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Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Dining Review

Raise a stein

March 15, 2018
Raise a stein
To Fassler Hall. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

'Mamma Mia!' goes up at The Rep

March 15, 2018
'Mamma Mia!' goes up at The Rep
Knowing me, knowing you. /more/


Max Brantley

Send in the segs

The state Board of Education last week rejected requests from Camden Fairview, Hope, Lafayette County and Junction City to be exempt from the state law requiring students to be able to freely transfer between school districts. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Tax 'relief'

Stormy Daniels, North Korea and malicious Russians all belong on the back burner. The big political game to watch, because it moves the odds at this year's national elections and affects your wallet, is still the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Republicans passed in December. /more/

Gene Lyons

March Madness

It would be an exaggeration to say I've been an NCAA basketball junkie all my life. /more/

Movie Reviews

An Oscars postmortem

March 8, 2018
An Oscars postmortem
It was the year of the merman. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Tourney time

March 15, 2018
Since Arkansas essentially peaked as a national basketball brand in the mid-1990s, the program's stumble down to the second or third tier of national relevance has been well documented. /more/

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Arkansas Blog

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Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 16:37:00

The Thou Shalt Not open line

RESURRECTION: Work planned next week on base of a second version of the 10 Commandments monument knocked down on the Capitol grounds in
  • RESURRECTION: Work planned next week on base of a second version of the 10 Commandments monument knocked down on the Capitol grounds in
Here's the Saturday open line. The Biblical headlines refers to work soon to be underway on the Capitol grounds at the site where a resurrection of Jason Rapert's 10 Commandments monument is scheduled.

No official date is set yet. Chris Powell of the secretary of state's office sent a notice to media today advising that "there will be some repair and preparatory work done this next week on the BASE of the Ten Commandments monument but the monument itself will NOT be installed next week."

The first version was plowed down in July the day it was installed by a driver who'd done the same to a similar statue erected on the Oklahoma capitol grounds. Michael Reed remains in the State Hospital for mental evaluation and treatment.

Several parties plan to sue to knock down the second version by legal means for its encroachment on the establishment of religion on state property.


Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 16:29:00

Jefferson County suit filed to end dual election commission service by Stu Soffer

STU SOFFER: Republican's dual election commission service targeted in lawsuit.
  • STU SOFFER: Republican's dual election commission service targeted in lawsuit.
Two residents of Jefferson County have filed a lawsuit seeking to force Stu Soffer, a Republican from White Hall, off the Jefferson County Election Commission.

The lawsuit, filed by Chris Burks, who's served as attorney for the Democratic Party, says a 2017 law prohibited dual service on the state Election Commission and county election commissions. It was aimed at Soffer and sponsored by a Pine Bluff legislator because he serves on both.

Soffer has long feuded with the Democratic power structure in Jefferson County, up to and including County Judge Hank Wilkins, who — to Soffer's glee — was implicated yesterday by a U.S. attorney in a bribery scheme with a legislative lobbyist. Wilkins has not been charged and has not commented on the allegation, made in a federal court during a bail hearing for former lobbyist Rusty Cranford.
Just one past controversy in Jefferson County included Soffer's drawing of a gun after a contentious Election Commission discussion.

Here's the lawsuit.

Burks seeks a declaratory judgment. He said the law makes no provision that it applies only to future appointees and it does not except current officeholders. Thus it offers no protection to Soffer, Burks contends. He also argues there's a conflict of interest in Soffer hold a state position of authority over a county commission on which he serves.

Soffer sees it differently. His response by e-mail.

That’s the price of being an honest and effective election commissioner. The suit is a farce. Here’s the rest of the story.

When the Stu Act was passed courtesy of Representative Vivian Flowers (D) of Pine Bluff and the Republican majority was asleep at the switch a few hours before adjourning, I sought legal advice. The advice was since the Act was not retroactive and did not contain an emergency clause, the same as applied to when they passed term limits. I was elected (not appointed as the suit falsely states) to the county election commission and reappointed to the state board prior to the Act becoming effective, so I am “vested”. Wilkins had the prestigious law firm and marijuana growing partner of his son McDaniel, Richardson and Calhoun PLLC, write a letter at taxpayer expense to the prosecuting attorney demanding my removal from office. After lengthy and in-depth legal research, it is my understanding the prosecutor determined I was “vested”. However, he took the extraordinary step of seeking Attorney General affirmation of his staff’s research. We are still waiting for that opinion. I have stated publically I plan to make a decision in January 2019 if I will run for reelection to the county election commission or resign from the state board. As a practical matter, we anticipate the Stu Act will be repealed in the early days of the next legislature because it only targeted one of 225 county election commissioners.

Note, the lawsuit targets me as a county election commissioner which indicates I have been effective in preventing election fraud in Jefferson County. When I was in the military we received medals for exceptional performance. As an Army civilian employees, it was step increases, awards and more medals. As a county election commissioner performance is rewarded with lawsuits filed by the Damocrat Party of Arkansas. What is this, their third lawsuit?

Bottom line is if a judge tells me to decide, I will. Until then, I will do my job.

In a somewhat related matter, Soffer told me earlier today that he believes Wilkins should resign or be removed as county judge and that he intends to ask the Jefferson County Quorum Court to appoint him to complete Wilkins' term as county judge so he can set to work immediately fixing the manifest problems he's observed in the county.

Soffer has also opined today that Wilkins' problems were a key reason that Natural State Wellness, one of the successful applicants for a marijuana cultivation permit, had decided at the last minute to proceed with the facility in Jackson rather than Jefferson County. This came after a local economic development alliance funded by a sales tax had spent $275,000 on land for the facility. Hank Wilkins V, son of the county judge, is one of the listed owners of the company.

Nothing is simple in Jefferson County.


Saturday, March 17, 2018 - 16:09:00

Fatal shooting near Boyle Park

Little Rock police say when one man was killed and another wounded about 1 a.m. this morning in the 3100 block of Boyle Park Road, near the park maintenance entrance.

Charles Harris, 47, of North Little Rock, the driver of the car, was found dead in the car. A passenger, Rodney Gilstrap, 64, had a minor gunshot wound that didn't require hospitalization. Gilstrap said he and Harris were driving through the park when people in another car opened fire. He said that car drove on and he couldn't give a description of the vehicle.


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Friday, March 16, 2018 - 16:51:00

It's 3rd Friday Art Walk in Argenta ...

click to enlarge Pen and ink by Michael Shaeffer.
  • Pen and ink by Michael Shaeffer.
... so get out there and see the new PopUp for Stift Station reveal at StudioMAIN; "The Brotherhood of Color," paintings by Rex DeLoney at Argenta Gallery; "Flock Together" of the Latino Art Project at Core Brewery; Greg Thompson Fine Art's "23rd Anniversary Exhibition"; works by Michael Shaeffer at the Argenta Branch of the Laman Library and check out what's happening at the Barry Thomas studio. Galleries are open 5-8 p.m. The Innovation Hub is having a St. Patrick's Day maker event, too.


Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 13:11:00

The American melting pot: See it in the newly hung galleries at Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has rehung its Early American galleries that Director Rod Bigelow says better reflects "the complexity of the American story," combining works from across the centuries. Beaded Native American cradleboards find a home next to a 19th-century scene of children; George Washington is paired with the moving — literally — portrait of a bearded, blue-eyed guy in camo and a knit hat. One room is hung salon-style, with paintings from all periods (stacked atop each other, to give you that French, I'm-in-Gertrude- Stein's-living-room feel, portraits on one wall, still lifes on another.

The galleries were open for a press preview today, now that they are complete. Visitors could enter the galleries up until today, but without the benefit of context that the labels provided and with some installations — including the Nari Ward's terrific 28-foot piece, "We the People" spelled out in strings of multicolored thread — still being completed.

