"For an artist, the trick is to preserve one’s insanity. Sometimes I think I’ve been cured and doomed to repeat myself until I catch up to that damned hitchhiker. But then the Muse shows me something I have seen but never observed, and I realize I’m still crazy after all.”
Warren Criswell's craziness goes on exhibit at Cantrell Gallery Friday, June 29, for all the world to see. "Still Crazy" features Criswellian oils, watercolors, prints, drawings and sculpture, exploring his themes of nudes, nighttime, naughtiness, mythology and the amazing emotions that a finely drawn line can bring to the surface.
The gallery, 8206 Cantrell Road, hosts a reception for Criswell from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. The show runs through Aug. 18. You'd be nuts to miss it.
The prelude to Criswell's artist statement:
“Quite so, Watson. You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. (Sherlock Holmes)
Time flows faster when we’re younger because new experiences are coming at us all the time. The unknown lays ahead of us, waiting to be discovered, inspiration not a problem. When we get older the world has gotten older too. Fewer things surprise us. We start repeating ourselves without realizing it. This is the time the artist and the mathematician dread. We see our creativity going down the drain. We have been there and done that. Time seems to speed up and we can see Death down the road, trying to thumb a ride.
But wait a minute…. That too is inspiring! That may be one of the “future” images this show promises. Recently I sat in on a life modeling class at UALR and did some terracotta sculptures. I thought of it as just an exercise, since all of us were working from the same poses and I already knew what a naked woman looks like—or so I thought. But nobody else’s sculptures looked like mine, and it was as if I had never seen a woman before! Death, in the form of an angry bird, appeared out of nowhere. Art had somehow emerged from the exercise. Going home late one night from one of those classes, I got out of my car and was ambushed by the universe. A sky full of menacing constellations, with Venus and Jupiter drawing a bead on this planet I was standing on! It was as if I had never seen the sky before. I’m still trying to paint it.
Three portraits of women by James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent and George Bellows are on loan from the National Gallery of Art at Crystal Bridges for the next 12 months, grouped with portraits from Crystal Bridges' own collection. The ensemble represents portraiture of the turn of the 20th century: ladies in lovely clothing rendered, in the case of Whistler and Sargent, in quick, competent and lush brushstrokes.
A review of a Bellows retrospective at the National Gallery in the New Yorker magazine (subscription required to read the whole piece, but not to see a slideshow or an abstract of Peter Schjeldahl's review) says Bellows, in his portraiture, was struggling to find his artistic voice and would "lavish attention attention on settings and clothes, at the expense of vital presence." If you go to Crystal Bridges, look at Bellows' portrait of Florence Davey, with the National Gallery apparently decided it could spare from its Bellows show, and see if you agree. Sargent's portrait of Mary Crowninshield Endicott Chamberlain and Whistler's "Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian" predate the Bellows portrait by a decade or more and employ the brushy "wet on wet" style Bellows used to such good effect in his earlier boxing scenes.
The Friends of Contemporary Crafts have brought nationally-recognized craft artists to Little Rock for Sunday programs for several years. These are excellent talks by America's top talent, followed by a nice meal and libations. Here's a way to keep the talks coming: Head to the Arts Center at 5:30 p.m. this Sunday, June 23, for a silent auction of art donated by private collectors and artists.
Anncha Briggs, who's heading up the auction, says the value of the items — about 65 objets d'arts in all media — ranges from $50 to $2,800.
Here's a link to a gallery of some of the work to be auctioned. If I had the wherewithal, the rug shown above would be mine, all mine.
Wine and light snacks will be served. The FOCC will hold its annual meeting after the auction, at 6:30 p.m., so don't dawdle.
You can also join the FOCC while you're there to receive its newsletter and free admission to FOCC events.
Postscript: The event is free to FOCC members; others will pay $20 (for a membership).
It might have been the biggest crowd ever to turn out for a lecture at the Arkansas Arts Center, and it was given by a sociologist/kinesiologist from Canada. The subject: The sociology of tattooing. The audience: all over the place, from old ladies like yours truly to the highly tatted and pierced. Dr. Michael Atkinson, the speaker and a professor at McMaster University in Ontario, himself highly decorated, said he'd never spoken before so many kindred spirits and was clearly thrilled.
Before the talk, as the lobby began to fill, a long-time supporter of the Arts Center looked around at the crowd and said, "This is just what the Arts Center needs." Young people, people new to the Arts Center, and lots of them.
Atkinson's talk was lively and funny, but also academic, positing, for example, that tattooing is the last frontier — that because we have no new wide open spaces to explore, we're going inward. His book, “Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of Body Art,” which as his doctoral thesis was titled "Miscreants, Malcontents and Mimesis: Sociogenic and Psychogenic Transformation in the Canadian Tattoo Figuration," a name he was happy to shed, he said, is available in the Arts Center bookstore. It's $30; members get a 10 percent discount.
