It's late on Monday and I'm back from the dead, appropriately enough for Halloween. Other duties done and it's time to blog about Fayetteville Underground's new morphtheorg website, where it asks art fans to vote on a new name for the organization and suggest a place the artists' collective might move to. The FU is losing its space on the square at the first of January; this Thursday's First Thursday gallery opening and the December opening will be the last at One E. Center.
Coming on Thursday to FU: "Progressive Hemofiction," paintings by Luciano Trigos; "Gravity," photographs of Flores Island in the Azores by Dana Idlet; "Tea Time," pottery by Gailen Hudson; and drawings and watercolors by Chad Sims.
Al Allen's hard-edged paintings of windows and clapboard and light are some of the best recognized in Arkansas. Works by the late artist, who developed the art department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, go on display at the William F. Laman Library, 2801 Orange St., in North Little Rock. It's the first retrospective of the artist's work since an Arkansas Arts Center exhibition in 1995.
The works range in date from the 1950s to 2008 and come from private and public collections, UALR and the artist's estate. Some will be for sale through Greg Thompson Fine Art (Thompson and Debra Wood of the library curated the show). The gallery will be open late tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibition runs through Dec. 12.
There's only a half hour left to bid online for an artistic home plate (17 inches wide) in the "Home Plate Heroes" auction to benefit the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund. BUT! You can bid tonight in the live auction at Thea Center for the Arts, 401 Main St.! The auction runs 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
About the plate above:
Caroline Tyler and her beautiful 7-year-old daughter Brooklyn created this plate using crayons. They collaborated last year on a handprint plate, and we're hoping this will become as great a tradition for them as for the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund. Caroline was a Jim Elder Good Sport Fund winner a few years ago as a journalism student at UALR. She now works at Mangan Holcomb Partners.
The Good Sport Fund benefits organizations like Miracle League of Arkansas, Reviving Baseball in the Inner City at Lamar Field and other worthy organizations for kids.
Up with Art VI
Up With Art VI, a show and sale of work by Kevin Kresse, Ed Pennebaker, Doug Gorrell, Cherylon Reid, LaDawna Whiteside, Terry Bean, Shannon Rogers, Stephano, V.L. Cox, and Don Nibert, Carole Katchen, Rae Ann Bayless, Jeannie Berna and Dana Rogers, is tonight at the Argenta Community Theater, 6-9 p.m. The Argenta Arts Foundation, Mitchell Williams law firm and Home Depot are sponsors.
ACT is at 406 Main St. Admission is free. The artists, many of whom participate in fund-raisers for other concerns, receive all proceeds tonight.
Painter Sandy Hubler, whose husband, Rob, died of cancer six years ago, is donating part of the proceeds from the sales of her artwork tonight at the Chenal Country Club to the Winthrop Rockefeller Cancer Institute.
Hubler, the owner of the Showroom gallery and frame shop, will show 30 paintings tonight from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., including the work above. Representatives from the cancer will center will be on hand.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has taken care of a mural by social realist painter Joe Jones since 1984, when then-UALR archivist (and now Central Arkansas Library Director) Bobby Roberts rescued it from oblivion. (See this Eye Candy post from last year.) Its subject matter: the miseries of sharecropping, our terrible history of lynching and the plight of coal miners. Its artist: A Missourian who said “I’m not interested in painting pretty pictures to match pink and blue walls. I want to paint things that knock holes in walls.”
Ironically, Jones' mural was turned into walls, with holes knocked in them, for a house in Fort Smith.
Jones, a painter for the Works Progress Administration who had painted a mural at a Magnolia post office in 1934 and exhibited at a gallery in New York, was commissioned by Commonwealth College in 1935 to paint the mural. The college scraped together $50 for the project, and according to some reports, Jones had to make his own charcoal, by burning wood, to draw the mural.
