Arts History Update for mid February 2016

4 Feb

Arts History Update for mid February 2016 by David Cummins

TED Talk Interview with Martine Rothblatt is 21 minutes in length recorded March 2015. She trans-gendered at age 40 from Martin Rothblatt to Martine. She’s very smart and wealthy, being a co-founder of Sirius XM Satellite Radio, thereafter founded and currently operates United Therapeutics Pharmaceutical Company producing so-called “orphan drugs”, and she’s now digitizing the characteristics of a human mind and personality creating a mind file for a singular human being [starting with her wife Bina] encapsulating the mind file in a robotic machine [Bina48] that exists and can exist long after the human body of that person fails. One might call it digital immortality of a human being. She carries on this latest project through Terasem Movement Foundation Inc. In addition to the technological aspects of the work, Terasem is a justification for being or becoming a trans-humanist and that means a spiritual attitude about who we are and why we are, apart from an ineffable creator God from before the time of Abraham.

Most people would stop and ask why we would want to implant our minds and persona into a digital mind file encapsulated in a robotic machine, but Martine Rothblatt jumps way ahead to a final destination of eternal life robot style with each robot being a singular individual. She wants that and she wants us to want that. Frankly, I’m not convinced that I should want that, and do not presently want that.

Martine writes about “bringing mind-clones from chatbot infancy to human simulacra”. Terasem is a faith with four tenets “life is purposeful, death is optional, God is technological, and love is essential”. On inquiry as to why that is so, she replied “for us God is in-the-making by our collective efforts to make technology ever more omnipresent, omnipotent and ethical. When we can all joyfully experience techno immortality, then God is complete”.

Maybe she’s right but I respectfully disagree. She essentially gives up on human beings and the present, and puts all of her faith and hopes into a future without the human beings who’ve been so destructive and harsh in our present world. She privileges the techno future over the present and discredits every human created institution except those she created. She’s a rank pessimist and I’m an optimist. Sure, Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin were bad guys and together accounted for more than 25 million deaths, but we survived them and are still struggling to make good productive lives for ourselves and our progeny. For me humanity has not come a cropper. I haven’t given up on us or the present. Good luck to Martine Rothblatt and all experimenters and explorers. I also want to progress to a better future but I see it for human beings with our defects and foibles as well as our good character, industriousness and generosity.


Relatively inexpensive lithographs from major artists are sometimes available, as these from ABE Books This is a reputable source and if, after receiving a lithograph, you were to handsomely frame it, you’d have a very enjoyable piece of art.


Pontiac Michigan Silverdome inflatable roof structure hosted a NFL National Football League Super Bowl XVI football game in the dead of winter 34 years ago. Today, the $80 million structure lays in ruins and was sold for $580,000, less than what the buyer will pay to raze the structure, remove the utilities and debris, bulldoze the site, and prepare it for land development as something else From big dreams and promotion to dust decay and ruins, it reminds us of Emperor Nero’s dismissive statement “let them have their bread and circus”.

Los Angeles is giddy about getting the St Louis Rams to come back home to Los Angeles and the plans for the new stadium in which it will play are audacious. Ground was broken in January 2016 for City of Champions Stadium in Inglewood three miles from LAX Los Angeles International Airport Construction costs are estimated at $2.66 billion. [not a typo, 2.66 billion dollars]

The City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and other governmental agencies “will give away the store” to get the Rams to play ball here and have a world class event center. The package has not yet been agreed upon or disclosed.


The annual Lubbock Arts Festival is April 16-17. 2016 Saturday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday noon – 5:00 pm with a Premiere evening at 6:00 – 9:00 pm on Friday April 15. Venue is Lubbock Memorial Civic Center at 1501 Mac Davis Lane, Lubbock. Call the office of Lubbock Arts Alliance 806-744-2787 or e-mail with your donation and/or your offer to volunteer for the event.

Premiere Night will honor longtime supporter of the arts Evelyn Davies. She is a donor of art collections and funds to support their display at Texas Tech Museum, in particular the Diamond M Collection [Evelyn’s maiden surname was McLaughlin] and the William C. and Evelyn M. Davies Gallery of Southwest Indian Art. Featured artist is Texas Tech University professor and sculptor Von Venhuizen. John Erickson author of Hank the Cowdog will perform as will Mexico 2000 Ballet Folklorico company.

