Nebraska Stories | Art of The Unexpected & More…

(ethereal music) NARRATOR:
Coming up on Nebraska Stories, a tour of the Flatwater
Folk Art Museum. Connecting people with bikes. Those who cook
together, stay together. And swapping stories
on the Buffalo Commons. (upbeat music) GEORGE NEUBERT: I have never
thought about buying an Elvis on velvet. But I was in a
Goodwill shop and saw one of those and
thought, you know. Then I'm in another
town 10 states away and I find another one and it
looks like the same palette, possibly the same
artist, years apart. And the two just made a pair. So it's also about low art. Bad taste and good taste. And I do that on purpose. (upbeat music) NARRATOR: George
Neubert is an expert on low art, high art,
good taste, bad taste, and he's arranged
highlights from his collection into one small space he calls the Flatwater
Folk Art Museum. In Brownville, Nebraska. (upbeat music) * And darling do I ever,
ever cross your mind * And do I ever cross you… NARRATOR: Neubert spent
most of his career directing fine art museums. The Sheldon Art
Gallery in Lincoln, the San Antonio Museum of Art. Serious art. This is different
but that doesn't necessarily mean it's inferior. GEORGE: Great
art is a final analysis of the quality of
the work and that can come from someone
who's untrained or trained. And so absolutely folk
art is considered, much of it to be great art. Because in some way
it's closer to society sometimes than the art we
produce today in studios. NARRATOR: It all
began with an obsession. George and his wife Eva
had amassed a collection of folk art that needed a home. George had a studio
in Brownville and heard a rumor about
an abandoned church not far from town. It had to be moved 12
miles, but it was free. GEORGE: Well, you know you've
heard that cliché, something free is never free. It was built in
1894 and not much had happened or been
done since that time. So it was a lot of effort. Originally, they
talked about maybe $100,000 to restore it. Well, when we opened up
a year and a half ago and I counted my
bills, it was closer to a quarter of a
million dollars. (grand music) GEORGE: My ego wouldn't
allow me to say I made a mistake. I didn't realize how much
effort it would take. (birds chirping) NARRATOR: Neubert's
vision for his museum fit right in with the look of this historic town. (door clicking shut) Brownville was one of
the earliest American villages on the Missouri River. A boom town that quickly
became a ghost town when the railroad left. But today, Brownville,
Nebraska, population 125, is in the midst
of a renaissance. And that includes a
new appreciation for the unique qualities
of folk art. (playful music) Upstairs is one experience. Downstairs is another. This isn't your typical
church basement. (playful music) (plastic wrap rustling) GEORGE: This is Eric. My son-in-law was coaching
football in Kalamazoo and they had a
workshop for mentally limited young people. Eric was an artist
that did this thing, and this guy is incredible. And obviously this is
a gym class that he probably participated in. I would imagine any
MFA artist in a program would like to be able to
do a work of this quality. (playful music) I mean the great beautiful
windmill weights we have on display were
part of the prairie and Midwest tradition. Instead of having just a
steel glob of cast-iron, there would be a
counterweight to turn that fan into the wind. They started casting
animals; horses, bulls. So these were made to function,
but at the same time they brought an aesthetic to
their job and now they've become very collectible. (eerie music) NARRATOR: But there is a piece
of nonfunctional fine art on display here, right
outside the museum, by internationally renowned
sculptor Mark di Suvero. It's eye-catching, but
anyone who knows di Suvero's work will see that
something isn't quite right. (ominous music) GEORGE: His work is usually
painted international orange which is a red orange, the
color of the Golden Gate, which is where he was
raised in the Bay Area. And I said, Mark, you
know, these people around here don't necessarily
like modern contemporary. Could I change the
color a little bit? I said, there is a tractor,
Massey Ferguson orange, it's a little more yellow,
but I'd like to paint it Massey Ferguson orange
so when these farmers see this sculpture they
will feel warm and fuzzy and bring back reminiscent
of them on the farm and won't be hostile
towards "contemporary art". He said go ahead. We had it painted
Massey Ferguson orange. So it's probably the only
di Suvero with a little bit of different color change. As viewers, it is the
most important way in which we grow as individuals
to walk to an object and encounter it and say, I
like this, I don't like that. That's about choice. And when we learn to make
choices in the world, that's what makes us effective. That's part of the experience
