Arts History Update for late August 2014

20 Aug

Arts History Update for late August 2014 by David Cummins

Friday evening August 29 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm is the ribbon cutting and formal acceptance of the new public art installed at the West Village Residence Hall on the Texas Tech University campus 19th Street west of Indiana Avenue and Texas Tech Parkway. The several sculptures in the courtyard at the entrance to the Hall are called Texas Rising (2014) by Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock, Tuscon Arizona artists. They are lighted from within so will create quite a light show for residents of the Hall and their visitors and friends. This is a free for the public event and the artists will be present to interact with patrons of the art, us.

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Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage (transl. Philip Gabriel, Alfred A. Knopf 2014) is a much anticipated novel after his wildly successful The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (transl. Jay Rubin, Alfred A. Knopf 1997) and later works. In its first week in Japanese book stores it sold one million copies. We’ve all read “coming of age novels” but this is a “not coming of age novel” and most revealing of life anywhere in a dense urban landscape. Artfully reviewed at Patti Smith, Deep Chords, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, August 10, 2014.

Lubbock Public Library has The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997), Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (2001), After The Quake: Stories (2002) [in 1995 the Kobe earthquake occurred in January killing thousands, and in March the poison gas attacks occurred on Tokyo subways frightening the populace, so Murakami writes about the aftermath], Kafka On the Shore (2005) Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Stories (2006) ABE Books good condition $6.98, After Dark (2007), and 1Q84 (2011) (an ode to George Orwell’s 1984 but a caution at 925 pages).

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is 611 pages and Colorless Tsukuru is 386 pages “The new novel–a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan–from the internationally acclaimed author, his first since IQ84 —
Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages. -”

Texas Tech Library has The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche, After The Quake: Stories, Kafka on the Shore, and 1Q84. It also has What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir (2008) 179 pages [he is a long distance runner including 26.2 mile marathons] ABE Books good condition $4.99 and Vintage Murakami (2004) 182 pages his selection from his writings ABE Books good condition $3.48

Neither has Norwegian Wood: A Novel (1987 in Japan, transl. Jay Rubin, Vintage International 2000) adapted into a movie Norwegian Wood (2010, with English subtitles 2011). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neK1yJAWyYs An earlier movie Tony Takitani (2004) was taken from Murakami’s short story by that name.

Matthew C. Strecher, The 10 Best Haruki Murakami Books, Publishers Weekly August 8, 2014, reveals as it describes Murakami’s social deconstruction of an economic phenomenon Japan Incorporated, whereby the novels interrogate advanced capitalism highlighting its tendency to commodify and sell anything, nearly everything, including basic human relationships.

Murakami blends the surreal with hard-boiled deadpan comedy, and delicate introspection by his characters. He is age 65 and considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Danh Vo is a Vietnamese-American sculptor who has an exhibit We The People http://www.publicartfund.org/view/exhibitions/6042_danh_vo_we_the_people at both New York City’s City Hall Park and at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The former is http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/08/arts/design/outdoor-sculpture-and-more-in-the-new-york-region.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&module=inside-nyt-region&_r=0 recognizable as a portion of the flame in the Statue of Liberty torch, rendered in copper, and the latter is http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/places/public-art#dahn recognizable as the draped sleeve of the Statue of Liberty’s right arm, again rendered in copper, and a great photo opportunity for a selfie.

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Texas Legislature House of Representatives District # 83 is a vacant seat since Representative Charles Perry withdrew his filing for re-election and filed to run for an open Texas Legislature Senate seat. At a Republican Party candidate forum http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/news/local/story/House-District-83-republican-candidates-meet-in/6ouYNfyBw06A-pWDHB4uBA.cspx each of the candidates announced that s/he is against the federal government and would scale it back in size and strength. Why is this an issue in a state representative position and what does this attitude signify as a mind-set of those candidates? The Republican Party county and voting precinct chairs will elect one of those six whose name will appear on the Tuesday November 4 general election ballot, but other disappointed candidates might launch a write-in ballot candidacy. No Democrat filed for this seat in the Spring so unless there is a write-in ballot candidacy by a Democrat the Republican Party designated candidate on the ballot will be the likely winner of the seat and become one of 150 members of the 2015 Texas House of Representatives.

There is a special election on September 9 to fill the open Texas State Senate District 28 seat and unexpired term, occasioned by Robert Duncan’s resignation from the Senate to become Chancellor of Texas Tech University System. The filed candidates are:

Jody Arrington, Lubbock, Republican
Delwin Jones, Lubbock, Republican
Charles Perry, Lubbock, Republican
Epi Garza, Wolfforth, Republican
Greg Wortham, Sweetwater, Democrat
Kerry McKennon, Petersburg, Libertarian

Early voting is available August 25 – September 5 with the exception of Labor Day Monday September 1 http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/d28-candidates.shtml Should there be a runoff election, if the top vote-getter does not have 50% plus one vote, Governor Perry will set the runoff election date but it likely would be November 4 the general election day. Election day locations on September 9 in Lubbock County http://www.votelubbock.org/election-information/election-day-information/ are identified at this website. Early voting locations http://www.votelubbock.org/election-information/early-voting-information/ on a daily basis are identified at this website.

