Arts History Update for early December 2013

28 Nov

Arts History Update for early December 2013 by David Cummins


In 1930 Hildebrand Gurlitt was dismissed by Nazis from his position as director of an art museum in Zwickau Germany for showing modern art that Nazis viewed as

degenerate art. He continued to serve as a dealer in art and was happy to sell Nazi confiscated modern art thus financing the German regime. Because he was half Jewish and had lost his position the OSS treated him after the war as a victim of the Nazi regime. He may have been a collaborator. What we know for sure is that his son Cornelius Gurlitt had a flat in the Schwabing district of Munich Germany where the German custom agents/police on February 28, 2012 seized 1400 pieces of art including those of many modern art masters. This hoard of art not seen since the 1930s is worth many millions of dollars. and achieving a provenance for so many important pieces may take years If it was shopped by Gurlitt for the Nazis who confiscated it, no good title was transferred under the law of art. Thus we need to identify from whom and under what circumstances it was obtained by the Nazis.


Hoarder’s Son Cornelius Gurlitt Says of Looted Art: I Know Nothing, The Australian Times, November 15, 2013. Yet he is reported to have sold a single piece in Germany in 2011 for over a million dollars. Indeed, that’s what caused the custom agents/police to come calling. The gallery through which he sold the piece knew it was looted art without a provenance and Gurlitt had no other source of income than his hoard of art inherited from his father. What is astonishing in this day and age is that he has been living on this inherited art for decades and in the German system he is not registered for social security and is not a registered taxpayer, so he’s going to have a lot of German income taxes to pay for a lot of years. He lived under the radar and is now an 80 year old man who made a mistake and sold through a commercial gallery rather than in the underground art market.


Since German authorities have only released the names of 79 pieces of art, we now find Stuart Eizenstat, adviser to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, petitioning the German government to make public the identity of all the seized art. Only then can the process of making claims of restoration by Holocaust victims and their heirs begin notice that Franz Marc, Horses in Landscape (1911) is one of those masterpieces already identified and made public.


Hector Feliciano, The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works of Art (Basic Books 1997) ABE Books in good condition $7.92 incl s&h




Texas Works exhibit at Fine Arts Gallery of Buddy Holly Center 19th Street and Crickets Avenue Lubbock opens December 6 and runs to February 16, 2014. The work of three artists is displayed Catherine Prose, John Hitchcock, and Katherine Liontas-Warren. Each of the artists earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Texas Tech University so the School of Art must be proud to have three alumni exhibiting. Catherine Prose some years ago was director of the Buddy Holly Center administering the Fine Arts Gallery located there. John Hitchcock Katherine Liontas-Warren




Mount Etna volcano in the eastern region of Sicily, Italy erupted again on Saturday November 23, 2013. Here are 18 photographs;_ylt=AocicWgzwUqCU6wzh4kk3ae.ulI6




Have been listening to the whispering grass again, the ripples of conversation on the street. Usually I turn off quickly when it’s a political rant, but this time I heard something interesting. The anti-Obama faction of people in Lubbock has used every mean-spirited and sometimes downright racist epithet to tag him with, but of course it is all so bizarre and divorced from reality that none of it sticks. Now I hear something that seems to be gathering traction. People are saying that Obamacare, the new national health care financing scheme created by Congress in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, is a “redistribution of wealth” or “redistribution of economic resources”. The anti-Obama crowd thinks that it’s on to something, and it’s half right. Obamacare is a redistribution but it’s not a shift in wealth or economic resources from a well-off group of people to a less well-off group of people. It’s a shift in the providing of health care, formerly a trickle to less well-off while the spigot ran freely to well-off people. The new law is written in such a way as to reduce, not eliminate, a person’s balance sheet differentials when accessing or not accessing health care.


That was totally accomplished in Medicare so that now, with the combination of Medicare capping the amount billed down to a reasonable amount and paying 80% of that capped amount, even those persons who refused to purchase medi-gap supplement health insurance coverage, the twenty percent remaining is not a show-stopper for most health events for seniors. For those people who purchased or their current or previous employer purchased medi-gap health insurance, the Medicare system takes wealth differentials out of the question of accessing health care. Low economic class, middle class, and upper class seniors pretty much all access health care providers, except for a few providers who refuse to serve Medicare patients. Large hospitals and most other sizable health care entities are federal contractors and must accept Medicare patients.


Health care is a commodity purchased by government and insurance carriers but rarely purchased by patients. There is no open or free market for patients who have no way to shop or compare either availability, suitability, prices or quality of services. Now that people understand that, they are comfortable with having government and insurance companies set themselves up to deal with health care providers and manage the pricing by providers and costs by government and insurance companies. Smart people know it’s a combination of government and insurance companies. The U.S. Department of Defense negotiated the military health care system into existence and contracts with health care providers, and then employs insurance companies to manage and execute the governmental policies within the system. I am retired military and have Tricare for Life [military health care for military retirees 65 years of age and older] which is managed and financed for one third of the country by Wisconsin Physicians Insurance Company of Madison Wisconsin. Tricare for Life policies made by DOD cap pharmacy costs [prices charged by Big Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies] and I get drugs at much lower than retail prices and the co-pay for me as a patient is minimal for generic drugs and a low amount for patent-protected highly marketed drugs. The insurance company that manages and finances the Tricare pharmacy program is Express Scripts. It receives the money it spends from the U.S. Government. The consequence is that for those people who spent twenty years or more in the military there is no wealth or balance sheet differential for gaining access to health care. We are people and the government is going to carry the economic burden first through Medicare and supplementary through Tricare for Life so long as patients pay the Medicare B premium. There is an insurance company that operates Medicare health care financing in Dallas Texas [Novitas Solutions Inc operates in Medicare Administrative Contract Jurisdiction H] and an insurance company that operates Tricare for Life in Madison Wisconsin.


There you have the reality. The health care industry of providers is generally happy with Obamacare because it brings more patients, ultimately all Americans, to the providers. The downside is that providers won’t be able to set their own prices but will have to negotiate with the federal government and some large insurance companies on reasonable pricing models and differentials when really unique events arise. The upside for providers is that they get paid and the charity work and deadbeats who don’t pay are purged from the system.


What is a Medicare cap and how does it work? Here is an example. An EMS ambulance from a location in Lubbock to the UMC Emergency Room was billed at $1,211.80 and Medicare capped the allowable collection at $393.86 and paid 80% or $313.81 and the medi-gap supplementary policy paid $80.05 and patient paid nothing more than the premium for Medicare B coverage and the premium for the medi-gap policy. A leg immobilizer brace was placed on the patient and billed at $636.92 but the Medicare cap was $522.28 and it paid 80% or $416.13 and medi-gap supplementary policy paid $106.15 and patient paid nothing more. The provider ambulance service collected 32.5% of its bill and the provider clinic collected 82% of its bill. What you should learn is that a billing price may sometimes be no more than a listed retail price and there are a number of actual collection rates depending on who is financing the health care service.


Hopefully the people in Lubbock who are ranting about Obamacare, will learn about some of these realities and think more clearly about what is really going on. The 2010 Congressional legislation is far from perfect, it was a compromise for many legislators, and the system that is being created will have to be amended and improved in the future. The naysayer ranters will not have a place at the table to make those amendments and improvements because they exclude themselves.


Indeed, the amendment and improvement process is already going on. The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously passed a bill titled Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act of 2013. That occurred in July. In October both the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee released an identical discussion draft of a bill that would change the model for Medicare payments to physicians. What is similar in these bipartisan proposals is the repeal of the current model of physicians charging whatever they like [provider’s fee for service model], and the Medicare imposed cap being based on the SGR Sustainable Growth Rate model that Congress has repeatedly reneged on since it would have resulted in repeated reductions in payments to physicians. What is also similar is that legislators realize that the old model rewarded physicians for volume of patients and intensity of health care service for those patients. The agreement is to create a new model that rewards good outcomes for the patient relative to services performed, so higher payments to physicians in the future would be tied to coordinated health care, quality of service performed, effectiveness for the patient, and efficiency in providing services. Thus, cost reductions in the system will be reflected in higher payments to physicians who are responsible for those cost reductions. Cost reductions can occur while patients receive more valuable health care. This kind of thinking is now what legislators are doing, largely as a result of heath care provider organizations requesting these solutions. One thing some members of the public may not understand is that whatever model is chosen for Medicare payments becomes the model from which insurance carriers negotiate with health care providers for non-Medicare patients. Systemic changes are afoot in an industry in which Medicare is projected to spend $600 billion in 2013 [$70 billion to physicians] and the industry spends $3 trillion this year. Stuart Guterman, Emerging Consensus on Medicare Physician Payment Reform: A Golden Opportunity, The Commonwealth Fund, November 25, 2013.


Some people don’t seem to know that among the industrialized richest nations on the planet the United States spends the most by far per capita but its health outcomes are the lowest per capita. Some of that poor outcomes consequence is a direct result of lack of access because of inability of individuals to pay, and Obamacare’s scheme for making large strides toward universal access regardless of ability to pay out of pocket at the moment service is received, will improve consequences. With more patients in the system more often, both delivery efficiencies and cost efficiencies must occur. Physicians and all other health care providers are part of that. Patients, whether or not they know it, are part of that and must learn to adjust to more efficient delivery of health care systems and must get smarter about acquiring health care insurance or another financing mechanism.





Annual Christmas Carol Concert at Hemmle Recital Hall at Texas Tech University is always cheerful. It’s Tuesday December 3 at 8:00 pm $11 adults $9 seniors $8 children and students at Select a Seat outlets or at the door general admission seating. The six singing groups are West Texas Children’s Chorus, University Singers, Women’s Chorale, Matador Singers, Chamber Choir and University Choir. Hot cocoa will be served.


The Pride of West Texas Show Chorus [Lubbock chapter of Sweet Adelines International female singing groups] Christmas Concert and Dessert show is the previous evening Monday December 2 at Science Spectrum 2579 South Loop 289 frontage road east of Indiana Avenue $ 15 at 7:00 pm. Advertised guest singing groups for the concert include The Singing Plainsmen, Crossfire, Blown Away and The Ties That Bind. Tickets online or by phone 799-SING.




The Vienna State Opera streams live opera online. So does the New York City Metropolitan Opera. Cinemark Movie theaters show live opera on their screens. As folks learn more about opera, they want to know more. Evan Baker, From The Score to The Stage: An Illustrated History of Continental Opera Production and Staging (University of Chicago Press 2013). Patrick Summers of the Houston Grand Opera says of this book “This important view of what we do every day in the serious work of our companies is often lost in a haze of trifle about diva fits, egos, and other dull social cliches about the arts.” $40.67 at




November– March 15, 2014….“Hidden Views: Art From The Collections”This magnificent collection of paintings and sculpture from the National Ranching Heritage Center and Ranching Heritage Association art collections, was recently placed on exhibit for public viewing in the center’s Macy Gallery. Collected from private donations from many of the center’s supporters, the exhibit is the first showing for many of the pieces. “These special artworks were created by some of history’s most notable western artists,” said Matt Brockman, executive director of the center. “We’re proud of them and want the public to benefit from their display.” The exhibit includes the last large oil painting completed by Tom Ryan, a well known artist who often depicted cowboy life on the historic Four Sixes Ranch near Guthrie, Texas. Other works on view are paintings by notables Frank Reaugh, Milbe Benge, Robert Lougheed, Fred Harman, Peter Hurd, Jack Bryant and Boris Bernhard Gordon. A sculpture by Garland Weeks is also featured. Most of the art, held for decades in private collections, have had limited or no exposure until now. For further information: Scott White (806) 742-0498. The exhibit is scheduled to remain open until March 15, 2014. The National Ranching Heritage Center, 3121 4th Street.


































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