Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Sculpture Vulture: Casey G. Horn’s TRANQUILITY

DSC_0658One of the newest sculptures in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden is Casey G. Horn’s Tranquility.  

Made of bronze and stainless steel, the inspiration for the piece was the Chinese word (character) 安 Ān: peaceful, content, safe.

As Horn says: You can derive a story from the composition of the character. It breaks down into two parts: ornamental roof and woman. Read in this way,  “a woman is at peace in a beautiful home.”

The curved shapes in Tranquility mimic the lines in some other nearby sculptures as well as the foliage in the park.  However, it is unlike any of the other sculptures. It both stands out and blends in with its surroundings.

Tranquility was purchased by the Sculpture at the River Market committee.


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Sculpture Vulture: National Dog Day

Today is National Dog Day. In celebration of that, today we shine the spotlight on two canine sculptures in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden.

DSC_0710First is Dan Glanz’s Boris.  Commissioned in 2010 and unveiled in 2011, this is a likeness of Boris Kumpuris, the dog and companion of Mary and Dr. Dean Kumpuris.

Glanz captures the friendly and inquisitive nature of Boris in this work, which can be found in the Vogel Schwarz sculpture garden. Most weekends Boris can be seen with Dean as the two walk through Riverfront Park and the River Market. Boris explores and inspects the park along with Dean. Each year during the Sculpture at the River Market show, Boris visits with Dean and meets all the sculptors.

The sculpture was donated by longtime Kumpuris family friend Margaret Clark. She and her late husband Bill were two of the earliest supporters of sculpture along the Arkansas River. They donated another piece in honor of their grandchildren. A sculpture in memory of Bill was unveiled last year and stands in the wetlands park which bears his name.

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A few yards from Boris is Ken Newman’s Forever Ready.  It depicts a hunting dog waiting but poised to spring into action.  The sculpture was donated by the Sculpture at the River Market committee in 2009.


Sculpture Vulture Sunday: J. G. Moore’s ABUNDANCE

DSC_0660One of the newest sculptures installed in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden is J. G. Moore’s ABUNDANCE.

Here is the artist’s statement:

This garden bell depicts a pair of mourning doves with wild sunflowers. The piece is titled Abundance because it is about the fall season when the favorite food of the doves is plentiful and allows them to prepare for migration.

Doves are a universal theme for love and peace and the position of this pair speaks to the abundance of well being when two become united in common purpose. It is my desire to bring glory to God by making reminders and reflections of his beautiful creation. My sculptures are intended to be acts of worship.

DSC_0652At a distance, this sculpture can appear simple. It looks to be simply a bell on a curved post.  But upon closer inspection, Moore’s intricate design is apparent.  The bell is covered with sunflowers delicately cast.  The birds atop the bell are nuzzling each other in a sense of affection and protection.  This subtle and powerful piece reflects one of the wonders of art – to offer different perspectives at different distances and angles.

Moore has been working professionally in bronze for the last 19 years. After pursuing a 15 year teaching career as an art teacher – he holds an M. Ed in art education – for middle and high school students in conjunction with his sculpture career, James now devotes full time to his art. His award winning work is in private and public collections across the United States and Europe.

 


2015 Sculpture at the River Market this weekend!

Sculpture at the River MarketThe 2015 Sculpture at the River Market Show & Sale runs Saturday and Sunday at the River Market pavilions.  A preview party is tonight.

Over 700 sculptures will be displayed this weekend. They range in size from a few inches to over ten feet tall.  Some are figurative, others are abstract.  The sculptures run the gamut in materials from woods to stone to metals.

Tonight the events start at 6:30 with the Preview Party, followed by the Bronze & Brewskis Party from 8:30 to 10:30.  Guests at the first party will have the chance to select the winner of a new outdoor sculpture commission.

Tomorrow the show runs from 9am to 5pm and is free.  At 1pm and 3pm there will be Segway tours of the Riverfront Park Sculpture Promenade, which cost $25 to participate.  At 2pm, a docent led tour of the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden is free.

