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'First Ladies of Arkansas: Women of their Times' opens at the Old State House 

And much more.

click to enlarge INSPIRED BY DIOR: First lady Margaret Cherry's inaugural ball gown from 1953 and others of the state's first ladies are back on exhibition at the Old State House.
  • INSPIRED BY DIOR: First lady Margaret Cherry's inaugural ball gown from 1953 and others of the state's first ladies are back on exhibition at the Old State House.

FRIDAY 9/13

'First Ladies of Arkansas: Women of their Times.'

5-8 p.m. reception. Old State House Museum.

The Old State House's exhibit on ball gowns worn by Arkansas's first ladies has been practically synonymous with the museum itself, because no trip there has ever been complete without a visit to that darkened gallery, its spotlights trained on elegant garb dating back to the 1840s, fashion combined with history: The silk crepe and satin brocade number with the mutton sleeves worn by Mary Eagle at her husband's 1889 inaugural ball. The chiffon and velvet gown Mabel Thomas Martineau wore to the 1927 inaugural ball, imported from Paris for the M.M. Cohn Co. Margaret Cherry's sequin-embroidered and net-covered inaugural ball gown inspired by Dior and worn in 1953. After being on exhibit for many years, the gowns needed to take a rest for some conservation. Happily, with the help of funds raised by the state's living first ladies, the museum has been able to make the needed repairs and reopen the exhibit. In addition to gowns worn by first lady Susan Hutchinson and her predecessors Ginger Beebe, Anne Brough, Betty Bumpers, Cherry, Hillary Clinton, Alta Faubus, Janet Huckabee, Elizabeth Little, Martineau, Anne McMath, Barbara Pryor, Jeannette Rockefeller, Ewilda Robinson, Eula Terral, Betty Tucker and Gay White, the new exhibit includes video interviews with many of the governor's wives. Friday's reception, which is part of 2nd Friday Art Night, will feature a specially created ice cream from Loblolly Creamery and family activities. LNP

click to enlarge SHAKIN': Mwenso & The Shakes channel Harlem and West Africa at South on Main as part of Oxford American's Jazz Series.  - E. LEITZELL
  • E. Leitzell
  • SHAKIN': Mwenso & The Shakes channel Harlem and West Africa at South on Main as part of Oxford American's Jazz Series. 

THURSDAY 9/13

MWENSO & THE SHAKES

8 p.m. South on Main. $35-$44.

"Now, more, we just take from jazz. It's like a tree," Michael Mwenso says in a video for NPR's "Jazz Night in America." "We don't try to grow it, we don't try to put water on it. We just try to take, take, take, take, and this thing is — it's on its last legs." Consider Mwenso & The Shakes' efforts, then, a concerted effort in fertilization. By way of a standing gig curating the late-night program at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola for Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mwenso accrued a collective of adventurous musicians sympathetic to the cause: It's not unusual for the outfit to perform with a tap dancer on a low platform as a percussionist, or with two drummers, or to switch the plan suddenly during an interlude, with Mwenso signaling a code for a particular tag that whisks the ensemble off to a number they didn't know was going to be up next. If you can only catch one jazz set this year, make it this one; to attend is to sign on for a gorgeously volatile musical situation and to witness a little of what Charles Mingus surely meant when he said, "I'm trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it's difficult is because I'm changing all the time." SS

click to enlarge ying-quartet.jpeg

THURSDAY 9/13

YING QUARTET

7:30 p.m. Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. $25.

Just when you think you've got string quartets all sussed out, the Ying Quartet skews your read by playing in juvenile prisons and the White House, maintaining on its website a list of the beloved Chinese restaurants the quartet discovers on tour and commissioning living composers to write about the American experience through a new music project called LifeMusic. Here, the three siblings, plus violinist Robin Scott, put their 75-percent-sibling telepathy to great use on Mendelssohn's "String Quartet in D Major," Tchaikovsky's partially folk tune-inspired "String Quartet No. 1" and a new take on Attar of Nishapur's 1177 Persian epic, "The Conference of the Birds," from Dallas-born Yale University Professor Christopher Theofanidis. The concert kicks off the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock's 65th season, and is free to students of all ages. A wine reception follows the performance. SS

click to enlarge othered_front_cover.jpg

THURSDAY 9/13

POETRY NIGHT: RANDI ROMO

6:30 p.m. Guillermo's Coffee, Tea & Roastery. Free.

