Art and Culture

Art and culture

David and Art - "Of Possums and Riots"

Nov 30, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

A Comic strip character that once caused a riot reflects the power of art to convey significant messages.

When I was a little boy, I had two animal toys sitting on my bookcase.  One was an alligator standing up on his hind legs and the other was a little gray furry thing wearing a striped shirt. I had a vague sense that the two came from a comic strip, but I really wasn’t sure.  I knew their names, so I—or my parents—had to have been familiar with where they came from.  The alligator’s name was Albert.  The grey thing was a possum named Pogo.

Pogo was a comic strip drawn by Walt Kelly that ran in newspapers from 1948 to 1975.  Kelly was born in 1913 and worked as an animator on the Disney films  

The Hightower Brothers were a fine gospel family band originally led by 10-year-old lead vocalist Robert Lee, better known as "Little Sugar."

Hear the full track below!


If you're an avid reader, or have one you plan to buy a gift for, take a look at this list from Jim McKeown, host of our weekly book review, Likely Stories.  Happy reading!  And, happy holidays.

As we approach the holiday season and the end of 2020, I've found some interesting titles for readers who, like me, are still self-quarantined due to COVID19.  I know I have wracked up a mighty list for getting us through to next year.  Enjoy! 

On this month's episode of Conversations with Creative Waco, Emily MacDonald shares about the Historic Waco Foundation's upcoming exhibition "Making History: The Art of Historic Waco" which features works by local artists of all skill levels and styles. Melissa Pardun, co-owner of Maker's Edge, joins Kennedy Sam to give an update on the Makerspace and highlight how to give the gift of creativity this holiday season.


Hi, I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

Graham Swift won the Booker Prize for his novel Last Orders, and I had hopes for another win, but not for this year!  His latest novel is Here We Are.  This story is set in 1959 Brighton-by-the-Sea.  According to the dust jacket, there are three main characters: Ronni is a brilliant young magician, Evie, his dazzling assistant, and Jack, who is a born entertainer.  The language is wonderfully comic, but it requires some patience. 


David and Art - "Voting for the Arts"

Nov 23, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Even in times of economic troubles, some cities are choosing to use tax dollars to support their local arts scene.

In Jersey City, New Jersey earlier this month, the election was not just about Biden vs Trump. Voters there had before them the question of a new tax that, if they approved it, they would soon be paying.

And approve it they did, perhaps unlikely enough in today’s climate.  What’s more is that the second largest city in New Jersey has now become that state’s first to establish a municipal tax that will go to support the arts.  Estimates are that it could generate between $1 and 2 million per year. A city arts committee will make decisions about where the money will go.

The Jersey City mayor has worked for two years to get this referendum on the general election ballot.  He didn’t want to just stick a line for funding the arts into the city budget.  Doing that would make it too vulnerable to arbitrary

Brother Isaiah's Church of God in Christ Choir's "Climbing High Mountains" is a great example of music from Vee-Jay Records' large stable of first-rate gospel artists from the mid-1950s.

Hear the full track below!


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

Diane Cook lives in Brooklyn, New York.  She has had a number of short stories to her credit.  Her second novel, The New Wilderness, is a gripping tale.  This story is about a group of people who were moved off of the “City” and forced into a large uninhabited area of wilderness.


David and Art - "Creativity Silenced"

Nov 16, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Sometimes we’re reminded that the power of human creativity can be limited only by human frailty.

One of the most creative musicians of the second half of the 20th century was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on the day World War Two came to an end in Europe.  Keith Jarrett was a piano prodigy almost from the time he was a toddler.  He began piano lessons before he was 3 and gave his first full recital when he was 7.  After high school he went to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music but left after a year to go to New York City and play. Like so many other great players he did a stint in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers after meeting Blakey at a Monday night jam session at the Village Vanguard in 1964.

Like many jazz players, he put a high premium on improvisation, but was determined to push that as far as possible.  In 1973, he began playing totally improvised solo piano concerts.  He would approach the piano with no music

The Soul Seekers of Fort Worth released several unjustly ignored 45s for Houston's funky and feisty Peacock label. 

Hear the full track below!


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

As a child of the Olde sod, I am a fan of several Irish writers, including James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, and my latest obsession, Roddy Doyle.  Love is Doyle’s seventeenth novel.


Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Outside pressures about what a museum should display intrude on what a curator’s job should be.

The recent decision by a quartet of prestigious art museums to postpone an exhibit on which they had collaborated reminded me of a controversy from the past.

Ten years ago this month the Smithsonian Institution found a 

Chicago gospel legend Claude Timmons is in fine form singing his signature song, "Christ is the Answer" with the Monument of Faith Evangelical Church Choir.

Hear the full track below!


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

Louise Elisabeth Glück was born April 22, 1943 in New York City.  She is a poet, essayist, and a professor.  She has numerous awards including a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Her poetry inspired me during my MFA in poetry and short fiction.


David and Art - "Modern and Familiar"

Nov 2, 2020
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

In his first symphony, composer Virgil Thomson build a bridge to carry his listeners into the past, but to bring them back to the present as well

Most of the time when someone mentions modernism in music, our minds jump to some pretty strange things.  We tend to imagine something with no tonality, plenty of dissonance, weird unpredictable rhythms, and the lack of anything approaching a melody.

But if you listen to the work of, say, Igor Stravinsky--without question a modernist master—you’ll hear melodic touches that have their roots in anything but the modern world. Much of what he did was pull folk melodies from the past and work them through his musical vision—into something new, often revolutionary.

Other composers in the 20th century, and some American ones, experimented with the same thing.  One evening a couple of weeks ago I sat down and listened to Virgil Thomson’s Symphony on a Hymn Tune which he composed while he was in Paris from 1926-1928.  It’s his first symphony, a four-movement piece 

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