A not to be missed annual event.


In southeast Oregon the armed militia occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge compound by more than 150 people heated up on Tuesday afternoon January 26 when Oregon State Police and FBI agents intercepted a group of militia occupants in their vehicle on U.S. Highway 395 headed to John Day, Oregon 70 miles north of Burns. The group resisted arrest and shots were fired from the vehicle. Fire was returned and LaVoy Finicum, often the militia spokesman to the press, died with his weapon in his hand. Five others were arrested including Ammon Bundy, his younger brother Ryan Bundy, Shawna Cox, Ryan Waylen Payne and Brian Cavalier. Later that day in Burns Oregon two militia occupants Peter Santilli and Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy were discovered and arrested. The arrested persons were transported to Portland Oregon and taken into custody. Another militia occupant Jon Ritzheimer, who had left the compound earlier, surrendered himself to the FBI in Arizona.

The day’s activity ended with one dead and eight militia occupants captured, arrested and in custody. Criminal charges are being filed against them.

The Oregon State Police and FBI continue to set up roadblocks on area highways and are trying to interdict supplies for the compound and to arrest those militia occupants who want to approach the roadblocks. Authorities have not closed off utilities to the site so it’s possible for occupants to survive.


We all know that it’s difficult to live with failure, but should success as a museum be this costly? Museum of Modern Art, New York City MoMA now admits umpteen millions of people to its galleries annually, has expanded its collection by 40% in recent years, includes performance art regularly into its programs, has a burgeoning paid membership, and is riddled with success yet its recent expansion and renovation plans have been cut back to remove the most interesting and inviting aspects of the architectural plan. Construction begins in February 2016 on the $390 million project


Art21 has a new executive director since its founding and initial director for 17 years passed away Its programs to introduce the most stunning of contemporary art media and connect art with the 21st century experience, proceed apace. We’ve been watching the Peabody Award-winning PBS broadcast television series ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century. A new season starts in Fall 2016 Here are some previews, clips and episodes to watch online

The Art Assignment by PBS Digital Studio is another television show worth watching

National Gallery of Art London England is another series


Here is the story of Texas Tech football running back Timmy Smith 1986 who went to the NFL and two and one half years later was out of football after a brief show of brilliance. A drugs dealing conviction put him into a federal prison. They still remember him in Hobbs New Mexico and Midland Texas.


Demuth Museum Lancaster Pennsylvania is a museum of paintings located in the artist’s former studio and home at 120 E. King Street. Charles Demuth 1883-1935 studied and painted in Philadelphia, New York City, Provincetown Massachusetts, Paris France, Bermuda and of course Lancaster PA. The Demuth Tobacco Shop operated by his family since 1770 was next door at 118 E. King Street. Demuth was an American Modernist and more specifically a Precisionist or partial stage Cubist.

Portrait of Louise Michaelis (1907) demonstrates that he understood and mastered the Impressionism techniques, but it was not to be his passion. The Bay # 4 (1912) that he understood and mastered the French painters style known as the Fauves or “wild beasts” who gathered around Henri Matisse. At Marshall’s (1915) that he understood and mastered abstraction expressionism.

On a trip to New York City he gathered with fellow artists, writers and intellectuals in the newly emerging jazz clubs, hotel cafes, and basement bars. At Marshalls depicts artists Marcel Duchamp, Edward Fisk and Marsden Hartley in the jazz bar of the Marshall Hotel. Stairs, Provincetown (1920) demonstrates his expressionism and cubist pairing as does Sail: In Two Movements (1919) and Trees and Barns Bermuda (1917) and He met Georgia O’Keeffe and in tribute to her style painted Irises (1925) so gorgeous that it could be passed off as an O’Keeffe.

His precisionist partial cubist technique is demonstrated by I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (1928) a tribute to William Carlos Williams the poet, and it is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Williams’s one sentence poem The Great Figure is “Among the rain and lights I saw the figure 5 in gold on a red firetruck moving tense unheeded gong to gong clangs siren howls and wheels rumbling through the dark city.”