of coming through here. (playful music) (upbeat piano music) (slow guitar music) KYLE LUTTGEHARM: I think bikes
are important for community for a variety of reasons. A bike is more than a bike. It's transportation
and something that can completely change,
change their lives. (light guitar music) I think it can be a lot of
different things to a lot of different people just
depending on the situation and what you want
out of the bike. NARRATOR: Bikes have
played a significant role in the life of Pepe Fiero, founder of the
Lincoln Bike Kitchen. PEPE FIERO: I was living
out of my car, it was a bike that helped me get
back on my feet. And once I did get back
on my feet I noticed kids walking to school, you
know, to college and I thought well, if it can
help an old guy like me, what would it do for them? So I started picking
up bikes at yard sales, in alley's, trash cans,
and taking them over to the bike shop downtown where
they would clean them up and then I would park them
in front of coffee shops. The issue still was
there that I had a lot of bikes in my garage. Carol Smith said she
had a storage for me. She gave me the address
and when I got there I thought it was the
garage, it turned out to be a little house. I put up a Facebook page and
I put we need volunteers. If you have any
experience bring it. If not, that's okay,
because I don't either. And we opened at 12
and I think at 12:15 the first two volunteers
actually showed up. And the rest is history. MALE VOLUNTEER: You want
that number for Peter's bike? JAY: Yes. KYLE: We have a earn a
bike program that takes approximately 20 to
25 hours to complete. When you start it you have
10 hours that are required, that you volunteer
to the kitchen. We have volunteers strip
the bikes, clean the shop, patch the tubes, do kind
of day in and day out things that keep us going. B.J. GREEN: So then,
they get a bike because
they have worked for it. They work with a mechanic
to refurbish their bike. You don't do any kind
of going on to the grass and ride in the grass?
GIRL: Tricks and all that? B.J.: Yes. GIRL: Sometimes, not really. B.J. No, not really? All right, let's go upstairs. We have a kids bike program. They come in, they get
sized, our mechanics refurbish their bike
and they walk out with a safe, well-functioning bike. (upbeat music) KYLE: It's to help kids get on
bikes without any requirements. Kids just need a good bike
and I think that that's an absolute necessity
in a child's life. KYLE: Yeah, much better. (upbeat music) B.J.: We've got a
bike repair program. Your bike's not working,
you come in, you see us, we've got really terrific,
knowledgeable mechanics. You get your bike up on
the stand, get it fixed, you keep going. NARRATOR: The Lincoln
Bike Kitchen ran for three years out of the
house on 15th Street. But they soon discovered that
a new location was needed. So in 2013 the bike kitchen
moved to First Street. Although it's a better
facility overall, the new location comes up
a new set of challenges. B.J.: The number one
challenge is paying rent. The Lincoln Bike Kitchen
does not charge for any of our services. You get a repair,
we don't charge you. You need a part from
our parts bin over here, we don't charge you. We don't charge for anything. So paying rent can
be a little tricky. We have had really a lot of
support from the community. We've held fundraisers. We had a grand opening party. We had a soup supper. And that's been a
good fundraiser. JAY: That's what the
shop is about. Everybody coming together
and doing what you can, and we have so
many people who do so many different things
and I think that's like the real heart and
soul of this place. MALE VOLUNTEER:
This come off, he was
on the ground, this come off. B.J.: Bikes are amazing. They're amazing machines
and they're amazing for what they do to ya. PEPE: What I wanted was to see
people get empowered again. You know, it's a kitchen
to feed the lack of transportation for those
that need to get back on their feet. JAY MAUK:
We help people get lives. We help people get
healthy and stay healthy. We help them get around. We help them know
their neighborhoods. And that's what we do. A bike is life. (upbeat music) NARRATOR: There
are cooks and then there are the Kuxhausen's. (lively music) MARLENE KUXHAUSEN: We like to
cook. (chuckle) That's one of our things. DICK KUXHAUSEN: Oh yeah, we
have a lot of fun doing it. We get hollering back
and forth and all that, you know, but we
have a lot of fun. NARRATOR: On any given
day you'll find Dick and Marlene Kuxhausen in
their kitchen enjoying time together, cooking. DICK: She makes the most,
the best pot roast. Her pot roasts are
better than my moms. NARRATOR: The Scottsbluff
couple actually found each other over
food, when Dick made a spontaneous stop for
coffee, a stop that would turn out to be a
second chance at love. DICK: I went down to Baird
where my first wife's grave was for Memorial Day and
put flowers on her grave and spent some time down there. And she was working at