Sunday, the show runs from 10am to 4pm.  There will be a Segway tour at 1pm ($25 to participate) and a docent led tour of the Sculpture Garden at 2pm (free).  From 11am to 3pm, several food trucks will be set up for visitors to the show and sale to purchase food.

At 3pm, there will be the presentation of the Peer Award, selected by the participating artists. Also at that time, the winner of the $60,000 Public Art Competition will be presented.

Participating artists for the 2015 Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Easter Bunny in Bronze – Rabbit Reach and Bunny Bump

For those who are around the River Market today, there are two “Easter” bunny sculptures they can visit.

Rabbit Reach 004

One is Tim Cherry’s Rabbit Reach. The sculpture is located at the corner of Sherman Street and President Clinton Avenue across from the Museum of Discovery.

The sculpture is a gift from Whitlow Wyatt and the Carey Cox Wyatt Charitable Foundation. It was given in memory of George Wyatt and Frank Kumpuris.  Those two gentlemen were the fathers of Whitlow Wyatt and Dean & Drew Kumpuris.

Cherry’s sculpture was selected for this spot because of its proximity to children at the Museum and in the River Market district.  The design and size of the sculpture encourages children to climb on it and to play around the rabbit.  While some public art is situated so it cannot be touched, this one is situated to be touched as part of the appreciation experience.

IMG_3987Laurel Peterson Gregory’s Bunny Bump is featured in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden.  Two stylized rabbits make for an interesting piece of artwork when they are not only dancing, but also doing the butt bump while dancing. The smooth surface and color of the bronze add to the illusion. This small piece has been placed on a pedestal to elevate more to eye level.

The sculpture was completed in 2009 and installed in 2010.  Gregory has been featured at the Sculpture at the River Market show.  (The photo was taken during a recent snow. Hopefully there will be no more of that this year.)

There will be more rabbit sculptures on display at the 2015 Sculpture at the River Market.  It is set for April 25 & 26 in the River Market pavilions. There are preview parties on Friday, April 24. For more information, visit the website.


14ish Cultural Highlights of 2014

2014 was a busy year.  Here are 14 cultural highlights. In no particular order. Except maybe once in while.

The Rep's Bob Hupp and Catherine Hughes flank NEA Chair Jane Chu

The Rep’s Bob Hupp and Catherine Hughes flank NEA Chair Jane Chu

Dr. Jane Chu visits Arkansas. Former Arkadelphia resident Dr. Jane Chu was appointed as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. In October, she paid a visit to Little Rock and northwest Arkansas. While in the Rock, she participated in a discussion at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and toured the new Creative Corridor spaces under construction for the Rep, Ballet Arkansas and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Chu was also the guest of honor at a reception hosted by the Arkansas Arts Council. While here, she had the chance to renew old friendships as well as make new ones.

Carroll Cloar exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center. The Arkansas Arts Center featured the works of Arkansas native Carroll Cloar. Much as the Biblical prophet who is ignored in his homeland, Cloar has long been better recognized outside of his native state.  The Cloar exhibit (which included a painting of future Little Rock mayor J. V. Satterfield playing football, a personal favorite of the LRCV) and the outreach by the AAC staff made great strides towards raising Arkansas’ consciousness about the works by the American treasure.

DSCF0011Robinson Center Music Hall closes for renovation. Opening in February 1940 as the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium, the City’s prime venue for performances and civic gatherings needed an external and internal facelift at 74. The building closed in July 2014 for a two year renovation which will see the reconfiguration of the performance and audience space in the music hall, the creation of a new special events venue overlooking the Arkansas River, and the restoration of this historic main lobby and front façade to 1940 appearance. During this closure tenants such as Ballet Arkansas, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Celebrity Attractions have temporarily relocated to other venues including the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center and the Maumelle Performing Arts Center.