In the 1920s Demuth became obsessed with the relics of the Industrial Revolution and the straight lines its architecture used when nature seemed to be all about curving lines. His precisionist masterpiece is My Egypt (1927) a face on view of a two silo grain elevator in his hometown Lancaster Pennsylvania. He suppressed every brushstroke or gesture. The vertical lines speak of the weight of commerce and industry. He was aware of the Egyptology mania that struck America after Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. He looked at the twin pale silo shafts and pedimented cap of the grain elevators and called the painting My Egypt (1927) on view at Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City

Barbara Haskell, Charles Demuth (Whitney Museum of American Art 1987) 240 pages Texas Tech Library ND 237.D36 A4

Betsy Fahlman, Pennsylvania Modern: Charles Demuth of Lancaster

(Philadelphia Museum of Art 1983)

Betsy Fahlman, Chimneys and Towers: Charles Demuth’s Late Paintings of Lancaster (Amon Carter Museum 2007)

Letters of Charles Demuth, American Artist 1883-1935 (ed. Bruce Kellner, Temple University Press 2000) Texas Tech Library ND 237.D36 A3

Robert Hughes, American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America (Alfred A. Knopf 1997) 648 pages Lubbock Public Library 709.73 H894A


The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities William D. Adams visited Texas for three days on December 6-8, 2015 and on the final day announced three grants from the Endowment for $500,000, for $168,000 and for $12,000


The Sundance Film Festival 11 day run is over and a major prize-winner is The Birth of a Nation (2015) directed by Nate Parker, a slave revolt story, and Fox Searchlight just paid $17.5 million for distribution rights. At this time of year in 2017 will it be a nominee for an Oscar?

Doesn’t hurt to have stuff on our radar.


New Art Museums this year 2016, a year to take note ……….

1. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art SFMoMA has a $305 million addition that brings its space to 460,000 square feet, three times the size of MoMA New York City. This ten story colossus on the Left Coast doubles the footprint of the original building designed by Mario Botta. It’s scheduled to reopen on May 14, 2016 and locals will croon “west coast, best coast, baby”.

2. Not actually an art museum but close by is Les Caves du Louvre in Paris France. This wine bar, wine tasting and wine-making classes venue, winery tour site is housed in an 18th century cellar. It’s gorgeous and groovy!

3. Also not actually an art museum is Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The trippy, skeletal shaped museum is dedicated to contemporary science like emerging technologies, climate change, and biodiversity. It’s sited on a plaza on Guanabana Bay, a destination in itself regardless of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

4. Singapore took its former Supreme Court building and City Hall building and joined them by a $380 million project to create The National Gallery of Singapore. It opened in November 2015 and is twice the size of London’s Tate Modern. It houses the largest collection of Southeast Asia art.

5. Faena Forum will open this Fall in Miami Florida with a lecture hall, performing arts theater, and exhibit spaces. Rem Koolhass’s architectural team provides us with an updated NYC Guggenheim style building, new and contemporary enough but with a shout back to Frank Lloyd Wright.

6. Louvre Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates is a structure floating on a $19.4 billion island in the Persian Gulf. I’m not writing science fiction, that’s the short accurate statement of what happened in this playground for the super rich. It’s a futuristic domed structure that opens later this year where there is 260,000 square feet for permanent and temporary art installations.

7. FIFA [International Federation of Football Association] World Football [Soccer] Museum will open in Zurich Switzerland in February with more than 1,000 exhibits dedicated to the sport.

8. The Folk Art Museum on the campus of China Academy of Arts, Hangzhou, China, is as much an architectural masterpiece as it is an art museum. It’s built on a former tea plantation with 53,800 square feet of space and looks like a small village of zigzagging houses, an optical illusion created by stainless steel latices and thousands of angular roof tiles. The architect is Kengo Kuma, a Japanese. There are seven galleries and craft workshops for engraving, ceramics and textiles.

9. Casa Vicens, Barcelona, Spain will open in 2016 as a public museum. It was Antonio Gaudi’s first major work and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gaudi was a surrealist architect so look for this structure to be Salvatore Dali on steroids. If you travel to Barcelona, visit Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia [unfinished Holy Family Cathedral], Parc Guell, and Casa Batllo.

