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

From Paris to Dallas, architect I.M. Pei created timeless art in the buildings he designed.

Growing up in Dallas, and having heard of architecture, I knew the name I. M. Pei before I had any inkling of his story and his significance in the world of art. (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

What it takes to really get into history are the same qualities it takes to get into art. This is not a coincidence.


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

When it’s embroiled in controversy, art can’t speak as loudly as the people who speak against it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to it.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” tried to lower the unemployment rate through a vast and varied program of public works.  Along with construction jobs, the WPA also paid artists to decorate new public buildings. (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

The people who participate in a High School Choir Contest testify to the power of the arts.

I recently had the chance to attend a high school choir contest.  I sat in an auditorium while choirs from around the state filed in and out, each performing three pieces for a panel of judges.  The effect was to pull back the curtain and get an appreciation of the work, the stress, the nervousness, the preparation, and the overall effort from countless people for something like this to happen.  (more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Taking pieces of songs from different sources, Charles Ives made orchestra music that described America.

I spent some time last week listening the music of an American composer named Charles Ives. Born in Connecticut in 1874, Ives isn’t very familiar to the general population but some say he’s one of the few American composers who ranks alongside Europeans.  He wrote his remarkable second symphony between 1897 and 1902 but it wasn’t performed publicly until 1952.  Leonard Bernstein was among those who tirelessly championed the then mostly unknown Ives and his music. ( more)

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

During the American Civil War a German painter showed what art could offer to members of Congress, and to us today.  

In the late 1850s the political future of the United States was growing increasingly bleak, and people openly wondered if the republic could survive as its sections drifted further apart.  To concerned citizens, the presidential election of 1860 loomed large with the potential of driving circumstances past the point of (more)

David and Art - "Travel and Art" Pt. 1

Apr 15, 2019
Joe Riley

In 1919, Americans were wondering if soldiers who had experienced France would come home as different people.

Right after the end of World War One, a hit song swept the United States that reflected on the experiences of the war and pondered its effects on the American doughboys who had gone to France.  It was called “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?”  The famous 369th Infantry Regiment Band recorded it in 1919 and it became a sensation.  In subsequent years it would be a hit for several singers.  There’s a good chance you’d recognize the melody. (more)

David and Art - "At the Art Show" Pt. 2

Apr 8, 2019
Joe Riley

There are two ways of looking at art, and both ways together can help you understand it better that you ever have before.

Last week I talked about attending an international art fair, and how, among other things, it gives you the chance to see works of art you’ve never seen but by artists you’ve heard of all your life.   It struck me as I wandered among the displays that day that there are two ways to understand art:  that is, art can be—needs to be—understood in two different ways.  It’s incumbent upon us to sort this out and do both. (more)

David and Art - "At the Art Show" Pt. 1

Apr 1, 2019
Joe Riley

International art shows provide a perspective on the art world that you get in no other place.

I recently had the chance to attend an international air fair. I’d never been to one before and frankly I didn’t know exactly what to expect. (read more)

David and Art - Funding Around the Country

Mar 25, 2019
Joe Riley

Arts organizations work hard to engage with their communities.  Any little extra bit of help—even from the national government—can make that possible.

Among the numerous institutions that came to a grinding halt during the government shutdown earlier this year was the National Endowment for the Arts.   For 35 days its website announced that it would be unable to review grant applications, return email inquiries, or even answer the phones.  But, from its beginnings in 1965 optimism has always run strong at the NEA.  In the funding package signed by the President that finally ended the shutdown the Endowment actually received a boost of $2 million for its fiscal year 2019 budget.  “After a 35-day furlough,” acting chairman Mary Anne Carter announced, “we are happy to be back to the important work of providing access to the arts for all Americans.” (more)

David and Art - Art Scene

Mar 18, 2019
Joe Riley

Everyone in a city has a part to play in helping its art scene thrive.

What does a city need in order to have a successful arts scene?  Do we have one here?  And if not, what do we need to do if we want one: one that really invigorates the city with music, visual arts, public art, and drama?  It’s a tough question and a lot of thoughtful people around here have been thinking about it.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve gone out and heard live jazz on Austin Avenue and seen a really good exhibit by the Art Guild of Central Texas.  One gets the feeling that perhaps there are some of the pieces in place.

David and Art - The Blues

Mar 11, 2019
Joe Riley

In some forms of music, human emotion can be the central element - and when it is, great art is sometimes the result. 

1, 4, 5, 12:  If you’re a musician or a fan of a particular style of music, those numbers will mean a lot to you.  Together they sketch out the form of one of the most enduring and deeply rooted genres of American music, the blues.

David and Art - Henry and David

Mar 4, 2019
Joe Riley

On Wednesday, a painting that connects two of the most important figures in the last half century of the art world comes up for auction. It might even set a record. David Smith discusses the artist David Hockney on this week's episode of David and Art


David and Art - Realism

Feb 25, 2019
Joe Riley

As the United States became an urban nation, those artists who chose to portray city life realistically pioneered a new style of art. David Smith discusses paintings of medical procedures and photographs of homeless children in this week's edition of David and Art


David and Art - Ruining The View

Feb 18, 2019
Joe Riley

In the hands of a skilled artist we can be made to see even the sky differently - but carelessness can rob us of the experience. David Smith discusses the artist James Turrell in this week's edition of David and Art


Pages