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Learning and Understanding History in Siouxland, Nelson Mandela, The Official Exhibition, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

19 Jun

Short films about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a history buff, but I do like learning and attending presentations and exhibition in and around Siouxland where I can learn something new, or expand upon something I am familiar with but not necessarily know the entire story, or rest of the story as radioman Paul Harvey used to exclaim.

I recently visited the Nelson Mandela: The Officials Exhibition at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE. It is slated to finish in early July. I am aware of who Mandela is/was and mostly remember him as a person who spent a considerable amount of time in prison only because he wanted fellow South African citizens to enjoy a free life away from the “colonial rule” that Afrikaners imposed on them after the Dutch colonized the country to its benefits a large swath of the country in the 1600’s.

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The exhibit takes a deep dive into the man’s past, history and what led him to become the leader to free his fellow citizens and help them obtain the rights so long denied them by early occupiers, often mainly by force. The reading was fascinating but also the images that accompanies the exhibit showing a young Mandela who actually spent most of his life out of public view. Firstly, hiding from those who wanted to harm him, and later, in prison, after defying the ruling administration of the country and encouraging his fellow countrymen to stand up and seek their freedom.

Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, about his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Part of the exhibity with photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela and representation of cell blocks. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I personally like history, more so when I learn something new and its purpose served the greater good and the “good guys” won. Some days during in recent years, I just have to wonder. Those who say they are the good guys and winning, are a bit suspect.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs, artifacts and short films give a history about Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, is his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photograph of Nelson Mandela with Zelda la Grange, formerly a private secretary of his during he last remaining years, seen at the Nelson Mandela : The Official Exhibition, about his life and pursuit for a free South Africa, currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, May 26, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Anticipating Performance Art in Siouxland, Sioux City Railroad Museum, Sioux City

6 May
A new stage area has been constructed at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new stage area has been constructed at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While recently visiting the Sioux City Railroad Museum in Siouxland I noticed a number of changes that included outdoor performance spaces. The Railroad Museum has begun shifting its focus the last few years to sharing history about the former railroad repair facility as it continues to excavate and learn more about this important juncture and service provided to the rail industry.

A outdoor seating area at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What appears to be a refreshment stand is set up at a location at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

According to a statement on the museum’s website: “The 31.61-acre Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District encompasses the former Sioux City Engine Terminal and Car Repair Shops of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway.

The complex was constructed between 1916 – 1918, opened 1918 by the railroad’s motive power and engineering departments. The facility served as a “divisional” terminal for servicing steam and diesel locomotives and repairing rail cars for 65 years until its closure and abandonment in 1981, when the railroad was insolvent and in receivership.”

Within the last year local actors have been portraying actual characters and people who formerly worked at the facility. The actors perform short monologues which reference their particular job and connection to the service facility or the railroad industry. Although, as it occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, an occasional hobo shows up and talks about “riding the rails” during that time period while looking for work and basic survival. Life on the road isn’t always an influencer’s dream as the depression era affected hundreds of thousands if not more people.

So it will be interesting and fun to to see the new performance spaces function as well as some “new attractions” mimicking aspects of a railroad depot stop anywhere U.S.A.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A new boarding station for the miniature rail line at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new passenger boarding station for the miniature rail line at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A new stage area has been constructed at the Sioux City Railroad Museum Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Art Near Siouxland, and Just Seeing, Joslyn Musem, Omaha, NE

18 Apr
A security person walks through a painting gallery section at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy walking about art museums for the obvious reasons. Those in Siouxland and those that are located near the area. The chance to look at and ponder what lies before one’s eyes whether you agree with or even like what you see. But the creator of the piece saw something, and a museum displaying it saw worth in the acquisition to share with the public.

The painting of the woman and cat at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The subject’s eyes in the painting seem to follow visitors as they walk by. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Walking about the museum’s various galleries and public areas can also test the visitor’s “seeing” and the architecture involved to pique an interest. And whether one sees the entire scene or just a detail helps shape perception on the part of the viewer and can in turn help develop one’s eye.

The last look at the fountain and formal entrance at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The fountain in a main entrance at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And whether one wants to record, or photograph, what one sees and how one sees something can also be an exercise to “practice seeing” and later look at again and determine if what was recorded is what was intended. Exercising one’s vision to help refine a way of seeing is not a bad thing. As an instructor once told me, painters have a blank canvas to add elements too to create what they envision. A photographer has a lot of stuff in their field of view and then must eliminate or distill down the image that is envisioned to share with others as well as what photographically speaks to that individual.

