MAX ERNST SHINES IN MENIL EXHIBIT

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

Painter Max Ernst kept visions of a deceased parent, his dead bird and the frightening forests of Cologne buried deep within throughout much of his career.

One of the major leaders of the Dada movement – one that inspired Beat poets and others– Ernst kept his image file up to date.

<I>Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism<P> is a chronological exhibit at the Menil Collection that ostensibly pays homage to one of the fathers of surrealism.

Painter Marcel Duchamp described the Dada movement as "a metaphysical attitude . . . a sort of nihilism . . . a way to get out of a state of mind – to avoid being influenced by one's environment, or by the past: to get away from cliches – to get free."

Dadaists, typically, are the embodiment of the phrase anti-art. Their works are generally manifestations of spontaneous intuitive expression. Ernst's <I>ouevre <P> is significant in that it includes works that present clearly the Dadaist's configurations and amplify the artistic voice of a man who opposed the Hitlerian notion of "good" art as that which must be borne out of a need to create didactic works that stand safely within the territory of what best serves the Aryan race.

One of the recurrent motifs in his Dada phase is geometric shapes. The structure. The form. The lines. Precise.

Ernst -- whose work along with Giorgio de Chirico's is a precursor of surrealist art, later developed by Salvador Dali and René Magritte – drew much of his inspiration as an artist from the French. His work reflected the less stilted style of French Dadaists more so than the German. He also gleaned concepts of surrealism from the work of French poet André Breton, author of the <I>Surrealist Manifesto<P>.

Ernst once remarked that a title of a work imposes itself. That the work itself is borne out of the nurturing womb of a title.

Birds, naked women and forests are recurrent images in much of Ernst's <I>ouevre<P>.

"Return of the Beautiful Gardener," an oil painting inspired by an earlier version that features a woman with reproductive organs, is described by the artist as an "homage to woman" and by Nazis as an "insult to German womanhood."

"The Virgin Spanking The Christ Child before Three Witnesses: André Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter" is a variation on the theme that mothers are the most natural disciplinarians. The mother – whose vermillion form-fitting dress is contrasted by light, de Chiricoesque walls and heavens – spanks her child while holding him over her knee.

"Monument to the Birds," perhaps rendered as a tribute to his deceased bird, features brown and yellow ochre birds that look like intertwined snakes with eyes of fire.

"Lesson In Automatic Writing," a pencil frottage on paper, is a portrait of an animal that has two visible legs and a chest cavity that reveals ribs.

The forests Ernst created look much darker and more horrifying than any of the creatures and thickets of Sendak's <I>Where the Wild Things Are<P>. The thickets and beasts bear more resemblance to those of Hieronymous Bosch. While the foliage dominates his later work, it is a subject of only a handful of the exhibited works, which reflect his early development.

"The Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale," an oil on wood construction outlined by a multi-layered wooden frame, is considered vintage Ernst. He combines sculpture with painting in this work that is based on the thematic subject of protection. His "Household Life" and "The Family" are similar oil on paperboard paintings that reveal Ernst's love of Latinos as subjects. Some of the works, by contrast, are not driven by the characters of people, but a nice, quirky mix of Dada-inspired propaganda and humor. An example of this is "Dada Triumphs."

He also lived, breathed and drank mixed media. There is much to love in a lighthearted work like "Perturbation, My Sister" or "Man Will Never Understand It."

Ernst's work lives on because he kept that striking image file loaded and let that which was often buried come back to life.

 

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AUTRY ANTICIPATES RETIREMENT AFTER YEARS OF HOT PRESS WORK

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

Not even a bout with pneumonia can leave Jack Autry so dispirited that he can not crack a smile.

Autry plans to retire at the end of August, a date some say will be laced with poignancy. "It's going to be sad. He's going to be missed not just by the Printing Department, but by anybody who knows his face on campus," says Russell Durbin, a department employee.

After 44 years of service as a senior linotype operator at the Printing Department, he will return to his bride Evelyn, four daughters and five grandchildren. Only one person has worked at the University of Houston longer.

The Autry work ethic is predicated on the idea that work is fulfilling if honesty and resourcefulness are two parts of the equation. He and punctuality are good friends – he begins each day at work an hour before his shift. Some mornings, he will even have cups of coffee prepared for the other employees."

