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Lifting Arts Center’s tax load 

Auction set, ‘Unembedded’ back.

TREE SEAT: Dominique Simmons' chair in front of Community Bakery.
  • TREE SEAT: Dominique Simmons' chair in front of Community Bakery.

The Salvation Army doesn’t have to pay state sales tax on things it buys. Neither does Heifer International, or the Arkansas Symphony. Not even the Poets Roundtable of Arkansas.

Closer to the bone, neither does the Crystal Bridges museum of fine art in Bentonville, thanks to legislation introduced in the 2005 legislative session.

So it makes sense that the Arkansas Arts Center get a tax break too on items it buys, from art to envelopes, and that is just what a bill introduced by state Rep. Sid Rosenbaum of Little Rock would achieve. Rosenbaum’s bill would also exempt the YMCA, the Arkansas Arts Foundation and City Year. Sen. Mary Ann Salmon of North Little Rock is co-sponsor.

Nan Plummer, director of the Arts Center, said she is “optimistic” the bill, now in the House Committee on Revenue and Taxation, will get the legislature’s approval. Plummer noted that the Arts Center travels the state with exhibits and performances and that visitors from outside Pulaski County outnumber those from Pulaski County. “We hope it will be seen as an investment in us,” Plummer said.

It was Rep. Horace Hardwick of Bentonville who successfully introduced legislation to exempt Crystal Bridges, Alice Walton’s $50 million museum set to open in 2009. Walton purchased at auction a $35 million painting before the exemption went into effect, and had she paid taxes on the work, the state and Benton County would have received $2 million. However, the Walton Foundation maintained no taxes were due the state because the artwork had not been shipped to Arkansas.

An exemption for the Arts Center would not cost the state as much; its budget to purchase art is not in Walton’s league.

The artist-designed chairs that were installed as a public art project on Main Street south of Interstate 630 will be sold to art lovers — or those who just need a seat — via online auction starting next Monday.

Southside Main Street, the non-profit neighborhood improvement organization, will take bids at its website, www.southsidemain.org, from 9 a.m. Feb. 26 to 4 p.m. March 2. Bids will be posted hourly during business hours.

The chairs — created by an all-star crew of artists, including Jeff Horton, George Wittenberg, Cici Davidson, Jeff Waddle, Leann Smoot, Dominique Simmons, Hamid Ibrahimifar, Nancy Nolan, Gabriel Griffith, Jennefer Hodges, Todd Crockett, Stuart Schild, Erin Lorenzen, Carol Prins and the Arc Art Class — were installed last September in front of Main Street businesses as part of the “Places Spaces and Chairs” public art project and fund-raiser.

Photographs of some of the chairs — including Wittenberg’s mosaic chair, the Arc’s throne, Griffith’s bench, Horton’s 3-D version of his work on canvas and Hodges’ upside-down man — can be found now at southsidemain.org/Chairs.htm.

For more information, call Southside Main Street director Judi Casavechia at 371-0075, ext. 12.

“Unembedded,” the exhibit of photographs taken in Iraq by independent photojournalists that recently hung at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has moved to the Donald W. Reynolds Library at Philander Smith College.

The exhibit, which includes work by Cabot native Thorne Anderson and Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kael Alford and Rita Leistner, is accompanied by text developed by UAMS’ College of Public Health about the war’s impact on public health. The exhibit is based on a book by the same name published last year. Alford made a presentation about the work Tuesday, but notice didn’t come in time to publicize it in the Times.

Hours to see the work are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 24 and March 3. The show runs through March 9.

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