Tag Archives: Tamsen Butler

Main Street Studios

August 20, 2018 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

Tyler Curnes was on the fast track to a career in finance, poised to join his family’s financial company, Curnes Financial Group, after completing his financial degree program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Though he felt as though his plan to enter a career in finance was, by his own admission, “good enough,” a backpacking trip through Europe in his sophomore year changed his plans unexpectedly and led to his eventual role as a gallery owner and kiln-formed glass artist. 

It was in Venice that he stumbled upon a glassblower and his son who were willing to allow him some time to get his hands on the glass and see how it’s done. This was his first time blowing glass. He spent around four or five hours with the artists and it changed his life. “It’s a unique skillset,” Curnes says. “I liked that anyone could pick up how glass is made, but it takes an artistic flair to put together the colors and the shapes.”

Upon returning home from his European trip, Curnes set up a space in his parents’ garage. “I came home and purchased a small kiln and a small torch to start making beads—which is called lampworking. After time I wanted to make bigger and bigger things; there’s only so big beads can get.” 

He obtained a larger kiln and larger burners and moved on to making small, blown glasses and ornaments. “There are so many unique ways to manipulate the glass. I loved that aspect,” Curnes says. “I never got bored.”  

When he realized he was spending at least 20 hours a week working on commissioned work from his garage studio, he made the decision to seek out studio space to bring his work—and the work of other local artists—to the Elkhorn area. He left his office job in finance to pursue his artistic career full-time and didn’t look back.  

His background in finance has proven beneficial to his role as an artist and studio owner. “There are plenty of starving artists out there,” he says. “It’s not all about the art; 80 percent of my day is dealing with my financials. There’s a lot to running the gallery.” 

His financial savvy, coupled with his artistic talents and willingness to serve the community, creates a successful studio. Main Street Studios frequently hosts school groups for tours to familiarize young students with unusual art forms. “Our public schools are phenomenal, but there’s just not enough money to get a kiln-formed glass artist, silversmith, and bronze sculptor in the schools,” Curnes says. He loves conducting these tours, explaining, “Maybe you don’t affect every kid, but maybe somebody walks out with a new appreciation of art.” 

Curnes says that new projects are on display every day throughout the gallery. Visitors will not see the same thing with each visit. Resident artists are always available to conduct tours and answer questions. “Come in once a week, or twice a month; our artists are all learning and doing new things—myself included.” 


2610 North Main St.
Elkhorn, NE 68022
402-452-3088
mainstreetstudios2610.com 

This sponsored artist profile was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The Scent of a Neighborhood

July 31, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Provided

Since 1989, the corner of 108th and Harrison streets has featured an aroma that permeates the air and reminds every passerby that Rotella’s Italian Bakery makes their magic there. 

The bakery originally began in 1850 in Calabria, Italy, with Dominico Rotella selling loaves baked from a small wood-fired oven. His son, Alessandro, immigrated to America in 1909 and eventually settled in Omaha. In 1921, after a strike left him unemployed, he negotiated to buy a small bakery for $25 a month from a local businessman.

Nowadays, the bakery spans four large buildings that occupy most of the block.
It’s no wonder this busy bakery emits the scent of fresh-baked bread to everyone in the vicinity, including the cars driving by.

Paul Schoomaker lives in one of the surrounding neighborhoods and has not yet grown nose-blind to Rotella’s scent. “We’ve lived in the Applewood neighborhood for over 25 years and have greatly enjoyed the wonderful aromas from Rotella’s Bakery over the many years. When there is a soft breeze from the south-southwest early in the morning, the rich smell of fresh-baked bread wafts through the air,” he says. “On many occasions when I would walk the neighborhood in the early morning, the smell of fresh bread was a major motivational factor to be outside. There are few smells like that which create such a comforting feeling.”

Fellow Applewood Heights resident Amy Youngclaus agrees. “Being near Rotella’s is an added perk to our already homey neighborhood. Walking out of the house to the warm scent of bread swirling in the air is like getting a hug from a doting grandma. I feel as though the whiffs of bakery scent add a warm and cozy vibe to our locale.”

Residents of Cimmaron Woods West have similar sentiments about the Rotella’s aroma in the air. “The best smell is when the air is quiet and they are baking garlic or onion bread,” says resident Tom Perkins. “The aroma gets really intense sometimes and is great to smell when you walk outside. The other time I notice it is in the mornings when it just smells like baking bread my grandma used to make.”

