Tag Archives: omaha nebraska

Depicting History in Siouxland, Courage Park in Omaha, NE

7 Apr
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. According to a website by First National Bank, “Installed in 2005 and 2009, Sculptors Blair Buswell of Highland, Utah, and Ed Fraughton of South Jordan, Utah, created Pioneer Courage with four pioneer families and their covered wagons departing westward from Omaha.” (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting in Omaha, NE just south of Siouxland I came across a park I had not seen before. Friends and I were exploring parts of the city we had not previously walked about and so it was a pleasant surprise to find this homage paid to those settlers that set out for the “new frontier” and a life apart from what they had known. Because this sculpture garden was created a few years ago it does not take into account current perceptions of events as “white immigrants” flooded the western plains obtained through the Louisiana Purchase and after the exploratory visit by Lewis and Clark’s expedition to map the newly obtained land.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While the westward expansion opened up new territories to current United States residents and immigrants, it also began a long history of a not so good relationship with Native American residents who had inhabited the land for many generations and millennia. Whether or not another downtown park will address that issue for future generations is for current and future residents of the Omaha community to address. The park though is a nice break within all of the cement buildings that surround this island oasis which probably looks more inviting for lunch time breaks during spring, summer and fall lunch times for surrounding employees working in the area.

A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A passerby checks out statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Still, for a photo expedition exploring a community it was a nice find on a rather pleasant early spring day. I always enjoy history, and realize that most times the history presented comes from a single source with possibly a single point of view. The park shows the fortitude and gumption of those early settlers who went west to find a new life and beginning for themselves, much like today’s modern immigrants and residents who can more easily, at times, travel the many miles to find a new life. Each era has its own obstacles and problems, which sadly never seems to have an easy solution. And it seems that those searching for a better life for themselves and their families, away from starvation (Irish), persecution (Quakers) and other life strifes such as war ( any number of countries) the desires, needs and wants have not changed, only perspective and “characters” of those now in need. Travel today is almost instantaneous when compared to that of a couple centuries ago. And these days there seems to be more NIMBY’s than those willing to offer a hand. I sometimes muse what might have happened and how my own and others futures looked much different had Native Americans then rebuffed the Quakers and other European settlers and conquerors who first set foot on this land. Rather than sharing a first Thanksgiving, there might not have been any history written about those lost souls who traveled the sea to seek a better life. No word ever returning to those distant shores. The strife, famine and others ills of centuries past have never ceased, nor likely seem to, and until as it’s said, the root of those evils or calamities are addressed, people will leave their homeland in search of a better life somewhere else where they think it might be safe. But the chance of those underlying problems being addressed seem of little concern to those making important decisions.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa


A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Statues in Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021 depict settlers moving westward during the westward expansion in the 1800’s after the Louisiana Purchase. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A number of statues showing pioneering families headed to a new frontier as white settlers westward expansion begins appear in the Pioneer Courage Park in downtown Omaha, NE Monday, March 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Friends at the Zoo in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

16 Mar
A child doesn’t see that a curious penguin has come to visit through the glass portal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to watch people interact with the animals at the Henry Doorly Zoo. During this past year with the pandemic I read an article where zoo people said they could see the animals there were missing “time” spent with people who come to visit. I thought that an interesting observation.

A child waves at a penguin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As spring arrives and temperatures get warmer more people will be getting out, enjoying sunshine and a chance to be outside without freezing temperatures. But it will also be interesting to see if people still heed some caution as the pandemic continues, even with vaccinations ongoing everyday. I would guess the animals would hate to see a pause in folk wanting to visit them because of carelessness and not remaining safe until everyone is safe from the coronavirus.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A child watches a penguin swim inside its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeding Time in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Jan
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everybody loves meal time. Some of us snack a little too much sometimes in between. It was fun during a day trip out of Siouxland to see zoo staff at the Henry Doorly Zoo feeding their flock of penguins. The little guys and gals eagerly greeted the staffers.

Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One poor little guy was hoping for a little special attention but the staffer through the food over his head toward the water leaving him standing there.

One lone penguin was hoping for a little special attention during feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 12, 2012. (video by Jerry L. Mennenga©)

Most got a little attention as the attendants made sure each were fed a fish, or two. And the creatures scurried here and there knowing it was chow time and no excuses, even though a few were reticent about eating their fish, one or two gulps and the birds then took a dip.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A little personal attention during feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Time for a swim after a meal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A swim after a meal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Tufted Puffin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Tufted Puffin looks out at visitors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (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©)

Seeing Humanity in All in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

28 Nov
A silver back gorilla makes his way in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some anthropologists and behavioral scientists talk about we humans are close in nature to the primate, maybe even descending from the creatures millions of years ago. Of course folk will debate that scenario until the end of time. But it is fascinating that there are quite similar traits between humans and other creatures. Even if we don’t admit it. And finding that observation in Siouxland just reinforces my notion that all living creatures and interconnected at some point. For good or bad.