10. Camera – Italian Center for Photography opened in October 2015 in Turin Italy and is a contemporary gallery in the arts district near the National Cinema Museum, the Royal Palace and the Egyptian Museum.

11. In Fall 2016 the National Museum of African American History and Culture will open on the Mall in Washington DC, a 400,000 square foot edifice five stories tall above ground and five beneath ground level. It was designed by David Adjaye. part of the Smithsonian family of museums.

12. National Blues Museum will open in April 2016 close by the Gateway Arch in St Louis Missouri. There is a stunning 150 seat theater in which to hear that musical genre.

13. Palestinian Museum, Israel will open on May 15, 2016 displaying Palestinian art and culture in a LEED certified building north of Jerusalem. $30 million was spent on this terraced complex.


I’m not a Democrat or Republican and believe that these major political parties have ill-served the nation, essentially because they stopped being political parties not long after World War II and became mechanisms for electing people [who aligned and bore their banner during an election] to public office and to remain in public office. Office holders often took positions and performed contrary to the tenets of the political party but there was no discipline and the party always kept its election mechanisms open and available. The result is now an absolute hodge podge of beliefs and actions by elected officials, and a common use of scare tactics staged confrontations with the other party or within their own party to encourage people to elect and re-elect one person in order to protect against what another person could or might do.

As an Independent or no political party affiliation person, I am sidelined in America’s system of partisan politics and of no observable significance or influence. That seems like a bad thing but at least I have my moral integrity intact. Some people forget that Independents are the majority of Americans and their votes are the deciding votes in most if not all elections. The bad news is that whoever is elected does not represent the Independents or Republicans or Democrats who elected the person to office. The office-holders are free-range politicos who do whatever they wish to do, and quickly become beholden to the lobby industry, political action committee PAC and super political action committee SUPERPAC groups, that finance their re-election campaigns and essentially serve as the office holder’s guide to the office-holding process. None of that serves the totality of the American people, or the totality of the Independents (the majority) or the Republicans (a significant minority), or Democrats (another significant minority). Money, usually a good thing, has broken our political system. Another round of money won’t and can’t fix it. Only wisdom and conscience and moral high ground can fix it.

When folks say “nothing gets done by Congress” or “the state legislature” or “the president” or “the governor” what they really mean is that our obvious and endemic distress modalities go un-redressed.

An example is the continuing rise in prescription drug prices in America while the huge and wealthy pharmaceutical manufacturing industry becomes more and more an oligopoly of a few large companies. Mergers and amalgamations have taken place without restraint amd drug prices rise as a direct consequence. Drug prices rose in America in 2014 on an average of 12%; we don’t yet know how much they rose in 2015 but it will be higher than 12%. While that number is troubling the actuality is that quite a number of drugs that are principal sources of profits within the industry, rose much more steeply, some by 1,000 percent or ten time. There is no mechanism to prevent that. Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015, 114th Congress isn’t a panacea but would take some steps toward addressing this problem. Read it for yourself. It can’t get out of committee. Fifteen huge pharmaceutical companies have an obvious economic interest in keeping it bottled up in committee. Three hundred thirty million Americans have an obvious human and economic interest in getting it subjected to hearings, amended, marked up, brought to the floor, and passed or rejected by roll call votes. “nothing happens” is a paradigm.

Would you please lay down, temporarily, your partisanship and just ask yourselves the question for the topic that most concerns you? Why doesn’t something happen, or get done, or resolved? What really is lacking and why? What would it take to reverse that?


Mary Morton, curator and head of the department of French paintings at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, recently curated an exhibit Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye at Kimbell Museum of Art, Forth Worth. She gave a lecture at the Kimbell on January 22, 2016 and it’s now up on You Tube 54 minutes in length as of February 2, 2016 under the title “Who Is Gustave Caillebotte?” There are a number of other videos on Caillebotte on You Tube channels as well.


Zika Virus, a mosquito borne virus of the dengue fever variety is now in the Western Hemisphere in South and Central America and a single case is verified in Travis County and another in Dallas County Texas. The Center for Disease Control approved flu vaccine for 2015-2016 is not effective against this virus, so if you or someone you know has fallen ill, get that person to high quality medical care immediately.®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0


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