Another resident of Cimmaron Woods West, Tom Demory, says the scent from Rotella’s often compels his wife and children to make a trip to the retail store. When asked if the strength of the scent on a particular day has any effect on their desire to go buy bread, he replies, “Without question.” And while he is generally aware of the scent, he says, “I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but I’ve never considered it a negative thing. It’s a pleasant odor.”  

For some residents living near the bakery, the scent of Rotella’s means so much more than merely the baking of bread. Oak Brook Apartments resident Sara Locke explains: “When my longtime partner was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that resulted in a gluten-free lifestyle, I didn’t think twice about swearing off bread myself. For years, I forwent my favorite foods—pastas, pizza, and my strange addiction to buttered toast. The day I left and moved into my new place, I spent the first long sleepless night sitting on my deck, torturing myself over the decision I had made. As the night gave way to the still-dark early morning hours, the smell was so subtle at first. Just a thought really, like a weird flashback that hasn’t yet taken hold. Then the unmistakable aroma grabbed me and reminded me of seven years’ worth of mornings without toast at breakfast. I sat there until the sun was up and walked over to the store for a loaf of bread. That was when I learned that they have gluten-free offerings, but it’s too late now. I may have ended a long relationship, but I’ve returned to my first love… and I still spend my mornings on that deck, but now I do it with toast and coffee in hand.”

Louis Rotella III isn’t surprised by everyone’s reaction to the Rotella’s scent—he still gets excited when he smells cinnamon raisin bread baking. “Sometimes I get hit with a smell that brings back my childhood,” he says. Occasionally he’ll encounter people who remember the 24th Street bakery Rotella’s occupied from 1965 until they moved to the current location in 1989. “They’ll say, ‘We miss the smell!’” he says, adding that they also miss the bread, but the smell is what’s most often brought up. 

Often, people will stop in at the retail shop to load up on bread to take to their out-of-state relatives. While Rotella’s is indeed a national brand, it can be difficult to find in a store outside of Nebraska and the immediate surrounding states. “Sometimes we’ll get people visiting who were instructed by their families to stop at the retail store and ‘load up’ to bring bread home,” Rotella says. 

Rotella’s Italian Bakery isn’t just a place that pumps out pleasant smells for the surrounding neighborhoods—it’s an Omaha mainstay, active in the local community. “We try hard to maintain the family values that brought us to where we are today,” Rotella says. “We recognize and appreciate the community that supports our business.” In that sense, the pleasant scents blanketing the neighborhoods can be seen as a far-reaching thank-you from Rotella’s to the community.  


Visit rotellasbakery.com for more information about the local Omaha bakery. Residential neighborhoods adjacent to the bakery complex include Applewood Heights, Cimarron Woods, and Brookhaven. 

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of OmahaHome. 

Ironman Chef Paul Braunschweiler

July 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Chef Paul Braunschweiler of Brushi started cooking when he was 6 years old, living in Switzerland with his family. 

Although Braunschweiler claims he wasn’t “sporty” growing up, he did enjoy participating in track up until he enrolled in culinary school and became too busy for extracurricular activities. Now an official Ironman with three completed Ironman triathlons under his belt and numerous other races to his credit, Braunschweiler admits that “being in tune” with his body’s dietary needs has helped his race performance. 

“Your body tells you what it needs,” he says. “You have to listen to your body.” He doesn’t follow a strict protocol when it comes to his day-to-day eating, nor does he switch things up pre- or post-race. What he eats largely depends on what he feels like eating. Luckily for Braunschweiler, he has the well-stocked kitchen at Brushi at his disposal. “I can eat what I want. I can just walk around and open the fridge,” he says, gesturing toward the busy Brushi kitchen. 

Though many racers swear by “carb-loading” right before a race, Braunschweiler sticks with what his body craves. “I eat what I want; I don’t change my diet at race time a lot.” When asked what a typical day-before-a-race meal might look like for him, he replies, “We get fresh fish from Hawaii every week, so that’s what I’d eat. I eat a lot of salmon.” As for his pre-race nourishment, “I don’t eat a lot before a race—maybe a sports drink and a banana.” Post-race, his go-to meal is “a big bowl of salad with lots of marinated salmon and cucumbers and avocados.” He says his body does crave protein after a race, so if he doesn’t feel like salmon he might have some beef or other meat protein. 

