Kelly: Another medium for Jun Kaneko — the airwaves -
Published Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 12:23 am
Kelly: Another medium for Jun Kaneko — the airwaves

>> Ceramic artist Jun Kaneko brought attention to Omaha this week on the “CBS Sunday Morning” show.

“Omaha, the middle of America, and Nagoya, perched on the Pacific coast of Japan, are separated by 6,000 miles,” said correspondent Mo Rocca. “But they share someone remarkable.”

Jun, 71, was born in Nagoya in the months after Pearl Harbor and came to the U.S. at age 21. For the past 25 years, he has lived in Omaha, wife Ree's hometown.

As Omahans know, he is most recognized for his large sculptures, known as Dangos, Japanese for “dumplings.” This summer he has an exhibit in Chicago's Millennium Park — 13 Dangos and 21 Tanukis.

Tanuki means “raccoon dog,” the name of a small animal popular in folk tales. But these sculptures are 7 feet tall and 900 pounds each.

Kaneko sculptures previously have been displayed on Park Avenue in New York. Jun said each one takes a lot of time and effort and had better be good. He quipped, “So don't make ugly, big piece!”

Jun also has designed costumes and screen-projected scenery for Mozart's opera “The Magic Flute” in San Francisco, Omaha and elsewhere.

“Just as Omaha has helped shape Kaneko,” Rocca said, “Kaneko's shapes are all over Omaha — and beyond.”

>> Three decades ago, as a walk-on defensive end from Holdrege, Neb., Scott Strasburger intercepted a pass to clinch Nebraska's 28-24 win over Oklahoma and a conference championship. Husker fans stormed the field in Lincoln.

No one cheered Wednesday in Lincoln when Dr. Strasburger, an orthopedic surgeon, repaired the knee of Marine veteran Carl Hartmann of Omaha at no charge. But the gesture cheered up the patient.

“It was absolutely generous beyond what I ever could have expected,” said Carl, who served three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. “I'm definitely happy to have it taken care of.”

The doc, who had knee injuries as a football player, was moved to offer his services after reading an opinion article July 11 in The World-Herald. Originally published in the York (Neb.) News-Times, it was written by Brian Bresnahan, another Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He wrote about “my friend Carl” who was frustrated at delays in government medical care. Dr. Strasburger learned Carl's last name and invited him to Lincoln for consultation and then surgery.

>> News that the Storz Brewery name is returning to Omaha at a riverfront restaurant has brought up lots of old stories, including one about the Storz connection to the Husker rallying cry “Big Red.”

Retired Omaha stockbroker Bruce Haney said that in Bob Devaney's early years as NU coach, 1962 or '63, Devaney mentioned to Art Storz Jr. how he wished Nebraska had a catchy phrase for fans.

Bruce said he was present when Art suggested “Big Red,” but Devaney at first said no — that's the phrase for Oklahoma. Art replied that he doubted OU would care, although some Sooner fans did. Even a World-Herald sportswriter wrote that using the term was “thievery.”

Don Bryant, for many years the NU sports information director, once told me that he wasn't there when Art Storz made the suggestion, “but that's what I've always heard.”

>> Laurie Frink, who played trumpet at Nebraska in the days before women were allowed in the marching band but went on to widespread influence as a musician, died last month in New York City. She was 61.

“I knew her well in college and used to sit and listen to her in the basement of our dorm,” said Linda Cook, a psychologist in Omaha. “She was exceedingly talented.”

Frink was born Aug. 8, 1951, in Pender, Neb., and spent her first two years of college at Nebraska before moving to New York.

The New York Times said in her obituary that she built her career as a section player, starting when few women were accepted in those ranks. She worked extensively on Broadway and in top-name orchestras.

As a faculty member at leading jazz conservatories, she mentored many trumpeters and co-wrote a book on trumpet calisthenics, relating to lips and facial muscles.

OWH Columnists
Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.

Classical violist Lois Martin, her partner of 25 years, said she died of cancer of the bile duct.

>> The American Wine Consumer Coalition has ranked Nebraska one of the six “wine friendliest” states in the nation.

The coalition considered such factors as access to products, shipping regulations, Sunday sales and bring-your-own-bottle corkage at restaurants.

The other states receiving an A+ grade were Oregon, California, Missouri, New Hampshire and Virginia.

Rated last was Utah, which prohibits grocery stores from selling wine and doesn't allow the sale of wine on Sunday.

>> Countless stories were exchanged at the recent Native Omaha Days, the biennial celebration and reunion in the African-American community. Musician Richie Love told a memorable one.

The son of Omaha jazz legend Preston Love, Richie stood across the street from Love's Jazz and Arts Center and spoke to a tour group. When he was a child, he said, his dad was conducting for Marvin Gaye at the Forum in Los Angeles.

Walking near the dressing room, Richie said, he saw five kids off to the side. The youngest was about 6.

“We were about the same size,” he said, “and he waved at me.”

The following week, the Omaha boy heard the group on the radio with a hit song and realized who they were: the Jackson 5. And the one who had waved to him was named Michael.

Contact the writer: Michael Kelly    |   402-444-1000

Mike writes three columns a week on a variety of topics.

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