Tag Archives: vermillion sd

Hearing Music in Siouxland again, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

15 Feb
Acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount is playing a Henry Dobson banjo, which is part of the museum’s collection, which was made sometime between 1853 and 1867 in New York state. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 for expansion and renovations and recently opened the performance auditorium. The renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open again until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently visited a museum in which I haven’t ventured into for almost 3.5 years in Siouxland, which closed for renovations and expansion. The addition has been completed with a new performance auditorium but the museum housing the collection of instruments at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, may not open until 2023 or possibly 2024.

For someone who has never stepped foot inside the historical museum they may be shocked to find such a diversity of musical instruments that have been collected and donated to this facility from ancient to more modern pieces of instrumental music. And the fun part of the museum’s mission seems to be the opportunity to sometimes hear some of the instruments being used in performances by musicians.

That occurred recently when acoustic musician Jake Blount of Rhode Island performed and gave a short oral history of Black and Indigenous groups who used the banjo and fiddle as means of expression long, long before blue grass or old timey country music was given a thought.

National Music Museum Dwight Vaught introduces acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount is playing a Henry Dobson banjo was that was made sometime between 1853 and 1867 in New York state. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not again open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blount talked about the history of the banjo and how it was created by slaves and its long journey into the mainstream music scene and again how black musicians have once again begun playing it after attempts by white people to disparage the idea of blacks and the their early music by parody of the blackface musicians and entertainers who traveled the country and the world giving a very unflattering portrayal of such “low down and dirty music” that he explained made many black musicians ashamed and embarrassed to play this music for decades. He cited an academic piece by a historian whose name I did catch during the performance but apparently goes into detail about the journey of slaves who escaped to freedom and used their talent journey to a better life and location but who also created lasting music along the way.

I found a piece doing an online search and am not certain if it is the same historian, Laurent Dubois, who writes “a narrative of how this instrument was created by enslaved Africans in the midst of bondage in the Caribbean and Americas. He documents its journey from 17th- and 18th-century plantations to 19th-century minstrel shows to the bluegrass of Appalachia to the folk revival of the mid-20th century. In the process, Dubois documents how the banjo came to symbolize community, slavery, resistance, and ultimately America itself. A historian of the Caribbean and a banjo player himself, Dubois relied on the work of academic historians as well as insights from musicians, collectors, and banjo makers to tell this story.”

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience member takes a photo of acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members enjoy acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The new facility in which Blount performed is more of a theatre setting than the previous performance space in the museum, with more seating available, while still retaining its small and intimate space. Performances will again draw the targeted audience the museum had in the past, depending on the time of day and day of performance. And of course over time some of the performances and performers change especially those associated with the university.

I always enjoy my visits and once again look forward to the musical instrument collection being available to view and admire. It is such a different experience that seeing something like this online. And someday it will happen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Music Museum Dwight Vaught introduces acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD, recently began hosting noon concerts again. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter and Spring Effects in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

13 May

The Vermillion River seen along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Vermillion River near Cotton park flooded earlier this spring as seen from debris left in trees along the bank. This river and other waterways flooded when a still frozen snow-covered ground couldn’t absorb rain that fell in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On an outing in Vermillion, SD with a Lifelong Learning class in photography that I teach we ventured along the Vermillion River that runs below Vermillion, SD. It’s like a lot of other rivers and normally provides a nice walk on a bike path near a park in the community. I have visited this walking a path a few times and I was struck by some fundamental changes, like sand being scooped off the walkways so people could pass through. This I guess occurred when the river ran high with rains and the ground still frozen from winter last spring. In only a couple of days or more sand was swept from the riverbed and deposited outside of the banks. But it will take more time to return the sand that accumulated.

Photo Safari students from Western Iowa Tech walk along the bike path near Cotton Park that was cleared of sand from a flooding Vermillion River seen in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Erosion of the bank of the Vermillion River along the bike path near Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One can also see new erosion from the rushing river water and how eventually it will affect paths that run alongside it and provide enjoyment and a respite for locals. Nature can be beautifully destructive at times. I was also amazed at how high some river detritus I saw along the path as the water spread out of its banks and ran high.

 

A wooden bridge gives a good vantage point at Cotton Park in Vermillion, SD Saturday, April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And that’s what I like about visiting and revisiting local areas because they change. Sometimes changes that we as people don’t find beneficial but for me it’s the exploring and looking and just being outside finally with warmer temperatures even though nature sometimes reminds us that we are just along for the ride.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying Architecture in Siouxland, University of South Dakota, Vermillion

20 Oct

Working with B&W on a grey day on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I explain to students who take some of the photo courses I teach through the Lifelong Learning program at Western Iowa Tech in Siouxland, sometimes the weather, time of year, and other factors will nudge my shooting style on a particular day. On a trip to Vermillion, SD it was an overcast day. No bright blue skies, the leaves not yet turning and apparently more rain on the way. But it didn’t deter me from shooting a few images.

