Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Creative Class 2016: Tod Switch

cc16-switchTod Switch  has worked as an architectural photographer since 1991.  In that capacity, he has had many artistic experiences while traveling throughout the US and eighteen countries around the world.

Making the transition to the fine arts in 2010, he started by using what came naturally to him, visualization. He saw intrinsic beauty in found objects and transformed them into his own vision with the addition of metal, wood, and stone. Composition, form, and perspective, concepts he utilized daily with photography, are now put to use in his sculptural work.

His sculptures often combine different materials and fabrication processes. Many works are one of a kind or unique in a series.  He currently is working on a series of keyholes as well as a series of city blocks, which are a variety of wood blocks, laser etched with architectural images that I have taken from around the world. They will be capped with copper, bronze, brass, or nickel.

Tod has shown at Sculpture at the River Market.  In 2015, he won the Best of Show Award and in 2016 received an Award of Merit.  His temporary installation was chosen for the Arkansas Arts Center’s Fountain Fest in 2015, as well.  He has also taught seminars for the Arkansas Arts Council.

His goals in public art are to appeal to the largest audience and have them say, “I wish I would have thought of that,” and to produce site – specific works of art that will stand the test of time.

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Creative Class 2016: Spencer Sutterfield

cc16-sutterfieldSpencer Sutterfield is an arts educator and leadership trainer.  He appears on the Arkansas Arts Council Arts in Education roster as well as being a 2016 Regional Arkansas Teacher of the Year as well as the Little Rock School District Teacher of the Year.

He specializes in theatre and speech education, team building, dramatic play, and directing actors of all ages. Diagnosed with dyslexia at age 8, Spencer has an inspiring story of perseverance and achievement that underscores much of his teaching artist work. He has a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts/ Speech Communication Education and an M.F.A. in Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities.

Spencer has dedicated more than a decade to using theatre as a tool to inspire and educate. Spencer has directed plays for young audiences at the university and high school levels including The Arkansaw Bear, Mother Hicks, Holes, and The Imaginary Invalid. As a graduate student, Spencer wrote, directed, and performed in a documentary theatre piece about the experiences of students with dyslexia. This piece was accepted for entry into the University of Texas at Austin’s highly competitive Cohen New Works Festival. He later incorporated a shortened version of the piece into a professional development workshop he facilitated across Texas and Arkansas.

Spencer currently holds the position of Drama Specialist at Parkview where he serves as the Drama Department Chair. In this position, he directs main stage productions and a yearly student-devised performance about Arkansas history that tours to elementary and middle schools. In addition to directing, he teaches year long, in-depth courses in Theatre History, Children’s Theatre, and Ensemble Theatre for 10th through 12th grade theatre students. Spencer has also taught Introduction to Improvisation and Introduction to Theatre on the college level.  He also has taught for several years at Arkansas Governor’s School.

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Creative Class 2016: Tatiana Roitman Mann

cc16-roitmanPianist Tatiana Roitman Mann has appeared as a soloist and recitalist across North America and Europe.  Last night she appeared with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at their River Rhapsodies Chamber Series.  On Friday, October 28, she will be one of the performers at Trinity Cathedral in “A Schubertiade” as part of their Chamber Music Series.

The BBC hailed her performance of  Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Oxford Pops Orchestra as “formidable…both accurate and with rarely seen joy.” Mann’s radio broadcasts include H.Villa-Lobos’ Mystic Sextet, on NPR’s Performance Today , and B.Bartok’s Contrasts  on New York’s classical music station, WQXR, G. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on Little Rock’s KLRE.  Tatiana’s recording of the original, big band version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was released on Naxos in the album Jazz Nocturne – American Concertos of the Jazz Age.

As a performer of contemporary works, she premiered Speak No Evil by E. McKinley at the American Composer’s Forum, and performed For Don by M. Babbitt, with the composer in attendance, in celebration of his 90th birthday at Tanglewood’s Contemporary Music Festival.  As the recipient of the Peggy Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship at Tanglewood, she worked with James Levine, Dawn Upshaw, Yo-Yo Ma, Charles Rosen and Claude Frank.

Tatiana’s interpretations of solo, concerto and chamber repertoire are characterized by their warmth and emotional intensity. As a versatile artist whose engagements range from concerto, solo and chamber performances to I. Stravinsky’s Petrushka with the San Diego Symphony and the Mainly Mozart education series Joyful Noise, she strongly believes the only way that “art” music can remain pertinent in the 21st century is by conveying and elevating its emotional quintessence.

Tatiana’s recent concerto performances include L. van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #4 op.58, C. Saint-Saens Concerto #4 op.44 in San Diego, CA, G. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Bismarck-Mandan Symphony in ND, L. van Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in Sydney, Australia, as well as Rhapsody in Blue with the Arkansas Symphony. During the 2016-2017 concert season Mann will return to River Rhapsodies for performances of works by F. Schubert and M. Ravel. Additional engagements include a solo recital in the “Arts and Life” series at Harding University, M. de Falla’s Evenings in the Gardens of Spain with Venice Symphony, FL under the baton of Maestro Imre Pallo, and other performances as a soloist and collaborator with various chamber music groups throughout the US.

