Arts History Update for mid April 2013

5 Apr

Arts History Update for mid April 2013 by David Cummins


Taos Museum of Art opened in 1994 and in 2002 moved to the beautiful and historic Nicolai Fechin home built between 1927 and 1933. It is dedicated to the art of early twentieth century artists and their patrons who settled in the Taos Vally of northern New Mexico. The heart of the collection is paintings by masters within the Taos Society of Artists.


The current exhibition is Director’s Choice: 14 Years at the Taos Art Museum February 9 – June 30, 2013, referring to the fourteen year tenure of the founding and now retiring director Erion Simpson. She opened the exhibit by delivering a gallery talk in which she said that the exhibited pieces are her favorites.


Here is the story of the founding of the Taos art colony 1915 – 1927


Joseph H. Sharp first visited Taos while on a sketching trip in 1883, and was captivated with its enchanting atmosphere. He is often referred to as the artist who “started it all.” Later, while studying in Paris, he shared his enthusiasm with two artist friends, Bert G. Phillips and Ernest L. Blumenschein. As a result of a broken wagon wheel on September 3, 1898, the two artists stayed in the Taos area instead of completing their scheduled trip to Mexico.

Back in Paris, Blumenschein met E.I. Couse and told him of a mystical mountainous region. This inspired Couse to also explore Taos. Oscar E. Berninghaus joined the Taos artists and with the addition of Herbert Dunton, a painter of cowboys and ranch life, the “Founding” group numbered six. On July 1, 1915 the first meeting of the Taos Society of Artists was held. The proposed purpose of the association was to promote the showing and sale of their work.

The group then met Walter Ufer and Victor Higgins and voted them in as Active Members in July of 1917. Julius Rolshoven became an Associate Member in 1917 and then an active member in 1918. E. Martin Hennings became an Active Member in 1924. The only woman of the group, Catherine C. Critcher, became an Active Member also in 1924. And Kenneth Adams, the last and youngest of the group, became a member in 1926, only one year before the group disbanded.

These members of the Taos Society of Artists (and others) found the Taos area an inspiring place to paint. Maybe it was the altitude and wide-open spaces of the high desert region with its shapes of everything from the sage-dotted plains to the vast peaks of the many mountains with their forests of pines, aspens, cottonwoods, wild flowers, and wildlife to the earth colored adobes that characterize the Taos style. Or, maybe it was the piercingly blue and startlingly clear Taos sky with the magnificent sunsets that drape the Rio Grande Gorge with splendid gigantic clouds of ember reds, glowing oranges, vivid violet, deep pale blues, and a vast array of silver and gray colors.

Following the arrival of this initial group of artists, the Taos area has grown to become a renowned international art market and artists’ community. It is presently estimated that there are more artists, per capita, in the Taos area than in any other city in the world, including Paris, France.


Reprinted with permission from:
American Art Review, Vol. XVIII No. 3 May-June 2006, pp. 152-153


Here is a Californian’s telling of the story in which we see the Taos experience in the context of modernism emanating from Paris France and implanted in the United States in various forms of impressionism, realism, cubism and other styles each competing for space and attention.





In east central Utah there is a castle country area of imposing mesas arroyos and Nine Mile Canyon that is a mini-Grand Canyon If one leaves Grand Junction Colorado heading west on Interstate Highway 70 one is on a scenic highway until the intersection in the western part of the state with Interstate Highway 15. Fifty miles into Utah is Sego Canyon Petroglyphs containing some from 7000 BCE, some from 2000 BCE, some from the Fremont Culture 600 -1200 CE, and some from the Ute Tribe Culture 1300 CE forward.,_Utah Another 25 miles west where the highway crosses the Green River is Green River town and Green River State Park both enjoyable. [Green River continues its flow south into the Colorado River at Canyonlands National Park.] At the town of Green River one enters castle country, and one can head southwest into the San Rafael Valley and visit Goblin Vally State Park or head northwest into the San Rafael Swell, cross the San Rafael River and visit Wedge Overlook and Dinosaur Quarry and come into Price and the Prehistoric Mountains area on Utah Highway 10. Northeast of Price is Nine Mile Canyon where a creek will eventually flow into the Green River at Desolation Canyon on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation The road is called Nine Mile Canyon National Scenic Backcountry Highway. Here is a photo gallery of pre-historic rock art and other thrilling natural wonders Here is the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management BLM website on Nine Mile Canyon


