Arts History for mid April 2016

6 May

Arts History update for mid April 2016 by David Cummins

Aliento a Tequila is a photography exhibition that closed March 26, 2016 at the Landmark Arts Gallery of the School of Art at Texas Tech University. It was an exhibition of 39 photographs by Austin-based photographer and Texas Monthly contributor Joel Salcido documenting Mexico’s tequila culture, craft and history. Salcido was present at the closing reception. Tequila is the national drink of Mexico. Aliento means to breathe or inspire, so Aliento a Tequila can be loosely translated as the Encouragement of Tequila.

Primavera is the Don Julio Tequila Distillery at Atotonilco el Alto in the highlands of the state of Jalisco east of Guadalajara Mexico. Nearby are the Blue Weber Agave fields where the plant matures to seven, eight or nine years and then is harvested by jimadors who cut the leaves from the pina [sugar rich heart of the agave] and the leaves are taken to the distillery and boiled in vats. This distillery makes several branded tequilas e.g. Blanco Tequila, Repasado Tequila, Anejo Tequila, Anejo Claro Tequila, 1942 Tequila and Real Tequila.

West of Guadalajara on the Pacific Ocean is the coastal city of Puerto Vallarta. American tourists who have vacationed there may not have traveled to the highlands 257 miles east where the blue agave plants are grown and transformed into the national drink.

There are agave plants in many locations in Mexico and many craft people harvest and distill the leaves from the plant making tequila or mezcal of various qualities. Perhaps even more popular than the actual tequila or mezcal is the “worm” crawling around the bottom of the bottle. But the worm, or gusano, actually originated with tequila’s “lower-quality” cousin, mezcal, largely as a marketing ploy. The gusano is the larvae of a type of moth that lives on the agave plant. Tequila is double distilled and only made from blue agave plants, while Mezcal is single distilled and made from any one of five different varieties of agave. Agave plants are not a cactus plant. It’s curious how things get transformed by urban legend into something other than what they are, as if that would make them singular when what they really are doesn’t make them singular. The “worm” is not a worm, it’s a moth larvae. The agave plant is not a variety of cactus.

Both liquors are strong, about 38% alcohol or stronger. If a typical beer is about 5% alcohol by volume, one can easily see how one could get into trouble if one swigged a liquor about eight times as strong, as if it were a beer. A modest drinker would not take more than two ounces of tequila or mezcal. They are flavorful and go well with many foods.

Marfa Texas is not a secret anymore Exciting inaugural “Marfa Intensive” to take place this summer!

The School of Theatre & Dance at Texas Tech University, in conjunction with benefactor Tim Crowley, is building a program in Marfa, Texas to facilitate its students’ education in all fields of theatre. While our School of Theatre & Dance hosts a signature laboratory called Wild Wind Performance Lab, this Intensive offers us the opportunity to concentrate on devised theatre.

By its very nature, devised theatre involves almost all of our theatre practitioners, especially designers, actors, directors, playwrights and dramaturgs in the act of creating new and ensemble-built work that does not depend on a previously written text. It asks students to collaborate in the act of creating a show from idea to production, and encourages participants to broaden their skill sets.

For the first summer, TTU proposes that we bring 20 students to work in Marfa for 15 days from the end of July through the first week in August. The concentrations of these 20 students will be broken down as follows:
1. three directors
2. three playwrights
3. three designers
4. ten actors
5. one dramaturg
Loosely following the O’Neill National Theatre Institute’s Summer Theatre Maker format, these students will work from 7 am each morning until 10 pm each evening, purely in the act of making and devising theatre. We will collaborate in individual groups and as a collective simultaneously, meaning that, in the first part of the day, we will pool resources and work together on a project that will be realized on stage at the end of our time in Marfa; in the second half of our days, we will break into three random groups that will respond to prompts (short suggestions or directives that inspire writing and creative thought) to create smaller pieces that challenge the students, encouraging them to traditionally and creatively embrace the act of invention and intuition.

This summer’s guest artists include:

Rich Brown, Associate Professor at Western Washington University currently teaches psycho-physical acting, Suzuki, Viewpoints, com-media, and devising. He has published in Theatre Topics, Theatre Journal, College Teaching, The Western States Theatre Review, and the book Aesthetics & Business Ethics, and presented at six ATHE conferences on devising. He received a Bellingham Mayor’s Arts award in 2008, rfeceived a WWU prestigious Excellence in Teaching award in 2010, and the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival awarded him the National Outstanding Lead Deviser/Director of a Devised Work in 2012.

