Art Farm | Nebraska Stories | NET Nebraska

music) (upbeat music) VOICEOVER: Coming up
on Nebraska Stories, a farm where the
crop is creativity, the ultimate gallery
for Husker fans, a sculptor reveals his vision for a statue of Willa Cather, the chanting priests behind
a chart-topping “Requiem,” and revisiting the early
days of KMMJ Radio. (upbeat music) (soft tranquil music) (chimes tinkling) GRACE: It’s kind of unlike
most places that I’ve been. MONEL: I was
just very shocked at every aspect
of the landscape. MATT: It’s great to come here and not know what to expect and to be sort of like dropped into a place with very little connection
to the outside world. (door creaking) NARRATOR: 80 miles
West of Lincoln off an unremarkable dirt road, near the small
town of Marquette, is a farmstead like no other. (upbeat music) ED DADEY: You guys catch
it as we get there. (wheel creaking) ED: Now just keep on going. NARRATOR: It’s
called Art Farm. It’s a non-profit
artist residency program Ed Dadey started 26 years ago as an experiment. ED: We’ll set this end
right here on the bucket. Tried to be a farmer but
hell, I was so pathetic. I thought well, I gotta
do something else. NARRATOR: And that’s
when Dadey switched from cultivating corn
to cultivating culture. ED: Over the years total,
probably around 800 artists now, I think from about 23 countries. ARTIST: I feel like Art
Farm’s gonna be marketed as like a crossfit for artists. (laughing) NARRATOR: From May
through November, up to 80 artists
come here each year, as many as 20 at a time. The accommodations are rustic. The studio spaces
are equally spare. Some buildings
evoke abandonment, others a simple charm. But the evidence of creative
energy is everywhere. (upbeat music) In exchange for a residency, artists contribute at least
12 hours of labor each week to projects on the farm. (upbeat music) GRACE WONG: My name is Grace. I’m originally from Hong Kong but I was raised in Los Angeles. (tapping) I was trained as an architect. I just quit architecture and decided to do
architecture in my own terms. When you build something here, like you’re also working with
a bunch of different people which kind of continuously
change and transform like what that idea is. MALE ARTIST: Could you turn this
into like a three-inch square? FEMALE ARTIST: Yeah. (water spraying) NARRATOR: Every day
brings something new. (shoveling dirt) On this day, it’s
all hands on deck to unload the donated remnants
of an elevator mechanism for some unknown
future project. There are piles of materials just waiting for the
right artistic vision. ED: Some things could be
around here 25 years not used and all of a sudden,
where’d they all go? (xylophonic music) NARRATOR: Beyond the work
exchange, there are few rules. Imperfection is okay. Failure is an option. And at least at Art
Farm, time is not money. (loud insects buzzing) NICOLE BASTA: There’s like
freedom to fail here. Everything you’re making
doesn’t have to be something that’s gonna be
lucrative for your career. ED: It doesn’t matter if
you fail, just do it. Time is different out here. I mean actually the
sky, the moon, the sun, it’s what you keep your time by. Yeah let’s pull the other
one, just lay that end down. Pull the other one off and
we can take the two-by-fours. NARRATOR: Dadey trained
as a sculptor and ceramicist but his focus now is on
mentoring other artists. ED: See, that’s good. MATT CLEGG: He just kind of
dedicated his life to building and maintaining this strange pocket
in existence. ED: You could brush and
sand in all these now. MATT: He’s an incredibly
inspiring human being mostly because he literally
knows how to do anything. NICOLE: He treats us all
completely equally whether you’re a poet
who’s never hammered a nail or, you know, you’re a sculptor whose built like
massive structures. MATT:
I drove from New York City and I just had this
vision of a door that sat in the
middle of the field. And it’s just like so
odd and interesting and hilarious to see
what people will do when people given a plot of land and literally no
expectations or directions. (chime ringing) (sanding) MATT: I come to a place like
this where the emphasis has been taken away from
efficiency and productivity and is put towards
inspiration and creativity. I felt a little bit of a
spiritual change in me. I just keep coming back because it’s someplace where
I feel incredibly inspired. ED: Where they’re
coming from an area that’s very competitive to determine who
gets in a gallery, you see that the first
week they’re here, that competitiveness
has come with them. And then they start to
pick up on the Art Farm where everybody sees
this initially as God, this is a chaotic mess, but then they start to
understand there is order, organization here. EVAN MURPHY:
We’re building a basket-covered
platform for Art Farm, for people to be able
to work during the day in a pleasing environment,
write poems, make a painting. MORGAN STREET: The whole
building is sort of based off of shaker basket styles. I’ve been experimenting with
like traditional craft styles and how like the
structure of those and the manipulation of material can affect experimental
architecture. MATT: Our point is
gonna go forward, yep. You guys walk backwards, yep. MORGAN: Art Farm is
such a wonderful place. It’s a very like
giving environment. We do a lot of
things communally. We have a lot of meals together. And we work together to actually build the physical property here and I think that bleeds over
into everyone’s practices and people support each other
in a really beautiful way. NICOLE:
I think it’s going over there. MAN: By the welding area. NICOLE: So maybe we should
just build a ramp. NARRATOR: Admittedly, Art
Farm isn’t for everyone. The longest residency
has been four years, the shortest, 45 minutes. ED: You don’t know if it’s like romantic idealization
of what rural America is and when you get here, to have the mosquitoes
biting you all the time, the wind drives you crazy, you gotta walk in mud sometimes. Yeah, some just cannot take it. MONEL REINA: Well I’ve only
lived in cities my whole life. I was a little shocked by the
rustic nature of it at first. I mean I still haven’t
gotten used to like bugs eating my flesh all day but I really enjoy just like being able to work
outside like this. I’ve grown to like it a lot. NARRATOR: In 26 years,
only three Nebraska artists have applied to the program. Perhaps Art Farm is simply less
exotic to homegrown artists. But the competition for spots
here increases each year. Word of mouth has turned
this little known experiment into a sought after
residency for artists from all over the world. NICOLE: This is my third season,
I guess you’d call it. It’s changed me in
ways that I couldn’t, I don’t think I
could articulate. The gift of time
is something that is probably the best tool
that any artist or writer or creator of any
kind could ask for. (upbeat music) (gritty music) JC WICKSTROM:
I basically get all my
stuff straight from the players. I love the fact that
these guys come in here, that they call just to chat. It’s surreal to think that
all my heroes when I was a kid like just wanna
call and talk to me. It’s just the
strangest thing still. NARRATOR: Hidden in
Lincoln’s Hay Market is a gallery dedicated
to Nebraska football. Its curator, JC Wickstrom, has been a sports
memorabilia collector since he was small child. JC: The first time I remember
that Nebraska football was a big deal was
the ’78 Oklahoma game. So, I was seven years old and I realized that it was
gonna be a big part of my life. In ’83, the University had
their first like garage sale. I was like pulling
stuff out of piles, like this is Jeff
Kinny’s jersey from 1970 and you know Larry Jacobson. And I’m like you gotta, and
of course my mom was like, “Who’s Jeff Kinny?” And I was like ahh! (upbeat music) JC: Who knows why anybody
picks something to get passionate
about and collect but that was it for me. I mean I never
wanted anything else. I had purchased
basically everything Ameer Abdullah had sold. This third party saw it
and wanted to buy it. He kept on increasing his
offer and increasing his offer. And I was just like I
don’t care what you offer, you can’t have it. So, we got to talking and it turned out this
guy was the president of one of the
largest privately-owned
museums in the world. He put some money in there and that’s how this
place got started. I mean it’s kind of a miracle. There really wasn’t a
very big market for it until about 2000. There were very few
of us out there, a couple of us,
doing Nebraska stuff. It just exploded. You know stuff you can
get for $50, $100 bucks costs $1,000 now. NARRATOR: While
JC has purchased some of his collection
from auctions, most of it comes straight from
former players themselves. BRENDEN STAI:
They reached out to me. And I think like he does
to a lot of former players, you know, told me about
what he’s been doing, his collection, and in
his interest in trying to get the pipeline
noticed through his museum. (upbeat music) JC: I actually had a
list of like 17 guys that I had since I
was in high school. And I thought those
guys were unattainable. And then like two years
ago, I finished the list. That’s the fun for me, is the hunt you know, the tracking something down. It’s an addiction. I can’t, I won’t stop. I mean just, I love it. I mean I love it
so much so it’s, everybody’s got their thing. So mine just happens
to be expensive. This is the shirt
from McGee’s Clothiers that was signed by