The redo is the result, Bigelow says in a press release, two years ago, after "conversations with our community and peers about making our galleries more inclusive and engaging.”

The galleries now have names like "People on the Move," "Networks and Power" and "Painters of Modern Life," names spelled out in both English and Spanish. Labels accompanying the artworks — there are 185 objects in the Early American galleries — are also bilingual, which is pretty wonderful in a part of Arkansas with a large Hispanic population.

Twenty-five of the works are on loan from other museums.

The news release quotes Curator Mindy Besaw:

“In these galleries, works reflect the beauty, complexity, and contradiction that comprise American art and stories both past and present. To better represent multiple perspectives and experiences, we’ve borrowed Native American art, folk art, and Spanish Colonial art from other museums and private collections. In addition, we’re including artwork and objects that offer a few surprises along the way — helping visitors to see their favorites in a new light and reconsider American art and experience.”

Some of the borrowed pieces include a prehistoric head pot from the University of Arkansas Museum Collection, which you'll find along with Peale's "George Washington," and Spanish Colonial works, including a portrait from Cuba, on loan from the Denver Art Museum in the "Networks and Power" area.

Starting tomorrow, a gallery space within the Early American galleries will rotate works from the collection twice a year. The first "show" will be "How Do You Figure?", 35 works focusing on the human figure. Another space, called "The Niche," will feature "behind-the-scenes" information, debuting with the designer's process for choosing the paint colors on the gallery walls.

A focused exhibition space within the first Early American Art Gallery will feature rotating artworks twice a year, opening with How Do You Figure? on view March 16 through August 20, 2018. The works in this exhibition are from the permanent collection and span the 1700s to today, offering a variety of approaches, styles, and media for depicting the human body. The examples are rich and varied, from fully finished paintings to preliminary sketches and feature many artworks on view for the first time. Comprised of 35 works, the exhibition offers visitors a chance to explore the complexities of process and anatomy.

See the full press release for more information on the jump.



Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 10:18:00

Support kids in nature: Eat at Chipotle on Dickson Street

click to enlarge chipotle.jpg

The Ozark Natural Science Center, tucked away in the woods outside Huntsville, offers programming in Arkansas's flora, fauna and geography to grade-school children on its trail system and in its teaching facility. If you've been to ONSC — maybe to see the Northern Saw-whet owl, the subject of recent research there by a University of Arkansas ornithologist — you know it's a great place, with a cave system, waterfalls, creeks and Ozark uplands, located on the 500-acre Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission Bear Hollow Natural Area. The programs aren't short hikes: The kids stay in dorms, so the experience is deep enough for them to really learn something.

So what's that got to do with food? Chipotle Mexican Grill, 550 W Dickson St., is going to give 50 percent of its proceeds from meals served between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, to ONSC's Scholarship Fund for schools that send their students to ONSC, which serves around 3,000 kids from Northwest Arkansas every year.

Here's what you do to make your meal help a kid get away from the video game and into Arkansas's natural beauty: You download a flyer from this ONSC page on Facebook and give it to the cashier before you pay, OR you can show the cashier your digital flyer OR you can simply tell the cashier that your meal is part of the Cause An Effect fundraiser for ONSC. Earnings must be more than $300 for the restaurant to follow through.

Chipotle says does its part for the environment and healthy food with its commitment to using GMO-free organic produce, supporting local farmers and avoiding added hormones in dairy products. It has minimum space requirements for animals whose meat is purchased. 
Phone is 479-444-1466


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Best restaurants of Arkansas 2018

March 15, 2018
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It's a tough business, the restaurant industry. Over the 37 years that the Arkansas Times has asked its readers to tell us which restaurants and bakeries, chefs and bartenders, hamburgers and home cookin' and such are the best, even the favorites have come and gone. /more/

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The post-prison license hurdle

March 15, 2018
The post-prison license hurdle
Arkansas is trying to make it easier for those released from ADC to get licenses and IDs. But challenges remain. /more/

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