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Creative to the core: John Hargiss and his handmade world


John Hargiss comes from a long line of Southern Missouri craftsmen who would never have thought to call themselves creatives, but that’s precisely what they were for the things they made with their hands and for the music they played with those same rough-hewn mitts. The owner of Hargiss Stringed Instruments is a chip off the old block who handmakes custom guitars, violins and mandolins with Old World care and craftsmanship. With those same hands, he makes and does a lot of other things, too, including repairing instruments. He took things to a whole new level recently by restoring an early 20th century vaudeville turned movie theater he discovered laying frozen in time in the complex of adjoining buildings he owns in North Omaha, one of which houses his business. The meticulously restored theater is now hosting live theater, music and assorted other events. Hargiss feels a deep connection to the people and the life rhythms from whence he came. He has found a home for himself and his work in North Omaha. This is my new Omaha Encounter Magazine profile about John and his creative life.His passion for making community in that neighborhood he moved lock, stock and barrel to from Benson is one of the angles I took in an earlier profile I wrote about Hargiss, for The Reader. Link to that earlier story at–

Entrepreneur and Craftsman John Hargiss Invests in North Omaha: Stringed Instrument Maker Envisons Ambitious Plans for his New Hargissville Digs

 

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Creative to the core: John Hargiss and his handmade world

©by Leo Adam Biga

©Photos by Bill Sitzmann

Appearing in the July-Auguat 2016 issue of Omaha Encounter Magazine (http://omahamagazine.com/category/publications/the-encounter/)

Master craftsman and stringed instrument maker John Hargiss learned the luthier skills he plies at his North Omaha shop from his late father Verl. In the hardscrabble DIY culture of their Southern Missouri hill and river bottom roots, people made things by hand.

“I think the lower on the food chain you are, the more creative you become. I think you have to,” Hargiss says.

He observed his late father fashion tables and ax handles with ancestral tools and convert station wagons into El Camino’s with nothing more than a lawnmower blade and glue pot. Father and son once forged a guitar from a tree they felled, cut and shaped together. The son’s hands are sure and nimble enough to earn him a tidy living at his own Hargiss Stringed Instruments at 4002 Hamilton Street. His shop’s filled with precision tools (jigs, clamps_, many of vintage variety.

Some specialized tools are similar to what dentists use. “I do almost the same thing – polish, grind, fill, recreate, redesign, restructure.”

Assorted wood, metal and found objects are destined for repurposing.

“I have an incredible way of looking at something and going, ‘I can use that.’ Everything you see will be sold or used one way or the other.”

In addition to instrument-making, he’s a silversmith, leather-maker and welder.A travel guitar he designed, the Minstrel, has sold to renowned artists, yet he still views himself an apprentice indebted to his father.

“He just made all kinds of things and taught me how to use and sharpen tools. Being around that most of my life it wasn’t very difficult for me to be like, ‘Oh, that’s how that works,’ For some reason my father and I had a connection. I couldn’t get enough of that old man. He was a mill worker, a mechanic, a woodsman. When he wasn’t doing that he was creating things. He was a craftsman. Everything I know how to create probably came from him. Everything I watched him do, I thought, ‘My hands were designed to do exactly what he’s doing.’ On his tombstone I had put, ‘A man who lived life through his hands.'”

Hargiss also absorbed rich musical influences.

“You were constantly around what we don’t see in the Midwest – banjo players, violin players, ukulele players, dulcimer players. There are a lot of musicians in that part of the world down there. Bluegrass. Rockabilly. Folkabilly, That would be our entertainment in the evenings – music, family, friends. Neighbors would show up with instruments and start playing. Growing up, that was our recreation.”

He feels a deep kinship to that music.

.”The roots of country music and the blues come out of being suppressed and poor,” he says. “All those incredible sad songs come from the bottom of the barrel.”

His father had a hand in his musical development

“My daddy was a good musician and he taught me to play music when I was about 9. By 11 I was already playing in little country and bluegrass bands. I can play a mandolin, a guitar, a banjo, a ukulele, but I’m pretty much a guitar player. And I sing and write music.”

