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Music, art and eats in Arkansas

Dining Review

Breadwinners

December 7, 2017
Breadwinners
Dinner at Boulevard dazzles. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Love isn't measured

December 7, 2017
Love isn't measured
The Rep goes minimalist with a romantic 'Magi. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

In black and white

The men and women who patrol Little Rock in black and white vehicles /more/

Ernest Dumas

Tax lies

If Aristotle's famous principle can be stretched from the theater of art to the theater of politics, we may soon discover whether the Republican tax cuts will challenge the public's "willing suspension of disbelief." /more/

Gene Lyons

Cats and dogs

I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years. /more/

Movie Reviews

'Three Billboards' nails the 2017 zeitgiest

December 7, 2017
'Three Billboards' nails the 2017 zeitgiest
It keeps you on edge, all the time. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Halfway there

December 7, 2017
To regrettably borrow from Bon Jovi (and Lord knows I'm not going to cite him much here), Arkansas is halfway there in filling two major athletic department vacancies, and at least as of the time of this writing, livin' on a prayer to plug the remaining void. /more/

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Arkansas Blog

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Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:34:00

Trump withdraws judge nomination of Alabaman Brett Talley

An update to criticism of President Trump's terrible judicial appointments: Even Trump's team realized what a poor choice Alabama lawyer Brett Talley was for the federal bench in Alabama. His nomination has been withdrawn, NPR has reported:

Talley had been rated "unanimously unqualified" for the post by the American Bar Association this year after an evaluation that questioned his experience. Talley had never argued a case, or even a motion, in federal court, he testified.

Even after Talley's nomination advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee on an 11-to-9 party-line vote, media reports and good government groups cast doubt on his credentials for the spot on the U.S. District Court in Alabama, along with raising questions about his alleged failures to disclose blog posts and his wife's work in the Trump White House.
I guess the blogging — including his "Why not me?" response to a news report on a 20-year-old babysitter having sex with her 14-year-old charge — helped do him in. Absent that, Senate Judiciary Republicans apparently saw no problem with handing over a federal judgeship to someone who'd never stepped foot in a federal court.


 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 11:59:00

Windgate Foundation's $40 million to create UA art and design district

click to enlarge windgate-foundation-sign-logo.png

The University of Arkansas announced today a gift of $40 million from the Windgate Charitable Foundation of Siloam Springs to expand the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Hill Avenue Sculpture Complex as the Windgate Art and Design District.

The gift will allow the university to build new art and design classrooms, studio space and "potential new gallery space" near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hill Avenue. It follows the $120 million gift from the Walton Charitable Foundation to the university to renovate its Fine Arts Center and substantially beef up the UA's art education within a new School of Art.

The university is doubling its art programming budget over the next five years, representing another $16 million investment above its previous arts budget. That all adds up to $166 million invested in arts education and creation in Fayetteville.

The announcement, from Jeanne Hulen, interim director of the School of Art, follows:

Dear Alumni and Friends,

I have amazing news to share – thanks to a dedicated supporter of the arts we will soon begin development on a new art and design district in the heart of south Fayetteville!

We are incredibly grateful to the Windgate Charitable Foundation and for its tremendous $40 million gift which will create the new Windgate Art and Design District.

This exciting project, to be developed near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hill Avenue, will expand on our J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences School of Art’s Hill Avenue Sculpture Complex that opened in 2016.

It will feature several new facilities for art and design classrooms, labs, studios and a potential public gallery space that will serve as a central hub for all creative endeavors of student and faculty artists and designers at the university and beyond.

The Windgate Charitable Foundation has already made a significant impact on the School of Art, and this latest gift is actually the largest single grant awarded by the foundation in its 25-year history.

The foundation's past support provided crucial funding that enabled art faculty to expand curricula, improve teaching techniques, fund opportunities for student travel, enhance technologies, procure new equipment and develop new facilities. As a result, the number of our art history, art education, graphic design and studio art majors increased significantly.

