Best of Living in Iowa 145


The Best of Living in Iowa
is funded in part by the Gilchrist Foundation,
founded by Jocelyn Gilchrist, furthering the
philanthropic interest of the Gilchrist family in
wildlife and conservation, the arts and public
broadcasting and disaster relief. Funding for this program
was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television
Foundation, generations of families and friends who
feel passionate about the programs they watch on
Iowa Public Television. Hello, this is
Morgan Halgren. For 16 seasons, Living in
Iowa told the tale of what it means to be
uniquely Iowan. Tonight we honor that
spirit by bringing you another glimpse into our
rich heritage with a few stories from our archives. In this episode of the
Best of Living in Iowa, we explore the work of an
artist whose paintings cover an entire field. Kick up our heels at an
old fashioned barn dance. And see how seeds of
change grow when they’re planted in young minds. From the sky, Iowa’s
landscape looks like a rich patchwork quilt. One of those squares has
become the fabric on which crop artist Stan Herd has
sewn a work of art that has really taken root. ♪♪ When they reached
this side of the field they were probably at 400
feet, by the time they were at that side of the
field they were at 300, they drop a hundred feet
in just a few seconds there. And I think they’ll be
able to read the image, although it’s going to
be a pretty quick read. You have about 10 seconds
to start picking it up in the front and then to
catch it as it goes by. Grow for me, baby! With a little help from
Mother Nature, Stan Herd’s acreage sized artworks
have critics calling him an artist outstanding
in his field. On display just east of
the Cedar Rapids Airport, at least until the first
snow the work is titled Iowa Countryside. Often called crop art, the
image he has created is in the style of Iowa
artist Grant Wood. Essentially I have a
palette of dark and light greens, blue and
yellow greens. The yellow greens are the
sorghum and the wheat in the foreground, the middle
greens are the alfalfa. We do have some sunflowers
that will eventually bloom and we’ll have some
yellow in the color. The oats turn kind of a
rusty red color so we’re working with some
okras and yellows. Painted with field grains,
row crops and truck garden vegetables, the work
was commissioned by the University of Iowa and
the Iowa Sesquicentennial Committee as a tribute
to their shared 150th birthdays. This soil is incredible. And I understand this
probably isn’t the best soil in Iowa but this
is really good soil. This is soil Kansas
farmers would fight for in the will. Born and raised on his
parents’ 700 acre cattle, horse and wheat farm near
Protection, Kansas, Stan Herd has been turning the
top soil into a canvas best appreciated from
about 400 feet in the air. His first image was
created in 1978, a 160 acre artwork that depicted
Kiowa Indian Chief Satanta. The artist was always
heroic for me, the gentle side of man, the side that
the man who was a creative writer, who was a great
singer, who could sculpt and paint, was the heroic
man for me and a side of man that I think has been
kind of pushed to the side in much of history because
the man had to be the hunter and had to be the
triumphant in battle, the one triumphant in battle. Armed with an arsenal
of earthy essentials, throughout the growing
season Stan continually brushes up the image. I’ve laid these lines here
out and right now I’m just subtracting out of the
standing oats and alfalfa and I’ve mown these lines
wider and then down to thin to this point and I
think I’m going to go up with this weed eater
and pop around. With help from a handful
of volunteers who have contributed everything
from seeding to weeding, this art has taken root in
the most unlikely places. Many of them of course are
farmers and many of them are people who have
probably never been in an art museum before. Not only were they
interested in what Stan had to say, they were kind
of amazed to find that they saw things they could
relate to on the walls of the museum. I had comments that day
from my colleagues, I’ve never seen so many pickups
in our parking lot before. Do you see any signs of
insect damage, Luke? One of the projects’
biggest supporters is Pamela’s husband Terry, a
recently retired banker from Lisbon. I only got three D’s all
the way through school I think and one of them was
in art in sixth grade so I’m not anything close to
resembling an artist but I can remember when I was
growing up at home I had probably the first riding
lawnmower in Homestead which is made by taking
the front part of a tricycle, taking the
back two wheels off and attaching it to
an old real mower. And I used to draw stars
in the back yard in a mowing pattern and I did
that two or three times until my father
put a stop to it. Now, to most of us this is
an ordinary garden tool. But in the hands of a
crop artist, it becomes a paintbrush used to
define shadow and light. It’s incredible the