Jaston Williams has been working professionally in the theatre as a writer, actor and director for over forty-three years and is best known for his creation of and performing in the Greater Tuna plays, in venues on and off Broadway, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, National Theatre, Warner Theatre, and Fords Theatre as well as two command performances at the White House, The American Spoleto Festival, The Edinburgh International Theatre Festival in Scotland to name a few. Greater Tuna was cited as Best Texas Play of the 20th Century by Texas Monthly magazine. He is most honored to have received the Governor of Texas Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by an Actor, presented by former Governor Mark White, and is a 2013 recipient of the Texas Medal of the Arts.
Shannon Robert, Associate Professor of Theatre Design at Clemson University received an M.F.A. in scene design from Florida State University. While at FSU she participated in an international exchange with the Moscow Art Theatre Conservatory. Shannon was director of theatre and head of design at William Carey University, where she taught scene design for 14 years. After working in higher education she managed the paint/craft departments of The Spoon Group Productions in NJ/NY. While there she worked on The Grinch, Grease (and national tour), Xanadu, Legally Blonde, The Color Purple (and Chicago production), Jersey Boys (and national tour and Vegas), Spamalot (London and Vegas), Hairspray(Vegas) and Sponge Bob Squarepants (Asian tour). She received Atlanta’s 2014 Suzi Bass Award for best set design for a musical for Mary Poppins at Aurora Theatre.

Gary Garrison is the Co-Executive Director of the Dramatist Guild of America – the national organization of playwrights, lyricists, and composers headed by our nation’s most-honored dramatists. Prior to his work at the Guild, for 25 years, Garrison filled the posts of Artistic Director, Producer, Associate Chair, and full-time faculty member in the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he produced over forty-five different festivals of new work, collaborating with hundreds of playwrights, directors, and actors. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, The Playwright’s Survival Guide: Keeping the Drama in Your Work and Out of Your Life, Perfect Ten: Writing and Producing the Ten-Minute Play, A More Perfect Ten and two volumes of Monologues for Men by Men. He is on the Tony Administration Committee for the Tony Awards and the program director for the Summer Playwriting Intensive for the Kennedy Center.

The Apple / Department of Justice conflict over accessing the iPhone content of Syed Rizwan Farook, a deceased San Bernardino California terrorist, is now resolved in that the United States Government announced that it has been able to unlock this unlockable iPhone and doesn’t need or require Apple’s help Arts History Update for early March 2016 by David Cummins
I was asked what I thought about the standoff between Apple Computing Corporation and the United States Government in this case the FBI. The latter wants Apple to unlock the iPhone that was owned and used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino California shootings. Apple refuses saying that its locking of all its iPhones is a pledge to consumers of its product and it doesn’t wish to create software that would achieve an unlocking as that would jeopardize all of its phones and consumer relations.
As is so often the case, the lines drawn in the sand are not the only lines that could be drawn.
One way to achieve the quite reasonable need of the FBI to find out what was on the terrorist’s phone, mostly to find the terrorist’s connections with other terrorists and to avoid a future terrorist deadly incident and future harm, and for Apple to keep its product secure from government surveillance, is to adopt the following compromise. Apple could create unlocking software, the FBI would deliver the phone to Apple, Apple would unlock and transcribe all the information and turn the transcription over to the FBI, and Apple would return to the FBI a useless phone, and Apple would destroy its unlocking software so that all its other customers are protected and secure.
The FBI doesn’t like Apple doing the searching of the phone, it wants its own experts to do it, but one makes compromises if one respects the other party and wants to be cooperative and get the facts without interfering with Apple’s functional, legitimate and otherwise appropriate and approved business model.

That is a very unsettling outcome for Apple as all its customers now know their content can be accessed by the United States Government and it has sharing agreements with Interpol and other international agencies.

Some of us might not be so disturbed, as many think that using technology for illegal and indeed criminal activity or extreme criminal activity like homicide, shouldn’t be exempt from government and police scrutiny.

According to federal criminal law instruments, materials, and other things used in the commission of a crime become contraband, and when the police find them, they are sequestered and not returnable to their owner. The legal term for that is forfeiture of ownership by use of the item in criminal activity. That’s some legal information for you. If you start to make methamphetamines in your kitchen, you can end up losing your house. If Syed Rizwan Farook hadn’t died in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and during the prosecution of him he had asked the FBI for his iPhone back, the FBI would have declined saying “it’s sequestered, it doesn’t belong to you anymore, you used it in the commission of a federal crime”.
Mississippi Museum of Art at 380 South Lamar Street Jackson Mississippi has an exhibit When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection April 9 – October 30, 2016. This is a traveling exhibit from its home at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase New York (Westchester County above New York City) The late financier was one of the most astute art collectors of mid-20th century art and original art from 52 well-known artists appears in this exhibit.


