Join the Ron Robinson Theater for a FREE public screening of AETN’s newest documentary, History on the Line: Preserving County Courthouses! Doors open at 2:00 p.m. The movie starts at 3:00 p.m.
Historic county courthouses stand as iconic symbols of Arkansas’s development as a state, elegant testaments to justice and important sentries to the history of the state.
History on the Line: Preserving County Courthouses introduces unsung preservationists and architects who travel the state finding ways to rehabilitate a building or, at the very least, fix a leaky roof to save the precious records inside. Also featured are county judges who deal with the financial burden of the historic buildings’ maintenance needs.
“The state is fortunate that the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has helped to restore 79 historic county courthouses since a grant system was put in place to support restoration needs,” AETN Executive Director Courtney Pledger said. “The community pride and local history these structures represent cannot be lost to disrepair.”
The film visits the pristine, stately and recently restored Desha County courthouse in Arkansas City, shares stories from the record room in Madison County, and follows Mississippi County’s political and legal struggle over the viability of maintaining their split judicial district and their two historic county courthouses in Blytheville and Osceola. The documentary follows their struggles while telling stories of preservation and the importance of the historic county courthouses of Arkansas.
Counties featured in the film include Desha County, Madison County, Calhoun County, and Mississippi County.
The screening is sponsored by AETN and the Arkansas Humanities Council.
Architecture and Design Network (ADN) continues its 2018/2019 June Freeman lecture series by welcoming Rick Joy, FAIA, Principal of Studio Rick Joy, a 32 person architecture and planning firm established in 1993 in Tucson, Arizona.
The lecture starts at 6pm at the Arkansas Arts Center. A reception starts at 5:30pm.
From the beginning, each of Studio Rick Joy’s works has been exhibited and published extensively and have won numerous awards. Joy received the 2002 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture and in 2004 won the prestigious National Design Award from the Smithsonian Institute/Cooper-Hewitt Museum. He periodically serves as a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Studio Rick Joy has realized architectural works throughout North America with extensive experience with lifestyle based projects from numerous single family residences to an ultra-lux resort and large scale master-plans. The office has several active residential commissions in New York City, Long Island, Turks and Caicos. Studio Rick Joy is currently completing the prestigious commission of the new Train Station and Campus Gateway Buildings to Princeton University, a luxury resort hotel with private compounds in Mexico, an apartment building in Mexico City and a new luxury boutique hotel in Austin Texas.
Architecture and Design Network lectures are free and open to the public. No reservations are required. Supporters of ADN include the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, the Central Section of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and friends in the community.
Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Arkansas Council are presenting the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards today in a lunchtime ceremony at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.
This year’s recipients are:
- Arts Community Development Award-Steve Clark, Fort Smith
- Arts in Education Award – The Center for Children and Youth, Fayetteville
- Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts Award – Murphy USA, El Dorado
- Folklife Award – Oxford American, Little Rock
- Individual Artist Award – Marjorie Williams-Smith, Little Rock
- Judges Recognition Award – Anthony Tidwell, Hot Springs
- Patron Award – Jim and Joyce Faulkner, Little Rock
- Lifetime Achievement Award – Billie Jo Starr, Fayetteville
In addition to videos highlighting each of the awardees and acceptance speeches, the program will feature remarks by Governor Hutchinson, Department of Arkansas Heritage Director Stacy Hurst and Arkansas Arts Council Director Patrick Ralston.
The recipients will each be presented with a custom made earthenware jar made by Springdale artist Gailen Hudson.
On February 27, 2018, the Arkansas Arts Center unveiled design plans for a renovation that would cost $70 million.
Construction for the museum is scheduled to begin later this year, and the center is expected to open in 2022. The upgrades, led by architecture firm Studio Gang, include new exhibition areas, a children’s theater space, an expanded educational facility, a glass-enclosed walkway, a garden, and the uncovering of the institution’s original facade from 1937. The $24 million budget increase, which does not include additional costs such as architectural or consultants’ fees, will be taken care of by private funds.
Officials originally explained that $50 million in private donations would complement general obligation bonds approved by Little Rock constituents for the expansion of the museum, whose artworks are owned by the nonprofit Arkansas Arts Center Foundation. “It’s a more expensive project than we originally thought it would be,” Studio Gang owner Jeanne Gang said. “You discover things. There’s a lot to it. There’s a lot of, also, ambition for the project to make it visible, to make it really bring the institution up to the next level.”
