Archive | September, 2011

Arts History Update for early October 2011

30 Sep

Arts History Update for early October 2011 by David Cummins

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo provided international travelers an opportunity to see Egypt’s ancient history up close and personal. The museum is now closed due to the uprising, removal of President Mubaruk, and close control of crowds by Egyptian military day and night. Several artifacts were broken during the early days of the uprising, and are now being repaired. Tourism, a major stimulus for Egypt’s economy, won’t return until places like this world class museum are no longer located behind improvised metal fences and guarded by military vans and armed soldiers. Eleven billion tourism dollars in revenue and 14.7 million visitors was the total in 2010. That’s 11 percent of the total gross domestic product for the county. It’s more important for Egyptians that the country creates a governing authority that actually serves its citizenry and provides a framework for citizens to be industriously at work and to prosper. Paying the caretaker to take care in doing ordinary things, i.e., bribing in order to live a daily life, must be replaced by a civil service culture that is paid a reasonable wage and takes pride in performing civil service while refusing either tips or bribes, at least until the culture of public service becomes ingrained. The military can provide temporary stability, but long-term Egypt is a work in progress, and we must watch from a distance, hopefull for a new vibrant Egypt.

One of the casualties will likely be skipping a year in the annual Aswan International Sculpture Symposium, a two month long event each winter since 1996.

Here’s a map of the city of Aswan and the locations of Aswan Dam [an earlier low dam] and the more southerly High Dam behind which Lake Nasser extends to the south, even crossing the border into the nation of Sudan south of the historic site Abu Simbel. Between those two dams, upward from the Nile River, lay the ancient pharaonic granite quarries that furnished stone for monuments that lasted three millennia and more. Today cranes winch and heave large chunks of granite for sixteen mostly Egyptian but some international sculptors who are invited to construct pieces of their choosing during the symposium. Adam Henein, originally from Aswan, is Egypt’s leading sculptor. He takes great pride in returning to the Aswan area and encouraging work in stone at the sites of stone work thousands of years ago. The quarry site is one working area. Another is in the city of Aswan where there is an expansive open-air studio for the artists to do detail work with pneumatic drills, hand-held grinders and polishers, diamond cutting wheels, and old-fashioned hammers and chisels.

Part of this area, Upper Egypt, was also known as Lower Nubia. Nubia extended from the Aswan area to the Khartoum area where the Blue Nile and White Nile join to form the great Nile River. The White Nile rises from Lake Victoria bordering Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, and flows north into the new nation of South Sudan whose capital is Juba where the river first becomes commercially navigable. It flows north to Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, and the location where the White Nile and larger Blue Nile join to form the Nile River. The Blue Nile rises from Lake Tana in northwest Ethiopia, flows south 18 miles and then plunges over Tis Issat Falls, and then meanders through deep canyons in the Ethiopian Highlands south and west and then north across the border into Sudan and on to Khartoum.

The Nubian Museum in Aswan was completed in 1997. The Coptic Cathedral in Aswan celebrates the ancient and continuing Christian religion of Egypt’s commoners or non-pharaonic people who previously practiced a Kemetic pagan religion. An introduction to Kemetic Religion follows. The Temple of Philae in Aswan was dedicated to the Egyptian Goddess Isis. It was dismantled and reassembled 500 meters away to avoid being flooded when the High Dam was constructed in 1963. the Kemetic Religion received important impacts from the Greeks after Alexander the Great conquered and left Egypt with Ptolemy Dynasty rulers, the last being Cleopatra VII. The blended Greek and Egyptian religions we refer to as Hermeticism, are metaphysical works dealing with the complete community of all beings and objects. Authorship was attributed to the Egyptian god of wisdom Thoth whose name was translated into Greek as Hermes Trismegistus [Thoth three times as great as Hermes]. Hermetic works were influential in the third century of the common era, especially for neo-platonists. When the works resurfaced in the 15th century in Florence Italy [because of Greek Orthodoxy’s capital Constantinople falling to the Ottoman Turks] they were greeted with wonder by Italian Renaissance thinkers, and Marsilio Ficino translated them and revived neo-platonism and Hermeticism. In the early 20th century three Chicagoans, who sought anonymity under the name Three Initiates, wrote a synthesis of Hermeticism under the title The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece (Yoga Publication Society 1908), in the public domain and readable here and elsewhere. The authors were William Walker Atkinson, Paul Foster Case, and Michael Whitty. Atkinson was the owner of the Yoga Publication Society press. reveals that sixteen reprint editions have appeared in the past twenty years including a free electronic edition. Atkinson 1862 – 1932 was a didactic promoter of the New Thought movement and phenomena, and wrote more than a dozen books on the topic.

