Tag Archives: UNO

In the Crease, Covered in Grease

October 18, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 2007, during a race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, Brian Haaland stood up after drilling multiple lug nuts into one of the right tires on Jeff Green’s race car. As Green pulled away and Haaland came to his feet in the middle of a hectic pit row, he quickly glimpsed the hood of Kasey Kahne’s stock car just before it plowed right through him. 

Haaland would surprisingly (and luckily) walk away from the incident almost completely unscathed. But the mishap drove home advice he got from his coaches a few years earlier: Despite what he may think about the straightforward nature of hitting lug nuts into a race car, it would take him at least three years to see everything he might possibly experience as a pit crew member in the wild world of racing. 

Eleven years later, it is now Haaland’s job to impart such wisdom as a pit crew coach for Team Penske. His journey toward becoming one of the best coaches in NASCAR began long before he met the front end of Kasey Kahne’s car, though. It took root during his time playing goalie for the University of Nebraska-Omaha hockey team in the early 2000s. Around that time, his burgeoning interest in racing—and a fortuitous relationship with the Mavericks’ team psychologist—would eventually lead him to trade his professional goalie ambitions for a full-time job changing tires.

Haaland grew up playing hockey in Minot, North Dakota. After progressing through the youth ranks and graduating high school, Haaland played for multiple teams in the United States Hockey League, the country’s premier junior hockey league. 

UNO would eventually ask him to join their squad beginning with the 1999 season. Haaland redshirted his freshman year and played behind eventual NHL star Dan Ellis for much of his career with the Mavericks. “My claim to fame in my college hockey career was that on a few occasions coach thought we had a better chance of winning with me in the net, instead of Dan,” Haaland says. 

Despite the sparse playing time, one of the most consequential relationships in Haaland’s life developed while at UNO. Jack Stark—a longtime performance psychologist for many Nebraska-area teams, including the Nebraska football program and Creighton basketball—served in a similar capacity for the Mavericks at the time. Stark immediately noticed something special in Haaland. 

“I was impressed with how hard he worked and his ability to control his emotions while playing the mentally exhausting goalie position,” Stark says. “I also always thought he was just the nicest kid.”  

Other than Haaland’s good nature, the pair also bonded over Stark’s new project—serving as a psychologist for NASCAR drivers and the pit crew teams at Hendrick Motorsports. 

Haaland saw his first NASCAR race while visiting his older brother Blair in California during the summer of 2001. “I thought this is loud, and it was actually kind of boring just watching the cars go round and round,” says the former Maverick goalie. “But I saw the cars go down pit road, the athletes jump over the wall and change the tires so quickly, and I thought that part was awesome.” 

Stark would make sure that Haaland got to see just how awesome being a pit crew member could be. Shortly after Haaland’s graduation, Stark—thinking the flexibility and mental toughness that made Haaland a good goalie would translate to changing tires—helped get him get a tryout with the Hendrick Motorsports team. Haaland would make the team as a tire changer in 2004, but he worked mostly in a backup role for the racing behemoth’s most notable cars. 

He did, however, come to see that there are few more intense settings in sports than pit road at a NASCAR race. Amidst roaring engines and zooming cars, a missed lug nut or a slow fueling job could cost a car 10 to 20 spots as pit crews battle to beat other teams by just hundredths of a second. 

Out of a desire to perfect the razor-thin margin associated with pit stops and to hopefully have a long career in the sport, Haaland eventually accepted the job as a pit crew coach for Team Penske.  

“He’s become one of the best coaches in the sport,” Stark says. “He could go to any team he wants. Penske is lucky to have him.”

Hockey is still a part of Haaland’s life as well. For the past 10 years, he has been a goalie coach in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area. He sees 30 to 35 goalies a week and some of them come from as far as Augusta, Georgia.  

But whether he is mentoring former Division I athletes trying to make NASCAR pit crews or young goalies, he constantly draws on advice from the litany of incredible coaches he learned from during his time in Omaha—including Stark, who remains one his closest confidants. 


Haaland owns and operates Old School Goal School, a goalie camp in Charlotte, North Carolina. Visit oldschoolgoalschool.com for more information.

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

Chloe Kehm

October 11, 2018 by
Photography by Keith Binder

With her bobbed blond hair, flowered orange dress, and a jean jacket covered in pins (mostly cats in some form or another), artist Chloe Kehm looks like she could have stepped out of one of her favorite anime shows. But while her art may often depict that culture, her interests and influences are far more diverse.

“I listen to podcasts a lot,” Kehm says. “I’ve just been listening to this one podcast and hammering out stuff.” 