Walking through a museum there are so many ways to interpret what is there by the use of space or light or depth, shapes, lines and angles. Making a conscious effort to align these in what an individual might believe is a telling image.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A different perspective of a piece of art work at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A different perspective of a piece of art work at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Changes in Siouxland, Joslyn Museum, Omaha, NE

31 Mar
Construction is underway for an addition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Changes are underway at an art museum in Omaha, NE, The Joslyn Museum. The collection of artwork there is amazing to see as are the various traveling exhibits the museum brings to share with its visitors. Traveling throughout Siouxland one has an opportunity to enjoy world class art in a number of places, and sometimes those places need a refresh to adjust to a new era and planning for their own future.

Construction is underway for an addition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small school group checks out a glass exhibit by artist David Gilhooly at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Construction is seen underway for an addition from inside the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Myself and some friends were not alone the particular day we visited. School groups, families and other small groups and individuals moved about the exhibit rooms enjoying the art and sculpted pieces on display. A nice to see scenes depicted centuries ago by famous, and maybe not so famous artists but all worth the time to view, maybe sit and contemplate what the is there. In a museum time becomes somewhat irrelevant and for good reason. There is no need to hurry, but better to linger and savor and enjoy the beauty before one’s eyes.

Artwork at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A family check out a painting at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visitor checks out artwork at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will close until sometime in 2024 according to its website as an addition is added. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum will be closing this May for a couple of years according to information on its website. And I wanted one last change to wander and browse the fine art and architectural sights within the building. A little selfishly, I enjoy visiting the museum on hot summer days. When it’s unbearable to be outdoors, the dim lighting and wonderful works to view was always a respite from the day’s oppressive nature. A sanctuary to just sit and enjoy beauty and all that is offered.

Change and the future sometimes requires one to learn patience and to anticipate what new experiences the Joslyn Museum will offer its patrons and visits in the years to come.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Construction is underway for an addition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, March 24, 2022. The museum will be closed until sometime in 2024 according to its website. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Final Curtain Comes Down in Siouxland, Prairie Grass Film Challenge, Dordt University, Sioux Center

25 Feb
A late comer sneaks into the screening of Monte Ne Productions “Stuck: An Original Musical” which won the overall best of show at the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently I attended the final awards ceremony for a Siouxland film festival, the Prairie Grass Film Challenge. A 48-hour turn around production of “content worth consuming” hosted at Dordt University located in Sioux Center. Currently a people’s choice is going on for the one video that folk deem the most liked, by those voting. Entrance films ran the gamut from high school students to those beyond college. And having done some judging of the films over the last few years there was a lot of excellent work being done by a number of individuals and teams.

Enjoying an “Oscar” Red Carpet moment are people involved with various production crews who entered the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bob Pollema and Mark Volkers emceed the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A member of the cast for “Live in the Mind” Run For Your Life Productions, watches himself on screen during the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The films ranged from comedy, drama, musical, mockumentary to sci-fi and mystery. Each team had to include a line of dialogue and a character and prop. Many were quite creative in how these required items were displayed in the film, while others simply included them, I assume as necessary evils possibly not in keeping with whatever creative visions folk had in mind. But in the real (reel) world where others are paying the freight, sometimes there are requirements and the challenge is including them without compromising the final product/storyline.

The awards ceremony has its Oscar moments with some reveals and red carpet opportunities for those attending. A chance to see if they had won their respective category and to see others films as well. The digital media department for Dordt works to help students find their footing and hone skills that will allow them to tell stories effectively after they graduate. A Christian-based liberal arts school, those involved genuinely want to make the world a better place. But that all comes down to point of view and what stories are being told. But as with any job or career path, sometimes the storytelling takes a turn as one matures and sees life up close and personal as opposed to hearing about it through parents and teachers and whatever other filters a young person might have. Experience is its own teacher, right or wrong, and the experience the folk participating the film challenge allows them to try various ideas, compete in a team-work environment and make a positive statement through their participating.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Udo Velvet Productions receives a special award for participating in 11 of the past Prairie Grass Film Challenge years during the final awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying an “Oscar” Red Carpet moment are people involved with various production crews who entered the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Prairie Grass Film Challenge founder Mark Volkers, center, looks over a gift he received as his wife, Janelle, left, Bob Pollema, back, and Vern Eekhof, right look on during the final awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Members of the public and family, friends and film production entrants begin arriving for the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mark Volkers and Sandy Reitsma pose for a photo at the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Dordt University jazz ensemble warms up the audience for the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Prairie Grass Film Challenge founder Mark Volkers, right, talks with film entrants prior to the final awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mark Volkers, founder of the Prairie Grass Film Challenge recognizes people involved with the challenge that include Sandy Reitsma, Gayle Haarsma, Darlene Reichert and Bob Pollema, Daniel Ketchelos, Miranda Munson and Vern Eekhof during the final awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bob Pollema talks with a winning film team during the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A winning film team receive its “check” and recognition during the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying an “Oscar” Red Carpet moment are people involved with various production crews who entered the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Colored streamers jazz up the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A production worker talks about the falling streamers and other surprises while putting finishing touches to the state for the final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony which occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The final Prairie Grass Film Challenge awards ceremony occurred Friday, February 18, 2022 in the B. J. Hahn Auditorium on the campus of Dordt University in Sioux Center. After 15 years of challenging film enthusiasts to create content worth consuming within a 48-hour period awards the last winners their trophies and acknowledging all those who have participated and created viewing opportunities that were family friendly. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Early History of Jazz Around Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