Here’s a Nubian House, in the Elephantine Island district of Aswan, with mud brick walls and a rooftop sattelite dish for television reception. Forward the slide show for more images taken in the fertile mid-river Elephantine Island area where so much can grow so easily. The open market vegetable and fruit stalls display local produce.


In July 2010 the LG Optimus series of smartphones and tablet computers was launched. To gain attention to its new products LG created a giant 3D media projection onto the facade of a building located in the downtown cultural district of Berlin Germany. The 3D show performed on September 3, 2010 at 9 minutes 49 seconds may be seen at It’s amazing. An introduction to LG follows .


Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway The park is located three miles northwest of Quitaque Texas, and features Saturday Fall programs. On October 1 and each Saturday through November 12 at 10:00 a.m. there will be guided interpretive hikes and ranger-led discussions about the history, geology, flora and fauna in the park. At 7:30 p.m. on October 1 there will be a presentation in the amphitheatre about the Paleo-Indian people who once lived here. Everyone enjoys a ranger talk. The Texas State Bison Herd is resident in the park.

On October 8 a demonstration of flintknapping is scheduled for the park amphitheatre. On October 15 at 10:00 a.m. there will be an opportunity to “cowboy up” and experience a trail ride on horseback. The Trailway is former Fort Worth & Denver Railroad trackage extending from Estelline to South Plains, Texas. Rent a horse in advance at Quitaque Riding Stables (806) 455- 1208. All these events are co-sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. Telephone the Park (806) 455-1492 for more information. Entry fee at the Park for Texas residents age 65 or older is reduced by 50%, and if your birthdate is before September 1, 1930 you’re welcomed through the turn-style absolutely gratis ….. octogenarian whoopee.

If you plan a hike, bike, or horseback ride on the Trailway, plan in advance. The Trailway is said to be 64 miles in length from Estelline at U.S. Highway 287 to the hamlet of South Plains in Floyd County up on the Caprock. The Trailway is not maintained for 32 miles from Estelline to Turkey Texas, due to inadequate funding of TPWD Texas Parks and Wildlife Department making it very difficult to hike or bike that portion although horses could manage it. There are a limited number of places to “put in” to the trail by parking your vehicle and offloading gear like packs and bicycles. One way to access the Trailway is to enter at Quitaque Depot where there is parking, water, and a public telephone at Mile Marker 279, and then travel southwesterly 5.5 miles to Monk’s Crossing at Mile Marker 284.5 where there is a comfort station, public telephone, pullout and parking. Returning to Quitaque Depot is an 11 mile trip. Continuing from Monk’s Crossing to Clarity Tunnel is 4.5 miles but there is no pullout at the Tunnel so you return to Monk’s Crossing or continue on to John Farris Station up on the Caprock another six miles away from Monk’s Crossing, total of 10.5 miles. At John Farris Station there is no pullout or parking but there is camping, water, and a comfort station. Continue on to South Plains, the west terminus of the Trailway with parking and a comfort station 17 miles away from Monk’s Crossing. South Plains is accessible on Texas highway 207 . From Lubbock travel east on US 62/82 to Ralls, north on US 62 to Floydada, then north on Texas 207 to South Plains. From Lubbock to Quitaque take US 82 east to Dickens, then north on Texas 70 to Turkey, then west on Texas 86 to Quitaque, then south on FM 1065 to Quitaque Depot or Monk’s Crossing entry points, about 100 miles and less than two hours driving.

I personally have hiked in Caprock Canyons State Park proper, and on the Trailway only hiked from Monk’s Crossing to and through Clarity Tunnel and then returned to Monk’s Crossing, about ten miles total with some diversions to water the parched ground and walk through a gulley rather than across the high trestle in which I had little confidence. A lawyer’s risk aversion is sometimes a disadvantage. It’s too easy for me to visualize a tort (the trestle giving way) and to notice sovereign immunity under which the state will cavalierly say “my bad”, and my hiking days are over … therefore I walked down into the gulley and up the other side rather than take the short trip across the high trestle. Could have been a touch of acrophobia also but heights are generally manageable.


