I love the story of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, the New York art collectors who lived on his post office salary so they could spend her librarian salary on contemporary art. But it was with some trepidation that I went to the Arkansas Arts Center’s new show, “50 for Arkansas,” fifty works from the Vogels’ collection donated to the Arts Center, because I thought it would be dominated by minimalist art. Ditto with the Smithsonian exhibit “Multiplicity,” which has been properly paired with the Vogel collection.
To this reviewer’s eye, there’s good minimalist art and there’s dated minimalist art, and there were both varieties in the show. Call me a philistine (I can hear you already!), but Brice Marden’s lithographs on paper in the “Multiplicity” exhibition — at least the ones in this particular exhibition — haven’t worn well. That might be because these fat brushstrokes and thin lines against flat stripes of white or black have been imitated to a fare-thee-well by succeeding artists; we’ve all seen something like them. Compare them to “Multiplicity” work “Untitled” by Caio Fonseca, an aquatint that, like Marden’s lithos, is composed of tightly etched abstract forms in black and a dirty white. But Fonseca’s composition of black and white shapes with fine stitch-like lines running through the space is gorgeous and not a bit trite. Fonseca’s drawing dates from 1998 and Marden’s from 1972, so it hasn’t had as much time to become familiar.
Black and white works were common in both “Multiplicity” and “50 for Arkansas”; the oversized lithographs of Kara Walker (in “Multiplicity”), who enlarged engravings from “Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War” and then placed against them silhouettes of slave figures, their features exaggerated but their worth diminished, are magnetic (the engravings themselves are quite beautiful as well). Donald Sultan’s “Black Roses” (also in “Multiplicity”) are lush black aquatints, flattened images of roses and leaves, fuzzy around the edges, against the white paper.
The minimalist works in “50 for Arkansas” turned out to be minimal. There’s much that’s figurative here, like the charming drawings of cats by Will Barnet and the funny line drawing by Michael Kostabi of a couple, he with a plug head and she with a receptacle head. There’s fantasy, such as Daryl Trivieri’s airbrush and inkwash drawings of a girl child whose torso, arms, legs and head are marked with line drawings — a bird’s head torso, fish on one arm, a peacock’s head on the other, work that is fascinatingly weird, though not as weird and funny as his frog-fish head paintings, wrought in equally odd technique. There’s abstract work as well, like the mixed media paintings by Charles Clough — fingerstrokes of paint across printed images that are surprisingly and happily fresh given how widespread compositions of that sort are.
In the good-but-I-don’t-care-anymore category of works in the Vogel collection are the tangled lines of William Anastasi. There’s conceptual work on paper by Robert Barry and wood by Jene Highstein that those with a finer eye and more cerebral nature than I will appreciate.
The star of the Vogel collection is, to my mind, a ceramic vessel by Michael Lucero dating to the mid-1980s. (My contemporary craft slip is showing, I know.) This flattish form is like a closed vase with ears, is painted in jarringly different abstractions, juxtaposing Robert Delaunay geometrics with dark scratchy landscapes. I liked it better every time I passed it.
The seventh annual Thea Paves the Way sidewalk chalk event at the Clinton Presidential Park kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, at 8:30 a.m. Students and teachers and families will be able to turn those blank concrete canvases into art and enjoy other events, like music, the Parkview Magnet High School mimes, concessions, caricatures by Democrat-Gazette cartoonist John Deering and free admission to the Clinton library. Teachers who register their students and compete together as a school group have a chance to win one of two $250 gift certificates for arts supplies from Dick Blick.
The event is hosted by the Thea Foundation, which promotes the arts as a path to success at school and life. Admission is free; the event wraps up at 1 p.m. If it looks iffy in the a.m., go to Thea's website at 8 a.m. to check to see if a rain date's been set.
Home Plate Heroes 2012
The "Game of Baseball" by Rhonda Reeves Converse includes a recording of Jim Elder's voice. Beat that. More tomorrow, live auction day at Thea.
Thursday post: Tonight's the night, folks, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Thea Center, 401 Main St. in North Little Rock. Plates that didn't meet reserve in the online bidding will be auctioned silently tonight before the live auction.
