Archive | December, 2014

Arts History Update for late December 2014

22 Dec

Arts History Update for late December 2014 by David Cummins

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee amassed information on the CIA activities detaining and interrogating prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign destinations, making its finals judgments on the matter, and released the report to the public. It demonstrates illegal activities by the CIA and the lying its leaders did to Congress, the President, and the public. It also showed that 26 detainees were, after interrogations, released as non-combatants and non-terrorists, some of them even being paid “for their trouble” and this had never been publicly reported. It also demonstrated that the torture interrogations did not in fact yield any useful information toward capturing or killing any terrorists or stopping any future terrorist attempts.

While not good news, it is the truth amid years of deceit, and the American people need to know this. Its public release ends the doubt and choosing sides on what to believe that was so politically orchestrated. The next step is to hold many actors personally accountable and responsible for their conduct in causing illegal activities to occur and in covering them up and lying about them afterward. One hopes that will happen, because unless it happens, this illegal activity will be repeated in the future.

The grousing and other political rhetoric that started immediately after the public release of the report, is just that and should be ignored. Read the report and be shocked or not shocked by “illegal activities by the CIA and the lying its leaders did to Congress, the President, and the public”.


Art in America 1945-1970: Writings From the Age of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism (ed. Jed Perl, Library of America 2014) hardcover $40 894 pages $29.25 e-book $22.99 highly recommended.


Sarah Thornton, 33 Artists in 3 Acts (W.W. Norton & Co 2014) $19.06 e-book $12.99 at 448 pages

Public Art Archive is a project to put collections of public art online in databases so as to share what’s happening and make them more visitable. Included in the database is Mitsu Overstreet, Regeneration (2008) City of El Paso acrylic painted murals at 200 Raynolds Street, El Paso west of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Building, Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, and east of University Medical Center of El Paso, El Paso Children’s Hospital, and Texas Tech University Physicians Clinics, on the campus of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso


Movement of the Bruno sculpture to the Texas Tech University College of Architecture has been postponed to late January 2015. If you wish to see it now at its current location, travel to Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and 66th Street. It’s just east of the rental house on the northeast corner of the intersection.


Garrison Keillor has another book of poems published titled O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic and Profound (Grove Press 2013) Texas Tech Library PS3561.E3755 O9. One of them is Thong Song

Thong Song
To people raised in a railroad shack
It is known as your butt crack.
To people who are more verbally deft
It is known as the gluteal cleft.
Either way, it’s at the bottom of your back
Between the one on the right and the one on the left.
Some ladies’ swimwear of slender heft
Displays freely the gluteal cleft.
On this matter, my mind is shut:
Don’t walk around showing off your butt
Please desist at least
Until I am deceased.
Your gluteal cleft, I must insist,
Should be seen by your dermatologist
When treating a rash, or cyst,
And nobody else. No daughter of mine
Wears thongs. That’s the bottom line. ABE Books good condition $3.70 incl s&h


The Turner Prize 2014 went to Duncan Campbell a video maker who presented a nearly one hour pompous harangue masquerading as art. It was the same film he showed on behalf of Scotland at the Venice Biennale. It is somewhat boring, not a good thing for art.


Plagiarism is always a problem on high school and college campuses. One of the ways educators react is to use Turnitin software to assess a document the teacher/professor questions for originality. The program has a database of 337 million student papers, many current and archived web pages from the Internet, and a host of academic publications. The assessment then prints a report that shows similar text in specific locations and the teacher/professor takes the problem from there, usually by showing the report to the student who turned in the questioned document. Want to know more? Kimberly Vardeman will explain and demonstrate the Turnitin software on January 13, 2015 at noon in the Texas Tech University Library Instruction Laboratory Room 150.


Michael Paglia & John Edwards, Texas Abstract: Modern/Contemporary (Fresco Books 2014) 248 pages $57.30 at The authors are both professional art curators so this book promises to be wonderful.