"When the shift begins, I usually check with each department supervisor to see if they need any assistance with projects and then go from there," he says, signing and mouthing syllables to Durbin, who serves as his translator.

The fact that Autry is a deaf mute and has been deaf since he was one and a half years old–after a case of spinal meningitis–does not seem to pose major physical or mental obstacles. A tall man, he walks briskly at times and keeps his icy blue eyes focused on the hot press or the person to whom he is communicating.

Autry delights in transforming a five into the face of a man wearing a cap. A portrait of Castro complete with beard, nose and cap. He draws a figure eight, smiling as he takes the black felt tip pen, hatches three lines on each side, draws beady eyes, a mouth, a curved tail and two ears. A jolly mouse.

Since hot type jobs are few and far between, he has a chance to work in other areas of the print shop–in the bindery, press area, shipping department and camera room. He also delivers boxes and does correspondence between business offices.

He received the UH Staff Excellence Award in 1977 and will receive a commendation that recognizes his years of loyal service to the institution from the Board of Regents.

Many years before a then 20-year—old Autry was hired a few years after World War II, he learned the value of hard work in the small, rural oil community of Borger, Texas.

"In the summers, I'd work painting oil rigs, oil wells. I had to work every summer," he says, seemingly relieved that he no longer has to toil in the blood-boiling sunlight of August.

His father owned an oil well pipe and steam cleaning service and worked year round.

At the age of five, he was sent to the Oklahoma School for the deaf in Sulphur, Okla. He received his high school diploma from the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin. The teachers, he says, "Were all fair, but very strict."

The fact that he could not hear or speak as a boy did not hinder him from participating in boyish activities. "I loved all sports and I liked the Boy Scouts, where I earned the Eagle Scout badge." He demonstrated his ability to set a goal and follow through by earning 30 badges while in the Boy Scouts.

His leadership qualities, demonstrated at an early age, are still evident. He has amplified the voices of the deaf, serving as seven-term president of the Houston Division No. 81 of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf.

"Just because they couldn't hear did not mean that they were disabled and could not work," he says. Autry says he hopes to "show them that they could be useful to society."

He does not speak of the original printing department in a nostalgic tone. "It was hell. It was in the old building," he says, with a slight frown and a few lines in his forehead that suggest he was frustrated during his first days as a linotype operator.

"When I first got out of deaf school, I had worked two weeks as a cement finisher. Then I decided I wanted to work indoors. It was an old building. Everything was in a mess. It was disorganized," he says. "I really liked Mr. Taylor and it took a little time to get used to the job."

Evidence of his hard work is on his arms – there are a few spots where the hot lead, blown out from the machines, burned his skin. He wears his gold wedding band on his left ring finger. On his right middle finger, he wears a reminder of the time part of his finger was severed by a blade of a Ludlow machine.

But he never complains.

"One of my pleasures in life is my work. When I do a good job, I don't need recognition – just self satisfaction, knowing I did a good job," he says through sign language.

In his spare time, the red shirt, gray pants, white tennis shoe-wearing Autry enjoys watching closed-caption television, especially <I>McGyver<P>.

"Thanks to good people and the opportunity to work for the UH printing department, I have led a very fulfilling work life," he says, returning to the subject that makes his eyes light up.

"I think 44 years is enough time to occupy a space at the printing department and let some youngster have an opportunity like I was given," Autry says.

He smiles, a facial expression that says, simply, anticipation.

And victory over pneumonia.

 

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NEW AD VOWS ACADEMIC REFORM

COACHES ENFORCE STRICT POLICIES ABOUT STUDYING

by Tammy Gamble

Daily Cougar Staff

Despite UH having an athletic graduation rate of 20 percent, Athletic Director Bill Carr said the standing can be improved through academic monitoring and new athletic staff members.

In a recent editorial Carr said, "There is no way to defend such a poor performance; it must improve dramatically."

The dismal ranking came as part of a National Collegiate Athletic Association report that compared the percentage of athletes graduating from Division I colleges from 1986-1987.

Among the eight Southwestern Athletic Conference universities, Prairie View University ranked highest with 53 percent of athletes graduating and Alcorn State University in Mississippi ranked last with 7 percent.