Heather Macdonald can be seen and heard singing during a softball game on the television program Chelsea Lately on E! Entertainment channel television. Heather writes episodes for that series program as well as appearing as an actress. She is also a standup comedian. She will appear in the latter capacity at Texas Tech University at the Student Union Building’s Allen Theatre on Tuesday October 4, 2011at 8:00 p.m. Cost is $12 for a general admission ticket. It’s free for Tech students whose Activity Board booked her.

Heather is a 41 years of age author of a self-published book You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again: One Woman’s Painfully Funny Quest to Give It Up (Touchstone Press 2010) available at for $10.20. It’s negatively reviewed as a self-absorbed un-funny raunchy autobiography of the Southern California “Valley Girl” life a few decades later.

This is an example of what student government Tech students think other students are interested in, and want their student fees spent on bringing to campus. I’m tempted to pay the tarrif and count the crowd in order to assess whether or not Tech students are in fact interested in Heather stretching the limits of free speech and free press toward gross low-life dangerous and mindless behaviours. Perhaps it is wise to expose Tech students to people who are media-famous and paid for doing whatever it is that well-mannered people won’t do. That’s a career choice most Tech students don’t choose, thankfully. Do you recall Lenny Bruce? Not many of us witnessing Lenny were disposed to make that career choice. I liked Mort Sahl better because he was only occasionally “blue” but mostly just laugh out loud hilarious. especially concerning current events. He’s 84 and living in Mill Valley California. Looking back on the political scene, he announced “Two hundred years ago, we had Jefferson, Washington, Ben Franklin and Tom Paine, and there were four million people. Today we have 220 million, and look at our leaders…Darwin was wrong.”

Alternative programming in the Student Union Building Allen Theatre is Texas Tech’s Presidential Lecture & Performance Series booked by the College of Visual & Performing Arts. Very few students attend this series but “blue haired” women and men with canes enjoy this series. I purchased the academic year season series ticket so I get to have months of joyful anticipation as well as enjoyment of the event itself. From my perspective this is just another contribution to cultural life by Dean Carol Edwards at CVPA. Recently she funded the purchase of an expensive Fazioli Concert Grand Piano for the School of Music. In its first two concert usages in Hemmle Recital Hall the piano emitted a musical vibrancy that inspired the audience.


Susan Noyes Platt, Ph.D. published a book Art & Politics Now: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis (Midmarch Arts Press 2010) and it is available at her web site for $35.66 including tax and shipping. Here’s a chapter outline that indicates the art pieces she illustrates and discusses.


John Hill, A Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture (W.W. Norton & Co 2011) will be in stores in December but is available for pre-order at $30. It displays and discusses important architecture built since 2000. Here’s a sneak peek on the author’s website.

Arts History Updates are now in a Blog

27 Sep

Arts History Updates are now placed on a Blog Site at

You will still receive periodic Updates as email messages but at the same time that they are sent to you, they will be placed into the Blog. If all you want to do is read Updates online, you need do no more than access the Blog Site. If you want to make comments or otherwise respond online, you will have to join but it’s free. Here’s how to do it. Go to the website Click on Sign Up Now. At the account page skip the Blog address box, create your username and password, enter your email address, and click Sign Up. At bottom of page activate your account by clicking on Update Email. You’re now a free member or user of Login to your account and type in the search box the name of the blog you wish to access which is artshistoryupdates and click Enter. You will see all of my messages in 2010 and 2011 to date.

Why am I starting a Blog?
to gain your comments and responses for the entire group. On several occasions individuals have responded to me by sharing your own experiences and insights into what was contained in the email message. I’ve followed up on your observations. Through the Blog you can share your comments and responses with all 96 subscribers.
to have an archive of all the Updates, in a format that is word searchable so you can identify the particular Update in which something was discussed just by typing in a search word at the Blog site.
either you or I or both can add to an earlier Update by uploading an image or video that complements or extends the Update information. I was unable to place images and video into my email Updates because many people responded that they couldn’t access the inserted image or video. So I restricted myself to inserting website links into the email messages. Now I will be able to insert images and video into the Blogsite Update and you will be able to insert images and video into your comments and responses. Everybody can see them on the Blogsite.
You can print an Update or any part of an Update. You can copy an Update or any part of an Update and paste it within your own files for your own personal usage.
My plan is to discover how I can limit access to the Blog site to only those people who subscribe to the email Updates. This means the group access to the Blog will not include unknown strangers or people who might have nefarious agendas.

