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 - “The People’s Art Museum”

Jul 5, 2021

The government supported National Gallery is a treasure for the whole country.

Last week I mentioned that I had recently spent three days in a row at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  If you’re perhaps going there this summer, definitely put the National Gallery on your to-do list. 

As an institution of the national government, although not part of the Smithsonian system, the Gallery gets much of its annual budget from congress.

In 2013 the Washington Post called that budget “Teflon,” because whereas the budget of other cultural institutions like the National Endowment for the Arts often 

The National Gallery of Art, one of the country’s best museums, has reopened after a long closure.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in Washington DC doing research at the library of Congress. The library had just reopened post pandemic and because they were limiting the number of researchers who could be in the reading room at any one time, people had to reserve specific three-hour blocks each day, either morning or afternoon; you couldn’t just go in and stay all day. For five days

Music teachers have one of the central and most crucial roles in the art world.


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A small arts commission created by Theodore Roosevelt still can make headlines in today's Washington.


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David and Art - "The Art of the Theme"

Jun 7, 2021

Hearing some old music from a television show is a reminder of how things have changed.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine spent four days in the hospital while doctors poked around on him trying to figure out a puzzling malady.  Consequently, he found himself with more free time than usual and spent a fair amount of it watching TV, especially at times during the day when he would usually be doing something else.

He called me late one morning to excitedly report that he was watching an episode of the old Raymond Burr TV show “Ironside.” What had struck him most was the music. He’d never considered it before, he said, but somebody really put a lot of 

David and Art - "Losing Their Marbles"

May 31, 2021

Greece and Nigeria are just two of the countries which question whether art that was hauled off long ago ought to stay with the people who took it.


David and Art - "Alice Neel"

May 24, 2021

With a big new exhibit now up at one of the country’s premier museums, now is a good time to remember a pioneer of American painting.

When was the last time you remember seeing a painter on The Tonight Show?  If you’re like me, you couldn’t answer that question very quickly, and, when you finally did, you might well say “uh, never.”

If you had tuned in to Johnny Carson on the night of February 21, 1984, alongside an Olympic skier, and actress Mariette Hartley, you’d have met a charming and vivacious 84-year-old painter named Alice Neel.  Carson seemed captivated by her.

Alice Neel was born in Pennsylvania in January of 1900.  She graduated from high school in 1918 and three years later began talking art classes at the Philadelphia 

An Artist who helped American painting get past the dominant style of her day get her story told in a new book. 

Last week I mentioned a new biography of artist Helen Frankenthaler entitled Fierce Poise that I’m really looking forward to reading.  Maybe this summer.  Her career was a remarkable one, and her influence on American art very significant.

In 1952 she painted a breakthrough piece called Mountains and Sea.  Because muted color made up so much of the visual impact of her painting, this new style became known as “color field” painting, one of the successor movements to abstract expressionism.  Morris Louis, who became one of Frankenthaler’s fellow “color field”

Telling the story of a woman who moved American painting onward from a once dominant style.

Artist biographies are, for me, a pretty safe bet when it comes to reading material. If it’s about an artist I like, whose work I like, I can get a lot out of a good biography.  There’s a new one out of an artist named Helen Frankenthaler that, while I haven’t got the book yet, is giving me a chance to reflect on her and her work and I’m looking forward to reading it.  She deserves a good 

David and Art - "A Painting President"

May 3, 2021

A former President picks up a paintbrush to say something about current policy.

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David and Art - "Mr. and Mrs. Mondale"

Apr 26, 2021

Remembering a former vice president of the United States calls to mind his wife as well, and what she did for the arts.


David and Art - "Dissolving Collections"

Apr 19, 2021

As works of art pass through the ages, they sometimes come together in a museum's collections for the delight of the public.

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David and Art - "Never-ending Staircases"

Apr 12, 2021

The works of a Dutch graphic artist born in the 19th century still have the power to captivate the mind.

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David and Art - Country AND Western

Apr 5, 2021

When we lump two different styles of art together under one label, it hides the distinctiveness of both.


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David and Art - Two Artists in Nature

Mar 29, 2021

Sometimes we miss seeing what connects great art if we focus too much on superficial differences in the artists themselves.

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