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

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.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

National Arts and Humanities month is a way for us to remember the power of art in society. 

This is National Arts and Humanities Month, a designation intended to draw our attention to the role these elements play in our busy lives, both personal and public. The advocacy group Americans for the Arts launched the event in 1985 as National Arts Week, in part to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993 it shifted to a month-long celebration.

Robert Lynch, the CEO and President of Americans for the Arts, says the special designation of October is “an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the positive impact the arts bring to our communities.”

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Once nearly lost in the shadow of a celebrated American artist, a woman from Brooklyn is increasingly seen as a leader in abstract expressionism. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Famous artists can sometimes obsure other artists who were close to them. Seeing through the shadows is a good way to discover a new artist. 

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Once a year a small town in Central Texas turns into a capital of Western Art, and it's something worth seeing. 

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Robert Frank was an artist who showed what photography could reveal about ourselves.

Great art shows us something fundamental about ourselves. It can show us things in a fresh way that we thought we knew; it can show us something that we may not have known; and it can show us something that we may not want to know.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Western art is both popular and very familiar - we know it when we see it. But there are some western artists working today who are innovating within the style and who are worth seeking out. 


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

The Texas Commission on the Arts is a quiet state agency that seeks to spread access to the arts to everyone in the state.

Here’s a little Texas tidbit for those who have grown tired of telling friends from elsewhere that we have 254 counties: The state of Texas now offers more than 500 different kinds of specialty license plates.

I’m oddly impressed by this, but I’m much more pleased by the fact that anywhere I’ve gone in the state the most prevalent one of these seems to be the “State of the Arts” plate.  For every one of them, the Texas Commission on the Arts receives $22 of the $30 annual special plate fee. And I think it’s a relatively safe bet that most of the people who have one on their car count as a friend of the arts.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Feeling as though you are completely surrounded by a work of art is to appreciate, if only for a moment, its potential power over how we see the world.

One of the purposes of art is to transport you into another frame of reference, another place, into someone else’s experience and point of view.  The more immersive the art experience, the more you are transported.  I recently had experiences with visual art that were totally immersive and, because of that, totally transformative. 

Next year the Jets and the Sharks will again square off in a remake of one of the twentieth century's great works of art.

Politics on the island of Puerto Rico is unsettled lately. Last month after overwhelming protests, the governor resigned, dogged by accusations of corruption and general mismanagement of recovery efforts following hurricane Maria.  A few days later the Puerto Rican Supreme Court ruled that his successor had been installed unconstitutionally and decreed that a former Secretary of Justice should be governor.  And so now she is but not without detractors. 

David and Art - "Ambiguity"

Aug 12, 2019
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Most of us aren't very comfortable with a lot of ambiguity, but it's a key element in great art. 

When I walk into the classroom to teach history, I don't set out to tear down people like Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. What I do, however, is tell a very human story full of complexity and ambiguity, which inevitably begins to - if not exactly contradict - at least complicate the more simple stories so many of us heard when we were younger. 

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Creative choreography and graceful movements are two key ingredients in turning human motion into art.

Earlier this summer I sat down in an auditorium here in town to watch my daughter dance in her last recital of the season. 

There are four dance companies in the studio where my daughter dances and each did several numbers over the course of the four-act show. 

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