Art for the blind 

Oval events benefit Lions World.

WAITE SANTA: At River Market Artspace.
  • WAITE SANTA: At River Market Artspace.

Pepper Pepper, owner of Oval Gallery at 201 W. Capitol, used to bawl after every encounter with a blind person — even after buying a Christmas tree from the lot at the School for the Blind. He couldn’t help it.

But once Pepper, born blind but now able to see, could perceive the reason for his tears — guilt — he dried his eyes and got to work, doing things for organizations for the blind.

Hence Oval’s current show, “Red and Blue and Black and White,” abstract paintings and photography, which will be open after hours for 2nd Friday Art Night Dec. 9. A portion of sales from the show go to Lions World Services for the Blind.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, Oval Gallery will host another Lions fund-raiser, “Jingle Mingle,” with wine, hors d’ouevres and music by Lis Geoghegan and Suzanne Michell. Michell is well-known to Little Rock lovers of folk music. Geoghegan is a Christian singer-songPepper’s own story of his journey from blindness to vision is a tear-jerker itself. His mother had chicken pox during her pregnancy and Pepper (his real first name is George, but he doesn’t use it) was born with cataracts and a viral infection that damaged the vitreous humor and lenses of his eyes. His lenses were so misshapen that doctors decided to remove them and at age 3 — 41 years ago — Pepper began wearing glass contact lenses that his parents had to put in and take out every day. At age 12, he had his 10th operation: laser surgery, a then-risky move that was a success and allowed him to see for the first time, with contact lenses, definition of shape. Gone were the blue auras and haze of everything around him; now he could see his mother’s red lipsticked lips. After college, he became a photographer (making one of his doctors bawl after a chance encounter). And so, red and blue, black and white.

Oval will host another fund-raiser Saturday, Dec. 17, when Little Rock singer Elizabeth Jackson will perform operatic and American pieces from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 to that also. More events are scheduled through the month.

The rest of the 2nd Friday Art Night gallery crew has special events planned from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.:

River Market Artspace, 301 President Clinton Ave., will host its Holiday Open House with painter Les Waite. The Cox Center at 120 Commerce will host a reception for the 32 artists participating in the show and sale there. Maria Preston will sing. Hearne Fine Art, 500 President Clinton, opens “My View: A Black Girl’s Thoughts on Canvas,” works by Diane Smith. The Historic Arkansas Museum at 200 E. Third St. will hold Shenanigans, a party with refreshments and live entertainment in the Museum Store; jewelry-maker Jann Greenland and woodworker Ed Laster will be there. It will also hold its “First-Ever Nog-Off,” an eggnog competition featuring various recipes, including one by Nicholas Peay published in the Arkansas Gazette in 1825.

Gift shop Ten Thousand Villages, at 305 President Clinton, and Christ Church’s labyrinth (509 Scott St.) will also be open Friday night.


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