Jack and Jill and she was standing out in
front of the store, and I knew that Dean had died. So I stopped and talked to her. (egg shell cracking on counter) MARLENE: It was very
comfortable. It was just like we talked
to each other the day before, but yet we had talked
to each other for, oh, quite some time. So it was just very easy,
very, like best friends. NARRATOR: Best friends
who discovered they not only shared an
interest in culinary arts but a common heritage. MARLENE: Since I married Dick
I've learned more about the German from Russia tradition and more about the food. DICK: I'm proud to be a
German from Russia. NARRATOR: Germans from
Russia is a unique, albeit, confusing term for a
group of Germans who at the invitation of
Russian Empress Catherine the Great, colonized along
the Volga River in Russia in the mid-1700s. For 200 years the
colonists maintained their German culture and traditions. Later on, when the
members immigrated to the United States
they became known as Germans from Russia. In the early 1900s,
Nebraska became home to many Germans from
Russia including Dick and Marlene's ancestors. Today, one of the favorite
ways the Kuxhausen's celebrate their heritage
is through food. DICK: This schnitze supp I just
generally knew what was, I looked at some of the
recipes and talked to a few people but after I
made it the first time, now this is my recipe. (light orchestral music) NARRATOR: Schnitze supp is made
with assorted dried fruit that is gently boiled
until reconstituted and then finished with cream. DICK: You want to cook that
and bring it to a boil and you slow it down and
you try to keep it from sticking to the
bottom of the pan. When you reach in there
and you stick something in and it just folds over
and it's getting soft and everything, and you
can tell by the taste too. It's got that fruit taste
but then it's kind of diluted in that and
the more you cook it the more concentrated that gets. You got to temper your
cream a little bit and that's what I do. Let it cool down
and then stir it in. Because one of the
first times I made that I dumped that in there
and I curdled all that cream and then it
was chunks going, ugh. (chuckle) It's terrible. (upbeat music) (egg shell cracking
on side of bowl) NARRATOR: One of
Marlene's favorite foods is a potato and dumpling dish. It's fried and contains
a mix of bacon, parboiled potatoes,
onions, and dumplings. MARLENE: We like the dumplings
and they aren't made too much like biscuits. NARRATOR: German
dumplings use few ingredients and are usually
steamed or boiled. MARLENE: This is a dumpling that
I learned from my mother-in-law. Potatoes, the
dumplings, the onions. Only when it was all done
they poured cream over it. Then I learned about the
fried Kartoffelkloesse, and we decided that we
liked the fried better than we like the one with
the cream or the milk. DICK: You know when you sit down
and you've had Kartoffelkloesse. Somebody put some time in that. It wasn't just somebody
didn't rip the deal off and throw it in the microwave. Somebody put their heart
and their soul in that so that you would have a nice meal. (paper towel torn off roll) NARRATOR: Love,
delivered on a hot plate. Actually, it was a
love that was put on the back burner
years ago when Dick and Marlene were in high school. MARLENE: It was kind of an
often on. He had girlfriends, I
had other boyfriends, and going steady and
then you break up, and then you'd go together. DICK: If things had worked
different I'd have probably married her
when we, by the time I was out of high school shortly,
but that didn't happen. NARRATOR: They
married other people, raise their children, and
then they both became widowed. A lifetime of memories
with room for new ones. MARLENE: He called me and
asked me if I would like to go on a date and I
said, I didn't know for sure. You know, I didn't know
whether I was ready, 'cause I had lost my
first husband and it hadn't been too long ago. DICK:
A year later we were married, so that was just
one of those things. MARLENE: We love to cook
together. We're just two happy Germans
from Russia (chuckle). NARRATOR: Two people in
love who love to cook together. What's not to love about that? (light piano music) (kissing noises) (playful music) PATRON 1: Hi Steve. PATRON 2: Oh, wow. NARRATOR: They
come from all over. From Iowa to New Mexico. MARY: Let me take you
out to your seats. – [Narrator] As
far as California. They enjoy the wine,
the camaraderie, and the cuisine, but they
come for the stories. EMCEE: This show sold out
before it went public. NARRATOR: It's the
20th anniversary of the Buffalo Commons
Storytelling and Music Festival. A celebration inspired
by controversial 1987 essay by two East
Coast professors. CLOYD CLARK: Frank and Deborah
Popper came to McCook and they were suggesting
that we turn this part of the nation back
to the buffalo. RADIO HOST: Frank and