Michael Atkinson, author of "Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art," will give a talk tonight by the same name at 6 p.m. at the Arkansas Arts Center (reception 5:30 p.m.). Atkinson's talk accompanies the Arts Center's new exhibit, "Tattoo Witness: Photography by Mark Perrott," which opens to the public Friday. Also accompanying the exhibit are murals done by Little Rock area tattoo artists; both photography show and murals are in the Wolfe Gallery.
Atkinson (in photo below) was at the gallery this afternoon, studying a mural by Scott Diffee and Alina Bennett of The Parlor. Small stenciled tattoo images surround the giant skull in this piece; Atkinson explained that some dated to the 1920s. Some, like the swallow, are still done; Adrian Berry, a second generation artist who works with his father, Robert Berry, at 7th Street Tattoos, said it's popular with people who've gotten a divorce. Atkinson's talk ought to be a great one on a topic seldom examined in arts museums.
About the photography exhibit: I got a look at Mark Perrott's large-scale (44-by-44 inch) portraits of tattooed people this afternoon and they are gorgeous and narrative and sometimes startling. The subjects stare right into the camera, some with the kind of challenging look that says this is me, take it or leave it. Many of Perrott's people — folks he shot at tattoo parlors over a number of years (Times article here) — are quite beautiful, like "Virginia" (above), and by shooting in black and white, Perrott has de-emphasized the tattoo and emphasized the subject. So the photograph "Virginia" (above) is not just a picture of any tattooed woman, but a portrait of a confident beauty, whose dress — a string-tied bosom revealing top — deliberately echoes the spider web on her arm. Perrott's left no doubt that Virginia is a strong woman that you don't want to mess with.
Other portraits: Steve of Union City, N.J., holding a Heineken and taking a deep drag on a cigarette, with, among other images, the swallow. Joshua of Pittsburgh, who has spiky hair, a tattoo of Jesus and a locked chain around his neck. Margie, one of the few smiling faces in the show and here's why: Her tattoo is of herself as Little Red Riding Hood, with a wolf carrying a basket of wine.
Another photo, "Megan," is of a woman naked from head to waist to show her tattoo, a "tribal" abstracted thorny vine circling one breast and goes up over her shoulder. She wears a barbed-wire necklace and her nipples are pierced; she's a beauty in a prickly portrait.
You know, when food maven Kat Robinson sends you a note with snails in the message line, you'd think it would be about escargot. But she's talking pink snails, the ones installed in Bentonville as a promotion for the 21c Museum Hotel being built there. I posted about the pink snails earlier, but Kat's picture is so much better, since it's actually in Bentonville and the courthouse helps with scale. As always, click on the picture to make it bigger. Merci, Kat.
If your metier includes small works on paper, now's the time to submit your work to the Arkansas Arts Council for the 2013 "Small Works on Paper" exhibition. Deadline is July 20 and entry forms can be found online here.
The juror for the 26th annual show will be Anne Austin Pearce, associate professor of art and director of the Greenlease Gallery at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo. Her own work, translucent, almost hallucinogenic images of the human profile, might give artists an idea of what she wants to see in art, so I've posted one of her pieces here, from a review in the New American Paintings blog.
Last year's exhibit set a pretty high bar for SWOP artists (here's the Eye Candy review from Jan. 6).
Arkansas artists may enter up to three works of art on paper (no larger than 24x24 inches) for a fee of $10 per entry or $25 for three entries. Works must have been completed within the last two years. Up to $2,000 is awarded in prizes; 2012 winners were William Barksdale of Cotter; Ginger Grahn of Paragould; Neal Harrington of Russellville; Dennis McCann of Maumelle, Jason McCann of Maumelle and Mike Means of El Dorado. Purchased work becomes part of the Small Works on Paper permanent collection. The 2012 show is at the Helena Cultural Center through June 25. It will be at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff July 6-Aug. 11, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia Aug. 20-Sept. 20, the Arts Center of the Grand Prairie in Stuttgart Oct. 3-29 and the Ashley County Museum in Hamburg Nov. 5-30.
Arkansas tattoo artists at the Arts Center
Photographs of muralists whose work will go with an exhibit of photographs — got that? Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson visited the Arkansas Arts Center on Sunday to take shots of Arkansas tattoo artists commissioned to paint murals to go with the exhibit, "Tattoo Witness: Photographs by Mark Perrott," which opens Friday. Tattoo artists Robert Berry, Richard Moore, Caleb Pritchett, Chris Thomas, Brooke and Ryan Cook, Nancy Miller and Scott Diffee have been working on the murals a couple of weeks to accompany the exhibition of 25 large-scale photographs illustrating the body art by Pittsburgh shooter Perrott. More on the show in a later post; here's some of Chilson's shots of the Arkansas tat artists at work.
