PARTying for Peg 

Sculpture to be dedicated Saturday.

click to enlarge FIDDLER AND ALICE: The artist poses by her fiddler figure in 'pARTy for Peg' at the Historic Arkansas Museum.
  • FIDDLER AND ALICE: The artist poses by her fiddler figure in 'pARTy for Peg' at the Historic Arkansas Museum.
The aluminum fiddler and her eight square dancers poised at the south  north (2nd Street) entrance to the Historic Arkansas Museum greet visitors as engagingly as Peg Smith would have. Join the party, they say — starting with the “pARTy for Peg.”

The sculpture, to be dedicated Saturday at the annual Territorial Fair, adds a terrific piece of public art to Little Rock's land-scape as it celebrates the life of Smith, the late long-time commissioner and ardent supporter since the museum's opening as the Arkansas Territorial Restoration in July 1941.

Alice Guffey Miller of Monticello won the privately-funded commission for the sculpture, which features 7 1/2-foot-tall cut-out figures, kicking up their heels and posed atop pedestals inset with objects from all over Arkansas donated especially for the project. Embedded artistically are sherds of Smith's own China, horseshoes, arrowheads, crystals, spigots, silverware, a shell with buttons punched out — all manner of things, from each of the state's 75 counties. (Even the dancers are local; the half-inch aluminum figures were fabricated by SeaArk Boats in Monticello.) The source of the artifacts and videos documenting the donors (many of whom were children that Miller worked with through 4H clubs) will be part of the museum's website, historicarkansas.org.

The HAM will dedicate “pARTy for Peg” at 10:30 a.m., with brief remarks by first lady Ginger Beebe, Mayor Mark Stodola, architect Charles Witsell and Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Cathie Matthews. Miller's husband, poet Mars Hall, will read a poem he wrote for the occasion, “Peg's Patter Call.” Fiddle playing and dancing will follow. Smith's daughter and her husband, Laurie and Steve Fisher, will be in attendance, along with other members of the family.

Peg Smith, the wife of Supreme Court Justice George Rose Smith, was the successor to founding volunteer Louise Loughborough, who in 1939 persuaded the state legislature to buy and preserve the block of territorial period structures — which appeared to most people to be nothing more than dilapidated shacks. The WPA helped build what would become known as the Arkansas Territorial Restoration.

Smith, whose grandfather Fay Hempstead wrote the first Arkansas history textbook in 1889, knew that evidence of the past added character and identity to the present. With architect Ed Cromwell, she founded the Quapaw Quarter Association and until she died in 2003 she did what HAM development director Louise Terzia called the “holy work” of bringing Arkansas's past into the present.

She also helped the Territorial Restoration transition into the Historic Arkansas Museum, smoothing the way when change — which better research into the period brought to the restored structures, the grounds and their history — might have bristled. “She was a modern woman in wanting to represent [the past] accurately,” HAM director Bill Worthen said, and she was a commissioner who was always willing to listen.

The square dance theme derives from a well-known painting by Arkansas artist Louis Freund. Freund's work was among the first to be exhibited in the museum's Arkansas Artists Gallery, which Smith started in the 1970s. (She also started the museum store and the library.) The sculpture helps the museum “express that inside these walls history is alive and fun and changing,” Terzia said. She said it is a fitting remembrance of Smith, who was herself full of life … and “she liked a party,” Terzia added.

Smith was also a great storyteller. One of her favorites stories, Worthen said, was about a National Trust meeting in Charleston, S.C., which Smith attended years ago as one of Arkansas's first advisors to the trust. Smith met one of the advisors, from the North, at a genteel luncheon in which the table's centerpiece included cotton. “This,” Smith liked to recall the lady from the North saying, “I assume, is grits.”

The Territorial Fair starts at 10 a.m. and runs through 4 p.m. It will feature reenactors, the Arkansas Country Dance Society, a scavenger hunt around the “pARTy for Peg” pedestals, games and living history.

ArtWeek 10 kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13, with food and drink and partying on the Junction Bridge. Twelve restaurants are participating; music will be provided by the Arkansas Symphony, Lealon Worrell and Steve Bates.
Wristbands will be issued at the Little Rock and North Little Rock entrances; the $20 entry will include food, wine and beer. More information about the 10-day visual and performing arts festival will be in next week's Times.

Its grand opening won't be until June, but Hearne Fine Art and Pyramid Framing is now open to the public at 1001 Wright Ave., across from the Sue Cowan Williams Library. Garbo and Archie Hearne built the gallery and Dr. Hearne's adjacent clinic space. The building also contains a Java Roasting coffee shop.

On exhibit are works by a number of artists, some with Arkansas ties — including silverpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith, sculptor Susan Williams, Ariston Jacks and Pine Bluff-born Kevin Cole of Atlanta — and national names, including Kennith Hum-phrey and Ernest Withers. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Hearne also offers a wide selection of books by African-American artists, including children's books.

From the ArkTimes store



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Fayetteville, Fenix and art-making on Saturday

    If you're in Fayetteville this weekend, you can drop in on several workshops being held by the Fenix Fayetteville artists' cooperative at the Walker-Stone House, 207 W. Center St. downtown.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • UALR artist Mia Hall is off to Penland: UPDATE

    The Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina has announced the hiring of Mia Hall, of the Department of Art and Design at UA Little Rock, as its new director.
    • Jul 19, 2017
  • ACLU asks court to enjoin antiabortion bills

    Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union asked Judge Kristine Baker to grant an injunction against four laws passed this year by the General Assembly that would: * Make abortion after 15 weeks riskier by outlawing what the medical profession considers the safest procedure, dilation and evacuation; * Require doctors to inform local police when an abortion performed on a teenager age 14-16 absent any indication of abuse and that police create a record of the teenager's abortion and be provided the fetal remains; * Require abortion providers to ask women seeking an abortion if they know the sex of the fetus, and, if they do, obtain all of their previous obstetrical records to determine if they have a "history of aborting fetuses" of a certain sex, as the lawyer for the state said today in court. * Require notification of a woman's partner — or abuser — that she intends to have an abortion, ostensibly so they can agree on the disposition of the remains of the fetus.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Latest in Art Notes

  • Why abstract art?

    Because Peters.
    • Jul 27, 2017
  • Art outbreak

    2nd Friday features Peters, Holl Collection, LGBTQ work; Delta Exhibition opens.
    • Jun 8, 2017
  • Black magic

    Women's work in wire, metalpoint, fabric, glass, cut paper at Hearne.
    • Mar 30, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The edge of night

    • The eclipse would be the perfect time to place the holy goat on the Capitol…

    • on July 27, 2017
  • Re: The edge of night

    • I would hate to plan on a site only to find it cloudy or raining…

    • on July 25, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation