Carver Bank: A North Omaha Town Hall

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Omaha, NE
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 2, 2013


The Carver Bank facility includes 3,000-square-feet of exterior space. Since fall 2012, the project has been engaged in an exterior design/build process with architect Jeffrey L Day, principal of Min|Day, and his FACT design lab of University of Nebraska-Lincoln undergraduate architecture and landscape architecture students. The renovation is managed by the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.

The exterior transformation extends the interior concepts and notions developed from the practice of artist and cultural planner Theaster Gates. Through an intense understanding of the local vernacular and cultural dissonances, the exterior spatial plan uses native species in an organized plan, allowing a flux of known and unknown circumstances to take root. Within the planting plan of Carver Bank, the notion of “landscape” is understood to be a man-made construct. Landscape is understood to be a work in progress that becomes more complex over time.

This month we welcomed a new bur oak tree, fragrant sumac shrubs, grass seed and the installation of our second custom-built bench, the Z-bench.

Carver Bank exterior transformation, UNO Service Learning Academy volunteer day with Omaha North High School, October 2012. Courtesy of Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Theaster Gates/Rebuild Foundation.[/caption]

Theaster Gates and FACT students at Carver Bank. Courtesy of FACT.[/caption]

Carver Bank exterior, date unknown. Carver Bank exterior, date unknown.[/caption]

Recent Wins

- Could Bank Turned Art Studio Grow North Omaha Economy?
NET Nebraska recently featured Carver Bank in a radio/online story on the role of creatives in attracting businesses to North Omaha.
Listen here

- Hot Mouth is Torn! True Stories of Impossible Decisions
On July 12, Carver hosted its first storytelling event curated by Hot Mouth, a local, ever-changing collective of people gathering to tell and listen to true stories linked only by a single prompt. Stay tuned for an audio archive available for listeners next month!

Preston Love Jr., Hot Mouth is Torn! True Stories of Impossible Decisions at Carver Bank, June 12, 2013. Courtesy of Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and Theaster Gates/Rebuild Foundation.[/caption]

- Native Omaha Days
Every two years, Omaha’s African American and North Omaha community celebrates “Native Omaha Days.” Since 1976, the homecoming event has gathered residents who have left the community for other parts of the city or moved outside of Omaha. This year, Carver Bank is preparing to participate in the bi-annual parade and to host 2 events featuring live poetry and musical performances.


Idea transfer among cities and individuals is powerful. Carver Bank as a model is new to North Omaha, and it has benefited from lessons learned in Gates’s Chicago and St. Louis projects and case studies throughout the nation. Our hope is to model good cultural behavior to share audiences and marketing resources and create synergies that drive vibrancy in the re-emerging arts and cultural district. Efforts are focused on attracting new local and metro-wide audiences to the district and creating foot traffic between the community’s arts anchors.