Art and Culture

Art and culture

Fantastic and thrilling story of a young child abandoned by her family in a hidden marsh.

In 1984, I purchased a book with an intriguing soft cover with, lots of pictures, and outstanding prose.  I read Cry of the Kalahari in one sitting.  I was so struck, I immediately read it again.  When I noticed Delia Owens’s name on Where the Crawdads Sing, I instinctively knew it would be a masterpiece of fiction.  My thoughts proved to be correct. 

According to the dust jacket, Delia Owens is the author of several books of African species in Botswana.  Her first book was co-authored with her then husband, who sold all their possessions and moved to Botswana.  They faced agonizing red tape before they were able to enter the country.  Where the Crawdad Sings is her first novel.  I hope it will not be her last.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

With the disappearance of editorial cartoons from newspapers, we lose an example of the way art can shape our opinions. 

Word comes that our nation's newspaper of record - The New York Times - has discontinued editorial cartoons. No more of these will grace its opinion pages. Is this a big deal? Well, it is, once you reflect on the power that art has to convey messages beyond the ability of words and our apparent unease in the presence of such power. 

Led by bass singer David "Boots" Bower, the King Odom Quartet and the King Odom Four recorded both gospel and secular pop hits, including the bouncy story song, "They Put John on the Island."

  Full song

Creative Waco

This week on Conversations With Creative Waco, host Rae Jefferson interviews three legendary artists who are painting murals in Waco this Summer. 


Another in a series of Swedish novels, which are quite funny

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Fredrik Backman is one funny writer.  He is a Swedish columnist, blogger, and writer.  He is the author of A Man Called OveMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, Beartown, and Us Against You.  His novels offer the reader many, many hours of laughter and tears.  Britt-Marie Is Here is my latest read by Backman.

Britt-Marie cannot stand numerous assaults on neatness, uncleanliness, and poor manners.  She is socially awkward, and she does not suffer fools.  However, she is a ferocious and meticulous cleaner.  She also takes care to feed a rat, which takes up residence in her living space.  She has recently separated from her husband, Kent, and she is now courted by Sven, a handsome police officer who lives in the town of Borg. 

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

If it looks just like advertising, can it really be a work of art?

Could a can of soup be art? No, wait, I said that wrong. Can a painting of a soup can be art? A clean, exact reproduction: can that be a work of art?

The question of course pertains to pop artist Andy Warhol. In 1962, he painted a precise rendering of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup on a white, blank background, and it became one of the most famous works of art of the 20th century.

The Campbell’s soup can was something of an American icon at the time, and Warhol ultimately created a series of 32 canvases, one for each flavor of soup then available. As do many flavors of modernism, Warhol’s work creates skepticism among some people. It’s difficult to see why prepackaged imagery, no matter how skillfully mimicked onto a canvas, should qualify as original art. (more)

Philadelphia's Davis Sisters recorded a host of hits for Savoy Records, including "Shine on Me," "I'm Tired," "He's My Precious King" and this rock and roll-flavor number, "Earnestly Praying."


Act Locally Waco - Events July 19 - 25, 2019

Jul 19, 2019

Act Locally Waco host Ashley Bean Thornton brings you all sorts of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of mankind's first visit to the moon, like a 'Hands on History' event at the Central Library to a 'Howl at the Moon 5K' fundraiser run for the Humane Society of Central Texas. 


David and Art - "Books"

Jul 18, 2019
Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

What you read can open up the doors of the art world.

As a historian, I’m often asked if I can recommend books to people who are interested in learning more about art and the art world. I love questions like this because I’m a perfect example of how easily you can educate yourself about things. All it takes is curiosity and the desire to do it.

One good place to start is with an overview of American art. My favorite is critic Robert Hughes’ 1997 book “American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America.” It’s not written as a scholarly text, but for general readers who want to know. Such an overview provides a good chronology of the artists and movements that come and go through the ages.

Students at a prestigious academy come under the influence of a charismatic professor

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

One of my earliest of my obsessions with an individual writer was Ann Beattie.  Two things about her drew me to her works.  The first was the fact she had published—simultaneously—a collection of short stories and a novel.  The novel was Chilly Scenes of Winter and the short story collection was Distortions.  She has now written twenty-one magnificent works, including her latest novel, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck.  Her collections of short stories will provide a reader with a treasure trove of American short fiction.

With "Any Stars in My Crown," Jeanette Harris proved that jubilee could sound as emotional as "hard" gospel. Jeanette's rough and raspy voice was the ideal vehicle to convey the urgency and conviction of the very best of gospel music.


Eerie story of a woman searching for clues to her husband’s intentions.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

An eerie coincidence led me to Mamta Chaudhry’s novel, Haunting Paris.  As I read, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned in a horrible conflagration.  I have traveled to Paris a number of times, and the cathedral on the river Seine was always an important stop.  Chaudhry’s fiction, poetry, and feature articles have been published widely.  Much of her professional career has taken her from Calcutta to Miami, to Dallas.  She currently lives with her husband in Coral Gables, Florida, and they spend part of each year in India and France.  Haunting Paris is her first novel.

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Alternative newspapers are an important element in a city's art scene.

In 1928 modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg said that "art is from the outset naturally not for the people," and over the past 150 years or so, plenty of other Modernists have said similar things about their art, and this is certainly true for a  lot of their work. But I sometimes wonder if almost all great art is a poor fit with today's culture and in some real way an alternative to it. 

Likely Stories: Calypso by David Sedaris

Jul 8, 2019

Surprisingly funny personal stories of the comic writer.

 Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Every family has stories of unusual and funny uncles, nephews, aunts, and siblings.  David Sedaris is no exception.  Calypso—is no exception.  His brand of humor takes a few pages to absorb, but once “bitten,” he will infect your funny bone for good.  David Raymond Sedaris is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor.  He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay "Santaland Diaries.”  Calypso is his tenth book. 


Clara Hudmon, better known as the Georgia Peach, was a master of the old-school singing style known as jubilee, which combined a cappella singing with the lyrics often taken directly from the spirituals.


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