David Cummins

Arts History Update for mid September 2010

27 Sep

Arts History Update for mid-September 2010 by David Cummins


LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design


Please watch and listen to a 25 minute video interview of Richard Cook, a partner in an architectural firm that designed the newly opened skyscraper Bank of America Tower at 6th Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City. It’s a Platinum level LEED building, the most “green” large building on earth. He describes what makes it that. If you’re like me, the structural and engineering techniques combined with the analogies at the base of the visionary planning, mean that I couldn’t fully grasp what was on offer without watching and listening to the interview three times. I’m glad to have invested the time and energy, and you may be as well. New Yorker Magazine Online is Type inside the Search box “richard cook architecture”. The first article is this video. Click on it.



The Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts campus is growing, and it attracts and stimulates others as an incubator and leader.


Margaret Talkington’s generosity is a huge factor in this matter. Since she requests downplaying of her role, I am not privy to each fact or jot or tittle, but she’s a force for rapid change and improvement at LHUCA and elsewhere in Lubbock. Check it out for yourself.





The heritage of Lubbock is expressed in many murals at various locations. On Monday October 4, 2010 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. beginning at the Buddy Holly Center parking lot, an on and off the bus tour of Murals of Lubbock will occur. It is sponsored by Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Texas Tech University. I will lead the tour.


We begin and end the tour with a Buddy Holly Mural, first at Texas Discount Furniture Store at 19th Street and Buddy Holly Avenue by Lynn Burton, and last with Shannon Cannings’s Buddy Holly Mural on the west exterior of the Optimist Branch of Boys & Girls Club of Lubbock at 3301 Cornell Street. Others include Vivian Cooke’s Wall of Inspiration 23rd Street and Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, LaGina Fairbetter’s Windmill Mural, Lahib Jaddo’s Celebration of Life, Emmanuel Martinez’s Aztlan, Javier Martinez’s On a Wing and a Prayer, Joey Martinez’s Graffiti Art, Millard Sheet’s A Tribute to Our Heritage, Lynn Burton’s Chuckwagon Meal, John Russell Thomasson’s Caprock Canyon and Blacksmith Shop murals, and more. A list of West Texas murals and their location will be provided including Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project murals.


While this bus tour is off campus, attendees will be invited to access on their own Peter Hurd’s Pioneer Mural in Holden Hall, Peter Rogers’s Water in an Arid Land mural at Texas Tech’s Museum, and Farley Tobin’s Milton’s Legacy mosaic mural at Christine DeVitt & Helen DeVitt Jones Child Development Research Center on campus. They are world class art.


Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at TTU, 605 Indiana Avenue, P.O. Box 42191, Lubbock TX 79409 phone 742-7202 ext 251 email cost is $20 per OLLI member and $30 for other persons. The bus will likely be a King’s Highway comfortable touring bus. Emma Carrasco is the OLLI coordinator and can answer questions. Thank you.


David Cummins





Arts History Update for mid October 2010

27 Sep

Arts History Update for mid-October 2010 by David Cummins


Balancing Barn is a holiday rental in Suffolk England designed by MVRDV of Holland, opening this month. It sleeps eight at a cost of 725 pounds sterling [$1,149.70] for four nights or 23 pounds [$36.47] per night per person for full occupancy.


Over in France there is a government program to subsidize transformation of failing farms and rundown chateaus into semi-hidden tourist country guesthouses, called gites. More rustic and looking backward with nostalgia, as compared with contemporary forward looking Dutch architecture, there is something for everyone in this industry for inviting holiday leisure guests.


According to Gites de France there are 43,800 rural gites around the nation. Explore the offerings at this website, noticing that a pitch is being made directly to Brits who may wish to holiday in the French countryside.




Vitra Haus is a furniture store showroom in Switzerland. Have a look. The architectural concept for displaying the collection of furniture and furnishings is indicated here.


Virginia Tech University School of Architecture entered a Solar Decathlon competition resulting in the design of Lumenhaus at Blacksburg Virginia




Sarah Bernhardt redux


Robert Gottlieb, Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt (Yale Univ. Press 2010 Jewish Lives Series) reviewed in Graham Robb, The Divine Sarah, New York Review of Books vol. LVII No. 15 October 14, 2010 at page 8


Carol Ockman et al., Sarah Bernhardt: The Art of High Drama (Yale Univ. Press 2005)


Ruth Brandon, Being Divine: A Biography of Sarah Bernhardt (Mandarin 1992)


Robert Fizdale and Arthur Gold, The Divine Sarah: A Life of Sarah Bernhardt (Knopf 1991)


