Maybe I’m just still irked because a series of city governments has failed to replace the bench on the Fayetteville Square honoring Free Camman.
Reading of the attempt to put yet another version of the ongoing “Arkansas Entertainers Walk of Fame” just made me feel creepy.
The idea of marketing genius Butch Stone is for various cities to erect plaques honoring folks in Arkansas who have made contributions to the Arts. James Greeson from the University of Arkansas is a good example, and one plaque certainly curtaining worthy of polishing here in the New York City of the Ozarks.
But former band manager and concert promoter Stone also feels that there is a need for folks (in this case folks means “us”) to install and maintain such plaques, after money has been raised to buy each one. The only cost to the tax payers of Fayetteville would be the installation and maintenance of said plaques.
True, folks like Johnny Cash and Maya Angelou have plaques in other sites (yes, he’s convinced other cities to travel this path), and were suggested for Fayetteville’s version, but also novelist John Grisham.
Really? John Grisham?
Yes, well, you say, this is just the carping of a self-published writer about the success of an internationally known writer. But honestly, Jabbing Reader, John Grisham?
Now that I have all of that out of my system . . .
Fayetteville has a well-earned reputation as one of the most creative cities in Northwest Arkansas. Our artists range from the world-famous painter to the factory worker writing poetry in her spare time to those who make documentary films on public access television. We nurture the arts in our community, and honor the creative impulse in all, no matter their status in life.
And while I bow to no man in my admiration for Johnny Cash, I think the Man in Black is pretty well represented in the world, and not just in Arkansas.
But Free Camman, who played her violin to the flowers on the Fayetteville Square late at night in the 1980s, and who was honored for her efforts after her death from cancer with a bench on the Square bearing her name?
In the years since, not only has her bench been removed, but any suggestion to anyone in city government that just perhaps she be honored again pretty much falls on deaf ears - or the deadly promise, “I’ll get back to you on that.”
Or Marion Orton, without whose hard work we would have no Fayetteville Public Access Television, Fayetteville Government Channel, or the variious education channels we all enjoy?
Did anyone in city government ever thinking of changing the nondescript name of the building where access and government channel folks share a studio, and renaming it the Marion Orton Television Center after her death?
We’ll get back to you on that.
All around us, in fact, we have folks who deserve some sort of permanent marker, even if it is only their name carved on a wall somewhere - a wall that people actually pass by, and not an alley.
Alice Walton may have her museum, and we may have the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street, but we also have, I believe, more creative talent per square foot than any other community in Northwest Arkansas - folks who should be honored for their work.
I hope that the city council, at least, is aware of a few of these folks. As you read my partial list of folks who should be honored at some point, you will find yourself saying, “Hey, wait! He forgot . . .”
And that’s just the point, isn’t it? We are surrounded by all of this creativity, and as a city we should honor it.
Donald Roller Wilson, artist
Marcus Lane, comedian
Singer/songwriter Emily Kaitz
Sports writer Nate Allen
Singer/songwriter Jori Costello
DanScape Movement Theatre, which brought the world of dance to the “differently-abled” (Tracy Reeves-Cutaia, choreographer - and yes, we’re married)
C.F. Roberts, artist/writer
Brenda Moossy, poet - if anyone deserves a street named after her, it would be Brenda
Sean Fitzgibbon, creator of graphic novels
Documentary filmmaker Sarah K. Moore
Singer/songwriter Marshall Mitchell
Lisa Martinovic, slam poet. Though she left our town years ago, Lisa inspired many.
The entire Ozarks Poets and Writers Collective
Heather Drain, writer/film reviewer
Singer/songwriter Jed Clampit
Singer/songwriter/actor Chris Daniels - Chris died last year, but his music lives on through Television
Rebecca Buchanan, poet
photographer Don House
Mohja Kahf, poet/writer
Marta Gibbs, artist
Clarke Buehling, musician
Coralie Koonce, writer
Mark McGee, music archivist
Al “Papa Rap” Lopez - rap artist, activist
Douglas Andonian, documentary filmmaker
Joan Hess, mystery novelist
Emerge Theatre Group
Paul Harris, who wrote a book about his experiences during Hurricane Katrina
Niketa Reed, documentary filmmaker
Liz Garriss, singer
Thea Phipps, writer
W.B Mayo, writer/attorney
Clayton Scott, Fayetteville's Poet Laureate
Jonelle Grace, director, writer
The folks responsible for bringing talent in to such venues as the Annual Women’s Festival and Conference
Andrew Kilgore, photographer
Waoka - musical duo
Some of these folks may have moved on, either through U-Haul or death, and a few might live outside the Fayetteville city limits, but when did we let that stop us honoring folks?
And yes, I have left a few of your favorite people, famous or otherwise, off my list. See how long the list grows?
I’d like to see a few plaques or markers around town honoring folks such as these, the folks you may never read about in history books, but nevertheless make Fayetteville distinct from other communities in Northwest Arkansas.
And maybe a bench?
Quote of the Day
What I’m looking for is a blessing that’s not in disguise. - Kitty O’Neill Collins
From a teacher--thank you for this homage.