Arts History Update for early October 2015

6 Oct

Arts History Update for early October 2015 by David Cummins

Agave Dreams is a public art sculpture installed in July 2015 in front of the entrance to the Biology Building at Texas Tech University.


Celts Art and Identity is a stupendous exhibit at The British Museum September 24 – January 31, 2016 descriptions of Celtic history and images of art on the website are fascinating.


During National Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 – October 15 the Texas Historical Commission offers a digital video tour titled Hispanic Texas: Journey from Empire to Democracy Lubbock locations on the tour are Aztlan Park National Ranching Heritage Center and Texas Tech University campus architecture


Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre isn’t regularly available but when it arrives there are two opportunities. On Friday – Saturday evenings at 6:30 pm October 23 – 24 the Back Door Diner restaurant at 1212 Avenue K at Broadway Street hosts a dinner and a play “A Party to Murder” $30 per person. Reservations by phone 806-762-1088 or e-mail Trish Varnell is owner manager of the diner that is regularly open Monday through Friday 11:00 am – 2:00 pm for lunch or for raspberry tea and a dessert.

On Thursday evening at 7:00 pm November 19 the Texas Tech Student Activities Board hosts a dinner and a play “The Science of Murder” free with student identification but unknown price for the public at Texas Tech Student Union Building Ballroom. Telephone 806-742-4708 or e-mail for information.


The ethical and moral lapse by San Antonio high school football players was disappointing but we now know that a major multinational corporation Volkswagen has for years been rigging its emissions controls testing so as to meet European and United States standards during the tests but the software installed by Volkswagen then turned off those controls at all other times, i.e. while the car was being driven by its owner, with the result that the company claimed its diesel cars met emission standards but actually the cars emitted 10 times more up to 30 times more nitrogen oxides than were permitted by government standards. All of this was intentional so Volkswagen then lied about what it was doing for years. United States emission tests on 482,000 Volkswagen diesel cars were rigged. When Environmental Protection Agency regulators began asking questions to Volkswagen in March 2014, those lies to a federal agency could land the liars a “turn in the dock” since lying to investigators is obstruction of justice and a felony crime.

Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn resigned on Wednesday September 23 after watching a 30% decline in the stock price of the company’s shares and suffering the ire of car owners who feel betrayed and now have cars worth less than before the scandal broke. The fact is that the company can’t immediately fix the problem because its engineers still haven’t figured out how to meet the emissions standards. EPA has ordered Volkswagen to fix all American car owners’ cars at Volkswagen’s expense, not in any part the car owners’ expense. We may expect huge fines to be levied against Volkswagen after it has done the required engineering and fixed the emissions controls on already sold cars.

This is not how capitalism is supposed to work. The long-term effects of such willful falsity will play out over the next several years.


Unbranded (2015) is a documentary film of a five month six day trek by four Texas A&M University graduates and buddies, each one 23 years of age, who trained sixteen Mustang horses in 2013 and then rode from the Arizona Mexico border to the United States Canada border. It was released in April 2015 at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival in Toronto Canada and will be formally released at the Milwaukee Film Festival on September 29, 2015. It’s available on the website for $15 The four young horsemen are Ben Thamer, Amarillo, Ben Masters, Houston, Thomas Glover, Houston, and Jonny Fitzsimmons, San Antonio. The film will be shown October 28 in College Station Texas at the George H.W. Bush Theater on campus. It will be shown October 15 in Conroe Texas at the Grand 14 Theater October 1 in Sulphur Springs Texas at Starplex Cinemas 6, from September 25 in Dallas Texas at The Studio Movie Grill, and from September 25 in Houston Texas at AMC Studio 30. It was shown in Ben Thamer’s home town Amarillo on September 12 and 24, 2015 at the Globe-News Center Theater.

Here is the trailer

These guys seem young to have a bucket list, and what an item to put on the list, let’s find wild mustangs captured by the federal government Bureau of Land Management, train sixteen of them for riding and pack animals and then let’s head out from the southern border of Arizona to Alberta Canada. We could just maybe make it in six months, right? This is a roadless road trip.

If this seems like a nostalgia nineteenth century experience, perhaps you’d like a

21st century experience with the new music and sounds technology that will be discussed by the founder and CEO of the Sound Cloud audio distribution system Mr. Alexander Ljung speaking with John Seabrook about the future of music and technology. Friday October 2, 2015 at 8:00pm EDT at One World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City $50 per person to attend If you miss this event surely we can pick it up later on You Tube or TED Talks or another platform that specializes in alerting us to future technologies.


Banned Books Week is September 27 – October 3, 2015. Hope you read something dangerously, impulsively and without anyone’s permission. American Library Association keeps track of such things. Here is a list of the most often restricted books in 2014 in the United States and I had not read any of them. I had read other books by two of the authors. One of the books for 2013 surprised me. It’s Bless Me Ultima (1972) by Rudolfo Anaya that is quite often used in high schools around the country and particularly in the Southwest. It’s probably not possible for a New Mexico high school student to graduate without having read and discussed one or another book by Anaya who is a literary elder statesman in New Mexico. Anaya is 77 years of age, was born in Pasturas New Mexico where Bless Me Ultima is set, and holds the United States Medal of the Arts, American Books Awards, and New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. Pasturas is on the western edge of the Llano Estacado southwest of Santa Rosa New Mexico and just west of the Pecos River. It was sheepherding country or pastores culture when Anaya was born and grew up. It may still be that.


