Tag Archives: Salt Lake City

Jenny Kruger

July 22, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Midwestern farmland can be described in many ways. Paisley, however, is not a descriptor that normally comes to mind. Artist Jenny Kruger, however, often sees paisley on the farm—at least in paint.

Her art consists of colorful floral patterns serving as backdrops to barns or rural settings. Everyday landscapes become surreal. The brightly hued paintings are nostalgic, byproducts of Kruger’s nomadic youth.

Home has always been more of a feeling than a physical place for the artist. Her works are more about what she remembers than what a place actually looked like.

“I never really had a strong sense of home being tied to a location,” says Kruger. “It’s memories.”

Lately, her work has become bigger and grander. Kruger is currently working on a triptych that will measure 6 feet wide by the time she finishes the three panels. “I keep getting bigger because I think the landscapes need to breathe,” she says.

JennyKruger2She works on the weekends and whenever time allows in her life, in between raising two young boys and managing a career as dean of Communications, Education, and Fine Art at Iowa Western Community College. She also squeezes in time to occasionally illustrate for publications such as The New York Times.

Painting has taken a backseat in her life right now, but it hasn’t gone away.

“It’s important to me. If I stop painting, this job wouldn’t work for me,” admits Kruger of her position at the college.

It wasn’t always this way. For much of her life, art was everything to her.

Kruger spent her early years in Salt Lake City, with countless hours devoted to drawing pictures in her bedroom.  As the scenery started to change, the constant in her life was art.

Before she reached age 10, she spent a year learning Spanish in Monterey, Mexico, and then sailed the East Coast with her family.

Following a year at sea, her family settled down in Indiana. Kruger pursued art head on, encouraged by her parents, who enrolled her in advanced art classes. She painted in Florence, Italy, while a college student. A Fulbright scholarship sent her to Barcelona, where she could paint nonstop.

A favorite artist growing up was the American realist Andrew Wyeth, and while you can spot a hint of his realist influence in Kruger’s work, her own traveling has definitely flavored the trajectory and style of her painting.

“I saw many different sceneries, different ways of living, different kinds of people, and different ways of learning,” says Kruger.

While studying for her master’s degree in New York City, she dabbled in portraits, but also began painting images of water towers, adding a floral background. Eventually, she ended up in Nebraska, where her surroundings now inspire her frequently and at strange times, like while driving to work. She’ll see a striking wrapping paper pattern and save it to be her creative muse later.

After her boys are tucked in bed, Kruger is in her basement studio, revisiting her collection of muses and memories, and trying to build enough pieces for her next solo show.

Visit jennykruger.com for more information.

Q&A: Amy Boesen

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a designer with Decor & You, Amy Boesen helps clients struggling with decorating dilemmas, frozen with indecision, or just facing empty space, create wonderful environments to work and play—and at any budget.

Q: What is Decor & You, and what services do you offer?

A: Decor & You is a national franchise based in Southbury, Conn. I am the owner/operator of a local franchise territory. Decor & You designers work with clients in their homes and commercial spaces to help them create spaces in which they love to live and work. Typically, clients work with us on projects that fall into the following broad categories: 1) color and finish selections and space planning, 2) window coverings and decorative window treatments, 3) accessorizing, which includes art/mirrors, lighting, area rugs, decorative accessories, and more, and 4) full room(s) design, including all of the above as well as furniture.

Q: Give some reasons why homeowners would hire a Decor & You consultant/designer? 

A: Some people call us because they have a fear of color and need an expert to show them the possibilities. Others hire us because they lack the time and expertise to tackle a decorating project and they fear making costly mistakes. Still, others have concern over the health of their families and the environment and want to work with a professional who is certified in green decorating practices. Many times people need a master plan so they can bring their decorating dreams to life one phase at a time. We listen very carefully to the needs of each client and we design a space unique to their needs and personality. There is no one “look” that typifies a Decor & You design. We’re rather chameleon-like in that way.Living Room After 3

Q: What career/work experience did you have prior to becoming a Decor & You franchisee/decorator?

A: My bachelor’s degree (from the University of Nebraska) is in Textiles, Clothing and Design with an emphasis in fashion design. After graduation, I decided to stay locally, and interior design was not a viable career choice in Omaha at that time. As such, I took a job with a printing company and five years later, began work with First Data Resources, where I spent the next 15 years. A round of corporate downsizing in 2003 gave me the opportunity to choose a second career, and I chose to revisit my creative roots by pursuing interior design.

Q: Why did owning your own Décor & You franchise appeal to you?

A: My husband will tell you that I like shiny things, so being surrounded by beautiful things was definitely a draw! This business allows me to marry my creative side with my background in client relationships and business management. It also allows me schedule flexibility so I can spend time with and enjoy family, church, friends, and community service organizations.MBR After 2 copy

Q: What education, training, and talents do you offer as a designer? 

A: Aside from my bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Clothing and Design, I am a Certified Interior Decorator, a Green Accredited Professional, a Certified Color Expert, and a Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Specialist. My talent lies in seeing the potential in every space and each object in that space and using them to their best purpose. I truly believe in designing with the quote from Louis Sullivan in mind, “Form follows function.”

Q: What is the biggest problem homeowners come to you with? 

A: If I had to choose one, I would say that it’s the lack of a master plan. I also think that’s the biggest decorating mistake most people make. When they take a myopic view of their room—say, purchasing a single item like a sofa hoping it will make a dramatic change in their room—they often find themselves dissatisfied, but they can’t put their finger on the reason why. A master plan helps them see the possibilities for their completed room and gives them a roadmap for how to tackle the project in stages.003 copy

Q: Share a special design challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it. 

