Arts History Update for late September 2014

20 Sep

Arts History Update for late September 2014 by David Cummins

Those who tell us to read the classics as if we were undernourished, don’t know that many have read literary criticism articles enough to know the value to be found within many classics without trudging through Ulysses, War and Peace, Les Miserables, and others.

If you must read Les Miserables, there is an excellent English translation that even translates the title. Victor Hugo, The Wretched (transl. Christine Donougher, Penguin Books 2013) $19.04 hardcover $10.91 paperback $0.99 e-book at
It has footnotes, end notes, a chronology of Hugo’s life, an historical introduction of the period which is 1815 through the June Rebellion of 1832 attempting to complete the Revolution of 1789 and secure a Republic as a replacement for historical monarchy and its authoritarian equivalent Bonaparteism. The novel was published in 1862 by A. Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Cie. In French it was published in five volumes running to 1,900 pages. In English it is often 1,500 pages. is an excellent description of what’s happening, and of the long essays within the historical novel that do not advance the plot.

Hugo 1802 – 1885 was initially a Royalist and ultimately after the 1848 Revolution a passionate supporter of Republicanism. He is buried in the Pantheon after his body lay in state at the Arc de Triomphe.

His other famous novel is Our Lady of Paris (Hunchback of Notre Dame) (1831) establishing himself as a romantic prose writer, this novel was set in medieval times, after his earlier poetry that began in 1821. He studied law 1815-1818 but did not practice in the profession. He chose a literary career path and published his first book of poetry in a journal Conservateur Litteraire he had started shortly before 1821.

Following the 1848 Revolution a coup occurred in 1851 and Hugo fled France living in Brussels and Great Britain’s Channel Islands until his return in 1870. During this period of exile is when he wrote his biting social and political criticism in the form of an historical novel Les Miserables.

——————— Mary Hunter 1868-1934 departed Carlinville Illinois with her widowed mother and older brother for the San Joaquin Valley California in 1888 and she taught school in the Bakersfield area. In 1891 she married Stanford Wallace Austin and they moved to Lone Pine and later Independence in the Owens Valley on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada. They had a mentally retarded daughter in 1892. Mary and Wallace separated in 1903 and divorced in 1914. She did not remarry. She wrote under the name Mary Hunter Austin. The success of The Land of Little Rain (1903) allowed her to separate and go her own way, but she was unable to manage her daughter whom she institutionalized in 1905. Mary Hunter Austin moved to Carmel California in 1906 but continued to write about the Owens Valley and its inhabitants. The Basket Woman (children’s stories 1904) Isidro (1905) The Flock (1906) Lost Borders (1909) A Woman of Genius (1912). She moved to New York City for a decade and later to Santa Fe New Mexico at the invitation of Mabel Dodge Luhan late in life, built a home there Casa Queridto [beloved house] and died there in 1934. The Owens Valley extends from Bishop in the north to China Lake [dry] in the south. Due west of Lone Pine is Mount Whitney and due east is Death Valley, the highest and lowest points in continental United States outside Alaska.

Mary Hunter Austin, The Land of Little Rain (Houghton Mifflin and Co 1903 often reissued) Texas Tech Library F786.A93, a 1950 reprint at 133 pages is in Lubbock Public Library 979.4 A937L

Mary Hunter Austin, One Smoke Stories (Houghton Mifflin and Co 1934) stories of Indians with whom Austin interacted 294 pages Texas Tech Library Southwest Collection SWC 44 A937o. Indians included Timbisha Shoshone, Paiute Shoshone, Mono and Coso Indians. In Bishop California there is Paiute Palace Casino on US Highway 395 and Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center and Museum


Short List for the 2014 Man Booker Prize in Great Britain is announced on September 5


Authors attending the Texas Book Festival are announced, all 275 of them October 25-26, 2014 in Austin Texas.


Elmgreen & Dragset, Prada Marfa (2005) is a “permanent” installation art on the roadside of US Highways 67 and 90 east of Marfa Texas. It has the appearance of a small store with shoes and leather goods for sale in the style of the Italian clothier. It is not a store and the door is always locked tight. No one is ever “inside the store”. It is owned by a business in Marfa, Ballroom Marfa. Texas Department of Transportation has regulations for billboards and other signage alongside state highways, classified this art piece as a billboard, and cited the owner for a violation that could be mitigated by removal. After much negotiation Ballroom Marfa came up with a plan, create an art museum on paper, lease the space on which the installation sits to the art museum, classify this museum as a one piece of art in its collection museum, and continue on. Texas Department of Transportation agreed that classified as an art museum it didn’t violate signage laws and regulations. Problem solved.

————————-’s disdain for literary publishing houses is no secret, but the positive side of that disdain is that has attempted its own publishing in digital format. A recent example that is drawing praise is Day One a weekly literary journal with a short story or similar piece and a poem that are connected by a unifying theme including an interaction conversation by the writer and poet. It’s $1.59 per month and the first thirty days of the subscription are free [four issues] and you can unsubscribe before the fifth issue and owe nothing for trying the journal I don’t know if a subscription gives one access to an archive of previous issues, but if it does then this would be an incredible value at 37 cents an issue for well selected, edited and matched pieces.