If you go invest in a DeLorme Utah Atlas & Gazetteer including detailed topographic maps, back roads, recreation sites, and GPS grids (6th ed. 2011) $20 at


Jerry D. Spangler, Nine Mile Canyon: The Archaeological History of an American Treasure (University of Utah Press 2013) $34.95 paperback


Jerry D. Spangler and Donna K. Spangler, Horned Snakes and Axle Grease: A Roadside Guide to the Archaeology, History and Rock Art of Nine Mile Canyon (Uinta Publishing 2003 paperback) $21.95 incl s&h at ABE Books.




Paul H. Carlson & John T. Becker, Georgia O’Keeffe in Texas: A Guide (State House Press December 10, 2012) is about the artist’s years 1912 – 1914 when she taught in Amarillo public schools and 1916 – 1918 when she taught at West Texas Normal College [now West Texas A&M University] in Canyon Texas, and a short period of time living in Waring north of San Antonio in 1918. Texas Tech Library N6537.O39 C37 paperback $18.93 at


See also Sharyn Rohlfsen Udall, O’Keeffe and Texas (McNay Art Museum 1998) paperback $19.95 at Texas Tech Library OVERSZ N6537.O39 A4




Literary Lubbock is the annual Texas Tech University Press banquet featuring seven authors and their recent books. Here are those authors and their books including one by the Provost of the University Robert Smith. The website for the event is and the deadline for reservations is April 26 for the May 2 banquet 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. at McKenzie Merket Alumni Center meal by Top Tier Catering price $60 per person. The master of ceremonies again this year is Andy Wilkinson who keeps everyone entertained and the event chugging along merrily. It’s rare to find so many authors, all present and participating so you not only can get your chosen book signed by its author but you can meet and schmooze with authors. More than anyone authors appreciate a good tale, so come prepared with the foibles of your Aunt Matilda or whatever else floated your boat recently.


Did I mention that it’s all in a good cause, the Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest series of works? Anytime one gets a chance to hearken back to the presidency of Texas Technological College transforming into Texas Tech University when Grover announced a new vision and a strategy to implement that vision, one enjoys the opportunity. Many people are responsible for this national university with areas of international excellence and influence, but the impetus for transformation from a remotely situated sound college into the respected mega-university of today was Grover E. Murray. That would have been quite enough but he was a helluva good guy who was on a first name basis with all faculty and staff. It is a very special thing for a person to be both respected and revered in his lifetime, by people who know him quite well.


Texas Tech University Press is located on the ninth floor of the Media and Communication Building 15th Street and Flint Avenue on campus.





Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Singers Spring Tour arrives in Lubbock Sunday April 21 at Hemmle Recital Hall on the Texas Tech campus 3:00 p.m. with free admission. Park in the School of Music Band Lot free on Sunday and enter the southeast door to arrive at Hemmle. Kirt Pavitt is a virtuoso pianist who directs these young singers and displays their talent as they mature in the craft. Soprano Sara Heaton and tenor Joshua Dennis will appear in Lubbock. Santa Fe Opera website is and here is the Apprentice Singers Program and here is the description of the Spring Tour for last year 2012


Once again the sponsor for the Tour is the Presidential Lecture and Performance Series administered by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Texas Tech. Sometime this Summer Jo Moore will announce the lineup for 2013 – 2014 and set them up at Select a Seat for ticketing. Last Summer I just purchased the season and enjoyed knowing in advance that everything would be stellar. Caveat: early purchase won’t enhance seating options as these are general admission seats in SUB Allen Theatre. If location is important arrive early and choose your desired seat.




The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas is opening a new chapter in Lubbock Texas. Get in on the ground floor by attending the first chapter meeting Thursday April 11 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at McPherson Cellars 1615 Texas Avenue downtown Lubbock. “The goal of the High Plains Chapter is to unite food and wine enthusiasts, while giving back to the community in West Texas”. Membership is $50 per year per person if joining on April 11 or earlier, $60 thereafter, or $100 per couple.


