Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass continues at Arkansas Arts Center

Contraband Bayou, Louisiana - 1941

Contraband Bayou, Louisiana – 1941

As America awaited the declaration of war in the spring of 1941, photographer Edward Weston set out on a cross-country photographic expedition.  Now through April 21, the Arkansas Arts Center is playing host to an exhibit of his photos from that expedition.  Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Weston, one of America’s leading modernist photographers, was making photographs for a new edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The Limited Editions Club of New York commissioned these images to bring together the great nineteenth-century poet’s verbal celebration of America with the great twentieth-century photographer’s visual odyssey.

In accepting the assignment, Weston declined to literally illustrate Whitman’s words, yet the two portraits of America echo one another. Where Whitman’s nineteenth-century verse was shaped by the Civil War, Weston’s images anticipated World War II.

Weston’s trip lasted almost ten months, covering 24 states and nearly 25,000 miles. Weston and his wife, Charis Wilson, drove their trusty Ford, “Walt,” throughout the South, the Mid-Atlantic, New England, and back home to California after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor brought about America’s entry into the war. Weston’s photographs include studies of decaying southern mansions, the Boulder Dam, a homely display of old bottles, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans cemeteries, and haunting portraits of people the photographer met along the way.

Weston’s images form no detached national survey; rather they embody an idiosyncratic personal meditation on selected American places, objects, and people. Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass includes 53 photographs chosen from the approximately 700 negatives Weston developed from the trip.


Science After Dark: The Science of Africa

science_after_darkThe Museum of Discovery, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, UALR and the Little Rock Zoo are partnering to present “The Science of Africa” from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 27, the latest in the Museum of Discovery’s monthly Science After Dark series.

The museum’s Great Hall will come alive with interactive, science-based experiences highlighting the physical and earth sciences of Africa. Dr. Warigia Bowman, assistant professor at the Clinton School, and Joel Gordon, visitor experience director at the Museum of Discovery, have collaborated to plan and execute an engaging series of interactive experiences

Other presenters will include Dr. Amin Akhnoukh of UALR, representatives of the Reptile Rescue Center, members of the education staffs of the Little Rock Zoo and the Museum of Discovery as well as Hamadi Njoroge, owner/operator of African Wildcats Adventure Safaris.

Those attending the 21-and-over-only event full of Africa science-based experiences will get the chance to:

  • Meet some African animals and learn more about many of the continent’s best-known inhabitants.
  • Examine some of the more exotic skeletons of African animals, pulled from the Museum of Discovery’s collection, as well as skulls, hides and other animal artifacts from the Little Rock Zoo.
  • Learn about the science and scientists of Africa, including troubling phenomena like the melting of the snow cap on Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • Explore “The Development of Construction from the Age of the Pharaoh to Modern Egypt,” as Dr. Akhnoukh talks about pyramids, pharaoh temples and newer projects such as the high dam in Aswan, Cairo Tower, the famous Alexandria Library, and the Egyptian Museum.
  • Enjoy African roots-based music.
  • And learn why deep down in our DNA, we are all African.

Dr. Bowman is an expert in the science of Africa. She earned her doctorate degree from Harvard University, where her Ph.D. research centered on the effect of technology in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. She has consulted for many African organizations, including the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, the African Technology Policy Studies Network and the New Economic Partnership for African Development.

Dr. Akhnoukh, a native of Egypt, is an assistant professor of construction engineering at UALR. He has his Ph.D. in construction engineering from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and his masters in civil engineering from Kansas State University. He research focuses on ultra-high strength concrete mixes. Dr. Akhnoukh is a registered professional engineer in Arkansas and Cairo. His board affiliations include serving on the board of the Arkansas chapter of the American Concrete Institute.

Hamadi is an expert on Kenyan animals, including many of the country’s 1,000 bird species as well as wild cats, including lions and leopards, and other important large game species including rhinos, elephants, giraffes and the numerous antelopes that make their home in the vast grasslands of East Africa.

Admission to Science After Dark is $5, free for Museum of Discovery members, and is payable at the door. Bosco’s will provide a cash bar, and visitors will have full access to the 85 interactive exhibits featured in the museum’s three galleries. For more information, visit www.museumofdiscovery.org and “like” Science After Dark on Facebook.


ASO Chamber Concert tonight features Composer of the Year

ASO_2-colorAt tonight’s Arkansas Symphony Orchestra River Rhapsodies concert, ASO Composer of the Year Jennifer Higdon will be featured.

The program consists of Higdon’s Autumn Music and Piano Trio.  Also on the program are Barber’s Summer Music and Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 67.

