It’s 2020 by George! Rhapsody in Blue is in the Public Domain

It’s a new year for Public Domain Day! On January 1, 2020, works published in 1924 became available to the public for use because their 95 year copyright term expired. This year’s class includes the George Gershwin classic Rhapsody in Blue.

For works published before 1978 by the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, copyright term lengths in the United States were extended from 75 to 95 years. Therefore, with the arrival of each new year, a batch of previously protected works moves into the public domain. For example, once this act expired in 2019, works from 1923 became available to the public for the first time. Now in 2020, works from 1924 are available.

But what does it mean when a work’s copyright expires? Copyright is a bundle of rights, established in the U.S. Code, that helps authors of creative works protect their intellectual property. Rights holders have the exclusive right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, make copies and distribute, and perform and display their work.

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin (1898-1937) premiered in 1924 and has remained popular ever since as a regularly performed concert work. The work has been arranged and recorded by numerous musicians. It has been used in advertising campaigns – most famously by United Airlines – and it has been arranged for different instrumentation, including organ and piano duets, as well as 1940s big band. Each of these performances, recordings, arrangements, broadcasts, and advertising uses has required permission from the Gershwin Family Trust to use the original work because the Trust still controlled the bundle of exclusive rights for the original work–that is, the printed notes of the music composition–up until 2019.

Now in 2020, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is in the public domain and available for adaptation and other creative uses. Gershwin melodies can be worked into new compositions, arranged for new instrumental (and vocal!) combinations, and adapted to an opera or Broadway musical.

In the Hamon Arts Library:

Rhapsody in Blue, facsimile edition with historical information and annotation
General Stacks ML96.5.G47 R3

The Annotated Rhapsody in Blue, Restored to Gershwin’s Original Manuscript by Alicia Zizzo
General Stacks M25.G47 R 1996

Rhapsody in Blue– piano solo
General Stacks M37 .G381 R 1924


Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin piano roll from 1925, Michael Tilson Thomas and the Columbia Jazz Band
Available online via Naxos Music Library

Rhapsody in Blue, performed by Leonard Bernstein and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, ℗1983
Available online via Naxos Music Library

Blog post: Pam Pagels, Music and Theatre Librarian, Hamon Arts Library, SMU
Featured image: George Gershwin, 1898-1937, half-length portrait, standing, facing left
Image source: George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Collaborative exhibition: RISO BAR – opening January 25th


JANUARY 25, 2020 – DECEMBER 15, 2020

Opening reception: Saturday January 25, 1-5 p.m.

Pollock Gallery

Expressway Tower Suite 101

6116 N Central Expressway, Dallas TX, 75206

The risograph is a printing technology defined by its relative simplicity and the possibilities for experimentation. Invented in Japan in the 1940s, the technology was imagined as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to the photocopy. In subsequent decades, riso has become a definitive creative tool for a global network of users including artists, designers, publishers and universities. RISO BAR is a collaborative exhibition that engages with the vast riso network, exploring the risograph’s potential as a tool for learning and experimentation.

Over the course of the exhibition, a risograph machine will be available for public use while the Pollock Gallery is open. The machine forms the core of the exhibition: it is what we learn with, practice with, and make with. Visitors to the Pollock Gallery are invited to use the risograph to create works of their own. A series of programmed workshops led by riso producers from Texas and elsewhere will allow visitors to develop and expand both their skills and knowledge of riso history and practices.These workshops will be free and open to the public.

In collaboration with SMU’s Hamon Arts Library, RISO BAR will include a curated collection of riso books and zines from all over the world, as well as fresh juices from Recipe Oak Cliff for sale to the visitors, playing off the idea of the bar.

RISO BAR is a space and long-term exhibition for collective learning and skill-building, a launching pad that will develop into an extant Riso press in Dallas after the exhibit concludes.

RISO BAR is a collaborative initiative between Strange Powers Press, May Makki, Finn Jubak, Recipe Oak Cliff and the SMU Hamon Arts Library.