Working with B&W on a grey day on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Working with B&W on a grey day on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I photographed in B&W, working with tonality and lines and form. Not all images are competition winners, most in fact are not. But still they achieve the effect I was looking to create and help tell their own story. Color isn’t everything, and at times can detract from an image. So one must rely on other ways to relaying to the viewer what they the photographer is trying to share. Light and shadow, form and shape, etc.

Working in B&W on a grey day on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Working with B&W on a grey day on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Working with B&W on a grey day on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I visited it had been after a rather contentious fight in the U.S. Senate about the newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice. Some remnants of students’ thoughts remained, although many were fading from the sidewalks they were expressed on. And here again, I felt B&W was a better way of expressing the students’ written thoughts rather than color and the colorful chalk used. It provided a more stark presentation of a tough topic that is only now gaining mainstream attention.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The #MeToo movement seen on the campus in the form of sidewalk chalk writing about sexual assault at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The #MeToo movement seen on the campus in the form of sidewalk chalk writing about sexual assault at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The #MeToo movement seen on the campus in the form of sidewalk chalk writing about sexual assault at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Doorway in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

16 Oct

I am always attracted to doorways when I am out and about. Some seem inviting, others have a nice shape or form. Definitely there is something always on the other side and so there is also a bit of mystery as to what lies beyond. Some questions may never be answered, but I guess that is part of the appeal and wondering and imagination.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A shed door in Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Day the Music Went Quiet in Siouxland, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

10 Oct

I found out recently that the National Music Museum located on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD will be closing for two years for an expansion project of the museum that will add 16,000 square feet of additional space, which includes two floors and an underground level.

The National Music Museum ot the campus of the University of South Dakota, will be closing for a couple of years for expansion and renovation, seen at Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

From reading a press release and a current newsletter I found out that the 1910 former Carnegie Library expansion will include extra display area and a new performing space. The museum currently houses 15,000 instruments plus other material associated with them. It will be expanding its restoration area and be adding a dedicated research area.

I have visited the museum a few times taking advantage of free lunch time concerts that are presented there. A real treat to hear accomplished musicians perform their stuff. I especially like the Christmas concerts which gets a person into the mood for the season.

 

 

I will be sad not to hear a Christmas concert this year or next in the museum’s current performance space. It is small and intimate like a group of friends arriving at someone’s parlor to hear a performance. Performances will continue though at other venues on campus with a scheduled Christmas performance on the books. The expansion will benefit the museum though, and its continued service to the world of music and make a living art a little easier to ensure its future and enjoyment of music lovers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Art in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

4 May

It’s been a few months since I had visited this part of Siouxland, traveling to Vermillion, SD. I attended a performance by a musical group that I will write about in a later post, but then went to the downtown area to eat some lunch. And it’s always a pleasant surprise to find or notice something I had not seen before. And this time it was sculpted art pieces in the downtown area. It was sweet and nice to see a community have pride to showcase something visual that adds to the ambience of the area, and to let others visiting to also enjoy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

On display is sculpted art in downtown Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

On display is sculpted art in downtown Vermillion, SD Friday April 27, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visiting History in Siouxland, W. H. Over Museum, Vermillion, SD

11 Mar

As part of flyover country, Siouxland is surprising in the number of museums one can be found, like the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD. Having visited it over time, it was nice to see some newly finished displays. Unlike major metropolitan facilities small towns rely on volunteers and a smaller donation pool to make ends meet.

The W. H. Over Museum has recently finished some new displays in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have taken a couple of my Photo Safari classes there to look at exhibits and get a better sense of history in the early Dakotas when there was only one, not North and South Dakota, during the country’s expansion west.

A story behind one diorama at the W. H. Over Museum and history of the Dakota Territory in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A small diorama tells at the W. H. Over Museum tells history of the Dakota Territory and a turning point in the expansion West in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And each time I return, and the same is true in visiting other museums, something new catches my eye and gives me a little better understanding of what life was like in the early Siouxland area.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

History of Photography in Siouxland, W H Over Museum, Vermillion, SD

25 Feb

When I am out surveying Siouxland, I am always happy with serendipitous encounters that allows me to find a unique place to visit and photograph. Such encounters can enrich one’s knowledge and makes visiting a place all the more enjoyable, such as the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD. Meeting Lynn Muller, owner of an extensive collection of Kodak cameras, which in itself is a history of photography in America.

