Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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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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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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Read and LEED – Two CALS library branches have received LEED Green Building Certification

Two Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) branches have been awarded prestigious LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (CBGI). The first LEED certified project for CALS, Oley E. Rooker Library has been certified LEED Silver, and Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center has been certified LEED Gold.

LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. In the central Arkansas area, Rooker Library is one of only nine LEED Silver projects, and the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center is one of only ten LEED Gold projects.

OLEY ROOKER LIBRARY (photo courtesy of CALS)

OLEY ROOKER LIBRARY (photo courtesy of CALS)

A building’s structure, access, and personality reflect the materials and design that went into its construction. CALS strives to show its respect for the history of our community and for its natural resources in its building design and choice of materials. With CALS’ commitment to sustainable building techniques or adaptable reuse of existing facilities in mind, Allison Architects designed the Rooker Library and James H. Cone, Inc. served as general contractor. Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects managed the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center design and East-Harding Construction provided construction services.

The Rooker Library and Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center achieved LEED certification for energy use, lights, water, and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses, and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers, and the larger community.

LEED certification of the libraries was based on a number of green design and construction features including:

  • Geothermal heating and cooling systems and high performance building envelopes which reduce the energy needed to maintain the buildings
  • High performance glazing with sunscreens which allow for abundant daylight
  • Deep roof overhang with fritted glass filtering system
  • Maximizing open space on the site
  • Use of local materials, rapidly renewable materials, and materials with recycled content
  • Bioswale and open-grid paving
  • Use of mature tree to provide natural shade
  • Water management system including a butterfly roof and wetland for water efficient landscaping, with native plants to help break down pollutants
  • Bicycle storage on site
  • Low flow water fixtures
  • Construction practices which include reducing construction site waste, preventing pollution from erosion, and managing the building to limit air contamination


Oley E. Rooker Library

The $5 million, 13,450 square-foot Rooker Library includes sustainable features such as a geothermal HVAC system and cork or linoleum flooring throughout, and building materials include copper and Arkansas sandstone. Amenities at the library include public meeting rooms, smaller study rooms, and public access computers. Exterior features include a reflecting pool with three sculpture otters and a pavilion that can be used for library and community functions.

Funding for the Rooker Library was made available by Little Rock voters’ approval of a bond issue in 2004.


Hillary Clinton Children' s Library and Learning Center (photo courtesy of Polk Stanley Wilcox)

Hillary Clinton Children’ s Library and Learning Center (photo courtesy of Polk Stanley Wilcox)

Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center

Set on a six-acre site, the $12 million, 30,000 square foot Children’s Library includes a computer lab with fourteen computers, teaching kitchen, large activity area, individual and group study rooms, theater, and community room in addition to a collection of more than 21,000 books, DVDs, and CDs.

In 2007, Little Rock voters approved a bond issue to provide funding for the Children’s Library.

The Children’s Library’s grounds are integral to the entire facility’s program. A greenhouse and teaching garden help children learn about growing healthy foods as well as provide produce that will be used in the teaching kitchen programs. The grounds reflect the topography of Arkansas’s ecosystems, from the native hardwood trees in the highlands to vegetation of the wetland areas, which are both planted and original to the site. Walking paths offer families an attractive place for exercise while learning the names of the trees and plants, and an amphitheater has seating for outdoor programs or nature watching.

Glen Campbell documentary screening tonight

G CampbellTonight at 7pm, the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute (AMPI) is hosting a special advance preview screening of the new feature documentary, Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me.

It will take place at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater located at 100 River Market Avenue in Little Rock. The event will feature an audience discussion with the filmmakers, Producer and Director James Keach and Producer Trevor Albert, and with members of the Campbell family.
Presented by AARP Arkansas, advance reservations for the event are $25 and available exclusively online at Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. screening, with seating first come, first served.
The event will be hosted by Brian & Brianne Bush, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), with printing by TCPrint Solutions and production services provided by Southern Arkansas University Tech.
Director and Producer James Keach (Walk the Line) and Producer Trevor Albert (Because of Winn DixieGroundhog Day) will attend and participate in an audience dialogue immediately following the film. Members of the Campbell family will also be in attendance and will present a short, a cappella performance of their favorite Glen Campbell songs.

CELEBRATE public art tonight at CALS

celebrateIn conjunction with 2nd Friday Art Night, the public dedication of Celebrate, the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) newest public art piece, will take place Friday, June 13, at 6 p.m. 
This kinetic sculpture was commissioned in 2010 by CALS, Jim Conner, and other donors to commemorate the library’s centennial of service to the community and was recently installed on the Main Library’s campus, between the patron parking lot and the Arkansas Studies Institute building. 
The sculpture, in the shape of a spinning top, is inscribed with the word “Celebrate” in numerous languages from English to Binary Code to Klingon.
Michael Warrick, the sculptor who created Celebrate, and Bobby Roberts, director of CALS, will speak at the dedication. All will be welcome to try out the kinetic sculpture by giving it a spin. Afterward, attendees will be invited into the Butler Center Galleries to enjoy refreshments and live music as part of 2nd Friday Art Night. 

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Wayland Holyfield

Rock the TonysHolyfield_WaylandWAYLAND HOLYFIELD

Little Rock connection: This Arkansas native wrote the song “Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me” for the 1986 Arkansas Sesquicentennial. He has performed it many times in Little Rock over the years. He was present at the opening of the CALS Ron Robinson Theater where a new video of it debuted.
Tony Awards connection: His song “May I Have This Dance” was part of the Tony nominated score of Urban Cowboy in 2003.


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