Carr said the recent appointments of Kim Helton as UH head football coach and Alvin Brooks as UH head men's basketball coach are signs of improvement. "Since their appointments, there is a renewed commitment to improving the academic performance within the athletic program at the university. Part of the reason for selecting coach Brooks and coach Helton was their dedication to improving the graduation rates for student-athletes," Carr said in the editorial.

Carr, who came to UH in April, said players with grade point averages below 2.25 are required to attend a study hall. Coaches will also be allowed to implement programs within their departments according to the athletes individual academic needs.

Brooks said he will assign each basketball coach three or four players, and the coach will monitor their class and study hall attendance, class assignments and progression on their degree plan. Department academic support individuals will check with the athlete's instructors for progress reports, Brooks said.

"I will personally enforce all these things. I will demand they work very hard toward progressing on their degree plans. If they are not progressing, they will no longer be with us," Brooks said.

Helton has started "The Breakfast Club" where athletes having an unexcused absence in class or study hall meet at 4 a.m. with a football coach for a disciplinary run. Should the athlete miss the run, the player will be dismissed from the football program.

The NCAA is also beginning to require universities improve their incoming freshmen's SAT and ACT scores, Carr said. Each athlete must choose a major by their third year and have 50 percent of their degree course work completed by their senior year, Carr said in the editorial.

"The athletes need to know that their efforts need to be on graduating, not eligibility. Eligibility will come as a by-product of graduation requirements," Carr said.

With plans to begin an athlete support system in the fall, Carr expects to see improvements immediately as athletes attend classes and study halls, and progress toward graduating.

 

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NEWSLINE

New library

An information center dedicated to natural gas supply research has opened at UH's Allied Geophysical Laboratories. The center is in the Dobrin Library at Allied Geophysical Laboratories and will be a repository for technical reports.

The center is a joint effort by the Gas Research Institute, Inc. (Chicago) and UH.

The library and information center is open to the public and is open from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Pop imagery

The latest addition to UH's One Percent for Public Art program is a commission by Houston artist and visiting Art Department faculty member Rachel Hecker.

<I>Tailgate<P>, a continuation of Hecker's pop imagery work, has been installed in the lobby of the University Computing Center at UH entrance 17.

This painting joins more than 90 other works ranging from large outdoor sculptures, paintings, prints and drawings all purchased or commissioned by the university through its Once Percent program. Established in 1966 by the Board of Regents, the program dedicates 1 percent of construction costs of all new buildings and renovation projects for the commissioning or purchase of works of art.

Hecker came to Houston in 1982 as an instructor of painting and drawing at the Classell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts.Scheduling tips

Fee payment for fall is due Wednesday, Aug. 25.

The last day of class for Summer IV is August 18. Finals are August 19-20. If you're getting financial aid for the fall, check with your counselor now to make sure your paperwork is in order.

 

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GYM SHORTS

Football

Head coach Kim Helton led his freshman and newcomers through another full day of practice Tuesday in the hot Houston climate.

"We got a great effort today," Helton said. "They are trying hard. Some are close to deciding if this worth it or not.

"That is the tough thing about football. No one can decide for you if you want to play. Your momma and your daddy can't decide for you. Only you can decide.

"Some of these guys have never been fortunate to be worked hard," Helton said. "Right now they are deciding if it is worth the sacrifice."

Helton praised the work of Billy Milner and Marcus Vidrine.

Strength and conditioning coach John Lott is pleased with the conditioning of the freshman and newcomers after the workouts.

"We are exposing them to a lot of new ideas," Lott said. "They have shown great effort and attitudes. They are doing what we want."

Staff addition

Athletic Director Bill Carr and head trainer Mike O'Shea announced Tuesday that Michelle Leget has been named assistant trainer for the University of Houston athletic training staff.

She will assist O'Shea and associate trainer Louis Ray with the staff's day-to-day operations. She will work with all UH varsity teams, with her main responsibilities being women's tennis.

Leget, a 1990 graduate of Central Michigan, comes to Houston after completing her master's degree from the University of Florida this past May. She served as a graduate assistant for the Gators from July '91 through May '93. She also served as a student assistant while at Central Michigan. She is a native of Vienna, Va.

