15:37 PM

Sellmeyer Makes Move to Hot Shops

Kim Sellmeyer, the engine behind the Greater Omaha Chamber’s We Don’t Coast campaign, has always kept her own wheels moving, including leading the Omaha chapter of CreativeMornings. After almost 14 years as Creative Director for the Chamber, Sellmeyer, a 2001 graduate of Bellevue University, has been named Executive Director for Hot Shops Art Center. Located in downtown Omaha, Hot Shops consists of four anchor studios and hosts over 80 artists.

In her new role, she’ll continue to host the monthly CreativeMornings meetings, while taking on the responsibilities of her new job.

What will some of your responsibilities be as Executive Director for Hot Shops Art Foundation? What are you most looking forward to with this new role?

As the Executive Director, I am responsible for launching and leading the Foundation. I oversee all aspects of the organization, developing strategic plans and budgets, and ensuring that we are meeting goals.

I still get to do marketing and design – so my degree from Bellevue University is still being put to good use!

I am most excited about expanding our arts-focused education. Schools are frequently forced to cut arts education from their curriculum due to budget constraints. However, we all know how critical innovation and creative thinking are to success. The 3-D printer is an amazing invention – but without an idea to program into it – it is just a really expensive door stop. Technology changes so fast. If our children can’t think creatively and adapt quickly, they will be left behind.

The Hot Shops is the “living piece” of the historical museums. You can bring a third grade class to see the finished art and read the plaque describing the piece there. But imagine what happens when you bring that same third grade class in to see the artist-at-work, to hear directly from them about their ideas, processes and tools and to have a hands-on experience. That child’s imagination expands, and they begin to think about the possibilities and opportunities for them to create new things and solve new problems.

Some of our greatest successes include: • Providing healing arts classes to patients experiencing serious illness during some of the most stressful times in their life • Teaching painting to a group of handicapped individuals where one participant was so moved by seeing his finished painting, he spoke his first word in over 10 years. • Watching a child create his own clay creation and suddenly understand that this act of making involved math, science and communication skills • Helping the business leaders understand that the creative process is just as important to the growth, stability and success of their business as the rest of their operations • Helping kids in poverty understand that every problem has a creative solution

Those successes are in the lives we’ve touched – I can’t wait to grow more opportunities like these.

What prompted you to make the move after almost 14 years with the Greater Omaha Chamber?

Leaving the Chamber was a difficult decision. They are an incredible organization doing many things for our region. I was able to do some very creative, impactful things for our community in my time there. But, my relationship and love for the Hot Shops actually goes back further than my time at the Chamber. My first design job was with Methodist Health System. I ran a program called Express Yourself Through the Arts for 10 years, helping to teach art therapy classes to cancer and other seriously ill patients. Tim Barry, Hot Shops co-founder and managing partner, was a key connection to help me find artist-educators, and when the Hot Shops Art Center was born, many of our classes were held in the building.

Tim and I have maintained a relationship ever since. He had grown into a loveable, yet nagging mentor, “Kim, what are you going to be when you grow up? I think you’ve done everything you were meant to do at the Chamber. Are you thinking about your future? What’s next?”

It took a couple of beers at The Session Room for us to both come clean about challenges we were each having and what the future might look like. But the discussion ended something a little like:

Me, “I’ve always dreamed of being at the Hot Shops.” Tim, “I know, because you belong at the Hot Shops.”

What are some of the accomplishments at the Chamber of which you are most proud?

I will cherish my time at the Chamber. My proudest accomplishments were capitalizing on the Omaha! Omaha! phenomenon when the Broncos made it to the Super Bowl. Also, leading the process of building the Omaha regional brand – We Don’t Coast. While I love what was created and how it has become a rally cry and movement for Omaha – what will always be the most important piece of that is how 16 creatives from 15 different agencies decided to toss out the traditional brand building process and work together in a first of its kind collaboration. It was such an amazing experience; we didn’t want it to end and wished we could share it with others. (That’s what we now call the ‘no coasting’ spirit kicking in, stop wishing, don’t settle, DO something.) So, I rallied more creatives to help Omaha apply for a CreativeMornings chapter. This global organization has more than 200 chapters worldwide. They help cities connect and grow their local creative talent in an environment that is welcoming and inclusive. Our Omaha chapter has monthly breakfast lectures featuring local talent and we work to find opportunities to collaborate, hire and support each other’s projects.

I still serve as the host of CreativeMornings/Omaha and with my new role at Hot Shops we are working to offer a CreativeMornings residency program. This program will provide space and access to materials for our Chapter organizers, attendees and visitors from other CreativeMornings communities from around the world to work while they are visiting Omaha.

What do you love about Omaha?

Omaha’s creative potential is just getting started. We have an incredible arts and culture scene that is growing and a network of supportive individuals helping each other succeed at their craft. World-class theaters, a professional ballet and opera, an art scene that includes the Bemis Center, the Union, Kaneko, Joslyn and more.

And, at the Hot Shops Art Center, we are excited to lay to groundwork for our next 20 years of creative impact that elevates individuals and this community!