100th Blog Posting for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment

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This is the 100th Blog posting for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment since beginning the blog, “What’s Your Livelihood?” in November 2012.

What does “livelihood” mean to Nebraskans?

We created this blog to help answer that question. This is a place for our community to come together, embrace culture, and share how the arts and humanities have played an essential role in inspiring our livelihoods.

“What’s Your Livelihood?” has received nearly 14,000 views from 99 different countries. Here is a look back at some of the past livelihood blogs and people that make our state so rich in the arts and humanities.

Band Is My Livelihood

IMG_1003Tony’s Story: I didn’t come from a musical family. My mother was an English teacher and my father was a mortgage banker. There were pianos at both of my grandparents’ houses though, and I suppose my earliest musical curiosities were explored on those instruments. It became clear early on however that my inclinations were percussive.  Posted on January 27, 2014 .

Tribal Culture Is My Livelihood

Taylor KeenTaylor’s Story : Our identity is everything to us as human beings. I was born into two tribes, the Omaha, and the Cherokee. I was adopted at birth into the earthen Bison clan (Black Shoulder or Inke’cabe). My name is Ba’gee-zha, which means Bison Mane, literally, but refers to the transformation of an alpha male whose head and neck enlarge dramatically as he must physically fight for the vitality of the tribe. Our goal as Omaha Indians is to live up to the metaphor of our names so that our tribe will thrive.  Posted on June 11, 2013 .

 

Seven Doctors Project Is My Livelihood

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Steve’s Story: Seven Doctors Project, which I formed in spring 2008 at the Nebraska Medical Center, was an experiment—of the non-scientific variety. I wanted to see what would happen if mid-career physicians who were encountering job dissatisfaction or burnout joined a writing workshop led by area writers. I also wanted to see what would happen if the physicians were placed, maybe for the first time in quite a while, in the apprentice position.  Posted on August 12, 2013 .

Shakespeare Is My Livelihood

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Mike’s Story: In my time as the managing director of the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, I was fortunate to witness countless examples of how the arts transcend the creative experience to touch and affect the rest of our lives—and, how public funding for the arts makes that possible. Posted on January 21, 2013 .

Textiles Are My Livelihood

Orange Dots DetailMary’s Story: I grew up in the 1950s in Niles, Michigan. I went to the neighborhood catholic grade school and it was there that I was first initiated into the rituals of color, symbols and cloth. My mentor, a catholic nun named Mother Padua, suggested I give up my recess time and spend it, instead, in church, dusting statues, cleaning holy water fountains, and laying out the liturgical vestments for daily mass. I routinely tore through my daily church chores so I could linger in front of the massive wooden armoire full of liturgical garments, arranged by color and ancient code, long, flowing, magnificent robes, covered with symbols and embroidery, gilded as if angels had made them. What was cloth this magical doing in my little church in my little town? Posted on June 3, 2014.

What’s your livelihood?  Share your story with us. 

At the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, our mission is to cultivate a legacy of stability, advocacy and leadership for the arts and humanities in Nebraska. Learn more.

 

 

 

 

Writing Is My Second Livelihood

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Lydia Kang at Comic Con

My path to publication isn’t typical. I’ve always had a passion for literature, arts and the sciences, but didn’t know where it would take me. In college, I remember volunteering at St. Luke’s Emergency Room and helping a patient with AIDS hobble to the bathroom. It was a single moment, but it solidified a decision to pursue a career in medicine.

After practicing internal medicine for several years, I still found myself hungry for a creative outlet. I began writing essays about the singular experiences that physicians are honored to have with patients. Along the way came a move to Omaha, and after the birth of a third child came an opportunity to join a doctor’s writing workshop (The Seven Doctor’s Project). I’d been curious about poetry and fiction, and within a year of joining the workshop, I began writing novels. I self-taught much of what I learned by voraciously reading writing websites, blogs, and forums on writing.

I don’t find myself confined into having to write only science fiction, or literary, or romance.

So. Why do I write young adult literature? YA encompasses so many “firsts” for the characters. First love; first foray into adult decision-making (whether the character is ready or not), first heartbreak–all the while crossing that unstable bridge away from childhood. Every story delves into these emotional landmarks with a different camera lens, and I don’t find myself confined into having to write only science fiction, or literary, or romance. I love the possibilities of them all, and I never grow tired of beautifully wrought YA books.

I never expected to have a dual career, plus a thriving family. It’s all a gift, and one that I don’t take for granted. It’s also a lot of hard work, which is a message that I deliver to young writers often. It took a while to get here. It’s always been an uphill hike and with publishing, the trail never really gets flat. But the journey has been unforgettable—and comes with some amazing views.

