David and Art

Monday 4:44am, 6:44am, 8:44am and 5:44pm

Art reveals the world to us in new ways.  On KWBU, we have a new weekly feature focusing on art.

The module is hosted by David Smith, an American historian with broad interests in his field.  He’s been at Baylor University since 2002 teaching classes in American history, military history, and cultural history.  For eight years he wrote an arts and culture column for the Waco Tribune-Herald, and his writings on history, art, and culture have appeared in other newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to the Dallas Morning News.

The very first record he remembers listening to when he was little was Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic’s recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and that set him on a lifelong path of loving music and the arts.  He’s loved history for almost as long, and finally saw them come together in his career.  He believes that history illuminates the arts and the arts illuminate history—that they co-exist and are best understood together.

Follow David on Twitter @DavidASmith12

David and Art - Cultural Touchstones

Jan 27, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Art can provide a good way for diverse groups to communicate with each other if we don’t shut ourselves to it.


David and Art - Making a New Discovery

Jan 20, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to start looking for art that’s new to you.


David and Art - "A Man on Horseback Pt. 2"

Jan 13, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Sometimes the most perceptive voice in a controversy comes from an artist who sees it up close.

Last week I mentioned that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond has just installed a monumental new sculpture by an artist named Kehinde Wiley, the first work of sculpture he’s created.  And it might just be one of the most powerful works of art you’ll ever see.

Wiley based the form of his work on a 1907 equestrian statue of Confederate General JEB Stuart that sits prominently on Richmond’s Monument Avenue.  In content, however, Wiley’s statue is quite different.  Well, the horse is the same.  But sitting on it in an equally heroic pose is a young African American man in street clothes with dreadlocks, torn jeans, and Nike shoes.  The effect is overwhelming.

David and Art - "A Man on Horseback" Pt. 1

Jan 6, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

By interacting with art from the past a contemporary artist can often create something new and powerful.

There are few forms of art more formulaic than the portrait. That’s not exactly a complaint—more than perhaps any other form of art, portraits serve a purpose.  Whether through canvas and paint, or marble, clay, or bronze their job is to convey what a person looks like, and to commemorate the ideas for which the person stands. If they don’t do that, they still could be a good work of art, but they fail as a portrait. 

David and Art - "Looking Backward and Looking Forward"

Dec 30, 2019
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

The end of the year is a good time to look back over at new art that you may have missed

One thing I always look forward to at the end of every year are the little retrospectives that come out in newspapers, magazines, and blogs about what things constituted the best art of the preceding 12 months. I like reading lists of what knowledgeable people think were the best recordings, the best plays, the best art exhibits, over the course of the year. Inevitably I’ve heard of, or seen, or listened to, far fewer of these than I should have and, I always have to admit that on some of the lists, I’ve never even heard of most of them.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Like all art, Christmas carols shape our moods and influence how we experience life.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that Christmas is the only holiday that has its own complete roster of music--of songs that accompany it each year like the Christmas decorations themselves that we pull down out of the attic:  songs that are in turn beautiful, thoughtful, comedic, clichéd, delightful, tiresome, and inspiring.  Why is this?  

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Just because a painting doesn't seem to tell a story, it doesn't mean there's not a story there at all. 

Last month, the movie Midway, about the battle that was the turning point in the Pacific during World War Two, hit theaters and the reaction was lukewarm at best.  If you took your seat expecting a cross between a typical action movie and a video game based on flying a dive bomber, you might not have been too disappointed.   My initial reaction was that it did a fair job of relating the experiences of American air crews in 1941 and 42, but I was dismayed at how poorly it explained why and how the battle unfolded as it did.  For a battle like Midway the broader narrative is the most important element in making the smaller pieces of the story coalesce into something intelligible.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Different versions of a familiar ballet can remind us that art doesn't always have to look like we expect it to. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Creativity in one artistic medium can often enhance creativity in others. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

When it comes to art, being in the room where it happens can be a unique experience. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Popular skepticism directed at knowledge can also damage our perception of the arts. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Taking a firm stand on a controversial issue these days isn’t exactly the way to garner the sort of uninterrupted approval that we all seem to seek.


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Art that may initially infuriate you may, given time, turn out to inspire you. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

The 34th American President & WWII hero is about to get a long awaited memorial in DC.


David and Art - "Tradition"

Oct 21, 2019
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

A 20th Century Russian who understood the balance between tradition and Modernity can speak to us today, maybe more than ever before.

“How do we keep our balance?” the character of Tevye asks with a twinkle in his eye at the beginning of Fiddler on the Roof.  “That I can tell you in one word:  Tradition!”  That 1964 musical set in a Jewish village in European Russia at the dawn of the 20th century remains a perfect way in which to observe the difficult relationship between tradition and relentless change.

A few days ago my daughter came home and explained that in her art class she’d been given the choice of reproducing a Picasso painting or a Chagall painting, and I was delighted she chose Chagall.

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