Art experts are speculating that Alice Walton paid $40 million recently for the Asher B. Durand painting, "Progress," which had been part of a corporate collection of art, the Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art. The word museum is misleading; collector Jack Warner bought the painting (and many other significant works of American art) when he was chairman of Gulf States Paper Co., since restructured as the Westervelt Co., according to this story in the Tuscaloosa News.
The marketing manager for the Westervelt Co. said the collection is not being liquidated, but "Progress" was “a corporate asset, and it was decided through our November board meeting that certain non-core corporate assets will be sold. ... It's not the first time we've sold art.”
The Tuscaloosa story goes on to quote several experts, including Whitney Museum of American art director emeritus Tom Armstrong, who said that the sale price was too high for museums and that "Alice Walton is the leading candidate" among the few billionaires who were likely to plunk down so much for a painting. Armstrong's theory is she wants to unite "Progress" with her other famed (and controversial) Duran acquisition, "Kindred Spirits," at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
“She's been able to buy up the very top of the field, very top-quality works that these days are so rare,” said Betsy Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “The best pieces are just going to be in the stratosphere.”
Also sold last week from the Warner collection: Martin Johnson Heade's “Two Hummingbirds With An Orchid.” There is a similar painting already in the collection of Crystal Bridges.
Performance artist Dr. Charles Garoian, former director of Penn State's School of Visual Arts and an author, will perform "Drawing Blinds" at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery. Garoian has performed, lectured and presented workshops at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., a press release from the University said.
In other news from the UA Art Department, gallery director Shannon Dillard Mitchell, who was at UALR before her move to Fayetteville more than a decade ago, is no longer with the University. Mitchell was a champion of the gallery and the assets of the historically significant department (that has, I believe, been ignored in favor of other areas at the U of A, like business; see earlier post here), and was a great help to arts writers needing a little more information on the artists brought to the U of A. I look forward to working with her again and getting her invaluable input for Eye Candy.
The 3rd annual Delta Visual Arts Show takes over Newport tomorrow, with work by 70 artists at three venues, workshops and receptions. The Iron Mountain Train Depot, the old Post Office and the Newport Business Resource Center will open at 10:30 a.m., and several artists will be working at their booths.
A rundown on the workshops, which should be a huge draw: Judith Killen, grant writing for artists; Sheila Cantrell, oil techniques; Austin Grimes, painting with water soluble oils; Donna Tate Hohn, drawing portraits with color pencil; Chad M. Irwin, upcycling and altered art; Ariston Jacks, creativity in drawing; Arlette Miller, watercolor; Sally Papich, acrylic painting; Dewana McIntosh, photo transfer techniques; Emmanuel Fitz, drawing structures; and Frank Plegge, basic photography. Reserve a seat at 870-523-1009.
MJ's Art Cafe in the Newport Business Resource Center will have soup and sandwiches available, and there will be receptions at each venue starting at 4:30 p.m. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, which is in the midst of a capital campaign to renovate its building on Rogers Avenue, has hired a new director, the City Wire reports.
Lee Ortega was director of the (since closed) Annina Nosei Gallery in New York City, marketing director at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, curatorial assistant at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., and director of exhibitions the Savannah College of Design.
There will be a welcoming event at 4:30 p.m. March 3 in the Fort Smith Convention Center rotunda.
The UALR Art Department and Arkansas WAND tonight are hosting "Women Call for Peace," a panel discussion that ties into the exhibition there. Brad Cushman, the UALR gallery director; Randi Romo, founder of CAR; Hamid Ebrahimifar, artist and teacher, and David Montieth of the Clinton School for Public Service will talk about the issues raised in the exhibition in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Center at 6:30 p.m.; a reception will follow at 7:15 p.m.
The exhibit "Women Call for Peace: Global Vistas" was curated by Lisa Farrington, professor and chair of the College of Art and Music at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and the author of "Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists" (Oxford University Press). You will recognize the names of most of the artists in the show, which features work by Siona Benjamin, Chakaia Booker, Judy Chicago, Linda Freeman, Irene Hardwicke Olivieri, Leila Kubba, Grace Matthews, Faith Ringgold, Aminah Robinson, Betye Saar, Flo Oy Wong and Helen Zughaib. The show goes down March 10.