Hargiss once made his livelihood performing. “I like playing music so much. It’s dangerous business because it will completely overpower you. I knew I needed to make a living, raise my children and have a life. so playing music became my hobby. I worked corporate jobs, but I kept being pulled back. It didn’t matter how hard I tried. I’d no more get the tie and suit off then I’d be out in the garage making something else. The day I quit that job I went to my boss and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore, my heart’s not in it. I’m going to start building things.”

It turned into his business.

Hargiss directly traces what he does to his father.

“I watched him repair a guitar he bought me at a yard sale. The strings were probably three inches off the finger board. I remember my daddy taking a cup of hot coffee and pouring it in the joint of that neck and him wobbling that neck off, and the next I knew he’d restrung that guitar. I think that’s when I knew that’s what I’m going to do.”

The memory of them making a guitar is still clear.

“The first guitar I built me and my daddy cut a walnut tree, chopped it up and we carved us a dreadnaught – a traditional Martin-style guitar. I gave that to him and he played that up to the day he died.”

 

Hargiss Encounter III

 

Aesthetics hold great appeal for Hargiss.

“I’m fascinated by architectural design in what I create and in what I make. I study it.”

He called on every ounce of his heritage to lovingly restore a vaudeville house turned movie theater he didn’t know came with the attached North O buildings he purchased five years ago. The theater lay dormant and unseen 65 years, like a time capsule, obscured by walls and ceilings added by property owners, before he and his girlfriend, Mary Thorsteinson, rediscovered it largely intact. The pair, who share an apartment behind the auditorium, did the restoration themselves.

The original Winn Theatre opened in 1905 as a live stage venue, became a movie theater and remained one (operating as the Hamilton and later the 40th Street Theatre), until closing in 1951. Preservation is nothing new to Hargiss, who reclaimed historic buildings in Benson, where his business was previously located. At the Hamilton site he was delighted to find the theater but knew it meant major work.

“I’ve always had this passion for old things. When we found the theater I remember saying, This is going to be a big one.”

Motivating the by-hand, labor-of-love project was the space’s “potential to be anything you want it to be.” He’s reopened the 40th Street Theatre as a live performance spot.

Hargiss is perpetually busy between instrument repairs and builds – he has a new commission to make a harp guitar – and keeping up his properties. Someone’s always coming in wanting to know how to do something and he’s eager to pay forward what was passed on to him.

The thought of working for someone else is unthinkable.

“I get one hundred percent control of my creativity. I’m not stuck, I’m not governed by, Well, you can’t do it this way. Of course I can because the sound this is going to produce is mine. When you get to control it, then you’re the CEO, the boss, the luthier, the repairman, the refinisher, the construction, the engineer, the architect. You’re all of these things at one time.”

Besides, he can’t help making things. “There’s a drive down in me someplace. Whatever I’m working on, I first of all have to see myself doing it. Then I go through this whole crazy second-guessing. And then the next thing I know it’s been created. Days later I’ll see it and go, ‘When did I do that?’ because it takes over me and it completely consumes every thought I have. I just let everything else go.”

Creating is so tied to his identity, he says, “It’s not that I can’t find peace or can’t be content” without it, “but by lands I like it.”

Visit http://www.hargissstrings.com.

Welcome to Leo Adam Biga’s My Inside Stories @ leoadambiga.com


 

File:A typewriter (10995863465).jpg

 

Welcome to Leo Adam Biga’s My Inside Stories @ leoadambiga.com, where–

I write stories about people, their passions and their magnificent obsessions

Here are some cover story images associated with my blog posts. The stories represented by these images, like every post on the blog, are written by me. You can click on some of the covers to access the stories.

I invite you to visit the site, take a little or a lot of time, explore and enjoy the ride. Be sure to bookmark favorites and share links with family and friends.

I invite you to join thousands of others in following the blog. You can get email or Facebook updates whenever I post.

The blog by the way feeds into my Facebook page, My Inside Stories, as well as into my Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Tumblr, AboutMe and Amazon pages.

