Art and Culture

Art and culture

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Whether dancers, painters, or sax players, artists are a central part of American society.  When economic trouble hits, it’s good if the rest of us remember that.

Last week I mentioned that within the relief and recovery programs of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression, there were measures specifically designed to help artists who needed relief as much as any American worker.  In helping artists, these programs also nourished American culture.

When you look over the roster of artists who were involved with the New Deal, you’ll find some names you’ve likely heard of.  People like Jackson Pollock, Marsden Hartley, Diego Rivera, Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, John Sloan, Stuart Davis, and  

Vocal powerhouse Inez Andrews was also one of gospel music's most gifted songwriters. 

Hear the full track "Lord Don't Move That Mountain" below!


On this week's episode of Conversations With Creative Waco, host Kennedy Sam is joined in studio by Fiona Bond to discuss Make It In Waco, the new local online marketplace, and tell us more about the Make It Through Corona Fund. Then she has a conversation with Beth Richards, owner and director of the Brazos Theatre. 


M. L. Stedman’s first novel, The Light Between Oceans, is a novel I highly recommend.

Stedman begins this luscious and spell-binding novel with a sorrowful sound.  “On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff’s edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross.  A single fat cloud snailed across the late-April sky, which stretched above the island in a mirror of the ocean below.  Isabel sprinkled more water and patted down the soil around the rosemary bush she had just planted. For just a moment, her mind tricked her into hearing an infant’s cry.  She dismissed the illusion, her eye drawn instead by a pod of whales weaving their way up the coast to calve in the warmer waters, emerging now and again with a fluke of their tails like needles through tapestry.  She heard the cry again, louder this time on the early morning breeze.  Impossible” (3).

The story is then interrupted by a marvelous description of their island home.  Stedman writes, “From this side of the island, there was only vastness, all the way to Africa.  Here, the Indian Ocean washed into the great Southern Ocean and together they stretched like and endless carpet below the cliffs.  On days like this it seemed so solid she had the impression she could walk to Madagascar in a journey of

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

Artists are not some kind of abstraction in our culture.  They are real people with real concerns.  It’s good for governments to remember that.

I have to admit, that when I taught the Great Depression this semester, both I and many of my students were struck by the parallels to today. Anyone who knows about American history in the 1930s knows the rough outline. And today, again, when we turn on the news or listen to the radio we’re met by headlines like an unemployment number that’s the highest it’s been since Franklin Roosevelt was inaugurated.  Right now, the federal government is enacting economic assistance programs of the sort that were 

Shirley Caesar's "Life's Mountain Railway" is only one of dozens of memorable tracks by traditional gospel's most defiant - and last - remaining superstar!

Hear the full track below!


 I finally got a copy of the third volume of Hillary Mantel’s magnificent trilogy, The Mirror and the Light.  Her first two volumes—Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies—garnered well-deserved Booker Prizes.  Hilary’s incredible story—with nearly 1,700 pages—delves into the minutest details of the lives of the interesting family of Oliver Cromwell.

 

While reading her latest book, I took some notes of interesting passages.  I believe these tidbits will more than whet the appetite for those interested in the period.  Here we go!  Hillary writes, (Page 8) “‘Would that my niece had imitated Katherine [of Aragon] in other particulars’, Norfolk says.  ‘Had she been obedient, chaste and

 

David and Art - "Popular"

May 11, 2020
Joe Riley

(Local productions are on hold during the social distance requirements due to Covid-19.  This segment originally aired June 26, 2018.)

David  muses on the widsom of following the crowd.


The combination of jubilee, a cappella singing, and a first-rate band make the under-rated Gate City Singers' "Prayer Changes Things" a truly memorable 45.

Hear the full track below!


  Tense and absorbing story of a runaway balloon, and several men trying to help.

(Local productions are on hold during the social distance requirements due to Covid-19.  This segment originally aired July 12, 2018.)

 

Best-selling author, Ian McEwan has a knack for stories that slowly build for the reader right up until the precipice.  According to WikiPedia, McEwan is an English novelist and screenwriter.  In 2008, The London Times featured him on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.  Enduring Love is among a few of his early works I have eagerly devoured. 

Joe and Clarissa have what seems to be an ideal marriage.  Clarissa is a therapist, who is dedicated to her profession.  Joe is a successful freelance writer.  Clarissa has been away for some time, and 

David and Art - "Changes"

May 4, 2020
Joe Riley

(Local productions are on hold during the social distance requirements due to Covid-19.  This segment originally aired June 4, 2018.)

Art reveals the world to us in new ways.

David and Art has been a segment on Conversations with Creative Waco and is now a regular Monday feature during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 


You'll get a kick out of the White Cloud Young Adult Choir's joyful, messy, unstoppable "Top of the Mountain, Parts I and II."

Hear the full tracks below!


In the midst of a terrible war, a Cellist plays every day for each person killed in a bombing.

 

(Local productions are on hold during the social distance requirements due to Covid-19.  This segment originally aired June 7, 2018.)

I am fortunate to coordinate a Book Club made up of a number of erudite and voracious readers.  I come away from every meeting with some new insights, some new authors, and an all-around fun evening.  This past month I was introduced to Steven Galloway, a Canadian novelist and a former professor at the University of British Columbia.  He has won several awards for The Cellist of Sarajevo

This novel, a bit over 230 pages, is packed with an intensity I relish in a good read.  The novel is set at the height of the War in Sarajevo.  The city is in ruins, and mortar shells rain down and snipers 

Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis

*This segment originially aired October 22, 2018.

Is art elitist? Is there something in it that’s automatically exclusionary, reserved for only a few people, leaving everyone else outside, puzzled, irate or indifferent? 

I know a lot of people believe this but it bears very little resemblance to what art is really about.

To be sure, great art itself is elite.  Everyone can be creative, but that’s not the same thing. Many people like to draw, but most can’t turn out a masterpiece. I can hum and sing and even make up a tune now and then, but no one will mistake me for a good singer, let alone a composer.  There just isn’t a lot of really

The Rev. James Cleveland's monumental "Jesus is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" is one of gospel music's all-time highlights. 

Hear the full track below!


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