Camera collector Lynn Muller talks about his extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands he also collected at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

George Eastman created an empire built on encouraging people to take photographs. Muller was gracious enough to take some time to show me his collection and talk about the history of Kodak. He explained he became interested in photography during the Vietnam war. An art student, he said there wasn’t the ability to have paints, an easel or canvas, so he picked up a camera. He began his collecting in 1971 and that still continues today.

Camera collector Lynn Muller said many of the original Brownie cameras sold for only a dollar, making them accessible to many more people, especially families, as they recorded daily life which made the brand extremely popular. His extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands are on display at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Muller’s collection includes many examples of the Brownie camera, the first product Eastman mass produced, convincing the American public that it should photograph everyday events in the lives of its family to remember those moments.

Camera collector Lynn Muller said Kodak founder George Eastman was very good at marketing which helped propel his company and cameras to the top of the the consumer wants list as he talks about his extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An early era instruction manual that came with a Kodak No. 3 folding camera that is part of Lynn Muller’s extensive collection of Kodak cameras as well as some other brands at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

He explained that Eastman also saw the opportunity of promoting this “hobby” to women, utilizing a marketing campaign to show them as independent people.

Kodak camera collector Lynn Muller said that George Eastman, founder of Kodak, was a master in marketing and targeted women in many campaigns that helped the brand become popular. Muller has an extensive collection of Kodak cameras on display at the W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion, SD Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The breadth and depth of Muller’s collection is breathtaking, and if one calls ahead to the museum, it is possible to schedule time with Muller for him to explain the history of Kodak and many other camera brands of which he also collects. Therein lies my serendipitous moment when museum personnel let me into the special section holding the collection, Mr. Muller happened to stop by. It’s amazing to see all of the cameras, but no less amazing to hear him talk about Eastman and his rise to being a leading figure in photography, inventing the use of roll film rather than glass plates for taking pictures. And creating a smaller camera body as opposed to the larger cameras used by the likes of Matthew Brady and other early photographic pioneers thus bring photography to the masses. The first cameras contained a roll film with 100 exposures and cost about $25.00. Eastman brought the photographic experience to the masses and soon everyone was taking photographs to commemorate some aspect of their life or family’s life.

And it was fun to learn this history in Siouxland, without having to travel to New York state and visiting the museum in Rochester. Although that would be a nice trip for any photography buff. And as much as I like serendipity when I photograph, I don’t mind it at all when it happens in life as well.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Exploring with a “toy camera” in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

17 Oct

With the Fuji X series cameras that I use to photograph with I enjoy sometimes “playing” with some of the special features. Especially the “toy camera” feature. It is reminiscent to me of using a Holga plastic camera when I previously shot film. This setting augments reality and with some subjects add a little something to the image. At least I think so.

Pigeons take flight around a grain elevator in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It creates a bit of a vignette and softens the image and sometimes adds a bit of color saturation. Walking around Vermillion where I have been numerous times I enjoy changing up the types of images I might capture. And sometimes I believe it depends on the type of day and weather with how this effect interacts with the subject in creating the image. I think one should always continue exploring how one sees and within limits and a budget limit if one needs too, how to photograph subjects and they sharing that different view with others.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Seeing Nature in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

29 Sep

On a recent visit to Vermillion, SD, I came upon a walking trail of which I wasn’t aware in Cotton Park inside the community. It follows the course of the Vermillion River, is paved and so is an easy walk to enjoy nature and get away from any immediate surroundings of the town itself.

A small river running alongside a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It was pleasant hearing songbirds along the trail and I even noticed some early signs of fall, changing leaf colors, although sadly, I think the leaves belonged to a poison ivy plant, and a wooly caterpillar. I can never remember the old farmer’s tale whether seeing such a critter means an early winter or a colder one.

Nature along a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A wooly caterpillar predicting winter on a walking trail in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding solitude in a city setting is always a plus in my book, even in smaller communities. Sometimes a getaway shouldn’t involve traveling miles, just maybe a few steps outside of one’s doorway. When I emerged back into the more “civilized” part of the town I saw a coniferous tree that with a little imagination would be perfect for tinsel and Christmas balls, as well as an industrious bee working to harvest some remaining nourishment for the months ahead.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Add some tinsel and colored balls and Christmas is just around the corner in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bees still working even in September preparing for winter in Vermillion, SD Saturday Sept. 16, 2017. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

 

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