Kehm is describing a part of her creative process. One of her favorite podcasts is Saw Bones, a medical history program. “It’s about all the stupid things we’ve done medically in the past…they talk about the Victorians a lot. They did a lot of weird things,” she says with a laugh.

Also, she adds, “If my room’s a mess, I can’t do anything. Which is unfortunate, because I’m not the cleanest person.” Regardless, she manages to get a substantial amount of creating done, including an entire comic book for her BFA program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. It’s something she’d been putting off because she says she wasn’t confident in her skills. But after many life-drawing classes, she finally thought, “Let’s just do it now.” 

Having grown up watching animated shows such as Powerpuff Girls and Sailor Moon, it’s not surprising she became interested in drawing what she calls “fandom things,” such as characters from video games, comics, and television series. But what she really enjoys is making her own, original work, and a big part of that is telling a story. Besides working with digital mediums, watercolor, oil and acrylic paints, and experimenting with ink and marker drawings, she also creates short, four-panel comic strips. “I love writing,” she says. “I took a couple of creative writing classes before and I’m always writing comic strips.”

While pop culture clearly influences a lot of her current work, she does have an appreciation for the classics, such as Van Gogh. Her favorite work of his is “Almond Blossoms.” “His colors are gorgeous and I like to think I could pull some of those into my own work.”

Her pieces are definitely more contemporary, though. “A lot of the artists I really love right now are currently living,” she says with a smile, “and they are young female artists in the comic book industry.” She lists Babs Tarr, Fiona Staples, and Leslie Hung as her top three, but adds that there are countless others. “It’s just really inspiring.”

It’s unsurprising that Kehm admires these artists. She says that, while she didn’t really start considering herself a feminist until college, she has always believed equality is important, “across the board.” She credits those animated shows she grew up on with helping her develop that ideal. “A lot of animated shows directed at young girls [are] showing them in positions of power and being strong and independent. I think that just kind of sat in there…and it inspires a lot of what I want to do with my storytelling and my animation,” she says, before wryly adding, “And I’m a woman. I should care about that stuff, right?”

Kehm says she likes her creations to be fun, but also to have a message. “I like depicting different people in different ways. I like to show the vastness of the human race.” She pauses, then breaks into laughter. “Which sounds…a little lofty.”

She says she believes art in general has a hand in almost everything we do as a society. “You don’t realize how much art plays into everything you interact with on a day-to-day basis. Like your shoes. Someone designed that, someone drew that.” She gestures around the coffee shop as she speaks. “The layout of the building you’re in, the house you live in—an architect did that. They have artistry skills, and I think it gets overlooked a lot. But I think art is pretty integral to everything that we do. Be it political or day-to-day life.” 

While she hopes her message of equality comes through in her work, Kehm says she’ll be happy if it just makes people smile. “That’s ultimately what I want to come out of it.”


etsy.com/shop/KuroesCreations   | instagram.com/kuroedraws

This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Encounter. 

Lookout! It’s a Launch Party Weekend

July 6, 2018 by

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Sunday, July 8: Naturally, the pick of the week is our July/August Launch Party for our latest Omaha Magazine (our food issue) and Encounter Magazine! Our second annual watermelon-eating contest is also going down, and it’s all happening at the Florence Mill Sunday Farmers Market. If you’ve never been, look forward to finding organic produce, local arts & crafts, seeing some farm animals (chickens and calves), and listening to some diverse music (flutes, folk guitar, and local rock band Daisy Distraction). There’s also an exhibition upstairs and maybe even a little fashion show in the works. (Check out Paige Modlin in the latest Encounter for a taste of what to expect.) The market begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m. We will be there all day! Please RSVP here and bring the kids out for some tasty watermelon eating!

Thursday, July 5 to Sunday, July 8: It’s your last chance to catch Shakespeare On The Green this weekend. On Thursday and Saturday you can experience the comedy of Much Ado About Nothing. If you’re in the mood for a little more drama, head down to the green on Friday and/or Sunday (depending on how much Shakespeare you’re craving) to watch the historic classic King John. Grab a blanket, a picnic basket, and maybe even a bottle of wine and settle in for a relaxing evening of cunningly zany fun. Find out all the happenings here

Friday, July 6: Fridays are for family this week at the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs. So get out and Celebrate Summer with free admission for all from 5-7 p.m. (Donations are always welcome, though.) There will be crafts, games, and a sidewalk chalk party. Plus, if your kids (or, you know, you) have ever wanted to see a firetruck up close, this is your chance. Don’t worry about hangry showing up and ruining the fun. You can grab a very kid-friendly snack from the hot dog cart out front. Learn more about it right here

Saturday, July 7: Good food, good times, and great music—you’ll find all that at the Punk Rock BBQ at Lookout Lounge. This year’s lineup includes Jeff Rosenstock, Remo Drive, and Pseudo, plus too many incredible local bands to list. If you haven’t made it a point to get to Lookout for one of their punk rock shows, this one is a definite don’t-miss event. Get all that lightning rod, firecracker energy out in a nice, intimate mosh pit scene. Check here to find out if your favorite local instigators are in the lineup.