About LydiaLydiaKang
Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine and currently practices internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her work has been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. CONTROL is her first young adult novel (Penguin). “A sweet, edgy romance rounds out this smart, futuristic medical thriller,” says Publisher’s Weekly. The sequel, CATALYST, releases in March 2015.

Somehow ,This Is My Livelihood

todd brown work

More and more, I have been describing myself as an artist.  I had always linked that title with some external indication, like income, publication, or time spent in the studio.  Only recently have I come to realize how integral every aspect of my life is to the portion of it which is art.  Removing or replacing any part of it might be detrimental to my process.  There is a balance that allows me to pay the bills while building my resume and exploring my ideas.  My background and work in graphic design has improved the ever growing need for marketing my work.  My construction background and workshop have allowed my photographic work to develop into sculpture.  Some of my first photo-shoots took place in the abandoned buildings that I was remodeling.  My inclination towards architecture leads me to photograph and create space.  This is my version of living an artistic life.  Everything is taken together.

Like everyone else, I am connecting memories to ideas.  Thankfully, I have ways to show them.

 

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table/pitcher/oranges 60″ x 1200″ Collection of Kathy and Marc LeBaron

For me, sincerity is a process of immersion.  My models are my friends (I recently traded modeling time for building a wardrobe), my preferred scale for prints is based on making the characters larger than life and the perimeter of the frame large enough to evoke a room.  These large scale prints can reach the sizes such as 80″ by 120″, and I print them by means of photo transfer, a process that requires good deal of had rubbing of paper and panels with the help of my wife, leaving us with smooth sore fingers and palms but a strong attachment to every finished piece.  If you see one, you will note that it looks worn, imperfect.  If it’s large, you might imagine stepping into a room.  Within that room/space are my ideals and fears.  Like everyone else, I am connecting memories to ideas.  Thankfully, I have ways to show them.

About Toddtodd brown
Todd Brown is an artist, carpenter and designer living and working in the Hastings, NE area.  Todd graduated, along with his wife, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a masters degree in Architecture.  He began showing his work publicly 5 years ago.  Since, he has had solo shows, been awarded Juried prizes and has been profiled in several publications.  His work can be found in several prominent collections including a large photographic sculpture in the Karen and Robert Duncan Sculpture Garden.  Todd is the featured artist at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, NE, October 11, 2014 thru January 4, 2015.  He is represented by Modern Arts Midtown of Omaha.

www.toddbrownart.com
http://www.modernartsmidtown.com/artists/Todd%20Brown

 

 

 

 

The Art Of Editing Is My Livelihood

Kevin Reiner edit

The weight of my work is in creating videos in Advertising and Marketing – commercials, corporate videos, capital campaign videos etc. The wonderful thing about Clark Creative is that we also get involved with many local arts and nonprofit organizations, including The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, The BLUEBARN Theater, KANEKO, Omaha Performing Arts, and Opera Omaha.  Because of this, I always feel that my work is going for worthwhile causes.

In 2005, artist Jun Kaneko approached Fred Clark, the owner of Clark Creative Group, and me to seek our help in creating video animations for his upcoming opera production of Madama Butterfly done in collaboration with Opera Omaha. It seemed like a fun project, one that landed outside our usual territories.  Jun was very organized and specific about his needs, so the job was more about bringing his visions to fruition than creating something from scratch. The experience turned out to be a great success. When Kaneko was asked to design the production of Fidelio for Opera Philadelphia in 2008 and a production of The Magic Flute for the San Francisco Opera in 2012, he graciously brought Clark Creative Group along for the ride.

My whole role in all 3 opera productions was to provide background animations that were projected during the performances. Each opera production seemed to get a little more complex, culminating with The Magic Flute which contained a total of 9 screens using over 11 hours of animation for each performance.  For The Magic Flute, I animated in video what Jun does with the art. Using a program called Adobe: After Effects, I recreated the drip art and lines that Jun had created and animated them according to his storyboard.

The equally difficult challenge came in delivering the files. During the live performance, all of the animations must be cue-able to the score; the tempo can change drastically from night-to-night.  This entailed a ton of planning and cooperation between the opera technical staff and myself.  I ended up learning how to follow an opera score and timing my animations to that score, making sure that my animations were able to be looped and allow for correct cueing.  Difficult enough for one screen, but we were working on up to 5 screens at one time.  All of those screens had to stay in sync.  It was a challenge to say the least.  I leaned on my editing partner Mark Grossardt and after many long nights, we delivered The Magic Flute animations to the San Francisco Opera. One of my proudest moments was when the crew in San Francisco asked if I could bring two or three of my crew members out there.  Little did they know it was only two of us working on the entire production.