Tatiana holds graduate degrees from Manhattan School of Music, the Royal Academy of Music in London and a DMA from University of Minnesota.   

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Creative Class 2016: David Renfro

cc16-renfroWhile David Renfro may be known for his soaring horn playing with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, he also serves the ASO as a staff member.  In recognition of these dual talents, earlier this year David was selected to be one of only nine participants in the League of American Orchestras’ Emerging Leaders Program. 

A native of Kingsport, Tennessee, David is the Director of Operations for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  He received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Horn Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  In 2005, he moved to Little Rock when he became the Principal Horn of the ASO, a position he continues to hold. 

In addition to performing, David taught horn and chamber music at Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University through 2009, when he was hired to be the ASO’s Orchestra Personnel Manager.  In 2010, he became the Orchestra Personnel and Operations Manager and in 2016, the Director of Operations for the ASO.  

As a musician, David has also performed with the Memphis, Illinois, Missouri, Owensboro, Greenville, and Texarkana Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.  In addition to his work as an orchestra musician, David maintains an active teaching studio and performs regularly as a chamber musician and soloist.  

David is a member of the woodwind quintet, Etesian Winds, as well as the ASO brass quintet.  David also gave the Arkansas premiere of American composer James Beckel’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated concerto for horn, “The Glass Bead Game,” with the Henderson State University Wind Ensemble.  Other recent solo engagements have included Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 297b with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra and Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4, K. 495 with both the Arkansas and Missouri Symphony Orchestras. 

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Creative Class 2016: Kathryn Pryor

cc16-pryorWhile she may be a successful attorney by day, Kathryn Pryor, is also an accomplished singer and actor.

Having grown up appearing on stage, it is no surprise she continues to appear in productions throughout Central Arkansas.

Earlier this year she reprised her role of Hillary Clinton in the biennial political spoof Gridiron.   Over the years she has also played leading roles in GYPSY, CABARET, SWEENEY TODD, COMPANY, VICTOR/VICTORIA, SOUTH PACIFIC, and MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG.  

In addition, she has appeared in New York in a cabaret act with her brother Will Trice. For the 2015 edition of the Arkansas Arts Center’s Tabriz, she and Will reprised their act.

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Creative Class 2016: Christen Burke Pitts

cc16-pittsDancer and choreographer only defines two of Christen Burke Pitts‘s involvement with the arts.  She and her family are also active supporters of the Arkansas film industry and are patrons of all of the performing arts.  But it is in dance that Christen probably makes her largest impact.

Since 1996, she has been the founder and director of the NLRHS Dance Program.  In that capacity, she teaches scores of students each year as well as choreographs musicals, plans workshops, and produces dance performances.  She received the 2012 Governor’s Arts in Education Award from the Arkansas Arts Council and was also named the 2012 Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association Teacher of the Year.

Christen holds her MEd from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a BA in Drama/minor in Dance Performance from the University of Arkansas. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, pointe, and musical theatre with various instructors across the country and trained at workshops/intensives with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, MOMIX, Pilobolus, Luigi, Frank Hatchett, Finis Jhung, Bill Hastings, and many others.

Christen has performed in over fifty shows throughout the South including Damn Yankees at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the Shoji Tabuchi Show and The Crystal Gayle Show in Branson, and numerous industrial shows. She has appeared in local and national commercials, “The Ernest Green Story” on The Disney Channel, and in television specials on The Family Channel. Christen was a company member of the Memphis Dance Ensemble and the University of Arkansas Dance Company.

She has taught dance workshops for the ARC National Performing Arts Camp, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre (Summer Theater Intensive-Camp Rep), Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association, and Arkansas Dance Network. A co-founder of the Arkansas Dance Network, she has also served been affiliated with ACANSA Arts Festival, the THEA Foundation, Arkansas Festival Ballet, and Argenta Community Theatre, among others.

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Creative Class 2016: Bryant Phelan

cc16-phelanDesigner and scientist Bryant Phelan has no interest in choosing between his two passions. He is devoted to exploring both of them.

In 2014, Bryant launched O’Faolain (Gealic for The Wolf), a line of handcrafted luxury leather goods which combine modern design with classic quality.  He shows his work at New York Fashion Week.

His handbags, cuffs, and other designs have been featured in ElleNylon, and Bleep among others.Sharon Needles, Goapele, Johnny Cassanova, Alaska 5000, and Mel B are among his growing legion of fans and patrons.

In addition to being a PhD student in Epidemiology at UAMS, he currently holds a position as a biostatistician on a private research team.  He is looking to become a professor after his PhD is earned.