Ron Robinson Theater opens. Shortly before one Robinson closed, another opened.  The Central Arkansas Library System’s new Ron Robinson Theater opened. This multi-purpose venue has quickly become home to lectures (by the library, the Clinton School and others), films (in partnership with Arkansas Times, Little Rock Film Festival and others) and music (including the Arkansas Sounds series).  Named for famed Little Rock adman Ron Robinson, the public spaces pay tribute to his love of movies and music about Arkansas.

Music Music Music

  • As noted above, Arkansas Sounds has switched from a concentrated music festival to instead offering a variety of music styles and genres throughout the year at the new Ron Robinson Theatre. The music has ranged from Big Band to Klezmer to Country to Rock to Rap.  This is only one of the new music offerings in Little Rock.
  • South on Main completed its first full year of the weekly Local Live free music series sponsored by the Oxford American and Landers Fiat. South on Main also started a Jazz on Main series as well as increased their bookings of other musicians ranging from Rodney Block to Rodney Crowell.
  • Meanwhile, The Undercroft completed its first full year of (mainly) acoustic music offerings at the corner of Capitol and Scott Streets.

New Works of Art.

  • New sculptures were added to the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden and Riverfront Park as well as the Bernice Gardens.
  • In what may be the first for any symphony in the US, the musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra commissioned a new piece in honor of the ASO board of directors. The work, composed by Christopher Theofanidis, was entitled The Wind and Petit Jean.  It was well-received by audience and musicians alike.
  • Ballet Arkansas sponsored a choreography competition “Visions” which featured five choreographers competing to be selected for a full-scale commission.  The winner was Hilary Wolfley whose work will be seen at the spring Ballet Arkansas presentation.
  • Finally, in conjunction with the 175th anniversary of Christ Episcopal Church (the oldest church in Little Rock to be at its original location), a new choral piece was commissioned. Daniel E. Gawthrop’s “Haste the Day” premiered on December 7.

mod delaneyThe Tonight Show with Kevin Delaney. Because Jimmy Fallon is really just a big kid at heart, he wanted to include periodic “cool” science experiments when he took over the “Tonight Show.”  After being contacted by a producer of Fallon’s show and an audition process, the Museum of Discovery’s Kevin Delaney was booked to appear.  He debuted on May 5 performing experiment with Fallon and returned on November 7. When not a guest of NBC, Delaney performs the same types of “Awesome Science” experiments for tens of thousands of children and adults at the Museum of Discovery.

New Festival of Arts. Acansa, a new multi-discplinary, multi-venue arts festival, debuted this year in September.  Over a five day period, ACANSA Arts Festival brought together audiences and cultural resources to present unique and exciting visual and performing works which celebrate the unique influence of the south and champion excellence and innovation in artistry.  There was theatre, dance, instrumental music, choral music, puppetry and visual art.

14 14 4Gridiron Returns. The talk of the return of the Star Wars movie franchise was not the only welcome news of returns. Gridiron, the biennial attorney fundraiser which spoofs politics, current events, sports and everything that is “sacred” to the general populace, returned after a hiatus.  Once again this effort was under the watchful eye of producer Judge Mary McGowan, the creative leadership of Jana Beard, and the writing prowess of the anonymous committee.  As has been the case in the past, many of the targets of the show good-naturedly showed up and laughed along in the audience.

Sculptures Returned.  Gridiron was not the only welcome return. Earlier this year several sculptures were stolen from the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park. After a media blitz about the theft, some people strolling through the park stumbled across a bag containing the missing sculptures. The pieces are in the process of being restored and will be reinstalled soon.

14 14 3Clinton Center turned 10.  Proving that you can come home again, quite a few of the people who were present for the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center in 2004 showed up again in 2014 to take part in celebratory festivities.  Among events included several lectures; a day of service benefiting the Arkansas Food Bank; a barbecue picnic; and a concert featuring Nick Jonas, Kool & the Gang and others which was hosted by Kevin Spacey.  The Clinton School also celebrated 10 years of lectures and innovative programs.