By providing art and design students with the resources necessary for synthesis, the Windgate Charitable Foundation is helping the School of Art cultivate invested faculty and creative thinkers and leaders committed to inventive problem solving through art and design.

Together, we are establishing the groundwork for future growth that will directly empower the local and national art and design community and have a resounding positive effect on the culture of the entire state and beyond.

On behalf of our current and future students, faculty, staff and alumni of the School of Art, we extend our most sincere thanks and appreciation to the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

Please join us in this celebratory news, share it and get involved!

Visit art.uark.edu to learn more and stay in touch,

Jeannie Hulen
The Windgate Charitable Foundation's contributions to the arts in Arkansas is substantial: It provided UA Little Rock a grant of $20.3 million to build the Windgate Center of Art + Design that will open next month, $15.5 million to UA Fort Smith for its Windgate Art & Design Building and $15 million to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for education. Windgate has made substantial gifts to the Arkansas Arts Center to pay curator salaries and toward its upcoming expansion, UA Pulaski Tech for its Center for the Humanities and the Arts and the Thea Foundation for its A+ educational endeavor and other programming. In a separate announcement of the gift, the university detailed other information about Windgate giving:

In 2014, the Foundation gave more than $2 million to the former Department of Art, providing crucial funding that enabled faculty to expand curricula, improve teaching techniques, fund opportunities for student travel, enhance technologies and procure new equipment,” Shields explained.

The school used $500,000 of this gift in combination with $8 million from the university to build the School of Art’s sculpture facility. Architects from Modus Studio in Fayetteville and El Dorado Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri, designed the building, which houses studio classrooms and shops for sculpture, the school’s wood shop and advanced technology lab, graduate student studios and classroom space for the school’s freshman foundation classes.

Shields said that as a result of the opportunities and new facilities these funds created the number of art history, art education, graphic design and studio art majors increased significantly.
The full release is on the jump.

/more/  

 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 10:33:00

Teen drug use dropped after Colorado legalized marijuana

New data shows that after Colorado legalized marijuana, teen use of the drug dropped "to its lowest level in nearly a decade," according to The Washington Post, looking at new federal data.

Colorado went from a little more than 11 percent of teens (ages 12-17) ingesting marijuana in the past month in 2014-15 to a little more than 9 percent in 2015-16.

Other drug use is down, too. From 2015-16 to 2016-17 for 12-17-year-olds: alcohol use in the past month dropped (12.55 percent to 10.6 percent), heroin use in the past year dropped (0.13 percent to 0.03 percent), and tobacco use in the past month dropped (7.02 percent to 4.64 percent).

The only drug that went up was cocaine use in 12-17-year-olds in the past year (0.98 percent to 1.01 percent).

From the Post:

Last year the survey showed that Colorado was ranked No. 1 in the nation on adolescent marijuana use, a fact seized by marijuana opponents to argue that legalization was failing to protect children from drug use.

With the sharp drop in this year's data, Colorado has fallen to No. 7 in the national ranking of teen marijuana use, behind Alaska, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. A separate survey administered by officials in Colorado has found that teens in the state are in the middle of the pack on marijuana use.

By comparison, Arkansas's stat sheet for teenagers (12-17) for 2015-16 was:

— Marijuana use in past month: 5.59 percent (down from 6.46 percent in 2014-15)

— Cocaine use in past year: 0.47 percent (down from 0.48 percent)

— Heroin use in past year: 0.05 percent (down from 0.07 percent)

 

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 10:12:00

Windgate makes $300,000 grant to Pulaski Tech for arts

click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-12-12_at_10.09.30_am.png

A grant of $300,000 from the Windgate Charitable Foundation in Siloam Springs will promote UA Pulaski Tech's arts programming at its Center for Humanities and Arts (CHARTS), the college announced today.

The Windgate Foundation — which also provided $20.3 million for the new arts facility at UA Little Rock — has been a generous supporter of CHARTS, providing $1 million to furnish and equip the facility, which includes classrooms, a 450-seat theater and the Windgate Gallery, and providing a $500,000 challenge grant to create an endowment, which Pulaski Tech met.

