Music Is An Important Part Of My Livelihood


Pete’s Story
Music isn’t my career, but it’s always been an important part of my livelihood and well-being.

I grew up surrounded by music primarily due to my clarinet-flute-saxophone-piccolo-wash board wielding father.  He loved the law and was a very good lawyer, but traditional jazz was his passion.  His band played every Wednesday night at a popular local restaurant in the Dundee neighborhood and he toured and produced several albums.  I just thought it was normal to fall asleep listening to live late night jazz coming from our living room.

I started taking piano lessons at a young age as did my flute and trumpet playing sisters, but it didn’t take me long to figure out drums and percussion were going to be my thing.  We all became second generation attendees of the internationally known Interlochen Arts Camp (my kids will become the third generation this summer), and I played in rock bands in high school and college.

The 5:30 a.m. alarm clock can come quick some mornings, but making the time for the art form that inspires you is always worth it.

I continued to play on my own, but it didn’t take long before political, business, and family pursuits overtook the time commitment needed to play in a band.

About a year ago, however, I became inspired to tune-up the drum set and get back in the game!  Part of my inspiration came from my work on the City Council to renovate our neighborhood business districts.  In particular, the resurgence of Benson into one of the city’s hottest spots for new restaurants, art, entertainment, and live music.  Just recently, my band played its first show at Benson’s newest live music venue and had a blast.

The Omaha World-Herald covered the band’s formation and first performance and the response has been gratifying.  We’ve all received numerous contacts from people with successful careers in something other than music – business, medicine, and politics – who continue to pursue their love of music or have now been re-energized to do so.

The 5:30 a.m. alarm clock can come quick some mornings, but making the time for the art form that inspires you is always worth it.

About PeteFestersen_Pete_300dpi.jpg

City Councilman Pete Festersen was elected to the Omaha City Council in 2009 and re-elected in 2013.  He is currently President of the City Council and is the owner of his own small business, Strategic Business Development, LLC.

Prior to serving on the City Council and starting his company, Councilman Festersen helped shape Omaha’s future in senior management positions with the Peter Kiewit Foundation, The Mayor’s Office, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and Alegent Health, one of Omaha’s largest private employers.  He has also served as Chairman of the Omaha Planning Board for three years and on various community boards such as the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Benson-Ames Alliance, College World Series Inc and AK-SAR-BEN Future Trust.

Pete was born and raised in Omaha and graduated from Central High School and Connecticut College before earning his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  He is a graduate of Leadership Omaha and has been recognized for his work as a business leader by the Midlands Business Journal.  He also received the Excellence in Public Service Award from the UNO College of Public Administration and Community Service in 2012.

Pete and his wife, Paige, have two children, Anna and Caroline and they attend Dundee Presbyterian Church.  Pete enjoys racing sailboats by competing on the regional and national levels and is a former Nebraska State Champion in both soccer and curling.  A lifelong musician, he also spends time playing the drums.

Click here to read the Omaha World Herald article on Pete Festersen’s band.

I Am My Livelihood

craig2Okay, I get that is an arrogant statement. However, when I sat down to write this it never felt correct saying what I do is my livelihood. While I could have said design or web coding or branding is what pays my bills, they do not. What does pay them? I do.

Yet again with the arrogant surface statement. This time, let me explain where I am coming from. All the things I do are services I provide. They are nothing on their own, but require me to bring them to action. They are skills and tools in a vast arsenal of options. Collectively, I pick and pull the necessary choices to fulfill the requests and needs of my clients. Clients know what I can do because I inform them, not because web design brought them in to our conversation.

Granted, people seeing my work product in the wild on mobile devices, business cards or social media channels put my name on their mind. In reality, most of them arrive from word of mouth. From there, it is my personality and social abilities that get me to the point of deploying anything.

The biggest keys of my success thus far have been listening, internalizing, interpreting and executing.

The biggest keys of my success thus far have been listening, internalizing, interpreting and executing. All of these interpersonal skills I garnered from a life of interacting with people and wanting to find out more about them now prove invaluable to me staying above water. Those skills are also, not coincidentally, what keep my clients returning and referring me to other friends and businesses.

Having the talent is one thing, but knowing what people are needing is entirely another. In the industry I spend most of my time servicing, it is very easy to bowl people over with technobabble and hot buzz words. The main hurdle I have is that they barely understand the terms and why they should even be considering implementing them. I do my best to educate and thereby empower clients so they can make informed decisions once they understand what is really being said.

Sometimes this means that I do not get nearly the project’s original scope. Other times it surpasses and even becomes something never even originally discussed. While I would not encourage any business owner from taking money off the table, I absolutely do suggest you make the best call for the person you are speaking with. There might be times where it is best to update what they have instead of completely re-branding. It is hard watching those immediate dollars slip away, but I have found they make their way back in other routes.

Through this whole process, HTML, Photoshop, SEO and all my other skills never hit the playing field.  The vast majority of my time is spent listening to what the client is saying and providing solutions for what they really need from my skill sets. It is up to me to determine what those needs may be. If done well the client will keep coming back.

