Sunday, April 28, 2013

Writing the Story of Texas History at the Bullock State History Museum in Austin: A Panel Discussion

Patrick Cox. Light Cummins, Michael  Collins, Nancy Baker Jones, Dan Utley

Yesterday I participated in a panel discussion held at the Bullock Museum in Austin. The event marked the recent publication of a new book entitled "Writing the Story of Texas," edited by Patrick Cox and Kenneth Hendrickson, Jr. It was recently published by the University of Texas Press.  I have a chapter in this book. It deals with the life and scholarly career of Texas Historian Charles Ramsdell, who taught at the University of Texas for over four decades before his death in 1942. Each of the chapters in the book deals with the scholarly contributions of a Texas historian. As the press notes of this book: "The history of the Lone Star state is a narrative dominated by larger-than-life personalities and often-contentious legends, presenting interesting challenges for historians. Perhaps for this reason, Texas has produced a cadre of revered historians who have had a significant impact on the preservation (some would argue creation) of our state’s past. An anthology of biographical essays, Writing the Story of Texas pays tribute to the scholars who shaped our understanding of Texas’s past and, ultimately, the Texan identity." The authors of the various chapters are me for Charles Ramsdell; Patrick Cox for Eugene C, Barker; Michael L. Collins for Walter Prescott Webb; Dan Utley for Ernest W. Winker; Kenneth Hendrickson, Jr. for LLerna Friend; Don Graham for J. Frank Dobie; Byron Price for J. Evetts Hailey; Archie P. McDonald for Robert Maxwell; Felix D. Almaraz, Jr. for Carlos E. Castenda; Mary L. Sheer for Robert Cotner; Carolina Crimm for Amerco  Paredes; David G. McComb for Joe  B. Frantz, Nancy Baker Jones for Ruthe Winegarten; and Frank de la Teja for David Weber. I participated in the panel discussion about this book with Patrick Cox. Michael Collins, Dan Utley, and Nancy Baker Jones.

Click here for more information about this book.

Click here for this title and my chapter on google books.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Talk on Frances Battaille Fisk at the Grace Museum, Abilene, Texas

Part of the Women's Club exhibit at the Grace Museum
I gave a talk yesterday at the Grace Museum in Abilene dealing with the life and times of Frances Battaille Fisk, an Abilene club woman from the 1920s to the 1940s. This is the notice of that talk which appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News:

"Today, Abilenians take for granted the city’s multitude of cultural offerings, from classical concerts by the Abilene Philharmonic to art exhibits at The Grace Museum.They may not know, however, that Abilene’s artistic bent goes back decades. Tonight, the monthly Museum Matters program at The Grace Museum will feature a presentation on an Abilene woman whose 1928 book on Texas art history still is used in art history classes.Frances Bataille Fisk is the author of “A History of Texas Artists and Sculptors.”Presenting the program will be Light T. Cummins, a history professor at Austin College and former State Historian of Texas. Cummins will talk at 6 p.m. about Fisk’s book and its place in Texas art history. Fisk wrote her book from her home in Abilene. In the book, Fisk labeled Abilene as “The Athens of West Texas,” with its schools, colleges and private art studios. The pride she took in her hometown was further evident in her writings.“There was a cultural and artistic atmosphere at a much earlier date (in Abilene) than in some sections of the state,” Fisk wrote. After Cummins’ presentation, The Grace will open a new exhibit, “The West Texas Club Woman 1880-1950.” In February, the museum opened a series of exhibits highlighting the 75-year history of the fine arts in Abilene. Collectively, the exhibits are titled, “The Lasting Legacy of the Abilene Fine Arts Museum.” “This is the last component,” said Emerald Cardenas, director of marketing and communication for The Grace. The new exhibit, which will run indefinitely, will feature photos, scrapbooks, vintage clothing and other memorabilia from early day women’s clubs. An added attraction will be Abilene’s own “lasting legacy,” Roy Helen Ackers, who is well known for her extensive and exotic collection of hats and clothing. “She’ll dress in theme, I’m sure,” Cardenas said. Items in the exhibit will come from the museum’s collection, Ackers’ collection and from The Cat’s Meow store in Midland.Store owner Steven Porterfield will be at the program to describe the items. He is an appraiser for the “Antiques Roadshow,” the poplar PBS program, and is recognized internationally for his vintage clothing collection, Cardenas said."

Click here for the Grace Museum website

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 2013 CASETA Symposium on Early Texas Art


The Witte's new South Texas Heritage Center

Victoria Cummins and I attended the annual meeting of the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art held at the Witte Museum in San Antonio on April 13 and 14. Among the speakers were Ron Tyler, Emily Neff, Randy Tibbits, Shirley Reese Hughes, Scott Barker, and Amy Fulkerson. I found the talk by the Amon Carter Museum's Shirly Reese Hughes to be particularly interesting because it dealt with the subject of Texas regionalism, a subject upon which I am publishing. Her presentation, which dealt with the regional viewpoints of Texas artists during the 1920s and 1930s, proved to be most enlightening and very informative to me. A highlight of the meeting was a tour of the new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte, made possible by a grant from the Robert J. and Helen Kleberg Foundation. As the Witte notes about this new center, it "is a place where the stories of 1850s South Texas come to life through interactive exhibits, art, artifacts and live performances" A striking feature of this new facility is a 160 foot long photo mural of bluebonnets in the Texas hill country created from the paintings of Porfiro Salinas, upon whose work Witte curator Amy Fulkerson talked during the CASETA meeting. This mural is the largest such photo mural in the world, representing the combined efforts of art historians, museum curators, and computer specialists to produce it. The meeting also featured tours of several private residences in San Antonio that contain outstanding collections of early Texas art, along with a visit to Villa Finale, the home of the late art patron Walter Mathis.

Click here for the CASETA website

Click here  for the Witte Museum website.

Monday, April 8, 2013

West Texas Historical Association

Michael Collins speaks on the Texas Rangers
The West Texas Historical Association met in Wichita Falls on April 5 and 6 on the campus of Midwestern  State Univesity. My wife Victoria and I had the pleasure of attending, seeing many friends, and going to some excellent sessions dealing with the history of the western region of the Lone Star State. The West Texas Historical Association is one of the oldest and most venerable historical orgnaizations in the state, having been founded back in 1924. It is currently housed at Texas Tech University where Tad Kriedler is the executive director. As its website notes: "Throughout its long and distinguished history, the WTHA has encompassed a wide range of both professional and non-professional historians--from lawyers and physicians to ranchers, business people, and teachers. Although their interests vary, members share a common desire to preserve the rich history of the West Texas region for present and future generations." One particularly interesting session that I attended featured talks by Michael Collins, Donly Brice, Stephen Hardin, Tom Crum, and Chuck Parson on the subject of the Texas Rangers. It was also a pleasure to see the current Texas State Historian, Bill O'Neal, attending this meeting. He is an acknowledged authority on the western history of Texas, having written a number books on frontier violence, especially outlaws. Bill, like me, maintains a blog about his activities. Click here to see it. Below is a picture of Bill O'Neal autographing one of his books at the meeting.
Bill O'Neal autographs one of his books
at the West Texas Historical Assocation meeting