Tag Archives: Grand Island

Radical Inclusion

April 10, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For the uninitiated, zines are small, handmade magazines typically made from standard printer paper folded, cut, and stapled together. Variations of the form exist, and subjects are limited only by interest: journalism, politics, art, activism, poetry, fan fiction, DIY, superheroes. Anything cool, hip, instructive, subversive, or enlightening is fit to print.

No matter how you slice the printer paper, Omaha Zine Fest is cool and getting cooler by the year. How cool? Cool enough for Vice Magazine to include OZF as the Nebraska entry in their series “50 States of Art.” Founded in 2016 by Andrea Kszystyniak, Daphne Calhoun, and Kaitlin McDermott, OZF has grown. The March 2017 fest at The Union for Contemporary Art drew hundreds of artists and fans from the Omaha metro and across the Midwest to buy, sell, trade, share, and learn.

Kszystyniak is a Rhode Island native who studied journalism at the University of Missouri and moved to Omaha in 2013. Her personal philosophy is radical inclusion. Her interest in zines started because she was, like many artists, a discipline case.

“I was grounded a lot as a kid, so I was often trapped at home and forced to amuse myself,” Kszystyniak says. “I spent a lot of time engaging with people online and really growing my understanding of art and DIY culture that way.”

A voracious consumer of music and music journalism, Kszystyniak was influenced by the feminist punk Riot Grrrl scene of the ’90s.

“Zines were a huge part of that culture, so I really grew to love them as a medium that way,” Kszystyniak says. “I used to play around on this now-defunct mail art forum called nervousness.org when I was a younger teen. The website encouraged you to collaboratively make and share work with people across the globe. A huge part of that forum was exchanging art, zines, collages…whatever.”

Daphne Calhoun came to Omaha from Grand Island to study social work and public health. For her, zines are great because anyone can get involved.

“You don’t have to have a resume,” Calhoun says. “You can make anything you want to do: DIY, poetry, science fiction, fantasy. The sky is the limit.”

Calhoun worked previously at Valiant Studios, an art and music studio for individuals with developmental disabilities.

“One of my favorite zine memories is compiling an art zine with them. Accessibility is the only thing that matters to me, and zines are such an accessible medium,” says Calhoun who once got her grandmother to make a short zine about interdimensional space aliens. “You don’t need to be an expert or have any expensive equipment. All you need is paper and some scissors and anyone can make a zine.”

In the spirit of radical inclusion and accessibility, Omaha Zine Fest has a safer spaces policy to provide for an open-minded, nonthreatening, and respectful environment where participants learn from one another. It is the essence of the festival, according to Kszystyniak.

“The everyday person needs an outlet to speak out against injustice or even just to teach others things,” Kszystyniak says. “Our No. 1 goal is to make sure everyone comes in and is comfortable and feels safe spending time in a creative community with everyone else there. Our priority is always accessibility, safety, and radical inclusion. It’s really the reason we started the fest in the first place: to make sure everyone has a place at the table.”

Visit omahazinefest.org for more information. The 2018 Omaha Zinefest is April 14 (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) at The Union for Contemporary Arts.

From top: Andrea Kszystyniak and Daphne Calhoun

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Negative Boogie with David Nance

February 23, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“You gotta live your own authentic experience.”

Omaha musician David Nance, 29, has identified that as a personal mantra. It certainly seems to be serving him well.

His 2017 album Negative Boogie, released by Ba Da Bing Records in Brooklyn, has received rave reviews. One reviewer called it “brilliantly raucous and unhinged.” Noisey (the music channel of vice.com) named Negative Boogie in their “100 Best Albums of 2017.”

Nance says The Velvet Underground is an influence on the album, and the influence is apparent on the finished product.

“We went into this big studio, ARC [an acronym for “Another Recording Company” in Omaha], and we got money from the label to screw around with stuff there,” Nance says. “They got a bunch of fun toys and stuff like that.”

Indeed, a colorful write-up from NPR praises the album’s variety of sounds and production styles coming together to create a “spastic dance music for rock ’n’ roll deviants, a jabbing pointer finger at the soullessness of the pixelated present, blown out and blown up like a basement tape.”

In mid-December, Nance and his band just recorded a new album (which they are calling Peaced and Slightly Pulverized). The yet-to-be-released album will be his fourth in the past three years. His first full-band, full-length album was More Than Enough in 2016.

What did they decide to do for their first album post-Negative Boogie? “This one we just did in a basement,” Nance says. “It’s more about the performance and us playing off of each other, because the songs are real loose, just two chords and rough ideas.”

That search for variety and freedom has been a driving force in his music career thus far.

“Playing to what people expect of you, I don’t think there’s much fun in that,” he says. “I think it’s fun to throw curveballs constantly.”

