Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Art Porter Music Education week kicks off today at City Hall

Art Porter weekToday at noon at City Hall, the City of Little Rock will host an event introducing the 2014 “A Work of Art” Jazz Week. The kickoff features the first concert of a week-long series of awe-inspiring performances. The agenda includes the introduction of the 2014 Art Porter Music Education scholarship recipient, a performance by the students from the “Minors of Music” program and details on the concerts scheduled for the rest of the week.

“A Work of Art” is the primary fundraiser for the Art Porter Music Education scholarship program. All proceeds from the week-long fundraiser benefit the scholarship fund. “A Work of Art” is held the first week of August in observance of the birth month of Art Porter, Jr. Attendees enjoy a week of unique educational experiences by an impressive group of local artists, music students and national recording artists.

Ticket information is available at

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Little Rock Look Back: Plans for new City Hall go on trial

The 1906 plans for City Hall with the Municipal Auditorium on the left portion.

The 1906 plans for City Hall with the Municipal Auditorium on the left portion.

The Little Rock City Council approved Charles Thompson’s plans for a new city hall, auditorium and jail on July 9, 1906, by the adoption of Resolution 281 and Ordinance 1,295.  This did not set well with the powers that be at the Arkansas Gazette.  A lawsuit was filed against the City. The lead plaintiff was J. N. Heiskell, the owner and editor of the Gazette.  From July 24 through July 27, the Arkansas Gazette featured stories and editorials on its front page decrying the action.  (It most likely stems from the fact that the editor was trying to get the City Council to construct a public library.  He ostensibly felt that money spent on a new city hall and auditorium would divert funds from construction of a library.)

In response to the lawsuit, a temporary restraining order was issued on July 24 stopping the City from any further action on the new building plans until the trial had taken place.  The plaintiffs’ four main points were that state law did not authorize a city government to construct an auditorium, that the contract exceeded the amount authorized by the City Council, that the City did not own the land on which the city hall and auditorium would be built, and that “the city of Little Rock now has a city hall sufficient for all necessary purposes.”

The trial started on Friday, July 27, 1906.  Among the legal team for the plaintiffs were J. H. Harrod and former Arkansas Governor Daniel Webster Jones.  The City’s legal team included City Attorney W. Burt Brooks joined by three attorneys from prominent Little Rock families: former City Attorney Ashley Cockrill, John Fletcher and Thomas Mehaffy.

The trial began on a Friday, continued on Saturday (!) and concluded on a Monday.

Architect Frank W. Gibb (who had applied for but not been selected to design the new city hall and auditorium) was called as a witness by the prosecution.  He stated that, based on his review, the capacity for the auditorium would be between 1,700 and 2,000.  This was used to bolster claims by the plaintiffs that the auditorium, if built, would be insufficient to the meet the needs offered by proponents.  Mr. Gibb also estimated that the auditorium wing was about forty-two percent of the cost for the entire project.  He was asked by the defense about the adequacy of the existing City Hall.  The architect replied that the current seat of municipal government was not large enough to meet all the present needs.

Mayor Lenon was the only defense witness; in his testimony he addressed the inadequacies of the current City Hall which echoed the points raised by Mr. Gibb. The mayor also detailed the purchase of the land for the new project.  While the plaintiffs charged the city had not purchased the land, Mayor Lenon pointed out the land was under contract.  He further stated that the work was done through a third party for fear that if the land owners had known the city was the interested buyer, the price might have been inflated by the potential sellers.

Next up were the closing arguments.  More on those and the verdict next week.

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Arkansas Sounds music series hosts Dave Rosen Big Band tonight at 8

dave_rosen_big_bandJazz lovers may jump at a chance to hear a 17-piece big band in July. Arkansas Sounds’ concert series will host the Dave Rosen Big Band on Saturday, July 26, at 8:00 p.m., in the CALS Ron Robinson Theater. Tickets are $10, general admission, and are available online and in person at Butler Center Galleries, 401 President Clinton Avenue. The theater’s entrance may be accessed from the Main Library’s parking lot, 100 Rock Street.

The Dave Rosen Big Band is a 17-piece jazz band who will play favorites from the 1930s to the present, including music by Arkansas composers such as Louis Jordan.

This is part of Arkansas Sounds’ concert series.  Arkansas Sounds is a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a department of the Central Arkansas Library System. Focused on Arkansas music and musicians both past and present, Arkansas Sounds presents concerts, workshops, and other events to showcase Arkansas’s musical culture.

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Vintage Military Vehicles on display by MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

vintagevehicleThe MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is hosting its 2nd annual vintage military vehicle show on the museum’s front lawn in MacArthur Park.

The event will feature Jeeps and other vehicles from members of the Arkansas Military Vehicle Preservation Association.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, Brian Irby, Archival Assistant at the Arkansas History Commission, will present a program on Camp Pike at 1:00 p.m. inside the museum.

The vehicles will be on display from 9am to 3pm.


