Archive | January, 2017

Arts History Update for early February 2017

30 Jan

Arts History Update for late January 2017

23 Jan

Arts History Update for late January 2017 by David Cummins

Texas Land & Cattle Company steakhouse is closed at 7202 Indiana Avenue on the southwest corner of the Loop 289 frontage road. Rumors, and they are only rumors at this point, no inside information, say that Twisted Spigot Pub & Eatery of San Diego CA will open up at this location and the corporate website confirms this so the rumors are upgraded. Still, you recall all those “HEB Supermarkets are coming to Lubbock” rumors that are now 15-20 years old and yet who in Lubbock has shopped locally at an HEB? Stay tuned …………..


Breaking News: Pacific Pro Football League is set to begin in Summer 2018. It isn’t competing with the NFL National Football League, but is an alternative development pool and training league for the NFL, an alternative to the major college football player track for players who don’t need or want the NCAA college option. It will compensate, train and identify NFL draft picks. Four teams, all based in southern California, each owned by the League and not by independent owners with multiple agendas, will play a four game schedule then playoffs and be done in seven or eight games by late August. All players will be paid equally, several hundred thousand dollars in cash, not tuition, books, residence in a college residence hall, and study guides with mentors hovering not to educate the player but just to keep him football eligible. and

For players who are not drafted or are drafted but don’t make the team, there are two present alternative employment options to play football, the Arena Football League in the United States and the Canadian Football League in Canada.

This was bound to happen as the spread offenses and college football patterns, suitable for college but at best simply counter-productive for NFL professional football, increasingly made the college experience less valid as preparation for professional football. College football players whose graduation rates were poor and who detested the public relations mask they wore as “college students”, repeatedly acted out their frustration with college processes, principles and values. I think this non-college option for compensated training to become a professional football player, is an excellent idea, long overdue.


Those of us who are fascinated by art are hungry to learn more. Essentially we’re getting an MFA Masters Degree in Fine Arts by the do it yourself DIY method without ever enrolling, paying tuition and putting our other lives on hold. Where and how can one do that, as part of our enjoyable lives?

In New York City here are some opportunities:

1. Lecture Series, New York University Institute of Fine Arts that includes a video archive of selected past lectures

2. Bruce High Quality Foundation University BHQFU, essentially a free art school and Foundation University Gallery FUG where events take place

3. Flux Factory, Long Island City in Queens

4. Pratt Institute of Fine Arts Visiting Artists Lecture Series in Clinton Hill district of Brookyln and in Manhattan on West 14th Street

5. Art and Culture Lecture Series and Professional Practice Lecture Series at New York Academy of Art

6. Silent Barn in Bushwick section of Brooklyn

7. Pioneer Works in Red Hook District of Brooklyn

7. Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

8. City University of New York York College in Jamaica section of Queens has two theater spaces and many presentations at Bassin Performing Arts Center

9. Graduate Center, City University of New York most are free events but registrations/reservations are required for accommodation reasons. Videos of past events are here

Of course all museums and some galleries have talks, curator’s or artist’s introduction to current exhibits, etc.

Upcoming on Thursday February 9 at 6:00 pm the Director of the Texas Tech University Museum Gary Morgan Ph.D. will present a free gallery talk on the In the Blood exhibit in Gallery 1. The talk is titled Form and Function of a Dog’s Breakfast [in British idiom a dog’s breakfast is a complete or confounded mess of something, only fit to be fed to dogs].

On Tuesday February 7 Garland Weeks, sculptor, will make a gallery talk on an exhibit of his sculpture at Buddy Holly Center Fine Arts Gallery 1801 Crickets Avenue. The exhibit title is Human/Animal/Allegorical: The Bronze Sculpture of Garland Weeks from December 2, 2016 through February 12 2017. The time on February 7 is in the afternoon 2:00 – 3:30 pm. Free and open to the public.


New York Times Style Magazine dated January 19 has an article by Alina Cohen 10 Places to See Public Art in 2017 and one of those is Aurora Colorado where Blessing Hancock devised a lighted metal art sculpture. At Texas Tech University in front of the West Village Residence Hall is Texas Rising by Blessing Hancock and Joe O’Connell


Christian Conrad lectured on James Ensor 1860-1949 an Ostend Belgium painter at the turn of the 20th century often referred to as an artist’s artist. He was a member of Les Vingt (The Twenty) or Les XX or Society des Vingt (The Society of the Twenty) a Belgian artists group in 1883 – 1893 post-impressionist, symbolist, expressionist styles all new and evolving and upset with the salon qualification system of displaying art that usually rejected their new and not yet fashionable paintings, so they lit out on their own to display their art in independent gallery shows.