Saturday, July 7: If the noise, smell, and overall onslaught of real fireworks has you on edge, check out the Cosmic Fireworks—Astronomy Night at Indian Cave State Park this Saturday, hosted by Branched Oak Observatory. Enjoy the natural beauty (and silence) of the outdoors. This is a free, dark-sky astronomy event (no actual fireworks) for all ages. You will have the opportunity to observe dozens of galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters in the night sky, including the chance to see planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Get your star-gazing on and learn more about this unique show here.

Where Pink Pigeons Fly

June 15, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Coming from a very artistic family, Gabi Quiroz’s parents always encouraged her creative endeavors. Her mother taught her to shade, her father used to draw, her grandmother quilts, and she has an aunt who draws and writes.

After being raised in such an environment, full of inspiration and creative energy, it’s no wonder Gabi became the artist she is today.

But her upbringing also fed another passion—animals. Growing up an only child, Quiroz was never lonely with all her animal siblings keeping her company.

“We started off with one dog and then it kind of became a zoo,” she says. “From there—fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, a cat, and another dog.”

After leaving the nest, Quiroz couldn’t imagine life without animals. Today, she has three cats, a miniature pinscher named Bella, and Wilbur, a potbelly pig, who will be 3 years old this May.

Quiroz loves all animals, but especially pigeons. That admiration is evidenced by the name of her business, Pink Pigeon Studio.

“I’ve always admired pigeons for how beautiful they are, but they’re always commonly referred to as rats that can fly,” she says. “Pink Pigeon is about recognizing the beauty in something that isn’t usually considered beautiful.”

Finding beauty in the unusual is evident in her work. Quiroz begins her creative process looking up the symbolism she wants to convey in multiple references, and then constructs the scene to take her source pictures for the piece she’s creating in a series, which normally consists of 10 pieces.  

From there, she works in her two primary disciplines—oil paints and colored pencils—to develop works of symbolic imagery and figurative study. Her pencil drawings are intricate and hyperrealistic while her paintings tend to be more fluid, yet both are always rooted in nature.

Life and death symbolism is ever-present in Quiroz’s pieces. She considers herself a spiritual person and believes in the afterlife. In her current series, she’s using local flora, such as peonies and poppies, along with animals bones found in the Midwest.

At her Hot Shops studio, you’ll find Quiroz pouring her inspiration into her creations while drinking coffee and, depending on the day, listening to an audiobook, music, or watching a movie she’s seen a million times. She loves the challenge of making something out of nothing, but admits being an artist is hard.In the next couple of years, her goals are producing four pieces a month and having her work show in regional and national galleries. Quiroz also one day aspires to teach art on the collegiate level, and ultimately, she wants to have a stand-alone studio and a couple acres of land for a farmstead of her own, with lots of animals.“If I were to work just when I felt inspired, this would be a hobby for me,” she says. “The artist stereotype that we lah-tee-dah all day and create something is wrong because most of the time, it’s not like that.”On those especially trying days, she brings Wilbur to the studio and stops for cuddle breaks.


See more of the artist’s work at gabriellequiroz.com.

This article appears in the May/June 2018 edition of Encounter.

It’s a Sexy Weekend of Mud Play, Beer Bellies, and Art

May 17, 2018 by

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Saturday, May 19: Play like a kid again (and bring the real kids, of course) at Fontenelle Forest’s Mud Day this Saturday, a partnership with the Henry Doorly Zoo designed to make you forget your adult-world worries. You can go for a barefoot hike, dig in the dirt, build a mud castle, make some tracks, and even do a little mud painting. No matter what you decide on doing, just be sure to have fun. And don’t do too much adult overthinking. There will be a cleanup station available as well, though you may want to bring along a towel or two. Also, (in case you didn’t know) you can rent a family membership to Fontenelle Forest for the day from your local library in Omaha, Bellevue, or Council Bluffs! Keep track of all the fun you can have at Fontenelle here.

Thursday, May 17: Start winding down a little early this weekend while learning about local food as you grab a drink and make some new friends. Head to No More Empty Cups for their Local Food Happy Hour w/ Cooper Farm Urban Ag Education Center with program coordinator and Extension educator John Porter. You may want to RSVP to this free event, as space on the beautiful NMEC patio is limited. Keep in mind donations are certainly welcome, so even if you can’t attend in person, you can still feel good about doing good by donating online here. Find out more about the space here and RSVP to the event here.