Revenues from programming will be re-invested in CHARTS to help it become self-sustaining.

 

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 16:58:00

Make like the Big Lebowski this holiday! Dust Bowl may open before Christmas

click to enlarge Dust Bowl Lanes and Lounge, 315 E. Capitol Ave.
  • Dust Bowl Lanes and Lounge, 315 E. Capitol Ave.

The neon orange and green bowling pin signage is up, the bowling pin handles on the front door are attached and the Dust Bowl Lanes and Lounge at 315 E. Capitol Ave. should blow in by Christmas, an owner says.

Adam Price, vice president and partner in parent company The McNellie’s Group of Tulsa, says he’s also “bullish” on the opening of Fassler Hall, the McNellie’s-owned restaurant next door at 307 E. Capitol: He’s hoping for a mid-January opening, though his crew is telling him February.

Until then, you’ll be able to eat, drink (full bar) and go for strikes in the vintage-furnished Dust Bowl, which is making use of the red leather bar front from the building’s former identity as the M.M. Eberts American Legion Post and is using seats and mid-century wire and diamond wall decor salvaged from a bowling alley in Pryor, Okla. The wooden lanes were also “harvested” from an Oklahoma business because “the sound when the ball hits the wood is more satisfying” than on today’s lane composites, Price said.

click to enlarge Construction on the Dust Bowl isn't quite complete, but the decor, salvaged from an Oklahoma alley, is up.
  • Construction on the Dust Bowl isn't quite complete, but the decor, salvaged from an Oklahoma alley, is up.
There are eight lanes — two of which are walled off for private parties — and a karaoke room down the hall from the bar. Final touches are being installed, and the fire marshal was expected this week.

When Fassler Hall opens, it will serve a simple menu of seven house-made sausages, schnitzel and more, along with German beers and local brews. It will seat around 200 inside and in the beer garden on the west side of the building, Price said. That patio happens to be in a nice safe spot: right next to the Little Rock Police substation at Capitol and Cumberland streets.

 

Monday, December 11, 2017 - 10:12:00

"I Live My Life the Way I Play Music": A Q & A with Tommy Emmanuel

click to enlarge image003_1_.jpg

Grammy-award winning guitarist Tommy Emmanuel will be performing tonight at Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway. The show will feature one full set of solo classic acoustic songs and a full set of Christmas favorites with Pat Berguson, John Knowles CGP and Anne Sellick. We caught up with him by phone on Friday afternoon in Wichita, Kansas, while he was backstage resting before that evening's show.

When you're playing live, how much of your show is improvised and how much is repeated from previous shows?

Like everybody, we all have our bag of licks and things that we like and have learned, but when I'm taking solos, I'm totally improvising, whether it's "Jingle  Bells'' or "Guitar Boogie.'' I'm making music instantaneously.... My whole life is improvisation...I live my life the way I play music...I try to be spontaneous and make it up as I go along.

When you travel a lot, and play show after show, and you're meeting people night after night, you can get into a routine. When I arrived here today, I came into my dressing room and watched some Buddy Rich to inspire me. To see and hear someone do something at a level that is almost unreachable.

Buddy Rich, the drummer?

Yes, he's been an inspiration to me since I was a kid. I got to see him play three times live. One of the greatest musical experiences of my life, because of how he interpreted the music from a drummer's perspective. He played the drums as if he knew the big picture of the song....he just wasn't playing the drums...he was driving the whole band....he was inside the music. I'm trying to tap into creativity almost on a spiritual level.

I know Chet Atkins was a major influence. Did he improvise when he played?

Chet was a great improviser....he approached melody like a singer, that's how I learned....by imagining that my guitar is actually the vocal...When I work out an arrangement of a song I'll go listen to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan or Frank Sinatra sing that song and hear how they phrase that melody, how they approached that melody.

What about singing? How do you feel about your voice, your singing?