Gerda Taranow, Sarah Bernhardt: The Art Within the Legend (Princeton Univ. Press 1972)


Sarah Bernhardt, Memories of My Life, Being My Personal, Professional, and Social Recollections as a Woman and Artist (1907, Benjamin Blom 1968)


Sarah Bernhardt, My Double Life: the Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt (Peter Owen 1977)


The French actress 1844 – 1923 conquered the western world, being the highest paid and most celebrated thespian. She made nine triumphant tours of the United States, always performing in the French language but still enthralling her audiences who knew none of what she was saying. After performing for the main French theatrical company, she formed her own company and “did it her own way” including doing away with the prompter whose head was visible to the actor below sight level stationed between her and her audience. Sarah confidently missed no lines or if she did, she inserted a better line on the moment. Ultimately she leased her own theatre in Paris and renamed it Sarah Bernhardt Theatre.


She adopted an outrageous lifestyle, costumed herself unfashionably and thereby created a fashion for others to attempt, appeared near the end of her career in silent movies, and continued to act for four years 1911 – 1915 after having one leg amputated. She painted and sculpted but not to acclaim. She was short and thin with frizzy hair and not particularly beautiful but had a striking appearance which she teased into role-playing by makeup, costuming and staging. Audiences loved her as a unique person thinking they had touched and felt a unicorn. She herself had other ideas about the theatre she performed “the artist’s personality must be left in the dressing room: his soul must be denuded of his own sensation ………. Do not let us imagine for a moment that we can create an artificial exterior while maintaining our ordinary feelings intact. The actor cannot divide his personality between himself and his part; he loses his ego during the time he remains on stage.”


Her methodical erasure of herself during her drama was the precursor for the contemporary method acting technique. She rarely but successfully played male roles such as the title role in Hamlet.





The Modern Art Movement came to ground by 1970 if not earlier. Not knowing how to describe the episodic outpourings thereafter, they were simply labeled post-modern; i.e. distinguishable from the modern. As the years passed they remain polyglot and often dyspeptic so today’s categorizing is simply as a creature of time, or contemporary art.


Similar movements existed in literature although the dating differs. The post-modern is often viewed with regret. Gabriel Josipovici, What Ever Happened to Modernism? (Yale Univ. Press 2010). A cogent book review is Amit Chaudhuri, Whatever Happened to Modernism? By Gabriel Josipovici, The Independent Online, Sept. 24, 2010

Yale University Press


Profound disenchantment with the conventional or traditional, and an artistic attempt to create something that is radical rather than conventional … is often said to be the hallmark of the modern … Monet in art and Samuel Beckett in literature. Since 1970 in art and perhaps even earlier in literature, what is marketable defined the outpourings rather than what exists. Under this theory there is still modern art and modern literature but one must look beyond what is marketed to find it. I rarely read a self-published book so am not in a position to point to an example of the new modernism in literature. The antithesis is the formula mystery or memoir or what pleases Oprah and gains her endorsement. Those are driven by what’s marketable.


Architecture is a field in which we are living in the Modern Architecture movement. Design today is so extreme that architects dare to challenge engineers to build what architects design. Thankfully, engineers have met the challenge. Architects have unshackled themselves from the shell of the structure and designed interiors and open spaces within or near structures. They imagine and create a new environment for the persons who occupy what is built. One of the fascinating examples is modular replaceable portions. Using the plug and play concept with electronics, architects have designed bathrooms, kitchens, and other spaces so as to permit detachment and removal of an under-functioning unit and its replacement by a more serviceable unit built off-site and simply attached and installed as a replacement. When walls are replaceable, the entire living space is able to be redesigned by its owner simply by calling for a non-generic replacement.


Alice T. Friedman, American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture (Yale Univ. Press 2010) in which she asserts that mid-twentieth century architecture reflected a societal fascination with glamour or the luxurious, the expressive, even magical life. Not that many actually lived such a life, but in an existential opportunity-laden milieu, it seemed possible. It still seems possible. If Sarah Bernhardt can invent herself, why can’t we invent the location where we spend our lives? Didn’t the Dutch architect achieve this in Balancing Barn? Isn’t Vitra Haus even a clearer example?




Yellowhouse Masonic Lodge # 841 met downtown for many years at 1207 Main Street. That building was razed in 2007 to construct a parking garage for the new Pioneer Hotel Condominiums being developed by MacDougal Properties. The Lodge moved to 1710 42nd Street. It is now poised to move into a new building at 5011 Gary Avenue across the street from the Monterey Post Office. It may have a grand opening soon and allow the public to enter the lodge, so be on the lookout for that opportunity. 