Commonwealth, despite being the alma mater of Orval Faubus, was created in the 1920s to train organizers for the workers movement and make other social reforms. In the Aug. 1, 1935, issue of its twice-monthly newsletter, the Fortnightly, the college announced Jones would lecture on “proletarian art and culture” during the time he would be at the college. “It was his students who painted the murals on the walls of old St. Louis courthouse and fought the efforts of the indignant property owners to demolish them,” the paper reported. Commonwealth closed in 1940.
In 2009, the St. Louis Art Museum, working on its 2010 exhibition "Joe Jones, Painter of the American Scene," got in touch with Cushman to see if UALR indeed had the mural and if it could be used in the exhibition. But the mural — which Roberts, aware of its value, bought sight unseen for $500 from Fadjo Cravens in Fort Smith — wasn't in any condition to be exhibited. The mural, painted on masonite, had been divided into sections for use as building material. Part of it was covered with wallpaper. Other sections had been hung with the image facing the studs, and large bits of the paint had flaked off. Some parts are missing entirely. Its condition was so fragile that students who wanted to see it were only provided photographs.
But Cushman agreed to take the mural out of storage for then-director Andrew Walker of the St. Louis Museum and others. "They were blown away," Cushman said. So blown away that they offered to restore a portion of the mural — the lynching scene in its midsection. Cushman agreed.
Now, Cushman would like the entire mural — which he estimated at 44 feet long and about 100 inches high — to be restored and exhibited in the manner it was originally, along three walls punctuated by windows. He would like it to find a home in UALR's new Institute on Race and Ethnicity. Spurring him on is interest by the artist's grandson, Jonathan Jones, a D.C. lobbyist and friend of Sen. David Pryor who contacted Cushman after the St. Louis exhibition. Two weeks ago, a conservator from Dallas came to Little Rock to study the mural and is preparing a report on just what it will take to bring it back to life. Cushman and others plan to seek grants from federal, state and private sources to get the job done.
Tonight, UALR's Art Department and the office of development are hosting a by-invitation event to tell the story of the mural and show video that UALR has shot since discussion with St. Louis started in 2009. Its value to history and art is huge and its restoration would do UALR, and its study on the social history of Arkansas, proud.
Great tour through Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art this morning. I'm traveling separately from the photographer so I can't post photos (except the one above, which is from the Tate Gallery and not CBMAA). Will rectify later. UPDATE: Slideshow below.
Some quick thoughts: The 18th and 19th century portraits look grand. If you thought you would find paintings of George Washington (there are two) less than inspiring, think again.
But first, George Rickey: One of the artist's kinetic sculptures — thin arms of steel hinged to move in the wind — will greet visitors in the courtyard entrance to the museum. (The entrance to the museum is sort of like entering a cave: You get on an elevator and go down to an outdoor courtyard and enter from there.)
The museum is arranged chronologically, and David Houston, director of curatorial, talked about the evolution of 19th century American landscape from transcendental (Durand's "Kindred Spirits") to pictures of actual places in which people play a role (Eastman Johnson's "Cranberry Pickers, Nantucket"). He spent some time in front of a recent acquisition of a painting of a family of Civil War refugees, including a young African American man whose backpack includes a Union blue blanket rolled up; the work, Houston said, is emblematic of the museum's attempt to show history not just as heroic but personal.
Crystal Bridges preview
A preview of the Bentonville museum's offerings.
Work from the first half of the 20th century, in box galleries built in the center of the first glass bridge — wasn't on view while a mesh ceiling was being installed — but moving to the late 20th we got a peek at an installation by Jenny Holzer, an outdoor room with engraved floor and benches originally in the Venice Biennale. Houston said he believed the installation would be a surprise to some viewers, which I interpreted to mean some viewers who thought the CBMAA collection would be stuffy. En route to the Holzer: A terrific Calder, a terrific lit Noguchi wall piece, a great little pre-splatter Pollock and an odd surrealistic Rothko. The works by the latter two aren't representative of their greatest works (for the large part already collected by other museums) but are fine works with historical value.
