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Adding dimension 

Volkert's boxed and mounted masterpieces at HAM.

click to enlarge JV AT HAM: Jim Volkert's work, like "George Bellows Erector," puts his copies of famous paintings into three-dimensional contraptions.
  • JV AT HAM: Jim Volkert's work, like "George Bellows Erector," puts his copies of famous paintings into three-dimensional contraptions.

Jim Volkert paints small copies of masterpieces and places them into various structures — boxing them up, or putting them in a framework with moving parts. The Historic Arkansas Museum's exhibit of his work ("The J.V. Double: Jorge Villegas and Jim Volkert") features several of these pieces, which work on two levels, as fine art — he could have a career in fakery, had he chosen to — and as conceptual work.

For example, in a piece paying tribute to the final 16 works of Van Gogh, Volkert has lined up 16 small figures — painters — in front of little easels on which 16 little canvases, each of them a Van Gogh, sit. In a nod to Crystal Bridges Museum of Fine Art, Volkert has also put copied details of paintings in wooden crates labeled on one side with the name of the painting — a detail from Peale's painting of George Washington, Asher B. Durand's "Kindred Spirits" and so forth. He's made his small Winslow Homer painting of men at sea into a sail. Many of his works are part of contraptions that crank, and he's managed to add craquelure to some of the paintings. (The Conway artist's construction skill no doubt contributes to his profession as exhibition developer; his resume includes consulting jobs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visitors center.)

Volkert's pairing with El Dorado artist Jorge Villegas, makes sense only in that they share initials. Villegas work consists of pencil drawings of women, some of them uncomfortably close to advertising artistry. With the wonderful exception of his oversized "Wenonah Fay No. 2" (colored pencil, 6 feet by 49 inches), these are drawings of pretty women with long eyelashes and Breck commercial hair. I'll add, however, that just as I was forming a critical thought about one picture, a child came up behind me and said, "That's beautiful." So it is.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's "Advancing Tradition: 20 Years of Printmaking at Flatbed Press" got a companion piece this week with work by women printmakers, including Delita Martin of Little Rock. "ROUX" (named for the mixture of flour and fat) features work by Rabea Ballin, Ann "Sole Sister" Johnson, Delita Martin and Lovie Olivia that explores the matrilineal nature of African American society. The show was curated by Danielle Burns for the Houston Museum of African American Culture; she and the artists will take part in a panel discussion at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall.

Also opening at UALR: "Thoughts from China," a show of figurative ceramics by James Tisdale influenced by his 2010 residency in Jingdezhen, China. Tisdale is the ceramic program coordinator at the Austin Museum of Art.

Four venues will stay open from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday for the monthly Argenta ArtWalk gallery stroll.

Matthew Castellano has combined historical photographs with drawings of street bikes and foreign stamps for his show "Tour de World," which he says pays homage to his grandfather, at Ketz Gallery, 705 Main St. in Argenta. New gallery artist Caren Garner will also be showing work.

Laman Library's Ar-genta branch, 506 Main St., will feature the pop/op collage work of Byron Werner, who moved to Little Rock from Hollywood after a 28-year career in motion pictures.

The Thea Foundation is putting its permanent collection on display, which is where you'll find "Blue Dog" artist George Rodrigue along with work by Henri Linton, V.L. Cox and the sculptors of the Light and Time Design Studio in Royal.

The exhibit of landscapes by Charles Harrington, "A Sense of Place," continues at Greg Thompson Fine Art, which will also show work by contemporary artists J.O. Buckley, Robert Rector and Robyn Horn.

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