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Big art for the park 

$60,000 piece going in sculpture garden.

click to enlarge 'INFINITY': Sketch of Caricof sculpture destined for park.
  • 'INFINITY': Sketch of Caricof sculpture destined for park.

"Infinity," a sculpture by Denver sculptor Kathleen Caricof, has been purchased with city and private funds for the Vogel-Schwarz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park.

The acquisition is the most ambitious yet for the park; the large piece of public art will cost $60,000, a third of which came from the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

"Infinity" will be painted steel Mobius strip placed atop a 6-foot-tall granite pedestal. Caricof is suggesting the piece be painted a warm golden yellow for the piece "to represent the warmth of the people of Little Rock."

The sculpture will be the fourth public art installation by Caricof in Little Rock. Her work can be seen in front of War Memorial Stadium ("Stars and Stripes," acquired with a gift of the Sturgis Foundation), in the sculpture garden and, after the first of the year, in the Statehouse Convention Center, which has commissioned a piece for its refurbished west entrance.

The Advertising and Promotion Commission voted last month to allocate $20,000 for the purchase of art. The sculpture was selected by a Sculpture at the River Market subcommittee that included City Director Dean Kumpuris, Sculpture at the River Market non-profit president Jane Rogers, John Kinkade of the National Sculptors Guild in Loveland, Colo., Andrea Gary and Nikki Parnell.

Sculpture at the River Market Inc., a non-profit formed in 2009, is funded through private gifts and commissions on art sold at the Sculpture at the River Market event. It donates art it buys to the city. At the recent sculpture event, held Oct. 16-17, 12 works were selected for purchase, including "Whimsical Notes," a 10-foot stainless steel abstract sculpture by Kevin Robb, also from Colorado. That piece, placed just north of the River Market at this writing, will be permanently placed in a grassy circle just south of the entrance to the Junction Bridge in Riverfront Park, completing the La Petite Roche landscaping project.

Eleven smaller pieces were also purchased for the sculpture garden, which is located just east of the rear of the Peabody Hotel. Rogers said she did not know how many dollars had been spent by the non-profit for sculpture this year, but would later. One of the pieces selected for the garden is by an Arkansas artist. "Grown" is a bronze sculpture by Michael Warrick, a professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Most of the other artists are represented by Kinkade's gallery, the Columbine Gallery in Loveland, Colo. Kinkade, the executive director of the National Sculptors Guild, has consulted with Dean Kumpuris and others interested in improving Riverfront Park for many years and with the Sculpture in the River Market group for four.

Jurors Joe Lampo, acting director at the Arkansas Arts Center, collector Bobby Tucker, and Milly Moorehead West, a gallery owner from Mississippi, were jurors for the River Market show; they selected Robb's piece as Best of Show. Rogers said the piece was purchased by the non-profit for $28,000. The jurors also named nine merit award winners.

George Rodrigue, the New Orleans artist who created the beloved Blue Dog paintings — part pop, part outsider, part abstract, will be in Little Rock Nov. 5 for a live and silent auction to promote the Thea Foundation. Thea advocates for art education, providing scholarships in the visual and performing arts and gallery space for both student and professional artists, and its model has been adopted by Rodrigue for his own arts advocacy non-profit, the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts.

The benefit, "A Taste of New Orleans," begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall at the Clinton Library. Rodrigue and Wendy Rodrigue will paint a blue dog painting to be auctioned and Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers will perform. Tickets are $150. To purchase, go to www.theafoundation.org or to the Thea Center at 401 Main St.

Sponsors for the evening are the Tenenbaum Foundation, Ben E. Keith Co. and Walter and Sarah Nunnelly.

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