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Showing posts from 2016

The Canales Hearings, the Loyal Rangers in the Era of the Mexican Revolution

During World War I, but more relevantly, the era of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) the state of Texas authorized the expansion of the Texas Rangers by establishing special commissions for what became known as the Loyalty Rangers.  These Rangers were not within the established Rangers chain of command and often were locally hired and paid by agricultural planters, railroad corporations and mining interests to provide security on the US-Mexico border.  Despite state authorization of these Rangers, they were more or less deputized vigilantes engaged in policing Mexican American communities during times of political turbulence.  Generally, despite the increasingly frequent episodes of violence on the frontier, these Loyalty Rangers also offered effective and often violent support in the maintenance of labor relations between the Mexican American laboring class and Anglo American managerial and employing class.  Not unsurprisingly, the laboring class found themselves fr…

Kara Walker, Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)

Kara Walker has had over three dozen solo shows since 1995 and, so far as I can tell, the last of them to exhibit in Texas was over nine years ago when “My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love” visited the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.  It seems quite rare that her work is exhibited in the South, much less Texas.

In the spring of 2014 her Marvelous Sugar Baby sculpture in the vacant Domino Sugar Refinery in Brooklyn became the most talked about art installation of the year, and frankly, I have heard nothing about another work of art discussed as much.  An enormous sphinx made with large sugar cube blocks, it exhibited familiar critiques of the black Mammy iconography that Walker observers should recognize from her earlier conceptual work with silhouettes, prints and Jim Crow era found objects.

So far as I know, there has yet to be a major Kara Walker show in Houston.  The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, however, possesses the fifteen print series of lithographs and screenprints p…

Franz Winterhalter

After the death of her uncle, King William IV, the London born Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 at the youthful age of 18.  Born of a German mother and eventually married to her German cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, Queen Victoria’s life was deeply intertwined with continental royalty even before her coronation.  Victoria and Albert had nine children, each married to another continental aristocrat, and-- as best as I could ascertain from some of the sumptuous Winterhalter exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston—her nine children had more than forty of their own, and a dozen of them became kings, queens, emperors and empresses of Greece, Norway, Russia, Romania, Wales, Spain, Prussia and other various German kingdoms.  Until August 14, about 45 of his paintings will be on exhibit at the MFAH.

In the 1820s and 1830s, the German born Franz Xaver Winterhalter emerged from the Munich Academy of Arts as a favored court painter for the aristocracy in Baden.  Winterhalter…