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Enjoying a Day in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

25 Jan
Enjoying a day at the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some days when I am out photographing in Siouxland I like to photograph in a B&W mode. It makes me remember those days when I first worked for newspapers and everyone used Kodak’s Tri-X, for everything. Indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light. One just learned to adjust. It also taught one to see beyond the visual color that the eye saw but knew that film didn’t. And one had to learn to shoot in a manner that would help a viewer see the image the photographer was trying to convey.

Not all images are stellar award winners. Some help tell a story and sometimes I just like the throwback and the practice of shooting “clean”.

A building, now a local tv station, seen from the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Folks these days sometimes see black and white work as nostalgia. Maybe it is. All types of genres have their place. Each just require a different approach and some need more thought put into creating an image to work. I like the gradations that are created, from black to white, and all shades of grey in between. And a chance to remember places that I previously documented, in black and white.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A walking tour of the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life’s Progression in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

3 Jan
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes thoughts just come to one when viewing through a viewfinder and trying to create an image. And then sometimes when one sees the results and later understands why something felt right at the time after reviewing images and being patient while photographing. Not always. But sometimes.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A scene in the Durham Museum in Omaha NE Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Learning About Art in Siouxland, Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City

10 Dec
Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding talks with members of the Sioux City Camera Club at the center about current exhibitions and the importance of photography, Thursday evening, Nov. 12, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The enjoyable aspect about “art” is that it never gets old, there is always something new to see, and the learning never stops. Recently members of the Sioux City Camera Club in Siouxland spent an evening with the Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding as she talked about art, its significance and how shows are curated.

Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding talks with members of the Sioux City Camera Club at the center about current exhibitions and the importance of photography, Thursday evening, Nov. 12, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding talks with members of the Sioux City Camera Club at the center about current exhibitions and the importance of photography, Thursday evening, Nov. 12, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ms. Redding explained how shows are put together, the importance of themes and the thinking behind curators and museums or art centers in wanting to educate the public. The club currently has a show exhibiting at the art center with a variety of images depicting the theme “Solitude”. Different people, different interpretations and plenty of images for contemplation and reflection.

Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding talks with members of the Sioux City Camera Club at the center about current exhibitions and the importance of photography, Thursday evening, Nov. 12, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding talks with members of the Sioux City Camera Club at the center about current exhibitions and the importance of photography, Thursday evening, Nov. 12, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Museum also currently has an exhibit dealing with interpretations concerning the West. Images ranging from the late 1800’s into 2020. A number of photographers doing various personal projects and images culled to give a look about the west and people’s fascination both positive and negative. While many in the early years of the United States moved west for new opportunity and destiny, others lost their heritage and land. People suffered brutally trying to get there and survive while others suffered brutally at the hands of those who felt ordained to wrest away this land to give to other, “more civilized” folk. Interestingly and sadly done in a barbaric way or through deception in the name of progress and government.

But no matter one’s interpretation or attitude about the land and its acquisition, there are many images for contemplation and reflection.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sioux City Art Center curator Mary Anne Redding talks with members of the Sioux City Camera Club at the center about current exhibitions and the importance of photography, Thursday evening, Nov. 12, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shade in Siouxland, Le Mars and Omaha, NE

8 Dec
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will sometimes have students in class through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech tell me that they couldn’t find subjects to photograph or that the weather was not cooperating. Photography is a perfect example of the adage of making lemonade out of lemons.

Even in Siouxland one sometimes has to shift gears and think differently about subject matter to photograph. I find reverting back to shooting black and images helpful because seeing becomes more fundamental, reduced to lights and darks, lines, shapes and angles. Color or lack or too much of it doesn’t matter. Weather though can have an impact if one is looking to create certain images. Strong light is a must, but a person must take the time to see a bit differently and maybe more abstractly than when shooting in color.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When photographing in black and white it’s all about shades of grey. For me it’s less grey and more strident blacks and whites. But one does what one can with what’s available. And even in today’s digital age there are the tools available to create decent black and white images. I believe it’s more in the seeing, of possibilities, than what is before you. I began my career photographing for newspapers shooting Kodak’s famous Tri-X film. In the vernacular of the day it was “f/8 and be there” which I heard from more than one newspaper photographer. At an ISO of 400, Tri-X was a moderately fast film and shooting outdoors in daylight one generally was at f/8 at 1/2000 on a sunny day. Shadows were a major concern because in the day fill flash didn’t have hypersync capabilities and the old Nikon F camera’s only flash synced at 1/60th of a second or slower.

