Easter Parade of Bunnies

Little Rock has at least four different sculptures of rabbits.  Since today is Easter Sunday and the Easter Bunny is making his rounds, it seems a good day to highlight these sculptures.

RB MonThe newest sculpture is Dan Ostermiller’s R. B. Monument.  A gift to the citizens of Little Rock by the Little Rock Garden Club, it was dedicated in 2017.

Located at the southeast corner of Kavanaugh and Pierce, this rabbit has quickly become a landmark. It is a favorite for kids and adults as they walk or drive by.  The rabbit is situated so that people can easily pose for photos with it, without the photographer having to stand in the street.  At Christmas and Easter, the rabbit has been bedecked with an appropriate wreath to add to its festive nature.

Bun BumIn the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, Laurel Peterson Gregory’s Bunny Bump has been providing whimsy since 2010.

After she sculpts an animal in wax or oil-based clay, traditional lost-wax casting processes immortalize the design in bronze. One aspect of particular interest to me, and one for which I plan early in the sculpting phase, is the complex and rich patinas that constitute another hallmark of my limited-edition sculptures. Multiple layers of chemicals and oxides are applied to the heated bronze to achieve a range of unique effects, both translucent and opaque, that complement each design.

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.

LopsA few yards from the bumping bunnies, James Paulsen’s Lopsided presents a much more laconic rabbit.

Paulsen is a self-taught artist. Alternately studying the wilds of the northern forest, and the open beauty of the American Southwest, he concentrates his work on natural subjects he has grown up with, and is heavily influenced by his family’s artistic background, being raised by an artist-illustrator and an author. In his work, he explores merging the beauty he sees in the natural world with the expressiveness of clay and bronze.

While having most of his work in galleries or private collections across the country, he has recently completed two public commissions

And at the corner of President Clinton Avenue and Sherman Street, Tim Cherry’s Rabbit Reach welcomes visitors to the River Market.

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.


Tartan Day – BRIGADOON appears in Little Rock for the first time in 1951

April 6 is Tartan Day – a chance to pay tribute to the achievements of Scots in the U.S.  It is also a good chance to wear plaid.

On January 17 and 18, 1951, the Broadway musical Brigadoon materialized at Robinson Memorial Auditorium for its first visit to Little Rock.  This musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe is a Scottish fantasy about a town that materializes for one day every 100 years.

First performed on Broadway in 1947, it was revived at New York City Center in 1950. It was that production that toured in 1951 to Little Rock.  The production was produced by John Yorke (who had worked on the original Broadway production) and brought to Little Rock by Metropolitan Attractions.

The cast was led by future Tony nominee Susan Johnson.  Others in the cast were Elizabeth Early, Robert Busch, Betty Logue and Thaddeus Clancy. All had appeared at City Center, though some in different roles than on the tour.  This touring production featured the original Broadway creative team from 1947 with direction by Robert Lewis, choreography by Agnes de Mille (who won a Tony for it, at the first ceremony), scenery by future Tony winner Oliver Smith, costumes by Tony winner David Ffolkes, lighting by Peggy Clark, and orchestrations by Ted Royal.

Over the years, Brigadoon has resurfaced in Little Rock in community theatre and school productions.  But this was the first time that tartans of the MacLaren, Dalrymple, Brockie and Anderson clans first appeared in Little Rock.

Tartan Day, celebrate all things Scottish, visit the Brownlee House at HAM

Photo by Larry Pennington

Today is Tartan Day, designated to celebrate the contributions of Scots everywhere.

One of Little Rock’s oldest structures, the Brownlee House was built by a Scotsman.  The Brownlee House is one of the restored structures at Historic Arkansas Museum.

Robert Brownlee built this Federal style brick house in the late 1840s for his brother and sister-in-law. A Scottish stonemason, Brownlee came to Little Rock in 1837 to help build the State House (now the Old State House Museum). He pursued a number of careers before leaving for California in the 1849 Gold Rush. From the late 1840s through 1852, the home’s residents were James and Isabelle Brownlee and Tabby, a woman enslaved by James Brownlee.

Brownlee had the wooden mantels in the parlor and bedroom marbleized, a popular decorative art of the time. The home’s furnishings reflect the mid-19th century.

This house is a project of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Arkansas.

Historic Arkansas Museum is open seven days a week.  The galleries are free, but the tours of the historic structures have a nominal fee.  It is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Little Rock Look Back: 19th Century Mardi Gras in LR

In the era immediately after the Civil War, Mardi Gras was a major event in Little Rock.  By the 1870s, newspapers would have stories for several days about preparations for parties and parades which would be followed by coverage summarizing the events.

For instance, the Ash Wednesday 1877 edition of the Arkansas Gazette carried a front page story that discussed Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Memphis.  Inside the paper there were a series of stories about the downtown Little Rock Mardi Gras parade.  It started at Markham and Rock Streets.  Because of the crowd assembled for it, organizers had to reroute the parade that afternoon.

Among the entries were the Fat Men’s Club, Butchers’ Benevolent Association (which rode on horses), the Mystic Krewe, and several trade groups.  In addition there were many people who marched along in masks.  The unnamed writer bemoaned the fact that the masked revelers’ clothing had no theme.

On Thursday, February 15, 1877, there were stories about some of the Mardi Gras balls which had taken place two nights earlier.  The paper’s deadline probably was earlier than the parties ended, which is why they were not in the paper until two days later.  Among the various events were the Knights of Pythian Ball at the Grand Opera House, the aforementioned Fat Men at a special pavilion set up in the Main Street Cotton Shed, the Mystic Krewe at O’Haras Hall, and the Cosmopolitans at Concordia Hall.  There were other events that the writer was not able to attend due to lack of time.

Some of the venues also played host to balls in advance of Mardi Gras.  The February 10 Gazette previews some events set for Friday and Saturday night.

By the start of the 20th Century, Mardi Gras was no longer a major social event in Little Rock.  But while it lasted, it was quite the production.  It appealed to all classes and races of Little Rock’s citizenry. Though most of the events were segregated, the parade did allow for African Americans to participate as well as the white revelers.

Lunar New Year – Year of the Pig

Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year. This year is the Year of the Pig!

To celebrate this, here is a photo of Sandy Scott’s River Market Pig.  It is located in Riverfront Park adjacent to the River Market pavilions.

River Market Pig was one of the initial six sculptures installed in the River Market area and dedicated in November 2004 on the Sunday prior to the opening of the Clinton Library.


Macaws predict arrival of Spring today at Little Rock Zoo

Don’t watch a groundhog look for his shadow, experience the first EVER public flight of the Little Rock Zoo’s macaws!

The newest addition to the our Zoo Program, Zoo staff have been training them for public flight.

These beautiful birds will let Little Rock know if it will experience more winter by flying to our Ice Queen or if citizens should get ready for warmer weather by flying to our Princess of Fire.

Saturday February 2, 2019, at 11am at the Little Rock Zoo in Café Africa.

Regular admission to the Zoo applies.

Arkansas State Archives, Black History Commission sponsoring MLK program

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“Looking Back, Moving Forward—Together”

The Arkansas State Archives and Black History Commission of Arkansas are joining with Bethel AME Church and the 12th District AME to sponsor an event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It will be today at 3pm at the Bethel AME Church.

At the program, speakers will remember his legacy through worship as well as with the keynote address by former Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater. A Marianna native, he served on the staff of Governor Bill Clinton before having leadership roles during President Clinton’s administration.

Slater is an attorney at Washington, D.C., law firm Squire Patton Boggs. In 1993 Slater became the first  In 1997, he was appointed to be the Secretary of Transportation.

For more information, call 501-374-9948.