Arts History Update for mid July 2015

10 Jul

Arts History Update for mid July 2015 by David Cummins

The stiff traditions at Wimbledon bring out my scholarly inclinations to do some research into the history of tennis. We know that a variation was played by royals and courtiers in the age of King Henry VIII of England in the 16th century but they were late arrivals to the game as it was played elsewhere in Europe in Sweden, Holland, Spain, France, Italy and Belgium in the 15th century. Turns out that tennis is not an eccentric survival of an elite pastime but rather was within the mainstream of European sport. In Vetulonia Italy it was played five to a side with the hand rather than a racket in the main square of the town, scored 15-20-40 advantage, and the territorial chase system was obtained by chalk marking-off of base and side lines and fault lines. In Friesland [Dutch Province] it was called kaatsen, in Gotland [Sweden] parkspel, in Belgium balle-pelote or balle au gant, in Valencia Spain it was called raspall, and in France it was called balle a la main or balle au tamis or longue paume.

Even in the 15th century women played, such as Margot of Hainaut who played so well and became so accomplished in Brussels that she took her game on the road to Paris where she accepted challenge and exhibition matches and won prizes and money, eventually retiring back to the Abbey of Soleilmont, Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance discussion at Roger Morgan, Tennis: The Development of the European Ball Game (Ronaldson 1995) 259 pages hardcover ABE Books very good condition $55.13; Heiner Gillmeister, Tennis: A Cultural History (New York University Press 1998) tracing the game to medieval times 452 pages Texas Tech Library GV 1002.95.E85 G5613 $29.50 new and ABE Books $12.35 good condition.


It was bound to happen and now it has. Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino Apache have thrown out the clock and are now open 24/7 one had hoped that urban customs would never enter the pristine Sacramento Mountains of the southern Rockies. Is this Geronimo’s revenge?


Camp Marfa and thereafter Fort D. A. Russell has always been hallowed ground on the southwest side of the town of Marfa Texas. Recently the deteriorating buildings on the former fort’s hospital grounds were razed and it is now a construction site. Before picture is above. Chinati Foundation headquarters is on the lower post portion of the former fort. It is the upper portion where the former hospital buildings stood in a state of deterioration but I very much enjoyed walking through the area and dreaming about soldiers who convalesced and healed in those quarters.

After picture is here

The AmVets/USO building on the former fort was restored and renovated in 2011 and became the City of Marfa Tourist Information and Convention Center. AmVets is short for American Veterans of Foreign Wars and USO is the acronym for United Services Organization that was present in many communities to host dances, movies, social gatherings of all sorts, and provide a taste of civilian life for soldiers and sailors who were far from home. A petition was filed to restore the old name AmVets/USO name to the building and another to rename it for a recent mayor of the town

There is another Fort D.A. Russell near Cheyenne Wyoming so be careful to focus on the Fort D.A. Russell at Marfa Texas. Here’s a picture of the latter’s cavalry troops parading in Marfa Texas “back in the day” and the story of Camp Marfa 1911-1930 and Fort D.A. Russell 1930-1946. Cavalry was decommissioned in 1933 to become mechanized infantry and tank battalions and that proved to be a wise decision when World War II erupted. A field artillery unit arrived to replace the cavalry troops in 1935. Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, Monument to the Last Horse (1991) in Marfa on lower post.

Marfa is sixty miles north of Presidio Texas on the border and across the Rio Grande from Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico and you will recall the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to throw out the long-serving dictator Porfirio Diaz, and Mexico didn’t settle down until 1921 after the end of the first World War. Now you see the context and need for a southern US Army installation at Marfa. Pancho Villa commanded the revolutionary Army of the North and was always of concern to American military decision-makers

The Presidio Ojinaga area is known as La Junta de los Rio because the Mexican river Rio Conchos runs into the Rio Bravo [Mexican name] Rio Grande [American name] at this point. Fort Leaton State Historic Site is just east of Presidio but Fort Leaton was never a US Army post but rather a fortified trading post


When Spaniards were finally able to elect a republican form of government sworn to redistribute land and power away from the wealthy right-wing clerical elite that had kept most Spaniards living in poverty for centuries, nationalist rebels under the command of General Francisco Franco attacked and overthrew the fragile new republican government in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Franco adopted a fascist creed and made pacts with Hitler’s Germany going so far as to invite German bombers to use Spanish stong-holds of republican opposition as target practice. This included Guernica that was bombed by Nazi aircraft and the artist Picasso would later paint the scene of horror suffered by the loyalist republicans. Guernica is in northern Spain near Bilbao on the Bay of Biscay. Franco’s Nationalists won the civil war and Franco ruled Spain autocratically until his death in 1975.