If you want members only wine tastings, happy hour events, wine education workshops, collaborative events with local restaurants, chefs and sommeliers, this is a handsome offer. A sommelier is a wine steward or waiter in a restaurant who has charge of the wines and their service.




A very accomplished actress / singer is coming to town to serve as the keynote speaker for the annual Mentor Tech Banquet at Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Banquet Hall Friday May 3 from 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. She is Taraji P. Henson who currently stars as Detective Jocelyn Carter in the CBS-TV drama Person of Interest broadcast locally on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. She has had roles in several movies such as Baby Boy, Hustle and Flow, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Karate Kid, Larry Crowne, and Think Like a Man. Tickets are $60 per person or a VIP ticket is $75 which allows one into a pre-banquet reception and have a photo of yourself with Ms. Henson. For tickets contact Mentor Tech at 806-742-8692 or e-mail The name Mentor Tech is a truncated version of the official name that is The Lauro Cavazos & Ophelia Powell-Malone Mentoring Program at Texas Tech University and





Woody Guthrie, House of Earth: A Novel (Harper 2013) $15.98 hardcover (Harper Perennial 2013) $14.39 paperback $12.74 Kindle is at Texas Tech Library in-processing not cataloged yet. Guthrie 1912 – 1967 wrote this novel in 1947 but it laid in manuscript form until recently. He was celebrated in his lifetime as a songwriter / balladeer describing rural realism and progressive activism for ordinary folks to overcome a corrupt economy. Few knew that in trunks and boxes he left paintings and various writings as well as unpublished songs. The sophistication of these writings undercuts a general impression that he was a saintly peasant revolutionary.


The novel’s story line is very simple, a young married man and pregnant wife live in a Texas Panhandle shack in poverty until the day of the child’s birth some months later. The plot goes nowhere but the tension and animus within the shack are so vividly described that we can say the plot goes nowhere fast.


The young man becomes obsessed about how to bring a more secure dwelling into their lives, interpreting a five cent government pamphlet extolling the construction of an adobe home, to yield for him his imagined castle “a house of earth” that will be fire-proof, windproof, rainproof, dirtproof, sweatproof, bugproof, theft-proof, and foolproof. There is hardship and hope in a ravaged dustbowl landscape which the author experienced first-hand.


The Woody Guthrie Center will have its grand opening in Tulsa Oklahoma on April 27-28, 2013 The 16th annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival at his hometown Okemah Oklahoma will be held July 10-14, 2013 Here’s the poster The Harris Drug Store in downtown Pampa Texas is now the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center In order to get two nickels to rub together, Woody worked at this drug store and lived in Pampa from 1931 – 1936. He met Mary Jennings in Pampa and married her in 1933. They had three children. Many people will want to imagine that the pregnant woman in the novel is an autobiographical encapsulization of Mary.


In Woody’s travels he worked for a short time for the Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon. The Bonneville is a downstream dam on the Columbia River. The initial dam on the upper Columbia is Grand Coulee Dam and Woody wrote and performed the following song many times:


Grand Coulee Dam
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

Well, the world has seven wonders that the trav’lers always tell,
Some gardens and some towers, I guess you know them well,
But now the greatest wonder is in Uncle Sam’s fair lang,
It’s the big Columbia River and the big Grand Coulee Dam.

She heads up the Canadian Rockies where the rippling waters glide,
Comes a-roaring down the canyon to meet the salty tide,
Of the wide Pacific Ocean where the sun sets in the West
And the big Grand Coulee country in the land I love the best.

In the misty crystal glitter of that wild and wind ward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters and met a watery grave,
Well, she tore their boats to splinters but she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam would cross that wild and wasted stream.

Uncle Sam took up the challenge in the year of ‘thrity-three,
For the farmer and the factory and all of you and me,
He said, “Roll along, Columbia, you can ramble to the sea,
But river, while you’re rambling, you can do some work for me.”

Now in Washington and Oregon you can hear the factories hum,
Making chrome and making manganese and light aluminum,
And there roars the flying fortress now to fight for Uncle Sam,
Spawned upon the King Columbia by the big Grand Coulee Dam.


There is a DVD Roll On Columbia: Woody Guthrie & the Bonneville Power Administration produced by the University of Oregon, 56 minutes, dealing with Woody’s 1941 short term employment with BPA.






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