the entire 1933 team. It’s something
that’s very unusual. The best thing is ’cause
the autographs back then, they actually signed their
names so you can read it. It’s just such a
different piece. I absolutely had to have it. So that’s a pretty, something
you’re never gonna see. There’s only one
of those, for sure. The ’41 football, our first
Bowl team, the ’41 Rose Bowl, it’s the game ball signed
by the whole Nebraska team. Yeah it’s free. It’s for everybody to enjoy. And I do enjoy the reactions of people who are
big Husker fans. They just shake their head, they’re like how did
you get all this stuff? NARRATOR: Vintage
Red has become a place to honor the legacy
of Nebraska football, one piece at a time. JC: There’s so many great
players that have played here. All these guys have families and they wanna show
their loved ones that I was actually a part of this. BRENDEN: There’s a lot of
history in Nebraska football. And this museum, to me, is a great place for
people to come and reflect and you know honor. Also, I know over at the
university right now, there’s so much stuff that’s
just kind of collecting dust and in closets and I
think the ultimate goal would then to have
this great museum. And right now, I think that this is a perfect platform for it. (upbeat music) LITTLETON ALSTON: I look at
the maquette as a poem and then I look at
the four-foot version as a short story. And then the seven-foot which will be in bronze
of Willa in Statuary Hall will be the novel. (soft piano music) NARRATOR: Red Cloud, Nebraska, where people come from
all over the world to experience the little town that Willa Cather brought
to life in her novels. (horse neighs) ALSTON: How absolutely
wonderful it is to see everyone in their white shirts
and their Sunday best to come out and actually be seen but also to see and experience
the town life itself, how rich it is. I bet these people thought that this would only grow
to another Chicago. (clapping) This is an American society
that’s curious about the world. And things as interesting
as a Ferris wheel is magic to children. And maybe this is a
renaissance for this town, to come back to its
cultural hub, it’s heart. NARRATOR: The house where
Willa Cather lived as a child has been preserved just as it
was in the late 19th century. ALSTON: I think visiting
Red Cloud enriches me. There’s no question about it, slows everything down. And you start to really
measure by inch everything. We’re standing in her
life which is a novel. And I’m creating
a sculpture of her and I want to
capture the poetry. So, it’s really
the essence of her and yet, it’s as rich as
say the chapters of a novel. For the artist, for me, it’s research for sure but it’s a research that
I lovingly engage in. (piano music) ALSTON: It’s
a fascinating journey. (door clangs) (audience applauds) ATTENDEE:
It’s really nice to meet you. Thanks for coming to Red Cloud. See you soon.
ALSTON: Absolutely. ALSTON: Thank you, thank you. (muffled conversing) WOMAN: She’s lovely. ALSTON: Thank you. WOMAN: And she’s
gonna be seven-foot tall? ALSTON: Yes. (upbeat music) (Gregorian chant music) (bell rings) NARRATOR: When you
hear Gregorian chants, ancient churches
and monasteries
in Europe may come to mind. (bell rings) But these chants are
thousands of miles and hundreds of years closer. Tucked away on the plains
of eastern Nebraska, you’ll find Our Lady
of Guadalupe Seminary. The sounds coming from
inside the church here bring the past right
into the present. (Gregorian chant music) FR. ZACHARY AKERS: To some
extent, this music is from the early Christians,
we believe, would have been
singing something that resembles what we have now and
what we call Gregorian chant. Some believe that even
in the Jewish synagogue that they would have this
same style of singing. NARRATOR: Father
Zachary Akers is a graduate of the seminary
and now a priest in the Fraternity of St. Peter. As a child, his mother
would play Gregorian chants to help him calm down. Now, every day he
sings these chants that have been a part of the
Catholic Church for centuries. FR. AKERS: There’s something
that we as Christians in our relationship
or spiritual life, our relationship with God, that we are expressing that it transcends just mere words. And so we pray not
just with our mouth but with singing, with our
heart being uplifted to God. (singing) NARRATOR: The chanting
and the Latin lessons are part of the daily routine
for the 90-some seminarians who will live and study
here for seven years. Father Joseph Lee
was the last student to be accepted into his class
when he arrived in 2000. Now, he’s the academic dean. Father Lee says the
musical training and classes here are demanding. FR. JOSEPH LEE:
These are obligatory. These are not electives. They have to do it whether they