Light and shade in Le Mars, Iowa Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So one became very conscious of how light and shade affected subjects be they people, buildings, landscapes or whatever. I still really enjoy black and white, but am happy to shoot color. Each has its place. Photographing fall foliage and Christmas lights is so much nicer, as are fireworks. But black and white can still be very effective and rewarding. One just needs to look for it and see it in this world of color.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Light and shade at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up with the Muppets in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

2 Dec
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s most likely a generational thing that different people, even in Siouxland, remember becoming aware of different Muppet characters. I was surprised to learn that Jim Henson began his great Muppet caper in 1958. And entertained people of all ages for decades with the antics of these lovable characters.

Many people are aware the Muppets through a decades long appearance on public television, with many people growing up with these characters. And it was fascinating to read and see how Henson and his crew brought these lovable characters to life and pays tribute to his forward thinking and innovation in creating movie spectaculars that seem so real. And currently an exhibit about Jim Henson and Muppets is at the Durham Museumand organized by the Museum of the Moving Image.

Kermit the Frog takes center place in a part of the exhibit currently in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Bert and Ernie still chatting away. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
One can only show a candy wrapper or cookie at their own risk walking by the Cookie Monster’s display. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not to mention the ever ongoing love affair between Kermit and Miss Piggy, even if it was only Miss Piggy who knew this and the hapless suitor, Kermit, who could never quite figure out what was going on. The Muppets have been in 10’s if not hundreds of shows. A stop by Durham Museum is well worth the time, and an early timed arrival during the week beats a crowd.

TV was not the only medium where the Muppets came to fame. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visual feast of Jim Henson’s Muppet activity over the years seen during a current show in progress which traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Henson and his collaborators and crew spent the time to perfect the Muppets movements to make them as lifelike as possible. Behind the scenes footage show this taking place and leaves one marveling at what was involved and the energy and spirit folk put into creating this productions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple watch part of a film created by Jim Henson and his collaborators showing the virtuosity of the films that were made during an exhibit about Jim Henson and the Muppets currently at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Rowl, left, performed by Henson and Frank Oz, was a sidekick to Jimmy Dean on his show. An early Jim Henson creation. A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A current show in progress traces the history of the Muppets at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Waiting for Halloween in Siouxland, Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Oct
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Halloween in Siouxland like many holidays has taken on a life of its own and gives people a chance to enjoy a day guilt free. Visiting the Durham Museum recently which is located in Omaha, NE, the museum was decked out in anticipation of the yearly event.

The Durham Museum decked out with various scary scenarios for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ghouls, ghosts and skeletons were found in various places throughout. And on occasion some guests added to the atmosphere for a spook festival that occurs Oct. 31. It’s always fun to see how places celebrate holidays and the Durham didn’t disappoint.

The Durham Museum decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A visitor makes a nice apparition while checking out an exhibit at the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And while the adults didn’t get to indulge, there were goody bags for the kids, always in my humble opinion one of the best aspects of Halloween as a child. Candy may not settle the stomach after a good scare, but it doesn’t hurt either.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Shadows of strangers seen during a visit to the Durham Museum which is decked out for Halloween in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting a Museum near Siouxland and missing the Exhibits, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE

29 Sep

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s a silly thought but sometimes when visiting museums and other attractions in and around Siouxland I miss seeing the attraction. That happens when one becomes too focused on photographing something, anything and not taking a moment to enjoy what is in front of one.

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The architecture of the Joslyn Art Museum is fascinating and the light play inside and out is a feast for visual people as are the works hanging in the museum. I did walk through a current traveling exhibit exploring visuals in today’s society. How some of the visuals are contrived to reflect what may naturally be there but set up, indistinguishable from actuality. It was thought provoking and fascinating. Not the first time, and with today’s political scene, not the last where someone will take images, still or moving, and try to create a narrative, generally false, to make a point or to attack someone or some thing because they don’t agree or approve. Sad.