Cantrell Gallery will feature paintings of Brazilian flora and fauna by Little Rock native Kitty Harvill in March, and the artist has created this preview:
Harvill divides her time between the U.S. and Brazil, and is a member of The Artists for Conservation organization (AFC). Portions of the proceeds will go to Audubon Arkansas, the Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education and the Mater Natura-Environmental Studies Institute.
"BRAZIL: An Endangered Beauty" opens March 11 with a reception from 6-8 p.m. and runs through April 9.
Currently at Cantrell: "People, Places and Things," new paintings by Doug Gorrell, glass jewelry by Eric Spann.
With a band named Canvas and an artist named Painter, Stephano's gallery should offer an artful happy hour or two during tonight's Happy Hour in the Heights. New-to-the-gallery artist Eric Painter will be showing his "Meteor Metaphors" series, Stephano will feature his new works, "As I See Them," and Scotti Wilborne will exhibit new paintings as well. The trio Canvas will provides support.
Happy Hour in the Heights starts at 5:30 p.m.; Stephano's Fine Art is at 5500 Kavanaugh Blvd.
My mind took a break late Monday when I was finishing up the art calendar for the newspaper and I mistakenly moved the one-man Benini show at Greg Thompson Fine Art up a month. Benini's show: March 18. THIS MONTH'S ARGENTA ARTWALK (5-8 p.m. Friday) and the weeks leading up to the Benini show will feature the 15 YEAR ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION. So plan on seeing Benini, yes, but also Gary Bolding, Matt McLeod, Mark Blaney, J. O. Buckley, Rebecca Thompson, Kendall Stallings, Alice Andrews, Barry Thomas, William Dunlap and others!
Apologies to the gallery, 429 Main St., North Little Rock.
Here's an easy pair to identify, Candyfans. These Little Rock artists are having a show, "TWO ARTISTS/TWO VISIONS," at the Evansville Museum in Evansville, Ind., Feb. 27-May 15.
Let's hope we can say that Fayetteville has seen its last buckets of snow and there will be no more event cancellations. (Poor Fayetteville Underground had to cancel its First Thursday opening for consecutive Thursdays! More on that later.)
So if the sun keeps shining, here's something to look forward to: An exhibit by Trinity University art professor Liz Ward, whose works are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of Fine Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and others, in the Fine Arts Gallery at the U of A.
"Liz Ward: Phenologies" will include watercolor and gouache paintings inspired by the phenomena of seasonal change (phenology is the study of life cycles, not to be confused with phrenology, as I first mistakenly read the UA press release!). Included with the press release is the image above, "Fungia," a 26-by-36-inch watercolor on Japanese paper. This I cannot wait to see, both because it is beautiful in itself, and because I have always been captivated by the image produced by spore prints — which produce something like Ward's watercolor. (To make a spore print, put a mushroom cap — if you can find one — gills down on a sheet of colored paper. It's something I used to do with my erstwhile-mycology-loving daughter.)
The show opens Monday, Feb. 21. The artist will be in Fayetteville March 3 for a gallery talk at 4 p.m. Reception follows.
Tonight. 6 p.m. at the Clinton School. Read here.
U of A art professor Marilyn Nelson stared at her late father’s deck of Navy signal flags for several years before she found a way to use them in her art. It took her another 10 years, but she's completed a series of lithographs incorporating every flag with photographic and drawn images. They are both intensely personal and aesthetically beautiful.
I stumbled into a talk by Nelson at last Friday's 2nd Friday Art Night event at the Historic Arkansas Museum (she drew me in, so I missed what was reported to be an excellent talk by Dr. J.W. Wiggins about his Native American collection, a sample of which is on exhibit at the Arkansas Studies Institute) and was so glad to hear her provide the background to the pieces.
Nelson’s drawn on her childhood as the daughter of a career Naval officer — aboard a minesweeper — in creating imagery around the lithos for each of the 26 flags (they represent both the letters of the alphabet and a message). In the example above, Nelson has paired the flag for W - whiskey (I require medical assistance) with silhouettes of the minesweeper ships and cutout-dolls representing her family — mother, father, three daughters. "M - Mike My Vessel Is Stopped; Making No Way" (below; sorry about the picture quality) is a feminist piece combining the flat with legs wrapped in rope. "B - Bravo I am Taking In, Carrying or Discharging Dangerous Cargo" includes an image of a rocket with a drawing by Nelson's daughter (one Nelson said was strangely like one she made as a child) of someone parachuting from a plane next to a house.