There are of course free ways to get the same thing, but you have to work at it. One of the writers in Day One is Justin Brouckaert. Here is a very compelling story by him Like Tiny Little Cracks (2014)


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Bentonville Arkansas November 11, 2011 designed by Moshe Safdie and founded by Alice Walton, a Wal-Mart heiress. A current exhibit State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now September 13 – January 19, 2015 reflects a nine month scouting out of artists across America who haven’t yet been recognized by the art world but are producing thrilling and dynamic pieces of art. 200 works by 102 artists in this exhibit. Some of the works are available for purchase as prints, such as these eight A number of Texas artists are in the exhibit.


Nessia Pope, How The Grid Conquered Contemporary Art, Art Space Magazine, September 12, 2014 The cubists in France, Kazmir Malevich in Russia, and Piet Mondrian from Holland taught us that the grid is a visual structure that lies at the heart of contemporary art. We’ve been exploring that concept ever since. It can take us inside a face as in Chuck Close’s work or it can take us into abstraction and the uses of color. It can become real and gain definition by juxtaposing a grid astride an absence of anything.


Peter Fountain is a pianist and he will be in concert as a guest of the Texas Tech University School of Music on Thursday September 25 at 5:00 pm in Hemmle Recital Hall. Free event. Remember that if you can’t attend one of these events, you can watch it on your computer monitor as it is live streamed online on the Texas Tech School of Music You Tube channel. If you have to be somewhere else and actively engaged at that hour, you can watch it after the concert is over as a past event on the Texas Tech School of Music You Tube channel. then click on Browse Channels then type Texas Tech School of Music then press Enter then click on Texas Tech School of Music and up comes a list of future events, presently live streamed events, and past events. One of the future events is Peter Fountain’s concert on September 25. A past event is TTU Annual Summer Jazz Concert one hour 28 minutes in length recorded on June 30, 2014. Click on it to test how the channel appears on your computer monitor and how well your computer speakers emit the sound. In the lower right of the video click on the expansion button and the video will fill your entire monitor. Press the Escape button upper left on your keyboard and the video will return to a smaller part of your monitor.

One prefers to attend School of Music events in person but when you can’t, you can watch it live on the live streaming option at You Tube channel. When an event is missed, you can watch it afterward on the You Tube channel.


Want to know more about ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? The Torch is The Great Courses Audio Podcasts Service and episode 20 in September 2014 is ISIS: A Cultural and Historical Perspective by Mark Berkson, Ph.D. Professor of Religion and Chair of Religious Studies Department, College of Liberal Arts, Hamline University, St Paul Minnesota. The podcast is 24 minutes in length


A reader of these Updates said that I am repeatedly guilty of optimism, to which I can only say that optimism is a choice. It is an attitude that is as spiritually necessary and proper as it is intellectually suspect.

We can write and think about the way things are, or we can essentially say the same thing by writing and thinking about the way things might be. The description isn’t different, there is however a dynamic introduced because we realize things as they are can get better or worse. Why not choose better?


An exhibit Virginia Woolf: Art Life and Vision is at the National Portrait Gallery in London July 10 to October 16, 2014. a prose stylist, she wrote as no one else of her time. At first folks were shocked. Then they realized the story was well told. Then they were liberated to tell their own stories. She took conventional and conforming out of the language of literature, making it first an option and then simply boring by comparison. She found A Room of Her Own and invited us to do so also.

Leslie and Julia Stephen were parents of a second daughter Virginia in 1882

1895 – mother Julia died. Virginia was age 13

1904 – father Leslie died. Virginia was age 22. F.W. Maitland, The Life and Letters of Leslie Stephen (1906) a biography

1904 – Virginia Stephen and her siblings moved from Kensington to Bloomsbury.

1907 – Virginia’s older sister Vanessa, a painter, married Clive Bell

1912 – Virginia married Leonard Woolf

1917 – Virginia and Leonard founded Hogarth Press that declined the opportunity to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses but published T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland

Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out (1915) her first novel and Night and Day (1919) her second and Jacob’s Room (1922) her third and Mrs. Dalloway (1925) her fourth

The Mark On the Wall, Two Stories (Hogarth Press 1917) short story

Virginia Woolf, Modern Novels, London Times Literary Supplement (1919) essay that was revised and reprinted in The Common Reader (1925 many later editions) and Three Guineas (1938) essay relative to the Spanish Civil War after Virginia’s nephew Julian Bell was killed fighting on the Republican side in 1937.

Hitler’s Black Book included a list of Brits who would be taken into custody after Germany seized London # 115 was Leonard Woolf # 116 was Virginia Woolf

Between The Acts (1941 but first published posthumously) her last novel

In early 1941 she began hearing voices and thought she was not just having another nervous breakdown, but was losing sanity. She wrote parting notes to her sister Vanessa and husband Leonard and she walked to the River Ouse in Sussex near Lewes on March 28, 1941, left her walking stick on the bank, and at age 59 strode into the river until its thread swept her away and she drowned.

