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‘Art is’ going to schools 

Clinton, Thea foundations release DVD.

Billy Bob Thornton says, “Art is joy. Art is wise.”

The “Sling Blade” star might be an unlikely candidate to talk about such tender stuff, but he and Mary Steenburgen, Harry Thomason, Lawrence Hamilton and the former president of the United States wax poetic on a DVD catalog of the “Art Across Arkansas” program's paintings, drawings and prints.

The collaborative project of the Clinton and Thea foundations is putting art in public schools, installing its first 66 works in Pulaski County in the 2006-07 school year. Next year, more artwork — displayed in large glass and wood cases that include artists' statements — will travel to school districts in the Delta and the Ozarks.

Former President Clinton delivers the prologue to the DVD, “Art Is ... ,” which rolls continuous images of the collection as the celebrities talk about the role of creativity in their own lives and the ways in which art stimulates the mind.

A total of 371 artworks have been loaned or given to the Clinton Foundation to travel to schools. Most of it is by Arkansans, but some isn't, like a couple of Leroy Nieman golfing paintings. Since they are to hang in schools, the subject matter doesn't push the envelope too much — there are lots of watercolors of landscapes and ducks and flowers. But there are also more daring works in the collection. Some of the best-known Arkansas artists whose work will travel include Warren Criswell, Henri Linton, Doris Williamson Mapes, Virginia McKimmey, Beverly McLarty, Matt McLeod, Sheila Parsons, Gary Simmons, Stephano Sutherlin and Charles Banks Wilson.

The DVD will be distributed along with the art during the 2007-08 school year. It will also be posted online on the foundations' websites. But the best way to see the collection will be when it goes on exhibit June 16 at the Clinton Presidential Center. The exhibit will run through Aug. 19.

An auction of paintings, drawings, jewelry and more is set for Saturday, June 9, at the Governor's Mansion to benefit Audubon Arkansas's Nature Center.

The first Green Tie Affair starts at 7 p.m.; tickets are $100.

Among the works to be auctioned (live and silent) are two pastels of Delta scenes by Norwood Creech, paintings by Connie Fails and Francis Wilson Shackleford, jewelry by Joan Courtney and more. Bird-watching trips will be among the live auction items.

Audubon Arkansas is rehabbing a former community center at Gillam Park as an interim Nature Center until it raises the money for a new facility on the grounds of the park, which it's leased from the city. The Audubon acreage is rich in plant diversity thanks to the syenite rock underlying the hill.

It's 2nd Friday Art Night time, and this Friday will feature a “celebrity” trolley guide: Bill Worthen of the Historic Arkansas Museum. Worthen will ride the rubber wheeled trolley that takes gallery-goers to the 2nd Friday venues in the River Market and at the Arts Center.

The Arts Center will give free admission to its contemporary craft exhibit, “Craft in America,” for the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. event. River Market Artspace will feature “Contemporary Objects in Clay: The Pottery of Winston Taylor”; Hearne Fine Art will show ceramic sculpture by Chukes, Cox Creative Gallery's special exhibit is “Adornments,” work by Eleanor Lux, Bettye Eshenroder, Michelle Fox, Debby Gwaltney and Connie O'Mara; and the Historic Arkansas Museum shows “Colors of the Palette and Natural Machines,” work by Kirk Jordan, Alison Parsons and Lauren Wilcox. The Ten Thousand Villages fair trade store will be open as well. At 8 p.m., the Reel Movie series at the Darragh Center of the Main Library will show “The Horse's Mouth,” starring Alec Guinness as an aging and impoverished artist.

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