A Sculptural Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day.   Little Rock has at least five sculptures which reflect the theme of the day.

In Riverfront Park, Jane DeDecker’s THE TIES THAT BIND shows a father helping his son tie his shoes.  It was installed in tribute to longtime Little Rock KATV executive Dale Nicholson.  He had been an active supporter of Sculpture at the River Market.  It is placed near another sculpture by Jane DeDecker, which Nicholson had selected as a memorial to his wife.

Not far from THE TIES THAT BIND is Kevin Kresse’s BREAKING THE CYCLE.  Installed in 2013, it shows a son pushing his father in a wheelbarrow.  At the time of the dedication, Kresse commented the piece is meant to show a father and son who have decided to “switch things up” for a new perspective on life.  Kresse and his son were the models for the piece.

One of the first sculptures placed in Riverfront Park in 2004 was DeDecker’s ANGLERS. It shows a grandfather and granddaughter going off to fish.  This sculpture is located near the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.

The sculpture was dedicated in November 2004 a few days before the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center.  it was selected, in part, because it paid tribute to the natural habitat of the area.  Since the sculpture was installed, not only has the Nature Center opened, but the Bill Clark Presidential Park Wetlands were created.

Near the Marriott Hotel, in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, is C. T. Whitehouse’s HUDSON’S VOYAGE.  This sculpture is a tribute to his father.

Located near the Arkansas River, it reflects not only the boats and barges which travel by it daily, but is also symbolic of Whitehouse’s father’s service in the Navy and the possibilities that opened up for him.

Lastly, Tim Cherry’s RABBIT REACH is located near 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.

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Commemorate Juneteenth today at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Each year the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hosts a free community Juneteenth festival as a celebration of African American freedom and achievement. This year’s event takes place today from 12 noon until 6pm.

Juneteenth is the oldest national commemoration of its kind, dating back to 1865.

Among  the musicians scheduled to perform at this year’s free Juneteenth celebration are  GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Shanice, Sir the Baptist and special host Larry Dodson of the Bar Kays.

The event will be emceed and co-hosted by Keef Glason of Power 92 FM. Local performers will include 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winner Dazz & Brie, ZaeHD, Chris James and Ron Mac, Big Piph and Tomorrow Maybe, Big John Miller Band, Gold and Glitz, Dunbar Middle School Choir and Mabelvale Drum Line.

In addition, other activities will be happening throughout the day, including vendors, food trucks, living history characters and film screenings. A screening of the documentary “Dreamland” will air at 1 p.m. and “Soul Food Junkies” will air at 3 p.m.

A kids zone will feature face painting, a video game truck, laser tag, rock climbing wall, water tinkering station and more!

Visitors are also invited to learn more about Arkansas history through the African American lens while exploring MTCC’s exhibits, including the new display, “Don’t Touch My Crown,” which opened June 14 and examines the role of hair in how African Americans define themselves and are defined by others, from the late 19th century to the present.

Seating at the performance stage is limited; attendees are invited to bring their own chairs and blankets.

MTCC is located at 501 W. Ninth St, Little Rock, AR 72201. For more information, please call (501) 683-3593 or email info@mosaictemplarscenter.com.

MTCC is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Final day to see Miss Arkansas gowns at Old State House Museum

For the second year in a row, the Old State House Museum has had an exhibit of gowns worn by winners of the Miss Arkansas title.

While many of the gowns are those worn on the night the winner was crowned, among the collection is a gown worn by Helen Gennings, Miss Arkansas 1968. After her win, Helen went with other pageant winners from across the country to entertain troops in Vietnam. The gown has dirt on the sleeve and hem from Vietnam.  As a tribute to the troops, Helen refused to have the dress cleaned.

You can see this and other gowns at the Old State House today from 9am until 5pm.

The Old State House Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Arkansas at 182

Today is the 182nd birthday of the State of Arkansas.  Congress approved it as the 25th state on June 15, 1836.  (On June 22, 1868, Arkansas was readmitted to the union following the Civil War – but it is the first statehood date that is celebrated.)

On January 30, 1836, a convention was held in the Arkansas Territory for the purpose of adopting a constitution which would be submitted as part of a request for statehood.

