Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Women’s History Month Throw Back Thursday: The Aesthetic Club


One of the founders of the Aesthetic Club.

Since March is Women’s History Month, this month there will be a special “Throw Back Thursday” feature on a women’s organization which has shaped Little Rock’s cultural landscape. Up first is The Aesthetic Club

Founded in 1883, the Aesthetic Club is one of the oldest women’s clubs west of the Mississippi River.  The club first met on January 15, 1883 with founders Cynthia Polk, Sallie Martin, Ida Martin, Fannie Jabine, Jane Georgine Woodruff, Mary Knapp, Gertrude Hempstead, Harriet Jabine, and Virginia Hamilton.

Their purpose was “to present programs of a literary, artistic, musical, and timely trend” in order to “assist in educational uplift, and to bring its members together for social enjoyment.”

By 1894, the membership had increased to 100, and the group could no longer meet in members’ homes.  a new meeting place had become necessary. In 1893, the group started meeting in the Arsenal Tower Building, where they continue today. For several years they were the only tenant of the building and paid the utility bills for the structure when no other entity would.

The Aesthetic Club worked with the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs to secure library legislation from the state of Arkansas in 1902. This allowed for cities to create municipal libraries.

The Aesthetic Club’s objective is “to present programs at various meetings of a literary, artistic, musical, and timely trend; to assist in educational uplift; and to bring its members together for social enjoyment.” A member of the Aesthetic Club may read a paper, play a musical instrument, sing, or be appointed chairman of the day and be responsible for introducing speakers and musicians or greeting members. Membership of the Aesthetic Club is still limited so that its active members total no more than 100, not including inactive and associate members.

Amelia Smith, an active Aesthetic Club member between 1940 and 1960, summed up the club’s strength: “It has always been a body of women who stood for and lived up to its motto, ‘The Good, the True, and the Beautiful.’ Never once, whether there were good times, wars, a Great Depression, or social changes, has it departed from remarkable standards.”

Over the years many of the members were wives, daughters and mothers of Luttle Rock leaders. As the role of women has changed, now he leaders are actual members–not relatives of leaders.

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Tonight’s Local Live at South on Main: The Amy Garland Band

Tonight at South on Main at 7:30 pm: the Local Live music series features the Amy Garland Band. 

Call (501) 244-9660 to ensure your seat at a table for this popular event. The Oxford American’s Local Live is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Cosmic Cowboy Music.

The Amy Garland Band, a six-member group formed in 2000, released its most recent album, Hang a Light, in June 2013. Earlier albums include Plays Well with Others (2000) and Angora (2004). Hailing from Little Rock, the band’s style blends folk, R&B, bluegrass, pop, and country for a deliciously unique sound. Members include: Amy Garland, vocals and guitar; Nick Devlin, guitar; Mike Nelson, bass; Bart Angel, drums; Jeff Coleman, keyboard; and Brad Williams, mandolin, guitar, and harmonica.

Amy Garland, who started playing guitar at the age of nine and began songwriting at ten, was a regular on the stages of the Louisiana Hayride and the Northern Louisiana Hayride as a young girl. After traveling and playing broadly during her high school and college years with prominent artists and at infamous venues—such as the Whispering Pines club in Ringgold, Louisiana, and honky tonks along the infamous Hwy 80 Bossier Strip—Garland moved to Arkansas in 1995.

During her years in the Natural State, Garland has become a regular host of KUAR’s “Arkansas Flyer,” and she began hosting the weekly Americana-flavored “Backroads” radio show on Little Rock’s KABF, greatly expanding her musical footprint. While touring the South, Garland has proudly collaborated with some of the best musicians in the region.

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Legacies & Lunch Looks at “The Way It ‘Wuz’ Back Then”    

Lonoke County native Aretha Dodson attended segregated public schools and worked for the same school district during and after integration. She details these experiences in her memoir, That’s the Way It “Wuz” Back Then, which she will discuss at Legacies & Lunch, the Butler Center’s monthly lecture series, on Wednesday, March 4, noon-1 p.m., in the Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street. Books will be available for purchase, and Dodson will sign copies after her talk.

Dodson is a school improvement educational consultant who worked nearly forty years for the Lonoke public schools. That’s the Way It “Wuz” Back Then uses Dodson’s experiences, interviews she conducted, and clippings from the Lonoke Democrat to depict “the hardship and suffering of black families during the early twentieth century, segregated schools in the South, and the unrest experienced in the South during the desegregation of schools.”

