Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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LR Cultural Touchstone: Kathryn Donham Rice

Katy RiceKathryn Donham Rice was better known by her friends as Katy.  As a historian, she was an archivist and an author.

A native of Little Rock, she was a lifelong Methodist.  Her interest in Arkansas Methodist history led to her appointment as the Archivist of the Little Rock Conference of the United Methodist Church. In 1980, she authored A History of the First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas 1831 – 1981 to commemorate the church’s sesquicentennial. She served as church historian for twenty-eight years, creating with her husband, James H. Rice, Jr., the History Hall where many Methodist historic photographs and artifacts are displayed. She was a board member of the Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church and a charter member of the Arkansas United Methodist Historical Society.

In the 1970’s she was employed at the Old State House Museum, first as a guide, then as Registrar, a position for which she trained at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. In 1986 she was appointed to serve on the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Commission as head of the Religious Organizations Task Force. This group sponsored four regional workshops on church history-writing and church archives management during the year.

Katy was an active supporter of Hendrix College, her alma mater.  She volunteered as archivist in the Winfred Polk United Methodist Archives and the Bailey Library.  She also was active in the Aesthetic Club, where she served as President; the Arkansas Women’s History Institute; the Pulaski County Historical Society; and the Arkansas Historical Association.  She wrote two additional histories which were published: The History of Lakeside Country Club and The History of Belcher Lake Farms.

For several years she was a very active volunteer for the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.  She assisted with registrar duties, including processing many of the photographs in the Allison collection. For several hours every week, she could be found in the basement of the museum with her white archivist gloves on helping out.  She would also give tours of the museum once it opened.


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LR Cultural Touchstone: Ann Nicholson

ann_nicholsonAnn Nicholson has been in Little Rock since the 1970s. She maintains the distinctive accent of her native Great Britain, which she puts to use as the “voice of UALR Public Radio” and the host of the weekly interview show “Art Scene.”

For more than 25 years, Ann Nicholson has shared the news and promoted cultural events in Central Arkansas via the KLRE/KUAR airwaves.  Host of “The Arts Scene,” an in-depth interview program that features local and international artists in all genres and a weekly arts calendar, Nicholson has loyal listeners who have enjoyed her interviews, her soothing and inviting British accent and her tireless enthusiasm for the arts. Those at KLRE/KUAR often refer to her as “the heart of Little Rock public radio.”

Being featured on Arts Scene has been a boon to many emerging organizations and institutions.  But more than that, her insightful and engaging interview style allows listeners to learn more about the artists and the artistic process.  The program feels less like an interview and more like a chance to eavesdrop on an entertaining conversation.

In addition to hosting the weekly interview program, she has been an active supporter of Little Rock’s arts community since her arrival.  She has been on the Board of Ballet Arkansas and UALR Friends of the Arts. She is often in the opening night audience at the Arkansas Rep.  She also rarely misses a performance of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Ann was a longtime member of the Little Rock Arts and Humanities Promotion Commission. She is a supporter of the Little Rock Musical Coterie and the National Federation of Music Clubs. When that organization’s national meeting was in Little Rock in 2002, she was involved in the planning of the meeting.


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THE GREAT NEW ORLEANS KIDNAPPING CASE focus of Clinton School lecture this evening

nola kidnapTonight at the Clinton School, a discussion by Michael Ross of his new book, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case.

An associate professor of History at the University of Maryland. Ross offers the first full account of one of the events that electrified the South at one of the most critical moments in the history of American race relations. The book covers the kidnapping, where two African American women kidnapped seventeen-month-old Mollie Digby in front of her New Orleans home. From the moment it happens through the highly publicized investigation and sensationalized trial that followed, Ross paints a vivid picture of the Reconstruction-era South and the complexities and possibilities that faced the newly integrated society.

Ross’s book also serves as a reminder that a fascination with sensationalized trials is hardly an invention of the last twenty-five years.

The program begins at 6pm at Sturgis Hall.  Following the comments, Ross will sign his book.

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LR Cultural Touchstone: Marguerite Pearce Metcalf

MP MetcalfMarguerite Pearce Metcalf was the dean of speech and drama education in the state of Arkansas.  She taught speech and debate, first at Central, then Hall and later at Parkview from which she retired.  As a teacher and mentor, she influenced most of today’s speech, drama and debate teachers working in Arkansas today.  Though most of her colleagues and former student-teachers have now retired, the students they taught have taken Mrs. Metcalf’s influence to the third, fourth and fifth generations.

Mrs. Metcalf was nationally known for leading Little Rock and the nation in speech education and theatre.  She served as the national president of the speech organization during the 1967-68 school year.  The organization was scheduled to have their meeting in Memphis, TN but it was called off because of the assassination of Martin Luther King.  She also held many leadership roles in statewide and regional speech and education organizations.

