centers and museums along the Missouri River, inspiring people to care for this intricate source of life.
  • “My original concept for Floodplain originated at Fontenelle Forest’s own wetlands. For the past four years I have been following and photographing a population of American toads that reside there, and during this time I came to appreciate the overwhelming biodiversity hidden away under its water. As a photographer, it quickly became apparent that the water clarity in Nebraska was not necessarily conducive to photographing the species that live in it. Thus came about the idea of using a white background to provide a glimpse into the world of the Missouri River floodplain. This technique, known as high-key photography, has been around for a long time, and it has been heavily utilized for scientific purposes. It was my goal to take this method and produce something artistic and beautiful, giving due recognition to the charismatic aquatic life that people rarely see. ” -Alex Wiles
  • About the Artist: Alex Wiles is a conservation photographer, presenter, and environmental educator based out of Omaha, Nebraska. His interest in conservation initiatives takes him around the world where he documents the challenges faced by wildlife and the work of those who wish to protect it.


“Paying Attention is a Form of Prayer” by Watie White (2017)

  • Watie White Studio in conjunction with Fontenelle installed “Paying attention is a form of prayer” along the boardwalk of the Forest. Bringing together six of Nebraska’s best living poets, 19 excerpts from curated poems were carved into fallen, decomposing logs, each referencing our human relationship with nature and the forest. These messages hidden in the woods have been left to blend back into their natural surroundings, leaving them as poetic thoughts to be sought out and found. The natural world has always been an intimate part of artistic and poetic exploration. In our current fast paced and increasingly digital world, areas like Fontenelle Forest provide a vital transition between city life and the pace and character of the undisturbed hills and glens of the Forest. Represented poets are Devel Crisp, Twyla Hansen, Sarah McKinstry-Brown, Matt Mason, Todd Robinson, and Felicia Webster.
  • About the Artist: White was born in 1971 to a family of Itinerant cultural Anthropologists in Palo Alto, CA.  Eventually settling in rural Southern Illinois, he worked at the family business, Ancient Lifeways Institute until attending Carleton College (BA, 1993). Degrees followed at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA, 1999) and American University (MFA, 2003).Working as a painter, printmaker and public artist, he has been based in Omaha since 2006. White’s work has been shown nationally and internationally including at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, Ark), Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis, MN) and Telfair Museums (Savannah, GA), Dixon Gallery and Gardens (Memphis, TN), (Frist Center for the Arts (Nashville, TN), the Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC) and Joslyn Art Museum, (Omaha, NE). His site-specific social practice has led to large-scale public art projects with area nonprofits: Habitat For Humanity-Omaha, InCOMMON Community Development, Justice For Our Neighbors-NE, Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance and Omaha Public Schools. White have been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the Puffin Foundation, Nebraska Arts Council, Humanities Nebraska, and the Mid-America Arts Alliance.
view watie’s website and artwork here


“Natural Wanderment” by Matika Wilbur (2017)

  • This exhibit is a combination of pigment/hand painted silver gelatin prints which is part of the larger Project 562. Directed by Matika Wilbur, Project 562 is a seven-year photography project documenting Native America and all 562 federally recognized tribes in the US. It is dedicated to addressing the stereotypes surrounding Indian Country. By exposing the tenacity and richness of contemporary Native life, Project 562 will educate beyond the stereotypical 19th century image, encouraging a global shift in the consciousness toward Native Americans.
  • About the Artist: Wilbur is a portrait photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes who graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. She has worked as a teacher and international journalist, but Project 562 has been her focus for the past five years. She’s shot about 8,000 rolls of film and visited 450 tribes. The work keeps growing. A few more tribes have been federally recognized, and her project has expanded to include state-recognized tribes and urban Indian centers. Interviews, films, blog posts, poems and other media accompany the images in her archive (via Omaha World Herald).

Watch matika’s Ted Talk here

“Confluences” by Bart Vargas (2017)

  • The exhibit includes both paintings and sculptural works and will be on display through the end of June. Vargas’ work uses repetition and salvaged materials to  create pieces of art that are both playful and thought provoking. “Confluences” is a small survey of recent sculptures and paintings by Bart Vargas completed in the last few years. Representing several diverse bodies of work, each object contains underlying elements of commonality, or Confluences that run throughout Vargas’ practice. “Aspects of salvage, collection and repetition run through all my works. I recover local materials deemed unwanted or useless, including trash, recyclables and surplus items and then transform them into playful, approachable and thought-provoking objects. I want my creations to act as artifacts and evidence of the early 21st century, an era of limited resources and extraordinary consumption and waste,” Vargas explains.
  • About the Artist: Bart Vargas is originally from Bellevue, Nebraska. He received his BFA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his MFA at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He has exhibited throughout the world, most recently in the exhibitions Concept Winter 2016 at the Czong Institute of Contemporary Art in Gimpo, South Korea, Maíz at the Museo de Filatelia in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Kolkata International Art Exhibition at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre’ in Kolkata, India. Previous to this, Vargas has exhibited in the Fourth International “From Waste To Art” Exhibition (2015) in Baku, Azerbaijan, the 2012 Santorini Bienniale for the Arts in Santorini, Greece, and the 2010 Beijing International Art Biennial at the National Art Museum of China. His work can be found in many collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia; and has also been featured in many publications including Sculpture Magazine, New American Paintings, and HGTV Magazine.
view bart’s website and artwork here

“Whispering in Color” by Yeggy Michael (2017)

  • “Whispering in Color” is full of colorful artworks examine the importance of the natural environment in our daily lives. “We leave our imprint on the environment every second and it is evident the intersection between Nature, animals and human health are clear” Michael says. “This relationship, or lack of it, negatively touches the lives of every human-being. We are not fundamentally separate from nature or it’s ability to heal our physical and spiritual being. The forest, rivers, animals and nature in general are interwoven closely in all aspects of our lives. Whispering in Color explores and examines the integral beauty of nature, its aesthetic and depicts the functional relationship between humans and nature.”
  • About the Artist: Yeggy Michael was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from Eritrean parents. He studied art at the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts and has held more than 150 exhibitions in Africa, Europe and North America.  His mediums include painting, mosaic, sculpture, and mural paintings (via Omaha World Herald).
    View Yeggy’s website and artwork here

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