British literary people have never gotten over this lady. A bronze bust of Woolf was erected in Tavistock Square in London England in 2004.

It was because she was inadequately treated by physicians, into which was read speculation about the inadequacy of medical care, physicians treating her as a man and dismissing her “female” maladies, misunderstanding eccentricity and otherness for illness and vice versa, that one speculator wrote a book whose title is as often recalled as anything else about Virginia …. Irene Coates, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: A Case Study for the Sanity of Virginia Woolf (Brandl & Schlesinger 1998)

Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962 play) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (movie black and white 1966 director Mike Nichols starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis, often regarded as a classic, two of the stars Taylor and Dennis receiving Academy Award Oscars but as Best Picture it was unchosen in favor of A Man For All Seasons)

If we have demons, and are afraid of them, we are Virginia Woolf and she told us about herself and us. We are sometimes uncomfortable seeing ourselves depicted in art, especially in a public place. Much easier to read a book, in private, and share in our imagination only with a deceased author whose imagination remains alive on the page.

Texas Tech Library has 80 entries under her name as an author.


West Texas Watercolor Society’s Fall Art Exhibit is September 19 – November 2, 2014 at Legacy Event Center YWCA of Lubbock 1500 14th Street. Also showing are oil paintings by Laura Lewis, jewelry by Linda Adkins, and Remembrance and Renewal photographs by Ann McDonald. The juror is Julie Schumer Santa Fe New Mexico abstract expressionist. The Center is open Mon-Fri 9:00 – 5:00 pm and for select evening events.

The website is not currently operational


Museum of the Desert Southwest at 409 South Gaston Street in Crane Texas will dedicate a new mural painted by Stylle Read titled Overland Mail Route Stagecoach at Horsehead Crossing (2014) at 10:00 am Saturday September 27, 2014. For more information about this event e-mail or phone 432-558-2311.

Here’s Read’s website at which you can see that he has experience painting a stagecoach

Crane is south of Odessa on US Highway 385 travel south to McCamey and then southwest to Girvin and then onto Texas SH Farm Road 11 travel northwest 12 miles and trek a mile east [by permission on this private land] to the Pecos River, the border between Pecos County to the west and Crane County to the east, and you’re at Horsehead Crossing over the Pecos River, so famous in history including the Overland Mail Route that extended from St Louis Missouri all the way to Los Angeles and then up to San Francisco its terminus. When the mail route mentions Franklin Texas, that’s an old name for El Paso the mid point between St Louis and Los Angeles. On August 1, 1859 a ferry was installed at Horsehead Crossing to take the stagecoach across. This was a federal government mail service so the Civil War interrupted the operation in 1861. Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving followed the route to Horsehead Crossing in 1866 after the War and across the Pecos River and then went north on the west side of the Pecos toward their Colorado destination, the Goodnight Loving Cattle Trail. Yes, this circuitous route from North Texas to southern Colorado was all about avoiding Comancheria, the land of the Lords of the Plains who fearsomely stole the Anglo’s cattle and horses and went back to the tipi with scalps. Once the Comanche were safely ensconced on an Indian Territory reservation [Oklahoma] a railroad line would be built in the 1880s directly from Fort Worth to Amarillo to southern Colorado and finally to Denver.

The name “horsehead” derives from the many horse skulls placed on the bank as a warning to travelers that it may be the best place to cross, but many horses had been lost in the attempt. From 1839 – 1850 travelers and Army surveyors mapped the Crossing and Henry Skillman drove the Butterfield Overland Mail across in the 1850s.

Between Fort Chadbourne and Horsehead Crossing was a “desert” so there were water stations on the Overland Mail Route, from east to west at Colorado River Station, Grape Creek Station, Head of Concho Station, Camp Johnston Station, Llano Estacado Station, Mustang Waterholes Station, and Horsehead Crossing Station. Fort Chadbourne is in the process of being restored and is on US Highway 277 northeast of Bronte that is on the Colorado River as it flows southeast. At each station fresh horses [mules were often used] would be hitched, food was prepared in advance for the expected drivers and passengers, and an emergency water cask would be replaced. From Preston Texas near Lake Texoma to El Paso would take seven days, twenty-seven to get to San Francisco from St Louis. Freight, mail and passengers was a needed service and $200 would buy passage of one person from St Louis to San Francisco.


The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014) is a seven part made for television documentary film by Ken Burns focused on Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Part # 1 Get Action 1858-1901 Part # 2 In The Arena 1901-1910 Part # 3 Fire of Life 1910-1919 Part # 4 The Storm 1920-1933 Part #5 The Rising Road 1933-1939 Part # 6 Common Cause 1939-1944 Part 7 A Strong and Active Faith 1944-1962.

For a time, at the web site, you may watch the full series of episodes on your computer monitor or downloaded into your television set or tablet or smart phone. Eleanor was Teddy’s niece, and Franklin his fifth cousin. The film has a companion book by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns hardcover 576 pages with marvelous pictures $60 at the website $37.82 $18.99 e-book


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