Angie Lewis never considered herself an artist. When she first began dabbling with paint, she found herself overwhelmed by choices. After fretting over what paintbrush to use and what brand of paint to buy, she eventually gave up and stuffed her art supplies—and her creativity—in the back of her closet.
They remained there until one day, while visiting friends in Denver, Angie attended an "entertainment-style" art class. It had music, wine, and a casual "it's OK to mess up" vibe, and Angie knew she just had to bring the concept home with her to Nebraska. And thus The Corky Canvas was born, a place where friends and artists of all skill levels gather with paintbrushes in one hand, and wine glasses in the other. At two Corky Canvas locations, Angie and her team of instructors lead groups through nightly featured painting, private parties, team buildings, and more. Painters are always welcome to change the colors of their class's suggested design, or to even paint something new entirely, following the whims of their creative spirits.
Founded in 2003 by Derek and Rachelle Pasqualetto, Simply Ballroom gives students over 3,000 square feet of sprung wood floor space in which to learn practical dance skills that can be used to sweep job interviewers and Supreme Court justices off their feet. During two 40-minute private lessons (new clients get one complimentary lesson, $65 value for each additional), a professional dance instructor will introduce each customer to a wide range of dance styles—including the waltz, tango, cha cha, rumba, salsa, mambo, and end zone shuffle. By dancing with a knowledgeable human being rather than a complicated PowerPoint presentation, students are guaranteed to receive helpful pointers and attentive, one-on-one care. Once students settle on a style or two they like, they'll have a full month of unlimited group classes ($60 value) to fine-tune them with fellow dancers at their skill level—in the process receiving a core-strengthening workout, improving coordination, and developing a tolerance for centrifugal G-force that comes in handy during space travel. Finally, students will get to socialize and show off their fancified footwork during a two-hour practice party ($10 value) in a nightclub environment, where they can build confidence for real-life social dances, as well as enjoy an excuse to wear sequined cape skirts and ruffled pirate shirts outside of their shift at the DMV.
Though it's usually closed to the public during December, the Renaissance Mansion will be throwing open its French doors and this Groupon is good on certain days throughout December and January, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a festive holiday-themed buffet (see the fine print for blackout dates). The menu changes each day, but a spread of five salads, four entrees, two potato dishes, and a dessert will fuel any impromptu eating contests with overly boastful Supreme Court justices. Once you've washed it all down with water, or hot cider (soft , the sprawling estate is yours to explore. As you wander beneath the beamed ceilings, waltz across the formal dining room, and melodramatically throw snifters of brandy into any of the various fireplaces, you'll pass 13 magnificently decorated Christmas trees whose colorful lights glint off the surrounding mahogany wood, Tiffany glass, and silver chandeliers. Renaissance Mansion can also set up parties of 14 or more in a private dining area so that no one on your Viking longboat feels left out.
The light from 10 plasma-screen televisions illuminates the autographed NBA jerseys covering the walls of Blue Jay Bar and Grill. A spacious outdoor deck juts out into the summer air, overlooking a bustling volleyball court and the Creighton University campus, as servers dole out five different Nebraska-brewed beers from a tap. A menu of pizza, wings, and libations sustains patrons as they flit from one room or activity to the next, clutching pints or buckling down to feast on two-for-one burgers.
When Joslyn Art Museum opened in 1931, more than 25,000 people lined up to see the exhibits. It had taken three years of construction and $3 million to create the splendid art-deco building, which was inlaid with more than 38 types of marble imported from around the world. The force behind this enormous effort was philanthropist Sarah Joslyn, who had the building built in honor of her late husband. But instead of standing front and center, Sarah quietly mixed in with the crowd. "I am just one of the public," she said to people who recognized her.
Sarah truly viewed the museum as a gift to the people of Omaha. With the 58,000-square-foot addition of the Walter & Suzanne Scott Pavilion, a sculpture garden, and other enhancements, the museum has grown with time. Visitors today find more than 11,000 works of art inside, with collections and exhibitions that include pieces of ancient Greek pottery, Renaissance and Baroque paintings by Titian and El Greco, and Impressionist works by Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Claude Monet.
After admiring the peasant portraiture of 19th-century French realist Jules Breton, guests can cartwheel over to a collection of 18th- and 19th-century American artwork, which includes portraits by James Peale and landscape images by Thomas Cole. Pieces from the 20th century from artists such as Grant Wood transition visitors into viewings of more contemporary works or attempts to find a 3-D Magic Eye picture in Jackson Pollock's Galaxy.
As the only professional dance company of its kind in the region, Ballet Nebraska takes its mission to entertain and educate seriously. The company performs seasons of classic works and new favorites, pirouetting through The Nutcracker and mixed-repertory programs at area theaters and on tour. But the ballet's greatest contribution to the community might be its education and outreach programs. The artists frequently perform at charity benefits, stage productions for students, and hold workshops on storytelling through movement at local libraries, where silent storytelling is a must.