Omaha's newest art gallery is not what you might imagine. It is stopping traffic at North 14th Avenue and Emmet Street.
Watie White is a painter and two abandoned houses are his canvas. Habitat For Humanity has them slated for demolition, but in the meantime they are his to use.
“I conducted interviews with many of the neighbors, tracked down people who lived in the houses, we tracked down the police who were responsible to be called to these houses, we found personal items from these houses that were protected from the fire and out of all that I made 51 narrative paintings.”
Vinyl prints of those paintings occupy every window in the two houses and each one tells a story. “This is Margarita Fisher, Omaha's own star, a silent movie actress from the teens and twenties.”
“His name’s Anthony, he lives across the street. One of the first days I came up and started talking to people I talked to Anthony and he sent me over here to talk to you.” Neighbor Maybell Jones has a spot up high on one of the houses. "It is nice, a lot of people been coming over here looking at that.”
In a way this gives the houses a chance to say goodbye. "At the end of the cycle of these houses they become the holders of a lot of secrets, the holders of a lot of lives and it's interesting and entertaining to me to try to get them to tell those stories,” says White.
There will be a coffee and doughnut celebration at the site from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The houses are at 1468 and 1478 Emmet Street.