South Plains Food Bank moved into its new location on Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard at 56th Street and is now offering the public free tours of the large building and a free lunch on the third Thursday of the month and first Tuesday of the month at noon. 5605 MLK Blvd Lubbock TX 79404 phone 806-763-3003. There is also a public free tour and breakfast on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am. To reserve a spot phone Meagan Bratton or e-mail her .
The $12 million dollar building is a gift from the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Estate Trust and the building is named as the Talkington Food Distribution Center.
Alison Weir, The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (Cape 2015 in England, Ballantine Books 2015 in USA) 542 pages Lubbock Public Library BIO LENN Adult non-fiction Texas Tech Library DA 317.8.L49 W45.

Now just a minute, let’s get the players straight: King Henry VIII of England 1491-1547 (reign 1509-1547) had an older sister Margaret Tudor 1489-1541 who was married three times and during her second marriage gave birth to Lady Margaret Douglas who later married Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox and thus became the Countess of Lennox. She is the subject of this biography by Alison Weir.

Margaret Tudor married King James IV of Scotland when Margaret was but 14 years of age in 1503 and was Queen of Scots until her husband died in 1513. She had an infant son who later became King James V of Scotland and she was Dowager Queen of Scotland and regent for her son after 1513. In 1514 she remarried Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus and they had a daughter Lady Margaret Douglas 1515-1578. Archibald Douglas and Margaret Tudor divorced in 1527 and Margaret remarried Henry Stewart, Lord Methven in 1528. Margaret Tudor died in 1541. Despite her brother’s famous contra-temp with the Papacy and his withdrawal of the realm from the Catholic Church, Margaret Tudor was a lifelong Catholic.

Lady Margaret Douglas had royal blood in her and she spent time at the English court but she was never actually a princess. Furthermore, she was never “lost” so the title of this biography is misleading at best. She was King Henry VIII’s niece and he doted over her and moved her around from place to place, even for a while into the Tower of London when he disapproved of her behavior. In 1536 at age 21 she briefly married Thomas Howard, a courtier, but he was placed in the Tower and died later that year. In 1544 at age 29 she married Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox and they had two surviving children, Henry Stuart known best as Lord Darnley who would later marry Mary Queen of Scots, and Charles Stuart who would later be Earl of Lennox. Lady Margaret Douglas remained Catholic during her uncle’s reign and was a favorite of Queen Mary of England [known as “Bloody Mary” for her killing of Protestants], who succeeded King Henry VIII. Lady Margaret’s daughter in-law Mary Queen of Scots was a constant thorn in the side and plans of Queen Elizabeth I so Lady Margaret was also suspect at all times by the Protestant Queen Elizabeth.

Indeed Queen Elizabeth was angry at Darnley’s marriage to Mary Queen of Scots on July 29, 1565 and sent Lady Margaret to the Tower until Darnley could be assassinated in 1567 and put out of the picture. However, Darnley and Mary’s son was born in 1566 and he would later become King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England in 1603 after Queen Elizabeth’s death. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Scotland by Scottish Protestant nobles later in 1567 and forced to abdicate her throne in favor of her one year old son. While her reign of Scotland is said to be 1542-1567 she was an adult and independent of regents only from 1558 to 1567. Mary tried to regain her throne but was denied and she fled south to England and the “protection” of her cousin Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant whom Mary had previously said was an illegitimate holder of the English throne. Elizabeth confined Mary former Queen of Scots in various locations for more than 18 years and finally had her beheaded in 1587 age 44 because she was involved in various plots to overthrow Elizabeth. English Catholics usually preferred Mary to Elizabeth but Elizabeth was the ruling monarch and quite adept at doing so, thereby making the preference for Mary something not to be acted upon if one were wise.

Darnley’s marriage to Mary Queen of Scots was a second marriage for Mary at age 23. She was the daughter of King James V of Scotland and thus the grand-daughter of Margaret Tudor and great grand-daughter of King Henry VII of England. Mary was only six days old in 1542 when her father King James V of Scotland died so she became the infant Queen of Scotland. She grew up and lived in France while regents ruled Scotland in her name. She married at age 15 the French Dauphin Francis in 1558 and he became King Francis II of France and Scotland in 1559 age 15 when his father died. Mary was briefly Queen of both France and Scotland while a teen-ager. Francis II died in December of 1560 so his marriage and reign was brief. The alliance of the crowns of Scotland and France was called the “Auld Alliance”. Mary remained Queen of Scotland and returned from France to Scotland.

Blanco Tequila


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