The building is currently made up of eight different structures that were added over a period of time to the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, built in 1937. Studio Gang’s aim is to offer a more coherent layout, as well as provide additional space for the AAC’s expansive public arts programming of classes, lectures and film showings.
Among the main features of the project is the introduction of a new axis, which will cut through the center of the building. It will lead from the northern entrance facing Crescent Drive to the 36-acre MacArthur Park on the southern side.
Four glazed volumes featuring curved walls and folded roofs will join up to form the axis – a new entrance will be placed at the front with walls angled to open up to the city, while three others will trail towards the park at the rear, ending with a double-height dining room.
Around 127,000 square feet of space will be added or revamped. The enhanced location will feature an edition of British sculptor Henry Moore’s Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge, 1976, which is currently on view in the city’s Union National Plaza.
Polk Stanley Wilcox is the associate architect and SCAPE is the landscape architect. More members of the consulting team were added throughout 2018.
On February 17, 2000, over three thousand people attended the Arkansas Arts Center members preview of the new and renovated galleries as part of a week long celebration. It culminated in Big Art Weekend in which the building was open for 72 hours with around the clock programming.
Donors to the project, media, and Arkansas museum professionals had each received sneak peeks of the new facility earlier in the week. On Friday, February 18, the Big Art Weekend got underway with a gallery tour of a variety of Little Rock galleries. (This was before 2nd Friday Art Night.) Lectures, tours, and other special events populated the building on Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th. In addition, the Children’s Theatre was performing Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp..
The renovation had taken over 18 months and cost $12 million. It added 30,000 square feet of gallery space. The expanded gallery space featured these exhibits: Paul Signac Watercolors and Drawings: Selections from the James T. Dyke Collection; Without Parameters: Selections from the Permanent Collection; Recent Acquisitions; Prophets, Parables and Paradoxes: Recent Drawings by David Bailin; Artistic Processes: Drawing; Living with Form: The Horn Collection of Contemporary Crafts; and European Paintings and Drawings.
The latter exhibit included eight pieces that were promised gifts from the Jackson T. Stephens collection. They were Edgar Degas’ Dance in Blue (Before the Class, Three Dancers (c. late 1880s), Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Red Bull’s Head (1938), Claude Monet’s Apple Trees Near Vetheuil (1878), Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Three Partridges (c. 1888-1890), Alfred Sisley’s Road on the Edge of the Loing (1891), Camille Pissarro’s The Raised Terrace of the Pont-Neuf, Place Henri IV in Morning Rain (1902), Berthe Morisot’s The Flute Player (1890) and Bertrand Redon’s Vase of Flowers (c. 1890).
On February 17, 1980, a cold and clear Sunday morning, over seven decades of Arkansas history came tumbling down as the Hotel Marion and Grady Manning Hotel were imploded.
Thousands of people watched from places in downtown Little Rock and along the Arkansas River. Many more were able to watch from live coverage carried on KATV, KARK and KTHV. Those that missed it were able to see the replays multiple times on the news.
It was the first large-scale implosion in Little Rock’s history. (It was likely the first implosion, but there could have been a small one that is not known.) The two hotels were torn down to make way for the construction of the Excelsior Hotel and the Statehouse Convention Center.
The Hotel Marion, named after the builder Herman Kahn for his wife, opened in 1907. For four years it was Arkansas’ tallest structure. It was the largest and grandest hotel in the City. For decades it would be the host to many dignitaries, conventions, and gala celebrations.
The Grady Manning Hotel was originally known as the Hotel Ben McGhee when it opened in 1930. Manning was the head of the company which owned both the Marion and Ben McGhee properties. Upon his untimely death by drowning in September 1939, the property was subsequently renamed in his memory.
The Manning Hotel, though taller, was never as grand a hotel as the Marion. It was more of a mid-range property in pricing.
By the 1970s, both hotels were suffering from neglect and disinterest. Changes in the lodging industry combined with a decline in downtown Little Rock had left both facilities with little business.
When Little Rock civic and government leaders decided to construct a larger convention center downtown with an adjacent hotel, it was decided that neither of these facilities could be properly renovated to be part of the project. Instead, the land on which they stood (and the space in between) would be prime for the new hotel and center.
So, on the cold Sunday morning, the explosives were detonated, and the buildings came down. Sunday morning was chosen because it would have the least impact on traffic flows since it would cause numerous streets to be closed for safety reasons. The blast was delayed due to a rumor that someone might be in one of the buildings. After checking both sites and finding them empty, the charges were set off.
And the Marion and Grady Manning became as much a memory as the long gone people who had once populated them.
The University of Arkansas’ Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History has a video of the implosion.