The law granting statehood also established the state as a judicial district known as the Arkansas District.  The judge for that district would be paid $2,000 a year.  (The equivalent of $52,230 today.)  An attorney for the US was also created. That position would be paid $200 in addition to his stated fees. (The equivalent of $5,223 today)

 

New Off Broadway play LITTLE ROCK opens tonight in NYC

Tonight in New York City, the new play Little Rock, about the events in 1957, officially opens.

Written and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, eleven years ago, he was in a residency at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.  During that time, he created It Happened in Little Rock, which was performed at the Rep in September 2007.  It was their contribution the community events commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the integration of Little Rock Central High.

Though Maharaj’s current production is different from the 2007 Rep production, it was inspired by his time in Little Rock and the connections he made during his residency.

The cast includes Rebekah Brockman, Justin Cunningham, Charlie Hudson III, Ashley Robinson, Stephanie Umoh (who starred in the Arkansas Rep production of Pal Joey), Shanice Williams, Peter O’Connor, Damian Jermaine Thompson (who starred in the Arkansas Rep productions of The Whipping Man and the Scottish Play), Kea Trevett and Anita Welch.

The production officially opens on June 6 and is scheduled for a limited run through September 8.

This production illustrates why theatre is important and Arkansas Repertory Theatre specifically is important.  One, theatre is a chance to explore and explain moments from our past and present.  The Rep saw a role it could play in telling a variety of stories and perspectives while molding a narrative about events in 1957 and progress that had been made (or not) since then.

Additionally, it is important that the Arkansas Repertory Theatre provided an artistic home for a playwright and director to learn.  In addition to working on It Happened in Little Rock, over the years Maharaj directed A Raisin in the Sun, Dreamgirls, and Intimate Apparel for Arkansas Rep.  It was through his experiences in Little Rock in 2004 and 2006, that he was inspired to collaborate with Bob Hupp, Leslie Golden and the Rep staff on It Happened in Little Rock.  Developing a play is not easy, cheap, or quick.  It is vital to the future of theatre to have artistic homes which can support these initiatives.

As the Arkansas Rep is preparing for its “Next Act” it is important to remember the impact it has had artistically and as an agent for community conversation on not only Little Rock but the state of Arkansas.  Sometimes theatre sparks ideas that no other art-form can, or no amount of reading or listening to speeches can.

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

Remembering Sid McMath

Born on June 14, 1912, Sidney Sanders McMath would play a key role in the development of Arkansas throughout the 20th Century.

A veteran of World War II, he was part of a new breed of Arkansas politicians who challenged the “old guard.”  He won election of Prosecuting Attorney in Hot Springs and took on gaming and other corruption.  This propelled him into the Governor’s Office (and to be the first family to reside in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.)

After being defeated in his bid for a third two-year term as governor, McMath returned to being a full-time attorney.  He also remained active in the Marine Corps Reserves, achieving the rank of Major General.  In 1967, he founded the Marine Corps JROTC program at Catholic High School.

After a lifetime of public service, Gov. McMath died on October 4, 2003.

In 2004, the Central Arkansas Library System opened the Sidney Sanders McMath branch library.  A sculpture of him, created by Bryan Massey, Sr. and was commissioned to stand on the campus of the library branch which bears the Governor’s name. It was dedicated in 2006.

This bronze sculpture depicts Gov. McMath in shirt sleeves, slacks and a tie in mid stride. He confidently smiles as he raises his right hand to wave with the hat in the hand. It is based on a photo of the Governor walking in a Little Rock parade along side President Harry S. Truman.

Behind the statue are a series of medallions mounted on individual pedestals which depict scenes from McMath’s life. They are accompanied by a quote from U. S. Senator David H. Pryor “…the best friend Arkansas ever had.”

The plaza is flanked by the United States, Arkansas and Marine Corps flags.

Flag Day 2018

Today is Flag Day.  Here are several photos of the Stars and Stripes taken in Little Rock over the past few years.

Flag at Robinson Center
Flag outside of Tipton & Hurst main store in Heights
Flag outside of Tipton & Hurst main store in Heights
Flag at the Clinton Presidential Center
The red, white and blue stand out against the night sky and limestone of the Arkansas State Capitol.
The red, white and blue stand out against the night sky and limestone of the Arkansas State Capitol.
The stars and stripes unfurled from the balcony of the Capital Hotel.
The stars and stripes unfurled from the balcony of the Capital Hotel.
Flag Day 4
American flags mark the graves of veterans in Mt. Holly Cemetery