Preservation Concentration – The Quapaw Quarter Association marked the 50th Spring Tour this year. The event was co-chaired by First Lady Ginger Beebe and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith.  Later in the year, the QQA hosted its first Mid-Century architecture tour highlighting some of Little Rock’s buildings from this style. They ended the year with the news that they had purchased the William E. Woodruff House in east Little Rock. One of Little Rock’s oldest houses, it was built by the founder of the Arkansas Gazette.  They will shore up the building to try to ensure no further decay as the building is readied for its next phase.

Huzzahs

  • 14 14 2Reese Rowland, architect and principal at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Little Rock, was named a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, awarded to fewer than 4 percent of AIA members.
  • Little Rock native Will Trice earned his third Tony Award in three years, this time for producing All The Way, the Best Play of 2014. His previous Tonys were for Porgy and Bess (Musical Revival-2012) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Play Revival-2013).
  • Arkansas native and frequent Little Rock performer Al Green was one of the 2014 Kennedy Center Honorees.
  • Little Rock’s Creative Corridor continued to rack up honors. The UA’s Community Design Center, which includes faculty and staff members from the school, won a 2014 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects for its work on the Creative Corridor, on which it collaborated with Marlon Blackwell Architect of Fayetteville. The project also received the American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for Analysis and Planning.

Transitions.

  • 14 14Sharon Priest, a longtime cultural advocate as a City Beautiful Commission member, Little Rock City Director, Little Rock Mayor and Arkansas Secretary of State announced her retirement after 12 years as Executive Director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.  Over the past dozen years, she has continued her cultural advocacy.
  • One of Priest’s successors as a member of the Little Rock City Board, Stacy Hurst, was named by Gov.-Elect Asa Hutchinson to be his choice to lead the Department of Arkansas Heritage. She will oversee seven agencies including three Little Rock museums: Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Old State House Museum and Historic Arkansas Museum.
  • Following the closure of Starving Artists Cafe, the weekly Tales from the South program (which originated from there) had to scramble to find a place.  After several weeks of a completely nomadic existence, it is now settling into a rotating list of locations. The Arkansas Arts Center’s Best Impressions restaurant has been designated a “permanent” site for the first Tuesday of each month.
  • The free outdoor Movies in the Park celebrated its 10th season this year. Founders Blake Rutherford, Heather Allmendinger and Ben Beaumont were honored at the start of the season.  A few weeks into the season, the series screened the film Frozen and set a new record for attendance by logging over 7,000 attendees.
  • After the closure of the Riverdale cinema in 2013, the space sat vacant.  In June 2014, Matt Smith moved the Market Street Cinema operations into the Riverdale space. He upgraded the equipment at Riverdale (which was also a vast improvement over the equipment at Market Street).  The new Riverdale 10 shows a mix of first-run blockbusters as well as the independent films for which Market Street had been beloved.
  • The Studio Theatre was launched adjacent to the new Lobby Bar in downtown Little Rock.  In addition to producing its own performances, it is also the new home of the Community Theatre of Little Rock and Precipice Theatre.
  • Weekend Theatre founder Ralph Hyman retired as the Artistic Director of that group. He will continue to direct productions from time to time.

 


Through the Looking Glass to be dedicated today in Riverfront Park

Through The Looking Glass prior to installation

Through The Looking Glass prior to installation

Today at 11:30 a new piece of sculpture will be dedicated in Riverfront Park.

The City of Little Rock, Little Rock Parks and Recreation and the Sculpture at the River Market Committee will install and dedicate a new monument-size sculpture in the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden, directly behind the Little Rock Marriott.

Titled “Through the Looking Glass,” the sculpture stands at 12-feet wide and eight-feet tall. The stainless steel piece by sculptor Mark Leichliter features complex hexagons with a mirror finish. The ceremony will also feature the dedication of a new playground area,

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