Hope to see you here again @ leoadambiga.com

The site for My Inside Stories about people’s passions & magnificent obsessions

A compendium of Arts, Entertainment, Culture, Lifestyle, Sports, Style, Fashion, History, Society, Issues, Personalities, Creatives, Entrepreneurs and More

AS YOU CAN SEE, DIVERSITY IS THE NAME OF MY GAME

 

The Reader Sept. 29 - Oct. 5, 2011The Reader 1-13-2011
The Reader Nov. 3, 2011
Iraq War Veteran Jacob Hausman Battles PTSD and Finds Peace | Leo Adam Biga's Blog:
 El Perico February 12, 2015
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The Reader Dec. 11-17, 2014The Reader Feb. 13-19, 2014
The Reader Sept. 18 - 24, 2014The Reader Aug. 21-28, 2014
The Reader July 10 - 16, 2014The Reader Sept. 25 - Oct. 1, 2014
The Reader Jan. 9, 2014The Reader July 17-23, 2014
The Reader May 24 - 30, 2014The Reader Feb. 27 - March 5, 2014
The ReaderThe Reader Jan. 30 - Feb. 5, 2014
The Reader Dec. 4 - 10, 2014The Reader Oct. 16 - 22, 2014
The Reader Oct. 30 - Nov. 5, 2014The Reader March 3, 2011
The Reader Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2014The Reader Aug. 14-20, 2014
The Reader March 20 - 26, 2014The Reader
The Reader Oct. 13, 2013The Reader Oct. 3, 2013

The Reader 2-10-2011

New Horizons Newspaper's photo.
New Horizons Newspaper's photo.

 New Horizons Newspaper's photo.

New Horizons Newspaper's photo.
New Horizons Newspaper's photo.

REMINDER: North Omaha Summer Arts presents Gospel Concert in the Park – Saturday, June 18


REMINDER: Gospel Concert in the Park this Saturday, June 18
Miller Park, 5 to 7:30 pm, Free, Hot dogs & refreshments provided.
Soak up the rays and the praise at this community concert.
Enjoy soul-stirring music for thanksgiving and healing.
Please come enjoy with friends and family. Hope to see you.

Gospel Concert in the Park
Saturday, June 18
5 to 7:30 pm
Miller Park (southeast section, Kansas Ave. between 24th and 27th Streets)
Free

North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA) presents:
6th annual Gospel Concert in Miller Park

This free concert features soloists, duets, ensembles and choirs from North Omaha performing diverse gospel styles.

Performing artists include:
Dani Cleveland
D. Kevin Williams
Franklena Durham
Eric and Doriette Jordan and family
Allen and Angelica Stevenson and friends
First Lutheran Church choir
and more…

Free hot dogs and refreshments. Bring a blanket or chair, get comfy, and soak up the rays and the praise. Enjoy soul-stirring music for thanksgiving and healing. Lift up your own voice and sing along if the spirit moves you. Music in the park is a beautiful thing. Enjoy this family-friendly event.

NOSA is a completely free community-based arts festival dedicated to the proposition that art, in all its forms, can positively change the world. There is a full slate of events and activities for the whole family throughout the summer.

Like/Follow NOSA and see/share the schedule at–
https://www.facebook.com/NorthOmahaSummerArts/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1012756932152193/

 
 
Gospel Concert 2016
 
More 2016 Highlights include:
Art and Gardening Class
Saturday, July 910:30 am to 12:30 pm
Florence Branch Library
Combine your passion for making and growing things in a fun-filled session painting art on clay pots and planting flowers that attract pollinators.

NEW EVENT
Pop-Up Art
Various locations TBA
Happening throughout July, Pop-Up Art gives adults and children the opportunity to create art at different locations around North Omaha.

Arts Crawl
Friday, August 12
Reception at Charles Washington Branch Library
5:30-6:30 pm.
The Crawl at several venues on or near North 30th Street
6 to 9 pm
This walkable, continuous art show showcases the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. The 6th Annual Crawl starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between. Walk or drive to view art in a wide variety of mediums, to watch visual art demonstrations and to speak with artists about their practice. Enjoy live music at some venues.
NOTE: Watch for posts about The Crawl’s visual and performing artists roster.

