Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Trail of Tears Commemoration Day

Today is Trail of Tears Commemoration Day.  There were several different routes on the Trail of Tears.  Little Rock was one of the only places (if not the only one), in which each of the tribes passed through on the way out west.

Much research on the Trail of Tears has been conducted by the UALR Sequoyah National Research Center (SNRC).

The SNRC recently opened an exhibit entitled “Toy Tipis and Totem Poles: Native American Stereotypes in the Lives of Children.”

"Ten Little Indians" spinning top for SNRC exhibit

Ten little Indians spinning top; Photography by George Chambers

The exhibit runs through Dec. 19. Held in the Dr. J.W. Wiggins Native American Art Gallery, the purpose of the event is to create awareness of the variety of native cultures and the achievements of contemporary American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The exhibit comes from the Hirschfelder-Molin Native American Stereotypes Collection, a collection of more than 1,500 museum objects and archival documents, possibly the largest such collection in the world.

The items were donated to SNRC in 2012 by Arlene Hirschfelder and Paulette Molin, professional educators and authors with decades-long experience in Native American education and Native American studies. SNRC archivist Erin Fehr will curate the exhibit with Hirschfelder, Molin, and SNRC staff.

The exhibit will highlight the areas of the collection dealing with children and Native American stereotypes omnipresent in the lives of American children.

By examining childhood objects – dolls, toys, books, games, clothing, sports memorabilia – the exhibit will create awareness of the inculcation of the images and the difficulty of changing mainstream thinking about Native American stereotypes.

In addition to presenting the stereotypes themselves, positive images and responses from Native people will be presented as an alternative.

UALR’s Sequoyah National Research Center is dedicated to the collection and preservation of all forms of Native American expression. Located in the University Plaza, SNRC has served as an archive for Native Americans for more than 30 years. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information contact Erin Fehr at or 501.569.8336.

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Final Weeks to Visit Wilmot Ark at the Arkansas Arts Center

Susan Paulsen, Wilmot, 2011, photograph, courtesy of the artist

Susan Paulsen, Wilmot, 2011, photograph, courtesy of the artist

Wilmot is a little town in Ashley County, in southeast Arkansas. . . .A few years ago, Susan Paulsen set out to tell a kind of story, to chronicle a place in Arkansas through evocative photographs taken there over the course of many visits, in all seasons of the year. . . . Together, they form a picture of a place. For the artist, that place has a personal importance—part of her family comes from there, and for generations it has been a kind of homing place for them. Through her photographs of this particular place, she wants, as she has said, to make a sort of poem about all such places; to find commonalities among these individuals and people in other places. Her goal, from the outset, has been to evoke all the Wilmots, wherever they might be. But still there is this town, these people. . .”  -

From the essay by George T. M. Shackelford, Susan Paulsen: Wilmot.

The evocative visual poetry of Susan Paulsen: Wilmot comes to the Arkansas Arts Center in the form of more than 70 photographic prints and groupings of photographs that she took in Wilmot, Arkansas between 1995 and 2012. Most spectacularly, one large wall is covered by a grid of 90 photographs. Susan Paulsen: Wilmot was organized by Maison européenne de la photographie, Paris. The images are coming home to Arkansas for their American debut.

They will be on view in the Townsend Wolfe Gallery until September 28, 2014.

Sponsored by:

Brenda Mize
June and Edmond Freeman

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Cast members from MEMPHIS to perform at Lobby Bar tonight

lobbybarThe cast of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of MEMPHIS is extremely talented.  In addition to displaying their talents on stage at the Rep, the performers will be showcasing their talent tonight in another downtown venue.  

The Lobby Bar will host a cabaret performance tonight featuring members of the cast.  Mark Binns, music director for MEMPHIS will be the accompanist.  The evening will features showtunes as well as standards.

There is not cover charge or admission charge.

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Little Rock Look Back: Charles E. Taylor, LR’s 42nd Mayor

Mayor TaylorOn September 15, 1868, future Little Rock Mayor Charles E. Taylor was born in Austin, Mississippi.  After locating to eastern Arkansas, his family moved to Little Rock around 1880.

Taylor graduated from Scott Street High School in Little Rock and proceeded to work for various hardware stores and other businesses.  In 1895 he married Belle Blackwood, with whom he would have four children.

In 1910, Taylor announced his intention to run for Mayor of Little Rock.  Though he had never held elective office, he had been involved in several civic organizations.  Taylor was the main challenger to Alderman John Tuohey.  Seen as a reformer, Taylor initially lost to Tuohey.  But after an investigation of voter fraud and a subsequent runoff, Taylor was elected Mayor.

Upon taking office in August 1911, Mayor Taylor focused on improving health conditions in the city, upgrading the fire department and enhancing the overall moral tone of the city.