A: One of my favorite stories is of a couple who wanted me to display in their great room every family portrait and candid photo taken in their 20+ years of marriage. The husband suggested we frame all of them and run them up the walls on either side of the fireplace all the way to the two-story ceiling. But this solution conflicted with the other request of the couple, which was that I make the space feel formal, yet inviting. After asking them to cull through the photos, they presented me with an envelope with the 200 or so photos most important to them. Through the use of frames on the wall and on floating shelves and the creative use of tabletop photo frames and albums (including a digital frame), I was able to incorporate all of the photos in a tasteful way, but it was a challenge. Whew!

Q: Tell us a bit about you personally. 

A: My family moved to Omaha from Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was a sophomore in high school. With the exception of a one-year stint in Boston the following year, I have been in Omaha ever since. My husband, Dennis, is a banker, and we have two adult sons, James and Derek. We have two Scottish Terriers named Dexter and Stewart and a “mystery” breed of dog whose markings resemble a black and white cow, hence his name “Moo.”Foyer

Q: How would you describe your own home design style? 

A: My own design style tends toward the contemporary side of transitional. I enjoy finding the balance between classic and contemporary furnishings, typically unifying disparate elements through the use of color. I enjoy whimsical touches, especially in accessories. Oh, and I’m a fabric junkie, so I enjoy mixing textiles to achieve a blend of color, texture, and pattern.

Mormon Trail Center

October 20, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The “Tragedy at Winter Quarters” Monument depicts a pioneer mother and father, comforting each other at the grave of a young child. It stands as a tribute to the nearly 370 pioneers who are buried at the historic Mormon Trail Cemetery, more than half of those who perished were under the age of 3.

While the image is heartbreaking, it also is a tribute to the strength, determination, and faith in God that allowed the Mormon pioneers to survive the journey from Nauvoo, Ill., through Omaha, and ultimately to their final destination of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Across from the Mormon Trail Cemetery, The Mormon Trail Center, also known as Winter Quarters, is located at 32nd and State streets. It is the site where over 3,000 Mormon pioneers settled in 1846 through 1848 as they made their way west to avoid religious persecution. Inside the Center, guests can learn about the rich history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints through guided tours, videos, or by simply touring the museum at their leisure. Visitors will find paintings, maps, scale models, and life-sized replicas of log cabins and covered wagons. All of which tell the captivating story of the pioneers who left their homes and their way of life to avoid further persecution and to follow the word of God.

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“I love this painting,” says Sister Arnold, a missionary guiding a tour of the Center. The painting illustrates the journey of the pioneers as they crossed the frozen Mississippi River, their sacred Temple in Nauvoo, Ill., visible in the background. It was the winter of 1846, and it was the one and only time in history that the Mississippi River was frozen enough to allow the pilgrims to cross on foot. “They kept the thought that God would always provide a way,” she explains.

Guided by their leader Brigham Young, who succeeded the religion’s founder, Prophet Joseph Smith, the pioneers only knew two things for sure: they were heading west to settle the spot Young had seen in a vision, and that God would never let them fail.

After the Mormons proved their loyalty to the country by forming a regiment to fight in the Mexican-American War, the U.S. Government gave them a 1.5 square-mile plot of land along the Missouri River in what is now North Omaha. There, they could create a settlement for the next two years. In the years to follow, it would also serve as a resting place and trading post for future pioneers making their way west.

Those who settled in Winter Quarters were resourceful and dedicated to making the journey easier for those who would follow. Within three months, shares Sister Proctor, another LDS missionary, the Mormons had built over 500 log cabins, created a small town, and invented the odometer, which allowed them to provide extremely detailed accounts of their travels, resulting in the LDS immigrants guide for future pilgrims making their way west.

Between 1840 and 1890, over 85,000 LDS pilgrims came from all parts of the world to make their way along the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City.

A bust of the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints,  Prophet Joseph Smith, is displayed with honor.

Bust of Church of Latter-Day Saints founder Prophet Joseph Smith.

Elder John Watson, director of the Mormon Trail Center, shared that in addition to Winter Quarters in North Omaha and the Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs, a piece of history was recently discovered.

“We just located and identified a cemetery in Council Bluffs that had 300 burials there in the early 1850s,” Elder Watson says. “We just keep finding little things like this that keep popping up. It’s almost a renaissance time [for us]; finding things that happened 150 to 160 years ago.”

In addition to learning about the faith, visitors can also discover what 19th century Omaha was like, as well as how the pioneers lived, dressed, and traveled across the Plains. An ideal family excursion, the Mormon Trail Center offers several annual events that are both educational and entertaining.

Display featuring items from Mormon newspaper, Frontier Guardian.

Display featuring items from Mormon newspaper, Frontier Guardian.

Every third Saturday, January through June, The Greater Omaha Genealogical Society offers free classes for anyone wanting to learn more about their family tree.

Each September, the Annual Quilt Show brings in hundreds of visitors and showcases the intricate craftsmanship of quilters from all over the region.

Beginning November 17th through December 29th, the 27th Annual Gingerbread Festival will be held at the Center. “We get gingerbread houses that range from graham crackers with frosting and candy to [ones that] look like palaces,” Sister Arnold says. “It’s just immaculate.”

“There’s a scavenger hunt…the kids just really, really love it. It’s a fun holiday tradition for families,” says Sister Proctor. “And it smells so good!”

To help ring in the holidays, the missionary sisters will be performing original songs at the Gingerbread Festival, as well as at Oakview and Westroads Malls on selected days throughout the season.

The Mormon Trail Center is open daily, 9am to 9pm, and is free to the public. It is located at 3215 State St. For more information, visit lds.org/locations/mormon-trail-center-at-historic-winter-quarters or call 402-453-9372