Legacies & Lunch is free, open to the public, and sponsored in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided. For more information, call 501-918-3033.

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A Year Long Party for Arkansas Rep 40th Season

The 2015-2016 season is the 40th one for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The audience gets the gifts.

The season kicks off with William Shakespeare’s Scottish play about the Thane of Cawdor and his wife Lady M. It will run September 11-27.

Next up is the Tony winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This tuneful, witty musical with book by Rachek Sheinkin and songs by William Finn, will play from October 16 to November 8.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid will be the holiday show running from December 4 to January 3.  It will be a regional premiere of this musical featuring a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Doug Wright and a score by the Oscar winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater.

2016 will start off with another regional premiere–Peter and the Starcatcher.  This prequel to the Peter Pan stories is by Rick Elice. Though a play, it does have some songs by Wayne Barker and Elice.  This winner of  five Tony Awards will be on stage from January 15 to February 7.

The regional theatre premiere of The Bridges of Madison County will take place on the Arkansas Rep stage from April 8 to May 1.  This musical has a Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Marsha Norman.

The main stage season will conclude with a world premiere play Windfall.  Directed by Tony winner Jason Alexander, this comedy by Scooter Pietsch looks at greed among a group of office workers.  It will run from June 10 to 26.

The Rep also has three special offerings during the 2015-2016 year.

From February 11-14, Rebecca Wells, author of the “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” novels will present a one-woman show about the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The Summer Musical Theatre Intensive production will be called Broken Wings and will play from March 1-12 of 2016.

From May 3-15 the Second City will return to Little Rock for Second City: Hooking Up. 

The Rep’s 40th season features comedy, tragedy and musicals spanning from Elizabethan times to world premieres.  It truly is a showcase of the Rep’s mission and the breadth and depth of the Rep’s commitment to bringing great stories to life for Little Rock audiences.

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Debra Berke discusses “Out of the Ordinary” design this evening 

As the founding partner of the architecture and design firm that bears her name, Deborah Berke oversees a staff of fifty, a skilled team that deals with a diverse portfolio of projects ranging from campus master plans, cultural and arts facilities, university buildings, hotels – Bentonville’s 21c Hotel among them – and custom residences. All projects, large and small, share the Berke imprimatur: a “knowing simplicity”.

An award winning design professional, Berke has been an adjunct professor of Architectural Design at Yale University since 1987. Additionally, she has taught at a number of campuses across the country. In 2005, the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a BFA in 1975, awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

Registered as an architect in a dozen states including Arkansas, Berke will talk about creating buildings that are “inevitable though not predictable”. She will describe the relationship between a designer’s vision, life patterns and place.

Berke’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the collaborative effort of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Architecture and Design Network. For additional information, contact

Supporters of the Architecture and Design Network include the Arkansas Arts Center, the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture, the Central Arkansas section of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and friends in the community.

March 3, 2015 – 6:00 pm, preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m. Arkansas Arts Center Lecture Hall

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Artist of Distinction Vadim Gluzman headlines ASO River Rhapsodies Chamber Concert tonight 

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth concert of the 2014-2015 Landers FIAT River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series: Artist of Distinction: Vadim Gluzman, on March 3rd at 7:00 PM.

ASO musicians are joined by the Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction for chamber music by Dohnanyi, Stephanie Berg, Auerbach, and Bruch in the beautiful Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center, 1200 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock.

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 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.


Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction: Vadim Gluzman, violin

Algimantis Staskevicius, Tatiana Kotcherguina, Kiril Laskarov, violin

Ryan Mooney, Katrina Weeks, viola

Felice Farrell, David Gerstein, cello

DDG Trio: Leanna Booze, Beth Wheeler, Lorraine Duso-Kitts, oboe


DOHNANYI: Serenade in C, Op. 10

BERG: The Featherlight Ballet

AUERBACH: Lonely Suite “Ballet for a Lonely Violinist”

BRUCH: String Quartet in A minor

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“Privacy in the Age of Big Data” at Clinton School at noon today

Today at noon at the Clinton School, Theresa Payton will discuss issues surrounding privacy in today’s data-mining world.  

Payton was the White House Chief Information Officer from May 2006 until September 2008. 

She was the first woman to hold that position and her team served President George W. Bush and over 3,000 members of the executive office. 

Payton is the founder and CEO of Fortalice, a team of cybercrime fighters protecting against internet predators. 

“Privacy in the Age of Big Data” highlights the many positive outcomes of digital surveillance and data collection while also outlining those forms of data collection to which we may not consent, and of which we are likely unaware.


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