difference between the way these two graphics areas
read from up in the air. If you do nothing more
than a little line, a little definitive line, I
don’t want to get too cute in the comparison, but
Cézanne separated his color planes with a line
often and it was very effective in
post-impressionism. Along with the
post-impressionist inspired still lifes, Stan
has created artworks for magazine covers,
advertising campaigns and country stars. I was pretty shocked to
come to the field and see these, how big these
pumpkins were getting. Look at the size
of this thing. I don’t know whether to
pick him yet or not. I don’t think I can
lift him off the field. This particular part of
the image has already gone beyond peak and that is
part of the struggle to create art when you’re
trying to work alongside Mother Nature. I’ve never probably had so
many different types of things planted in so many
different graphic areas that I’m trying to
manipulate at one time. And when I come to the
field I have my helpers working and I’ll start
walking through the field and I’ll say, let’s do
this, okay you guys, no wait a minute, let’s do
this and I’m overwhelmed by the options that I have
in front of me to change each graphic area
within the image. But it never comes out
perfectly, it never really does what you think it
could, but the world seems more beautiful to me when
I’m out here trying to create something
of beauty. ♪♪ Now we want to
take you back in time to before the turn
of the century. If you try to imagine
how people entertained themselves back then,
your mental picture would undoubtedly include
a barn dance. There’s a spot in eastern
Iowa where each spring history comes to life
through music and dance and the fun that results
is as big as a barn. ♪♪ ♪♪ Oh boy,
yes sir, it’s once a year but I’m going to have the
most fun I can until I drop. And then I’ll go into my
sleeping bag, sleep for two hours, and start
dancing again. Lively old time music and
hand slapping fun continue all weekend long at the
Mooney Hollow Barn and Cafe. Arriving from all around
the Midwest, musicians and dancers enjoy the modern
novelty of a barn dance in a real barn. ♪♪ Some of the
reels, hornpipes and jigs probably originated
in the British Isles. Throw in a pinch of
Appalachian Mountain string band
instrumentation and you replicate the music that
energized the pioneers. These tunes are so simple
but there’s something about the way they’re
played and the speed you go and you play the same
simple little tune over and over until it becomes
almost hypnotic, that’s kind of how they feel
about the music and the dancing and just the whole
experience of staying up all night to do this. It’s addictive. I guess that’s
why we do it. ♪♪ Pat Walke and Mike
Mumm often missed hearing about folk music
festivals. So, to improve
communication, the formed the River City
Friends of Folk Music. The group prints a monthly
newsletter and coordinates this one big barn
dance each May. The two day event creates
a reunion atmosphere by serving up a potluck
dinner complete with kids on the loose in the loft. As teenagers in 1935,
Ervin Gruhn and Howard Kuhl helped build
a few barns. Usually at least one barn
dance was held before the loft was buried in hay. The barn dances go back
farther yet than our era and that’s going
back quite a ways. Now, our farm where we
live, my wife’s folks, they built a barn
back in the 1800s. Well, they had barn
dances in that and it was probably one of my main
reasons of going was find a pretty girl. I guess it’s no different
now than it was then. And in fact, I kind of was
a little sweet on my wife at that time. We used to have
dances — change off. Well we’ll just take that
turn — midnight lunch — square dancing. We didn’t get very far
away from home them days, stayed pretty
close to home. Rolling up the rug and
dancing at a house party was a popular form of
entertainment for the whole family. The musicians
spontaneously assembled to play authentic old time
music passed down like a family heirloom. ♪♪ Common repertory
of tunes that people know, seem to know or share, if
they don’t know it then learn it from each other
and the dancing is what brings us together because
we play dance music. On drier weekends the
musicians would normally be jamming around
the campfire. But tonight, small groups
gather in every corner of the barn. The music I think is
probably the reason we do this because it’s so much
fun to get all these really good people
together and they’re from all different areas so
when they all get together it’s like they haven’t
seen each other for a year so you can’t get
them to stop playing. ♪♪ Modern square
dancing evolved from the old barn dance steps, so
the figures that move the dancers around the floor
may sound familiar. ♪♪ Head two to
right and left through. The music drives me
really, especially the better old time southern
dance music, and I like to listen to it so this is
a way for me to do two things at one time