As a progressive of the era, he fought against gambling, drinking and prostitution.  He created a Health Department and enhanced the City Hospital.  His efforts led to a decrease in the death rate in Little Rock.  As Mayor, Taylor introduced motorized vehicles to the Fire Department.  He also led the City Council to establish building and electrical codes.  Mayor Taylor also oversaw the construction of the 1913 Beaux Arts Central Fire Stations (which today serves as the City Hall West Wing).

Under his leadership, the City of Little Rock annexed Pulaski Heights. One of the selling points to Pulaski Heights residents was Mayor Taylor’s ability to provide modern services such as paved streets, water mains, fire hydrants and street lights.

Though neither his 1911 Parks Master Plan nor his dreams for a civic auditorium came to fruition, they paved the way for future successes in both of those areas.

Funding for projects continued to be a problem throughout Mayor Taylor’s four terms in office.  He believed that one obstacle to city funding was the prohibition by the state constitution against cities issuing bonds.  Though that ban has since been lifted, Taylor tried three times unsuccessfully to get it changed while he was Mayor.

In April 1919, Taylor left office after having served eight years.  He was the longest serving Mayor of Little Rock until Jim Dailey served in the 1990s and 2000s.  Following several business ventures, Taylor moved to Pine Bluff and led their chamber of commerce from 1923 through 1930.

Mayor Charles E. Taylor died in Pine Bluff in 1932. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock.

During his time in office, Mayor Taylor was presented with an unofficial flag of Little Rock by a group of citizens.  During Mayor Dailey’s tenure, that flag was restored by some private citizens and presented to the City.  It is framed on the 2nd Floor of Little Rock City Hall.

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Little Rock Look Back: H. L. Fletcher, LR’s 35th Mayor

Mayor H L FletcherOn September 15, 1833, future Little Rock Mayor Henry Lewis Fletcher was born in Saline County.  His parents were Henry Lewis and Mary Lindsey Fletcher.  One of his siblings was future Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher.  The Fletcher brothers are the only set of siblings to serve as Mayors of Little Rock.

Though the life of John Gould Fletcher is fairly well documented, not much information is out there on his brother Henry Lewis (and some of what is out there is incorrect).  He married Susan Bricelin August 30, 1855, in Pulaski County.  During the Civil War, he served as a sergeant in the cavalry for the Confederate Army in Captain Ed Nowland’s Company.

As a civic leader, Fletcher oversaw Arkansas’ contribution to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. The building received as a prize a cast-iron fountain still standing in front of the Old State House Museum.

Fletcher served as Mayor of Little Rock from 1891 to 1893.  When Fletcher became Mayor he appointed a new Police Chief (as most Mayors did) and the entire police force was dismissed.  A new police force was hired by E. H. Sanders, who served as chief for 18 months.  Upon his resignation, Frank MacMahon (who had been dismissed from the force when Fletcher came to office), was appointed Chief by Mayor Fletcher.  He would serve from 1892 until 1905.

Mayor Fletcher died on June 30, 1896 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery next to his wife (who died in 1911).

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Little Rock Look Back: Miss America 1964 comes to Little Rock

Photo from Encyclopedia of Arkansas, courtesy of Mike Polston

Photo from Encyclopedia of Arkansas, courtesy of Mike Polston

Tonight a new Miss America will be crowned.  This ceremony marks the 50th anniversary since Miss America 1964, Arkansan Donna Axum, ended her reign.

A native of El Dorado and a student at the University of Arkansas, during her reign as Miss America Miss Axum (or simply Donna as the newspaper headlines referred to her) made four public visits to Little Rock.  As the first Miss Arkansas to become Miss America, the state’s Capitol City was very interested in giving her a warm welcome.

After being crowned on September 7, 1963, her first visit to Arkansas was November 1 through 3.  In addition to stops in Hot Springs and El Dorado, she appeared in Little Rock to attend events including an Arkansas Razorback football game at War Memorial Stadium.  Her entourage included the top four runners up from the Miss America pageant.

In February 1964, she made a brief appearance in Little Rock which included a press conference.

Donna Axum spent nearly two weeks in Arkansas in May 1964 attending several pageants as well as spending time with family.  During that visit she appeared in Little Rock twice.  The second time she headlined a concert with the Arkansas Symphony (not related to the current Arkansas Symphony Orchestra) and the Arkansas Choral Society. It took place at Robinson Auditorium.

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THE MUPPETS showing this afternoon at CALS Ron Robinson Theater

CALSRR MuppetsThe CALS Ron Robinson Theater welcomes Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo and the rest of the gang this afternoon.

At 2pm, the 2011 film The Muppets will be shown.   Tickets are $5 per person.

Starring Jason Segal and Amy Adams. The Muppets reunites The Muppets with the help of a few fans to save their old theater.  Also in the cast are Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jim Pasons, Sarah Silverman, Emily Blunt, James Carville, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, David Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez and Mickey Rooney

After the showing, moviegoers are invited to participate in several different Muppet character photo booths.

The screening will feature free theme-related concessions and door prizes.


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