305 N 5th St Norfolk, NE 68701 info@norfolkartscenter.org (402) 371-7199

Faces at the NAC – David

In this month’s edition of Faces at the NAC we are going to help you get to know our very own David Gaster! When you come to the NAC you can see him working on technology or running sound and MCing First Friday!

Originally from a farm just outside of West Point, David grew up loving all things outdoors and often enjoyed building things! He went to college at Northeast Community College and studied business and welding. After he graduated he worked many construction jobs in the area. He met his now-wife, Kara, at the old Riverside Ballroom here in town (it has since burned down) and they were married in 1997!

  Some of you might recognize her from here at the NAC, but more on that in a minute! After they got married they moved to Omaha where David worked for the Nebraska Department of Roads.  In 2004 David started his own company called, “Gaster Constructions.” Shortly after this they decided to move back to Norfolk! Kara started working here as the Director, and David joined the Building and Grounds Committee for a few years before he joined the staff here at the NAC! Kara has since moved on to a new job, but likes to come back to visit!

During their move back to Norfolk, David and Kara found out they were pregnant with their first daughter, Gwen. Then a few years later her sister Annaka joined the family!


David has many hobbies from music (he got his start playing trumpet in the high school band), to drawing, and even archery. But what David loves most is learning something new! Which is something we find as a HUGE asset here at the NAC!

He loves working at the NAC but his favorite parts include First Friday’s Open Mic night and getting to meet the artists!

David is a huge believer that everyone has a creative streak in them from something small to a huge desire to create and perform. That is what he believes the NAC is for – giving people a creative outlet no matter how big or small the creative desire.

We are so blessed to have David here at the Art Center! When you come in and see him don’t be afraid to stop and say hi!

“Art is what we call…the thing an artist does.

It’s not the medium or the oil or the price or whether it hangs on a wall or you eat it. What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.

Art is not in the …eye of the beholder. It’s in the soul of the artist.”
― Seth Godin

New Series! Toddler Class!

This month at the NAC we are starting a new series of classes for toddlers! We will have one class a month geared toward our little artists with help from a parent or friend.

This is a series that is near and dear to our hearts here at the NAC. Denice, Sara, and I all have little ones but have found it challenging to find things that we can take our kiddos to that are not during working hours. There are lots of moms groups, and storytimes, but they all happen during the day – this makes it impossible for working moms and dads!

We wanted these classes to be available to EVERYONE! Working parents, stay at home parents – everyone! The hope is that it will provide a fun experience for our little artists and hopefully some community for parents! And the best part is it’s cheap! It’s only $5 per kid!

We start things off this month with FLUFF PAINTING! It’s colorful, messy, and hands-on, everything a little toddler desires!

Toddlers must be accompanied by a caregiver!

Coming Up in January 2020

We have a lot coming up in January! Here is the list so you don’t miss out!

January 1 – Closed – Happy New Year!

January 2 – Drop-In Art 4-5 pm (Paper Plate Bees)

January 7 – Fluff Painting 6:15-7 pm (this is part of our new Toddler Class series!)

January 8 – Passport to Art Class 4-5 pm (only open to 5th graders)

January 9 – Sip+Create: Kindness Rock Project 6-7:30 pm

January 11 – Second Saturday 1-3 pm

January 14 – Kandinsky Circles 4-5 pm

January 16 – Drop-In Art 4-5 pm (bookmarks)

January 18 – Gallery Yoga 10- 11 am

January 23 – Ink Dyed Coasters  4-5 pm

January 26 – Soup R’Art 11 am – 3 pm @Life Long Learning Center on NECC Campus

January 30 – Drop-In Art 4-5 pm (magnets)


Happy Holidays from the NAC!

Christmas is only a few days away so we wanted to take some time to say Thank You for all you do for the Arts Center! It’s people like you who support us, come to our events, take our classes, and teach your children the importance of the arts. We would not be here if it was not for you! We want you to know how much we appreciate you.

Happy Holidays and stay safe while traveling this week!

Best wishes,

Your NAC Family

Faces of the NAC – Sara

Growing up right here in Norfolk, Sara Putters, started coming to the NAC as a kid taking art classes and visiting with her art teacher. She later became our Program Coordinator here at the NAC and is who we are featuring in this month’s edition of the Faces of the NAC.