This is why I feel my true livelihood is me.

About Craig craig

Craig Coffman is the owner of octoberland, a creative service providing web, print, social media and branding offerings. When not sounding important, he is busily fathering his son who just might be the coolest human being on the planet. If time permits, he enjoys comics and music.

To read more about Craig’s work, Click

Gathering Together Is My Livelihood

Peter’s Story

Sake Bottle. 2012. 5"x5". ceramic

Sake Bottle. 2012. 5″x5″. ceramic

The act of gathering and eating is what compels the art I make. Through functional pottery I am able to convey a sacred idea; that we should gather, make food and eat together.  The sculpture I create extends my thoughts beyond the table, using symbolic schema and historically inspired forms like tablets, tools and weapons.

I learned to work in my childhood home. Stacking firewood and tending the garden were common. That time has inspired my present life as a child-rearing homemaker and dedicated gardener. I’m an outlier in the traditional world of domesticity and this has influenced my work in ceramics. Currently, making pottery and growing food is the bulk of my effort. This adjustment reveals a message; home making and handmade pots are essential because we need to gather and eat.

The place of pottery in everyday life helps me to recognize the potentials it has for building a community – we should gather and eat, drink and discuss


Dessert plates.  5" dia. 2013. ceramic

Dessert plates. 5″ dia. 2013. ceramic

The forms I make are full in volume but reserved in character.  I use brick clay that is mined in Southern Nebraska, near Endicott. It is fired to a mid-range temperature of 2150 degrees F. Throwing on a wheel, pinching and coiling, and pounding flat slabs are my typical forming techniques.

A way to describe my decorative technique is analogous to how I dress. Pots are painted on the inside with a white slip, like a t-shirt. That gets covered with a bright colored glaze, like a dress shirt. I paint a dull matte slip on the exterior to unify the form, like a coat. I prefer earth tones on pottery exteriors, and sometimes interrupt this surface with spots, stripes or non-representational characters. Sculptures are painted with varied colors of slip, drawn through and stained with oxides.  I use illustrative images to convey contemplations about the world I experience.

Encounter 2. 2014. 10.4" x7.5", ceramic

Encounter 2. 2014. 10.4″ x7.5″, ceramic

The place of pottery in everyday life helps me to recognize the potentials it has for building a community – we should gather and eat, drink and discuss. I am compelled to make art because it engages my intellect and allows me to express what I read and think about. The fundamental process of transforming clay engages my curiosity and rewards my mental and physical effort.

About Peter

PETER SCHERR was born and raised in Hastings, Nebraska. He is a ceramic artist – making both functional and sculptural pieces – living and working in Bellevue, Nebraska. Peter assisted in the studio of Jun Kaneko (1999-2000) where he learned and experienced the labors of a studio practice. He later received his BFA (2005) from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, under the tutelage of Gail Kendall, Eddie Dominguez, and Pete Pinnell. He and his wife live and garden on an acre South of Omaha, raising two young daughters, a toddler son, and laying hens. History, trains and food are his favored discussion themes.

See more of his work at

He is also on Instagram.




An Artist and a Business Man Are My Livelihoods

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Bob’s Story

All through my life, whether I was painting, creating advertising, or facilitating leadership groups, I’ve always identified as an artist and always seeking to integrate my thoughts, feelings and ideas with others to demonstrate how the arts helps us to live life fully.  I will always believe that art is what holds society together.

This philosophy was rooted in my early childhood. In school, art activities were my favorite classes. Fortunately my teachers and my parents noticed and encouraged me. I grew up in various communities in Southeast Nebraska. In first grade, living in Sutton, I remember my mother introducing me to two older women who gave watercolor lessons in their attic on Saturday mornings. I loved it and from that point on I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. As a junior at Hebron High School, I was fortunate enough to attend the Allstate program at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. It was a defining moment and from that point the arts have defined who I am. I worked as an artist in New York in the 60s and early 70s then came back to Nebraska and began my career in advertising while continuing my studio art at home. I founded Culver & Associates in 1983 and it grew to be the largest ad agency in Nebraska and was recognized as a regional INC Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year in 1994.

My artistic interest has also motivated me to be involved with various arts organizations across the state including Nebraska Arts Council, Museum of Nebraska Art and recently the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. A healthy community needs a healthy arts infrastructure. We also need to increase our focus and support for the arts from preschool through high school. Research has shown the importance of creativity in every walk of life as well as preparing our young Nebraskans to be at the forefront of innovation, critical to the success in the business world.

I feel fortunate that I had the opportunities to be an artist, think artistically and apply my artistic notions and ideas to everyday life. I encourage others to do the same by bringing the arts into their family activities, their businesses by attending arts events, going to museums and finding their own artistic gifts.