1 Feb
Band leader Dan Desdunes served as band director for Father Flanagan’s Boys Home band seen on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

History can be found in many ways as one drives about and visits places in and around Siouxland. A companion exhibit to one about Billie Holiday at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE recounts through photographs early days of jazz in the Omaha area. Names of early musicians who led the way to a changing style of music.

An exhibit of early African American jazz groups of Omaha currently on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Band leader Dan Desdunes with the Boys’ Town band outside of Union Station in Omaha, NE circa 1928 seen on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Basie Givens was an important musician in Omaha during the second World War and formed a 16-piece orchestra with fellow works from the then local bomb plant called the “Basie Bombadiers”. Earlier in the late 1920′ he played in a local group called the “Jungle Rhythm Boys”. A number of photos documenting the history of jazz in Omaha is on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A number of musicians then as now played in a variety of groups and different venues to make a living creating “sound” or music and pursuing their particular passion. Even now in the Old Market area of Omaha one will find street musicians playing, providing entertainment (depending on one’s taste) and during the warmer months can be found around the area.

The “Jungle Rhythm Boys” was a musical group started in the late 1920’s by Basie Given and Alvin “Junior” Raglin which is part of an exhibit about the early Omaha jazz era currently at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Band leader Dan Desdunes had his own band, the Dan Desdunes Band and a number of known musicians played with him and in other groups during those early jazz days in Omaha, NE seen on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not a frequenter of the clubs in the Omaha area, I can only surmise that this tradition continues probably buoyed by the internet which would allow musicians to draw a wider audience to hear the music produced. But even with an online outlet, there is nothing quite like listening to music played live, in person which becomes part of the ambience and charm of the day or night when you encounter it.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The photograph is of Ruth Brown performing at the Dreamland Ballroom in 1949 and is part of an exhibit of the history of jazz in Omaha, NE currently on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. The ballroom hosted jazz greats that included Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An exhibit of early African American jazz groups of Omaha currently on display at the Durham Museum Friday, December 17, 2021 in Omaha, NE. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Helping Feathered Friends in Siouxland, Fontenelle Forest, Bellevue, NE

1 Nov
An American Kestral makes its feelings known about being photographed at Fontenelle Forest aviary sanctuary in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

At the Fontenelle Forest Preserve in Bellevue, NE there is also a space for the rehabilitation of raptors rescued and found injured from the surrounding area. Not a lot of information about the rescue seems to be posted on the organization’s website but information can be found.

Volunteers help with rehabilitating these creatures and a space at the front of the forest preserve allows visitors to see and get somewhat acquainted with these aviators of the sky.

Visitors check out injured birds being rehabilitated at the Fontenelle Forest aviary sanctuary in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two great horned owls watch from their enclosure at the Fontenelle Forest aviary sanctuary in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The rehab center is a way to get up close and really get the chance to see these magnificent birds without a pair of binoculars and see the fine detail of their feathers. As one who is trying to become a better “bird”photographer, and not really getting close to any of these in the wild, it was fun to see them, and maybe if lucky, see them in the wild after they get better and are released. Though I probably wouldn’t recognize them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A ferruginous hawk watches from its cage at the Fontenelle Forest aviary sanctuary in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A peregrine falcon eyes a visitor at the Fontenelle Forest aviary sanctuary in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An American Kestral makes its feeling know about being photographed at Fontenelle Forest aviary sanctuary in Bellevue, NE Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hometown Journalism in Siouxland, The Storm Lake Times, Sioux City

14 Oct
Storm Lake Times Editor Art Cullen speaks to the audience, attending the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues, prior to the introduction of a few Democratic candidates campaigning in Iowa for the office of President, at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently attending the Sioux City International Film Festival in Siouxland where a variety of short films: animation, documentary, comedy, etc., are shown, the feature film was a documentary about small town journalism, and the place it occupies in a community and the real threat of what is loss when that voice disappears.

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, share a laugh while answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Art Cullen answering questions from the audience along with his wife, Delores and son Tom, not seen, at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having worked for a number of small daily newspapers over the last couple of decades it was a story I am all too familiar with, and saddened, that these kinds of newspapers are struggling to just stay in existence, as are many of the locally owned “mom and pop” stores that support them. Some might say at times a love/hate kind of relationship, but something all mutually benefit from.

