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AMERICAN MOSAIC - December 7, 2001: Music by Ryan Adams/Hanukkah/Chinati museum in Texas - 2001-12-06


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today, we:

play some music by Ryan Adams ...

answer a question about Hanukkah ...

and report about an unusual museum in the state of Texas.

Chinati Museum


Most museums that show art and historical objects are in large buildings in the center of cities. Yet other non-traditional museums exist. One of them is Chinati (Chin-AH-tee) in a desert area of west Texas. It is the permanent home of some unusual large works of art. Jim Tedder tells us about it.


Donald Judd was an artist who believed art should be shown in a permanent space designed for it. He created large, simple forms that needed a lot of space. He is considered part of the art movement called minimalism.

In the early Nineteen-Seventies, Judd visited the town of Marfa in the dry unpopulated area of west Texas. He was looking for a permanent setting for his pieces. Within a few years he had found many buildings for his work and the work of other artists he liked. More than thirty buildings on an unused army base near Marfa joined the houses, stores and a bank Judd bought in town. He called his project Chinati, the name of nearby mountains.

About ten-thousand art lovers from around the world have been making the long trip to Chinati each year. Most fly to El Paso, Texas. Then they drive for almost three hours through the brown empty land to see this unusual art in its unusual setting.

On the former army base, two huge military storage buildings with rounded roofs shelter Donald Judd’s best known work. It is a series of one-hundred aluminum boxes. The grey metal boxes are all the same size outside, about one meter tall, one meter wide and almost two meters long. But the space inside each box is divided differently. Visitors enjoy watching the changing natural light soften the hard shapes and sharp edges of the shiny metal boxes.

Donald Judd died in Nineteen-Ninety-Four, but more art that he liked continues to find a home in Chinati. Six U-shaped buildings once filled with sleeping soldiers now are filled with light.

Dan Flavin, a light artist who died five years ago, used tubes of florescent light to create his art. His design for the six former army buildings was made years ago but the work was not finished until last year. Combinations of pink, yellow, blue and green light now flood the empty spaces. Visitors can experience the reaction between light and space in this new addition to the unusual art space in the hills of west Texas.



Our VOA question this week comes from listeners in Vietnam and Nigeria. Nguyen Thanh Duc in Ho Chi Minh City and Ibrahim Umar Abdulkarim in Kano both ask about the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration of the first successful battle in history for religious freedom. The story goes back more than two-thousand years, to the land that is now Israel. The ruling Greek-Syrian King had attempted to suppress the Jewish religion. He placed statues of Greek gods in the Jewish temple and tried to force Jews to accept them.

A man called Judah Maccabee led a small group of Jews against their Greek-Syrian rulers. The Jews won the battle and the freedom to observe their religion. They began to clean the temple of all Greek influence.

The story says they found only enough oil to light the holy temple lamp for one day. But the small amount of oil burned for eight days instead. It lasted until the Jews could bring new oil to the temple. This “miracle” is the reason Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days.

The first night of Hanukkah this year is Sunday, December ninth. On that night Jews will say Hebrew prayers and light special candles in a lamp called a Hanukkah menorah. A menorah holds nine candles. One candle is used to light the other candles. It is called the shamus (SHAH-muss).

The shamus lights only one candle on the first night of Hanukkah. It lights one more on each of the following nights. On the last night of the holiday, all nine candles burn brightly.

On each night of Hanukkah, parents tell the holiday story to children and guests. They play special games and eat special foods. Everyone exchanges gifts. And they sing songs of joy. Listen to one of these, “Hannukah Oh Hanukkah”.


Jews do not consider Hanukkah a major religious holiday. But Jewish leaders say it is important because it is a time when Jews give thanks for the freedom to worship God in their own way.

Ryan Adams


Twenty-six year old rock musician Ryan Adams has released three albums in one year. The latest album, “Gold,” was released September twenty-fifth. Shirley Griffith tells about Adams and plays some of his songs.


“New York, New York” is the first song on the album “Gold.” Ryan Adams filmed the video for the song on September seventh — four days before the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D-C. In the video, Adams plays his guitar and sings near the Brooklyn Bridge. Just over his shoulder, across the East River, are the two buildings of the World Trade Center that were destroyed in the attacks. At the end of the song, he turns quickly and looks across the river. Listen now to “New York, New York.”


Ryan Adams says he loves both New York and Los Angeles, where he lives now. The album has songs about both places. One song is about a famous street in Los Angeles. Here is “La Cienega Just Smiled.”


Adams is now working on the first album with his new band, the Pinkhearts. He used to be leader of the alternative country band called Whiskeytown. It released its final album, “Pneumonia”, in May. Ryan wrote or helped write all the songs on the collection. One song is about his hometown in North Carolina. We leave you now with “Jacksonville.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC—VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

Remember to write us with your questions about American life. We will try to answer them on future programs. Listeners whose questions are chosen will receive a Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.

Send your questions to American Mosaic, Special English, Voice of America, Washington, D.C. two-zero-two-three-seven, USA. Or use a computer to e-mail your question to "mosaic at V-O-A news dot com.” Please include your name and postal address. This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Marilyn Christiano, Nancy Steinbach, and Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.