Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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LR Cultural Touchstone: Kay Kelley Arnold

(Photo courtesy of Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport)

(Photo courtesy of Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport)

Little Rock’s rich cultural history has been influenced by many outstanding men and women.  This October, during Arts & Humanities Month 2014, the Culture Vulture is looking at 31 outstanding women who have shaped cultural life in Little Rock…and beyond.

Kay Kelley Arnold.  While attending law school, she worked at the Arkansas Arts Council.  As she relayed to Soiree, she helped artists who taught in schools. Through that job, she met many creative people “and developed a love of all types of artistic expression.”  During Bill Clinton’s first term in office as Governor, she was on his staff. In that capacity, she served as his liaison to what is now known as the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  When he left office in January 1981, so did she.

In 1986, Governor Clinton tapped Arnold to lead the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  In addition to supervising six cultural departments, she stepped into the job as plans were being made for Arkansas’ Sesquicentennial. She also oversaw those efforts which were heavily tilted toward artistic and historic events.

During the 1987 Arkansas General Assembly, Arnold led the successful effort for the legislators to approve a real estate transfer tax.  The legislation proved immensely beneficial to historic properties.  She entered the corporate world in 1988 joining Arkansas Power & Light. While serving in various capacities for AP&L and Entergy, Arnold split her time between Little Rock and Washington DC.  She maintained close ties to Little Rock’s cultural community including service on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Board.  She served as Chair of the ASO Board at a crucial time in the organization’s history.  In addition, she has served as a member of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

Arnold has recently completed two terms on the Little Rock Airport Commission.  During her time on that body, the airport purchased and installed several pieces of public art.

Now retired from Entergy, she is often seen around Little Rock enjoying cultural events.

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On the First of October learn about the First woman elected to the U.S. Senate (Hint: she is from Arkansas)

legaciesArkansas’s Hattie Caraway, the first woman elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, is the topic of Dr. Nancy Hendricks’ talk at Legacies & Lunch, the Butler Center’s monthly history lecture, on Wednesday, October 1, at noon in the Main Library’s Darragh Center. Copies of Hendricks’ book, Hattie Caraway: An Arkansas Legacy, will be available for sale; Hendricks will sign books after her talk.

Nancy Hendricks is the noted Hattie Caraway scholar and award-winning writer of the book Senator Hattie Caraway: An Arkansas Legacy and the play Miz Caraway and the Kingfish. She has previously been featured at the Arkansas Literary Festival.

Hattie Caraway served in the U.S. Senate from December 9, 1931 – January 3, 1945. She was appointed to as a placeholder following the death of her husband, Senator Thaddeus Caraway.  In early 1932, she was supported in her bid to be elected to complete the remainder of this term.  However, it was expected she would not seek election in November 1932 for a full term. She did, shocking the Democratic Party establishment in Arkansas.  She won that term due in part to the campaigning of populist hero Senator Huey Long of Louisiana.  In 1938, she was challenged in her bid for re-election by Rep. John L. McClellan.  She defeated him (though he would go on to win the other Senate seat in the future and serve until his death in the 1970s).  In 1944, she lost her bid for a third term to J. William Fulbright.

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Death and the Maiden highlights ASO River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series 2014-2015 start

ASO_revThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the opening concert of the 2014-2015 Landers FIAT River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series: Quartet for the End of Time. ASO musicians present the music of Haydn and Messiaen in the beautiful Grand Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, AR, on October 21st at 7 PM. A cash bar is open at 6 PM and at intermission, and patrons are invited to carry drinks into the hall. Media sponsor for the Landers FIAT River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series is KUAR/KLRE.

Tickets are $23; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at; at the Clinton Presidential Center box office beginning 60 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100.

Quapaw Quartet
Eric Hayward, violin
Meredith Maddox Hicks, violin
Kate Weeks, viola
David Gerstein, cello

Rockefeller Quartet
Katherine Williamson, violin
Tricia McGovern, violin
Katherine Reynolds, viola
Daniel Cline, cello

David Renfro, horn
Geoffrey Robson, violin
May Tsao-Lim, piano



BRIDGE – 3 Idylls
BRAHMS – Trio in Eb for horn, violin and piano
SCHUBERT – String Quartet in D minor “Death and the Maiden”

Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 49th season in 2014-2015, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, and performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools.


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Architecture Lecture tonight: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House: A New Perspective

FLW Robie HouseAs part of the Arkansas Design Network’s monthly architecture lecture series, tonight Jeff Shannon will discuss “FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S ROBIE HOUSE: A New Perspective. Shannon is a professor of architecture at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture.

The program begins tonight at 6pm in the Arkansas Arts Center lecture hall, with a reception starting at 5:30.