Nelson is thinking of making a book out of the pages that would include the story behind each image. It would have been nice if the prints at HAM had included those stories. You can see small images of the series here.
Fayetteville artist Michael Davis Gutierrez also talked about his small stone sculptures, which I'd describe as limestone landscapes, blocks of stone on which he's placed tiny carved trees and chairs. Jonesboro art teacher Claire Coppola's work includes large repurposed signs from out-of-business fuel companies; they're pretty wonderful as art, and Coppola is using them as wry symbols of a fuel we're struggling to rely less on.
Since the Broadway Bridge needs replacing and folks are talking about doing more than just building a new span, tomorrow night's Art of Architecture lecture at the Clinton school by Dr. Gail Thomas is timely.
Thomas, who is president and CEO of the Trinity Trust Foundation in Dallas, will talk about the 20-mile Trinity River Corridor, a 20-mile river reclamation project that includes the soon-to-open Margaret Hunt Hill cable-bridge (carrying I-30 traffic). Designed by Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calavatra (the designer of the Samuel Beckett bridge in Dublin, Puente de la Mujer bridge in Buenos Aires, the New York City Ballet theater), the bridge has a 40-story-high central arch.
The bridge cost $116 million to build, a significant portion of which came from private contributions.
“Bridges to the 21st Century: Calatrava Designs for Dallas”: 6 p.m Tuesday at the Clinton school, following a reception at 5:30. Free; reserve a place by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 683-5239.
The legislature in Iowa hasn't been paying much attention to the controversy over institutions selling art to stay afloat — Fisk University in Tennessee being the one get the most notice here, because of Alice Walton's offer of $30 million for a half share in its collection. The arrangement is still in litigation.
The Daily Iowan reports that lawmakers are considering a bill that would force the University of Iowa to sell a Jackson Pollock it owns to raise money for scholarships. The painting, "Mural," a gift to the museum from Peggy Guggenheim, once hung in the University of Iowa Museum of Art but was moved after flooding destroyed a lot of the arts campus; it's worth is $140 million, the UI says.
Hell, if a museum's holdings are nothing but saleable objects, why not sell all 12,000 works in the collection? The Iowa legislature will be hearing from the American Association of Museums soon, if not already, I guess.
Let's hope the Arkansas legislature doesn't decide this is a good idea and ransack the U of A's art holdings.
UPDATE: Culturegrrl reports on the AAM and AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors) reaction:
Such a sale would violate a fundamental ethical principle of the museum field, one which all accredited museums are bound to respect: that an accessioned work of art may not be treated as a disposable financial asset.
Feb. 11 2nd Friday Art Night
Betting that folks are sick of being at home and will brave a little slush to get out and see art, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Arkansas Studies Institute, Hearne Fine Art, Christ Church, the Courtyard by Marriott and Mediums Art Lounge will be open from 5-8 p.m. tonight.
Here's the lowdown:
HAM is opening two shows: “Signs and Signals: Claire Coppola, Michael Davis Gutierrez and Marilyn Nelson,” mixed media, and “Deluxe Graffiti,” paintings by Liz Nobel. The Mockingbird Hillbilly Band will perform in the atrium and there will be libations.
ARKANSAS STUDIES INSTITUTE: “Anticipating the Future — Contemporary American Indian Art,” works from the collection of Dr. J.W. Wiggins. Wiggins, a retired UALR professor whose collection is housed at the Sequoyah Research Center, will give a talk about the art at 6 p.m.
HEARNE FINE ART: Stained glass by Charly Palmer will be featured in the Pyramid Books entry to the gallery; works by the 19th century masters Robert Scott Duncanson, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Charles Ethan Porter and Henry Ossawa Tanner are in the galleries.
CHRIST CHURCH: Needlepoint, oils, watercolors and mixed media by Kathy Thompson.
COURTYARD by MARIOTT: Matt Coburn will give a painting demonstration;
MEDIUMS ART LOUNGE: Angela Green is the featured artist.
Participating restaurants include Dizzy's, the Copper Grill and Lulav; Lulav features steel art furniture by Rob Wellborn.
As always, you can leave the driving to the rubber wheeled trolleys that transport 2nd Fri. art lovers to the various venues.
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