Friday, May 18: Experience the culmination of the Rad Women of Omaha service learning project at the Omaha Design Center. Curated by artist-in-residence Kim Darling, this collaboration was inspired by the book Rad American Women from A to Z, by Kate Schatz. The project developed at Blackburn Alternative Program (in collaboration with University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Speech-Language students, the UNO Writing Center, and the UNO Service Learning Academy). This show will feature artwork inspired by real women of Omaha, and includes both narrative and visual works. Learn more about the project and the event here.

Pick of the Week—Friday, May 18 to Saturday, May 19: Get to Elkhorn this weekend for the Main Street Studios Open House. This is a two-day event, so even if you can’t make it out on Friday, you have all day Saturday to check out the updates, new exhibits, live blues and jazz music, and of course, all the new artwork! Plus, if you’re going out on Saturday you can check out the “Alley Gallery.” Appetizers and (free!) beer and wine will be offered throughout, as well as some tasty apps. Get more info about the event and the space here.

Sunday, May 20: Drink beer and do some good this Sunday by attending Beer Bellies for Full Bellies at Jerry’s Bar in Benson. This event has it all: a silent auction, live raffle, drink specials, T-shirts, and button making! Best of all, your beer drinking habits will benefit the Food Bank of the Heartland. Plus, a Food Bank staffer will be on-site showing off the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen and letting you know how your donations will benefit children in the Omaha community. Get all the details here.

 

Jennifer Castello

May 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Thirty-year-old Jennifer Castello lives by a simple philosophy: “Art is power.” As a writer, educator, and actor, the Omaha native has tapped into all areas of her deep imagination to carve out her path. She unequivocally believes creativity was put here to bring out a person’s voice, and that’s exactly what she’s doing.

“I think art has worked best when someone isn’t being listened to, then grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck, and through art that person says, ‘Shut up and look,’” she says. “When I’m teaching, it’s not about me. It’s about making sure that at the end of the session, residency, or workshop, the students are equipped to express themselves—be it in a story, in a song, or just in everyday life. Art is self-advocacy. Art is power. Art is resistance.”

Castello began her writing career at the ripe age of 4, when her grandmother discovered how often she was coming up with original stories.

“She pulled out a stack of papers, stapled them together, and told me to make a book,” she recalls. “The pride she took in the stories I told her made me feel like it was something special to be a writer. She was a teacher, and it was also through her and that pride that I realized I wanted to be a teacher, and make some other kid feel just as special as she made me feel.”

At 18 years old, Castello scored her first teaching job, participating in the Teacher Academy Project program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and eventually got her teaching license. Now, she freelances at a variety of local organizations, including the Omaha Community Playhouse. 

“I go out into schools and community spaces and engage students in creating something,” she explains. “If that’s creating a clever way to win a drama game, learning how to make their own characters with makeup on their faces, or write their very own script, that’s where my heart is. When I was a kid in Omaha, teachers reached out to me and taught me that my brain had a purpose and a worth, and I’m always trying to pay it forward.”

In terms of her acting, Castello credits her father.

“He signed me up for a class at the Emmy Gifford Theatre,” she says. “Then when the Emmy Gifford turned into The Rose, he made me audition for one of the main stage plays and I got in. It was a community for me to hold onto when things got rough, and I’ll forever be grateful for that community.“

As an author, the Central High School grad was compelled to write The Messiah of Howard Street when she was still an undergrad at DePaul University in Chicago. It was inspired by the colorful characters that have become a staple of the Old Market district.

“I had read My Antonia in my American English class,” she explains. “This wasn’t the first time I read it, I’d read it at Central High my junior year of high school. But comparing and contrasting a Chicago classroom to an Omaha classroom, I realized how fantasized Nebraska is in the minds of people who don’t live here. I mean, there are some obvious stereotypes we’ve all heard, but also the idea that there are rolling fields, and peace, and nature, and all that, it was just weird.”

Like so many other Central High teenagers, the Old Market was Castello’s meeting spot during adolescence. But over the years, she had many other experiences on and around Howard Street that helped shape her life.

“One of my first tastes of freedom was walking down to the Old Market and going to all the shops, getting Ted & Wally’s, and eating way too much spaghetti. Mom would take me to Little King before a dance recital, my best friends held my 18th birthday party as Zio’s, I sang and performed there, and I actually had my first date with my husband at Spaghetti Works.”

Armed with a Master of Science in secondary education from UNO and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine, she recently held a one-act festival, finished a semester-long scriptwriting residency at Central High, and has become a member of the Nebraska Arts Council teaching roster. In short, Castello stays busy.