Nance is a native of Grand Island who went on his first tour when he was 18, playing guitar for a band called Brimstone Howl. It was an eye-opening experience to go to other towns and see the varieties of groups “making music that you would have no way of hearing otherwise.”

He started writing songs around that time.

“I started doing my own thing just out of boredom, basically,” Nance says. “Writing songs or whatever, and getting a tape machine in the basement and just going for it.”

From there, he recorded his own albums and tapes. Actor’s Diary, released in 2013 on Grapefruit Records, was his first album in 2013

Over the years, he has enjoyed making cover albums of other musicians’ work (with his own signature style, of course). He says the exercise helps him to better understand the creative process without having to worry about making new material.

However, he may have gotten more than just a better understanding of the creative process in the case of an album he made with fellow Omaha singer-songwriter Simon Joyner. (Over the years, Nance has played lead guitar in Joyner’s bands.) They did a cover of the Rolling Stones’ album Goats Head Soup, thinking only a few people would hear it, but it started getting some attention online after it was released in the summer of 2017 and discovered by “some guy in Germany.”

Nance says he and Joyner thought there was a chance they could be sued. In a sense, though, that would be a positive. “[It] could be kind of cool, you know? Then the Stones’ lawyer would know about us…We made a fake cease-and-desist letter,” he says. “Hopefully one of these days we’ll get an actual cease-and-desist letter from the Stones.”

Nance enjoys making albums and treating the mixing like it’s another member of the band, but he prefers live shows. In January, he embarked on his first overseas tour. The two-month European tour was scheduled to start in Aarhus, Denmark, and conclude in Paris, France.

“When we go out and play, we really don’t have any intention of recreating what we did on the record.” The songs act more as guidelines with some chords. The goal is for everyone in the band to be ‘present.’”

“Sometimes we’ll play for an hour; sometimes we’ll play for 20 minutes or something, just try to ride the feeling and make honest music,” he says, explaining that being “present” as a musician means “having to think on the spot, now what do you come up with? As opposed to, ‘This is this rigid thing. We need to do everything exactly the same every time.’”

To Nance, working is all about experiencing. He lists an eclectic mix of influences, including Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Funkadelic, Nina Simone, and Lou Reed. And he loves meeting people while touring. “You just feel like you’re a part of something. That’s the biggest thing for me…the not feeling alone.”

Is it ever too much? Can someone have too many influences to the point where it drowns out his or her own voice?

In his case, Nance doesn’t think so.

“I used to get worried about that,” he says. “You just listen to how other people do things, and it’s not necessarily how am I going to filter this through myself. It’s just being inspired by it.”

At the end of the day, Nance just wants to make and find truthful music.

“There’s great music in every genre,” he says. “A person who cares about what they’re doing, who’s being present, I think there’s no flaw to that.”

Visit davidnance.bandcamp.com and badabingrecords.com/david-nance for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Skateboard Underground

December 6, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Silo barely looks open. The only sign indicating its presence at 517 S. 13th Street is a small sticker that reads “SILO” in black, block letters. The sign, which sits slightly askew, is pasted on a glass door beneath a blank, gray marquee.

It’s intentionally vague. Enticingly exclusive. Silo, a skateboard shop which officially opened in June, doesn’t even list a telephone number.

“It’s almost like going back to beeper days,” says store owner, Brant Van Boening.

That throwback style is kind of the point. Silo, an expansion of the Grand Island original, sells skater fashion gear and lifestyle products to discerning buyers—those who, like Van Boening, 35, are seeking a return to the “glory days” of skateboarding—the early 80s and 90s when teens connected over grainy videos of flips and twists and daredevil rides. It was that time before corporate sponsorship and TV specials—when skating was rebellious, a counter-culture means to express individuality. “Our big thing, or this kind of movement,” Van Boening says, “is just finding kindred spirits in smaller companies that celebrate the uniqueness of what skateboarding was.”

Inside Silo, those kindred spirits are represented in backpacks, shoes, jackets, hand-stitched wallets, and select socks, each carefully arranged on sparse shelves. The store’s whitewashed walls are broken up by a colorful display of local and imported skateboards that look more like artwork than sporting gear. On the shelves, the products include handmade, limited and exclusive lines—outdoor jackets by Patagonia, a California-based company that traces its manufacturing “from fabric to assembly, all the way to our doorstep;” Syndicate, a limited line of VANS (staple of skater street cred) shoes; and CONS, an exclusive range of Converse shoes similar to classic Chuck Taylors but with rugged soles and cushioned insoles, that sums up Silo’s selection: comfortable, high quality, and distinctive.