The “star” of the film is the writer/editor Art Cullen, who won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing that takes on the “more powerful, well heeled and moneyed folk than the common Joe.

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Storm Lake Times is a family produced publication where most all report, write and produce the twice weekly paper. All play a role, large and small, because for small town publications it truly takes a village to survive and no job is too small that needs to be done. And the large ones are there for tackling and making a difference.

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ones hopes that this paper survives and the few remaining ones throughout the country, much like mom and pop stores, they serve a needed value to the local community. And in many cases today as yesterday, connecting neighbors and telling local stories that local folk are interested in that concerns their neighbors and other residents in surrounding communities. During the last “caucus season” when so many Democrats were running a number of them made it to the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake where they got to meet to Cullen and answer questions about rural life and agriculture, no small issues for many in Iowa. And maybe hoping rubbing elbows with a known local would help them down the road.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens as Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) ) speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Democratic candidate Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (MN) speaks to Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen listens to Democratic candidate and former secretary of HUD JULIAN CASTRO speaks during the Heartland Forum which is focused on the family farmer and rural Iowa issues at the Schaller Memorial Chapel on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday, March 30, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen, on the right of the grouping, talks with audience members before a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Cullen family, Delores, left, Tom, center and Art, right, answering questions from the audience at a screening of the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A screen grab of the trailer for the film Storm Lake – The Documentary primarily focused on Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, writer and columnist for the Storm Lake Times owned and operated by his family, Thursday, 30 Sept., 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Lines and Shapes in Siouxland, Midland College, Wayne, NE

30 Jun
A building on the campus of Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy visiting institutions of higher education. The idea of walking the same ground that so many have walked before pursuing dreams and hopefully a better way of life for themselves and their fellow citizens. The architecture is interesting and sometimes is a combination of a variety of styles depending on when the school was founded and when other buildings were later added to the campus to help with a growing student population.

Early sculpture piece depicting a nostalgic campus scene at Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Avant guard signage at Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I am by no means astute about architecture and the history of styles and such, but more appreciative in the lines, shapes, angles and other visual aspects which I enjoy. And photographing in B&W the shades of grey that occur within the frame of an image.

The school seemed closed between its spring and summer sessions, and I am not certain what protocols are in place at various institutions as each seems to dictate what is acceptable as pandemic restrictions are eased or altogether done away with. But one can always enjoy the grounds which are well tended and presentable in case a prospect might be passing through to take a peek and see what lies within.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A more classical building design at Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Shapes and lines on the campus Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An architectural feature of a building on the campus of Midland College in Wayne, NE Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting the Netherworlds in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

20 Jun
A visitor watches film clips of director James Cameron seen in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I live in Siouxland, a region that is part of what is affectionately or not affectionately known as flyover country, there are a number of museums, large and small, which one can visit and enjoy traveling exhibits, both visually and educationally stimulating.

Currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE is the exhibit James Cameron — Challenging the Deep. Film director Cameron put together various crews to explore the worlds under the sea including the Titanic and the battleship Bismark allowing Cameron to share his passion and interest with the deep ocean by creating an immersive exhibit using large video screen displays to show visitors what he and others saw beneath the ocean depth, in some place 10,000 meters deep, or almost 10.5 Empire State buildings stacking on top of one another.

A visitor watches a film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Costumes from the movie “Titanic” seen juxtaposed with film of the actual Titanic that director James Cameron filmed during a deep sea exploration and seen at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is a model of the Titanic as it appears underwater on display that is seen in some of the videos showing the exploration of the ship that Cameron and others recorded. The director’s fascination with the deep ocean evidently started when he was a young child and he nurtured that desire to explore as he followed his career path as a film director. Some of the problem solving in filming movies, such as the Abyss, helped Cameron realize what might be possible as he collaborated with experts in the field of under water exploration.

A mock version of the “Titanic” on display at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Informational panels explain that director James Cameron held a long fascination since childhood about the sea and is told in the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Items on display used in filming some of the deep sea exploration seen at the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Through the use of underwater recording technology and deep ocean submersible vessels Cameron and others explore the deep, and film themselves exploring the deep which gives the exhibit viewer an idea of how this was all made possible at such incredible depths, with Cameron narrating what is being seen and how it was made possible.

And the exhibit in some ways becomes more interesting by the fact that its entire area is bathed in deep blue light or blackness, resembling what the various individuals must have encountered themselves as they dove deep to explore areas of the ocean not seen by many but now accessible to all through this exhibition.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An informative and elaborate set sets the stage for the James Cameron “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visitors watch film of deep sea exploration from film director James Cameron at the “Challenging the Deep” exhibit at the Durham Museum Tuesday, June 1, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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