Fright Night at the Museum

frightTonight there is a chance to spend Halloween at one of Little Rock’s historic sites.

The 1836 Club presents Fright at the Museum on Thursday, October 31st from 7 to 10 p.m. This 21 and up party will be held at the Old State House Museum. Costumes are optional but encouraged. Dinner, drinks and live music will be provided.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $40/person at For more information call (501) 324-8647. The 1836 Club is a non-profit friends group that supports the Old State House Museum.

Some over the years have claimed that the Old State House is haunted, though staff have dismissed this.  The ghosts have been alleged to have been Rep. J. J. Anthony who was stabbed in a fight there, Speaker of the House John Wilson who killed Anthony, or even Joseph Brooks who made a claim to be governor of the state and was removed from office after President Grant intervened.  This building has also been a site of the University of Arkansas med school, which brings about its whole other set of options.

While the building may not be haunted, it is historic.  And will certainly be the site of a fun evening.

Science After Dark Tonight

scienceafterdarkThe Museum of Discovery’s monthly adults-only Science After Dark explores “The Science of Fear” this month.  With this being the Halloween season, tonight, Wednesday, October 30 from 6-8 p.m. the program is looking at fear.

Face your fears as your learn the science behind fear.  (And for some people when they were in school, a fear WAS science.) There will be creepy live animals, a phobia tent, spooky films, insect eating (optional) and UAMS students will discuss two conditions that affect the way the brain and body process fear.

They’ll also be a costume contest so wear your Halloween best!

Tickets are $5 or free for members. There will be a cash bar.

Science after Dark occurs the last Wednesday of each month from 6pm to 8pm. Museum educators pick a science-related topic, and develop an event around it. The event is for ages 21 and older.

It is a great chance to explore the museum’s exhibits and enjoy downtown Little Rock.


Ted Schaal Receives 2013 Sculpture at the River Market Public Art Monument Commission

Ted-Schaal-RenderingAt the recent “A Night in the Garden” party, guests chose the recipient of the third annual public art monument design competition.  The three finalists were Lorri Acott’s On the Shoulders of Giants, Mark Leichliter’s Through the Looking Glass and Ted Schaal’s Open Window.  At stake was a $60,000 commission and placement of the sculpture in Riverfront Park.

The winner was Schaal.

Ted Schaal graduated from Colorado State University, class of 1992, with a BFA concentrating on fiber arts and sculpture. He has been working as an artist and craftsman in Loveland since 1993. Ted chooses to produce his work in bronze and stainless steel so that his pieces will withstand the harshest of natural elements and should last for many generations.

Between 1993 and 2005 Ted’s work focused on functional designs in the form of boxes, treasuries and reliquaries. You will find mountain scenes, native flowers and Art Deco inspired designs embellishing the intricately carved exterior. Some special pieces have hand-woven tapestries adorning the interior walls. “I sculpt functional forms that are designed to enhance the everyday experiences of the user by creating a special and sometimes sacred interaction with the personalized contents of each piece.”

In 2004, he began using his corrugated texture to create strong geometric vessel forms. They are non-functional purely decorative objects for the home. The final compositions are reminiscent of artifacts from antiquity, designed to raise questions about their origins as well as their implied functions.

Recently, Ted has been exploring strong geometric forms in combination with a primitive corrugated texture, smooth and polished surfaces. The goal is an interesting juxtaposition of materials and surface textures. Moving away from the utilitarian boxes and non-functional vessels of his past, Ted’s new work is purely sculptural emphasizing strong horizontal balance, tension, and negative space. Larger forms frame and direct the viewer toward a focal point or focal space. “Functional objects have size limitations whereas sculpture does not.”

Ted publicly exhibits his work in galleries and juried exhibitions in Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas and Texas. He has established a collector base that stretches from New Hampshire to California and across the Oceans to Hawaii, Spain and Japan. His public placements include: The Compass Rose with Solstice Markers (2004) Washington University, St. Louis, MO. The Mirage Monument (2008) Cerritos Sculpture Garden, Cerritos, CA. The Mirage (2007) Sculpture Garden at Riverfront Park, Little Rock, AR.

