On Saturday, April 20, the San Francisco company Purple Moon Dance Project will perform an interpretive piece in the gallery, "When Dreams are Interrupted" in conjunction with Wendy Maruyama's installation and exhibit on Japanese American internment during World War II, "Tag Project/Executive Order 9066.” The performance will be from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Yesterday, the exhibit had another visitor: George Takei, who portrayed Mr. Sulu on the wildly popular "Star Trek" television series. Takei, who with his family lived at the Rohwer internment camp in South Arkansas for eight months as a child and later at Tule Lake camp in California, is shown in the photograph above posing next to hundreds of internee name tags suspended from the ceiling in Maruyama's installation in the Jeannette Rockefeller Gallery.
The annual "Young Arkansas Artists" exhibition of work by students grades K-12 from all over the state opens today at the Arkansas Arts Center. Jurors for the show are members of the Arkansas Art Educators Association; they choose around 125 works from more than 600 entered yearly. Selections from the show will travel the state after the exhibition goes down May 5.
The work above was done by a student at Arkansas High School in Texarkana.
The Arkansas Arts Center announced its "Delta Exhibition" prizes winners last night, and the Grand Award went to Tulsa artist Mark Lewis for his graphite and paper collage "Peoria Avenue No. 7" (2011).
The Arkansas Arts Center put out a press release yesterday crowing about the fact that it has ended the first six months of the fiscal year in the black, and the board of directors' finance committee heard from the Arts Center Deputy Director of Operations Laine Harber that the center has $600,000 in the bank. "The need for caution is not eliminated," Harber said, but the news is good.
The unusual press release might have been a response to an article in November in the Democrat-Gazette that said the Arts Center's revenues weren't keeping up with its budget. The story had some Arts Center folks, sensitive to press about its delicate finances, in a tizzy.
They are tizzing no more, thanks to generous gifts in December (which ended $61,367 ahead of budget) and continued frugality at the Arts Center, which cut administrators pay last year by 7 percent, abandoned in-house marketing (saving the cost of three positions) and, Director Todd Herman said, asked its departments to do more with less. "We are starting to see a turnaround," Herman said.
Some of the $600,000 is restricted to upcoming exhibits, including the "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" show that will open June 7.
Arkansas board chair Chucki Bradbury said the report was the best "since Todd Herman arrived."
Still, the development budget of a little more than $1.8 million is only 45 percent of the way toward that figure at the half-way point in the year, due to the reallocation of donations to Tabriz sponsorships, expected gifts budgeted but not yet received, some decline in corporate giving, etc. Giving by individuals is ahead of the game however, at $356,715 toward its goal of $527,590. Tabriz is budgeted to gross $600,000 and net $350,000, of which $200,000 would go to operations and $150,000 to the Arts Center Foundation for art acquisitions. Tabriz dollars met those expectations in both 2009 and 2011.
The board had another thing to brag about: A book on the artist Mark Rothko that includes a forward and introduction by Herman was named the sixth best art book of the year by the Huffington Post. The book, "Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950," was written to accompany an exhibit that will originate at the Columbia Museum of Art, where Herman was director until his hiring here. (The show was organized by the Arkansas Art Center, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum, in conjunction with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and will come here in 2014.)
Herman's role is to set the stage for Rothko's movement into color as content, noting the artists who influenced him, including Titian, Max Weber and Milton Avery. Christopher Rothko, the artist's son; National Gallery curator Harry Cooper, Rothko expert David Anfram and Bradford Collins of the University of South Carolina write the following chapters. How could you not want this book? For more information about it, read here and here; to order from Amazon go here, or better yet, buy it at the Arts Center.
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 Arkansas Arts Center has issued a call for entries to its 55th annual Delta Exhibition, to be held Jan. 18-March 10 next year. Deadline to enter is Oct. 30.
The Delta is open to artists who live or were born in Arkansas and its contiguous states. Juror for the show is Monica Bowman, owner of The Butcher's Daughter Contemporary Art Gallery in Detroit and a teacher of business practices for artists at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. She has a blog, Prime Cuts.
Entry fee is $20 for the first entry and $10 for additional entries (up to three allowed).
Guidelines and online entry form are here.
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.
Arkansas Arts Center director Todd Herman is meeting with staff right now to discuss changes in personnel for the upcoming fiscal year. Two people are losing their jobs and their positions have been eliminated. One of the two could be Joe Lampo, deputy director of programs, who the board of directors made interim director after Nan Plummer's resignation in 2010. Another is in the associate director of major gifts.
The Arts Center expects net savings of $106,000 in personnel costs in the $6 million budget for fiscal year 2013 it passed today. It is down to
47 43 full-time and nine part-time employees; the 2012 and 2013 budgets axed four job titles total. Another position was reduced to part-time.
The 2013 budget is nearly $1 million more than last year's. The difference: the Arts Center's biggest fund-raiser, Tabriz, and a ticketed exhibition, "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London." The budget also includes $200,000 in development dollars from as yet unidentified sources; board chairman Charlotte (Chucki) Bradbury said the savings from the job cuts are separate from the $200,000.
Two crucial curatorial positions are being filled with grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, and a private individual has funded those positions for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. The Arts Center also got an unexpected bequest of $256,000 earlier this year.
UPDATE: Former interim director Lampo was one of the two employees terminated, Herman said in a phone call. He said the staff — including the new curators, expected to be hired in July — will help absorb his duties. Herman himself will take on some of the fund-raising tasks that Toni Roosth, the development person whose job was also terminated, had.
Herman said it wasn't an easy decision, "but necessary for the long-term health of the institution. That has got to be my top priority." He noted that the Arts Center's need to be bare-bones in its budgeting is not unique, with grants, foundation, corporate and private giving all over the country declining.
