Arts History Update for late December 2013

21 Dec

Arts History Update for late December 2013 by David Cummins

 

http://www.aaa.si.edu/symposium Here is the webcast of a November symposium on digital scholarship as part of an art history framework.

 

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Want to learn about the candidates for Provost and Senior Vice President of Texas Tech University but don’t wish to attend the Open Forums where they appear? A website has all those forums video-recorded www.ttu.edu/administration/president/provostsearch After doing so you may wish to write to President Nellis and submit your opinion on the candidates.

 

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The William C. and Evelyn M. Davies Gallery of Southwestern Indian Art, recently refurbished, will re-open February 1, 2014 at Texas Tech Museum. The best news is that the donors for whom it is named, will be present for the event. Come join them. More information at Museum Association office, phone 742-2443.

 

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The United Kingdom or Great Britain, comprised of England, Wales, Scotland and North Ireland, is in a process that proceeds apace, of devolution of power or shared power between London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. Linda Colley, Acts of Union, Acts of Disunion (Profile Books Ltd January 2, 2104) $10.97 pre-order paperback at Amazon.com focuses on art, architecture and literature as well as political history to describe what the United Kingdom has become or not become over the years. The author will be present for an hour and a half at London Review of Books Bookshop January 14, 2014 7:00 – 8:30 pm GMT at 14 Bury Place a block west of Bloomsbury Square Gardens. Ticket is 10 pounds. http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/linda-colley-acts-of-union-acts-of-disunion-tickets-9673095489 Remember that in 2014 there will be a vote in Scotland for or against independence from Great Britain.

 

I am a Scots-American and recall as if it were yesterday, that the Union of 1707 was not brought about by a plebiscite. William Wallace led a Scottish Uprising against King Edward I of England in 1297 culminating in the Battle of Stirling Bridge where a larger English force was defeated. In April 1298 Wallace lost the strategic Battle of Falkirk and by the fall of 1298 renounced his role as Guardian of Scotland in favor of Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick and Red John Comyn, Earl of Badenoch [from whom I am descended Comyn becoming Cumin then Cummin then Cummins or Cumming and Cummings]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_Comyn Wallace then unsuccessfully sought assistance from France in Scotland’s quest to be free from English domination but was back in Scotland by 1304 and captured near Glasgow on August 5, 1305, taken to London England, put on trial for treason, drawn, quartered and hanged. His preserved head, dipped in tar, was placed on a spike at London Bridge. These actual scenes were relived in the film Braveheart (1995) starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace. In 1306 Robert the Bruce assassinated Red John Comyn during a parley in sanctuary status in the Church of the Minorities in Dumfries, then rode to Scone and had himself crowned King of Scotland on March 25, and proceeded to fight guerrilla battles against the English culminating in a victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 that led to a tense stalemate with the English throughout his reign to 1329. This was Scotland’s high point of military relations with England.

 

See also http://www.clanbooks.com/scottish/cumming

 

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Be on the lookout for the opening of the Mean Woman Grill at 2103 Marsha Sharp Freeway, actually the south frontage road between University Avenue and Avenue Q. Miz Ayn Bowron and her co-owner operated the first Mean Woman Grill out of a renovated gasoline service station in Levelland and it became an institution that most folks are delighted is returning to a Lubbock address that will be easier to access. www.meanwomangrill.com Hours are Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Some think it might open in early January 2014.

 

 

 

Sales Taxes on Internet Sales

 

The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certiorari in the appeal by Amazon.com and Overstock.com opposing New York’s application of its state sales tax to internet sales transactions where the purchaser is a New York resident or addressee for delivery of the sold item. “Presence in the state by the seller” is the talisman for each state’s legal ability to levy its sales tax on the seller. The state already has the undoubted legal capability to levy the state sales tax against the purchaser who is a resident or business within the state [it’s a consumption tax of course], but the state has no practical way to assess and levy the tax against each of those many hundreds of thousands or millions of purchasers.

