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Longing for Trips in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

21 May

A coral reef Lego exhibit by Sean Kenney that took over 500 hours and 88,000 pieces to build seen at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I imagine it will be sometime before the opportunity will allow certain places to reopen as the coronavirus is still prevalent in so many places. I enjoy visiting the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, as well as the Henry Doorly Zoo there. Spending part of a day wandering about and enjoying the moment. And I know those moments will come again, and try to remember such adages of patience being a virtue. When these places do reopen I am certain there will be many, many folk angling to get in. But it will still be nice to revisit places to relax and enjoy and think of other things.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sea coral reef Lego exhibit by Sean Kenney that took over 500 hours and 88,000 pieces to build rises above a wall to entice visitors to check out at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Wednesday evening, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Celebrating Film in Siouxland, Prairie Grass Film Challenge, Dordt University

27 Feb

Attendees watch one of the entries in a screening room prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In today’s world, there is a proliferation of media. Video and stills. Everywhere. As a photographer, I somewhat thrive on seeing images and for the most part enjoy them. People’s tastes runs the gamut. Depending on one’s point of view there is “good” and “bad” art, video and photography. Individuals pursue what interests them and where their tastes lie.

Every year in Siouxland at Dordt Universtiy there has been a 48-hour film challenge, the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. Individuals and teams come up with and create a film within the specified time period and then compete at this private Christian college in northwest Iowa. The films need to be family friendly but do push the boundary as each, as people are, have an individual opinion of what is friendly. And winners for this year’s competition just recently were announced.

One film crew entry pose on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The films are produced by high school, college and post college individuals. All maybe reflecting a generational outlook through their individual films, and most certainly have a point of view and moral component to the pieces. Attending the awards ceremony (which is also live streamed to competing teams from around the country) held at the small university one can feel the excitement for these folk as much as directors, producers and actors attending the Oscars and receiving awards and recognition for their work.

Teammates for a film entry react after winning first place in their division during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Presenters react as they watch one attendee show off his Superman shirt under his street clothes mimicking a recurring theme for this year’s entries which involved superheroes during the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Twenty-five teams made the final cut of the competition that were judged and then four films were selected for best of in three categories with a fourth winner judged best of show. It’s fun to watch these folk enthusiasm and see their creativity put to the test, or not. Prior to the awards ceremony the film are screened in rooms around campus for people to view a few of them before finding out the winner. It’s a fun night, except for the cold weather and sometimes snowy conditions, and a chance for people to begin an adventure in film that may continue or compete in a venue their find worthy of their own involvement with similar values. As with everything, you get out of the experience what you put into it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Dordt University jazz band performs prior to the start of the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Members of a film crew ham it up on “The Red Carpet” prior to the awards ceremony at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An audience member dressed up as a bee patiently waits for the awards ceremony for the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Mark Volkers, left, and Bob Pollema, right, emcee at the Prairie Grass Film Challenge 2020 awards ceremony at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seeing and Experiencing Art in Siouxland at the Clay County Fair, Spencer

8 Oct

Something to crow about seeing chicken art on display for visitors at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs can be pretty universal in that they can provide a little something for everyone in Siouxland. Art not withstanding. Some things may seem a bit kitschy but still enjoyable and certainly on some level, educational. The Arts on Grand organization is a support group promoting local artists. And part of that support was putting an artist on the grounds of the fair where people could talk with and observe an artist creating their art.

A member of the arts organization Arts on Grand from Spencer, Iowa films artist Cathy Veiseth doing an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some folk may not think much about art or the people to create it. Many visual artists create their visions through whatever medium they have an interest in whether it be some kind of painting, oil, watercolor or pastel, photography, sculpting or ceramics. All artists create. And it’s could for folk to see someone create a vision they may have in their head and understand how what a person sees is translated into a completed work. I didn’t see the finished product of Spencer artist Cathy Veiseth but did chat with her and was engaged in her enthusiasm for sharing her talent with fairgoers and her general want of expressing herself. Different artists have different driving factors for creating their finished pieces, but all seem genuinely interested in sharing what they see and their interpretation of the world around them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Art in Siouxland, Sioux City

30 Sep

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most times one finds art in local museums, or people’s homes. But sometimes one can find art just outside their doorway, or back door, as it happens. Recently Sioux City sponsored an art fest and invited people to pay a fee and come in and create, or watch people create, art on walls of an alley. A number of local communities have been doing this for sometime now. Rock Rapids in north Siouxland is one such place that has artists create murals, mostly historic in nature, on city walls for a number of years.

And it’s nice to see Sioux City joining other communities in this trend. A lot of nice pieces were created in the alley, although now that the festival has passed, there is no signage pointing out this art is here for the viewing and a visitor would never know, let along possibly wanting to walk into a dark alley to find such art.

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Le Mars is another community that has art decorating its alley ways. This has been going on sometime as well with a new piece being added every year or so. And it’s nice to see communities adding something of value through an artistic endeavor, depending one’s point of view.