About BobBob corporate pic (2)

Bob Culver is both a successful artist and businessman. As an artist, Bob is an accomplished painter, studied with nationally known artists and is an active member of the Arts Community. As a businessman he is the Senior Consultant at Culver Consulting specializing in strategic business consulting and leadership development programming. Also, he was vice president of Leadership Learning Transformation for Lincoln Financial Group. Before his career at Lincoln Financial, he built one of the largest advertising agencies in Nebraska and was an INC. Magazine Entrepreneur-of-the-Year.

Bob has a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska. Twice, he received residency scholarships to Kent State University’s Blossom Center Program. He has studied with internationally known artists including Wayne Thiebaud, Phillip Pearlstein, Frank Gallo, Richard Whitney and Alex Katz. Upon graduation from the University of Nebraska he moved to New York City to apprentice with Red Grooms, a leader in the Pop Art movement of the 60’s and 70’s. He assisted Red with many installations as well as starring in one of Red’s Ruckus Films called Hippodrome Hardware. While in New York, he also taught drawing at the Educational Alliance. Returning to Nebraska, Bob created the Culver Marketing Group. The Culver Marketing Group grew to be the largest Nebraska based advertising agency and was chosen by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, as one of Omaha’s Top 25 fastest growing companies. He received the Chamber’s Small Businessperson of the Year in 1992. Bob was also honored as the Outstanding Alumni of the University of Nebraska Lincoln Fine Arts College.

While at Lincoln Financial, he co-created the curriculum and was on the faculty of ICAN’s “Defining Leadership for Men” program. He partnered on a marketing case study with members of the faculty at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management and taught marketing theory in the Omaha Small Business Network’s FastTrac Program. Bob is certified in Emergenetics, Essi Systems EQ Map, Center for Creative Leadership 360 tools and Edward de Bono’s “Six Hats Thinking”. Bob is a LIMRA Leadership Institute Fellow (LLIF), conferred jointly by the LIMRA Leadership Institute and The Wharton School of Business

He serves and has served on many community boards including Opera Omaha, Omaha Symphony, Public Arts Commission, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha Creative Institute, Museum of Nebraska Art, Nebraska Special Olympics, Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Omaha Theater Company for Young People, Friends of Joslyn Castle, Girls Inc. and co-founded the MEDICI group, a fund-raising organization for the department of Art and Art History, University of Nebraska – Lincoln.



Bridging Cultures Is My Livelihood

Sovereign Youth Leadership camp

Sovereign Youth Leadership camp

Nancy’s story:
“You will wear two dresses” my great-grandmother told me, referring to my mixed heritage of Cherokee/Choctaw/Scots Irish and the challenges to be faced.

But, thankfully from an early age I had a great-grandmother who taught me about tribal traditions, and a grandfather who wanted me assured of a western education and willing to indulge me with trips to natural history museums, art galleries, historical sites; anywhere to feed my insatiable curiosity about the world both “out there now” and “long ago,” which led eventually to a career teaching college level history, anthropology, and sociology.

Nancy at Genoa 2014

Nancy – “Wearing Two Dresses”

Teaching was the obvious choice for such broad interests but two remarkable opportunities arose here in Nebraska melding avocations and vocation. In 1987 beginning work with a church on the Winnebago Reservation propelled me into public speaking across the country on its behalf seeking potential supporters; then in 1997 being hired by the Neihardt State Historic Site creating educational programming on Neihardt and related topics. Neihardt’s literary and journalistic career and his inextricable link to Native Americans (think Black Elk Speaks) broadened the topics covered both in what was offered on site and what could be taken out to schools and other groups across the state.

For a mixed blood Native woman, these presentations expanded finding a perfect niche market. Using my own life experiences (i.e. being told in 3rd grade “You can’t be Indian, there are no Indians left” when I went home to a whole household of them) combined with what I taught in the classroom, was an excellent way to bridge gaps between cultures. Putting it bluntly, utilizing the combination of my European coloring and Native upbringing made me the “safe” Native person to answer potentially uncomfortable questions from non-Natives and allow for opening dialogue using factual information, informal manner, and often humor. And it works; for adults and school children alike, and hopefully leaves a lasting impression and appreciation for our shared history.

So, my great-grandmother would not be surprised at all to see me in a variety of settings wearing either a business suit or regalia – wearing two dresses.

About Nancy:
Nancy Gillis is the former Director of the Neihardt Historic Site, retiring in 2014; teachingNancy 2008 at Wayne State College, NECC, N.I.C.C. and Little Priest Colleges in Native American, U.S. and World History, Sociology, and Cultural Anthropology.

Gillis served the Nebraska Historic Preservation Office and NE Folk Life Network; NE Arts Council Multi-Cultural Grant panel; reviewer for Nebraska History Magazine; trained museum docents; coordinated writers’ workshops for Native youth; consulted for a 3-year Teaching American History grant; and as counselor for the 2014 Sovereign Youth Leadership camp. She is the 2014 Addison Sheldon Honoree for “service to the history of Nebraska” and for Humanities Nebraska she presents a variety of programs on both Native Americans and Neihardt.

To read more about Nancy’s speaking topics