That piece of Crystal Bridges — what it can offer in the way of supplementary information, through its acquisition of important collections of prints and books (it has 50,000 volumes) and ephemera — is something that founder Alice Walton is clearly proud of. She told reporters after the tour that she began to see paintings as more than images when she acquired a painting in New Orleans purporting to be that of a mare and foal. "That was no foal, that was a stable buddy," the horsewoman said, and she began to study up on the picture. She and director Don Bacigalupi spoke about rewriting American art history with new scholarship.
Walton herself hasn't quit studying up, as evidenced by her museum's expansion from a place to see American heroes and 19th century landscape to a museum that includes Dan Flavin's tubes of flourescent light (which Houston said referred to the transcendentalist atmosphere of the 19th century), Devorah Sperber's upside down Last Supper made out of spools of thread and John Baldessari's enormous and descriptively titled "Beethoven's Trumpet (With Ear)," in which you can hear Beethoven quartets.
Oh — about the name of the museum. Houston says it was architect Moshe Safdie's idea to name the museum after he settled on his bridge design for the project. Houston declined to say what the cost of construction was.
There's much more to say. Stay tuned.
V.L. Cox says she will NOT have her Argenta Art Studio open tonight because she is preparing for next week's "Up With Art VI" show and sale at the Argenta Community Theater.
V.L. Cox and Doug Gorrell invite you to check out their work at Argenta Art Studios, 401 Maple St., tonight from 5-8 p.m. Next door, the First Presbyterian Church will feature Halloween games in the fellowship hall. And I believe that wraps up the notices for tonight's Argenta activities.
The Argenta Branch of the Laman Library, 506 Main St., NLR, is hosting an artist's demonstration by potter Annette Costa tonight for Argenta ArtWalk, 5-8 p.m. Also: A Gathering of Artists, the group of independent artists also known as Art in Unexpected Places, will be showing and selling their art and Argenta Bead will be open on what promises to be a fine night for gallery strolling.
"Looking Into the Spirit," an exhibit of James Hendricks' whirling abstracts, continues at Greg Thompson Fine Art. The gallery is open tonight from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the third Friday art event.
It will be sporty times tonight at the Thea Center for the Arts, which will be showing cut-paper artwork of Little Rock artist John Shipp, a rare original Andy Warhol print of a pig and home-plate-shaped paintings being auctioned in the "Home Plate Heroes" fund-raiser for the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund. Thea, at 401 Main St., celebrates Argenta ArtWalk from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Other venues get going at 5 p.m.)
Shipp, a chiropractor, learned the cut-paper technique from his father and has been working with the technique since 2004, a news release said.
Pirates fans, take note: Jennifer Wilson has the home plate for you, a painting of the Flying Dutchman.
Little Rock artist Matthew Gore's exhibit at Ketz Gallery, "Modern Archaic: Reshaping the Figure," opens tonight with an Argenta ArtWalk reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the gallery, 705 Main St., NLR.
Gore's combining an abstract application of paint in figurative outline; the show will be up until Nov. 12. Jeweler Valerie Goetz is debuting a new line, "Ice," made from recycled glass, and other work at Ketz, too.
An online exhibit of artwork by the late Arkansas Times and Arkansas Gazette cartoonist George Fisher has been posted by the University of Arkansas Library's Special Collections department. Along with cartoons, the exhibit includes illustrated envelopes to his wife and father, a watercolor, and Fisher's high school campaign posters, which show him to be an accomplished artist as a teen-ager.
Supporters of the Museum of Discovery are gathering at the Clinton Presidential Library starting at 6 p.m. to tipple wine and bid in a silent auction. Tickets are $100; tickets for a raffle to win a $1,000 gift certificate to Kenneth Edwards Fine Jewelers are extra. Go here to purchase tickets.
The MOD is being renovated and will open in Jan. 2012.
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