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Local growers, producers and restaurants come together for the 5th annual Great Harvest Marketplace. The event offers complimentary samples of a variety of local food, wine and beer. McPherson Cellars will be pouring wine. Guests receive a punch card with 15 opportunities for free tastings from 24 local venues including food wine and beer.

A representative for the Lubbock Restaurant Association said the purpose of the event is to expose the variety and quality of local food and drink. A chef will demonstrate cooking styles for Texas Gulf shrimp [local has an expansive definition sometimes]. At the previous year’s event there was live music as well.

The event is hosted at Bayer Museum of Agriculture 1121 Canyon Lake Drive in Mackenzie Park from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Thursday August 28. Free event but a $10 donation is suggested.

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Non-degree seeking students at Texas Tech, including you, may register free on the e-learning portal and then select the course or courses you wish to take online
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/elearning/non-degree-seeking/ Costs for enrollment vary. Some universities like Arizona State University at Tempe have committed to having their entire curriculum available online so theoretically one could never physically be in Tempe and still graduate.

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The Blue Inside by Peter Mangan is the latest Art on the Llano Project installation on the median adjacent to the on ramp for South Loop 289 eastbound frontage road at Quaker Avenue. It is similar to Mangan’s Gemini Song at the Benini Foundation Galleries and Sculpture Ranch at Johnson City Texas in the Hill Country
http://sculptureranch.com/sculptor-mangan-hc-gemini.htm and is described as an untreated, already oxidized stainless steal silhouette frame of two humans male and female with three contrasting copper bands to contain the outline of those figures. All framing bands have two, three or four squares of blue-tinged translucent glass hanging from them. The glass is not noticed when one is exactly perpendicular to the sculpture but is on display from all other angles. http://www.petermangan.com The artist resides and has a studio in both Blanco Texas and San Francisco California.

The sculpture stands atop a two feet similar steel pediment to raise the sculpture to a height necessary for it to be appreciated by vehicular traffic at the intersection. There is little pedestrian traffic at that location but I parked in Doc’s Liquor Store parking lot and walked across the ramp to the median and closely inspected the piece.

Transportation costs were paid by Melissa Grimes at Studio West Interior Design http://www.studiowestid.com 26th Street and Canton Avenue and installation was performed gratis by the Texas Department of Transportation District based in Lubbock serving 17 counties http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/district/lubbock.html Douglas Eichorst, P.E. [professional engineer] is District Engineer. Kudos to these leaders.

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Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock together are The Flatlanders. At one time they all lived in Lubbock Texas and met and liked each other. They still do. Here are their albums in CD format in chronological order: Live at the One Knite Austin TX June 8, 1972 (1972), More a Legend Than a Band (1994), Unplugged (1995), Now Again (2002), Wheels of Fortune (2004), Hills and Valleys (2009), and The Odessa Tapes (2012). They are live, in concert, at the Cactus Theater on Friday September 26, 2014 at 7:30 pm $35 or $30 in balcony.

These artists are successful individually, but there is a special magic about them when they appear together. Garrison Keillor knew that when he scheduled a live production of the Prairie Home Companion radio show at City Bank Auditorium in Lubbock on April 27, 2013 and asked The Flatlanders to be his guest band for the event. They were wonderful.

Do you remember Woody Guthrie and his ballad about leaving the Dust Bowl for California, something he did himself? The Flatlanders recently wrote a reversal of that phenomena called Homeland Refugee about a family picking up and leaving California to go back to their dust bowl roots. The chorus is

“Now I’m leaving California for the dust bowl
They took it all, there’s nowhere else to go
The pastures of plenty are burning by the sea
And I’m just a homeland refugee”

Lyrics at http://www.lyricsmania.com

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Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC has in its archives a good deal of old typewritten/with erasures and inter-lineations and hand-written materials, and it would take the staff eons of time to transcribe it all into digital format, so the Smithsonian came up with the idea of inviting volunteers anywhere on their own time to do the transcribing. It uses the crowd sourcing software in its Transcription Center https://transcription.si.edu/browse Here are a list of the current projects if you are interested. Earlier this year the Smithsonian put 200 documents from the collection on the World War II Monuments Men online in the Transcription Center and within one week 49 volunteers had transcribed and reviewed every one of the documents. They are now digitally archived and word searchable by anyone. This is a great way to use volunteers at museums and galleries for everyone’s benefit.

