Main Street Studio: An Art Gallery with History

Main Street Studios & Art Gallery is located in the heart of downtown Elkhorn, at 2610 North Main Street. It’s not just a place to view artwork—local artists work in the gallery, explain their process to visitors, and display their work for sale. “We really do have something like an artist co-op,” says owner and operator Tyler Curnes. “I love the concept of Hot Shops in downtown Omaha, but we didn’t really have anything like that in Elkhorn.” Tyler began seeking local artists who had the passion to come into the gallery every day to work and to give visitors an idea of the artistic process.

The building’s history is as eclectic as its current occupants. It was built in 1915 as a livery stable along the railroad. “In the 1920s, it was the very first Chevrolet dealership for Nebraska,” Tyler shares. The dealership went under during the Great Depression, so the building was sold to another family. “They had a mechanic’s garage for cars and two pumps outside, so they turned it into Elkhorn Propane and Oil Company.”

The building stood empty for four decades until Tyler bought and remodeled it in October 2014. The gallery is now a stunning celebration of its own history. A garage door sports multiple windows from the days of being a car dealership and garage, while massive wooden beams and high ceilings remain from its days as a livery stable. Even the cement floors pay homage to the building’s history as a Chevrolet dealership.

All of the art in the gallery is made in-house by five unique artists with unique talents. Tyler works

with glass. He discovered his interest in glass-blowing when he spent a summer in Europe during college and met a glass-blower there. Working with glass takes extreme patience, he explains, because of the amount of time it takes to heat and cool. One piece, in fact, had to stay in the kiln for an astonishing 560 hours at 900 degrees!

David Biehl, a sculptor who creates all his bronzes in-house, was a veterinarian for 40 years. Currently, he is working on a life-sized statue of Miguel Keith, an 18-year-old soldier who was killed in Vietnam after saving his entire platoon. After approximately 300 hours of work, the statue will be erected in South Omaha, where Miguel grew up.

David has a passion for history and loves the stories behind each piece he creates. He also wrote a historical account about a bronze he did of the Martin brothers, one of his favorite stories to tell. While running from Native Americans on horseback, he says, “these two boys got hit with four arrows. One of the arrows hit one boy on the back and stuck into his brother’s back and pinned the two of them together. They both lived.”

Artist Levent Oz, otherwise known as “The Silver of Oz,” has been working with silver and gold for over 30 years. Growing up working in an antique store, he began working with vintage jewelry in his youth and enjoyed making his own pieces from silver and gold. From hand-wrapped arrowheads to custom pieces, Levent provides an “unusual place for unusual jewelry” for those looking to expand their collections of custom jewelry. In fact, Tyler’s mother had purchased Levent’s jewelry in the past. When Tyler established Main Street Studios, he immediately called Levent to join the group.

Ashley Spitsnogle is the newest artist to join Main Street Studios. She specializes in oil painting. She loves using local themes, and she paints a live bovine subject every year at the Cattlemen’s Ball. Ashley produces pieces of art that commemorate important moments in Husker history and is licensed to do so by the Huskers. She also does commissions, does live painting for up to four hours at a time, and creates hand-painted wine glasses that are perfect for gift-giving. When asked about her chosen medium, Ashley says, “I like oil, but it takes forever,” referring to the amount of time a painter must wait for a piece to dry. A canvas must sit for days before she can even go back to make corrections or changes, and it takes more than a week for a finished piece to dry.

Jane Kathol completes the group of five at Main Street Studios and has known Tyler for over 20 years. Jane is an art teacher in the Elkhorn schools, and she comes to work in the studio every afternoon. Jane creates Jackson Pollock–inspired acrylic abstracts that constantly grab the attention of visitors. A great portion of her work also features colorful florals and elaborate skylines—she loves the Nebraska plain.

For more information about Main Street Studios & Art Gallery, drop by downtown Elkhorn or call 402-452-3088. You can find them online at mainstreetstudios2610.com.

Written for Women’s Edition Omaha: https://www.womensedition.com/omahaoutandabout

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