Does eating whatever he wants work for Braunschweiler as an athlete? Yes—although his penchant for fresh, nutrient-rich food likely helps. Giving in to cravings won’t work for all racers. But it works for Braunschweiler because he enjoys healthy foods and occasionally allows for splurges so he doesn’t feel deprived. “Allow yourself to splurge a little bit,” he advises fellow racers. “We can do this because we are so active.”

He wasn’t always so active. It wasn’t until after his divorce that he delved into the racing world. “I needed to do something for myself after my divorce,” he says. “I saw people rollerblading and running at Lake Zorinsky, and I decided to start running again. I signed up for the Des Moines Marathon and liked it—I did pretty well even though it’s a little hilly.”

Braunschweiler has progressed from “doing pretty well” to consistently winning in his age division at every race in which he competes. At nearly 67 years old, he’s diversified his racing because “marathons are hard on the body.” Triathlons are his race of choice nowadays. His advice to other racers is, “You have to make time to train. You can achieve so much with your will.”  


Visit raceomaha.com for more information about the Omaha Triathlon. Visit brushiomaha.com for chef Paul Braunschweiler’s restaurant in Omaha.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of 60Plus in Omaha. 

Dear Creatives:

May 8, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Two things are immediately obvious when walking into the Inclosed Letterpress Co. office: a creative person set up this office, and creative things happen in this space. Located in the Mastercraft building, which houses fellow creative companies Scott Drickey Photography, Grain & Mortar Design Studio, and others, Inclosed Letterpress Co. was founded in 2006 by owner and creative director Lesley Pick. She selected the Mastercraft Building in part because the building itself is “so beautiful—it’s wonderful,” she says. “Everyone is happy and friendly in the building. It’s fun to come to work.”

Pick didn’t have to do much to the space after moving in. “We painted the walls white and hung some fun lights. The beautiful exposed wood and brick of the building match the mechanical, industrial feel.” The office is an open concept, intentionally made that way to promote creativity. “You can see what’s actually happening in the creative process,” she adds.

You can also hear what’s happening. Two antique presses clack and bang their way through the relief printing of hand-printed notecards and invitations. Thus, the second reason why Pick picked the Mastercraft—the dock door allowed her large equipment into the building.

The presses are beautifully refurbished and have a special place in Pick’s heart. “New printing technology is automatic and everything comes out the same,” she says. “With these presses, every card is completely different. The color saturation is different. And I can use thicker cotton paper than I could with new printers. Digitally printed stuff is flat, but these give me a more luxurious feel.”

Before moving to the Mastercraft Building, the presses sat in the basement of her father’s house. Her father was also a printer and often works side-by-side with Lesley today. One is a Chandler & Price Old Style from 1896 that she purchased from a company in Indiana that specializes in refurbishing old printing presses, and the other is a press she bought from a printing company in Fremont that went out of business. The second press is from the 1920s and was refurbished by her father for his printing company.

Pick is quick to point out the differences between the two presses. “See how the spokes are wavy on this one and straight on the other?” she asks, proudly gazing upon the presses as though they are honored guests in the room. While she readily admits that these old presses are more difficult and time-consuming (and louder) to use than modern-day digital printers, it’s a compromise she’s willing to make. “It does get loud around here,” she admits, adding that the bulk of their printing happens on the weekend when nobody else is in the office.   

She’s made quite an impression with her work. In fact, she was voted a Top Ten Designer to Watch in 2017 by the trade publication Stationery Trends.

Kathryn Nygren, owner at Found & Flora in Wahoo, understands why she was voted a top designer.

“We love that it’s something different that we can’t find anywhere else,” Nygren says. “The quality is great and Leslie is really easy to work with.”

This love of old presses does not mean that Pick shuns technology. The graphic designer by trade creates custom invitations and cards on computer programs to be printed on 100 percent cotton paper.

During the week, Pick is joined by lead designer Allison Kuklis. Together they share the creative space and create products featured in the Methodist Gift Shop, Spruce, and several other retailers locally along with numerous retailers throughout the United States and Canada. Inclosed Letterpress Co. is entertaining thoughts of the future. If an expansion is in the cards, Pick anticipates staying in the Mastercraft Building and acquiring a bigger space. She wants to be in a creative, artistic space and she’s found that in this building.


Visit inclosedco.com for more information about their printing business.

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.