A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
May's 2nd Friday Art Night event features a happier flood than the waters now invading the Delta: One of artists, thanks to a 2nd Friday swollen by several special venues who'll be participating this month only. So many artists are participating that I call your attention to the calendar listings for names rather than repeating them here; see this page. Participants include regulars — Arkansas Studies Institute, Christ Church, the Courtyard Marriott and Historic Arkansas Museum (which along with 2nd Friday opener, "Mid-Southern Watercolorists 41st Annual Exhibition," is showing what you might call its mini-blockbuster "Reel to Real: 'Gone with the Wind' and the Civil War in Arkansas"). Special venues are the Cox Creative Center, Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative, HH Architects, Lafayette Square and the Quapaw Quarter Methodist Church. Participating restaurants include the Copper Grill, Dizzy's Bistro and Lulav.
Several of the exhibits are group shows. Those names I've directed you to in the calendar total 52, but that could be only half the total, because I don't have the names of the artists in the "Blank" student show, the Mid-South Watercolorists show, The ArtGroup Maumelle, or the Youth Show (at Arkansas Studies Institute). If you can make it to all the 2nd Friday shows, you should get a good idea of what art-making in Arkansas today looks like. If you make it a point to go to Hearne Fine Art, which this month isn't participating in 2nd Friday, but which has a group show featuring the work of area portraitists, your knowledge of the Central Arkansas arts scene will become encyclopedic.
After your rounds at 2nd Friday venues, you're going to have to put on your personal jetpack and head to M2 Gallery in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center so you don't miss its Friday opening reception for "Westland: The Life and Art of Tim West," from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. West is the 74-year-old artist from Winslow whose work was featured a couple of years ago at M2; as it did in 2009, M2 is combining West's work with photographs by Diana Michelle Hausam, who is documenting West's work in film and pictures. There will be a film crew at Friday night's reception and at an artist's talk set for 2-4 p.m. Saturday, May 14.
A news release from the gallery says West, as a 19-year-old, had an etching accepted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University, but the recluse has not exhibited his work until recently, after he met Hausam. Hausam and West became acquainted after she saw a fence he'd constructed of bicycles on his Ozark property and asked to photograph it. The news release quotes West as saying, "I just figured I'd be dead 10 years before anyone would ever notice my art."
The example of West's work sent by M2 is an Ozarks scene in sketchy inks and on old and discolored paper. You can see a video of West sketching on M2 gallery's Facebook page.
n Check the calendar also for the multitude of things going on in Eureka Springs, which is celebrating its May Festival of the Arts. All Spring Street galleries are hosting events into the evening on Saturday, and the Downtown Art Fair runs Friday and Saturday in Basin Spring Park and along Center Street. For information on all the festival's events, check its website, www.mayfestivalofthearts.com.