Arts History Update for mid May 2010

27 Sep

Arts History Update for mid-May 2010 by David Cummins


Webb Bridge in Melbourne Australia’s Docklands crossing the Yarra River over to a residential section, is a pedestrian bridge replacing a retired railroad bridge. Its features are quite distinctive. The following pictures replace a thousand words.



Since you’ve looked at one site in Melbourne, here’s the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne. It reminds me of Louis Kahn and the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth.


The architect’s web site offers views of the Centre






On Sunday April 25 at 2:00 p.m. Professor of Art Kevin Chua will lead a gallery talk “Mad Scramble for African Art” at the Texas Tech Museum. On Sunday May 2 at 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Curator of Fine Art Peter Briggs will lead a gallery talk “Art Space: Drifting from pre-Columbian Panama to post-Columbian Honduras”, also at the Museum. On Friday May 7 the Museum will be a First Friday Art Trail destination 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.




Western fine art photography is an acquired taste, but if you’re there, Red Steagall will be in town April 23 and 24 hawking his books, telling stories and reciting poems. Skeeter Hagler contributed the photographs for the book Born to This Land (Texas Tech Univ Press 2003) and Steagall provides the prose and poetry. The fine art photos of Western and cowboy scenes are awesome. The University Press wants $35 for the book, wants $25 and ABE Books asks $4.20 for an excellent condition used book shipped from Austin. You can purchase it at Barnes & Noble at the Mall for top dollar and Red will shake your hand and sign the book April 23 from 6:30 p.m. on until Red heads for the saloon. Red has at least three other books in print so those may be available at Barnes also. On Saturday April 24 Red will appear at Ranch Day at the National Ranching Heritage Center telling stories and reciting poetry in the Four Sixes Barn at 1:30 p.m., a free event. Red is a singer/songwriter, poet, storyteller, after-dinner speaker, etc. but he is not to be confused with Billie Joe Shaver who was acquitted by a Waco jury Friday April 9 on a charge of attempted murder. He shot a fellow barfly in the face back in 2007 and the case just now went to trial. Robert Duvall, Willie Nelson, and other celebrities took the witness stand to testify as to Billie Joe’s veracity. They couldn’t testify as to his aim or efficacy since the face shot didn’t kill the offending barfly. Billie Joe testified that it was self-defense and the jury agreed. Where, you may ask, did the firearm come from? Texas is a concealed carry state, just by registering and not being a felon. Billie Joe, if convicted, would have lost his concealed carry privileges. I recall a late Thursday afternoon Summer day when I went to the Buddy Holly Center Meadows Courtyard and listened to Billie Joe sing and strum guitar. I had no idea that an audible reaction to a missed note might have drawn a face shot.



April 15 – 18, 2010 is the annual Lubbock Arts Festival, a not to be missed event at Memorial Civic Center. The theme is Life, Lego, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
 is a Canadian book company whose new eReader device will arrive next month priced a $149. It looks quite good and is way underpriced compare to Kindle and Nook and Sony Reader. Also, ebooks from Kobo can be downloaded into your computer and read on the computer with the free Adobe Digital Edition software that you may already have downloaded for free. If not, you can download it free from Kobo’s website.


When your eReader is purchased and arrives you just plug it in to a USB port on your computer, [also one way you keep your eReader battery charged] ,and download a selected book from your computer to your eReader.


Notice two features that deserve attention. A mere 222 books are listed on the website which are available for free download. No purchase necessary. That means free sampling of the system. You can read them on your computer using Adobe Digital Edition. The second feature is that ebooks at Kobo are cheaper than Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Oh those Canadians!


Like the tactile feel of a book nestled in your hands? This eReader has a quilted padded cloth cover so there’s no need to touch plastic or metal unless you wish to do so. Enjoy.