Cover Photo

North Omaha Summer Arts Presents: Gospel Concert in the Park


 

Enjoy some of Omaha’s best gospel music talent at this free outdoor concert in the park.

 

Cover Photo

Gospel Concert in the Park
Saturday, June 18
5 to 7:30 pm
Miller Park (southeast section, Kansas Ave. between 24th and 27th Streets)
Free

North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA) presents:
6th annual Gospel Concert in Miller Park

This free concert features soloists, duets, ensembles and choirs from North Omaha performing diverse gospel styles.

Featured performing artists include:
Dani Cleveland
D. Kevin Williams
Franklena Durham
Eric and Doriette Jordan and family
Allen and Angelica Stevenson and friends
First Lutheran Church choir
and more…

Free hot dogs and refreshments. Bring a blanket or chair, get comfy, and soak up the rays and the praise. Lift up your own voice and sing along if the spirit moves you. Music in the park is a beautiful thing. Enjoy this family-friendly event.

Let us know you’re coming by visiting the Concert’s Facebook Event page at–

https://www.facebook.com/events/108638452893197/notif_t=plan_user_joined&notif_id=1465825659929736

NOSA is a completely free community-based arts festival dedicated to the proposition that art, in all its forms, can positively change the world. There is a full slate of events and activities for the whole family throughout the summer.

Like/Follow NOSA and see/share the full schedule of visual and performing arts at–
https://www.facebook.com/NorthOmahaSummerArts/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1012756932152193/

 

Pamela-Jo-Gospel-Poster-Flyerv3

 

North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA): Bringing together the experience of art in all its forms to the community of North Omaha.

For more info or to volunteer or to participate as an artist, call 402-502-4669.

North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA) presents: Gospel Concert in the Park


Cover Photo

North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA) presents:

Gospel Concert in the Park

6th annual Gospel Concert in Miller Park
Saturday, June 18
5 to 7:30 pm
Miller Park (southeast section, Kansas Ave. between 24th and 27th Streets)
Free

This free concert features soloists, duets, ensembles and choirs from North Omaha performing diverse gospel styles. Free hot dogs and refreshments. Bring a blanket or chair, get comfy, and soak up the rays and the praise. Lift up your own voice and sing along if the spirit moves you. Music in the park is a beautiful thing. Enjoy this family-friendly event.
NOTE: Watch for announcements about the concert’s performing artists lineup.

Visit the Facebook event page for the concert and let us know you’re coming
https://www.facebook.com/events/108638452893197/

 

 

More 2016 NOSA events, including classes and Pop-Up Art and the Arts Crawl:

Women’s Writing Classes and Retreats
Running Wednesdays through July 27
5:30 pm dinner followed by 6 to 8 pm class
Trinity Lutheran Church, 30th and Redick
This summer the focus is on Getting Published.
Facilitator Kim Louise is a playwright and best-selling romance novelist who guides participants in finding their inner writer’s voice.

Art and Gardening Class
Saturday, July 9
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Florence Branch Library
Combine your passion for making and growing things in a fun-filled session painting art on clay pots and planting flowers that attract pollinators.

NEW EVENT
Pop-Up Art
Various locations TBA
Happening throughout July, Pop-Up Art gives adults and children the opportunity to create art at different locations around North Omaha.

Arts Crawl
Friday, August 12
Reception at Charles Washington Branch Library
5:30-6:30 pm.
The Crawl at several venues on or near North 30th Street
6 to 9 pm
This walkable, continuous art show showcases the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. The 6th Annual Crawl starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between. Walk or drive to view art in a wide variety of mediums, to watch visual art demonstrations and to speak with artists about their practice. Enjoy live music at some venues.
NOTE: Watch for posts about The Crawl’s visual and performing artists roster.