On Sunday January 29 the Lubbock Heritage Society will conduct its annual meeting, open to the public not just members of the Society, at Bayer Museum of Agriculture 1121 Canyon Lake Drive just north of East Broadway Street as it passes by Mackenzie Park. A presentation will be made by Pam Brink and Cindy Martin on the Arch Underwood Pullman Car project and docent led tours will be conducted into and through the Car that was recently em-placed on site. The time is 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm no admission fee and refreshments are provided.


There is a life size bronze sculpture of Elmer Kelton, newspaperman and author, in Stephens Central Library, San Angelo Texas. The sculptor is Raul Ruiz This library is relocated from its former location and occupies the space of the former Hemphill-Wells department store in downtown San Angelo. The Friends of the Tom Green County Library System operates its bookstore and a cafe within the public library The location is the corner of West Beauregard Avenue and South Irving Street. Ruiz Studio & Gallery is located at 76 North Chadbourne Street about four blocks north of the Stephens Central Library. Elmer Kelton 1926-2009


Arts History Update for early January 2017

4 Jan

Arts History Update for early January 2017 by David Cummins

We on the high plains are at a distance from the sea or ocean coast to the west, east and south of our nation, and from the Great Lakes region on the north. Those places have estuaries, places where the flowing water or rivers, creeks, etc. are no longer quite rivers, and yet they are not waters in the sea or immense lake itself. There is a place in between, the estuaries, and they teem with life. Near our urban centers some estuaries are post-industrial wastelands, and contain an eerie haunted vestment of their former exceptionally busy and thriving economic life. Detritus are reminders e.g. when we see a series of pylons thrusting upward but holding up nothing. “That was a part of what, and what did it do?”

In an island nation such as England all flowing waters meander to the sea, and canals were dug and are maintained to connect many of those flowing waters. The canals are a project tended by the Inland Waterways Association. Here is a map See

Rachel Lichtenstein, Estuary: Out From London to the Sea (Hamish Hamilton 2016) $12.45 hardcover is a fascinating book. An immersive intimate journey into the world of the Thames Estuary and the people who spend their lives there. The Thames Estuary is one of the world’s great deltas, providing passage in and out of London for millennia. It is silted up with the memories and artifacts of past voyages. It is the habitat for an astonishing range of wildlife. And for the people who live and work on the estuary, it is a way of life unlike any other – one most would not trade for anything despite its dangers. Rachel Lichtenstein traveled the length and breadth of the estuary many times and in many vessels, from hardy tug boats to stately pleasure cruisers to an inflatable dinghy. And during these crossing she has gathered an extraordinary chorus of voices: mud-larkers and fishermen, radio pirates and champion racers, the men who risk their lives out on the water and the women who wait on the shore. From the acclaimed author of Brick Lane and Rodinsky’s Room, Estuary is a thoughtful and intimate portrait of a profoundly British place. With a clear eye and a sharp ear Rachel Lichtenstein captures the essence of a community and an environment, examining how each has shaped and continues to shape the other.

There is a huge cargo port project under way in Thames Estuary today near Tilbury Docks [north side of Thames opposite Gravesend in Kent on the south side], to construct another usage point in the estuary. The Hoo Peninsula immediately east of Gravesend is England’s largest nature reserve and is in the estuary only 30 miles east of central London. Rochester [southeast of Gravesend] is an ancient city Rochester on the River Medway that runs into the River Thames at the Hoo Peninsula, astride the M2 Highway. Continue east from Rochester on M2 to Canterbury and the University of Kent T.S. Eliot College where I stayed.

Lichtenstein grew up at Southend-on-Sea in Essex where the mouth of the Thames River opens into the North Sea. That is on the north side of the river mouth. I have been to Margate in Kent on the south side of the river mouth and looked outward and inward. She could see the remote World War II era sea forts across the sands, and the treacherous muddy reaches that could strand a cockleboat for hours during slack tides. Cockles (bivalves) are small edible saltwater clams. Fishermen would get in their boats and harvest cockles while the tide is out and hasten to shore to clean and prepare them for a London market. Her book is mostly about the social human history in the estuary area. There are a lot of “former” people in her book whose profession is now eccentricity. Former tug boat captains, former barge operators and tenders, former shipping employees, former fishermen, etc.


Warburg Institute within the School of Advanced Study, University of London is located at Woburn Square, Bloomsbury in central London a legacy of the Warburg Library of Cultural Science founded by Aby Warburg in Hamburg Germany in 1900 as Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg. It lasted there throughout his life ending in 1929 but the rise of Naziism forced it to decamp to London England in 1933 where in 1944 it became a part of the University of London. Warburg thought that images and most especially art images stand at the very center of historical study rather than being illustrative of ideas. He was entranced by the symbolism in art masterpieces.