“There’s not a single product in here that we [Van Boening and his small team] haven’t worn, had, put through the ringer in some shape or form,” he says, adding he hopes to create a personal shopping experience for his customers. “We want to connect with our customers on a face-to-face basis, and we want to take the time to talk about products in an honest way.”

Those products can be pricey, and there’s definitely an elite quality to them, but Van Boening notes they are not meant to be snobbish. “Everything in here is made to be used and abused,” he says. “[The products are] for that kid with that discerning eye for quality, durability, and specialness.”

So special, in fact, that even the president of VANS needed to track down a pair of his own line recently. Silo received an email (no phone…) from his assistant requesting a pair of the latest Syndicate shoes. “By the time he even saw them, they were already allocated [to select dealers] and out the door,” Van Boening says.

“We took care of him the same day.”

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Nebraska State Fair

July 22, 2013 by

It’s time to head to Grand Island for the food, fun, and thrill of Nebraska’s annual must-attend event: the Nebraska State Fair.

This year’s fair, from August 23 to September 2, is luring visitors with a new midway provider. Wade Shows will offer rides that are sure to be a huge draw for little ones and thrill seekers alike.

Families will find kiddie rides in the Lil’ Pardners area, family rides, thrill rides, and a new slate of the spectacular rides fairgoers expect at a state fair. An all-new Gold Access Program will give participants the VIP experience by allowing them to jump to the front of the lines.

The partnership with Wade Shows began last year with the new Sky Tram that provided 30,000 fairgoers with a high-flying look over the fairgrounds.

Also new for 2013 is a jaw-dropping BMX stunt show. The Mega Jump Action Sports Experience will feature the largest jump in the industry, giving riders plenty of airtime to attempt the most dangerous tricks at perilous heights. At the end of the show, families can hobnob with the professional athletes.

Top-notch musical artists will perform, including free concerts by Kellie Pickler on August 23, Mel Tillis on August 28, TobyMac on August 29, and the Eli Young Band on August 30. Paid performers scheduled are country superstar Trace Adkins on August 25, Chicago on August 31, and Lynyrd Skynyrd on September 1.

Of course, the fair will be filled with any kind of Nebraska farm and ranch animal that moos, neighs, clucks, or whinnies. Come see the livestock exhibits or take in a competition show. If that isn’t enough, discover Butterfly Adventures, a petting zoo, camel and pony rides, racing pigs, acrobatic sea lions, and stock dog trials, featuring handler and dog teams that guide unruly cattle or cagey sheep around a fast-paced course.

Come on an empty stomach because no one can leave the fair without eating something on a stick. In fact, there’s an app for that. Before arriving at the fair, download the Nebraska State Fair Mobile App to locate your favorite fair food, download daily entertainment schedules, find friends and family, and even track down where the car is parked. This must-have app is available free in the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store.

Find directions, complete schedules, and more at statefair.org.

Discover the Magic of a Road Trip

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Nebraska Travel & Tourism

Planning a family road trip? It’s easy to keep the kids entertained across the miles in today’s world—just load up the portable DVD player, the handheld game system, and the iPad. Perhaps you remember roughing it in the old days when you and your siblings jockeyed for space on the bench seat and played I Spy to make the time pass. Compare that to what a road trip was like 100 years ago—travel, itself, was a monumental undertaking. Not only were there no electronic games, there were no roads linking cities and towns.

In 1913, entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher vowed to change that with the construction of a paved, coast-to-coast roadway that would extend from New York City to San Francisco. The Lincoln Highway, named after our 16th president, was big news for Nebraska where the route would run the entire length of the state.

Today, you and your family can make the trek in comfort and style while visiting remnants of the old highway, including the original brick pavers near Omaha and two sections of “seedling miles” in Grand Island and Kearney.

Throughout the state, the cross-country route—now called U.S. Highway 30—is flanked by historical buildings just waiting to be explored, as well as several of Nebraska’s top attractions. For example, in Gothenburg, you can check out the reconstructed Pony Express Station; in nearby North Platte, you can visit the home of Buffalo Bill Cody at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park; and in Grand Island, the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is one of the nation’s top living history museums.

A stop in Kearney at the Great Platte River Road Archway is a must. This state-of-the-art museum traces the development of the American West, including the making of the nation’s first transcontinental highway. From there, it’s a short drive across town to see the exhibits at the Classic Car Collection, which is situated along the original route of the old Lincoln Highway.

With 400 Nebraska miles, there’s plenty to see along this historic roadway. And while the journey may be much smoother now, you can be sure it will be just as interesting and adventurous as its pre-paved days. Isn’t it time your family explored Nebraska’s Lincoln Highway?

Join the Official Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration in Kearney June 30-July 1. With food, music, speakers, and car clubs, there will be plenty of events for the whole family. For more information, visit VisitNebraska.com/lhc.