Arts History Update for mid June 2010

27 Sep

Arts History Update for mid June 2010 by David Cummins


Peter Gluck and Partners, Architects, achieved an Urban Townhouse on E. 51st Street in Manhattan. Here are twelve photographs depicting exterior and interior.

and an additional six photographs all in daylight and focused on the exterior and its mixing in with the more traditional three to four story brownstone structures

It is fascinating to consider the function of closure to the street as a barrier, a feature of New York City living, and how this design adjusts the public street side view while maintaining closure to the street for the occupants. By spending time with all 18 images one appreciates that the back patio is the only unclosed exposure but that limits visual entry to immediate neighbors, an acceptable accommodation in order to gain the air and light of nature for occupants in an urban setting. Random orthogonal patterning in the same dimensions as nearby brick structures, introduces a play with the aesthetic of a building material … in this case a brick, although the exterior substance is metal. By viewing the facade after dark one appreciates that some brick-shaped exterior features are actually glass lit from inside to give another frame for the exterior. This is brilliantly achieved nuanced architecture creating a unique structure. For me, one aspect I like about this design is that it allows me to see the banality of the “federal” or Georgian features of the adjacent brownstone structures and to realize how much those features detract from the brick in adjacent structures. Gluck provides the image and shape of brick without a single brick, and refuses any parallelism for the “federal” or Georgian features. I say bravo. The vertical glass strips along the east and west party walls softens the exterior and introduces warmth from both exterior and interior, especially after dark, but without compromising privacy.




Arts History Update for mid December 2010

27 Sep

Arts History Update for mid-December 2010 by David Cummins


Plato, Virgil, and Seamus Heaney address the same subject


In the tenth and final book of The Republic Plato tells us The Myth of Er. Socrates explains to Glaucon that the soul must be immortal. It cannot be damaged or destroyed by its defect, immorality. Nor can it be destroyed by any outer defect such as illness. The soul survives death and the morally benevolent are rewarded after death. The opposite is true of immoral people. To make Glaucon understand these assertions, Socrates tells Glaucon The Myth of Er.


A man named Er dies in battle. When the bodies of those who died in the battle are collected, ten days afterward, Er’s body remains un-decomposed. Two days later he revives when on his funeral pyre and he tells of his journey in the afterlife, including an account of reincarnation and the celestial spheres of the astral plane.



With many other souls as his companions, Er had come across an awesome place with four openings, two into and out of the sky, and two into and out of the earth. Judges sat between these openings and ordered the souls which path to follow. The good were guided into the path into the sky while the immoral were directed below into the earth. When Er approached the judges he was told to remain and to listen and to watch in order to report his experience to humankind upon his return.


From the second opening into the sky emerged clean souls floating down, recounting beautiful sights and wondrous feelings. From the second opening into the earth emerged dirty, haggard, tired souls crying in despair while recounting their awful experience. Each of the latter was required to pay a tenfold penalty for all his wicked deeds committed when alive. Some were not released from the underground such as murderers, tyrants and other criminals.


For those souls who returned from the sky and the underground, they spent seven days in the meadow and then were ordered to travel farther. After four days of travel they reached a place where they saw a rainbow shaft of brilliant light. This was the spindle of necessity where several women including the goddess of necessity, her daughters, and the sirens, were present. The souls were organized into rows and each was given a lottery token, but not Er of course since he was to watch and report back to humankind. As each token was redeemed the soul was required to come forward and choose his next life. The first soul to choose was a man who had emerged from the sky, and he chose a powerful dictatorship. To his discomfort he realized he was destined to eat his own children. Such choices were typical of those who emerged from the sky, whereas those who emerged from underground often chose a better life, preferring a life better than their previous experience. Animals chose human lives and humans often chose the apparently easier lives of animals. After all the choices had been made, each soul was assigned a deity to help him through his next life.


The souls traveled to the Plain of Oblivion where the River of Forgetfulness (River Lethe) flowed. Each soul was required to drink some of the water, and as they drank each soul forgot everything. That night as they slept, each soul was lifted away in various directions for rebirth, completing their journeys.


Er opened his eyes to find himself lying on the funeral pyre. He rose up and walked off the pyre, able to recall his journey through the afterlife.


The analogy to the celestial spheres of the astral plane, is the reference to the spindle of necessity attended by the sirens and the three daughters of the goddess known as The Fates. Their duty is to keep the rims of the spindle revolving. This explains how known celestial bodies revolved around the Earth according to Plato’s understanding of cosmology and astronomy. The hook, shaft, and whorl of the spindle represent the classical heavens and the orbits of the heavens around the earth, from shortest to lengthiest, towit: the moon, the sun, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the stars.


Plato’s view on the transmigration of souls, is not original with Plato, but is based on prior Orphic and Pythagorean Mysteries doctrines. Pure Stoic theory at the time of Plato, was not accepted by him. That theory held that the soul goes through a purgation process until it is pure enough to rejoin the divine fire from which it sprang.