A list of award winning exhibitions includes: “2005 Bacchus 4th Annual Juried Art Exhibition and Auction,” Denver CO. – Best of Show, 3D. “2005 Conifer Arts Festival,” Conifer CO. – Best of Show, Sculpture. “34th Annual CHUN Capitol Hill Peoples Fair,” Denver CO. – Best of Show, Sculpture. “7th Annual Colorado Arts Festival,” Denver CO. – Best in Show. “2005, 2006, 2007 Englewood Arts National Juried Art Show,” Englewood CO. “The 1993 Wood, Glass, Fiber, Metal and Clay Art Show,” Steamboat Springs CO. – First Place Hope Chest, Second Place Circle.

The 2011 recipient was Chapel for The Center.  Last year, Arkansan Bryan Massey won with Nautilus.

Little Rock Film Fest Honoree and Movie Icon Hal Needham Dies

Photo courtesy of Little Rock Film Festival

In June 2011, legendary movie stuntman and director Hal Needham attended the Little Rock Film Festival.  While there, Needham, director of the classic film Smokey and the Bandit, was interviewed on a panel by Tim Basham from Paste Magazine.  He started out as a stunt man, and later a stunt coordinator, before he went on to direct.  He worked with John Wayne on 8 films.

He wrote about his life and career in the book Stuntman.  It tells the story of how a kid from rural Arkansas with an eighth grade education became the highest paid stuntman in the world and went on to direct American classics.

While Needham was in town for the Film Festival, he was gracious and enthusiastic as he visited with fans and filmmakers.  As the 2011 Little Rock Film Festival closed out, Hal Needham was presented with the Diamond Award for Career Excellence in Filmmaking at the awards gala at the Clinton Presidential Library.

Little Rock Look Back: Early Organization of Little Rock


Little Rock was designated as the capitol of Arkansas in 1821. But by 1825 the settlement know as Little Rock was little more than a loosely defined group of structures. One hundred and eighty-eight years ago today, on October 27, 1825, Territorial Governor George Izard signed legislation which started establishing a framework for Little Rock to function as a city.

It established that Little Rock citizens could elect a board of trustees to decide matters. Those trustees would choose one of their own to be a presiding officer. Though Little Rock would not be officially incorporated until 1831, this was the first step towards incorporation. The first trustees, elected for 1826, were Robert Crittenden, Joseph Henderson, Nicholas Peay, Bernard Smith and Isaac Watkins. Smith was chosen to be the presiding officer.

Crittenden had been largely responsible for the relocation of the capitol to Little Rock, where he owned a lot of land. He was a major political force in Arkansas politics during the territorial days. Watkins was a nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had established the first tavern in Little Rock in 1821 and later he first mill in 1826. He was murdered in 1827 and the perpetrator was never captured.

Peay bought the tavern from Watkins in 1826 and continued in the tavern and hotel business the rest of his life. He later served on the Little Rock City Council and was acting mayor. His son Gordon Neil Peay served as Mayor of Little Rock. The Peay family also cofounded Worthen Bank and Christ Episcopal Church. Nicholas Peay’s great-great grandson Joseph B. Hurst, Sr. served on the Little Rock City Board from 1967 to 1970. Mr. Hurst’s daughter-in-law, Stacy, is currently on the City Board.

Little Rock Look Back: Mayor Pratt Remmel

PrattRemmel-2bOn October 26, 1915, future Little Rock Mayor Pratt Cates Remmel was born.  He was one of five children of Augustus Caleb and Ellen Lucy Remmel.  His father died when he was five, leaving his mother to raise five children by herself.  After graduating from high school in 1933, he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia in 1937.  During World War II, he held the rank of Lieutenant in the US Navy.

The Remmel family had long been involved in politics.  A great-uncle had been the GOP nominee for governor and senator as well as serving on the GOP national committee.  Remmel’s father had been the state GOP chair and his mother was the Arkansas Republican national committeewoman for nearly three decades.  In 1938, shortly after returning from college, Remmel ran for the Little Rock City Council but did not win.  In 1940, he became chairman of the Pulaski County Republican Executive Committee. For the next several decades, he held various leadership posts in the GOP at the county, state and national level.