Larry Kirkland sculptor did El Intercambio (The Interchange) (2009) four granite sculptures and granite flooring designs on the pedestrian mall leading from the Medical Sciences Research Building to the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso Texas. http://elpaso.ttuhsc.edu/ Here are several pictures of those pieces on that pedestrian mall interweaving with excellent landscape architecture by Jason Hodges of Prairie Workshop http://prairieworkshop.com/paul%20foster%20som.htm and here are pictures from Larry Kirkland http://www.larrykirkland.com/el-intercambio.html The largest of the four sculptures is Portal and is striped Imperial red granite and Kashmiri gold granite that reflects the building style at either end of the mall. The second sculpture is Mind crafted from the same two granite stones and is a positive silhouette head engraved with a floral pattern and tools of daily life. The last two smaller sculptures are made from Absolute black granite slabs with a cutout keyhole. The oblique view of Mind is even more revealing of contrasts in granite material http://www.pinterest.com/pin/129689664241982704/ This sculpture has already received awards http://www.stone-ideas.com/2010/05/01/art-more-than-mere-facades-tiles-or-sculptures/

The campus at the moment in El Paso is comprised of three academic units, the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. To the west of this campus is the non-profit teaching hospital University Medical Center of El Paso at 4815 Alameda Avenue http://www.umcelpaso.org [prior to 2009 it was R. E. Thomason Hospital of El Paso Hospital District] that recently expanded by opening an East Tower building and is adjacent to El Paso Childrens Hospital (2012) and TTUHSC Physician Clinics. To the northeast is Medical Center of the Americas Foundation http://mcamericas.org/ that is constructing new research buildings. The entire area is bounded by Alameda Avenue on the south and Interstate Highway 10 and Gateway Boulevard East on the north and is east of downtown El Paso.

Headwaters (2005) by Larry Kirkland is a sculptural piece located on the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock north of the College of Education Building south of the English and Philosophy Departments Building in that courtyard https://www.flickr.com/photos/11324122@N08/1078499642/ the hands and alphabet pieces are sculpted from Kashmiri gold granite and the base in the form of a book is from African black granite, a metaphor in its entirety.

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Dying is hard, sometimes extremely hard. Death is the absence of life, a negative, distinguished from what occurred before which was life. Is it more, however? Shakespeare in Hamlet says “death is an undiscovered country from whose bourne [meaning destination or boundary] no traveler returns”. This passage provided the title for the book by Carl Watkins, The Undiscovered Country: Journeys Among the Dead (Bodley Head 2013) reviewed at Anthony Sattin, The Observer, January 5, 2013. http://www.observer.theguardian.com

This scholarly book by a Cambridge historian about mortuary practices that became traditions devoid of the meaning by which they first arose, or indeed devoid of any particular meaning at all, sets us apart today in contemporary life from the history of the rituals of dying. The question for families today of what to do with the body and whether or not or how to conduct a memorial, is for many a process of fitting grief and loss into a comfortable narrative. If the decedent supplied instructions or preferences for post-death activities, the narrative is often pre-written in part and usually is dutifully observed in practice.

In Roman Catholic doctrine there is a heaven, hell and a purgatory in between. Residence in purgatory may be extended in time. Protestant Christian doctrine drops purgatory and assigns the decedent immediately to heaven or hell. There is no need for Protestants to pray for the repose of the decedent’s soul, or to pay the church for masses for the decedent. Various religions have distinctive views on whether or not those people who are not counted among the religion’s faithful, can or cannot go to heaven. What isn’t usually spoken is that denial must assign the person to hell. Most of us don’t feel comfortable with assigning strangers, who may be our neighbors, to hell. A reductionist religious theology loses force in our lives by becoming unjustified and insupportable.

There is no way to validate who has, in the past, gone to any of these destinations. The discussions and distinctions are hypotheses. Since the rise in the practice of cremation and lessening of burial and even less often burial in a cemetery astride the churchyard where the decedent had attended services, the physical body seems separated from whatever exists after death at whatever location. Indeed, disposition of the decedent’s body has come to fit within local public health and safety standards and to become a matter of compliance with community standards represented by regulations or ordinances. It can also be costly. And more often than not, for descendants there may be no physical location to visit that once was the decedent’s home or “final resting place”.

Many would suggest that since we know what became of the protoplasm or body of the decedent, it is the soul or psyche of the decedent whose location is debatable. There is no agreement as to the existence and quality of the soul during the decedent’s life and even less after his/her death. Speculating about something we were so ignorant of during his/her lifetime, causes most of us to fall silent.

Memory and remembrance by others, may for most be the final repose of the decedent. The comfortable narrative of the life, the dying, and the dealing with the death, is all of a piece and becomes one narrative as memories and remembrances are shared, stated and restated. The dead themselves are simply absent. These narratives often begin immediately after a death in the memorializing process often called “a celebration of his/her life”.

Most people suggest that post-death residence is a matter for individual speculation and belief, and social practice is to accept anyone’s assertion without contest. All assertions by those who are grieving are accepted as assertions, not as a fact or of anything other than grief itself.

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