Camille Paglia, Sex Art and American Culture: Essays (20 of them) (Vintage Books 1992) Abe Books good $3.35 incl s&h 337 pages Texas Tech Library E169.12.P33


Chicago, the Third Coast, and Architecture books of interest include:

American Institute of Architects Guide to Chicago (eds. Alice Sinkevitch & Laurie McGovern Petersen, University of Illinois Press 3rd ed. 2014) $25.21 e-book $16.99 – recent buildings by local architects include Studio Gang Architect’s Aqua Tower on the cover and Poetry Foundation by John Ronan Architects – in this excellent guide book. Texas Tech Architecture Library NA735.C4 A43

Jay Pridmore, Building Ideas: An Architectural Guide to the University of Chicago (University of Chicago Press 2013) $18.93 e-book $11.43 – this is an architectural history of the university but it curiously omits the Smart Museum of Art designed and built in 1974 by Chicago born architect Edward Larrabee Barnes

Chicagoisms: The City as Catalyst for Architectural Speculation (ed. Alexander Eisenschmidt, Park Books 2013) $28.34 the book is one of the freshest recent books on architecture in Chicago, one that inspired the Art Institute exhibition of the same name, in which some voices from the book use the essays as frameworks for speculating on Chicago’s future evolution Texas Tech Architecture Library NA735.C4 C44

Planning Chicago (eds. D. Bradford Hunt & Jon B. DeVries, American Planning Association Planners Press 2013) $22.36

Thomas L. Dyja, The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream (Penguin Press 2013) paper $14.23 e-book $7.99


Kurt Beers, 100 Painters of Tomorrow (Thames & Hudson 2014) at 288 pages $42.69 Texas Tech Library ND196.2.B44


Merry Christmas readers

Arts History Update for mid December 2014

9 Dec

Arts History Update for mid December 2014 by David Cummins

Edward Snowden 31 years of age, did an honest good thing that was a criminal law felony and a violation of his employment oath. What should it cost him, and what benefit should he receive? What did his revelation of universal snooping on Americans by the National Security Agency, denied officially and publicly whenever the query was raised, cost the U.S. government? We have not been told. The NSA universal data collection on American communications continues, most of it just storage of trillions of bits of telephonic and computer data that has never been looked at by a human being and never will, in order for NSA to cull the fact of communication between “persons of interest” and the secret gaining of search warrants to yield the content of those few communications.

He fled in 2013 and sought refuge in Ecuador but before that could be obtained, voluntarily went to Moscow where he is in residence as a temporary asylum. Federal charges were filed against him The U.S. government soon responded to Snowden’s disclosures legally. On June 14, 2013, federal prosecutors charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified intelligence with an unauthorized person. The last two charges fall under the Espionage Act.

He said that he wants to return to the United States but not to be tried and found guilty of treason and imprisoned or executed. Clemency, requested, has not been offered by the U.S. Government.

Is all the value and deficit already experienced and he as an individual just a human piece of data in a much larger theatre of operations? That’s another way of saying, the U.S. Government may be content to wait him out, letting him live a life of sorts in Russia as long as he wishes. His value to Russia may have already been exhausted. Snowden says that before he left Hong Kong for Russia he disposed of all data download items. If that’s true, his next value to Russia will arrive when he wants to leave and they say yes of course, when you connect us with the disposed of data download items. If he won’t or can’t do that, he’s toast. He successfully eluded a U.S. prosecution only to find that the Gulag was brought to him in Moscow. Both Russia and the United States will wait him out.

Citizenfour (documentary film 2014) focuses on the rise of mass suspicion-less surveillance and about the dissidents including Snowden who worked to expose it. It includes filming of conversations in Hong Kong with Snowden by two Manchester Guardian reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill filmed by Laura Poitras. The documentary film was released for showing on October 24, 2014 and is being seen across the nation and planet, but not yet in Lubbock.

Most Americans don’t object to the CIA Central Intelligence Agency and DIA Defense Intelligence Agency performing surveillance on communications by foreign nationals abroad or even when those foreign nationals are visiting in the United States. That includes high government officers of other countries, to whom our nation occasionally makes a formal and public apology for surveiling them, but then continues to surveil.