The classic contrast between a socialist Spanish Second Republic 1931-1939 and a fascist nationalist military, caused outside powers Germany Portugal and Italy to support Franco and the Soviet Union and Mexico to support the loyalists of the Second Republic. International Brigades were made up of foreigners bent on supporting the loyalist republicans and they flocked to Valencia and Barcelona and other republican strongholds for recruitment into the war. Ernest Hemingway was a war correspondent for an American newspaper in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940) is Hemingway’s story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a loyalist republican military unit. He is a dynamiter and is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the City of Segovia.

Julian Casanova & Gil Andres, Twentieth Century Spain: A History (Cambridge University Press 2014) 377 pages $85 hardcover $27 paperback $14.60 e-book

Javier Tusell, Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy: 1939 to the Present (Blackwell Pub’ns 2007) 494 pages Texas Tech Library DP 270.T835


A retired college professor continues to explore the practices and potential of higher education.

The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice (eds. Harry Brighouse & Michael S. McPherson, University of Chicago Press 2015) essays that demonstrate that higher education raises profound moral and philosophical issues and encourages faculty and students to be more conscious of the importance of those issues and to become more prepared to intellectually and personally confront them. 174 pages hardcover $85 paperback $25.46 $22 e-book

Suzanne Mettler, Degrees of inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream (Basic Books 2014) 261 pages $19.44 hardcover $ 14.57 e-book Texas Tech Library LC 173.M48

Joel Best & Eric Best, The Student Loan Mess: How Good Intentions Created a Trillion Dollar Problem (University of California Press 2014) 233 pages $22.80 hardcover $14.55 e-book Texas Tech Library electronic download

William Zumeta et al., Financing American Higher Education in the Era of Globalization (Harvard Education Press 2012) 255 pages $30 paperback $19 e-book Texas Tech Library LB 2342.F56

William G. Bowen & Eugene M. Tobin, Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Government of Higher Education (Princeton University Press 2015) 380 pages $19 hardcover $16.17 e-book Texas Tech Library electronic download. Bowen is a former president of Princeton University and Tobin a former president of Hamilton College.

Elizabeth A. Armstrong & Laura T. Hamilton, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Harvard University Press 2013) 326 pages $14.82 paperback $23 e-book Texas Tech Library electronic download

Andrew Delbanco, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton University Press 2012) 229 pages $14.19 paperback $10 e-book

Richard Arum & Josipa Roksa, Aspiring Adults Adrift: Tentative Transitions of College Graduates (University of Chicago Press 2014) 246 pages $13.36 paperback $10 e-book only one chapter provides the authors’ plan for change and it’s unsatisfying. The authors don’t admit that the world into which the matriculating graduate enters is economically, socially and politically adrift and replete with cross and counter currents. If the graduates weren’t adrift they’d have to be recluses. The real question is to what extent if at all are these graduates better able to deal and cope with the lives they enter upon? You can’t measure that by macro employment statistics.

My own experience with students and graduates from a graduate school / professional school is that their values, and their social interactions and awareness of challenges and opportunities were excellent, and they were comfortable and proud of their newly acquired competence within a profession. They were employed and employable to the extent they wished to be, and they performed well and managed their lives well or poorly and determined their own fates.

It was true then and still is true today that I noticed the adjacent undergraduate campus to be a location for a shocking amount of mindless “airhead” behaviors that embraced non-attendance at classes, academic performance at the lowest level acceptable on projects and assignments, reckless sexual activities, reckless alcohol consumption, and unethical sports fan activities. At the same time there were thousands of diligent motivated students who had to be well aware of the alternate activities but who chose to maximize their college experience. I thought the administration and faculty did a reasonably good job of promoting and supporting the latter while dealing responsibly and humanely with irresponsible student behaviors by the former group. In this free society graduates from high school are capable of making adult decisions and are allowed to do so, and when they make poor decisions they are held to account for them, and become responsible for their own behaviors, just like the rest of us. Good decisions and industrious academic pursuits yield admissions to graduate schools and employment opportunities. These life lessons were and still are on offer and in public view on campuses everywhere.

————————– This is a presentation to the March 2015 meeting of the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents by Michael Molina vice chancellor for facilities construction and planning. You will see drawings and photographs of proposed and recent art installations.


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