I am the high bidder, but the reserve hasn't yet been met, on the picture below. I'm chewing my fingernails.
Sales of the home-plate-shaped paintings and objects benefit the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund.
That's right, tonight's Science After Dark monthly fundraiser at the Museum of Discovery investigates the science of beer — how it's made, why it tastes the way it does, etc.
From MOD's facebook page:
Fun fact: the term "rule of thumb" originated from brewing. Before the advent of thermometers, brewers tested the temperature of their maturing brews with their thumbs. If it was too cold, the yeast wouldn't grow. If it was too hot, the yeast would die. We'll be talking about all kinds of brewing trivia and the science of beer this Wednesday evening at Science after Dark!
Sounds like fun, and it's only $5. Cash bar. No kiddos.
A partnership agreement between a 19th century senator and governor creating the ancestor of the Rose Law Firm dating to 1820 has been donated to the Historic Arkansas Museum.
Sen. Chester Ashley, whose mansion once stood where I am now typing this blog item, and Gov. Robert Crittenden signed the agreement; both were among the most prominent figures of Arkansas's territorial period. The document was presented to HAM Commissioner Frances Ross by Rogers Cockrill, a descendent of Ashley, and Herb Rule, who was with the Rose Law Firm until he decided to make a race for 2nd District Congress.
HAM's press release said the document "will be the visual centerpiece of the museum’s growing collection of Chester Ashley family documents, furniture, silver and art."
David Bailin of Little Rock is showing his narrative charcoals at Koplin Gallery in Culver City, Calif., in an exhibition called "Between Truth and Fiction: Pictorial Narratives. The show opened Sept. 8 and runs through Oct. 19.
"Crystal Bridges Acquires Major Rothko Painting in Response to Criticisms of Post-War Holdings"
The Wall Street Journal took the same tack in its story, "A Rothko Fills a Museum's Breach."
Here's one way of looking at those headlines: that the art world, which once ridiculed the notion that a first-rate museum could be located in Arkansas, then produced accolades about the collection, now demands Crystal Bridges be even better. I'm not sure I remember the museum being criticized for whatever it lacks in color field and New York School works, though the baby steps into the post-war work in the collection was noted.
At any rate, I don't think Alice Walton bought a Rothko in response to art reviews. I think she was waiting, as was director Don Bacigalupi, until she decided upon which Rothko to buy from what was available. When she buys a large Frankenthaler, it won't be because I wrote here that the museum's 20th century collection is frail without it.
Enough of that. The Rothko is the unidentified major work of art that was announced last month in a press release about the exhibition "See the Light: The Luminist Tradition in American Art," which runs Oct. 13-Jan. 28. Eye Candy previously speculated that Alice Walton could have purchased a Jackson Pollock that had been sold and had the same characteristics as the Rothko: Both had been in private hands and not exhibited for many years. Oh, well.
Crystal Bridges has not disclosed the purchase price, but it's worth noting that at Christie's May auction of American art a similar Rothko ( “Orange, Red, Yellow,” painted in 1961) went for "just under $87 million," according to the New York Times. However, the Wall Street Journal said Pace Gallery president Marc Glimcher "pegged it at about $25 million." It was bought from a private Swiss collection.
I think I've counted 78 artist-painted "home plates" that will be on display at the Thea Center tonight for Argenta ArtWalk, all of which are for sale to benefit the Jim Elder Good Sport Fund. Eight will be auctioned live next Thursday, Sept. 27; the rest are being auctioned online at the link above. ArtWalk at Thea is 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
About the work above:
Elijah Talley is an 11-year-old artist from Little Rock. His interest in art began at Arkansas Children's Hospital when he was 4 years old. Elijah was inspired to learn more about becoming an artist when he met Stephano Sutherlin, who is now his teacher. Elijah is a 6th grader at Pulaski Heights Middle School.
The Jim Elder Good Sport Fund, named for the longtime Arkansas Travelers broadcaster, supports the following organizations:
American Diabetes Summer Camp
Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches
Hearts and Hooves
PAL - Police Athletic League-NLR
PARK (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids)
RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Innercity at Lamar)
Rose City Boys & Girls Club
The Centers for Youth and Families
The First Tee of Arkansas
Those are just a few of the artists whose works will be at Greg Thompson Fine Art when the promising "Southern Landscape" exhibition officially opens for Argenta ArtWalk tomorrow 5-8 p.m.