About 9:00 pm Sunday September 27, 2015 in the eastern sky we saw a lunar eclipse of a full moon, a Harvest Moon because it was the first full moon after the autumnal equinox. More special, this Harvest Moon was in its perigee orbit (closest point to planet Earth) rather than in its apogee orbit (farthest point to planet Earth). Accordingly, the moon was huge to our eyes as regular moon gazers and therefore a Super Moon. Finally, there was an eclipse beginning at 7:11 pm CDT (dimming of light of moon) to 9:07 pm (Earth’s shadow beginning to cover moon) to 10:15 pm (Earth’s shadow beginning to uncover moon). The visible moon during the measured eclipse was a reddish or copper-colored hue so this moon is affectionately known as a Blood Moon. The last Super Moon Blood Moon was in 1982 and the next one is scheduled for 2033.


The Bankhead Highway (1920) from Washington DC to San Diego California was the first all weather transcontinental highway for vehicles. In Texas it went from Texarkana to El Paso, a precursor to US Highway 80 and Interstate Highway 20. A Military Convoy of historic vehicles is crossing the country right now and one can follow it on the radio Texas Historical Commission has an interview with the executive officer of the Convoy

Military Vehicle Preservation Association MVPA organized and executed the Convoy. They are planning a Route 66 convoy for 2017.




Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One (transl. Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions 2012) The Story of a New Name, Book Two (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Book Three (2014) and The Story of the Lost Child, Book Four (2015) all as e-books for $10 each. As realist literature they are the story of two friends from Naples in post-war Italy, Elena and Lila, over a sixty year period of time. In magical realism terms they are the story of Italy, the nation, and highly recommended. Read them in order please. Ferrante is a feminist, and when asked what one thing readers should take away from her books she replied “that even if we’re constantly tempted to lower our guard, out of love, or weariness, or sympathy, or kindness, we women shouldn’t do it. We can lose from one moment to the next everything that we have achieved”.

Previous novels were The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter.

Ferrante is a pseudonym or pen name for an author who studiously avoids publicity and fame. She does not want to be a celebrity.


On Sunday September 27, 2015 a boat left Bodum Turkey bound for Kos Greece after dark with Syrian refugees aboard. It capsized, none of the people reached Kos, and 17 died and 20 people survived. Three of the dead were members of Abdullah Kurdi’s family from Kobani Syria. His wife Rehan and their two children Aylan age 3 and Galip age 5 died

. Aylan’s corpse washed up on a Turkish beach near Bodrum and the photographic picture made news outlets throughout the world. Abdullah swam back to the Turkish shore and safety. Except for the fact that they were refugee migrants they could have taken a 1 hour 34 minute ferry in daylight from Bodrum to Kos.

The family lived in Kobani east of Allepo Syria and entered Turkey to the north, and then made their way west along the Mediterranean coast to Bodrum where they sought to enter the European Union by getting to Greece. Their ultimate goal was to go to Canada. Illegal and undocumented emigration is a dangerous activity.

Historians tells us that Bodrum Turkey was the home of Herodotus 484 BCE – 425 BCE when the city’s name was Halicarnassus and that the island and city of Kos Greece was the home of Hippocrates 460 BCE – 370 BCE, a physician and often thought of as the father of physicians including contemporary ones who take a Hippocratic Oath when entering the profession.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis involves hundreds of thousands of people but it is also a personal story for named specific individuals. On Friday October 2 Robert Zaretsky Ph.D. and Professor of French History in the Honors College at University of Houston, spoke at Texas Tech. His topic was The View From Bodrum: Reflections on the Syrian Refugee Crisis, The European Response, and Imagining the Laments of Herodotus. It was a very enjoyable experience to listen to such a fine scholar and public intellectual and to see him so engaged with current events, framing them with events in history. He does not provide a solution for current event problems, but he certainly enhances our understanding of their context.


The ageless Willie Nelson will be at the Lea County Event Center in Hobbs New Mexico at 7:30 pm on Sunday November 29, 2015.


The Homecoming Parade at Texas Tech University is 6:00 pm Friday October 9 beginning at First Baptist Church on Broadway Street and going west on Broadway into the University, then south on Akron Avenue, then west on 18th Street to Flint Avenue. Free event.


South Plains Food Bank at 4612 Locust Avenue in Lubbock since 1983, will move into its new building at 56th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in January 2016, courtesy of a multi-million dollar grant by the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Trust. I took a hard hat tour of the nearly finished building on Tuesday October 6, 2015 and it will be 65,000 square feet of space dedicated to feeding the hungry in the South Plains and even nearby communities beyond. It’s a business, a charity, a mission, a calling. It saves lives, maintains lives, perpetuates lives across and beyond hard times into better times and a better future for vulnerable and desperate people. It is successful because everyone in the South Plains knows about it, buys in, is invested, owns it, contributes to it, volunteers for it, and makes a space for it in their lives. It is a community’s way and agent for extending a helping hand when that is so urgently needed.

It’s not yet scheduled but likely in March or April 2016 there will be an advertised grand opening of the new South Plains Food Bank. Put a note on your calendar and be there.


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