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Last weekend for Young Arkansas Artists exhibit at Ark Arts Center

This weekend is the last chance to see the 53rd Young Arkansas Artists exhibition in the Alice Pratt Brown Atrium and the Sam Strauss Sr. Gallery at the Arkansas Arts Center.

“At the Arkansas Arts Center, we believe that the arts have the ability to educate and empower our children while cultivating a positive form of self-expression,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “We strive to promote quality arts education initiatives and achievement in the visual arts and through this exhibition, we are offering a wonderful platform to celebrate artwork created by our very own Arkansas youth.”

First presented in 1961, the 53rd Young Arkansas Artists exhibition is a celebration of both the creative achievements of young artists and the youthful spirits of Arkansans. Now in its sixth decade, this annual children’s art exhibition showcases artwork by Arkansas students from with hopes to ensure learning, inspiration and creative expression are occurring in our state’s classrooms. In 2013, teachers from 127 schools across Arkansas submitted 508 works for consideration. Of those, 102 works were selected for inclusion in the exhibition.

The exhibition is open to all Arkansas students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Art must be original and completed within the current 2013-2014 school year. Original works in all media including drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, collages, crafts, and sculpture are eligible. Teachers may submit only one artwork per grade level per school or program. Entries must be made through a public, private or home school teacher or instructor of an art program. All artists whose works are selected will receive notification on March 18 and the deadline for delivery of all selected entries is April 11.

arkartsWorks will be selected for the exhibition by the Arkansas Art Educators Association. A juror selects one Best of Class and two Honorable Mentions for each grade, and each winning artist’s school receives a monetary award to supports its art program. Selected works from the exhibition travel to schools and other venues around the state as part of the Arkansas Arts Center’s State Services Program. The juror will also select the following awards: one Middle School and one High School level Art and the Written Word Award, the Ray Smenner Best in Show Painting Award and the Mid Southern Watercolorists Best in Show watercolor award.

The 53rd Young Arkansas Artists exhibition is sponsored by Barbara and Steve Bova, Dale and Lee Ronnel, The Philip R. Jonsson Foundation and The Central Arkansas Library System. Awards for the exhibition are sponsored by Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Today there will be a Family Festival and Awards Ceremony in celebration of the 53rd Young Arkansas Artists exhibition on May 10 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Activities for kids of all ages will be offered and awards will be presented at 1 p.m. in the Lecture Hall. The events are free for members and exhibition artists, $5 for a non-member individual and $20 for a non-member family. Guests are similarly invited to enjoy a matinee performance of Sleeping Beauty at 2 p.m. in the Children’s Theatre that will also be held on May 10.

For more information, visit or call (501) 372-4000.

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Three shows closing this weekend in Central Ark

Fiddler ACTTonight, Fiddler on the Roof continues at the Argenta Community Theatre.  It runs through Sunday evening.  Tickets range from $30 to $50.  Directed by Bob Hupp of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The show opened on Broadway in September 1964. Choreographers are Christen Burke Pitts and Kristof Waltermire, with Kurt Kennedy as music director.


Rent CTLRTwo other productions are closing this weekend.  Community Theatre of Little Rock’s Rent closes on Sunday at the new Studio Theatre space.  Winner of both the 1996 Pulitzer Prize and Tony for Best Musical, Jonathan Larsen’s musical is an updated version of La Boheme.  Directed by Frank O. Butler with music direction by Matthew Tatus, tickets for this production range from $8 to $18.


Next-to-Normal_smThe Weekend Theater’s Next to Normal, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, closes on Sunday, as well.  The story of a family dealing with the mother’s mental illness, it is both heart-wrenching and humorous.  Directed by Ralph Hyman, with music direction by Lori Isner, tickets range from $16 to $20.

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Wednesday Night Movie is FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS at Movies in the Park

MitP10 FriNightLightThe weather in July has had some nights that have seemed apt for football.  And let’s face it, players from middle school up to the pros will be reporting soon for practice. To get everyone in the mood, Movies in the Park is screening the 2004 film FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

Central Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton heads the cast which also features Connie Britton, Lucas Black, Jay Hernandez, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Lee Jackson, Lee Thompson Young, Grover Coulson, Connie Cooper, Kasey Stevens, Ryanne Duzich and Amber Heard. Award winning singer Tim McGraw also stars in the film.

The movie was directed by Peter Berg from a screen play he and David Aaron Cohen wrote.  It is based upon Buzz Bissinger’s non-fiction book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream.  The movie was adapted into a TV series which ran from 2006 to 2011.  Britton starred in that series too, but it was more fictionalized and her her character had a different name.

Now in its 10th season, Movies in the Park is a free outdoor film series at the First Security Amphitheater in Riverfront Park.  The move starts at dark (around 8:30).

Movies in the Park has grown to a season of eight films per year, on average, reaching audiences of up to 7,000 people. It’s a staple event in Central Arkansas. Communities from across the state, and the country, have reached out for guidance as they have tried to implement similar programs in the own communities.

Since 2008, the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau has been managing Movies in the Park.


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