A biography of Aby Warburg 1866-1929 is by Ernst H. Gombrich, Aby Warburg: An Intellectual Biography (Warburg Institute 1970) (2nd Edition 1986)

Uwe Fleckner & Peter Mack, The afterlife of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg : the emigration and the early years of the Warburg Institute in London (Walter de Gruyter Co. 2015) 250 pages $56


Happy New Year

Speaking of the happy new year, I wonder if any year ever had less chance of being happy. It’s as though the whole race were indulging in a kind of species introversion — as though we looked inward on our neuroses. And the thing we see isn’t very pretty … So we go into this happy new year, knowing that our species has learned nothing, can, as a race, learn nothing — that the experience of ten thousand years has made no impression on the instincts of the million years that preceded.

Not that I have lost any hope. All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man. I asked [the influential microbiologist] Paul de Kruif once if he would like to cure all disease and he said yes. Then I suggested that the man he loved and wanted to cure was a product of all his filth and disease and meanness, his hunger and cruelty. Cure those and you would have not man but an entirely new species you wouldn’t recognize and probably wouldn’t like.” John Steinbeck 1902-1968


Before Erma Bombeck …. there was Betty MacDonald 1907-1958, author of The Egg and I (Lippincott Co. 1945), The Plague and I (1948 tuberculosis was then referred to as the white plague), The Piggle-Wiggle Series (1947 first book in series of children’s books), Anyone Can Do Anything (1950) and Onions in the Stew (1955). May I tell her story? It’s a Pacific Northwest story and I remember as a kid in Seattle listening to my parents talk about Betty MacDonald at the dining room table. I had no idea what they were talking about, at the time.


Elizabeth “Betsy” Bard was born in Boulder Colorado on March 26, 1907 and died Betty Bard MacDonald in Seattle Washington 1958. Her father was a mining engineer and took the family to Placerville Idaho 17 miles east of Horseshoe Bend Idaho in Boise County north of Boise [Placerville is today a ghost town, a former mining town] in 1910, to Montana later, and to Seattle Washington in 1918 postwar first to the Capitol Hill area and then to north of the University of Washington area by 1922. She had three sisters and one brother. She went to school at St Nicholas School on Capitol Hill at 712 Broadway NE , to Lincoln High School 4400 Interlake Avenue North [between Lake Washington and Lake Union], and she graduated from Roosevelt High School [also my alma mater at 1410 NE 66th Street] in 1924.


Three years later in 1927 at age 20 she married Robert Heskett age 32 and they lived across Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula in Jefferson County near the unincorporated community of Center in the Chimacum Valley south of Port Townsend Washington.1 Heskett was a chicken farmer but both incompetent and lazy, and he beat Betty so four years and two daughters later, in 1931, Betty left with their daughters and returned to Seattle moving back into the Bard family home and divorced. Betty worked at a variety of low-paying and difficult jobs as a single mother supporting her daughters in the Depression era. It was a hard knocks life. In 1937-1938 she had tuberculosis and spent nine months as a patient in Firland Sanitarium [prior to the advent of penicillin] [site of former Sanitarium is in city of Shoreline Washington today but then it was Richmond Highlands 12 miles north of Seattle when founded in 1911]. During World War II she met and married Donald MacDonald and moved into his Vashon Island beach home from which they both commuted by ferry into Seattle to work their day jobs.


While living happily with her second husband she began to write what she knew, her hard knocks life with and after her first husband, but she fictionalized it and made it sound idyllic, bucolic and humorous. The chicken farmer in the Chimacum Valley was fictionalized as competent and resourceful and there was much back country humor with characters such as Maw and Paw Kettle. Upon publication in 1945 immediately after the war ended, The Egg and I was an instant success and in 1947 a movie was made starring Claudette Colbert in the role of the fictionalized Betty and Fred McMurray as the fictionalized Robert. There would be many Maw and Paw Kettle stories and movies. The Plague and I was a fictionalized account of her time at Firland Sanitarium. Onions in the Stew was a fictionalized account of her life on Vashon Island. Now financially independent in the 1950s, she and husband Donald MacDonald purchased property and built a home in Carmel Valley California moving into it in 1956 but Betty was visiting back in Seattle in 1958 when she died of ovarian cancer, not treatable in those days.


Thats’ the story of humorous make do, made up stories of rural life in Washington State, by an Erma Bombeck style writer putting a hugely or over-the-top positive spin on her hard knocks life just before and during the Depression and early WWII years. My parents did not know her personally but many Seattleites knew of her after The Egg and I was published and became a national bestseller and movie.


Why does all this come to mind? Recent publications are Paula Becker, Looking For Betty MacDonald: the egg, the plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I (University of Washington Press 2016) 232 pages is in your bookstore $30 hardcover $16 e-book; see also Anne Wellman, BETTY: The Story of Betty MacDonald, Author of The Egg and I (CreateSpace 2016) $10.25. Piggle-Wiggle books are in the Lubbock Public Library. The Egg and I is in Texas Tech Library CT275.M43 A3.










1 Today on 51 West Egg ad I Road in Chimicum is a half million dollar home built in 2007