Even in a perfect world, Herman said, the positions cut today might not be filled; he said there was some managerial redundancy at the Arts Center. "Are we at maximum staff levels? No, but are these what we need? Not necessarily."
The finance committee of the Arkansas Arts Center today discussed a proposed $6 million budget for its fiscal year starting July 1, which is about $1 million more than last year's budget. The budget goes to the full board at noon Monday.
Arts Center deputy director of operations Laine Harber and committee head Mary Elllen Vandgilder went over with committee members their reasoning for the increase: They expect increased revenues from Tabriz, museum school tuition, ticket sales to the 2013 exhibition of works by Rembrandt, Gainesborough, Van Dyck and other important artists from Kenwood House, England, and grant and development revenues.
In a press release, Arts Center Director Todd Herman said the standard operating portion of the budget is $5.2 million; the remaining dollars are considered special revenue.
Still, the budget is ambitious. The Arts Center's fund-raising in 2012 missed its budget by around $500,000, Harber said. It's been a bad time for arts institutions the nation over, and the bad economy hit the Arts Center when it was down, thanks to a failed promised gift and unexpected spending related to its "World of the Pharaohs" exhibition.
The Arts Center's cash situation is vastly improved over April projections, Harber said, thanks to unexpected gifts and its ability to put off certain exhibition expenses until the 2013 budget. Once expected to be around $350,000, it not looks like it will be about $40,000, and even that could be zeroed out by putting off payables until 2013.
The Arkansas Arts Center opens two new exhibitions tomorrow: "The Still Lifes of G. Daniel Massad," photorealistic pastels by the Oklahoma-born artist (now a resident of Pennsylvania), and "The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft."
Massad writes this about his work on his website.
I look for the image that will fascinate me throughout the months-long process of realizing it on paper; for the image that will take hold in memory, like a particularly vivid but not yet intelligible dream; for the image that will keep me on the edge of understanding, as if it were speaking earnestly to me about matters of life and death in a voice so low I have to listen hard for the words. Part of my search is active, painstaking, time-consuming. I do what I can. I construct, dismantle, and reconstruct. I look carefully at the objects I try to render, and then look again – urging myself past that contented partial knowledge I always want to think of as complete. I build on paper thick layers of pastel, the surface of which is more beautiful to me than I can account for, and then refine that surface, bit by bit. That is what I know how to do. But (and here’s the paradox): what I know how to do, even what I know how to do well, does not make good pictures. For the essential part of the search is indirect. It goes on – perhaps it is continually going on – beyond the purview of consciousness, outside the authority of my will, regardless of my best efforts. It is as if my chief task were nothing more than putting myself in the place where the next picture will find me – where it will, in a sense, get in my way.
"The New Materiality," organized by the Fuller Craft Museum, features work by craft artists who blend traditional materials with digital video and audio, computerized design and other technologies. Artists in the show include Nathalie Miebach, Wendy Maruyama, Brian Boldon, Shaun Bullens, Sonya Clark, Lia Cook, Susan Working, E.G. Crichton, Donald Fortescue and Lawrence LaBianca, Christy Matson, Cat Mazza, Mike and Maaike, Tim Tate and Mark Zirpel.
The Arkansas Arts Center is looking at ending its fiscal year with a cash flow deficit of $365,299, according to its financial officer's best estimates, and will likely have to go to the Arts Center Foundation for help.
Chucki Bradbury, chairman of the Arts Center's board of directors, said today the center suffered a "perfect storm" this fiscal year, suffering from a downturn in private giving (it didn't have a development officer for several months), an exhibition schedule that included no high profile paid exhibitions to boost traffic and membership, unexpected maintenance problems (it will probably have to replace the HVAC boilers to the tune of $80,000), and so forth.
Development numbers are under budget by nearly $400,000.
Bradbury said the silver lining is that the board is fully aware and understands the Arts Center's finances, something that could not have been said about the board several years ago. Also: Next year the Arts Center will have a huge exhibit that will include a famed self-portrait by Rembrandt — which the New York Times called "magnificently plainspoken" in an article about the painting's appearance at the Metropolitan Museum. From the Met to the Arts Center — big stuff. The cost of bringing the work, part of an exhibit from Kenwood House in England, is nearly paid for, which is also good news.
The Arts Center announced today that Deborah Allen's painting "Letting Go" won the inaugural People's Choice Award in the 54th annual Delta Exhibition, which runs through March 28 at the Arkansas Arts Center.
Delta goers could cast their votes at the Arts Center or on its Facebook or Twitter account.
Allen is a Little Rock artist; you can see more of her work on her website.
Benny Andrews. Steven Assael. Milton Avery. Elizabeth Catlett. Judy Chicago. Francois Boucher. Elaine DeKooning. Juan Gris. Philip Guston. John Marin. Henri Mattise. Sister Gertrude Morgan. Elie Nadelman. Egon Schiele. Paul Signac. Abraham Walkowitz.
That's a pretty hefty lineup, pulled together for the Arkansas Arts Center's "Building the Collection: Art Acquired in the 1990s" exhibit. The Contemporaries are throwing a
sold-out party tonight centering around the show of ceramics and works on paper — "Culture Shock: The '90s" — but if you didn't buy a ticket, you can see the show another day until May 13. update: my information on the tickets was wrong! You can still party tonight at the Arts Center, 7 p.m., $10 members, $19.90 guests.
The go-go '90s were a good decade for collection building at the Arts Center — more than 2,000 artworks were either donated or purchased.
Yes, there are Arkansas artists along with the seraphim — Carroll Cloar, Louis Freund, Laura Phillips, Marjorie Williams-Smith. Here's a complete list of what's in the show with thumbnails. Thanks to Thom Hall.
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings