If you've ever walked along Douglas Street, just east of the Holland Performing Arts Center and taken a gander at a storefront on the north side of the street, you'd have noticed Julia Russell.
Well, not Julia herself.
Instead, you'd have seen the Omaha interior designer's storefront windows at the front of the historic Specht building, which are fancifully decorated.
Russell, a native of Chadron, Neb., has run her design business out of the downtown building for eight years. She decided to use those windows to feature work from local artists, letting them create whatever they wanted for display.
Most recently, Russell has been working with another Chadron native, Adrianne Watson. The two grew up four houses away from each other. They reconnected when Watson started posting images of her artwork on Facebook and then later had a show at the Mastercraft building in Omaha. Russell saw the show and liked what she saw, and asked Watson to collaborate.
“So far, I have given Adrianne free rein,” said Russell, whose shop is at 1110 Douglas St. “I had so many people stop in and ask questions about her first installation.”
In that display, one window had an intricate wedding dress in the center, surrounded by dangling pastel butterflies and a belt of gold hand grenades fastened around its waist. On the other side, a gold carousel horse with a feathery head sat atop a military vehicle adorned with flags and flowers. The whole installation sat inside a white paper boat edged with more flowers.
“It was so different from my style,” Russell said. “I loved it.”
Watson said the installation was inspired by the two parts of her life: growing up in rural Nebraska and learning about her Filipino heritage.
The horse and the boat came from her Filipino side, she said. The rest came from family photos and her imagination.
“They grow from those stories, and then become more fantastic than they are in reality,” she said.
In the next two weeks, Watson will install a new set of windows featuring her works on canvas.
Those two-dimensional mixed media works use photographs of Watson's family and people's vacation photos of the Philippines she found online. She digitally manipulates the photos and adds watercolor.
“I merge actual photos of my childhood with pop culture,” she said.