Here's the full roster for the show: Al Allen, Thomas Hart Benton, Darrell Berry, Gary Bolding, Adrian Brewer, J.O. Buckley, Roger Carlisle, Carroll Cloar, Shelia Cotton, William Dunlap, Louis Freund, Charles Harrington, Colette Pope Heldner, Dolores Justus, Matt McLeod, Laura Raborn, Ed Rice, Kendall Stallings, Barry Thomas and Rebecca Thompson. Most are well-known Arkansans with a few furriners thrown in.
Here's a little bit about Ed Rice, whose work you see above. Note that the author of the write-up, David Houston, then of the Ogden Museum, is now director of curatorial at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Greg Thompson Fine Art will be one of several venues open Friday evening for Argenta ArtWalk; others are the Thea Center, the Argenta branch of Laman Library, the new Paint Box Gallery (where Ketz Gallery was located) and the "Gathering of Artists" in tents on Main.
The Arkansas Arts Center, which like 49 other art institutions in 49 states received 50 artworks from the collection of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel when the New York couple started giving away their collection in 2008, will exhibit its gift starting tomorrow in an exhibit called "50 for Arkansas."
The Vogels lived in Manhattan and devoted much of their income to buying art from up and coming artists, amassing an enormous collection of contemporary works, largely minimalist and installation pieces; I wrote about them for the printed edition Times recently. The gift — which like the Arts Center's collecting focus consists mostly of works on paper — includes work by William Anastasi, Will Barnet, Robert Barry, Lynda Benglis, Charles Clough, Robert Duran, Richard Francisco, Charles Gaines, Michael Goldberg, Jene Highstein, Martin Johnson, Steve Keister, Mark Kostabi, Michael Lucero, Cheryl Laemmie, Robert Mangold, Richard Nonas, Betty Parsons, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Daryl Trivieri, Richard Tuttle and Michael Vinson.
Another exhibition opening Friday at the Arts Center is strong on works on paper: "Muliplicity," where 83 works by such top contemporary artists as John Baldessari, Vija Celmins, Chuck Close, Richard Estes, David Hockney, Sol LeWitt, Kiki Smith and Kara Walker will illustrate the idea of repetition. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, owner of the works.
Both exhibits run through Jan. 6.
The creation of the Tyson Scholars for American Art program at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was announced this morning in Bentonville. The Tyson family and Tyson Foods together contributed $5 million to the creation of the scholars program, which, according to a press release will be a "groundbreaking, collaborative program with national reach and regional initiatives regarding the study of American art."
John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., which is growing its art collection, joined Crystal Bridges Director Don Bacigalupi, museum curator of American Art Kevin Murphy, and University of Arkansas art history professor Leo Mazow.
More information to come.
The Arkansas Arts Center has decided to outsource its marketing to Stone Ward, director Todd Herman announced to the Arts Center Board of Directors today. That means the three staffers in marketing have been laid off.
The move won't save any money, but will allow the Arts Center to get more bang for the buck, Herman said (though not in those words). The Arts Center's contract with Stone Ward is a one-year renewable contract for up to three years.
Director Herman explained the idea to outsource arose with the Arts Center's plans to remake its woefully outdated website. Stone Ward staff will be able to keep the new website, with all its additional capabilities, up to date, and expand on the Arts Center's social media, updating its Facebook page, creating a mobile Arts Center app, and potentially adding a Pinterest page and promoting the Google Art Project, which lets people assemble their favorite art online, to patrons. Ward would also like to see events styled after the TED-talks, events at lunch similar to the Clinton School's and to create a "better" and more "dynamic" gallery experience, Millie Ward said in today's presentation to the board. The agency's goal to "re-energize the Arts Center."
There will still be one full-time person at the Arts Center to handle requests; that person will be hired by Stone Ward and their pay will be included in the contract price. Ward said that person will, however, report to Herman. Herman said he had encouraged the three employees laid off today to apply for the position. Until that person is hired, Amy Osment of Stone Ward will fill in.
