Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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ROCKing the TONYS – John Lithgow

Rock the TonysLithgowJohn Lithgow

Little Rock connection: As an author, spoke to a packed house as part of the Clinton School of Public Service speaker series.

Tony Awards connection: Won a Featured Actor in a Play Tony in 1973 for The Changing Room and an Actor in a Musical Tony in 2002 for Sweet Smell of Success.  Has received four other Tony nominations – most recently for The Columnist by former Little Rock resident David Auburn.  Lithgow has also appeared in numerous Tony ceremonies as a presenter and performer.

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Pulitzer Finalists: Some Arkansas Connections

At least two of the finalists for Pulitzer Prizes this year have Arkansas connections.

Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee was a finalist in the Investigative Reporting category. He is a former writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control was a finalist in the History category.  He spoke at the Clinton School this past year. His book explores mishaps and near-misses in the US handling of nuclear weapons using, as its framwork, the Titan II missile explosion from September 1980 near Damascus AR.   His Clinton school remarks can be seen here.

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A Prized Cemetery – Mount Holly on Pulitzer Day

The Pulitzer Prizes are to be announced today.  Mount Holly Cemetery not only touts that it is the site of a whole host of elected officials, it is also the only place in Arkansas where two Pulitzer Prize recipients are buried.

In 1939, John Gould Fletcher became the first Southern poet to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.  He was born into a prominent Little Rock family in 1886.  Fletcher was awarded the prize for his collection Selected Poems which was published by Farrar in 1938.  Two years earlier, he had been commissioned by the Arkansas Gazette to compose an epic poem about the history of Arkansas in conjunction with the state’s centennial.

Fletcher is buried next to his wife, author Charlie May Simon and his parents (his father was former Little Rock Mayor John Gould Fletcher).  Other relatives are buried nearby in the cemetery.

The other Pulitzer Prize winner buried in Mount Holly is J. N. Heiskell, the longtime editor of the Arkansas Gazette.  It was Heiskell, in fact, who asked Fletcher to compose the poem about Arkansas.  Heiskell served as editor of the Gazette from 1902 through 1972.  He died at the age of 100 in 1972.

Under his leadership, the Gazette earned two Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High.  One was for Harry Ashmore’s editorial writing and the other was for Public Service.

Heiskell remained in charge of the Gazette until his death in 1972.  He is buried alongside his wife with other relatives nearby.  Also not too far from Mr. Heiskell are two of his nemeses, proving that death and cemeteries can be the great equalizer. In the early days of his Gazette stewardship, he often locked horns with Senator (and former Governor) Jeff Davis. Later in Mr. Heiskell’s career, he vehemently disagreed with Dr. Dale Alford, who had been elected to Congress on a segregationist platform.

Charlotte Schexnayder Brings Salt to Legacies & Lunch

legaciesschexnayderCharlotte Tillar Schexnayder has been called a “salty old editor,” and she is indeed worth her salt. She will be interviewed about her life and work in the Arkansas Delta by David Stricklin, manager of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, at Legacies & Lunch on Wednesday, April 2, at noon in the Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street.

Schexnayder has been an influential voice in the life and politics of the Delta, a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, and a pioneer among women in the professions of politics and journalism. She and her husband, Melvin, owned the Dumas Clarion newspaper for many years. Schexnayder has served as president of every professional journalism organization she has joined, including the National Federation of Press Women and the National Newspaper Association, and she was the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce.

Copies of her memoir, Salty Old Editor, published by Butler Center Books in 2012, will be available for sale at the program or may be purchased from River Market Books & Gifts, 120 River Market Avenue, or online at Schexnayder will sign books after her program.

Legacies & Lunch is free, open to the public, and supported in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council. Programs are held from noon-1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided. For more information, contact 918-3033.

No Place in Particular – A Celebration of Southern Poetry and Music

2e6b4_1320267846-oxa_logoCome join The Oxford American magazine at South on Main for “No Place In Particular: A Celebration of Southern Poetry and Music.” Jimbo Mathus will round out the evening with a set of music, following readings from five poets!

This event is general admission, with a $7 cover payable at the door. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Doors open at 5 pm with poetry reading beginning at 6 and music at 7:45.

Poets Carter Monroe, Justin Booth, Verless Doran, R.J. Looney, and Ayara Stein will read from selections of their work.


ACANSA Arts Festival Receives $10,000 Planning & Implementation Grant



The newly founded ACANSA Arts Festival accepted a $10,000 check from the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District (CAPDD) on Monday, February 24th. The distribution comes from CAPDD’s General Improvement Fund and is awarded through a grant process to qualifying organizations for the planning and implementation of economic and community development projects. The ACANSA application had the endorsement of Arkansas State Representative Warwick Sabin.

The CAPDD award adds to growing level of interest and support for the new arts festival to be held over 5 days in September. “Cultural enrichment opportunities that bring people together in Little Rock and North Little Rock both address the “quality of life” issues our board endeavors to support and generate viable economic opportunities in our community over their duration,” remarked CAPDD Executive Director Rodney Larsen.

Warwick Sabin and Rodney Larsen presented the check to Charlotte Gadberry, founder of the ACANSA Arts Festival and ACANSA Executive Director Renay Dean.

ACANSA Arts Festival is a southern celebration of visual and performing arts, premiering its inaugural event September 24-28, 2014, in Central Arkansas.

Architecture critic Mark Lamster featured tonight at Architecture & Design Network

Smark-lamster-presented-dallas-archit-66IZING UP ARCHITECTURE: A Critic’s View

Mark Lamster
Architecture Critic | Dallas Morning News 
Assistant Professor and Dillon Center Fellow | School of Architecture University of Texas Arlington

DATE: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
TIME: 6:00 pm, preceded by a reception at 5:30
PLACE: Arkansas Arts Center lecture hall

Architecture critics are a rare breed in this part of the country. Mark Lamster, a recent arrival at the Dallas Morning News, offers a perspective on the built environment that enables others to see and talk about their surroundings in new and different ways. Lamster, who also teaches a graduate seminar on criticism and critical writing at the University, has, according to the newspaper’s editor, Bob Mong, a “range of interests that rivals those of any architecture critic in the country.” His background in art as well as architecture informs his writing. A contributing editor to Architectural Review and Design Observer, his work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other national publications. Lamster is currently at work on a definitive new biography of the late architect Philip Johnson who, among his many accomplishments, established the architecture department at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The book is to be published by Little Brown.

For more than a decade, Lamster served as editor of the Princeton Architecture Press. He is the author of several books including Master of Shadows (2009) a political biography of the painter Peter Paul Rubens. Baseball fans may be familiar with his first book, Spalding’s World Tour, the story of a group of all-star baseball players who circled the globe in the 19th Century. That work was a New York Times Editor’s selection. Lamster, a native of New York City, has a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. from Tufts.

Supporters of the Architecture and Design Network lecture series include the Arkansas Arts Center, the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture and the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture. All Network lectures are free and open to the public. For further information, contact


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