 

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PLAN OF HELTON'S ATTACK COMPLETE WITHOUT TAPES

ORGANIZATION AND PRACTICE ESSENTIAL FOR COOG VICTORY

by Jason Paul Ramirez

Daily Cougar Staff

The return of the University of Houston football season officially gets under way this Saturday as the varsity players begin their first full practice.

But head coach Kim Helton might be faced with a dilemma that he didn't plan on.

On July 30, Helton was preparing to evaluate his football team in greater detail when he learned that their spring workout video tapes were missing.

Sources say that former coach John Jenkins took the tapes with him when he resigned in April amid allegations of NCAA violations.

"When you're trying to get things organized for the start of summer workouts, not having accessible evaluations of that sort is unfortunate," Helton says.

Though the tapes are missing, Helton doesn't think his evaluation will be affected.

"It's really not a big deal," he says. "We have two weeks to prepare for Southern Cal and we'll know who is ready and who isn't."

The tapes revealed the way Jenkins used to coach the Cougars, which is not the way Helton plans on running the team.

"There is no way that we are going to break any records this year," Helton says. "We are going to have pride and be proud. Scoring 90 points on somebody is not the way we want to establish that particular reputation."

The way that Helton does plan to run the Cougars' offense consists of a pass-oriented team, even though breaking every NCAA record is his foremost goal.

"We will be a four-wide, one-back team on initial and third down," he says. "We will also be a two-back, three-wide team.

"We will be an exciting offensive football team, but we are not throwing the football on every play. We need better balance, and having a running game to complement a great passing game is how we will do that."

 

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BUDGET, COUNCIL PROPOSALS IN LIMBO

by Heather Wolk

Daily Cougar Staff

With the Sept. 1 deadline for the university's reshaping document fast approaching, members of the UH community whose programs are slated to be done away with are waiting in limbo.

UH President James Pickering and University Planning and Policy Chair George Magner were unavailable to release any information on the finalizing of the document because they are on vacation.

"The community discussions were slated to be finished by the first (of September)," said Wendy Adair, associate vice president of University Relations.

"But the specifics are yet to be worked out since everyone's on vacation," she added.

Adair said she hopes that upon the president's return, meetings and discussions will continue so the final draft can be completed soon.

Pickering released his reshaping document on May 17, 1993, to take effect in the fall '93 semester.

The plan, which is designed to save the university $3.3 million a year, includes eliminating 20 degree programs, six academic programs and 120 staff and administrative positions.

One of the six academic programs to be cut is the three dimensional art program: sculpture, ceramics, and jewlery and metalsmithing.

Also recommended to be phased out is the communications disorder program and clinic, which includes the city's only public clinic for speech and hearing therapy.

This summer Pickering welcomed input and discussion on the document from the faculty and the community.

Pickering said that most of the letters he has received from the community have been about the closure of the communication disorders program.

"He's caught it from all sides on this one," said Martin Adams, department chair for communication disorders.

"I know that he's heard from state representatives, city council members, the Department of Health and Human Services and various clinic patients," Adams said.

Mary Curl, coordinator for the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic, said she feels that the fate of the clinic is still "up in the air."

"The only thing we know for sure is that they've allowed us to have a class in the fall, so we know at least we'll be around for a little while," said Curl.

"The administration has told us to find a new place to go, so we're trying. I think we're all very reserved about being optimistic right now," Curl said.

Adams said that despite the recommendation for closure, the administration has been helpful in some ways.

"They've given us a few thousand dollars to renovate a portion of the building we're in," said Adams.

"But it's my understanding that we'll be phased out over a period of two or three years," Adams said.

"We try to rely on good, clear signs . . . but we're not getting them. Neither are we getting negative signs. He's playing his cards very close to his chest," said Adams.

Dean Ruck, a sculpture faculty member, said he thinks there may be hope the sculpture program can be saved.

"There was some speculation and rumor that the president was recanting about the sculpture program," said Ruck.

"It's a very serious issue, and we've gotten a lot of community support," he added.

The University Planning and Policy Council sent several recommendations to Pickering regarding the reshaping document.