But once through viewing the exhibit I walked around various galleries I have seen previously still enjoying the permanent collection of art and trying to create my own imagery within the confines.

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I will return again and try to be conscious the next time of stopping, maybe sitting, and looking and pondering those lovely works before me and the creativity these artists who have long since passed using paint, brushes or other means to share their vision with generations to follow and the foresight of someone to collect, display and share these works with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Light and Shadow in Siouxland, Joslyn Castle, Omaha, NE

15 Sep

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I always like revisiting places I have previously been to, in Siouxland and elsewhere. Different time of year gives a different look to the area or place itself, such as the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE. The grounds are very nice and the tour inside was again informative as a different docent volunteer led this tour. Because of the coronavirus fewer people gives those on the tour more of an opportunity to ask questions. And having visited previously ask questions with some knowledge about the history of the place.

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Having been here before I looked differently at the former residence of a prominent family and because the season was more summer than winter as last time the lighting inside was also different. Lights and shadows are always fascinating, at least to me. Enjoying the play of light inside a room. Of course one has to be content with how the sun is when on a tour. Planning for optimal light is never going to happen without unfettered access, and that is not going to happen either.

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But it’s always nice to spend a day out, hearing about an area and wondering how it looked in early pioneer days for those folk who lived there then. The castle at the time was on the western most edge of the community of Omaha with prairie beyond its borders, that is now occupied with homes, many homes. But as I listened I was looking, seeing those little things of interest to me, in my own reverie and speculating how many footsteps had passed these simple areas on how many years and if they appreciated where they were or were just busy with life around them to consider much else.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Fun House’s History in Siouxland, Arnolds Park Fun House Museum, Arnolds Park

3 Sep

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I come across museums or revisit places in Siouxland I feel a little sad because I will never have the chance to experience what something in the past was like or remember the sounds emanating from a place as people enjoy themselves. I have my own memories of similar places, but it’s never really the same.

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Historic photos of Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some stories I have read about the long history of Arnolds Park Amusement Park and various aspects of it sound intriguing. From music venues to eateries, former sailing vessels and quaint cabins. A place built to delight locals and other visitors as well.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The museum is a not a large place and as I have revisited it more and varied items keep appearing. I can well imagine many families have history and memories of their visits, the changes and joys and delights of vacations spent at the lakes.

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A look at the history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The items on display may seem quaint or a little kitchy but in context relate the history the small museum tries to share. Then one’s imagination takes over and a former visitor can relive memories and a new visitor can only imagine ones.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at a museum with history of the Fun House near Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rock and Roll in Siouxland, Rock and Roll Museum, Arnolds Park

12 Aug

The museum is a tribute to artists who played at the Roof Garden and other venues around the Arnolds Park Amusement Park area located in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In Siouxland it’s possible to find a wide variety of museums and places that showcase historical significance, if just to the locals. The Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park is one of those places. Many artists up and coming have passed through the area playing a local venue, the Roof Top Garden to the delight of fans over the years.

The Roof Garden, recently renovated for an updated look, played host to a number of famous musicians and bands who played in the area over the years and located in the Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A variety of musicians passed through playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Reading over a list of who’s who and seeing various guitars collected and signed would make many a would-be musician and fan aficionado stop in their tracks and spend time looking and reading

the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Signed guitars by artists hang in a small theatre room with a video about the local music scene over the years seen in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On a summer’s day when one wants to get away from the heat and humidity, and a poor excuse it may be, stepping inside and spending some time allows one a snapshot into many a famed artist who actually visited this part of Iowa in Siouxland, rather than “flying over” on the way to a larger venue.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A number of famous musicians and artists passed through the lakes area and are memorialized at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Deep Purple’s Tommy Bolin’s custom stage suit circa 1975 seen at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum at Arnolds Park Amusement Park in Arnolds Park, Iowa Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Bolin, a Sioux City native, also played in the bands Zephyr and James Gang. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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