 Strange Powers Press is a letterpress and risograph studio operating out of Dallas, TX.  Powered by a Riso GR 3770 and a Vandercook Proof Press, founders Mylan Nguyen and Taro Waggoner’s mission is to promote and publish interesting zines and prints as well as hold workshops on various forms of printmaking and making small publications.

Finn Jubak was born and raised in New York City, and received a BA in film from the University of Chicago in 2018. His work in photography and film engages the materiality of landscape and expressiveness of everyday objects. His images have been published in Hamburger Eyes and Aint Bad. He currently lives in Dallas.

May Makki is interested in collaborative systems and practices. She received her B.A. in Art History from the University of Chicago, where she focused on the relationship between art, technology, media, and politics. She is the curator of a private collection in Dallas, TX.   

Recipe Oak Cliff is a delicious food venture of The Susu Cultural Business Incubator dedicated to addressing food security issues and supporting health food entrepreneurs in South Oak Cliff, Texas.

The Hamon Arts Library serves SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the arts community. Its circulation and reference collections contain more than 180,000 items relating to the visual and performing arts. In addition, the Library has some 300 subscriptions to arts periodicals and provides access to more than 40 online resources that are specific to the arts.

John Lunsford: Mentor, Advisor, Friend

John Lunsford’s passing marks not just the loss for many individuals of a beloved colleague and former professor but also the loss of a living link to an earlier era.  As pre-Columbian curator at the Dallas Museum of Art for thirty years, director of the Meadows Museum, and professor of art history at SMU, John was indispensable in the cultural history of Dallas over the past sixty years.  Always self-effacing, he skillfully passed on this vast reservoir of knowledge and experience to those of us fortunate enough to have known him.  For example, John proved to be an invaluable resource for me and the other staff members of Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, Ellen Buie Niewyk and Emily George Grubbs.  Mr. Bywaters had been instrumental in launching the careers of John, Ellen and me.  But John had a slight head start, having been hired as an assistant curator at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (now the DMA) in the 1950s when Jerry Bywaters was its director.  Having worked with him for so many years, John definitely had helpful thoughts about organizing the collection, a collection development policy and, of course, exhibitions; his ideas proved to be especially valuable after Mr. Bywaters’ death in 1989.

Continue reading “John Lunsford: Mentor, Advisor, Friend”

Hawn Gallery presents: Pipes on Paper: the Wallmann Collection of Books on the Organ opening July 15

In Western music, more books have been written on the organ than any other instrument. This summer exhibition, Pipes on Paper, open on Monday, July 15, highlights a selection of books on this grand and artful instrument from the James L. Wallmann Collection. In sum, it offers a survey from 1698 to 1923 on the history of organs and organbuilding. These twenty-four books not only offer a glimpse into the technical innovations of the organ during these centuries, but also a view of the instrument’s variety across different regions and cultures.

The earliest book is Andreas Werckmeister’s treatise on organ testing, a work known to J. S. Bach. L’art du facteur d’orgues (“The art of the organbuilder”) (1766–78) by François Bedos de Celles, a French Benedictine monk, is the most magnificent book on the organ ever published and one that, throughout history, has helped many organbuilders build organs.

Other titles on display from the 1700s and 1800s describe organs and organbuilding in their diverse array in Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Italy, and the United States. Books from nineteenth-century England by F. H. Sutton, John Norbury, and Arthur George Hill illustrate English and continental organ cases. The most recent publications on display are two pamphlets from 1923, which represent two very different movements in the organ world – a little flyer on a proposed restoration of Arp Schnitger’s 1693 organ in Hamburg and one of the few surviving copies of a booklet from Estey Organ Co. promoting its innovative New luminous stop console.

James L. Wallmann has lived in the Dallas area since 2006. He has degrees in music and law from Brigham Young University and Georgetown University, respectively; and has been collecting books on the organ for almost fifty years. Mr. Wallmann’s collection contains over 3,000 books and pamphlets with an emphasis in these five areas: important books on organbuilding and the history of the organ; books in Dutch; books about Gottfried Silbermann and his organs; reference books and collected works about the organ; and rare and unusual books about the organ.

