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A five-section mural about Sept. 9, 2001, art and artifacts from African cultures, an exhibit of works by Benini — those who make a point to see the best of what’s in Arkansas galleries can look forward to an exhausting schedule in the upcoming weeks.
The Baum Gallery of the University of Central Arkansas will host the first exhibit in Arkansas of representational champion Bruno Surdo’s “Tragedy, Memory and Honor” (2002). The monumental painting, more than 35 feet long and 8 feet high, depicts people fleeing in terror, the faces of the dead and the hoisting of an American flag in the aftermath. Surdo, whose School of Representational Art in Chicago stresses Old Master skill at rendering the figure, is a Jacques-Louis David for our time.
Kevin Kresse and Douglas Bourgeois join Surdo in the exhibit, “Context/Content: Making Meaning with the Figure.” Kresse, from Little Rock, is showing new paintings that have to do with his decision to make a living doing art. Bourgeois, who lives in a small town in Louisiana, paints richly patterned and colorful images of small-town life, celebrities, and social ills.
Baum curator Barbara Satterfield said the school has long wanted to do a “dynamite painting show” that would help students see different ways artists use the figure.
Surdo will give a talk at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 after an opening reception. The show runs through Feb. 23.
The Arkansas Arts Center holds its first show ever of African art with the highly acclaimed “African Masterpieces from the New Orleans Museum of Art,” opening Jan. 20. The exhibit, which has been traveling since before Katrina hit New Orleans and closed the museum, includes 100 pieces of art from several sub-Saharan cultures — carved wood, royal clothing and masks, ironwork and figures in ivory. The show runs through April 16.
There will also be two lectures at the Arts Center this weekend: Ceramic artist Sandi Pierantozzi will talk at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 21, and woodworker Clay Foster will talk at 6 p.m. Jan. 22, in conjunction with his show, “Works in Wood.” Also on exhibit at the Arts Center: “Paul Jenkins: Water and Color,” abstract work by the New York School artist.
Benini, who with his wife, Lorraine, is credited with turning on the lights in Hot Springs’ gallery district, will show new work at Gallery Central, 800 Central Ave., in February and March. “Under the Texas Stars” — Benini now lives in the Texas hill country — will include his large and luminescent canvases that combine a Pollock splatter with atmosphere and depth. The artist will be at the gallery for a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2; the gallery will be open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 3 for Gallery Walk and Feb. 4 as well.
We’re not done yet. The notable faculty of Arkansas State University are showing work in the “2006 Faculty Biennial” opening Jan. 19 in the Bradbury Gallery. New work by Roger Carlisle, Tom Chaffee, Shelley Gibson, John Keech, Neil Matthiessen, Gayle Pendergrass, Daniel J. Reeves, William Rowe, John Salvest, Curtis Steele and Kim Vickrey will be up through Feb. 19.
Coming up: Art sale fund-raisers for CARTI on Jan. 26 and the National Organization for Women at Oval Gallery on Jan. 28. The CARTI event, at Kavanaugh and Cantrell in space next door to City Farmer, is not an auction, and artists will keep a portion of the proceeds. Works by Arden Boyce, J.O. Buckley, Robyn Horn, Henri Linton, Virginia McKimmey, Ashley Saer and Jack Slentz and more will be featured. The NOW event starts at 7 p.m. and will include an auction as well as music by Stacey Mackey and Valarie Thrower and two scenes from “The Vagina Monologues.”