“In undergrad, my professor warned me I might not be able to make a living in the arts,” she says. “But being a teaching artist and an arts educator has been something I truly enjoy. I really appreciate being able to do it every day. I get to help kids play pretend. That’s like…the dream.”


To learn more about Castello’s work, visit jennifercastello.com

This article appears in the May/June 2018 edition of Encounter.

A Window To The World

April 27, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This cozy residence in Omaha’s historic Dundee neighborhood might seem an unlikely place to find one of the world’s leading experts on Afghan geopolitics.

Yet it is here that Tom Gouttierre (and wife Marylu) have made their home for almost 44 years.

A sign of the homeowners’ international lifestyle hangs overhead in their entryway. The sign once hung outside their former home in Kabul, Afghanistan. It reads Sulhistan: Khaaneh Gouttierre in Persian script, which translates to “A Place of Peace: The House of Gouttierre.” (Tragically, their friend who scrawled the calligraphy was killed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979.)

The Gouttierres’ residence is a showcase of their world travels, influenced heavily by their years in Afghanistan. Intricate, hand-woven rugs of all sizes cover the floors; there are more than two dozen on the first floor (with more than 50 throughout the house).

“Here is one carpet we always like to show off,” Gouttierre says, pointing to one red beauty on the floor of the solarium adjacent to their main living room. “This is probably a couple hundred years old. The thinner, the more valuable because they are so tightly woven—they will never wear out.”

Each rug holds a special memory. Smaller rugs were purchased when the newlyweds were poor Peace Corps teachers (1965-1967) and Gouttierre was a Fulbright scholar in Afghanistan (1969-1970). The larger and more expensive rugs came during Gouttierre’s tenure managing the Fulbright Program in Afghanistan (1971-1974).

All of the rugs are hand-woven treasures—some are now worth more than $10,0000—purchased for a fraction of their current value at neighborhood bazaars in the years preceding the Soviet occupation.

There are paintings of Kabul streetscapes on the wall that were gifts from Gouttierre’s Afghan students. Traditional wooden privacy screens hang on the white walls and provide additional decorative accents from the country.

Other mementos displayed throughout the house reference the scholar’s role in advising global political leaders: A bowl with the U.S. presidential seal hints at the time when Gouttierre advised the Reagan administration on American policy during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (and translated for visiting diplomats).

There is also a small collection of deep-blue lapis lazuli that came as gifts from the former king of Afghanistan and Hamid Karzai (the president of Afghanistan following the U.S. overthrow of Taliban rule until 2014). Karzai—Gouttierre’s friend from his years in Afghanistan—even stayed at their Omaha home when he made a special trip to Nebraska while visiting the U.S. on a diplomatic visit in 2005.

Then there is Marylu’s mortar and pestle collection displayed in the dining room and kitchen. Mortar and pestle utensils are common in cultures worldwide, and she sought them out during their frequent globetrotting excursions.

“When we went to Vietnam, I couldn’t speak Vietnamese, but I went [with her hand, she mimics the grinding of a mortar and pestle], and they go, “Aha!” and take me to find them,” she says, noting that her collection includes examples from remote Afghan villages, Iraq, Thailand, India, China, and beyond.

The couple came to Omaha in July 1974 straight from Afghanistan when Gouttierre was hired to initiate the Office of International Studies and assume leadership of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He held the dual dean-director roles until his retirement in 2015.

“We looked at around 30 houses in three days,” Marylu says of their initial rush to find a home upon first arriving in Omaha. Gouttierre remembers being advised to find a house west of 72nd Street. But he dreaded driving into the sunrise every morning and returning home with the sunset blazing in his eyes.

Built in 1923, the clinker-brick home (a now-uncommon style of brick home that uses overcooked, misshapen, or refuse bricks from kilns) was perfect for their needs. Walking distance from UNO campus, the residence is situated on a winding street uphill from Elmwood Park. Gouttierre thought it would be an easy walk to work, he loved the solarium with tile fountain and koi pond, and knew the original plaster-and-lath archways inside would fit with their Afghan décor.

But it was a fixer-upper decades in the making. Gouttierre’s first project was removing the green-colored heavy drapes and shag carpet. A horrific paint job also had to go. Pea-green paint covered the walls and caked the functional wood-burning fireplace.

“Pea green was the fourth color at least,” Gouttierre says. “As I recall, the layers went: canary yellow, Alice blue, shocking pink or rose, and then the pea green.”

His next project was removing the wall of the master bedroom closet so that they could have expanded storage in the second-floor hallway. Other projects included renovating the kitchen and finishing the basement (complete with a Detroit Tigers baseball-themed bathroom, sitting area, storage room, and laundry room).

