Anna Alcalde

During a recent vacation, Anna Alcalde posed with one of the "rooster" community art project creations colorfully displayed in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida.

Anna owns Urban Legends Art Studio and is marketing coordinator for Sartor Hamann Jewelers. She has received numerous art awards, including Business of the Year from Nebraska Girl Scouts. On May 9, she will receive a Mayor’s Arts Award.

Other local community activities include:

• Girl Scouts teacher and speaker;

• Memory care art therapy class teacher;

• CHI art instructor for middle schools in Second Step Program;

• Autism Family Network art class teacher;

• Face painter for events;

• Starry Nights tree designer for People’s City Mission;

• Art activities with Matt Talbot Kitchen;

• SmART talks – positive speaking while creating art;

• Previous board member for Hildegard Center for the Arts and Lux Center for the Arts.


Who has inspired you?

My wonderful, faith-filled, talented graphic art instructor, Allena Lewis. As I suffered through working full time while pursuing a commercial art degree, she consoled me that grades were not as important as “owning the knowledge in your heart and soul.” Through her help, I was the first to be hired as a graphic artist while still in school and won a scholarship. She encouraged each student in this select program to do their individual best. She truly cared for each of us. She told me that someday I would own my own business. I believed her. I think of her every time I stand in front of a classroom and speak. What would Allena do/say?

Also, my father, Harry Stewart. My dad was a deputy for 34 years. He led by example, treating the custodian with the same respect as the CEO. Many people still admire my dad and his strong work ethic even to this day. Sadly, he has dementia now, but he still has a servant’s heart.

Whom do you hope to inspire?

I believe that every day offers 24 hours to make an inspirational difference in someone’s/anyone’s life. I truly believe that “actions speak louder than words.” I pray that my children are watching and become inspired to help others and follow their dreams. I hope the very young and the very elderly and all those I teach art to each day are inspired to keep creating beautiful things, whether it be art, a hand of friendship or kindness to a stranger.

What does leadership mean to you?

I am a leader today because someone anonymous saw something promising in me as a seventh-grader at Culler Middle School and gave me a scholarship to Red Cross Leadership Camp. It changed my course in life. I saw that everyone could learn to be a leader in one area or another. I worked hard and earned my way up from camper to camp counselor to camp staff into college.

I am an “underdog advocate” to a fault. We should all stand up for those who cannot. A leader is someone with great responsibility and insight to look beyond oneself for the greater good of the team. Highlight other’s talents. We should teach the generation following us by sharing our secrets and delegating so they may become part of the team. Our youth should anticipate with hope taking over the future. A good leader leads by example.

What is your favorite quote or motto?

If you would ask my youngest daughter … I have many favorite lecture quotes.

I feel drawn to many of Mother Teresa’s quotes. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

And also by MT: “If you can’t find a good leader … be one.”

I always tell my middle school students this adaptive quote:

“ A million years from now, no one will remember how much money you had, or what name brand clothes you wore, or how much your sneakers cost … but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

How would you describe a great day at work?

A piece of advice I share with my middle school students if the pressure of “future careers” comes up is, “If you cannot find a job that makes you excited each day, perhaps YOU haven’t invented it yet!”

I took my own advice. I followed my burning need to create and teach art and forged a life of it. I am NOT an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. person, so I needed a flexible schedule. Now I am blessed with two wonderful careers that I look forward to each day. I create advertising, promotions and jewelry designs at my marketing/sales/design position at Sartor Hamann, which I have held for 20 years. The Hamann family has been very generous in utilizing my time and supporting my artwork. For eight years, I also have owned Urban Legends Art Studio with two understanding partners. I enjoy going offsite to work with memory care facilities and middle school students through the CHI Foundation. I also teach private art lessons to children at the studio, plus we have private art parties. I love meeting all types of people and challenging myself daily. I’ve been very blessed that this combination has also allowed me to be present with my family and adorable grandson.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and who gave it to you?

“It’s better to be respected than to be liked.” – Roger Moore, owner of Amigos restaurants, to my then 18-year-old newly anointed crew chief self.

“Never fall in love with a commissioned piece of art so much that you can’t change it.” – By my beloved commercial art instructor Aleena Lewis, who believed in me when I wasn’t sure if I did in myself.

What’s the highlight of your career (so far)?

That’s a tough one because I take everything I tackle professionally to heart. So I guess I’d choose among many gracious opportunities:

• Opening my own interactive art studio and being part of Lincoln’s fabulous arts community.

• Winning this year’s Mayors Arts Award for the Lincoln Community Foundation Arts for Kids Award as the traveling artist with St. Elizabeth’s CHI Foundation.

• The daily growth of my art students in their self-esteem and self-worth as they excel in their creative talents. I’m sure God will keep surprising me in the future if I remain faithful!

How have you changed over the course of your career?

I used to feel competitive with others who were more left-brained than I am. I’ve learned to pair myself with opposite-type personalities to make a more “whole team.” It’s good to embrace differences, because maybe you will discover a better or easier path. I also share advice and secrets to success because others have been so kind to help me.

I’m not so worried about franticly “cramming” it all into a week. I’d rather slow down and make time for my grandson. I’ve tried not to be so much of a perfectionist, and instead let others take an opportunity at the reins. These were hard lessons as an eldest child of two eldest parents, plus the eldest grandchild on both sides. A lot of bossiness to control! I suppose it depends on who you ask if I’ve mastered it yet. I promise to keep trying and keep an open heart to new opportunities ahead.


L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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