Robie house, situated on the edge of the University of Chicago campus, was designed for 28-year-old Frederick  Robie and his young family by Frank Lloyd Wright. Completed in 1910, the house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has generally been acknowledged as the “ultimate expression of the Prairie house”, a form pioneered by the Wisconsin-born architect. In addition to designing the structure itself, Wright designed the home’s furnishings and elements of Mrs. Robie’s wardrobe. According to Shannon, most interpretations of the Robie home underestimate the influence of site and context on the design of the house, located on a 60×180 foot lot on the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and South 58th Street, in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.  Wright’s ability to deal with the challenges he faced “elicited one of the most creative and ingenious responses” of his career.


As Dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture (FJSA), from 2000 to 2013, Jeff Shannon, an award-winning alumnus of  Arkansas and Rice Universities,  developed a variety of new programs, increased the school’s  diversity and raised its national profile. Under his aegis, the school was named for Fay Jones, one of its early graduates and an American Institute of Architects (AIA) gold medalist, who, early in his career, studied with Wright at Taliesin. During Shannon’s tenure, funding was raised to renovate Vol Walker Hall, the school’s home,  and build the widely acclaimed Steven L. Anderson Design Center. Responsible for developing the collaboration of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and the University of Arkansas Press, Shannon, as  executive editor of the publishing venture, is responsible for books dealing with architecture, including Architects of Little Rock, 1833-1950,  by Charles Witsell and Gordon Wittenberg.


All ADN lectures are free and open to the public. ADN’s supporters include the Arkansas Arts Center, the Central Arkansas Chapter of the AIA, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and friends in the community. A non-profit,  ADN is a 501-3 organization. For additional information contact

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Tonight – The 78 Project Movie Screening

Tonight, the Oxford American and CALS Ron Robinson Theater are excited to present The 78 Project Movie at the Ron Robinson Theater! Inspired by the field recordings of legendary folklorist Alan Lomax, director Alex Steyermark and recordist Lavinia Jones Wright created The 78 Project, an ongoing documentary journey to record today’s musicians with yesterday’s technology. Doors open at 7:00 P.M. day of show, and the film starts at 7:30 pm.

All pre-sale tickets are $10 each and available via or by calling (800) 293-5949 until noon on September 30. Tickets will also be available at the venue on September 30 at 7:00 P.M. All seating is general admission and available on a first-come basis.

ABOUT THE PROJECT – With just one microphone, an authentic 1930s PRESTO direct-to-disc recorder, and a blank shellac disc, the members of the 78 project invite musicians to cut a record anywhere they choose. The result is an artifact—a 78rpm record—and a new connection to our cultural legacy. 78 Project participant Rosanne Cash called the experience “time-travel.” In March, author William Gibson, writing for the Oxford American, called The 78 Project “one of the most intriguing contemporary approaches to technology I know of, and one that bodes well for its century and our future.” Participants of the 78 Project have included Loudon Wainwright III, Rosanne Cash & John Leventhal, Richard Thompson and others. You can watch them cut their records here:

ABOUT THE FILM – This year, Steyermark and Wright have released a feature-length film showcasing their work and the singular performances the on-site 78rpm recording process inspires in the musicians they encounter. The 78 Project Movie includes performances by a variety of musicians and appearances from a kaleidoscopic cast of technologists, historians, and craftsmen from every facet of field recording—Grammy-winning producers, 78 collectors, curators from the Library of Congress and Smithsonian. In Tennessee, Mississippi, California, Louisiana, the folk singers, punk rockers, Gospel and Cajun singers in the film share their lives through intimate performances, and find in that adventure a new connection to our cultural legacy.

During the night, a Little Rock musician will play live for the audience and Steyermark and Jones will cut the performance into a 78, so anyone in attendance will be able to become a part of The 78 Project’s ongoing journey! And in addition to the screening, Oxford American Associate Editor, Maxwell George, will introduce the film and moderate a Q&A with the filmmakers after the screening.

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LR Creative Corridor featured on National Endowment for the Arts website

NEA websiteThe National Endowment for the Arts recently featured Little Rock’s plans for the Creative Corridor on its website.

The entry discussed the next phases in the NEA’s Creative Placemaking grant process.  There were many other images the NEA could have used, but they selected this one.  It is a testament to the planning done by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect and the support by the Little Rock community for this plan.

Planning for the Creative Corridor dates back to 2007 when Mayor Mark Stodola attended the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. It is a program jointly sponsored by the U. S. Conference of Mayors and the NEA.


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Revisit 40 Years of ARKANSAS TIMES at Historic Arkansas Museum

79covers-2While it has not been around since Arkansas’ territorial days, the Arkansas Times has been on the forefront of many journalism endeavors over the past 40 years.  Historic Arkansas Museum pays tribute to this with a new exhibit celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Arkansas Times.

From a spunky monthly launched with $200 in the bank to, glossy lifestyle magazine, to one of the earliest alternative weeklies, the Arkansas Times has been an essential voice in Arkansas news and culture since 1974. Take a look back at the last 40 years of Arkansas history through the often-irreverent lens of the Times in a collection of archival covers, photos, art and memorabilia.

40 years of Arkansas Times continues in the Second Floor Gallery through December 9, 2014.


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