Monthly Archives: June 2017

Fernando Casas Speaks: On The Politics of Art


June 12, 2017
magi

Adoration of the Magi, El Greco 1568, via Wikipedia

Migration, racism, Islamophobia, religious intolerance, and persecution have come to define our present political circumstances.These also defined the political circum-stances of the Spain in which El Greco, Velazquez and Goya lived. However, unlike the artists of today, these three artists were forced to work for and under the control of authoritarian monarchies.

Nonetheless, these artists are not only admirable for the technical and aesthetic quality of their work but, more importantly, in spite of their repressive and dangerous circumstances, they were able to speak truth to the abuse of power and close-mindedness through their paintings. This is exactly the method used by the best political artist of our times.

How did they do this?

Look at any of their great paintings and what do you see—masterly technique and beauty? Yes.  Images that aptly convey and support the oppressive and close-minded values of their society? No. Indeed, these paintings seem to embody the strict social, political, and religious tenants regulated by the Spanish Inquisition for three centuries.  But this is true only of their superficial look—a protective skin required for the survival of the artist.

Hidden underneath the conventional content of these paintings resides another painting; one far more profound and noble which is, in one form or another, in sharp opposition to the accepted societal norms. In fact, it is the voice and beauty concealed in such paintings that largely exhibits the aesthetic and moral development of humanity.   We ought to look and listen to them.

Fernando Casas’ class, Politics, Religion & Ethnicity: El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, & Picasso, begins September 11th, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. For more information, or to register, click here.

 

Artist/philosopher Fernando Casas is a native of Bolivia. In 1968 he arrived in the USA with a LASPAU scholarship. In 1970 he received his BA in Philosophy from Colorado College graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and receiving the Hastings Prize for a paper in Philosophy. He continued his studies at Rice University receiving his MA in 1972 and his PhD in Philosophy in 1978.

Casas has exhibited his works of art in numerous group and solo exhibitions in commercial galleries and museums in cities such as Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Florence, Lima (Peru), La Paz (Bolivia) and Santiago (Chile). In 2003 he was awarded the Premio alla Carriera at the Florence Biennale.

Since the 1980s, Casas has taught and lectured at several universities in South and North America. His longest association is with Rice University where he has taught in Humanities and Philosophy as Distinguished Lecturer for about 20 years.

Among his publications are The Limit of The Visual World (1990), Polar Perspective: A Graphical System for Creating Two-dimensional Images Representing a World of Four Dimensions (1984), and Flat-Sphere Perspective (1983).

 

 

How to Make Abstract Art


June 12, 2017
Wassily Kandinsky_ On White 2_ 1923_ Wikipedia

Wassily Kandinsky_ On White 2_ 1923_ Wikipedia

According to artist and educator Sheila Zeve Lipkin, abstract art—for all its complexities—is much easier to create than other kinds of art. In her upcoming September class, How to Make Abstract Art, she will introduce the key principles of this style of art so her students can then begin setting up their first abstract painting. We checked in with Lipkin to find out the details.

WIH Reporter: What is essential to know about your upcoming class?

Lipkin: Abstract art is not difficult to make when one is aware of the basic components. After the presentation and discussion of making abstract art, ideas will be presented for each participant to begin making his/her abstract painting.

WIH Reporter: What is crucial to understand about creating abstract art?

Lipkin: Abstract art is easier to make than representational art. When painting landscapes and still life and other subjects, a stronger foundation in drawing is needed, which is not the case in making abstract art.

WIH Reporter: What is necessary to know about making abstract art?

Lipkin: The elements of abstract art are basically shape, color, line, working with positive and negative spaces, imagination, and design.

WIH Reporter: Can you tell us the format of the classes?

Lipkin: The first class will introduce the basic concepts of design, mainly composition, showing by examples how this works and talk about the creative process involved. Ideas on setting up abstract paintings and thoughts to go along with them will also be introduced. At the beginning of each class the abstract paintings created by each member will be discussed.

Sheila Lipkin’s class, How to Make Abstract Art, begins on September 5, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. For more information, or to register, click here.

100 Years of Texas Art: A Celebration of Stylistic Diversity


June 12, 2017

stout Since the days Texas was settled, artistic activity has been pivotal to Texas cultural life. Yet Texas art has all too often been stereotyped as offering only depictions of cowboys, cattle, and wildflowers. According to art historian and fine art appraiser Sarah Foltz, those subjects only represent a small fraction of the art that Texas offers. In fact, these days Texas art is being recognized by the larger art world as a vibrant center of stylistic diversity. In her upcoming class, “100 Years of Texas Art”, (starting on September 11th at 10 a.m), Foltz takes us on a whirlwind tour exploring the unique and eclectic mix of art works that make up Texas art. We spoke with her to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What do we need to know about your upcoming class?

