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Enjoying a Small Town away from Siouxland, Mt. Vernon

16 Oct

I enjoy the area of Siouxland in which I live. But it is nice to get out once in a while and visit other places outside of this region. Most places have similarities rather than differences. I enjoy the architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries when many of Iowa’s small communities came into being.

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I stopped in at Mt. Vernon because of seeing some architecture along the roadway I was on, historic Rte. 30 or Lincoln Highway. A stretch of roadway that crossed the continental United States giving people with automobiles a chance to see as little or as much of the country without traveling by train. Many of these small communities still have stunning homes and businesses for buildings dating from the mid to late 1800’s. Mt Vernon came into being as a result of the U.S. battle with Chief Black Hawk who fled the area and the tribal lands were confiscated as was the case with many native people’s lands when the expansion west was underway.

A church near downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The community is home to a liberal arts college which keeps it infused with younger people who come and go and possibly stay to raise their own families in a place they call home for at least four years. Quaint with a number of eateries downtown and a short walk from the college.

A mural on a downtown building’s wall in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic homes in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The community is extremely walkable and on a nice day it has places to visit and relax and enjoy. I am sure during an academic school year there are many events and other festivities taking place both in town and on the college campus. A nice combination for any community and the possibility to enjoy simple fruits of life in a picture perfect setting.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A city park just off of downtown Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A closed Mt. Vernon visitors center in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Sunday Sep. 1, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Alleys in and out of Siouxland, Storm Lake, Sioux City, Clinton

14 Oct

Finding beauty in alleyways can be a tough subject for a photographer. One captures an image of what is there, maybe interpreting the light and shadows that occur but with not much else but shapes.

Photo Safari class checking out downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Oct. 15, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have found that alleys can be interesting places in and of themselves, depending on a variety of factors. Alleys in Siouxland and other places all have one thing in common. A short “roadway” out of sight from one near point to another. Narrow, sometimes not much light, and filled with those things one would rather not see. But sometimes alleys can surprise us. As I recently found out in Sioux City. A recent art fest allowed people to paint in an alley otherwise devoid of “substance”.

Images of the Photo Safari Lifelong Learning class in downtownSioux City, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014.

 

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©)

One business in Storm Lake uses the alley side of its building to promote itself and do so with a little flare. If nothing else, what has one to lose by popping one’s head inside an eatery? Savoring the aroma emanating from baked goods and other edibles.

A local eatery uses chalk and its brick walls for advertisements to entice foodies into its shop in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A local eatery uses chalk and its brick walls for advertisements to entice foodies into its shop in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most times though, alleys are just catch alls. Garbage cans, detritus, sometimes people.

No matter how many alleys a person walks by or through, for some reason, even in Storm Lake, Iowa they all look the same, seen Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The challenge for the photographer then is to find a way to make a subject interesting. Point of view, light and shade, time of day, time of year. All plays a part.

Photo Safari class explores downtown Sioux City, Iowa Saturday Oct. 15, 2016. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding a way to visually create something that can most likely be happenstance and depending on when one visits a locale. It’s that challenge that I think helps keep a photographer sharp, always looking, seeing, hoping, to find something that peaks an interest or insight that appeals and then is documented. Good or bad, growth happens, one just needs to be open, aware, and as the actor put it so succinctly, “Are you feeling lucky?”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shooting at night during the Fall Photo Safari class during the evening in Le Mars, Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 27 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

                  

Enjoying Fall in Siouxland, Fields of Fun in Sioux Center

12 Oct

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fall arrived in Siouxland recently with cooler temperatures and rainy weather. The former is a nice change of pace from recent 80’s and 90’s and high humidity, but the rain could wait a while. For some folk though it hasn’t “dampened” there enthusiasm for fall celebrations of various harvests and Halloween. Fields of Fun is a destination stop near Sioux Center started recently after a former fall place, Pumpkinland, ceased to exist. And the people behind the new venture wanted to continue the spirit families experienced at the former.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Fields of Fun is located on a working farm. There are some animals for children to see and possibly engage with as well as the chance to pick one’s own pumpkin and “get lost” in a cornfield maze.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors are encourage to pick up maps before entering the maze, but sometimes people can be obstinate, and eventually lost. A nice thing for people living locally is a bike trail that passes by the farm and many cold ride their bikes to enjoy a day of exercise and seeing what is there. Although carrying home pumpkins, gourds and other baked or canned goods could prove challenging.

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween is approaching fast. And it’s nice to get out and enjoy a fun respite from the real world and see a little “country”, even if it’s only minutes outside of town and mostly viewing the tops of cornstalks. But it’s a good place to start.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Fields of Fun pumpkin and corn maze is located near Sioux Center, Iowa Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Another Day in Siouxland a Different Scene Unfolds, Mulberry Bend Overlook

10 Oct

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is always a good argument for revisiting places one has previously visited and photographed, even in Siouxland. Time, day, time of year, it all changes what was previously witnessed and recorded. And for lucky photographers scenes are mostly not redundant making it more enticing to stop in and take a second, third or fourth look. I previously came across Mulberry Bend Overlook on a warm, humid and sunny day.

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of traveling about and seeing places, sharing them with friends on photo outings. One always hopes for optimal days, that is sunshine and blue sky, to photograph in, but weather and other unplanned exceptions can cause one to reevaluate how one sees and learns to adapt to situations that are not always ideal. Simple challenges are good for a photographer in broadening one’s perceptions and images captured. It also makes a hot cup of coffee taste even better on a damp, chilly day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A rainy day at the Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion, SD Saturday, September 7, 2019. (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©)

History in Siouxland and not on the Prairie, Storm Lake

6 Oct

The Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and orginally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes dropping into a small community in Siouxland one finds interesting places, but timing prevents further exploration. I have seen this log cabin house and one-room school house numerous times visiting Storm Lake, but have not stopped to explore. This time I did, as much as I could, peeking inside to see what life appeared like that the homesteader who built this house lived in. It’s good I think to ponder life before modern conveniences if only to appreciate more of what is now available. Life today is possibly no harder than settlers on the prairie given the times then, it just depends on one’s situation at the time for each individual. Without technology now I couldn’t share my photographic musings and trips with others who may not have an opportunity to see this area, much like I view other people’s travels, near and far, and enjoy what they share.

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look inside the Prairie Log House built by a homesteader in 1871 and originally located near Rembrandt now forms part of a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life definitely was much starker then, but for the times modern conveniences provided pot-bellied stoves for cooking and winter warmth and by today’s standards a more humble adobe. But it was no less a home than its owners appreciated and maintained and enjoyed. The same can be said of the one-room school houses dotting the midwest and other outlying areas as the young country expanded west. An opportunity for children to gain at least rudimentary knowledge that had been accumulated and passed on to them, with parents understanding the fundamental necessity of such an education. Small reminders of gained through simple technology. A place to find a blackboard and someone willing to share for a meager salary information acquired from over the generations of those who had come before.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Elk Township County School is similar to many early 19 century schools constructed to provide an education to rural Iowa children now sits in a historical area in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

in Storm Lake, Iowa Saturday Aug. 17, 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©)

 

 

 

 

 

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