that are a lot of fun. I think it’s just the
physical activity, we like to swing a lot more and
a little more vigorous dancing than I
think western. There are several types of
dances, but the three main ones are square,
circle and contra. The first two take the
shape of their name, but a contra is like a long line
dance with men and women on opposite sides
of the floor. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ You don’t have to have any
experience. All you have to do is just
show up and if you can kind of follow the caller
they’ll walk you through. There’s usually enough
people that do know what they’re doing that if
you’re out there all by yourself and kind of a
novice they’ll kind of push you in the right
direction and kind of grab your arm and swing you
when it’s time and those kinds of things. So it’s a sharing thing. There’s a few of us
that are beginners but everybody is so willing to
help you learn everything that it makes
it a lot of fun. The dances take so long
that their fingers have to be sore by the time
they’re through. I make the rounds and look
around, find out who is playing in what corner
and what they’re playing. My husband is downstairs
playing with a group right now. Marvin’s musical jam
is mostly country and bluegrass, since he’s not
real familiar with the old tunes. Whiskey Before Breakfast
is the name of a tune they played. I don’t know what it is or
how it goes or anything about it. But at this point I listen
to them and jam along with them. We’ll sit here in the dry
and pick and grin all night. Last year I didn’t get to
bed until four o’clock in the morning. Okay, everybody’s
home, original places. The tune is
Angeline the Baker. The dance is called just
Hey Square by Al Broseck. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Well, it’s just a
lot of fun. I think the first time
I went to one of these dances everyone I saw just
had a perpetual grin on their face. So it’s kind of even rude
if you dance with the same partner all night. So there’s lots of
opportunities for mixing and mingling. It’s just something that
kind of moves around easily, it’s fun to dance
in, it’s more fun to have something that twirls
around when you’re dancing. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ I like the music and my impression out there I
wish I was about 30 years younger. We’d have to learn all
them tricks and trades. They’re different from
what we used to do. So I’m just waiting for
maybe a slow waltz or an easy two step or
something like that. We might get out there
yet before we leave. A short time later, Howard
embraced the moment and danced to the beat of a
waltz with his childhood sweetheart, Lorraine. ♪♪ It almost died out
in Iowa at one time and up to World War II this barn
dance music was real prevalent just all over,
any place anybody wanted to make their own fun they
did, and we just about killed it off with our
progressive thinking and modern conveniences
and stuff like that. So it has come back
in a different way. Next year, we have it
about the same weekend, come and have fun with us
or check your local area for barn dancing. It’s addictive
and it’s fun. ♪♪ In 1995, the World
Food Prize Youth Institute was established to educate
Iowa students about international food issues. In the summer of 2000,
9 of those student ambassadors were assigned
to work with scientists in Kenya, Mexico, India,
Peru, Indonesia and the Philippines. Iowa Public Television
sent cameras with some of the students so they could
document their missions. ♪♪ ♪♪ It is
estimated that a typical Iowa farm produces enough
food to feed 279 people for a year. Yet, according to the
United Nations, somewhere in the world a child dies
every 7 seconds from hunger. That’s a frightening
statistic, but not surprising considering
that 800 million people worldwide suffer daily
from not having enough to eat. Dr. Norman Borlaug has a
dream of a world without hunger, a dream that led
him to establish the World Food Prize. Dr. Norman Borlaug, Iowa
native and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate created the
World Food Prize in 1987 as a way of inspiring and
recognizing achievements that could bring more
food, that could increase the quality and quantity
and availability of food and counter
these problems. Dr. Kenneth Quinn is
President of the World Food Prize Foundation
located in Des Moines, Iowa. Every year the Foundation
awards $250,000 to one person who has made a
significant contribution to improving the
world’s food supply. The Foundation also
sponsors the World Food Prize Youth Institute,
whose goal is to increase awareness of food related
issues among Iowa’s youth. The World Food Prize Youth
Institute is unique, it’s challenging and it’s a
special opportunity for Iowa high school students
to be involved in what I believe is the single most
important problem our world faces, will
there be enough to eat? Each year a number of Iowa
students are selected to study in research centers
throughout the world. In the summer of 2000, 9