Sara grew up with two sisters and a brother. While going to Norfolk Public Schools, Sara was involved in choir, show choir, theatre, and debate. She embraced art by writing and performing on stage. After graduation, she moved to Lincoln and went to UNL to study advertising but ended up graduating with a degree in Hospitality, Restaurant, and Tourism Management and a minor in Leadership. She visited various galleries in college but it was not until after she moved back to Norfolk that she truly became immersed in the arts and its impact on the community.

After moving back she met her now-husband, Jon, who works at Nucor. They were married right here at the NAC!

She is a mom to son Barrett-2.5, and a stepmom to Jaxon-11, Talon-8, and Nolan-5.

Sara started working at the NAC in October of 2018 and loves the impact that the NAC brings to the community!

“Whether it is an elementary theatre performance, ‘ForkFest, a unique art class, or our beautiful art galleries, most people in our community have experienced art because of what we do here and that is what makes my job so rewarding. “

To Sara, the arts offer a new way of thinking and processing information.

” Thought requires complexity, and when I get lost in that complexity you can usually find me in the gallery or in the garden collecting my thoughts. Getting lost in the art helps clear my head so I can move forward, and I love that aspect of art.”

When Sara is not working to bring amazing events and classes to the NAC she is often spending time with family and friends, finding new recipes to cook with her husband, and reading.

Stop by the NAC and you will almost always see Sara!

The Road To “Rivers”

New in our Gallery is a series of pieces from 3 artists who came together to create “Rivers.” It has been a process of love over the years to get these final pieces. We have been talking with these artists and want to give you a behind the scenes look at this amazing exhibit currently in our gallery.

For Lori Elliott-Bartle, Marcia Joffe-Bouska, and Tom Quest, art has been a lifelong journey. All three have talked about their fascination and love of art as children and how art has really become a part of them today. For Tom it started with wood and glue, for Lori it was watercolors, and for Marcia, it was the idea of working with her hands to create something new.

We asked the artists what lead them to the theme of “Rivers.” It all started with an exhibit the three had in Omaha at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery. They wanted to do a collaborative piece that of which had “never been done at the co-op.”  According to Marcia, they considered a few themes before finally settling on “Rivers.”

 “Most specifically for our first collaborative piece:  the Missouri River.  Aside from the many associations, rich symbolism, and the metaphors possible with this theme, perhaps originally we selected this because of our physical location:  Tom and Lori live in Omaha, and I live across the river in Council Bluffs.”

Marcia Joffe-Bouska

This first collaboration was titled, “Rivers, Roads, and Remains” and is what lead to what you can currently see in our gallery today. In 2017 they had the opportunity to do an exhibit at the Omaha Public Library’s downtown gallery. They used this opportunity to expand the piece and the 23-foot-long “River” was born. According to Lori, they have worked over the past year to add new pieces, expand the original one, and create something that is double in size. That is what you will see in the NAC Gallery.

“The ideas that link all the collaborative pieces are based in appreciating history, understanding particular places, mining memory and exploring ways all those aspects shape identity and experience.”

Lori Elliott-Bartle

To all three artists, art is something fundamental that teaches more than the skills to create art but teaches people how to think creatively, develop problem-solving skills, and how to use their imagination in everyday life. To them, the arts offer a way to truly live life to the fullest.

To see this exhibit stop by the Norfolk Arts Center today!


Today is the day! #GivingTuesday! For those of you who don’t know what #GivingTuesday is, it’s a national day across the U.S. where people are encouraged to donate to their favorite non-profits. Many people were able to save money on Christmas presents by shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals and now have the opportunity to donate some of what they saved.

This year the Art Center wants to ask you the public for something very specific – Computers.

The last time the NAC got new computers it was 2013 and some of our computers are even older than that. So we think it’s time that we get out of the stone age and getting some computers that run faster will accomplish that!

So what are we asking of you? Simple! Donate what you can – $5, $10, $15 – no amount is too little! each dollar will help us reach our goal and increase our ability to impact the community here in Norfolk.

Now how do you donate? Easy! Just click HERE! 

Or you can come in any time before 6 p.m. tonight! We are doing our best to reach out and impact the community – but we can’t do it without you!

We also want to take the time to thank everyone who has already donated – Our Endowment campaign, Soup R’ Art, it would all not be possible without people like you! You are amazing and we thank you for everything you do to support the Arts!

What’s Going On in December!


We have a lot of fun holiday activities this month! Come down to the art center and check it out!

December 2nd – Cyber Monday – Don’t forget to use Amazon Smile while you shop!