Remmel made his second bid for public office in 1951 when he challenged incumbent LR Mayor Sam Wassell, who was seeking a third term.  Wassell shared the often held belief at the time that the GOP could not win any races in Arkansas because of the aftereffects of Reconstruction.  Remmel ran a vigorous campaign and won by a 2-to-1 margin becoming Little Rock’s first Republican mayor since Reconstruction.  In 1953, he sought a second two year term and was re-elected.  Though he had worked to build the GOP in Arkansas, he did not emphasize party affiliation in this campaign. He stressed he had been “fair to all and partial to none.”  This campaign included a rally which was aired live on six LR radio stations at the same time, a first for Arkansas. He won by over 3,000 votes this time over alderman Aubrey Kerr.

The Mayor (r) presenting Key to Little Rock to Key Club International President

The Mayor (r) presenting Key to Little Rock to Key Club International President

Remmel had been mentioned as a potential candidate for US Senate or Congress in 1954.  Instead, he ran for governor and was defeated by Orval Faubus in his first race for the office.  Remmel did receive more votes for governor than any GOP candidate had since reconstruction.  He is credited with laying the groundwork for the future successful campaigns of Winthrop Rockefeller.

A month before the election in 1955, Remmel announced he would seek a 3rd term as Mayor.  While later admitting he should have stuck with the customary two terms, he also said he ran to give voters an alternative to the Democratic nominee Woodrow Mann.  Mann, like Remmel, was in the insurance business; Remmel considered Mann to have a questionable reputation.  Several statewide Democratic leaders campaigned for Mann, who beat Remmel by 1,128 votes, one of Little Rock’s closest mayoral elections.

As Mayor, Remmel served in leadership positions with the US Conference of Mayors and the Arkansas Municipal League.  It was during his tenure as mayor that the land which is now Rebsamen Golf Course was given to the City.

After he left office, Remmel returned to business interests and staying active in civic affairs.   He was an active leader of First United Methodist Church and Gideons International.  He was a Mason, a Shriner, a member of the American Legion, and the American Red Cross.   Remmel served on the Arkansas River Basin Commission and chairman of the Arkansas Waterways Commission.  In 1996, he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas River Hall of Fame.

Married for many years to Catherine Couch, the couple had three children, Pratt Jr., Cathie and Rebecca.  Lake Catherine in Arkansas is named for his wife. Remmel Park and Pratt Remmel Road in Little Rock are named for Mayor Remmel.

Mayor Remmel died on May 14, 1991.  He and Catherine (who died in 2006) are buried in Oakland Cemetery.

SORCERER’S APPRENTICE at Children’s Theater

As the state’s premiere center for visual and performing arts with a renowned collection of international art, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will present The Sorcerer’s Apprentice October 25 – November 10.

The audience will love this fun-filled, popular rendition of a thoroughly modern young girl on a magical journey when she meets a mysterious medieval sorcerer’s apprentice. The production is written by Alan Keith Smith and is based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“This Children’s Theatre production brings to life an exciting magical world while reminding us that our actions have consequences,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “This tale of morality is a wonderful experience for the whole family to share and the relatable characters give the story an entirely new dimension on stage.”

The cast for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice includes: John Isner, Tanner Barry, Mark Hansen, Jeremy Matthey, Moriah Patterson, Veronica Lowry, Sissy Quaranta, Sarah Nicholson, Huner Wood, Sophie Wacaster, Margaret Lowry, Brooke Melton, Mattingly Bartole, Savanna Fischer, Erin Fowler, Ben Fish, Montana Bartole and Kate Kelly.

Keith Smith is the director, playwright and scene designer for the production. Artistic direction by Bradley Anderson, choreography by Moriah Patterson, costumes are designed by Nikki Webster, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Penelope Poppers, musical direction by Lori Isner, properties by Miranda Young, children’s acting coach is Aleigha Morton and Sarah Gasser is the stage manager.

Presenting sponsors for the event are Landers Fiat and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The production is also sponsored by Centennial Bank, JPMS Cox, PLLC with in-kind support provided by Boulevard Bread Company.

Recognized by The Drama League as one of the best regional theatre companies in America, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is the only professional company in Arkansas that produces children’s literary works for the stage. Since 1979, Children’s Theatre has been creating unique experiences for family audiences. During the 2012-13 season, nearly 43,000 children and families enjoyed Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre productions which included more than 200 schools across Arkansas.