 

The argument comes down to this, does the Internet seller have a “presence” within the state? What constitutes a “presence”? In the case of Amazon.com it had a distribution/fulfillment of orders [physical building and employees] center in Irving Texas beginning in 2004. When the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts levied a sales tax on several years of Internet sales that were delivered to purchasers in Texas from the Irving distribution center, Amazon.com objected and when its objections were unheeded, it closed the Irving facility. Eventually Amazon.com and the Texas Comptroller negotiated a deal. Amazon.com would return to Texas and open fulfillment centers and would start collecting and remitting to the Comptroller a uniform state sales tax [no distinctions for different rates that apply between and among several cities and other local governments] beginning in June 2012 and the state would waive the levy of $269 million for earlier years. That deal resulted in Amazon.com opening fulfillment centers in Texas in Coppell [northeast of Grapevine], Haslet [half way between Fort Worth and Denton] and Schertz [northeast of San Antonio], Texas.

 

Several states levy their sales tax on internet sellers even if the sellers don’t have any physical presence in the state, but the sellers use a ”marketing affiliate in the state to refer purchasers to the seller”.  Internet sellers objected to that approach of tying taxability to contract relationships with businesses in the taxing state. Overtstock.com objected and canceled all its contracts with so-called marketing affiliates based in states with revenue-hungry comptrollers. Overstock.com [a Utah corporation with buildings and employees there] canceled all its contracts with marketing affiliates in New York but New York persisted in its previous levy of its sales tax and Overstock has now lost that lawsuit. It will pay the tax for back years but not for the present or future because it has neither a New York physical presence or New York marketing affiliate contracts. New York has not yet been so bold as to levy and try to collect sales tax from all Internet sellers who sell to purchasers with a New York address.

 

Companies like Amazon.com and Overstock.com are representative of businesses that are being very careful about where they have a physical presence or contract relationships about marketing. Amazon.com pays sales tax to comptrollers in 16 states but not in the other 34 states. Furthermore, in those 16 states it has deals with comptrollers so that as to its taxability, there is an agreed uniform rate for all sales to that state, regardless of intra-state rate distinctions and variations.

 

Could this system of state taxation work better? Yes of course, but the states in their trade organization pact have been unwilling to work out a sensible reasonable solution. The states are too greedy and unwilling to accept the concept that cyber commercial traffic across the planet is not really a taxable transaction for any state. There is a bill in Congress the last several sessions that would permit a low level uniform state sales tax, a compromise as it were, but it hasn’t drawn enough support to pass the bill.

 

In Lubbock the combined state and local retail sales tax is 8.25% on most taxable items. If in one year a person purchased $1,000 of such items online from sellers located outside Texas without a “presence” in Texas, the purchaser would pay $1,000 plus shipping and handling charges but not an additional $82.50 in sales tax. Most purchasers would think that is appropriate because none of those sellers was taxed by the Texas Comtproller. Most purchasers don’t understand the sales tax as a consumption tax on purchasers collected from sellers who remit to the Comptroller.  If $82.50 is material to this purchaser s/he should check with each online seller to discover if it collects Texas sales tax, and then go through with or abort the contemplated purchase.

 

Don’t you think the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal should have an article like this explaining the situation? It writes snippets about the topic but obviously doesn’t understand what’s going on so it can’t write what it doesn’t know. It projects its own ignorance onto its readers.

 

Speaking of the A-J, a front page story recently reported that national retail Christmas sales are down. The very next day the Dallas Morning News front page reported that national retail Christmas sales are up. Neither reportage cited any source for its factual statement so the reader is not alerted as to how and where s/he might check out the facts. We know from experience that Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports are not fact-checked, because of a long series of errors in reporting. Readers can’t rely on A-J reports. People sometimes ask me about something that appeared in the A-J but I have to reply “I don’t know anything about it, all I learned on the topic was from an A-J report”.

 

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Craft beer enthusiasts will want to mark their 2014 calendars. The Great American Beer Festival http://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/ in Denver Colorado is October 2-4, 2014. It will be attended by 50,000 people and 500 breweries will participate. Awards are given in no fewer than 83 categories and 3,900 beers are entered into the judging. This is the largest of American beer festivals.