went to music school before, acquired a major in the subject or whether they’re tone
deaf and cannot match pitch. (pitch pipe plays)
(humming) (singing in Latin) NARRATOR: As
part of the early more contemplative
phase of their study, the seminarians don’t
use their names publicly. This young man from
Washington State had an extensive
musical background before coming to the seminary, starting with playing
the violin at age three and the piano shortly after. Still, learning Gregorian chant wasn’t without
its difficulties. SEMINARIAN: One of the things
that did take a while to learn was how to pray the music. That was a big difference
from most settings in the secular music world. It’s a performance. You’re performing music. Whereas here, we’re singing
sacred music, Gregorian chant. We’re not necessarily
performing the music, we are praying the music. (singing chant) NARRATOR: Those prayers
are now being heard by people well beyond
the walls of the church. A record company,
de Montfort Music, approached the
Fraternity of St. Peter about making a recording
of Gregorian chants. So they gathered 12
of the most musically talented graduates
from the seminary, priests from across the world, and produced, “Requiem.” (singing chant) FR. AKERS: It’s a Latin word
that means rest. And for this album, it’s
a selection of music that is simply the
Catholic Church’s musical list for a funeral mass. (singing chant) We all experience death. And we all experience a return to our
Maker, our Creator. And this is something
that’s very transcendent. And I think the music really
expresses this reality as well. (organ music) NARRATOR: Father
Akers and Father Lee are both among those
participating in The recording seemed
to strike a chord when it was released
last spring, spending 13 straight weeks at the top of the
classical music charts. The Gregorian chant has
found a new audience. FR. LEE: It’s universal. It’s a unifying bonding element that transcends fads, transcends fashions, transcends geography, transcends time. And it’s able to unite people regardless of their race or who they think is gonna
when the World Series or what kind of food
they enjoy eating. (singing chant) NARRATOR: Maybe it’s
not such a surprise that a recording of priests
praying Gregorian chants has become a success. After all,
they’ve been practicing
for hundreds of years. (singing chant) FR. AKERS: Gregorian chant is
not something that is just of olden days that’s being sung at some small monastery
in Spain or something but this is something
that is very much a part of our life as Catholics. (bell rings) (chanting) (bell rings) (upbeat music) (upbeat instrumental
’20’s music) NARRATOR: This time
the egg came first. MM Johnson’s Company made
incubators in Clay Center. He named them after
his dog, Trusty. A successful business but
Johnson thought
he could do more if there was just a better way to get the word out
about the company. MIKE ANDERSON: Mr. Johnson
was a very fore thinker. And so he decided to
build a radio station as a form of advertising. (musical interlude) NARRATOR: KMMJ,
MMJ for MM Johnson, hatched in 1925. It quickly became a big
deal for the small town. ANDERSON: We have letters
and different documents where the signal from
the radio station was heard all over the country. DALE LIVGREN: People came
from all over the country to visit that radio station. JANE TAYLOR: It brought
people to the town not only to live but many visitors came to visit the KMMJ studio. ANDERSON: Their
building was so large that it was kinda like a
strip mall that we call today. They had a barber
shop and a cafe and different stores in it
besides just the radio station. LIVGREN: The things that
sticks out in my mind was that they had quite
a large grocery store in the radio station and sold all kinds of stuff. ANDERSON: They did
live performances and you could come
in and sit down and watch, you know,
whoever was performing. WESLEY SCHLIEP:
There was quite a bit of
entertainment here all the time. (upbeat ’20s music) ANDERSON: The live performances,
the people that were here, and those who went on to become
famous stars other places, you know, that’s special. LIVGREN: There was
a lot going on here. NARRATOR: And
then, there wasn’t. In 1939, KMMJ moved from
Clay Center to Grand Island. Today, the Clay County
Historical Society sits where the radio
station used to but inside, the spirit
of KMMJ lives on. (upbeat music) VOICEOVER: Watch
more Nebraska Stories on our website,
Facebook, and YouTube. Nebraska Stories is funded by The Margaret and Martha
Thomas Foundation. (upbeat music) Captions by FINKE/NET (upbeat music) Copyright 2020
NET Foundation for Television

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