Rothko before Rothko at Arkansas Arts Center 

Also, at Crystal Bridges: Fisk collection.

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Two extraordinary exhibits will be in Arkansas this fall, which, happily, is something we've come to expect. Think of these two names: Mark Rothko. Georgia O'Keeffe.

"Mark Rothko in the 1940s: The Decisive Decade" opens at the Arkansas Arts Center Oct. 25, and in the preface to the book about the show, the writer explains that the exhibition of the work of the famed abstract expressionist in the 1940s shows Rothko's maturation from the figurative to the luminous color blocks he is most famous for. That writer is none other than Todd Herman, the Arts Center's executive director, who was chief curator and organizer of the exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina, where the exhibition debuted in September 2012. Herman was able to include an unpublished monograph about art by Rothko himself in the book; the exhibit allows a comparison of Rothko's paintings, drawings and watercolors to his words. The exhibition — some 40 pieces — includes work in which he references mythology, and then moves from an emphasis on the drawing to an emphasis on color. Also in the exhibition are works by Rothko contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Adolph Gottlieb and Clyfford Still. The works are on loan from the National Gallery in Washington.

Also on view along with Rothko: "Face to Face: Artists' Self-Portraits from the collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr." and "Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge." Rothko, who took his own life, will be the subject of a lecture, "Rothko's Dilemma: Beauty and Tragedy," to be given by Dr. Bradford Collins, University of South Carolina associate professor of art history, at 6 p.m. Oct. 24. A member reception will follow. Non-members may attend the lecture and reception for $15. On Oct. 26, artist Catherine Rodgers will lead a workshop, "Paint Like Rothko — Color: Complement, Shade, Tone and Tint," from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; fee is $92 for members and $115 for non-members. More information on the workshop and a teacher academy set for Oct. 5 can be found on the Arts Center's website, arkansasartscenter.org, or by calling 372-4000. The show runs through Feb. 9 in the Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, whose attempt to share, for $30 million, the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at the Fisk Museum sparked years of litigation and was finally successful, will show works from the Fisk starting Nov. 9. The show will include O'Keeffe's wonderful "Radiator Building — Night, New York, 1927," which should bring art lovers from all over to Bentonville. There are 101 pieces in the Stieglitz collection, donated to Fisk by Georgia O'Keeffe, the photographer's wife; artists represented include French artists like Paul Cezanne. Paul Signac, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre-Auguste Renoir as well as Americans Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Alfred Maurer and, of course, Stieglitz and O'Keeffe.

Speaking of Arkansas Arts Center, Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art

  • Top 20 works in the collection of the Arkansas Arts Center

    January 1, 2015
    At the end of last year, the Arkansas Times asked the art experts at the Arkansas Arts Center to name the 15 most important works in the Arts Center's collection (which is owned by the Arts Center Foundation). After what Director Todd Herman called "heated exchanges," Herman, curators Brian Lang and Ann Wagner and registrar and Arts Center institution Thom Hall compromised on 20 pieces from a collection that now totals 13,000 works of art. /more/
  • 'American Encounters' finale coming from Louvre to CBM in May

    December 23, 2014
    The final "American Encounters" collaboration of the Musee du Louvre, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Terra Foundation for American Art comes to Arkansas next year when "The Simple Pleasures of Still Life" opens May 16 at CBM in Bentonville. Its first showing is Feb. 5-April 27 at the Louvre. /more/
  • Crystal Bridges: The 'Afghanistan of curatorial outposts'

    November 19, 2014
    If you don't check Rock Candy do. Today, arts writer Leslie Peacock delves into executive changes at the Walton-financed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, drawing heavily from another blogger's interview with former curator Kevin Murphy. /more/
  • Why one curator left Crystal Bridges: Kevin Murphy explains

    November 19, 2014
    Lee Rosenbaum, who blogs as CultureGrrl, reveals an interview she had with former Crystal Bridges Museum of Art curator Kevin Murphy, in which he said he regretted what he saw as a desire to put on popular, contemporary shows rather than delve deeper into the early American collection, his area of expertise. /more/
  • Don Bacigalupi leaving Crystal Bridges

    November 17, 2014
    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art President Don Bacigalupi, whose vision widened the contemporary collection of the Bentonville museum, has been chosen by "Star Wars" filmmaker George Lucas to be the founding director of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, slated to open in 2018 in Chicago. Bacigalupi will leave Crystal Bridges Jan. 14, 2015. /more/
  • Crystal Bridges announces departure of Don Bacigalupi, the museum president

    November 17, 2014
    Don Bacigalupi, president and first director of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is leaving to become founding president of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to be built in Chicago. /more/
  • More on State of the Art, by Brad Cushman, Nathan Larson and yours truly

    November 16, 2014
    University of Arkansas at Little Rock gallery director Brad Cushman and gallery assistant Nathan Larson have posted their two bits about "State of the Art: Discovering American Art," and so have I. /more/
  • Artist John Salvest in the spotlight at CBM

    November 7, 2014
    John Salvest, a conceptual artist from Jonesboro known for installations that provide commentary on politics and society, will give the "Spotlight Lecture" tonight, Nov. 7, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, where Salvest's work is on display in the "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now" exhibition. /more/
  • Beckman at the AAC

    November 6, 2014
    Smoldering charcoals. /more/
  • Beckman draws the line at the Arts Center

    October 31, 2014
    Anyone who has ever drawn with charcoal knows how tempting it is to draw outlines in soft, fat, black as night lines. It feels good. But it can really screw up what you're drawing. Unless you are William Beckman. In that case, your fat, black mark emphasizes the gorgeous contour of the human body without turning the figure into a paper doll. A review of the exhibition "William Beckman: Drawings" at the Arkansas Arts Center. /more/
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