Deborah Popper our guests today on the Talk of
Emporia, talking about the history, the future
of the Plains states. CLOYD: Millions of acres from
Texas all the way up to Canada between the
Hundredth Meridian and the Rocky Mountains. DEBORAH POPPER:
We have no interest in
forcing anybody anywhere. People are leaving. People are not able
to make it here. MARY DUELAND:
This was a challenge to
the people of the community. They stubbornly wanted
to prove that wrong. That we are alive and thriving
and a very vibrant community. We decided a storytelling
Festival would be a great way to tell people that
we have a deep history here. (patron chatter) NARRATOR: The festival
draws hundreds of visitors who come back year
after year to celebrate storytelling in all its forms. EMCEE: So please welcome
Twyla Hansen. TWYLA HANSEN: The Buffalo
Commons is really unique in that they value the story. NARRATOR: State poet
laureate Twyla Hansen is one of this year's
featured storytellers. TWYLA: If I wouldn't smoke,
he wouldn't fart. (laughter) And it was later on I
discovered this is what is known as brotherly love. (laughter) (applause) TWYLA: I think most writers are
trying to communicate in some way and so my
goal at this festival is to show that poetry is
significant because a lot of people are
intimidated by poetry. TWYLA: I have a theory that
almost anything can be written about in a poem. Over pond and blade their
appetite, the bring us fire, restoring a spark of salvation
to our crumpled lives. These mysterious gatherers,
these silent signalers, these copious lightning
bugs of childhood delight. (applause)
Thank you. TWYLA: When you get up and
you share your writing, and I was always very
nervous at first, but I realize that people
wanted to hear what you had to say and maybe that'll
connect with someone. I think that connection is
what writers really want. Why not walk on the wild
side, go with the flow, cut him some slack
and live it up? MARY: She had some very funny
things that we can all relate to and then she had
some very heartwarming stories. (sigh) ANDY IRWIN: We're all here. This is glorious. It is so sweet to sellout. (laughter) NARRATOR: Professional
storyteller Andy Irwin isn't from Nebraska but he
connects with the heritage. ANDY: What is important about
storytelling overall is to continue the truth
of a community and so we have a sense of place. ANDY: I'm
from Covington, Georgia,
35 miles east of Atlanta. But our big Christmas
thing to do was to go see the real Santa Claus
at Rich's downtown. Rich's is the old
big department store. I see a head nod. Anybody ever heard of Rich's? Anybody ever heard of Atlanta? (laughter) ANDY: When we make emotional
connections, when we cognitively connect through laughter or
tears, it all connects us. * We can't borrow love
if it's gone for good * NARRATOR: Another form of
storytelling is through music. MARY: Many of our musical
features tell stories about how they came up with the
songs and it becomes a storytelling event
prior to the song. SINGER: I don't usually get
emotional on the mic, but something about
being a Sehnert's Bakery and knowing the kind of
priority that music has been in a little
community here, yeah, it really gets to me. So this one goes out to grandpa. * Hymns from the loudest voice * Till quiet ones rejoice * Your bitter silence tasted TWYLA: Did y'all bring
something to write with? NARRATOR: With workshops
for aspiring writers. TWYLA: My best advice, I'll
just give this right now, is to try to write every day. If you want to be a
writer you need to write. And need to keep writing
even when you can't write. So you write through the junk. You just keep writing and
then you'll get somewhere. NARRATOR: A poetry slam
that draws in a younger crowd. PERFORMER: We're little kids
inside trying to survive in a messed up world. We're teenagers and
society has killed us. Thank you. (applause) NARRATOR: To
story time for kids. (children chatting) TEACHER: Maybe now, maybe
later, or even all day. NARRATOR: Celebrating
the Buffalo Commons is no longer just about pride. TWYLA: If you get up and tell
your story in front of your neighbors, your peers,
there's kind of a shared intimacy and I think
that's really important for a community. TWYLA: She didn't win. (laughter) (upbeat bluegrass music) (cheering) MUSICIAN:
Thank you so much you guys. Thank you. (upbeat music) NARRATOR:
Watch our stories online at Or go to Facebook to like
us and leave a comment. Join the Nebraska
Stories conversation. Nebraska Stories is
funded by the Margaret and Martha Thomas
Foundation, the Nebraska
Office of Highway Safety, the Nebraska Tourism Commission, First Nebraska Bank, and the Brownville Fine Arts
Association. Sustained funding for
arts coverage is provided by the H. Lee and Carol
Gendler Charitable Fund. (upbeat music) Copyright 2017,
NET Foundation for Television (upbeat music)

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