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And ACAC opens a gallery.

'SUNBURST'
  • 'SUNBURST'

With a trio of lectures at the Arkansas Arts Center, an exhibit of work by African American painter Dean Mitchell at Hearne Fine Art and other 2nd Friday Art Night events downtown, and an antiques and art fair on South Main Street, art fans might as well get a reservation at the Peabody or some other digs so they can stay downtown for the weekend.

Friday is 2nd Friday Art Night; events feature a 6:30 p.m. talk at the Arts Center by Phyllis Brandon about reporting during the '57 crisis, and photographer Ben Krain will talk about the “Documenting a Not So Distant Past” civil rights photography exhibit. In the River Market: Historic Arkansas Museum's opening reception for its juried “Great Arkansas Quilt Show II”; River Market Artspace's reception for landscapes artist Kendall Stallings; exhibits “Looking Back, Looking Ahead” by Central High art students (reviewed here last week) and blown glass by Lori Taxer Lewis and Charles and Michael Riley at the Cox Creative Center; and the Mitchell exhibit at Hearne.

Mitchell has been called a modern-day Vermeer by no less than Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times and a modern-day Wyeth by no less than this writer for the Arkansas Times. His landscapes and portraits can be found in the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the St. Louis Museum in St. Louis and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, as well as the Arts Center. Hearne is showing his etchings, watercolors and oil paintings through Nov. 7.

Ten Thousand Villages will also be open for shopping as well. Reel Evenings at the Darragh Center of the Main Library will show “Moulin Rouge,” the story of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, at 8 p.m.

Also Friday, the Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative (ACAC) will host the grand opening of its gallery at 1419 S. Main St. from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The exhibit “10 + 10: One Artist Invites Another” will feature work by 20 Central Arkansas artists. A performance piece by Carey Voss and music by guitarist Joel Richardson will help celebrate the opening. A donation of $5 is suggested.

The ACAC gallery will be smack dab in the middle of Saturday's “Treasures on South Main” art and antiques fair that will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main between 13th and 15th streets. Outskirts Bicycle shop will rent bikes and offer tours of the neighborhood and there will be food, drink and activities for children. The event is a benefit for Southside Main Street, a neighborhood revitalization project.

On Sunday, Julie Leonard, an artist and bookbinder from Iowa City, Iowa, will open the Friends of Contemporary Craft's Conversation series at the Arkansas Arts Center. She'll speak at 6 p.m. and dinner will follow. Tickets are $12 for FOCC members and $15 for non-members. On Tuesday, the Arts Center's Art of Architecture series kicks off with a lecture, “Recent Concepts,” on flexible prefab housing, by Darell W. Fields of the University of Arkansas, at 6:30 p.m. A reception precedes the talk at 6 p.m. The talk is free.

The director of the Maier Museum at Randolph College (formerly Randolph-Macon) in Lynchburg, Va., has quit over the museum board's decision to sell at auction four major American paintings from its collection.

Randolph's move is part of a trend at colleges and other institutions that are selling off art to aid ailing endowments, groups that are finding a willing buyer in Alice Walton. Walton had made overtures to Randolph, the Lynchburg press reported, for a collection-sharing arrangement similar to the one she and Fisk University in Nashville are exploring. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia was similarly motivated when it agreed to sell its famed “The Gross Clinic” by Eakins to Walton. A local outcry and last minute fund pledges stopped the sale.

Christie's auction house will handle the sale of the work — George Bellows' “Men of the Docks,” reportedly its most valuable holding, Edward Hicks' “A Peaceable Kingdom,” Ernest Hennings “Through the Aroyo” and Rufino Tamayo's “Troubador” — in November. The Bellows alone is estimated to fetch $35 million, which is $5 million more than Walton is offering to pay to share the whole of the Fisk collection, which includes Georgia O'Keeffe's “Radiator Building.”

The Maier has a significant collection of American art, the genre that will be the focus of Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum, set to open in 2009. Like the holdings at Fisk, many works in the collection were donated under terms of a trust or estate; Randolph-Macon alums are suing the college to prevent the sale of the work. The four paintings to be auctioned were not part of the trust.

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