Most Americans recognize that a constitutional right of U.S. citizens is the right of privacy and that is very important to them. Most Americans conceive that what the NSA is doing in its surveillance program on Americans is a violation of Americans right of privacy, but that isn’t necessarily true, and public media blaring of it doesn’t make it true. For example, to the extent that NSA has directed AT&T to isolate trillions of communication data into a storage repository accessible to the NSA, and AT&T has dutifully done so, there may be no violation of anyone’s privacy. When and if NSA or any government agency or contractor culls that data and isolates a communication by John Doe, a specific individual and American citizen, the right of privacy of John Doe becomes pertinent. Naturally the NSA wants to surveil first and ask questions about rights later, if at all, because at that initial point the NSA doesn’t have probable cause to believe that John Doe has committed a crime or done anything illegal. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court receives a petition by NSA to surveil and the Court responds with an approval that is public but uninformative and all the supporting documents with names and dates are secret. All the ensuing surveillance of John Doe’s communications either violates his right of privacy or is warranted and justified by national security and criminal law, but no one knows it happened so it can’t be tested by the Court that approved the surveillance or anyone else to determine if a right of privacy was or was not violated. We have been told that there is a “minimization procedure” conducted by the FBI and CIA toward reducing the extent of surveillance on American citizens’ communications and focusing more intently on those of foreign nationals. Here again there is no way for John Doe or anyone to test those procedures.

A conundrum appears: to be effective it must be secret, to be secret it must be allowed. What have the American people allowed? Their elected representatives senators and two presidents, acting on their behalf, have allowed a system of surveillance to exist with no responsibility or accountability to the citizens, those surveilled and those not surveilled. Frankly, that “allowance” is too lacking in substance to endure as an allowance by three hundred million people who are citizens. If their consent is meaningful to the president and legislators, the president and legislators must do a better job on this.

I would say more but, in my 80th year and of a group that lived through the Great Depression and World War II, we have a more serious notion of the responsibilities of public service than is observed in most legislators today. Precious little is politics to us and that little has become anything but precious.

The Cistercian Arts: From the 12th to the 21st Century (transl. Joyce Myerson, eds. Terryl N. Kinder & Roberto Cassanelli, McGill-Queen’s University Press 2014) exquisitely illustrated study of the spiritual and cultural aspects of the Cistercian world. $50.09 hardcover The phenomenon of the Cistercian Order occupies a key place in the history of Western culture as it grew to dominate reformed European monasticism in the high middle ages. The transition from the Romanesque to Gothic styles occurred in the twelfth century when the order was expanding most dramatically. With sharp, clean lines, and minimal decor, its architecture was designed to reflect the simplicity and austerity required for this experiment in monastic life. An important reference work, The Cistercian Arts offers insights into a contemplative order that expanded from its modest origins in the Burgundian heartland to encompass six continents. Under the supervision of Terryl Kinder and Roberto Cassanelli, the theological and spiritual aspects and material culture of the Cistercian world are analyzed in depth by more than thirty international specialists in a forty-chapter overview. Music, libraries, water management, metallurgy, farming, liturgical arts, sacred reading, and many other facets of monastic life are traced from the founding of the order in 1098 to the present day. While the Cistercian Order grew to include approximately 1,700 abbeys for men and women, it did not end with the middle ages, and architecture was not its only manifestation. This exquisitely illustrated volume shows how the many arts created by and for Cistercian abbeys continued well beyond the medieval period. 432 pages.


Since the Great Recession struck the United States in 2007 the median wage for people between ages 25 and 34, adjusted for inflation, has fallen in every major industry except heath care; e.g. manufacturing, professional and business, retail and wholesale, and leisure and hospitality. What this means is that wage growth for this demographic fails to keep up with inflation. As hard as they work, they don’t get ahead. They feel no improvement in their lives from working. Their economic and social patterns of behavior are beginning to reflect this phenomena and we don’t like the disconnect with the rest of American society and what it portends for the future. The median wage for the youngest workers ages 18-24, not so high to begin with, has also fallen but not as much. Forty percent of this demographic is attending college or its equivalent schooling/training and not fully employed so not reflected in a median wage statistic.

This is a median. Those below the median are worse off. Those well above the median are the highly skilled for whom employers are bidding and wages rise, and those people are experiencing the opportunity on which our economy is modeled in terms of labor input for production of goods and services. At best they are 20 percent of the demographic, so the model fails for 80 percent. That is crucial and must be addressed by our economic and government leaders.

