Happy Birthday to Diego Rivera

Today is the birthday of Diego Rivera.  He is one of the Culture Vulture favorite artists, so any excuse to discuss him and his relationship with the Rockefeller family is greatly appreciated.

One of Rivera’s masterpieces is 1914’s Portrait of Two Women which is part of the permanent collection of the Arkansas Arts Center. The official name is Dos Mujeres.  It is a portrait of Angelina Beloff and Maria Dolores Bastian.  The former was Rivera’s first wife.

This oil on canvas stands six and a half feet tall and five and a half feet wide.

Influenced by cubists such as Picasso, Rivera adopted fracturing of form, use of multiple perspective points, and flattening of the picture plane.  Yet his take on this style of painting is distinctive.  He uses brighter colors and a larger scale than many early cubist pictures. Rivera also features highly textured surfaces executed in a variety of techniques.

The painting was a gift to the Arkansas Arts Center by Abby Rockefeller Mauzé, sister of Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.  At the 1963 opening of the Arkansas Arts Center, James Rorimer, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, remarked several times to Arts Center trustee Jeane Hamilton that the Met should have that piece. Jeane politely smiled as she remarked, “But we have it.”

Of all her brothers, Abby was closest to Winthrop. The other brothers, at best ignored, and at worst, antagonized the two.  Given the complicated relationship of Rivera with members of the Rockefeller family, it is not surprising that if Abby were to have purchased this piece, she would donate it to a facility with close ties to Winthrop.

(Though the Rockefeller brothers had Rivera’s mural at Rockefeller Center destroyed, he maintained a cordial relationship with their mother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller — well as cordial as an anti-social Communist could be with the doyenne of capitalist NYC Society.)

Diego’s third (and fourth) wife Frida Kahlo will be the feature of an upcoming exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center.

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Little Rock Look Back: Studio Gang announced as lead architect for re-envisioning of Arkansas Arts Center

On December 6, 2016, the Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) announced the selection of Studio Gang as design architect for its upcoming building project.

The five firms selected as finalists were Allied Works (Portland, Ore./New York), Shigeru Ban (New York/Paris/Tokyo, Japan), Studio Gang (Chicago/New York), Thomas Phifer (New York) and Snohetta (Oslo, Norway/New York/San Francisco).

Studio Gang was deemed the best fit for the project due to the firm’s elegant and smart approach to architecture, their understanding of the issues posed by the AAC’s current facility, their vision for the center as a cultural beacon for Central Arkansas and their commitment to sustainability and strength as urban planners.

Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an award-winning architecture and urbanism practice based out of Chicago and New York. A recipient of the 2013 National Design Award, Jeanne Gang was also named the 2016 Archiitect of the Year by the Architectural Review and the firm was awarded the 2016 Architizer A+ award for Firm of the Year.

Studio Gang is recognized internationally for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities and environments. The firm has extensive knowledge in museum, theatre and artist studio spaces, with projects ranging from the Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Ill. to the Aqua Tower in Chicago to the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Since their selection, Studio Gang has brought on a variety of other members of the consultant team including:

In February 2018, Studio Gang released their first designs for the project.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Holiday Open House on December 2 from 2pm to 5pm

Image may contain: foodMosaic Templars Cultural Center will celebrate the holiday season with its annual Holiday Open House, featuring the sixth annual “Say it Ain’t Say’s” Sweet Potato Pie Contest, from 2-5 p.m. on Dec. 2.

In addition to the baking competition, the Holiday Open House will feature performances by several local musical groups and performers. The museum will also host a holiday craft-making station for children.

The “Say it Ain’t Say’s” Contest derives its name from Little Rock restaurateur Robert “Say” McIntosh who is known for his popular sweet potato pies. A panel of celebrity judges will select first- and second-place winners in both the amateur and professional categories, and a “People’s Choice” award will be determined by open taste-tasting beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Open to the public, MTCC’s Holiday Open House is a free event, though visitors are encouraged to bring a toy to donate to the Stop the Violence organization, which was founded by Robert “Say” McIntosh.

For more information, please call (501) 683-3593 or visit mosaictemplarscenter.com.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Admission is free, and a trolley will be available to take patrons between Old State House MuseumHistoric Arkansas Museum and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, as well as the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, at no charge.

The Old State House Holiday Open House is Sunday, December 2

No automatic alt text available.Help ring in the holiday season at the Old State House Museum on Sunday, December 2, at Holiday Open House!

Visitors will find the Old State House colorfully decorated for the season, and local music groups will perform delightful carols. Fun, hands-on activities will be available to children; they can create unique holiday cards and more.

The hours are 1pm to 5pm, and admission is free.

Schedule of performances at Old State House Museum:

1:30 — Bethel Middle School Bryant
2:00 — Little Rock Central High School Madrigals
2:30 — Sweet Adelines, Top of the Rock
3:00 — Clarksville High School Choir
3:30 — Forest Heights STEAM Middle School Choir
4:00 — JA Fair High School Choir
4:30 — Pine Bluff High School Choir

The Old State House Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  A trolley will be available to take patrons between Old State House MuseumHistoric Arkansas Museum and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, as well as the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, at no charge

51st annual Historic Arkansas Museum Christmas Frolic on December 2 from 1pm to 4pm

Sunday, December 2 is the 51st annual Historic Arkansas Museum Christmas Frolic!

The Frolic celebrates Christmas as it was in the 1800s with living history, carols, reenactments, live music, dancing and more.

Visitors come from across Arkansas each year to sample Historic Arkansas Museum’s famous hot cider and ginger cake, and to shop for unique Arkansas-made holiday gifts in the Museum Store.

Frolickers will enjoy a variety of activities for children and adults, including: living history performances and pioneer games.

This event runs from 1pm to 4pm and is free.

Historic Arkansas Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.  A trolley will be available to take patrons between Old State House MuseumHistoric Arkansas Museum and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, as well as the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, at no charge

Little Rock Culture Vulture Blog Hits a Milestone

Founded in October 2011, the Little Rock Culture Vulture blog passed a milestone today. It has had over 300,000 views during that 7 years and one month.  Considering that it averaged about 10 views a day during the first three months, this accomplishment is a moment to brag.

When it was started, I was unsure if anyone would care. This entry is the 3,874th post on the blog.  Over 10,400 organizations, people, events, pieces of art and works of literature, or historical facts have been featured.

To all the readers and those who post about it on social media, let me say “Thank you!”

The Arkansas Arts Center’s Kelly Fleming honored as Fundraising Professional of the Year

At the 2018 AFP National Philanthropy Day, Kelly Kinard Fleming of the Arkansas Arts Center was honored by the Arkansas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as the Fundraising Professional of the Year!

(This honor also garnered her the front cover of this month’s INVITING ARKANSAS – featured with this entry.)

As the AAC’s Director of Development, Kelly is a proven fundraising professional with a commitment to philanthropy.  She leads a staff which continues to surpass annual goals of approximately $2 million, as well as surpassing special event goals, and founded the Townsend Wolfe Society, a planned giving program.

Kelly is an integral part of the AAC’s recent completion of its strategic plan, its re-accreditation, and its aggressive building project and capital campaign.

Prior to coming to the Arkansas Arts Center, Kelly served in fundraising at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Heifer Foundation. She is a member of the Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission, and has been an active supporter of many Little Rock arts organizations.