Since retiring from UNO, Gouttierre has devoted his boundless energy to continued home improvements. A new project is always hovering on the horizon. “This is what I enjoy doing in my retirement,” he says.

Windows have been Gouttierre’s obsession for the past few years. Lambrecht Glass replaced 92 panes of leaded glass in a group of three street-facing windows while Joe Harwood Woodwork restored the original woodwork. Mark Lambrecht of Lambrecht Glass also crafted a custom leaded-glass window with green on bottom (for grass), blue on top (for sky), red on the right (for sunset), and yellow on the left (for sunrise).

Meanwhile, faithfully replicated the home’s 46 multi-pane windows with new, all-wood interior mullions separating new panes of double-glazed glass. The lower portions of the window frames are stationary, while the upper portions open with the crank of a lever (instead of the traditional double-hung windows that lift up or down). To finish off the window upgrade, an aluminum cladding perfectly matched the dark brickwork and protects the new windows. The window upgrade alone cost more than they originally paid for the home.

In early spring, they put the finishing touches on a new deck above the solarium (accessible from their bedroom). Steps to the deck feature hidden drawers to replace lost storage. The deck opens to a spectacular view of sunsets, UNO’s clocktower, Elmwood Park, and Memorial Park’s Fourth of July fireworks.

New projects on his to-do list: adding a fleur-de-lis to a crest on the fireplace, reworking the solarium fountain’s filtration system to keep fish indoors, and renovating the third floor with an updated bathroom and dormer that opens the home’s top level with more west-facing windows.

In the years since their three sons left home, there have been other changes. Despite Gouttierre’s strong personal connection to the sport of basketball—he had coached the Afghan national team during his stints overseas—the family basketball hoop disappeared from the driveway.

A few years before his retirement, the family’s grown children learned that their parents had put a downpayment on a townhouse near Westroads. “We just about had a revolution on our hands,” Marylu recalls with a laugh. “You can’t sell the house!” one of the boys protested over the phone, threatening to come back to Omaha to buy it. “Mom and Dad, have you really considered the pros and cons?” another son diplomatically questioned.

In the end, neither parent could part with their sentimental attachment to the home. It’s the sort of attachment shared by at least one of its previous residents.

“The original person who built this was named Bill [the architect] and Queenie Drake. They built it and went bankrupt. Never having lived in it, they sold to a family by the name of Summers. We met the Summers’ daughter and her sons on her 80th birthday in 1998. All she wanted to do was to come back and see her house where she lived from 1924 to ’44.”

After three subsequent homeowners with varying durations of occupancy, the property came to the Gouttierres.

“When we first got here, If you had asked me if we would have stayed in Omaha so long, the answer would have been, ‘No.’ But I loved my job and Omaha has just gotten better, ” he says.

Gouttierre could have easily missed his life’s international calling had he followed in his family bakery business in Maumee, Ohio. He had even gained master baker credentials by age 18—before the travel bug bit and he joined the Peace Corps.

In his Omaha home, family heirlooms tucked throughout the foreign mementos make it seem like generations of the Gouttierre family have lived in this place. There’s the chair from his Belgian-immigrant grandfather (also a baker). There are the fireplace tools and the mantle mirror that belonged to his parents, and more surprises in every nook and cranny.

“We’ve had no designers in here,” Gouttierre says. “Everything in here is a reflection of something we did, something that was given to us, or someplace we’ve been.”


This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of OmahaHome.

 

Horses, Mavericks, and Pitbulls—It’s an Animal of a Weekend

April 12, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Thursday, April 12 to Sunday, April 15: The International Omaha (Horse show) is back! If you go, be sure to attend the InIt2WinIt, featuring local ladies Brooke and Karen Cudmore. Don’t have a ticket? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of free fun at the Horse Discovery Zone and in the tailgate lounge. The daytime competitions are also free. No time for horsing around, though. Get all the details you’ll need here.

Friday, April 13: “What happens when art behaves badly?” If this is a question you’ve asked yourself but have yet to discover the answer to, then you should get to I Like Your Work: Art & Etiquette Opening Reception at the Omaha Creative Institute. Interdisciplinary artist Sarah Hummel Jones is bringing together artists from Brooklyn, Montreal, and Omaha who challenge art world etiquette. Joel Damon will give a performative lecture on that topic. Learn more here.

Saturday, April 14th: The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s student newspaper,  The Gateway, will host its first-ever fundraising Run the Press 5k fun run/walk at Memorial Park this Saturday. The Gateway has been the university’s source for news and opinion for students, faculty, and alumni since 1913 and we want to ensure they keep going. So Omaha Magazine is proudly sponsoring this event in the hopes they keep growing and guiding UNO students in the communications fields. Please register here to help us keep a good thing going.