The Arts Center has also outsourced the maintaining of its grounds, and the building and grounds committee of the board has made a thorough assessment of the building to prioritize physical plant needs, such as replacement of its emergency back-up power generator and fire suppression system. One hopes that committee made a thorough examination of the Terry House Community Arts Center, which yesterday was as hot and humid as a rain forest for a well-attended opening of an exhibit of works on paper ("Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist's Journey," by Linda Williams Palmer). The organizers of the exhibit had to throw the doors wide open to bring in cool air, since an indifferent Arts Center staffer said there was nothing he could do to change the thermostat on the air conditioner. It may have been too warm for even him, since he began turning off the lights promptly at 5 p.m., before all the attendees had left the reception.
Some visitors expressed concern for the drawings in a building that can't be climate-controlled. Others wondered if the Arts Center was just too poor to cool the building. Asked about that, Herman said that was not the case and he would check into the problems.
The Arkansas Times ran a story in 2010 about the Museum of Discovery's deaccessioning of its trove of artifacts that would no longer fit the mission of the now hard science-focused museum, and a doll, Miss Kyoto-shi, featured in that story. At the time, it was unknown what would happen to the doll.
Now we know. She's returning to the Museum of Discovery, which will welcome her home with a reception from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 16. Saturday, Sept. 15. She returns restored, thanks to the Acadiana Babes Doll Club from Louisiana, which paid for transportation to Japan last year, where the grandson of the original artist lineage did the restoration.
Miss Kyoto-shi was one of 58 dolls friendship dolls given to museums across the U.S. in 1927 by the Japanese in an effort to improve diplomatic relations. Many have been lost and some are now in private hands. The U.S. reciprocated by sending what were called "blue-eyed dolls" to Japan.
The homecoming reception will have special guests: Mayor Mark Stodola, the Hot Springs Village Japanese-American Folk Dancers and Alan Scott Pate, a Japanese doll authority. Pate will give a talk in the Discovery Lecture Room.
The arts calendar is full of events this weekend.
Tonight's 2nd Friday Art Night from 5-8 p.m. adds a new venue — the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, which is showing the photographs of Ralph Armstrong — along with regulars the Butler Center Galleries, the Courtyard at the Marriott, Gallery 221, Hearne Fine Art, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Old State House Museum. Not only will there be art — two new exhibits include artwork from the Rosalie Santine Gould Rowher Collection at the Butler Center and the exhibit at Hearne just posted here — but many venues will have live music. Guitarist Steve Davison will be at the Butler Center Galleries, Arkopolis with Stephen Koch will be at the Historic Arkansas Museum, Ed Bowman and the Rock City Players will be at Mosaic Templars and the Morange Trio featuring Dave Williams II will be at the Old State House.
Check the calendar listings for more information and note that the Mosaic Templars event closes a half hour before other 2nd Friday venues.
You'll also see on the Saturday calendar Gallery 26's new exhibit of recent works by Jennifer Bryant, V.L. Cox and David O'Brien. That show opens with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m. tomorrow night and continues through Oct. 27.
Also previously posted, the Terry House Community Arts Gallery opens Linda Palmer's much anticipated "Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist's Journey" on Sunday with a 3-5 p.m. reception.
Friday through Sunday the Off the Beaten Path studio tour will take art lovers to 24 tucked away in the Ozarks; see earlier post.
Hearne Fine Art, which will be open from 5-8 p.m. tonight for 2nd Friday Art Night, is exhibiting work by artists contemporary and 19th century, self-taught and professional, nationally known and locally known as part of educational exhibit about art acquisition.
"The Power of Art: Establishing Generational Wealth" examines art as investment and features work by Benny Andrews, Edward Bannister, Ernie Barnes, Richmond Barthe, Dr. John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Robert Duncanson, Paul Goodnight, Jonathan Green, Latoya Hobbs, George Hunt, Richard Hunt, Clementine Hunter, Dean Mitchell, CE Porter, Henry Ossawa Tanner, TWIN and Ernest Withers.
A press release on the show says:
Many circumstances have led to the collection of work in this show. However, the value remains consistent as the gallery setting provides the most appropriate venue for the preservation and sale of art.
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