Foltz: There will be three important exhibitions on Texas Art occurring during the class, and visits will be made to our class by the curators, art historians, and artists involved with these projects. This gives our class an opportunity to hear first-hand information about these projects.

WIH Reporter: Can you describe these exhibitions for us?

Foltz: The first one focuses on two Houston artists cooperatives from the 1930s – the Houston Artists Gallery and the Negro Art Guild—separate-but-parallel groups organized by Houston artists so that they could exhibit and sell their art. The second one celebrates the abstract expressionist paintings and sculptures of Richard Stout, a Houston artist (born in Beaumont, Texas, 1934). Stout is an acknowledged artist with a significant following in Texas who has international accolades. The third exhibition is called “Of Texas Rivers and Texas Art ” showcasing a compilation of some of the finest contemporary river art detailing the gorgeous traits of Texas landscapes.

WIH Reporter: What misconceptions about Texas art have you encountered in your work as an art historian and fine art appraiser?

Foltz:  One common misconception about “Texas Art” is that it is only paintings of cowboys and bluebonnets. While those subjects are a (very) small portion of it, there is a wide range of stylistic diversity, and an embrace of new ideas and media that have evolved over the past 100 years.  

 WIH Reporter: What format do you plan to use in the class.?

Foltz:  As this course covers 100 years of Texas art, this survey-style course will consist of classroom lectures, as well as visits to private collections and exhibitions, which will familiarize participants with the key movements and artists active in the state.  Additional resource references and reading lists will be provided for anyone interesting in delving further into the art history of Texas. 

WIH Reporter: We like to ask what books are on your night table right now?

Foltz:  The books I am reading right now include, “Why the Raven Calls the Canyon” by E Dan Klepper, “Minding the Store” by Stanley Marcus, “Texas Identities” by Light Cummins, and “William Goyen: Collected Short Stories” by William Goyen.

Sarah Foltz’s class, 100 Years of Texas Art, begins on September 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. For more information or to register, click here.

Contemporary Women’s Fiction


June 12, 2017

tablet-1632909__480 “A novel is not an allegory … It is the sensual experience of another world. If you don’t enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won’t be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience. So start breathing.” -Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Professor Laura Richardson’s class “Contemporary Women’s Fiction” meets Wednesdays, September 6 – October 11 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. More details here.

How Much Do You Know About…Egypt’s Pharaohs?


June 12, 2017
King Tut, wikipedia

King Tut, wikipedia

 

In anticipation of Jesse Rainbow’s upcoming September class, Egypt’s Greatest Pharaohs, we put together a quiz on that intriguing subject!

 

 

 

 

1. To keep their blood lines pure, Pharaohs only married:

A. Members of their own race.
B. Members of their own family.
C. Members of their own social class.

 

2. The last Pharoah of Egypt was a woman. Who was she?

A. Nefertiti.
B. Cleopatra.
C. Hatshepsut.

3. How did 19-year old King Tut die?

A. He was gored by a hippo.
B. He was murdered.
C. He had malaria and a leg infection.

4. The word Pharaoh means:

A. King.
B. God.
C. Great House.

5. Cleopatra’s first husband was:

A. Julius Caesar.
B. Mark Anthony.
C. Her half-brother.

6. All Pharaohs wore:

A. Ceremonial robes.
B. Makeup.
C. Fake beards.

7. A Pharaoh’s meal typically consisted of…

A. Meat, grain, and wine.
B. Bread, honey and beer/wine.
C. Rice, corn, and beer.

Answers:

1. B. Pharaoh’s married family members to keep their bloodlines pure. This enabled them also to claim ancestry from the Gods so the family bloodlines were even more important. DNA research on King Tut showed his parents were brother and sister.

2. B. Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh. She tried and failed to hold off the Romans under Augustus.

3. C. DNA research showed that King Tut died of malaria which exacerbated his leg infection.

4. C. The word “pharaoh” means “great house”. It is a Greek word that referred to the palace of the king, rather than the ruler specifically.

5. C. Per Egyptian custom, she married two of her brothers (one after the other one died).

6. B, C. Both male and female pharaohs wore fake beards and makeup. Egyptians were obsessed with being hairless, and made sure that they were hair-free, so their beards were fake.