Referring to the 3-D art program, the UPPC recommends that a campus-wide review of space utilization be initiated at the earliest possible date, preferably by disinterested parties, according to a letter to Pickering.

The council also recommends that the proposed merger of the departments of biology and biochemistry be reconsidered at all levels.

The council supports the merger of the French, German and Hispanic and Classical languages into the department of Foreign and Classical Languages.

George Magner, chair of the UPPC, said the council is scheduled to meet on August 23.

The final reshaping document is slated for release by Sept. 1.

 

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CLINTON THREATENS AIR STRIKES AGAINST SERBS

by Yonca Poyraz-Dogan

Daily Cougar Staff

President Clinton threatened possible U.S. air strikes in Bosnia. After 17 months of war, how wise would it be for the U.S. to take a position? Would bombing against the Serbians help to solve war-ravaged former Yugoslavia's problems?

"It's awfully late," said political science professor Mark Franklin. It should have been done a long time ago, which doesn't mean that the United States should not intervene now, he said.

Another political science professor, Joseph Nogee, said as a general rule the United States or any other major power should not become involved in civil wars.

"The American people are not prepared to pay high costs for an extended military involvement anywhere in the world, particularly where we have no significant national interest," he said.

A Serbian graduate student from Montenegro, Momcilo Vidakovic, has another approach. He said bombing the Serbs will not work because he believes the leadership is bad, not the people of ethnic groups. Bosnian Croats, Serbs and Muslims have been led to the war by their leaders who he believes should be out of power if democratic elections and peace are wanted.

Rezie Jan, a graduate student in geology, said he could have fought in Bosnia if the United States had decided to take strong military actions. Jan, who is in the U.S military, said possible air strikes are meaningless gestures. The United States should either stay out of the conflict or act strongly with military action, he said.

After the Clinton administration urged tougher actions against the Serbia last week, NATO allies gave support to the American initiative to prepare for air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs if they continue to prevent access to Sarajevo.

This week, while NATO members were meeting, U.S. officials said that Washington would not press for an immediate decision to authorize military action. Then the 16 NATO members decided that such an action would come only after specific approval by the U.N. Secretary General.

The United States has not acted quickly. Why?

"The United States does not have a vital interest to suppress aggression. That may strike people that you go in only when your interest is served," Nogee said.

If the war in the Balkans threatened to be an international war, then Europe itself would quite certainly take a different position, he said. The use of air strikes by the United States won't have a great impact in hurting the Serbs unless they are used in a larger scale, Nogee said.

If there was foreign involvement, for example, if Serbia attacks Macedonia, there is a very good chance that countries like Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey might become involved, said Nogee. Then there would be an international war, which is worse than a civil war, he said.

"When the Americans try to do things on their own it has not been generally successful," Franklin said.

The United States needs a coalition to give legitimacy to that kind of exercise, he said.

Franklin also said ground troops, which will cause casualties, will be needed at this point

"The later you get, the bigger the battle you get into, and the smaller the benefits. Two years ago nobody would have had to die," he said.

Vidakovic said average people, whether Bosnian Muslims, Serbs or Croats won't get any benefit out of the war. Average people suffer and don't want to fight, he said. He also said Serbians are labeled bad, but good Serbs, like the 300,000 who marched for the peace recently, exist too.

In Geneva, Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic said he won't return to peace talks until Serbs withdraw from the two strategic mountains. Peace talks in Geneva have been in recess.

 

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NDIE COMIC BOOKS HAVE LAST LAUGH

by shane patrick boyle

Contributing Writer

On Aug. 7 & 8, the Houston Room in the University Center was the site of the First Annual Houston Comic Festival, sponsored by Field of Mars Productions and the letter A.

Guests included <I>Mage<P> and <I>Grendel<P> creator Matt Wagner, Chris Claremont of <I>X-Men<P> infamy, the very funny Evan Dorkin creator of <I>Dork!<P>, <I>Milk & Cheese<P>, <I>Pirate Corp$<P> and <I>Fight Man<P> from Marvel who is also the artist of <I>Predator: Big Game<P> from Dark Horse.

But lesser known independent publishers with fewer dollar signs were also represented including Adhesive Comics and Absolute Comics.

