Thea Arts Festival kickoff 

click to enlarge SPOUTING OFF: Teapots by Oksana Litvinova, Thea Arts Festival artist.
  • SPOUTING OFF: Teapots by Oksana Litvinova, Thea Arts Festival artist.

Main Street in Argenta is upping its art cred this Saturday, April 28, with the inaugural Thea Arts Festival, an all-day celebration that will bring 28 artists, live music and dance to North Little Rock's creative district downtown.

Paul Leopoulos, president of the Thea Foundation, which will benefit from the festival through sponsorships and booth sales, said the foundation's board of directors wanted to do a fund-raiser that was "meaningful to our mission," which is to encourage arts education and support the arts in Arkansas. The 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. event should be meaningful to Argenta as well, adding polish to its arts district crown.

Visual artists and artisans went through a selection process to be able to participate and will be eligible for $5,000 in awards on Saturday. Exhibiting painting, pottery, glass, woodworking, tile, basketry and sculpture on a closed-to-traffic Main Street will be V.L. Cox, Ken Davis, Janet Donnangelo, Kelly Furr, Doug Gorrell, Zach Graupner, Mia Hall, Jane Hankins, Bre Harris, Tom and Sage Holland, Steve Horan, Kateri Joe, Kandy Jones, Beth Lambert, Fletcher Larkin, Sean LeCrone, Elena Liachenko, Oksana Litvinova, Delia Martin, Bryan Massey, Leon Niehues, Ed Pennebaker, Barbara Satterfield, John Sewell, Jason Smith, Douglas Stowe and Jennifer Wilson. Artists will receive all proceeds from their sales.

There will be artist demonstrations by Arts Center instructors, Larry Pennington of "Claytime" pottery studio, plein air painters and others. Punctuating the art will be musical performances on each block between Broadway and Sixth Street by soloists and groups like the Pickoids, Fire and Brimstone and the Arkansas Symphony Quartet, which will bring along the ASO's instrument "petting zoo" for kids who want to try their hand at violin or other instruments. Soloists include Aaron Bard, Audrey Dean Kelley, Danile Haney, Steve Bates and Alisa Coffey. Ballet dancers will perform throughout the day as well.

Thea is all about promoting self-confidence and learning through art, so there will be kids' art activities. With the guidance of ceramicists Angela Cummings and Hamid Ebrahimifar children (and adults, too) will paint clay tiles that will be glazed and fired for a permanent public art piece in Argenta. Kids will also learn how to make chalk and then will get to use what they make on the streets. There will be a collaborative painting project for adults as well, guided by area art teachers.

Leopoulos said Thea is starting on the small side to guarantee the first festival's success but he expects to see it grow, adding artists from outside Arkansas and perhaps spilling south into Little Rock.

There's only a 10 percent chance of rain Saturday; there's a far better chance of good art and a good time.

On Thursday, April 26, a crowd is sure to turn out once again for "EXPRESSIONS," the art show and sale of paintings by clients of Birch Tree Communities at the Governor's Mansion.

The annual event packs the mansion ballroom with people eager to see and buy the paintings, made by artists who paint from the heart and not by the book, giving their work a fresh and unfettered appeal. The show will feature selected works by clients of other mental health providers as well.

Birch Tree's clients are persons with serious mental illness whose art classes offer a route to self-esteem, expression and recovery. All proceeds from the sale go to the artists. Artist Jim Tindall is the arts specialist for Birch Tree.

The event is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and includes music by Wine and Roses and hors d'oeuvres. Lauren Clark from KTHV will be emcee for a live auction. Tickets are $25 and are available at the door; there's usually a line out the mansion's front door so go early. Call 303-3202 for more information.




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