For eight years, a small but mighty independent publishing house called Sibling Rivalry Press has been championing the work of LGBTQ artists — work that, in the words of its Adrienne Rich guidepost, disturbs and enraptures. SRP's meticulously assembled collection includes writers from all over the world, and one of the latest additions to the repertoire is a local, Randi M. Romo, who a news release describes as "a working-class Mexican-American, Southerner, former farmworker, organizer/activist, female, parent, grandparent, elder, and survivor." You'll find her 96-page paperback, "Othered," at siblingrivalrypress.com, but it also gets a local release at this poetry gathering in West Little Rock, with an open mic hosted by poet Karen Hayes. SS

click to enlarge Amily Miori's "Au Pair Don't Care"
  • Amily Miori's "Au Pair Don't Care"

FRIDAY 9/14

2nd Friday Art Night

5-8 p.m. Downtown galleries.

Fans of Little Rock's monthly after-hours art walk will love September's event: Core Brewing will provide samples of brew to riders on the Art Night trolley that delivers folks to the various venues, there will be pop-up artist stations along Main Street, and gallery-goers will be able to do something good for the city by donating school supplies to benefit the six public schools with which City Year Little Rock is working. All that on top of the Old State House reveal of its reinstalled exhibition of first ladies' gowns (see item previous) and new exhibitions will make for quite a night. In the galleries: Watercolors by Leana Fischer of May We Fly at Bella Vita (523 Louisiana St.); "Everything's Coming Up Liza," portraits by Michael Shaeffer at the Bookstore at Library Square (in the Cox Center); "Au Pair Don't Care," works by Amily Miori at the Galleries at Library Square (the Butler Center); a live collaborative art event, "Round Robin," at Gallery 221 (221 W. Second St.); "Made @HAM," hands-on activities on the grounds of the Historic Arkansas Museum (200 E. Third St.) with live music, local beer and a book-signing; "With the Grain: Fine Woodwork" at Matt McLeod Fine Art Gallery (108 W. Sixth St.); works by The Art Group Gallery, this month at the Marriott (3 Statehouse Plaza); and the pop-up artists, offering work in all mediums: Chris Walker, Monica Colvard, Sully Gomez, Jeannette Darley, Cheri McKelvey, Katie McBride, Anthony West, Robert Hinojosa, Christopher Swasta, Dietra Blackwell and Sabriella. The Downtown Little Rock Partnership also hosts an open house in its new home in the 500 block of Main Street. Really, couldn't the venues have decided to stay open until 9 p.m. for this particular stroll? LNP

click to enlarge PRESIDENTIAL COCOA-POT: This ceramic work by Maria Superior is part of the White House Collection of American Craft, on view at the Clinton Presidential Center.
  • PRESIDENTIAL COCOA-POT: This ceramic work by Maria Superior is part of the White House Collection of American Craft, on view at the Clinton Presidential Center.

MONDAY 9/17-3/31/19

'The White House Collection of American Crafts: 25th Anniversary Exhibit'

Clinton Presidential Center. $8-$10 ($6 for ages 6 and under).

For "The Year of American Craft: A Celebration of the Creative Works of the Hand" in 1993, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michael Monroe, curator of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, brought into being this collection of 73 works by 78 craft artists. The finely wrought ceramics, jewelry, metal, woodwork, glass and fiber include pieces by such big-name folks as glass artist Dale Chihuly, ceramic artist Cliff Lee, chair designer Sam Maloof and potter and second lady Joan Mondale. There is also work in the collection from Arkansas hands: Robyn Horn ("Pierced Geode," turned wood), Michael Haley and Susy Siegele ("Lizards Interpreting the Ancient Symbol," a vessel), Sharon and Leon Niehues ("Eburna," a basket), and Ed Pennebaker (glass). The collection was exhibited in the Clinton White House and later at the Smithsonian; but this show is the first time in 18 years the collection has been on display. The Clinton Foundation has created grade-specific programs and tours for students; groups are asked to reserve two weeks in advance at 748-0419 or clintonpresidentialcenter.org/education. LNP

click to enlarge Chuchito Valdes
  • Chuchito Valdes
click to enlarge Tatiana Roitman Mann
  • Tatiana Roitman Mann
click to enlarge Momix
  • Momix

TUESDAY 9/18-SUNDAY 9/23

ACANSA Arts Festival

Various times, locations, ticket prices, at acansa.org.