Saturday, April 14th: Spend the day with some DIY nerds at Omaha Zine Fest 2018. You won’t find a more enthusiastic group of creatives than those at this festival. With over 100 zine creators from around the Midwest and beyond, this is an excellent opportunity to pick their brains and find out how they do it. Besides the free knowledge you’ll gain, there will also be live screen printing, a tintype photo booth, and free coffee from Mug Life. Did we mention the tasty food available from Omaha’s Awesome Eggrolls and Fauxmaha? Get the full day’s rundown here.

Saturday, April 14th: Don’t let the weather deter you from doing good. Rain, snow, or shine, Pasta for Pits! (and All Breeds) is still a great cause to stuff yourself for. Hosted by Helping Hand for Animals, this delicious dinner will help raise funds and awareness for rescue dogs in need of homes and love. So get to Boulder Creek Amusement Park and show your support. There will also be a silent auction and home-baked goodies you can take with you if you’ve eaten too much to enjoy the mini dessert bar. Lend your helping hand by clicking here.

Saturday, April 14th to Sunday April 15th: It’s crafty time! Head to the Pioneer Craft, Antique, and Junk Show at the Mall of the Bluffs in the old Target to find some new additions for your collections. For two whole days, you can dig through handmade crafts, antiques, and repurposed junk until just the right piece jumps out at you. So cross the bridge and start your junk jaunting early. Head here for more details and to find out how you can get a discount on admission. 

Sunday, April 15th: While it might not feel like spring outside this weekend, you can still hear the sounds of spring when you head to Gardens—Flowers—Bugs Concert at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. Be sure to bring the whole family, as children under 12 get in free. Hosted by the Nebraska Wind Symphony, this concert is guaranteed to blow you away, so hold on to your kiddos. Spring into action and get your tickets here.

 

Virginia Kathryn

April 9, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Whether she’s talking about pedals or people, Virginia Kathryn Gallner’s enthusiasm for music is downright catching. 

As she sips her cup of tea, the conversation ranges from the spelling of her middle name (it’s Welsh, and her mom liked it) to Christmas presents. She tries to make her own gifts for friends and family, but “I never get them done in time,” she confesses.

The 21-year-old folk and blues musician grew up in Council Bluffs. She moved to Omaha when she started attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she is double majoring in International Studies and Religious Studies and minoring in Ancient and Medieval Studies. She credits Council Bluffs for helping shape who she is and notes that it offers a small-town vibe without making her feel claustrophobic.

“I used to go to Lidgett’s Music every week just to hang out and learn about guitars, and explore the depths of Kanesville Kollectibles record store on the weekends.”

Gallner’s music career took root at the Council Bluffs Public Library while taking group lessons. After two classes, she was hooked. She started playing music on her parents’ upright piano in their dining room at a very young age, but once she picked up a guitar, the piano lost its allure.

“It’s funny, the first time I picked up a guitar, I immediately put it in my lap and tried to play it like a piano–which I do now, with lap steel guitar.” She says her mom bought her a cherry-red Stratocaster from Lidgett that she affectionately called “Hellboy.”

Gallner enjoys playing guitar in the Delta/Piedmont style, which sets her apart from most other local blues artists, who emulate the rowdier Texas style. However, she notes that a lot of the harmonies she uses aren’t found outside of folk music, and she’s also been known to sing jazz “torch” songs, which she explains is just a simple term for sentimental love songs.

All that practice and research has served her well, as she’s has been making an impact on the local music scene, even garnering a 2018 nomination for an Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award in the best blues musician category. 

During a recent show at The B Bar on Leavenworth, she performs several covers, including Tom Waits’ “Midnight Lullaby” and Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire,” among several older, more traditional tunes, including some Robert Johnson Delta blues.

Onstage, Gallner dresses in black with a few pops of color—including a shiny red rose on her short, black combat boots that match the flowers on her shirt.

While the house isn’t packed on this Thursday night, it’s clear that everyone is here to see her. Even the bartenders pay close attention as she starts playing, clapping enthusiastically as she finishes each song.

She plays several cover songs along with her own originals, including some from her upcoming album, which is yet to be named. Gallner has adopted “Virgina Kathryn” as the simplified stage name for musical work.

Her influences are evident by the songs she chooses to cover, but when asked who her biggest musical influence is, she gives a quick, straightforward response—Nick Drake.

“He was an incredible musician who passed away way too soon,” she says. In a testament to her admiration of the now well-known and widely-appreciated singer-songwriter, she has learned his entire catalog. “The harmonies, the choice of note placement, the timing…I’m finding it influences my arrangement styles as well.”