Fast forward five centuries to the time when Virgil writes The Aeneid. In Book VI verses 703-723 Virgil brings Aeneas to the shade of his father Anchises in the Elysian Fields. One of the mysteries disclosed by the ghostly father to his living son is that of the return of souls into new bodily incarnations, and their drinking of forgetfulness from the River Lethe. When he sees the queue of ghosts by the riverbank, Aeneas asks his father Anchises why there is this unnatural longing for the light of mortal life again. Anchises answers that if they are to return to earth, the souls of the dead must be without memory. Plato’s Myth of Er is reprocessed by Virgil.


By carefully reading Book VI it is clear what Virgil’s project is. By his time the Stoic theory originating in Greece had been processed in the Italian peninsula until it derived into a functional Roman Stoicism. Virgil creates a blending of Stoic purification or purgation theory and the Orphic and Pythagorean Mysteries doctrinal transmigration of souls theory expressed by Plato, who had been an initiate of the Orphic and Dionysian Mysteries as well as the Eleusinian Mysteries. There is a syncretic or weaving together process in Virgil’s writing.


Fast forward another twenty centuries. Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Laureate, publishes Human Chain: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2010). One of those poems is The Riverbank Field (Gallery Press 2007 28 pages) which ends …. “All those presences

Once they have rolled time’s wheel a thousand years

Are summoned here to drink the river water

So that memories of this underworld are shed

And soul is longing to dwell in flesh and blood

Under the dome of the sky.”


Virgil’s Aeneid is reprocessed by Heaney.


Poetry is often enjoyed by listening to an artful reading. You may hear Garrison Keillor read Derry Derry Down by Seamus Heaney from his collection Human Chain on The Writer’s Almanac for October 7, 2010. Try listening to Anthony Hecht read his The Transparent Man Seamus Heaney reads from his 5 minute 28 second translation Prologue to Beowulf Enjoy.






Willie Nelson’s tour bus, returning to Austin Texas from a gig in California, was stopped Friday November 26 at 9:00 a.m. in Sierra Blanca, Texas …. far west Texas …. by the U.S. Border Patrol. It was, unknown to Willie, a Border Patrol checkpoint although many miles away from the border. When the tour bus door was opened at the officer’s request, a pungent scent emerged. The officer inspected the bus and located six ounces of cannabis [marijuana]. Willie and his mates were arrested for possession, brought to the booking station where they posted bail, and released to resume their trip home.


We can only ask why? Arresting 77 year old Willie for weed is like arresting Santa for breaking and entering. Are we now sleeping better knowing that Willie was temporarily, extremely temporarily, off the streets?


If I had been that officer, I wouldn’t have searched for pot. I would have assumed its presence, checked to make sure the driver isn’t stoned, and told Willie to make sure the driver doesn’t get stoned, and invited all aboard to have a nice day. Maybe I would have asked for an autograph to give to my grandchildren. The mission of patrolling the border is not to identify and arrest relaxed aged entertainers.


Then I thought more rationally about law enforcement, and how selective law enforcement is the precursor of corrupt law enforcement. I realized that federal border patrol officers are given state highway patrol licensure authority, county sheriff deputy licensure, and city police licensure for obvious reasons, so that they can be active and effective in cooperative enforcement of law enforcement missions beyond their own. Border patrol officers at checkpoint locations must have been issued “rules of engagement” with vehicles and people coming through the checkpoint. Aged entertainers must be treated no differently than teen-age delinquents. Probable cause to believe that cannabis is nearby, becomes a certainty when the pungent scent emerges from the tour bus. Only inspection will prove or disprove its presence. If the driver’s not stoned, then it’s a clear case of possession of a controlled substance, and recent usage by someone, and an arrest and charge must and should be made. It may be humorous, and it may be expectable, that Willie is still “toking up” after all these years, but he knows it’s illegal and can be expected to deal with the law enforcement consequences of his scofflaw lifestyle. We should be pleased that no special slack was cut for Willie, and that possession and use of cannabis on a public highway is treated as the crime that is clearly stated in the criminal code. If we think it should be otherwise then we should address that issue to lawmakers, not law enforcement officers.


The last time I saw Willie Nelson was when he performed at Lone Star Amphitheatre 602 E. 19th Street in Lubbock on a balmy Summer evening. He was wonderful. Isn’t it a pleasure to have met or know an interesting criminal from whom we have nothing to fear? I feel the same way about my neighbor’s nephew, but not thieves or rapists.