This week's Arts and Entertainment feature focuses on Epiphany "Big Piph" Morrow and his one-man show, The Glow, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub as part of ACANSA. "The Glow" is just one event in this annual multiday, multigenre celebration of the arts featuring local and nationally famed performers. Let's start at the beginning: A Rowdy Faith, the local duo of Alisyn Reid and Cate Davison, gives the festival a folky kickoff at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, at the Butler Center (free), and the four-piece acoustic band MilkDrive (Brian Beken, Dennis Ludiker, Noah Jeffries and Matt Mefford) out of Austin, Texas, brings the bluegrass to keep with the traditional music theme at 7:30 that evening in the Central Arkansas Library System's Ron Robinson Theater ($20). On Wednesday, Nashville Renaissance man Jimmy Abegg — painter, musician, guitarist, singer/songwriter — will give a free show at 5:30 p.m. at UA Little Rock's Stella Boyle Smith Theater; afterward, Mississippian Steve Azar and the King's Men usher in the Delta's blue notes to Ron Robinson ($25). Music and comedy go head-to-head Thursday, Sept. 20: The famed improv group the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Co. (co-founded by Amy Poehler and Little Rock native Matt Besser) will amaze at the Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main St., NLR, at 7 p.m. ($30, also 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21); folk/pop/jazz guitarist Laurence Juber plays at The Joint next door at 7:30 p.m. ($25); and over at UA Pulaski Tech's CHARTS theater, the song-mashing a cappella group VoicePlay takes the stage at 8 p.m. ($25). The night is young, so afterward, catch the 9:30 p.m. comedy show featuring Kevin James Doyle, the creator of "The 30-Year-Old Virgin," at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's annex ($20, to be repeated at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21). Pianist Tatiana Roitman Mann has performed with YoYo Ma and James Levine; on Friday she performs for us in the intimate New Deal Salon at 2003 S. Louisiana St., 7 p.m. ($20). Yet another Friday offering: The one-woman play "Warriors Don't Cry," based on the memoir by Little Rock Nine member Melba Pattillo Beals, will be performed at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (to be repeated at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23). On Saturday, Sept. 22, the new venue The Rail Yard (1212 E. Sixth St.) hosts third-generation jazz musician Chuchito Valdes on piano at 7 p.m. ($25). Also Saturday, the famed art and dance performance troupe MOMIX will bring illusion and grace to the CHARTS stage at 8 p.m. ($40). Read about Big Piph's "The Glow" on page 36. LNP

click to enlarge ART AND EGO: Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" is next up in the Arkansas Times Film Series. 
  • ART AND EGO: Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" is next up in the Arkansas Times Film Series. 

TUESDAY 9/18

'ALL THAT JAZZ'

7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $9.

If you missed last month's sold-out Arkansas Times Film Series screening of "The Red Shoes," consider this month's film a continuation of the same question: Is art a matter of life and death? Director and choreographer Bob Fosse's quasi-autobiographical 1979 film tackles that question by way of its lead Joe Gideon, an obsessive show business lifer who runs himself — in a storm of drugs and glitter — into the ground trying to, simultaneously, edit the Hollywood film he's directed and launch the debut of his Broadway musical. With hallucinatory imagery and a cocktail of a soundtrack that's equal parts Ethel Merman, Vivaldi and Harry Nilsson — "All That Jazz" is hailed as a masterpiece of editing and an heir to Fellini's surrealist "8 ½." The Arkansas Times Film Series is programmed in partnership with Film Quotes Film and Riverdale 10 Cinema. SS

click to enlarge Drew Irvin
  • Drew Irvin

TUESDAY 9/18

'BEETHOVEN BORROWED AND BABY FAURE'

7 p.m. St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Free.

Thanks to the whims of circumstance and the charms of The Natural State, a good number of musicians, classical and otherwise, have chosen to carve out a niche here instead of fleeing for those climes that are, shall we say, more charitable to the artistic life. A handful of those musicians — pianist Julie Cheek, violinist Drew Irvin, cellist Stephen Feldman and violist Tatiana Kotcherguina — are performing in this installation of Festival of the Senses, a free series from St. Luke's Episcopal Church in North Little Rock. On the program Tuesday evening are early works from Beethoven and Faure: a virtuosic and demanding quartet version of Beethoven's 1796 "Quintet in E Flat for Piano and Winds" and a breakup number in C minor from a young Faure, heartsick after an abruptly canceled marriage engagement to Marianne Viardot. A reception in the church's parish hall follows the performance. SS

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