The Austin-based Adhesive Comics began when a friend of cartoonist Shannon Wheeler moved into the former home of Blackbird Comics founder John Norland II and found the printing press still there.

Wheeler says, "It was an opportunity we couldn't pass up."

But by the time they put together the first issue of a humor anthology called <I>JAB<P>, the press was repossessed, but they had already got the ball rolling and since everyone was very dedicated, they went ahead and published it without the free use of a press they didn't know how to operate anyway, Wheeler says.

<I>JAB<P>, billed as a comic that is "better than a sharp poke in the eye," is now in its fourth issue and is doing very well, particularly the collector's item bullet hole issue that has a real bullet hole in the middle. Adhesive is now publishing other titles as well Wheeler's <I>Too Much Coffee Man<P>.

This, however, was not the first journey Wheeler made into the comics industry. He began his career as a cartoonist for the Daily Cal at the University of California at Berkeley. Many of these strips including the critically acclaimed <I>Tooth and Justice<P> are reprinted in <I>Children With Glue<P> from Blackbird Comics.

Wheeler says in Berkeley and Austin he has met interesting people on which to base his cartoons.

The Absolute Comics crew, hailing from Waco, on the other hand, are not inspired by their locale described by writer Mark Finn as "Jerusalem on the Brazos" with "three colleges and no college scene."

Finn says that's why "we sit around and listen to music and draw. It's either that or join a cult." Artists Shane Campos and William Traxtle and their friend Kai (a "carnivorous vegetarian") agree.

Kai, who has really cool hair, is the visual inspiration for the character named Punk who appears in several mini-comics and the full-size <I>Punk and his Pals<P>.

Besides appearance, what does he have in common with Punk?

"Everything except I'm not biomechanical and I don't fight as much," Kai says.

Punk lives on planet at the center of the universe called Axys which has its problems, but is way cooler than Waco.

On Axys, he hangs with his pals at Spitcups where the house band is Corn Gone Bad --"inspired by Glenn Danzig from his Misfits stage," Campos says. And they drink, fight, and have a lot of adventures.

Finn says Axys is a loose allegory for America. "It's violent and chaotic and nobody thinks much."

Many people in America are "content to let the powers that be run things," Traxtle says.

The group describes their style of alternative comics as "garage comics," the comic equivalent of grunge music.

The complete line of Adhesive Comics and some Absolute Comics can be found in most comic shops.

 

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OUT OF THE CLOSET COMEDY

by shane patrick boyle

Contributing Writer

In a day when it is rare to find a comedy club act that doesn't assault its audience with an arsenal of racist, sexist and homophobic jokes (not to mention unoriginal and unfunny), it's refreshing to know some professional comics are bucking tradition.

Jason Stuart is part of this original new breed of comedians. He also has a secret. He's gay. (Shh! Don't tell anybody.)

Actually, it's not a very well kept secret anymore. He told millions of Geraldo viewers early this summer on an episode about untraditional comedians – the last step in a 10-year coming out process.

Stuart, an actor and comedian, has performed at the Improv and other prominent venues, though until recently he was not open in his act about his sexual orientation.

His film and television appearances include the hair-dresser who gets shot at the beginning of <I>Kindergarten Cop<P>, a recurring role on <I>Sunset Beat<P>, and a recent appearance on <I>Murder She Wrote<P>.

His first role as a gay character was performing in <I>P.A.N.I.C<P>, a play Stuart describes as "a futuristic nightmare." It is based on Lyndon LaRouche's AIDS solution, which was to quarantine gay men.

As one might expect, Stuart's act is a contrast to the fag and AIDS jokes many comics use at low moments to get all the drunk rednecks rolling on the floor.

Stuart says, however, that most comedians are not deliberately or even consciously homophobic. It's usually a case of "ignorance more than homophobia" he says.

When asked if, when he was in the closet, he ever told any jokes he regretted later, his answer is, "Oh no. I never talked about it. I always skirted around the issue."

In his act, he tries to educate the audience about AIDS and the fact that it is not just a gay issue. "This is the '90s, ladies! Have yourselves laminated," he says in his act.

Ladies and gents can catch Stuart's performances next week at Laff Stop, 1952 W. Gray.

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