In 2019, then-UNO student Alec Paul Johnsen surprised the city of Omaha following a restless night by secretly building 84 snowmen in Leavenworth Park.
For nearly nine hours – alone and in the dark – Paul Johnsen built snowman after snowman until he quit from exhaustion. Then, he colorfully dressed each snowman in red, blue and yellow dye and named them the "Love Army" and got the city talking - and even helping rebuild snowmen if they began to fall apart.
“I didn’t expect people to love them so much,” he said at the time.
Now, one year later, almost to the day of his impromtu public art project, Paul Johnsen has brought his Love Army back - this time lining Turner Park at Midtown Crossing and this time the army stands at 53 snowmen.
“Last year I was thinking about love when I was making them, and that’s why I came up with the name (Love Army),” he recently told the Omaha-World Herald. “Our love is not black or white or gray, our love is colorful.”
He explained that he wanted to create more, but access to the park and rapidly changing temperatures kept him from his goal of 100 snowmen. However, the returning Love Army - though smaller in number - continues to spread joy for those that have encountered them.
“The weather’s been so bad these last few days, we all needed a little smile,” local resident Jeanne Moore told the World-Herald. “They just looked so fun standing there in the sun.”
With snow as the medium, Paul said he thinks that makes the display even more intriguing as art because of how it's impacted by the elements. In essence, once the temperatures rise, the art vanishes - so those looking to catch a glance should do so soon.
“It’s made with a temporary material, so it’s only going to last a certain amount of time. You have to be here to see it. Then it’s gone."
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.