On a recent visit to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE I saw what I believes to be an all too common trait of humans, Children especially, but I have seen a few humans behave this way as well. And it reminded me of the cereal commercial, and the siblings exclaiming, “Mikey likes it!” And with Thanksgiving recently occurring I am sure there were a few sceptical humans wondering if they wanted to try something new at the dinner table.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A silver back gorilla checks out a possible snack left in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A silver back gorilla eyes a possible snack in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
When in doubt, a silver back gorilla checks out a possible snack in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Humans honestly come by their scepticism to food if a “distant” cousin also seems suspicious at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sliver back gorilla decides this snack may not be so bad afterall at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Choosing an Image in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

14 Nov

When out photographing in and around Siouxland I am conscious most times of making images I think will work best for the subject. And more often I photograph in color.

The students I teach photograph in color and it’s how they see. But I do make them think about taking photos in B&W and choosing what works well for the subject and image they want. And sometimes choosing becomes a no-brainer. Some images just stand out in one medium, and then get lost in the translation when choosing another.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A train bell on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A train bell on display at the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Refuge in Siouxland, Scatter Joy Acres, Omaha, NE

17 Oct
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This fall I came across a small petting zoo located in a quiet neighborhood outside Siouxland in Omaha, NE. Scatter Joy Acres is a place where people can go and on a much smaller scale than the other local zoo in Omaha see animals and sometimes interact with them.

There are a variety of animals and it seems a very family friendly venue as families roamed the grounds waiting for an event to start just checking out the various animals on the grounds.

Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring and finding new places to check out is always fun and the joy of traveling even if that means driving an hour away. Hidden gems to a visitor not familiar with the area. Sometimes these are overlooked because one is a visitor, but then that just means more exploring closer to home and a chance to spend more time on the ground looking than driving or flying.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Play of Light in Siouxland, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, NE

13 Oct
Enjoying the light play at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On matter where in Siouxland I find myself walking about, I enjoy the play of light on objects, scenes, or whatever. It’s the interconnectedness of lights and shadows that create images. Seen in only B&W it becomes more apparent, dramatic even. But that interplay creates images that draw attention. Beyond that though there needs to be something about the image that keeps a person’s viewing attention.

Enjoying the light play at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some images work better than others and one can only continue exploring and trying and creating and working to make images he/she believes have merit.

And then continue walking about and enjoying the moments and time spent exploring.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the light play at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Revisiting Joslyn Castle near Siouxland, Omaha, NE

9 Oct

Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa, a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making a return trip to see a place in another season is always fun. Places look different at different times of the year especially without white stuff on the ground. The Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE is a good excuse to get outside of Siouxland and do a road trip south. The grounds were nice to visit and the interior of the historic home this time was not decorated for the Christmas season and exuded another look in a way.

A docent shows off original tile work of the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa, a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903.Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Sioux City, Iowa, a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Timbers in the ceiling of the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903.

The couple who built the home had material shipped in from around the world, the man having created a printing empire where he sold completed inserts into smaller surrounding communities’ newspapers with features and other world news not always available to small town papers. And in those days every small town had at least one newspaper, and larger communities sometimes had 2 or 3 newspapers, both morning and afternoon editions.

George and Sarah Joslyn rode their horses on their small estate, the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Omaha, NE and lived in a a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A photograph of the former glory of a dining room in the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The dining room in the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Visiting the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Care was taken in the details of the home with timber shipped in from a specific region of Russia, other material from Italy and also Scotland.

The home didn’t suffer from conveniences either as it had “running” water and even electricity along with gas lamps should there be a power outage.

Great care was given to the details in furnishing the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Gas fixtures and electricity were both available to the original owners of the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020 , Omaha, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sitting room in the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903.

At this time the Joslyn’s lived on the western edge of Omaha beyond which was prairie, which has since long disappeared as the community grew to become the small/larger city it now is.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A detail of a wall mounted lamp at the Joslyn Castle in Omaha, NE Thursday, September 3, 2020, Omaha, NE a 35-room Scottish Baronial mansion completed in 1903. (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©)

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