Monday, June 8, 2015

Arts Center ending year in black, again

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 4:53 PM

click to enlarge Xavier Viramontes' lithograph "Boycott Grapes, Support the United Farm Workers Union" in the "Our America" show.
  • Xavier Viramontes' lithograph "Boycott Grapes, Support the United Farm Workers Union" in the "Our America" show.
The Arkansas Arts Center is about to close out the 2014-15 fiscal year in the black for the fifth year in a row, the Board of Directors heard today, with a current surplus of $171,000 thanks to revenue from a successful Tabriz fund-raiser and careful budgeting. That's a far cry from the $1.2 million in the red that closed the Arts Center's 2009-10 fiscal year.

Tabriz is biennial, so the Arts Center is preparing for a leaner next fiscal year, starting July 1, with a budget of $6,023,000, $370,000 lower than the 2014-15 budget. Still, if June holds no surprises, the budget anticipates raises for staff totaling $70,000. 

The free exhibition "30 Americans" has proved successful in visitor numbers, totaling 5,495 so far or an average of 100 a day. Not only have the numbers been good, the Arts Center has gotten much positive feedback from viewers of the collection of works by contemporary African-American artists from the Rubell Family of Florida. The show, which I reviewed in April, closes in a couple of weeks. 

In October, the Arts Center will open another exhibition that explores a cultural identity, "Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art," a Smithsonian traveling exhibition. It will feature nearly 100 works by 72 artists. Informational materials will be printed in both Spanish and English, Arts Center Director Todd Herman said. From the Smithsonian on the show:

"Our America" includes works by artists who participated in all the various artistic styles and movements, including abstract expressionism; activist, conceptual, and performance art; and classic American genres such as landscape, 
click to enlarge Margarita Cabrera's "Brown Blender," in the "Our America" show.
  • Margarita Cabrera's "Brown Blender," in the "Our America" show.
portraiture, and scenes of everyday life. Latino artists across the United States were galvanized by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They created new images of their communities and examined bicultural experiences. Many critically probed American history and popular culture, revealing the possibilities and tensions of expansionism, migration, and settlement. Other Latino artists in the exhibition devoted themselves to experimentation, pushing the limits of their chosen medium. “Our America” presents a picture of an evolving national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by “American” and “Latino.”

Other exhibits coming up in 2015-16: the "Delta Exhibition" (July 20-Sept. 20), "Dorothea Lange's America" (Feb. 26-May 8, 2016), "Charles Burchfield Black Iron" (Feb. 26-May 8, 2016). Other smaller shows included work by self-taught Arkansas artist Alonzo Ford in conjunction with Acansa (Sept. 15-Oct. 25), the annual "Collector's Show" (Nov. 13-Jan. 3) photographs by Nathalia Edenmont (January-May, 2016), and an exhibit by the Mid-Southern Watercolorists in February.

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