December 3rd – #GivingTuesday

December 4th – Passport to Art Class

December 5th – Drop-In Art: Paper Plate Masks 4-5 p.m.

December 6th – First Friday 7-11 p.m.

December 10th – Final Beer and Brushes Class  6-7:30 p.m.

– Straw Painting 4-5 p.m.

December 11th – Sip + Create: Door Hangers Part 2 6-8 p.m.

December 12th – Art Exhibition Reception 5-7 p.m.

– Upcycled Art 6-7:30 p.m.

December 13th – Sing Noel! Norfolk Area Chamber Singers 7 p.m.

December 14th – Second Saturdays: Give the Gift of Art 1-3 p.m.

– Sing Noel! Norfork Area Chamber Singers 2 pm

December 19th – Drop-In Art: Paper Plate Wreaths 4-5 p.m.

– Sip+Create: Acrylic Pouring 6-8 pm.

December 17th –  Glue Painting 5-6 p.m.

December 24th – Closing Early

December 25th – CLOSED! Merry Christmas!


Looking for local unique Christmas Presents – Look no further than the Norfolk Arts Center! Come shop art Artist’s Corner for beautiful hand made items that are one of a kind!

Two Time Grammy Winner Visits Norfolk

Grammy in hand – Terrance Simien and his band, The Zydeco Experience, took the stage at the Johnny Carson Theatre and the Norfolk Junior High, last Monday. He came to Norfolk to perform traditional Creole music for students, which is primarily what he and his band do now – travel the country introducing children to music that they might have not experienced otherwise and they call it Creole for Kidz.
Terrance and the band performed twice while they were here and both times to packed theatres. The students got very into the music, dancing and cheering along with the band. Terrance even brought Mardi Gras beads to give out to the kids. Terrance and his band not only introduced the students to Creole music, but he taught them some french also – phrases like “hey there.”
The band was able to experience Norfolk for a few days – coming into town a few days early for set-up. They visited our local Target, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Black Cow Fat Pig. The day after the performances they hit the road South to Houston, Texas for yet another show.
A little background on Terrance and his band:
Terrance Simien is from one of the oldest Creole families in Louisiana and has been playing Zydeco music his whole life. He started playing the trumpet when he was in grade school. When he was 19 he recorded a song with Paul Simon that jump-started his career. He and his band won their first Grammy in 2007 in a category that Terrance and his wife helped pioneer. His wife, Cynthia, is the band’s manager and agent. Even his daughter is a musician currently touring in Switzerland!
Danny Williams, the piano player, also has Creole blood. He was a member of the band when they won BOTH of their Grammy awards.
Lance Ellis, the saxophone player, has played with famous musicians all over the country.
Ian Molinaro Thompson, the drummer, just graduated from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music and moved to New Orleans. His drum mentor is great friends with Terrance and got him an audition for the band.
The band worked with Randy Neuman to write “Down on the Bayou” for the Disney + Pixar movie, Princess and the Frog. The students immediately recognized this song when the band began performing it!
This performance was brought to Norfolk by the Norfolk Arts Center through a partnership with the Leid Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln. The Lied Center’s Arts Across Nebraska programs helps non-profit organizations host a wide variety of performances and opportunities for their communities.

Faces of the Art Center – Denice Hansen

Many of you who come by the Arts Center often begin to recognize the people that are always there – the staff, instructors, and board members. So today we want to introduce a new series here on the blog called Faces of the Art Center. Once a month we will introduce you to one of the many faces you could see if you come into the center. We decided that it was only proper to start with our commander in chief, the Executive Director herself – Denice Hansen!

Pictured above: Denice and her husband Bill at Hamilton

Denice grew up on a farm just north of Pierce. In college, she majored in graphic design. She never imagined she would move back home after college but she married her high school sweetheart, Bill, and now her kids are growing up in the same she grew up in. 

Pictured above:  Bridger (5) and Daley (1).

Bill farms with Denice’s dad, and when Denice is not at the art center she loves to Garden and take care of the “zoo that is our farm.”

Denice comes from a family that is invested in the future of the community and combining that with her love of the arts has been rewarding according to Denice.

Pictured above: Bridger at play in a day here at the NAC last fall.

 I love coming to work each day, knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of people around us. There are a lot of people here that share that same passion, and I believe that is why the Norfolk Arts Center and our community are thriving and will continue to grow. I’m excited about the potential that lies ahead and grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of a team that continually strives to make us better – and I can’t wait to kick off 2020 with the best Soup ‘R Art festival yet!”