I'd like to direct your attention to the calendar section in the right hand column of the home page, where you can click on the art tab and find out exactly what's happening where. For example: Tomorrow at the Arts Center, there's the Norman Rockwell All-American Summer Family Festival, which will include art activities and children's games ($5 per, $20 family). At Boswell-Mourot, paintings by Virginia McKimmey. At Community Bakery, check out work by Susan Henley while you chew your bagel. It's your last chance to see the "State Youth Art Show 2011" at the Butler Center Galleries. Complete your downtown tour with a trip to the Historic Arkansas Museum to catch the photographic exhibit Forgotten Places: Rhonda Berry and Diana Michelle Hausam before it goes down next week.
"In Search of Norman Rockwell's America," which pairs Norman Rockwell paintings, prints and lithographs with work by photojournalist Kevin Rivoli, opens Friday at the Arts Center. Rivoli and International Art and Artists of Washington, D.C., organized the show, which has a companion book.
Not everyone loves Norman Rockwell, but his covers for the Saturday Evening Post are unparalleled as American iconography, images of days gone by in a medium gone by as well. Photographer Rivoli's aim is to show that Rockwell's America — boys of summer, laughing little girls, lovers — still exist. It's important that his photographs are in black and white, which lends a kind of timelessness to the scenes. Rivoli talks about Rockwell and his work in the video above.
One of the best pairings in the exhibit (which turns out to be the cover of his book) is Rockwell's "After the Prom," a very funny image depicting a boy and a girl at a diner counter, the girl lifting her corsage to the waiter to smell, and "Before the Prom," Rivoli's photo taken at a diner, of girls way too dressed up to be sharing space with ketchup and mustard sit in booths against a wall, one arranging her date's boutonniere.
Joe Lampo, erstwhile acting director who has reassumed his role as assistant, to new director Todd Herman, pointed out a particular Rockwell: An oil study of native son and Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, "Gee Thanks."
Virginia McKimmey, whose images of women conjure up a modern day salon society (there is often a glass of wine somewhere in the scene), is showing new paintings at Boswell-Mourot Gallery in an exhibit titled "Blues, Moods and Attitudes." There will be a reception for the artist tonight at the gallery, 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd.
McKimmey, a native of Eureka Springs who moved to Little Rock some years ago, cites as her influences She has also studied with Degas, Lautrec and her New York teacher, Milk Kobayaski.
The big donation that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced earlier this week turns out to be $20 million from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Described as a gift to all visitors of the museum in the earlier announcement, the money means the museum won't charge admission, director Don Bacigalupi said.
Would the museum really have charged $10 admission to the museum, as Bacigalupi said it was considering? Really?
From the press release:
“One of the greatest challenges for museums today is finding ways to remove barriers to community participation, including admission charges,” said Don Bacigalupi, Crystal Bridges executive director. “Walmart has shown extraordinary vision and foresight in funding access to the museum, providing all that Crystal Bridges has to offer to all people at no cost. We know that this gift will allow the museum to become a daily resource in our community.”
Given over a period of five years, the grant is the first gift dedicated to the museum’s newly created Next Generation Fund which addresses the economic, social and cultural barriers that often prevent diverse audiences from participating in the arts.
I've asked the museum whether this means it won't charge special admission fees to exhibits it pays to bring in from other museums and arts collaborators, and when I get a response I'll post it here.
UPDATE from the museum: There may be an additional charge for special exhibitions. General admission will be free. Museum members will receive complimentary or discounted admission to select exhibits and events.
The full release:
Young jeweler Lauren Embree of Fayetteville, whose work is getting national and international attention and has appeared in Martha Stewart magazine, will have a trunk show tonight at M2 Gallery from 4-8 p.m. Embree uses vintage items in a modern design; learn more about her at noon on KARK-TV. M2 Gallery is in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center.
V.L. Cox took time out after completing a mural on a wall on the River Trail in North Little Rock near the Skate Park to do a little goofing for the camera, which she shared on Facebook. The mural, she writes on the blog jbarcycling, was supported by NLR Mayor Pat Hays after she told him about her her mural project with incarcerated kids at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment Treatment Center, a job she found inspirational. Cox hopes to do more murals, getting teen-agers to pitch in as a community-building exercise. Will the wall get tagged? Cox says she kept the River Trail design simple in anticipation of that, but she's hoping that graffiti artists will leave the wall be. Or may be they'll add to, instead of paint over, the design?
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art says it will announce on Thursday "the donor of a generous donation to benefit everyone who visits," and will show the media its main entrance.
I can't guess what that means exactly. The donor — maybe a Northwest Arkansas corporation? They're all expected to pony up. But something that benefits all who visit? Is that something to take home? A catalog? A DVD about art? A guide to Northwest Arkansas? Help me out here, Candy fans. I've been in New Orleans since Thursday and my mind hasn't quite recuperated. Got some ideas?
Here's another hint: The governor and Mrs. Beebe will be on hand for the 9:30 a.m. announcement, along with director Don Bacigalupi.
Cantrell Gallery opens a photograph exhibit Friday evening: "Arkansas and the Range of Light," work by Paul Caldwell. There will be an artist's reception from 5 to 8 p.m., and jazz musicians Diane and Barry McVinney will provide music. The photo above is from Caldwell's website.