Many of Little Rock’s political and business leaders were taught the proper ways to write and deliver speeches by Mrs. Metcalf. To start listing them all would be an exercise in futility.  It is, however, not uncommon to still hear her former students speak of her with a hushed, reverential tone.

She was also an expert in Parliamentary Procedure. As such, it is fitting that the Arkansas Student Congress award for outstanding use of Parliamentary Procedure (which includes not only knowledge about it, but also the grace and skill to be polite) is named in her honor.

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An Arkansas Made Tales from the South tonight at Historic Arkansas Museum

talesfromsouthWith a theme of “Arkansas Made,” where better to find Tales from the South than the home of the “Arkansas Made” exhibits – Historic Arkansas Museum?

The featured storytellers are Haley Villines, Alan Hale, and Denise Parkinson.  Live music is provided by Amy & Brad Williams and bluesman Mark Simpson.

“Tales From the South” is a radio show created and produced by Paula Martin Morell, who is also the show’s host. The show is taped live on Tuesday. The night is a cross between a house concert and a reading/show, with incredible food and great company. Tickets must be purchased before the show, as shows are usually standing-room only.

“Tales from the South” is a showcase of writers reading their own true stories. While the show itself is unrehearsed, the literary memoirs have been worked on for weeks leading up to the readings. Stories range from funny to touching, from everyday occurrences to life-altering tragedies.

Doors open for dinner, socializing at 5 pm; Live music at 6 pm; Dinner available for purchase from Southern Salt Food Truck.  Show starts at 7 pm Tickets $10

You MUST purchase your ticket before the show.

Previous episodes of “Tales from the South” air on KUAR Public Radio on Thursdays at 7pm.  This program will air on November 13.

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LR Cultural Touchstone: Garbo Hearne

garboGarbo Watson Hearne has moved from nurturing patients as a nurse to nurturing artists and art collectors.  As the Director of Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing and Hearne Fine Art, she has been cultivating artists and collectors for over 25 years.

In 1988, Garbo left her nursing career to establish Pyramid Gallery.  Over the years, the business has expanded its focus and changed locations.  Since 2010, she has been located in the historic Dunbar neighborhood.   Over the years, she has championed local, regional and national African American artists and authors. She has introduced many emerging artists to established collectors.  Having her as a champion has allowed some artists to be able to take risks and to move into different mediums or styles.

The 2010 move to Dunbar positioned Garbo’s businesses (as well as the medical practice of her physician husband) to be anchors in the newly designated Dunbar Historic Neighborhood.  That neighborhood seeks to maintain its historic structures and return to its roots as a mix of residential and office space.  In 2008, she and her husband, Dr. Archie Hearne, published Collaborations, Two Decades of African American Art: Hearne Fine Art 1988 – 2008.

Hearne has served on the board of directors of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the Arkansas Arts Council (including a term as Chair) and the board of the Arkansas Humanities Council.

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Two Literary Prizes to Be Awarded at A Prized Evening – William D. Lindsey and Mara Leveritt will be recognized

Prized EveningTwo Arkansas authors, William D. Lindsey and Mara Leveritt, will be honored at A Prized Evening, the annual awarding of the Worthen and Porter Literary Prizes, on Thursday, October 16, at 6:30 p.m., in the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street. A book signing and reception will follow the presentation, which is free and open to the public. Reservations are appreciated, but not required. RSVP to or 501-918-3033.

The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies will award the Booker Worthen Literary Prize to William D. Lindsey, an educator and writer, for the book he edited, Fiat Flux: The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher. Lindsey is a Little Rock native who holds a B.A. in English from Loyola University, an M.A. in English from Tulane University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in theology from the University of St. Michael’s College of the Toronto School of Theology. Fiat Flux is the journal of Wilson Bachelor, a country doctor and natural philosopher who chronicled his life from 1870-1902. Bachelor was an avid reader and thoughtful writer, with wide-ranging interests in literature, science, nature, politics, and religion.

Mara Leveritt, a contributing editor to the Arkansas Times, will receive the Porter Fund Literary Prize in recognition of her substantial and impressive body of work. Leveritt has written three nonfiction books about crime and public corruption: The Boys on the Tracks, about murder and prosecutorial corruption in Saline County; Devil’s Knot, about the deeply problematic trials of the teenagers who became known as the West Memphis Three; and Dark Spell, about Jason Baldwin’s West Memphis post-conviction ordeal. A feature film based on Devil’s Knot, starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, premiered in Little Rock on May 3, 2014.

The Worthen Prize was established by the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in 1999 in memory of William Booker Worthen, a longtime supporter of the public library and a twenty-two-year member of CALS Board of Trustees. It is presented annually for the best work by an author or editor living in the CALS service area. The Porter Fund was established in 1985 by Jack Butler and Phillip McMath in honor of Dr. Ben Drew Kimpel, who requested the prize be named for his mother, Gladys Crane Kimpel Porter.


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