Are they addressing it? Just saying [hortatory application of blame] that public school districts and community college applied technology programs should do a better job of providing skills for young people, is not addressing the problem. Reducing the income and franchise taxes of employers [tax credits] in exchange for improving those firms’ employment patterns, hasn’t worked, and should be stopped. It is corporate welfare that doesn’t benefit the public interest. What does work or can work if tried?

One approach would be to assess the needed but unmet services in rural America, and offer young people with skills the opportunity to perform such services. The opportunity to receive a government grant to support the young person moving to the rural community and providing those services as an entrepreneur, is a win-win for both the rural community that will bid for the person’s service as a new member of the community, and the young person whose net income will be greater than his/her dead-end wage in urban America.

Why don’t our economic and government leaders try this approach? There is a clear public interest to be served, and I’ve identified the funding source as the closed down corporate welfare. What is left but the will to try this approach?


An exhibit The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920 at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts February 12- May 24, 2015, at Chrysler Museum of Art June 16 – September 6, 2015, at Reynolda House Museum of American Art October 1, 2015 -January 3, 2016 has a catalogue book The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement (ed. Anna O. Marley, University of Pennsylvania Press 2015) 264 pages hardcover $45 $31.21

Richard R. Brettell & Frances Fowle, American Impressionism: A New Vision, 1880-1900 (ed. Katherine M. Bourguignon, Editions Hazan 2014) $32.73 Texas Tech Library ND210.5.I4 A39 at 155 pages. Brettell is an art professor at University of Texas at Dallas


Dance + Fashion (ed. Valerie Steele, Yale University Press 2014) 368 pages $50 ABE Books new $34.30 $14.26 is the catalogue book for an exhibit by that name at The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York September 13 – January 3, 2015 The Fashion Institute of Technology is located at West 27th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues in Manhattan, New York City.
Dress and adornment have long played an important role in the visual allure of dance, and fashion designers have often been inspired by the way dancers look. The tutus and pointe shoes of the Romantic ballerina, for example, have influenced designers from Christian Dior to Christian Louboutin. Cristóbal Balenciaga was inspired by the drama of flamenco, Yves Saint Laurent by the Orientalism of the Ballet Russes, and Rick Owens by the dynamism of African-American steppers. Fashion designers are also increasingly collaborating with choreographers to create stylish new dance costumes—from the “bump” dresses by Comme des Garçons for Merce Cunningham to Valentino’s “Bal de Couture” designs for New York City Ballet.
Lavishly illustrated with both contemporary and historical images, the book features essays by ten fashion experts who explore various aspects of the reciprocal relationship between dance and fashion, from the liberating effects of the tango to the influence of ballet on Japanese girl culture. Designers featured include Leon Bakst, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons, Christian Dior, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Halston, Barbara Karinka, Isaac Mizrahi, Rodarte, Yves Saint Laurent, Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, Valentino, and Iris Van Herpen.

This beautiful book explores for the first time the synergy between dance and fashion, and is an original and inspired contribution to the study of both art forms


Off the Beaten Path bookstores in Lubbock include:

Dan’s Dollar Bookstore 4409 50th Street, associated with Books In Demand in San Marcos Texas

The Book Rack 5302 Slide Road Suite C

The Last Book Store 3203 34th Street owned by Lane Anderson who operates Cloudstone Photography next door

Hastings Books Music Video and Games 8209 Slide Road and 3249 50th Street

Hester’s Books 3504 34th Street

Brother John’s Catholic Books & Gifts 1102 Slide Road

The Odyssey 4210 82nd Street Suite 216

Red & Black College Bookstore 2400 Glenna Goodacre Boulevard

Double T Bookstore 3204 4th Street and 1103 University Avenue

Varsity Bookstore 1305 University Avenue

Purchase in Lubbock online from Friends of the Lubbock Public Library at ABE Books and here is the list of FOL books currently purchasable at ABE Books

The beaten path is Barnes & Noble either at Texas Tech in the Student Union Building or at the South Plains Mall 6707 Slide Road

Spending time in any book store is enjoyable, and more so if coffee tea and pastry is available, always satisfying customers at Barnes & Noble. Don’t you hope the new Godeke Branch Library 5034 Frankford Avenue will have coffee tea and pastry for customers?