NOSA is a free, grassroots, community-based arts festival. Our mission is to bring the experience of art in all forms to the community of North Omaha. NOSA classes and events are open and free of charge to everyone. NOSA is dedicated to the proposition that the arts can positively change the world and the community. Support local arts and local artists because they are making a difference through their work. Let’s make this a beautiful, arts-filled summer. And we hope to see you at our family-friendly, community-based events.

Like/follow/share NOSA on social meda–
NOSA Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/NorthOmahaSummerArts/?fref=ts
NOSA Facebook Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/1012756932152193/

For more information, to be a participating artist or to partner with NOSA, call 402-502-4669.

North Omaha Summer Arts's Profile Photo

6th Annual North Omaha Summer Arts festival now officially underway


6th Annual North Omaha Summer Arts festival now officially underway

 

NOSA kicks off with the first in a series of:

Women’s Writing Classes and Retreats
Running Wednesdays, June 1 through July 27
5:30 pm dinner followed by 6 to 8 pm class
Trinity Lutheran Church, 30th and Redick
This summer the focus is on Getting Published.
Facilitator Kim Louise is a playwright and best-selling romance novelist who guides participants in finding their inner writer’s voice.

The Classes and Retreats are just one aspect of NOSA. a free, grassroots, community-based arts festival. Our mission is to bring the experience of art in all forms to the community of North Omaha. NOSA classes and events are open and free of charge to everyone. NOSA is dedicated to the proposition that the arts can positively change the world and the community. Support local arts and local artists because they are making a difference through their work. Let’s make this a beautiful, arts-filled summer. And we hope to see you at our family-friendly, community-based events.

The summer-long fest is the creation of North Omaha native and North High graduate Pamela Jo Berry. She is a veteran artist and art educator who lives in North Omaha. Pamela began NOSA in the summer of 2011 with the support and assistance of fellow parishioner Denise Chapman and Pastor John Backus when she saw a need for more art to be infused into her community. She also wanted to provide more opportunities for area artists to exhibit their work and talent. Under the NOSA banner she organized community arts events and activities, including writing classes, a Gospel Concert and an Arts Crawl, open to all. As the community has embraced the offerings, NOSA has added new programming and partners. The goal is for this arts festival to continue growing and flourishing, but it needs help to do that.

Pamela administers NOSA with the help of volunteers. She has found success paired with a volunteer board who has history and interest in the areas of both North Omaha and the arts. NOSA has attracted a loyal following for its annual events. New programs and opportunities continue to be added. It is truly a privilege for everyone involved to celebrate the arts in North Omaha and to provide these enriching experiences.

More 2016 Highlights include:
Gospel Concert in the Park
Saturday, June 18
5 to 7:30 pm
Miller Park (southeast section, Kansas Ave. and 27th Street)
The 6th annual Gospel Concert in Miller Park features soloists, duets, ensembles and choirs from North Omaha performing diverse gospel styles. Free hot dogs and refreshments. Bring a blanket or chair, get comfy, and soak up the rays and the praise. Lift up your own voice and sing along if the spirit moves you. Music in the park is a beautiful thing. Enjoy this family-friendly event.
NOTE: Watch for announcements about the concert’s performing artists lineup.

Art and Gardening Class
Saturday, July 9
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Florence Branch Library
Combine your passion for making and growing things in a fun-filled session painting art on clay pots and planting flowers that attract pollinators.

NEW EVENT
Pop-Up Art
Various locations TBA
Happening throughout July, Pop-Up Art gives adults and children the opportunity to create art at different locations around North Omaha.

Arts Crawl
Friday, August 12
Reception at Charles Washington Branch Library
5:30-6:30 pm.
The Crawl at several venues on or near North 30th Street
6 to 9 pm
This walkable, continuous art show showcases the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. The 6th Annual Crawl starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between. Walk or drive to view art in a wide variety of mediums, to watch visual art demonstrations and to speak with artists about their practice. Enjoy live music at some venues.
NOTE: Watch for posts about The Crawl’s visual and performing artists roster.

COMING SOON: Look for our announcement about an opportunity to help NOSA continue offering these and other arts experiences free of charge to the community.

Like/follow/share NOSA on social meda–
NOSA Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/NorthOmahaSummerArts/?fref=ts
NOSA Facebook Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/1012756932152193/

For more information, to be a participating artist or to partner with NOSA, call 402-502-4669.

North Omaha Summer Arts's photo.
North Omaha Summer Arts
 

 

North Omaha Summer Arts back for 6th annual free arts festival

May 23, 2016 1 comment

North Omaha Summer Arts back for 6th annual free arts festival

 

NOSA is dedicated to the proposition that the arts can positively change the world and the community. Support local arts and local artists because they are making a difference through their work. Let’s make this a beautiful, arts-filled summer. And hope to see you at our family-friendly, community-based events.

Check out the schedule below:

 

Cover Photo

We are delighted to announce that June 2016 marks the beginning of the 6th year for North Omaha Summer Arts (NOSA), a free, grassroots, community-based arts festival!

Our mission is to bring the experience of art in all forms to the community of North Omaha. NOSA classes and events are open and free of charge to everyone.

The summer-long fest is the creation of North Omaha native and North High graduate Pamela Jo Berry. She is a veteran artist and art educator who lives in North Omaha.

Pamela began NOSA in the summer of 2011 with the support and assistance of fellow parishioner Denise Chapman and Pastor John Backus when she saw a need for more art to be infused into her community. She also wanted to provide more opportunities for area artists to exhibit their work and talent. Under the NOSA banner she organized community arts events and activities, including writing classes, a Gospel Concert and an Arts Crawl, open to all. As the community has embraced the offerings, NOSA has added new programming and partners. The goal is for this arts festival to continue growing and flourishing, but it needs help to do that.

Pamela administers NOSA with the help of volunteers. She has found success paired with a volunteer board who has history and interest in the areas of both North Omaha and the arts.

NOSA has attracted a loyal following for its annual events. New programs and opportunities continue to be added.  It is truly a privilege for everyone involved to celebrate the arts in North Omaha and to provide these enriching experiences.

2016 Highlights include:

Gospel Concert in the Park
Saturday, June 18
5 to 7:30 pm
Miller Park

The 6th annual Gospel Concert in Miller Park features soloists, ensembles and choirs performing a variety of gospel styles.

NOTE: Watch for announcements about the concert’s performing artists lineup

Women’s Writing Classes and Retreats
Wednesdays, June 1 through July 27
5:30 pm dinner followed by 6 to 8 pm class
Trinity Lutheran Church
This summer the focus is on Getting Published.

Facilitator Kim Louise is a playwright and best-selling romance novelist who guides participants in finding their inner writer’s voice.

Art and Gardening Class
Saturday, July 9
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
Florence Branch Library

Combine your passion for making and growing things in a fun-filled session painting art on clay pots and planting flowers that attract pollinators.

 

NEW EVENT
Pop-Up Art
Various locations TBA

Happening throughout July, Pop-Up Art gives adults and children the opportunity to create art at different locations around North Omaha.

 

Arts Crawl
Friday, August 12
Reception at Charles Washington Branch Library
5:30-6:30 pm.
The Crawl at several venues on or near North 30th Street
6 to 9 pm
This walkable, continuous art show showcases the diverse work of emerging and established artists at venues on or near North 30th Street. The Crawl starts at the Metropolitan Community College Fort Omaha campus Mule Barn building and ends at the North Heartland Family Service – with Church of the Resurrection, Nelson Mandela School and Trinity Lutheran in between. Walk or drive to view art in a wide variety of mediums, to watch visual art demonstrations and to speak with artists about their practice. Enjoy live music at some venues.

NOTE: Watch for posts about The Crawl’s visual and performing artists roster.


COMING SOON: Look for our announcement about an opportunity to help NOSA continue offering these and other arts experiences free of charge to the community.

Like/follow NOSA on Facebook–

NOSA Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/NorthOmahaSummerArts/?fref=ts

NOSA Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1012756932152193/

For more information, to be a participating artist or to partner with NOSA, call 402-502-4669.

North Omaha Summer Arts's Profile Photo

 

 

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