A Photo Safari class pauses in an alley to photograph wall murals in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographically it’s challenging to make an image of the art even in daylight. High ISO’s are a must and I noticed the day of the event that large lights were places throughout the alley to give the artists enough light to create their images.

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And while I was walking through the area I was pleased to see a couple more people come in and view a couple of the pieces. So maybe more folk will show up to enjoy the work that someone spent some time to create. I just hope that maybe some kind of signage might point the less informed to these artistic endeavors so they too can see the talent of possibly local or area artists who shared their vision with anyone who happens by.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Seen is the resulting mural work by artists done during the 21 Art Fest on September 21 in Sioux City, Iowa Wendesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying Summer’s Festivals in Siouxland, Storm Lake

12 Sep

Enjoying a day at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Small towns in Siouxland always have a way of finding something to celebrate. And doing it in an enjoyable fashion like Storm Lakes, Wood, Wine and Blues Fest it has each summer. In the lake side park there are a number of carved sculptures decorating it. Sadly in recent years vandals have destroyed and tried ruining a few of them. The festival combines some libation, music and wood sculptors with chain saws to perform their craft.

A not yet finished wood sculpture at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A master carver shows his stuff at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These folk are pretty amazing creating works of art out of single pieces of wood. It makes me wonder what the Renaissance artist Michelangelo could have done with some power tools as opposed to his hammer and chisel. I did try some food but no libation as it sometimes limits one’s driving ability, and at the very least makes one sleepy and then wandered and watched as these 21st century artists created their contribution for mankind’s enjoyment.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying a day at the Wood, Wine and Blues Fest in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing “Outside the Box” in Siouxland, Orange City

28 Jun

Flags are displayed along a downtown street for Memorial Day in Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

The one aspect of photography I enjoy is the creativity it allows its practitioners to pursue no matter what their subject preference to photograph. And even though subject matter is limitless, it’s what a photographer retains within the frame that makes or breaks the image and whether other individuals can relate to the image when viewing it.

I enjoy photographing in the square format. It’s a bit challenging to fill the frame with the required elements to make an image stand out. The dimensions do not always accommodate all subject matter. And since medium format film cameras are not widely used anymore, this style of photography has somewhat fallen out of view and practice.

Storefronts in Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

I find the format helpful especially when working with lines and angles. There are already four right angles creating the square image which hopefully reinforces what is contained within.

A light post peeks out front a row of trees near a park in Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

But maybe I am trying to hard to create something that isn’t there, but then, maybe that is the purpose. The execution of an idea is possibly a more important aspect of art, whether or not the actual art or resulting image is successful. But the feeling of something being successful helps propel the artist to continue making art and pushing boundaries (mostly their own) to experiment and create something different, new (maybe to themselves) and to keep trying. Perfecting a way of seeing and accomplishing a goal they may only vaguely understand themselves. Ah, that age old dilemma, is it the chicken or the egg that came first?

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A welcome sign to visitors on a shop downtown in Orange City, Iowa Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

Livin’ the Dream in Siouxland, Beresford, SD

25 May

A room full of tempting items are seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland covers a region in western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and northeast Nebraska. A variety of people with a variety of reasons call the area home. The area was traversed decades ago by the members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition exploring the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, and later settlers began arriving to create a new home for themselves. And is some ways, calling the area home hasn’t changed. And one man or woman’s treasure is another’s junk.

Sue and Allen Smith moved to the Beresford area in South Dakota after retiring from jobs out west in a warmer climate. This area of the midwest is not for the faint of heart. The open prairie can be brutally cold during the winter months with 30-40 mph wind gusts and temps reaching well below a -15 degrees. And storms come through in the spring and summer months. Fall can be nice though.

The couple opened an antique store, Remember When …. Antiques, and they have a plethora of items for folk to look at. And they genuinely like the area, not to mention that they can find a lot of items for their store within an easy commute of where they live and work.

Sue Smith, foreground, and husband Allen prepare for another day at their antique and treasures “Remember When….Antiques” business seen during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

The two seemed undaunted by the weather and invited some cold pedestrians visiting their small community into their store for a cup of coffee and a little warm up on a cold, snowy and blustery day in late April. Winter had not yet departed and clung to the area like a wet blanket leaving an adventurous class outing a bit more chilled than anticipated. Walking through the store was like walking back in time. Seeing items that I remember as a child growing up and seen in grandparents’ homes.

A room full of tempting items are seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s fascinating to look at items see a progression through the decades of what came before compared to what is available now. it helps give one a perspective and a bit of a history lesson if one takes the time to look at the items and ask questions and find that life in some ways is really not so bad after all these days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A wedding gown and the bride’s photograph attached in a room full of tempting items seen in the Remember When …. Antiques business during the Lifelong Learning Photo Safari class in Beresford, SD Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Jerry L Mennenga©)

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