The musicians for the concert include Diane McVinney, flute; Beth Wheeler, oboe; Kelly Johnson, clarinet; Susan Bell Leon, bassoon; David Renfro, horn; David Gerstein, cello; Kiril Laskarov, violin; Meredith Maddox-Hicks, violin and Tatiana Roitman, piano.

Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon’s work as a “deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.”  She is one of the most performed composers today.  During her time in Little Rock, she has spoken at the Clinton School and been featured in last weekend’s MasterWorks concert.

The concert is at 8pm at the Clinton Presidential Center.


Distinguished Laureate Lecture tomorrow at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, welcomes world-renowned physicist Dr. Oliver Keith Baker for a Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Distinguished Laureate Lecture tomorrow.

Dr. Baker, a McGehee native , will lecture on his ground-breaking research on particle physics, also referred to as Higgs Boson and the ‘God particle.’  He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Dr. Baker is a Professor of Physics at Yale University.  He is also Director of the Arthur W. Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory at Yale.

To bring students, educators should contact our Education Department at 501-683-3592.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center honors the story of the Mosaic Templars of America and all of Arkansas’s African American history.  The museum is dedicated to telling the story of the African American experience in Arkansas. The Center’s name is taken from the Mosaic Templars of America, a black fraternal organization founded in Little Rock in 1883 whose headquarters sat on the prominent West Ninth and Broadway location.

The mission of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is to collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas’s African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American’s achievements – especially in business, politics, and the arts.The center’s exhibits highlight fraternal organizations, African American entrepreneurs as well as integration.


Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Byron R. Morse

20130222-185157.jpgOn February 23, 1917, future Little Rock Mayor Byron R. Morse was born. A founder of the real estate firm of Rector-Phillips- Morse, he was long active in civic affairs of Little Rock.

Mayor Morse was first elected to the City Board of Directors in November 1960. In 1963, he was chosen as Little Rock Mayor. After serving two years as Mayor, he chose to not seek re-election to the City Board. In 1980, he was appointed to the City Board to fill out an unexpired term. He was later asked to fill another unexpired term but declined.

In 1983, he was elected national president of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. Mayor Morse also served as president of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Little Rock United Way, the Little Rock Red Cross, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Little Rock Boy’s Club. He was a member of the Fifty for the Future. On July 25, 2001, Mayor Morse died.


Arkansas Symphony: Truth and Triumph this weekend

20121020-054530.jpgThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra returns with another MasterWorks concert.  Under the baton of Music Director Philip Mann, the program features Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony as well as ASO Composer of the Year Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra.

In a season highlight, hear the ASO fill the Robinson stage with its full orchestral forces in a program of breathtaking power and expressive range.

Shostakovich’s awe-inspiring Tenth Symphony provides an opportunity for the talents, energy, and artistry of your ASO musicians to be showcased to their fullest. Premiered shortly after Stalin’s death in the USSR, this work is a product of its time, but is also imbued with timeless themes seemingly even more evocative today. Shostakovich the man is found in the very notes of the score and the transcendent power of music is displayed as he prevails in a popular masterpiece that begins with tragedy, terror, and violence but leads to an explosive and unforgettably triumphant conclusion.

ASO Composer of the Year, Jennifer Higdon, is highlighted in her Concerto for Orchestra, and the penchant for writing absorbing and compelling melodies that has endeared her to audiences worldwide is on display. Her virtuosity and range as a composer is explored fully in a work of creative contrast, Technicolor orchestration, propulsive rhythms, and an infectious vitality. The Concerto helped to cement Higdon’s position as one of the greatest living composers and in adding to the concerto tradition, she goes beyond highlighting principal musicians, and showcases entire sections, including the percussion with fresh and innovative sounds.

The concert takes place Saturday night at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm at Robinson Center Music Hall.

As always, kids can get in free on Sunday when accompanied by a paying adult as part of the Entergy Kids’ Ticket program.


ASO Composer of Year at Clinton School

UACSThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra works in partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service to participate in the UACS’s Distinguished Speaker Series, hosting special guests who are in Little Rock in conjunction with ASO performances. The latest in these takes place on Friday, February 22 at 12 noon at Sturgis Hall in Clinton Presidential Park.

jenniferhigdonJennifer Higdon is the 2012-2013 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Composer of the Year.  She is one of the most performed living American composers. Her list of commissioners and performing organizations is extensive and includes the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the President’s Own Marine Band, among others.

Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing her work as a “deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.”

This weekend, Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra will be on the ASO’s program.  In addition, she will be featured at the ASO River Rhapsodies Chamber Series on Tuesday, February 26.