7. B. Egyptians had a poor diet, and DNA testing shows obesity and diabetes among the Pharaohs.

Auguste Rodin and Modern Sculpture


June 12, 2017

rodin

The progenitor of modern sculpture, Auguste Rodin said, “The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.”

 

Dr. Anna Tahinci’s six-week class “Auguste Rodin and Modern Sculpture” will meet on Tuesdays from 10:00 – 12:00 beginning September 5. Learn more here.

Shakespeare: From Page to Stage


June 12, 2017

theatre2 The authority on all things Shakespeare, Kate Pogue, shares about her exciting class for the Fall:

“Shakespeare’s plays are great and satisfying in part because they were written for fine actors to perform. Shakespeare (unlike many of his contemporary playwrights) was himself an actor and wrote parts for his own performance. As a result, he learned to encode interpretive stage directions into his language—messages for his fellow actors to pick up on to shape their performances. Through his writing he gave keys for memorization, set the rhythm of a scene, and the pace of the play. He punctuated the ends of scenes, created the dynamism of relationships, established irony and ambiguity, established mood and atmosphere. In the 1980s John Barton rediscovered these Shakespearean stage directions and shared them in a BBC series with a team of actors including Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and David Suchet. In the Fall 2017 Shakespeare class we will be sitting in on John Barton’s master classes, learning to perceive Shakespeare’s directions to his actors. This thrilling exploration will change our way of approaching and appreciating the works of the greatest poet/playwright of the English language.”

This class will meet for six weeks on Thursdays beginning September 7. Click here for more information.

The Writer’s Art: Keys to Unlocking Creativity


June 12, 2017
orpheus

Orpheus poet of classical mythology, by Corot, via Wikipedia

In Sarah Cortez’s upcoming writing workshop, “Keys to Enjoying the Writer’s Art: Literary Romps and Productive Pauses,” students will learn the secrets of creating compelling and enduring stories, characters, and places. Starting on September 5th, and meeting once a month for a total of 6 sessions, this class will explore such topics as how to tell a story, how to use the tricks of creating poetry to enhance your prose, how to use vivid imagery in writing, how to use humor, and how to focus on what’s important in your story. We visited with Cortez to find out more about her unique class.

 

 

WIH Reporter: What is important to know about your upcoming class?

Cortez: What’s important to know is that we are going to have fun in this class as we explore the wide, wide world of writing, reading, and thinking about what others have written so that we could experience their experiences. A poem comes to us as a potent message in a blue bottle washed ashore at the edge of the ocean. It is a gift. (in the words of wonderful Edward Hirsch).

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about the topic of your class?

Cortez: This is a class where we will really hone your storytelling skills by looking at the secrets of oral and written storytellers. You will learn when to pause in your writing and when to add details. You will learn when it is best to speed up the story and when the story needs to be slowed down. The stories you create will mesmerize with their magic.

WIH Reporter: What mistaken impressions might folks have about the subject of your class?

Cortez: I will talk about my first class “Don’t Be Afraid of Poetry”. Many people think just because they open a book of poetry in the bookstore and it doesn’t make sense that they don’t like poetry. Hogwash! I don’t like most poetry I read. But the poets I do like—there’s nothing better to read! You have to be patient and curious to find the poets you admire and enjoy. In this class I will hand over to you the keys to the poetry kingdom—those golden keys that will unlock a world of enjoyment.

WIH Reporter: What format do you plan to use in your writing class?

Cortez:I am an energetic and engaging lecturer. We’ll also stop often for participants’ questions and comments. We are TOGETHER in all of this.

WIH Reporter: Can you tell us what books are on your night table right now?

Cortez: I have Henri Nouwen’s “Prayer” and Pat Conroy’s “Prince of Tides.”

WIH Reporter: Please add anything else about what we should know about your upcoming class.

Cortez: I have been published and won awards in almost every genre of writing there is! I love writing, editing, and reading. But what I love even more is teaching….so I was particularly thrilled when The Women’s Institute reached out to me to compose these classes for its clients.

For more information on this class, click here.

How the West Was Won: Women of the American West


June 12, 2017

Homesteader sized

Join Scott Pett on Fridays from 10:00 – 12:00, beginning September 8 as he explores the strong women of the American West.

“After thirty years here I know this area a little, but the earth is constantly changing, rocks that move, pebbles that roll out from under the sole of your shoe and throw you down, shifts and changes that are new to me because they were not here, not yet visible.” ~Leslie Marmon Silko, The Turquoise Ledge

To learn more, click here.