Native American artists Jay Benham (Kiowa) and John Well-Off-Man (Chippewa-Cree) will exhibit their work at Medicine Lodge, a three-day art show with talks by a Kiowa elder and art collector Bill Wiggins, at Ultra Studios, 118 W. South St. in Fayetteville. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
On Saturday, elder Tom Tonemah of Mountain View will speak on the history of the Kiowa in Oklahoma at 3 p.m. Wiggins, whose vast collection of work by American, Canadian and Inuit artists, is housed at the Sequoyah Research Center on the UALR campus, will talk about the artist-collector relationship and what to expect at major markets and galleries at 4 p.m. There will be an artists' reception from 5-7 p.m.
To gain admission, donate cash in any amount, toys, clothing or non-perishable food items for Lifesource International, a Fayetteville non-profit for families in need. Thirty percent of the proceeds of sales will also go to Lifesource.
Rene Hein, who's known for her paintings of "mummy cats," has switched to their prey: birds. She'll be showing small palette knife paintings in the show, "Rene Hein: Summer Birds," at the Heights Gallery, 5801 Kavanaugh. The artist reception will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 21.
Stephano's Fine Art will celebrate its fourth anniversary at Thursday in the Heights tomorrow night; the gallery is serving watermelon martinis from 5-8 p.m. Look your best; George Creative Productions will be filming a promotional video for Stephano, who's heading to Michigan in September for the annual ArtPrize competition. Stephano is entering the work above, one canvas in a triptych of early C&O locomotives in Grand Rapids. Stephano's is at 5501 Kavanaugh.
I walked around the 1897 Arkansas building at 6th and Main last night with developer Scott Reed, who is putting up the $150,000 match for the city for its NEA Our Town grant to will help plan a "creative corridor" on Main.
Reed said he thinks he can have the first floor of the Arkansas (originally the Lasker) and an adjoining building turned into studio, exhibit and rehearsal space for artists in a year’s time. The two buildings will have large windows facing Main and Sixth Streets, which will put the artists — visual and performing — on display, a 21st century retake on the department stores that once kept Main Street bustling.
In all, Reed is negotiating to buy all four buildings on the 500 block of Main. The other two are the M.M. Cohn Building and the Boyle Building.
The $150,000 Our Town grant and Reed's match will go to the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect of Fayetteville to create the initial design for the corridor. Little Rock will provide $7,500 in site work, draining plans and topographic surveys as an in-kind match for the grant.
Partners in the Our Town plan include the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Ballet Arkansas, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Downtown Partnership. Reed has also been meeting with area artists who’ve expressed interest in locating studios on Main.
Reed, whose family business — his father and three brothers — is Reed Realty Advisors, is finishing up a ground floor and basement rehab of the old Blass building at 315 Main St. for Porter's Jazz Club, slated to open Aug. 4. The remaining four stories of the building will be apartments; Reed says he has a list of 40 people interested, and two contracts signed.
Reed also plans to create 124 apartment units in the Arkansas Building and annex, to be leased at a price he said the artists should be able to afford. By filling Main Street buildings, one by one, with renters, Reed could be a people-planting Johnny Appleseed downtown — indeed, he says what he wants to do is "seed the street with a winning formula" of creative people.
So how about the risk? Why should artists' studios succeed on Little Rock's sad, mostly vacant Main Street? Who's going to visit their studios? Where will people park? Isn't this risky? Especially for a 34-year-old with dimples?
"I don't think it's risky at all," he said. Downtown apartments are 95 percent occupied (his figure), which he said indicates a market for more — including the eStem teacher, a policeman and a blind state employee who've approached him. Around 4,000 public employees have offices on Main to provide foot traffic along the "creative corridor." And from his point of view — one developed in dense West Coast cities — Little Rock has plenty of parking.
But most importantly, he said, is his family's business approach: They are contractors, investors, developers and owners rolled into one, with a long history in construction. The family business moved to Little Rock from Portland, Ore., because of the development promise its downtown showed, Reed said. His father, Bruce Reed, a downtown resident who sometimes rides a bike to work, wants to "turn the Main Street lights back on." He described himself as "the light cavalry" riding in to make sure the Our Town design doesn't end up as a "file stuffer." Too, he says, he doesn't plan on getting "too cute" with the artists' apartments — they need to be affordable, after all.
I asked him about the Mayors Institute on City Design charrette in 2009 that produced the notion of the creative corridor (and the technology park that the city wants to tax us for) and my general skepticism that artists' studios can't carry the load of downtown redevelopment. "You'll never see me at those charrettes," Reed said. "I just do it."
It's appropriate that Grav Weldon, whose food photos have appeared on our Eat Arkansas blog, will be the featured artist at Starving Artist. The Argenta restaurant will hold a reception for Weldon, a 3D graphics designer as well as a photographer, from 6-8 p.m. Saturday.
The work in the show includes images from Chicago, Peru and the American South in a variety of processes. The photographs will stay at Starving Artist Cafe through mid-August.
V.L. Cox offers a new take on the flag in her show opening Friday at the Thea Foundation's Thea Center for the Arts at 401 Main St., North Little Rock. Besides the work above, the exhibit will feature both abstract work as well as pieces from her figurative screen-door series, "Images of the American South." Thea's ArtWalk reception starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m.
Cox , a native of Arkadelphia, has been painting for 26 years, the Thea press release tells us, has works in several private and public collections (including the Norrell collection) and she is major player in the art scene that Thea promotes.
Also at Thea: "Ten Years of THEA," a documentary exhibit about the foundation and its work to promote arts in education.
Ketz Gallery at 705 Main St. in Argenta brings back John Kushmaul, in collaboration with Tara Stickley, to the gallery for Argenta ArtWalk, 5-8 p.m. Friday. Kushmaul paints the Little Rock landscape; the work will be paired with Tim Jacobs' "puddle paintings" of traffic and the Delta.
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