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$9 million Discovery 

'DANCING WITH BUTTERFLIES': Charles Criner.
  • 'DANCING WITH BUTTERFLIES': Charles Criner.
A couple of days too late to make it into the Times' philanthropy issue last week came the announcement that the Museum of Discovery has gotten the OK for a $9 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation for three new exhibits and a redo of the museum entrance, a configuration that will add 8,000 square feet.

Once construction is complete — sometime in 2010 — the Museum of Discovery will have a subscript to its name over the door: The Donald W. Reynolds Science Center, director Nan Selz said.

The science and technology museum will have to raise $3.5 million in matching funds to get the grant. Selz hopes to raise the sum within a year — though she acknowledged that this isn't the best economic climate for a museum with its hand out.

Speaking of climate, one of the exhibits the museum hopes to install will be a sphere 5 feet in diameter that will project images — like the weather patterns that created Katrina, or wildfires out West — as if it were a miniature planet Earth.

The museum will close sometime in late 2009 for construction. It will continue to offer outreach programming, and is raising money apart from the Reynolds match to support operations.

 

Hearne Fine Art is the only gallery in Arkansas (that I know of) that focuses entirely on African-American art. That alone would qualify it as a destination, but the quality of the work that Garbo and Archie Hearne have brought to Little Rock over the past 20 years is outstanding.

Now, the gallery is celebrating those 20 years with a rotating exhibit of work by all the artists who've shown there over the years. The current focus is on charcoal, photography and printmaking, with the exception of George Hunt's riotous painting “All Night Long.” Major artists are represented here — like the late Benny Andrews, with his oil and collage images of elongated, stylized figures — and some who may someday be famous, like Ariston Jacks of Little Rock.

Among the selections: Johnice Parker's large gestural pastel “A Matter of Time,” which depicts four children being escorted to school amid a sea of slogans, like “His eye is on the sparrow” and “Who are we foolin',” and Charles Criner's lithograph “Dancing with Butterflies,” in which a woman with oversized limbs sways ecstatically, her pearls and Monarch butterflies — the only dab of color in the work — flying. Photographs by Chester Higgins capture nighttime scenes of Ethiopia and Egypt with color so unusual it takes a couple of glances to realize they're photos. Aj Smith of Little Rock's “The Quiltmaker” monotype triptych combines large color fields and scribbles atop a small drawn portrait; Leroy Allen has a terrific charcoal drawing of a man's head.

Jacks' work, like Hunt's, isn't a work on paper; it's a copper plate he etched for prints. The inked lines reveal wonderful draftsmanship. It would be nice to see the prints pulled from this plate. And though the plate itself is a beautiful object, I'm not crazy about his idea to sell it, since new prints could be pulled from it that he'd have no control over. 

The show runs through Jan. 15; future rotations will focus on mixed media and the oversized “Limited Editions” art books.

 

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