 

In Texas look for Big Texas Beer Fest http://www.bigtexasbeerfest.com/ at Fair Park Automobile Building in Dallas in April 2014, North Texas Beer and Wine Festival http://northtexasbeerfestival.com/ at the Irving Convention Center on Las Colinas Boulevard Irving Texas in May 2014, Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival http://www.brewmastersbeerfest.com/home.shtml at Moody Gardens in Galveston Texas in late August early September 2014 [around Labor Day], and Texas Craft Brewers Festival http://texascraftbrewersfestival.org/ at Fiesta Gardens Austin Texas in late September 2014. To my knowledge neither Wicked Beaver Brewing Co of Wolfforth Texas http://wickedbeaverbrewing.com/ or Yellow House Canyon Brew Works of Lubbock Texas http://www.yellowhousecanyonbrewworks.com/home/ or Triple J Chophouse and Brew Co of Lubbock Texas http://www.triplejchophouseandbrewco.com/ enter any of these festivals.

 

Remember that some of the large volume major breweries actually make some small volume craft-type brews that are tasty. When you’re shopping look for craft-type brews from some of the major label breweries. Shiner beers from Spoetzel Brewery http://www.shiner.com in Shiner Texas, not a small craft brewery, include some small volume beers such as their seasonal varieties.

 

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The VA [United States Department of Veterans Affairs] http://www.va.gov/ Outpatient Clinic in Lubbock is a 35,000 square feet facility off Interstate Highway 27 to the west at 6104 Avenue Q and its lease expires in 2015. Plans for relocation of the Outpatient Clinic to the campus of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center with a 126,900 square feet building on land leased to the VA by Texas Tech were approved by the Texas Tech Board of Regents on December 13, so if a federal appropriation is passed by Congress with this item still in the budget, the new clinic will be built and veterans will be better served there, and the specialty operations at TTUHSC and UMC will be readily available to those veterans, rather than their traveling to the Amarillo VA hospital [Thomas E. Creek VA Medical Center at 6010 Amarillo Boulevard West] http://www.amarillo.va.gov/index.asp or Albuquerque New Mexico regional VA hospital [Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center at 1501 San Pedro Drive S.E. west of Kirtland Air Force Base and east of Albuquerque International Airport] http://www.albuquerque.va.gov/index.asp   .

 

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Julia Morgan (1872 to 1957) was a prolific California architect who produced more than 700 buildings in her long career, most in her home state. Nevertheless, one project overshadows them all: the California hilltop estate for William Randolph Hearst that goes by its place name, San Simeon, as well as La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”) or simply Hearst Castle. Her talents extended to simpler dwellings too, not to mention schools, churches and many buildings for benevolent organizations like the YWCA.
With an interest in architecture from a young age, Morgan pursued an engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley on the advice of her brother. After receiving that undergraduate degree in 1894 (the first woman to do so) she received more advice, this time from mentor Bernard Maybeck, who encouraged her to attend the esteemed École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She failed the entrance exams twice but learned that the school had failed her because it did not want to encourage young girls. Undeterred, she went through the process again and was accepted two years later, becoming the first female graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts upon receiving the certificate in 1902. In a bit of foreshadowing, Phoebe Hearst, mother of W.R., offered to pay for Morgan’s schooling in Paris, which Morgan graciously declined.
Upon returning to California the same year, Morgan worked in an architect’s office but ventured out on her own in 1904, after getting registered to practice architecture in the state. This made her the first female architect in California, following similar firsts at UC Berkeley and the Beaux-Arts. Her status as a woman in a man’s profession has defined much of her legacy, but the way in which “all her life was work — morning, day and night,” as described by one employee, is really how she should be remembered. This blend of talent, love of architecture and untiring work ethic, is what enabled her to produce so many buildings and to work on one of the largest residential commissions of any time and any place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Morgan was just awarded a Gold Medal by the American Institute of Architects, joining a handful of luminaries, and her likeness will be chiseled in stone at the Washington DC headquarters of the organization. http://www.aia.org/practicing/awards/2014/gold-medal/julia-morgan/

 

 

 

 

 

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