Gallner also finds a lot of creative energy to draw from right here in our local music scene.

“Kait Berreckman is such an inspiration to me as a songwriter. Her songs have such a unique style,” Gallner says. “She comes up with the most unexpected twists, they never go where you expect them to.”

“The Shineys have been really cool to work with…I’ve been on the same bill as them for a number of shows and seeing their interpretations of songs has been really inspiring,” she says. “It’s a more intricate art than a lot of people make it out to be.”

“Every translation is an interpretation, as we like to say in ancient history and translation,” she adds with a laugh. “The same applies to music…you’re making it your own.”

Gallner says there are many Omaha acts she admires, but she’s especially impressed by the women on the scene. She lists Becky Lowry, (who organizes Femmefest every year), Emily Cox, and X-Rated Women In Music (out of Lincoln) as just a few examples of women committed to growing the community.

Gallner also plays a role in this system, volunteering as an after-school instructor with Omaha Girls Rock, teaching women in American traditional music and musical experimentation. During the summer, she says she teaches guitar and acts as a band coach for the program.

“You see so many women supporting women, and that is really important to me,” she says.

Most importantly though, Gallner says playing music has given her opportunities to meet people with whom she might never have otherwise crossed paths.

“It has helped me give voice to a lot of stories that have lain dormant in my mind…in my imagination? Imagination, use that word,” she says with a laugh.

Gallner’s album release party will be at Reverb Lounge, on Thursday, June 14.

 

This article appears in the March/April 2018 edition of Encounter

Basketball to Poetry, This Week Runs the Gamut

April 5, 2018 by

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Pick of the Week—Friday, April 6-Sunday, April 8: The weather may not be very spring-like this weekend, but it is that time. What better way to get ready for the flower season than by heading to the Ralston Arena Arts & Crafts Show? You’ll be able to shop hundreds of vendors from across the country, just in time to give your home a little extra oomph for the season. There will also be entertainment, food, drinks, and gift certificate drawings. If you’re worried about parking, don’t. There will be plenty of free parking, including shuttle service from Horsemen’s Park. Get tickets and all the details you’ll need here.

Thursday, April 5: Sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Writer’s Workshop and English department, tonight’s 700 Words Prose Slam is open to everyone in the community. The theme of this slam is the #MeToo movement. The event is hosted by 13th Floor Magazine and takes place at the soon-to-be-closed Apollon Art Space. The entry fee for participants is $5, but the event is free for those who want to come out and listen. Everyone and anyone is welcome to share their thoughts and experiences in relation to the #MeToo movement. There will be cash prizes for first, second, and third places. To learn more, please go here.

Thursday, April 5 to Thursday, April 12: It’s a tale as old as time, but there’s very little rhyming in this story. An older man marries a younger woman, jealousy, intrigue, and a sense of betrayal ensue. Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s propensity for moodiness abounds in Uncle Vanya, opening tonight at the Joslyn Castle, performed by the Brigit St. Brigit Theatre Company. Chekov is known for leaving his audience wondering, so don’t expect the proverbial happy ending. His elusiveness is part of what made him one of the pioneers of modern writing. Experience one of his best-known plays by getting your tickets here.

Friday, April 6: For some of us, our first exposure to the Harlem Globetrotters was during Saturday morning cartoons. Whether from their own cartoon (The Harlem Globetrotters), their  variety show (The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine), or as “guest stars” on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, chances are high you’ve heard of them Regardless of what shows you watched as a kid, unless you’ve been living off the grid for the last century you have at least hear the name. Tomorrow you have a chance to see them play. They will be throwing down and showing off at the CenturyLink Center at 7 p.m. Jump on over here to get your tickets now!

Saturday, April 7: Put on your dancing shoes and head to the University of Nebraska Omaha for their UNO Dance Marathon. The student-run committee raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals throughout the year, but this is their main event, the one all others have been leading up to. For this special day, the children from Omaha’s own Children’s Hospital will join the team of Mavericks for a dance marathon, 12 hours session! Help them meet and hopefully exceed their goals by donating now, then register to help them celebrate this Saturday. Tap here for more info.

Sunday, April 8: (Recurring event) Put the dancing shoes away, dig out your hiking boots, (if you haven’t already) and trek on over to Fontenelle Forest for the History Hike at Camp Wakonda this Sunday. Bring the whole family out to explore nature while expanding their knowledge of the area’s history. Judy Bell will be leading the hike, pointing out the sights while filling your heads with knowledge. Hikers will meet at Camp Wakonda, which spans 40 acres of wooded bluffs next to Fontenelle Forest, at 1 p.m. and will last approximately two hours. Get all the info you’ll need here.