students were selected. Iowa Public Television
gave four of them video cameras to record
their experiences. Having the ability
to record my summer experiences was very
exciting because you can take photos but it was
something very different to know that I had a video
with me that eventually would be put into a final
product that people would see, that was just very
exciting, and knowing that I would be able to bring
my experience back to the people in Iowa. Em Westergaard spent
the summer at the International Livestock
Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. This summer I had the
opportunity to study the role of livestock
in soil fertility. I also learned about many
other research areas including milk production
and marketing in Kenya. ILRI works to understand
the challenges dairy farmers face and to
develop new technologies to improve animal health,
milk yields and safe transport of milk. It also works on improving
the farmer’s access to places where he
can sell his milk. When you think of starving
people you think of people out in the desert wearing
little cloths around their waist. But it’s actually, it’s
different than that. There are people in the
cities starving too and that’s kind of something
I never really realized until I actually saw it. Michelle also spent
time in Nairobi, Kenya. She, however, was assigned
to the International Center for Research
in Agriforestry. I spent my summer vacation
in Nairobi, Kenya working at ICRA, the International
Center for Research in Agriforestry. Iowa native Cliff Harris
helps manage programs to improve African
farming practices. For my experiment, I grew
a variety of trees and tracked their
early development. Every other week I tested
their chute and root length and weight hoping
to discover similar growth patterns among certain
types of trees. Because of the worked I
started, tropical farmers will know the best way to
grow a variety of tree species. They don’t have the
technology, the tractors, the certified seeds,
the fertilizers. So out of that entire one
acre of crop, your entire net yield is probably from
about 30% to 40% after the pests get to it, after
the droughts get to it. And so from that you have
this ever-stemming cycle of poverty. Bian Li was sent to the
International Center for Insect Physiology and
Ecology in Mbita Point, Kenya. She developed a survey to
assess the influence of culture and gender on
household food supplies. There’s a saying in these
parts, women feed the world. And since women here in
Eastern Africa bear the brunt of agricultural
production, it becomes necessary to help the
women maximize their production to ensure their
household food security. What the role I focused on
was women as well and it was interesting to see
kind of set up as a background that women are
in charge of raising the animals, taking care of
the family, preparing the food, gathering the food
and yet they are the last ones to eat and they are
the ones that suffer the most from food
insecurities. So there is this paradox
here that women are not important. Curtis O’Loughlin was
placed in the M.S. Swaminathan Research
Foundation in Madras, India. As an Iowa farm boy,
Curtis was able to have immediate impact there
when he noticed that goats raised for meat were
not being milked. Research was started for
the production of an Indian goat milk cheese. The process began when I
learned the traditional goat rearers never
milked their goats. Hopefully it will provide
a new avenue of livelihood for these small
scale farmers. ♪♪ More and more
Indian men are enjoying labor saving technologies
while the invisible labors of women continue in
the age old fashion. Indian women feed a
nation and the future. Something that was really
important and really stressed through M.S. Swaminathan who founded
the foundation that I was at, and he stressed a
quote that Gandhi had said. And he said, you must be
the change you want to bring about. And I think that’s a real
powerful quote because often times I think, and I
saw myself thinking this too, that we could impose
change or that we could say something like they
should do this, when in actuality we should be
thinking what should I do to change or how can I be
the change that I want to see and you have to
live that change. The lessons learned
through the World Food Prize Youth
Institute are many. But perhaps the most
important is that it’s possible for just
one person to make a difference. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ The Best of Living in Iowa is funded in part by the
Gilchrist Foundation, founded by Jocelyn
Gilchrist, furthering the philanthropic interest of
the Gilchrist family in wildlife and conservation,
the arts and public broadcasting and
disaster relief. Funding for this program
was provided by Friends, the Iowa Public Television
Foundation, generations of families and friends who
feel passionate about the programs they watch on
Iowa Public Television.

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