Pipes on Paper: the Wallmann Collection of Books on the Organ is on view July 15 – August 2 at the Hawn Gallery, located inside the Hamon Arts Library on SMU campus. The Library is open during summer hours, Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, and closed weekends. For more information, please contact Hawn Gallery at or 214-768-1383.

Featured image: Old organ at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, illustration from John Norbury (1824–1911), The box of whistles | an illustrated book on organ cases: with notes on organs at home and abroad. London: Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., 1877.

South•Western Arts Magazine

Jerry Bywaters made major art and journalistic contributions to the Dallas and Southwest art scene beginning in the 1920s.  He was considered an unofficial art critic for SMU’s literary journal, the Southwest Review, by reporting on artists and art events. In August 1932, he began publishing and editing a new magazine entitled South•Western Arts.  The magazine promoted Southwest artists and published articles on their work and art events in the area.  Its first issue included this statement of purpose:

In these few pages are gathered some facts and opinions on the arts – all too localized and incomplete.  But there is a hint of what is to follow.  The next number of South•Western Arts will appear in October…will have twenty-eight pages…departments on many of the arts and related crafts…critical articles by contributors of the South and Southwest…reproductions of creative works…and appear every other month during the active art season. It will be the only magazine offering a journalistic medium of expression for the arts in this region – the answer to a (there is no other word) crying need.

After one issue, the name of the new magazine was changed to Contemporary Arts of the South and Southwest, as described in the November – December, 1932 issue, in order “…to serve both the South and Southwest.”   Unfortunately, the magazine was discontinued after four issues.  During its brief life, the magazine offered a unique glimpse into the art world of Dallas and the Southwest, which was active and vital in spite of the depression of the 1930s.

Copies of these publications now available online!

Image: South•Western Arts, August, 1932 (Volume One, Number One). Courtesy of Jerry Bywaters Collection on Art of the Southwest, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.


Write On! @ Hamon Arts Library: New Mobile White Boards

WriteOnAtHamonThanks to partial funding from Mustangs Give Back donors, Hamon now has three mobile whiteboards for everyone’s use! Roll one to wherever you’re inspired to calculate, illustrate or pontificate.

Dry Erase Markers and erasers available at the 1st floor services desk.

Post courtesy of LaGail Davis, General Operations Manager
Illustration and featured image: Sam Guerrero

Curatorial discussion #1: Clear, Deep, Dark

This curatorial discussion on the Hawn Gallery exhibition, Clear, Deep, Dark, focuses on its artist, Julie Morel. Every two weeks during the exhibition’s run, Curatorial Fellow, Emily Rueggeberg, will post a new article highlighting one or more of Morel’s pieces from the exhibition to provide insight into the artist’s creative and theoretical processes.

Continue reading “Curatorial discussion #1: Clear, Deep, Dark”

Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature

The news seemed so odd – what relevance does Bob Dylan have now? Is his work literature?  Which work, or works, merit this prize? If the prize is in recognition of a body of work, where is the corpus? The collection?

What does Dylan mean to those interested in what was, at least in the past, known as the fine arts? How is his work different from the horde of largely forgotten singers and songwriters, back to the Brill Building and Tin Pan Alley? Continue reading “Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature”

GCI online exhibition – Octavio Medellin: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings

The Bywaters Special Collections staff are happy to announce that SMU’s Central University Libraries is now a part of the Google Cultural Institute. BSC staff, Ellen Buie Niewyk, curated the first GCI exhibition with archivist, Emily George Grubbs. Octavio Medellin: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938 is an exhibition curated from the holdings of photographs and documents of the artist from Bywaters Special Collections. Take a look!

Thank you to Emily George Grubbs, Archivist, Bywaters Special Collections, for this post!

Image: Courtesy of Octavio Medellin Art work and Papers, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

Open Access Week in October

Central University Libraries and Southern Methodist University present and invite you to Open Access Week 2016 at Southern Methodist University

Open Access Week at SMU will take place on October 24 – 28, 2016, in the Fondren Library. Three speakers will be highlighted in the Foyer of the Fondren Library on Oct 25, 26 and 28 and an informational table will be placed in the Collaborative Commons area,
Monday through Friday from 11am to 2pm. Continue reading “Open Access Week in October”