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Ree and Jun Kaneko

Ree and Jun Kaneko

Founding Board Members

Jun Kaneko was born in Nagoya, Japan, in 1942. He studied painting with Satoshi Ogawa during his adolescence — working in his studio during the day and attending high school in the evening. He came to the United States in 1963 to continue his studies at Chouinard Institute of Art when his introduction to Fred Marer drew him to sculptural ceramics. He proceeded to study with Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, and Jerry Rothman in California during the time now defined as the Contemporary Ceramics Movement in America.

The following decade, Jun taught at some of the nation’s leading art schools, including Scripps College, Rhode Island School of Design, and Cranbrook Academy of Art, before settling permanently in Omaha in 1986.

KANEKO was established in 1998 by Jun and his wife, Ree, whose extensive experience with the Omaha arts community, nonprofit administration, and collaboration have been an essential part of the organization’s development. Jun and Ree envisioned KANEKO as a gift to the community, a space that celebrates the creative spirit and explores and encourages creativity in all of its expressions in the arts, sciences, and philosophy.

After purchasing a string of buildings in the Old Market, Jun, with an artist’s eye, recognized potential in the brick and concrete warehouses and imagined a future for the structures that would contribute to the community and the country that had supported him.

Jun imagined an institution that would bring to Omaha creative people of all types — artists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, poets, and scientists — connecting an increasingly diverse and vibrant Omaha to the arts, culture, and sciences worldwide.

In 1998, Jun and Ree founded the nonprofit cultural organization, establishing an international Creative Board and a Board of Directors whose members voted to name the institution KANEKO.