I've never considered myself a singer, but I love singing because it's the first instrument.....it makes you feel good physically to sing....spiritually, emotionally, everything.....in my show, especially when I'm playing solo, if I put a couple of vocal tunes in.....it kind of breaks things up and gives people a different sound to focus on.....and then I can play around.

Have you studied singing, worked on it?

Not really, I've never had any training. I asked a singer one time that I really respect, a really great singer from Australia, Can you tell me about singing? What I need to work on? And his advice was, Open your mouth and push it out! (laughs)

A lot of it has to do with your breathing.....a singer as good as James Taylor.....first of all, you never hear a bad note.....and you never hear him take a breath.....he knows how to breathe thru his nose and blow out his mouth.

Frank Sinatra learned how to "circular" breathe.....you try to sing along with Frank Sinatra and you're going to run out of breath.....if you want to learn about singing there are so many places you can go to.....it's all about getting a tone and getting the pitch right.

Tell me about great melodies. What do think makes a melody great? Do you think you've written any great melodies, why or why not?

I don't know if I've written any great melodies....I know I've written melodies that I like and I've written melodies that people like and that's a great reason to keep going at it. ... It's pretty hard to write something as good as Leonard Bernstein "Somewhere" from West Side Story....(Emmanuel sings the melody)...."There's a place for us...."

I don't waste time listening to things that don't move me.

Some people say the elements of a great melody are mysterious, unfathomable. What do you think?

I can tell you certain elements.....For instance, George Harrison is a writer who has a similar formula.....he'll always use diminished chords.....because they're full of emotions.....and full of mystery.....then he'll sing a melody line, and then he'll sing the same line but change the chord from minor to major or the other way.....and it just becomes powerful.....having moving chords underneath a simple melody is a really good tool as well.....if you look at John Lennon's "Imagine".....the chords are constantly moving.....then sings the melody.....it's almost like a question and answer writing.....(Emmanuel sings the tune to "Imagine.")

Who are some of your favorite musicians playing today who should be better known?

Jack Pearson from Nashville. ...one of the greatest musicians I've seen....he sings everything from the Reverend Gary Davis to Allman Brothers music.....has one of those high beautiful sounding voices that you can't get enough of.


A young man from Australia named Joe Robinson...he's a great talent.....only 20 or 21 …..doing great work.


From Croatia...young boy...called Frano Zivkovic...he can play anything from classical music to my songs, he writes songs...he's only 12 years old...he's a genius....Frano has been on tour with me many times.


How would you describe this period of music we're living through, driven by the Internet with all the opportunities to listen to music, study it, create and distribute it worldwide?

This is one of the luckiest generations, but at the same time they have no excuses. If you can't pick something up.....I've had so many people say, "Couldn't you give me instructions, couldn't you give me the tabs?" And I say, "No, watch the video of me playing it and work it out." People don't even want to do that, even though it's right in front of them.

What is your feeling about musical talent, where it comes from, how to develop it?

Talent is a gift that comes in different forms. And everybody has a different one. Somebody can hear a piece of music and memorize the whole thing because that's how they're wired. I tried to learn how to read music, but I just had a mental block with it. I just couldn't get it at all. But I can hear a piece of music and play it back to you almost instantaneously.

I really admire people who can read a piece of sheet music and instantly make music. Like John Williams the classical guitar player; he can play Bach, stuff that's damn near impossible to play. Not only can he play it, but he can sight read it and play it. That is unbelievable! With whatever gifts you've been given, you have to make the most of them.

Do you think you're a better player now that ten, fifteen years ago? What about in ten years from now? What about plateauing?

I'm taking care of myself, staying happy and healthy. If I see some footage back in '96, '97, '98, I can see that my hands were a lot quicker back then, my hands were a lot more precise, but I think my ideas are better now. There is more depth in my ideas, although physically I'm not as on top of it as I used to be. I still enjoy the challenge. And I beg, steal and borrow from everybody I come into contact with.

 

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