There will be living history, pioneer music and political speeches on Saturday at the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Old State House to commemorate Arkansans' first opportunity to vote in a presidential election, in 1836. Arkansas had just become a state a few months before and the Conway, Ashley, Sevier, and Yell families were politicking for Martin Van Buren, the HAM says.
Here's the schedule at HAM: 9-11:30 a.m., living history; 10:30 a.m., political speeches followed by the election in the Tavern; 11:30 a.m., recreation of a Methodist Camp meeting; noon, parade from the HAM to the Old State House followed by a 26-gun salute and flag raising; 1-4 p.m., living history presentations at OSH, 2 p.m., a period theatrical piece performance; 3 p.m., political speeches and more voting, and 3:30-5 p.m., a period-style dance.
Will Van Buren win again, as he did 176 years ago? Or will Whig Hugh Lawson White?
M2Gallery at 11525 Cantrell (the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center) is showing new work by William Goodman, Dan Thornhill, Robin Tucker and Peter Razatos.
The gallery has also announced it will hold a memorial exhibit for Tim West, the Winslow recluse whose art was exhibited several times at M2 along with a photo essay on the artist by Diana Michelle Hausam. The exhibit will be at the Teatro Scarpino, 329 West Ave., in Fayetteville on June 28.
This year's Arkansas Sculpture Invitational Show and Sale — the seventh annual show organized by the Arkansas Sculptors Guild — opens tonight at the Argenta Community Theater. Work by Benton Anderson, Brett Anderson, Robby Burton, Darrel DeMoss, David Harris, Bre Harris, Kandy Jones, Jaak Kindberg, Bryan Massey, Aline McCraken, Lora Rawlings, Robert Sherman, Gene Sparling and Margaret Warren will be on display during the Argenta ArtWalk from 5-8 p.m. tonight, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
There will be hors d'ouevres and a cash bar tonight. Click on the image above to make it larger.
"Trees, Trees and More Trees" is the name of Mary Ann Stafford's exhibition of pastels opening tonight at Ketz Gallery during the Argenta ArtWalk. The Maumelle artist will also demonstrate her technique tonight and as another lure, the gallery will be serving berry sangria and lemonade.
Argenta ArtWalk is 5-8 p.m.; Ketz is at 705 Main St. Argenta Bead next door will also be open, as will Greg Thompson Fine Art at 429 Main ("Best of the South," works by Walter Anderson, William Hollingsworth, Noel Rockmore, William Dunlap and others). Photographer Mike Anderson will give a demonstration and talk at the Laman Library Argenta Branch. Thea Foundation is taking the night off.
Paintings by German-born artist Hans Feyerabend of Florida and sculpture by Russian-born artist Elena Petroukhina of Little Rock go on exhibit Saturday, June 16, at Boswell-Mourot Fine Art, 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Feyerabend's work is mostly representational, but the image used on the invitation to the exhibition shows a wonderfully abstracted bridge-turned-geometric streak of orange. Petroukhina's work has a feminist bent; in her essay on the Arkansas Artists Registry website, she writes, "the female persona interests me because it appears transcendental in the human experience, either via imagination or emotion."
There will be an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. for the artists. Click on the image for an up-close look at the art.
Alex Leme, regular readers of the Oxford American and this blog may recall, was named by OA as a "new superstar of Southern art" in its February issue. Now you can see Leme's work in person at the Butler Center Galleries' Atrium Gallery, in the Arkansas Studies Institute.
"Small Town: Portraits of a Disappearing America" features photographs Leme made in Cotton Plant to record the vanishing farm community in Monroe County. There, amid the crumbling buildings and empty storefronts, Leme said he found that, "The sense of purpose that once accompanied steady, meaningful work has long since vanished."
Leme, of Little Rock, was born in Brazil and is both photographer and a student of art history. He's exhibited his work internationally, and in 2010 he won an En Foco New Works Fellowship for his work capturing dying small towns in the U.S. He is also the art editor of UALR's "Equinox Literary and Art Journal."
The show will run through Aug. 25.
If you are a regular visitor to Riverfront Park and this dog looks familiar to you — like, say, Dean Kumpuris' French bulldog Boris — then you are right on the money. Boris, who is a constant companion on Kumpuris' Saturday visits to the park, has been immortalized in bronze in the Vogel-Schwartz sculpture garden just behind the Peabody Hotel. The artist is Dan Glanz, who's part of the Colorado posse that has nearly monopolized public art in Little Rock, thanks to Kumpuris' contacts there.
Boris was installed about a month ago in the park. He's pretty cute, with his intense stare master-ward; if you look carefully, you can see a bow-tie reflected in his eyes. He's one of an edition, so you, too, can have a Boris. Life size, $6,000; or $1,500 for a smaller version, at the website above.
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