Ah, the running joke of life in Nebraska: You’ve been to the Stonehenge of North America, right? Continue reading
In Whitman, Nebraska, a lonely cemetery sits atop a hill overlooking town and the vast, rolling expanse of the treeless Sand Hills.
My next solo exhibition, “PlainSky, Nebraskans,” opens at the Minden Opera House Gallery on April 16, 2013, and will feature three 40-inch-wide panoramic images indicative of both the project as a whole, and the essence of western Nebraska. The above image, “High Plains Train, Grant County,” is one of them (I think). Continue reading
Ranching is a lifestyle of few vacations. Cattle don’t understand that you can’t feed them for a few days, or that their need for water will just have to wait; for the rancher, that means a life tied to the lives of his stock. On Ray Semroska’s ranch, that has been a family inheritance for more than 100 years, and one that plays out in this image of a cold January spaying of 400 heifers, evidenced most clearly by the cloud of steam from the pictured cow’s mouth.
Buffalo Bill seems to be watching the clock in the Sioux County Museum. Does he get to go home?
I found the personality, light and wildness in this single collection a telling image for Harrison and Sioux County. Here, ironically, in a place of which Buffalo Bill presented only a caricature to the American people, is a poster idolizing his work. The coyote, so thoughtful in his expression, seems to keep watch over the residents of the museum as dust slowly encroaches on the sentinel’s charges.
Why sit out a severe storm with a history of tornadoes on a dirt road with no cell service? Because at 7 o’clock in the evening, with the storm on the northeast horizon and the sun to my side, the contrast of the white badlands, yellow prairie grass, and the black storm created textures worth taking such a chance.
Above the entrance to the Sioux County Museum is a slab of red plywood, home to a poetic skull of a long-dead hereford. It reads (I didn’t write the poem, by the way-I’m a visual poet, but not one with a pen):
ODE TO A HEREFORD (Author Unknown)
Head held high
He now walks the range
Of a snow white cloud
How could I not make a photo?
The man who owns Rea’s Grocery in Harrison is a former airline pilot, who found Harrison’s appeal irresistible. The store is tiny, rustic and indispensable. Visually, it’s magnetic, much as the owner found the town and Sioux County.
I’m inclined to agree.
Ray Semroska has been ranching this land for 82 years.
His house, home and ranch were named a Nebraska Heritage Homestead, an honor given to families that have lived on and worked with the same land for more than 100 years.
Ray’s garage is the same building as the one in which he attended grade school.
Needless to say, I’m in awe of Ray and his family. I’ll be going back several times this year to see him and his wife, Doreen. On a cold (very cold!) January day, I followed him as he caked (pellet-fed) the cattle on his enormous ranch in Sioux County; as he cleaned his dispenser in the back of his 30-year-old Ford 4×4, the cattle lined up perfectly for a split second, and I clicked the shutter.
My 4-year-old daughter, Keira, has a camera, too. We’re embarking on a new journey with a new photographer; I’ll be posting some of her images here as time passes.