 

About KevinKevin Reiner

Kevin Reiner grew up in a tight-knit family in Omaha, NE. After graduating from Omaha Creighton Prep, Kevin went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

In 2000, he was hired by Clark Creative Group as their video editor. With the use of books, online user groups, and trial-and-error, Kevin taught himself the art of editing.  Kevin’s loves in his life include all types of music (indie, pop, punk, folk, alt, alt-county, classical, ska etc.), film (Coen brothers being the favorite), and food (cooking and eating).  Kevin states the most important aspect in his life to be family, his wonderful wife, Kim, and their two kids, Henry and Charlotte.  “They keep me going.”

Kevin’s work can be seen in April 2015 when Opera Omaha presents the Jun Kaneko production of Fidelio.   www.operaomaha.org/operas/fidelio

 

Torch Singing Is My Livelihood

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Torch Singing 101, Zen’s Lounge, Lincoln, NE

About 15 years ago while living in Chicago I came across an online article about fantasy occupations. In the men’s category on the top of the list were Airline Pilot and Professional Baseball Player. On the women’s list, the top fantasy occupation was Lounge Singer. I thought to myself, that’s what I do! There is a need here I could fulfill as I was already teaching jazz voice at the college level. I needed to design a simplified course to help adults (including men) fulfill their lounge singer/jazz singer fantasies with a top level band in hip music room (about that time, “The Fabulous Baker Boys” movie was out and I recall Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in a red sequin dress, stretched across a grand piano singing a torch song which may have inspired this too).

I moved to Lincoln three years ago and thought to recreate a similar course I’d created in Chicago (which was a huge success by the way). After convincing several new friends here to be the first students, I taught the first class out of my home and we had the first show at Zen’s Lounge on 11th St. with Tom Larson, piano and Hans Sturm, double bass, accompanying them up . It has just taken off, attracting both men and women. Last fall I was even invited to give Garrison Keillor on his show, A Prairie Home Companion, a Torch Singing “lesson” at the Lied Center. It was quite spontaneous and tongue-in-cheek. We had a blast!

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Torch Singing 101, Zen’s Lounge, Lincoln, NE

The class is called Torch Singer 101 and its designed for the novice but anyone can take it. It’s taught out of my home in Lincoln’s Country Club District. Class is limited to 8 adults and meets once a week for 2 hours. Classes run 6 weeks, culminating in a free public performance at a local venue. We focus on songs from the “Great American Song Book” and jazz standards. We have fun with vocal improvisation to get singers loosened up and to get inside the harmony of a song. We discuss lyric interpretation, stage presence, stage fright and microphone technique along with vocal range and melody transposition. Singers perform one group song and 2 solo selections backed by professional rhythm section in front of friends, family and new fans!

Students get to explore singing beyond the written page with vocal improvisation in class and the thrill of doing it on stage.

Students get to explore singing beyond the written page with vocal improvisation in class and the thrill of doing it on stage. They solo with uniquely crafted arrangements with professional jazz musicians who, in addition to backing them up, follow and support them in the event a section is forgotten or beats are “dropped” in the heat of the moment. Singers experience a live, supportive and enthusiastic audience cheering them on, there’s nothing quite like it! In fact, classes usually include students who want to do it a second or third time.

For me, I learn new musical ideas from my students (who often don’t know the cliches yet) and I get to be the nervous mom in the front row, watching my students take risks, get over stage fright and entertain an audience with wit and poise. I get to know so many cool people in Lincoln as well.

Next Torch Singer 101 show:
Zen’s Lounge, 122 N. 11th St., Lincoln Tuesday, October 14, 7:30PM (402-475-2929).
No cover charge (donations for the band appreciated).

www.zenslounge.com
www.torchsinger101.com
www.jackieallen.com

About Jackie 

jackie allen

Photo by Matt Elwood

Jackie Allen, vocalist, songwriter, educator and recording artist, has toured the US, Europe, Morocco, Brazil, China and Taiwan. Last spring, 2014 she released her 10th album, My Favorite Color (Avant Bass). Her group includes guitar, piano, acoustic bass and percussion. “Allen’s greatest strength is her sheer musicality and the way in which she both frames and interprets her song.” (Los Angeles Times)  “Utterly distinctive and even innovative…a masterpiece. “(Billboard Magazine) “This is four-hundred-dollar-a-bottle jazz” (Rolling Stone) Musically sophisticated and artistically daring…” (Chicago Tribune).

Allen teaches voice and songwriting at Doane College (Crete) and has taught at UNL, Ball State University (IN), and Roosevelt University (IL). Allen was featured with the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Ella Fitzgerald Celebration (Auditorium Theater). She has served on the Board and Jazz Committee for the Recording Academy (Grammy Awards).  She’s married to bassist Hans Sturm with their son Wolfgang.