"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
THURSDAY 2/25-SUNDAY 5/8
'CHARLES BURCHFIELD'S BLACK IRON' AND 'DOROTHEA LANGE'S AMERICA'
Lecture and preview 6 p.m. Feb. 25. Arkansas Arts Center. Free to members, $15 to nonmembers.
Before Charles Burchfield began to make his vibrating, almost psychedelic watercolors of nature in later life, he was intrigued by the industrial, painting scenes of factories, grain elevators and such in the Great Lakes region. One of these works, "Black Iron," a large watercolor of a railroad drawbridge over Buffalo Creek in New York, is now in the collection of the Arkansas Arts Center, thanks to a gift from Hope Aldrich in honor of her father, John D. Rockefeller III. The Arts Center has developed an exhibition around this gift, which also included sketches and documents, that features other Burchfield works from the 1930s from galleries and private collections and will open it Thursday with a reception and talk, "The Force and Power of Industry: Charles Burchfield's 'Black Iron' " by Ann Prentice Wagner, the Arts Center's curator of drawings. The counterweight to the industrial show, "Dorothea Lange's America," which captures the face of humanity in this same period, also opens. The show includes Lange's iconic "Migrant Mother" photograph of a furrowed-brow figure with children and other Depression-era photographs by Lange and fellow Farm Security Administration photographers Walker Evans, Ben Shahn and Marion Post Wolcott. Also in the show are photographs by Arkansan Mike Disfarmer, Lewis Hine, Doris Ulmann and Willard Van Dyke. In conjunction with the Lange show, Gayle Seymour, associate dean in the College of Fine Arts and Communications at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, will give a lecture, "Arkansas Post Office Murals: Women Artists of the Depression," at 5:30 p.m. March 31. The documentary "Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning" will be screened at 2 p.m. April 3 and 17 and at noon April 29 in the lecture hall. LNP
JACOB METCALF, SIAMESE, YOUNG SPIELBERG
9 p.m. South on Main. $10.
One of Arkansas's best, most consistently interesting indie rock groups of recent years is The Coasts, whose debut LP "Racilia" made the Arkansas Times' top 10 albums of the year list in 2014. Coasts songwriter Ike Peters has recently struck out alone with a side project called Young Spielberg, an alter-ego that shares his better-known band's gift for earworm melodies, subtle arrangements and melancholy affect. Thursday night Young Spielberg will open for two groups from the Dallas area: Jacob Metcalf and Siamese. Metcalf, a member of Fox and the Bird and the Dallas Family Band, makes insular, fragile, carefully orchestrated indie-folk, and will be kicking off a tour celebrating the release of his debut record, "Fjord," an album he financed partly by living out of his car. Siamese, meanwhile, is a harder-charging psych-rock band that describes itself as "avant glam art pop" complemented by a "lush" and "handmade" live visual component. WS
FLORENCE PRICE AND WILLIAM GRANT STILL TRIBUTE
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
Friday night the concert series Arkansas Sounds pays tribute to two of the most important pioneers in American classical music, both of them from Little Rock. Florence Price was the first black woman recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition performed by a major American orchestra. William Grant Still, sometimes called the "Dean of African-American composers," was the first black composer to have symphonies performed by major orchestras, operas performed by major opera companies, and the first black conductor of a major American orchestra, at various points conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the New Orleans Philharmonic. Price was born in Little Rock in 1887, the daughter of a dentist and a music teacher, and she lived here on and off until 1927, the year John Carter was lynched — hung from a telephone poll and shot, his body dragged through the streets of downtown Little Rock to the corner of Ninth and Broadway, where Little Rock whites set his remains on fire. Her family headed north after that to Chicago, where Price's composition career thrived. Still was born in Mississippi, but soon moved to Little Rock, where he was raised by a single mother who taught English (his father died when he was 3 months old). At Little Rock's M.W. Gibbs High School, Still taught himself the saxophone, the oboe, the double bass, the cello, the viola and the clarinet, and won a scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Edgard Varese. He went on to arrange music for W.C. Handy and to compose "Afro-American Symphony No. 1" (among many other now-iconic works), the first symphony written by a black American composer and performed by a major American orchestra. Ron Robinson will present a screening of the hour-long documentary "The Caged Bird: The Life and Music of Florence B. Price," followed by performances of pieces by both composers by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. WS
ARKANSAS TIMES MUSICIANS SHOWCASE FINALS
8 p.m. Revolution. $5.
Congrats to Vintage Pistol, which won round four of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase semifinals last Thursday night at Stickyz. At the showcase finals Friday night at Revolution, the band will compete with neo-soul collective SOULution, R&B stalwarts Sean Fresh & The Nasty Fresh Crew, post-punk dance rockers Collin vs. Adam and Little Rock garage punk group The Uh Huhs. The winning band will receive a prize package that includes headlining spots at Valley of the Vapors, the Arkansas State Fair, Riverfest and Legends of Arkansas; gift certificates to Jacksonville Guitar, Blue Chair Studios, State of Mind Clothing and Trio's Restaurant; a photo shoot with the Arkansas Times' Brian Chilson; and a celebration party and a personalized drink courtesy of Stickyz and Revolution. WS
5TH ANNUAL MADONNARAMA
9 p.m. Sway.
The House of Avalon is a party-planning collective that evolved from throwing house parties in Hillcrest to generating full-on multimedia experiences at the downtown nightclub Sway. Morgan Sykes, who profiled the crew for the Arkansas Times in 2014, noted that, at their best, these parties provide "a kind of spiritual center" for the young, vibrant Little Rock gay community. One of its most successful series has been the Madonnarama parties — note the mysterious Madonna silhouettes that have been posted up downtown in recent weeks — and this weekend's event is its fifth. With an aesthetic influenced by equal parts Miley Cyrus, Cher and "Party Monster" ("anything irreverent, anything cult-y," in its words), the parties are guaranteed to be memorable. As the House of Avalon told the Times, "We're doing God's gay work for young people in Little Rock." WS
SATURDAY 2/27-MONDAY 5/30
'THE OPEN ROAD'
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville
The U.S.A: the land of the free and the big car, where the road trip is part of the American experience. Photographers like Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, Garry Winogrand, William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz have made photography of the American roadside a genre in itself. This weekend, Crystal Bridges opens an exhibition of 100 photographs by these masters and others, scenes of America's tawdry grandeur (Las Vegas, Mt. Rushmore), roadside motels, the beautiful, the weird, the rich, the poor, the broken, the vast. Curator David Campany (author of the book "The Open Road") asks and answers the question, "Is America even imaginable without the road trip?" The Arkansas Times is offering bus travel to the show April 2. LNP