A Celebration of Art Porter Sr. tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.

Tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre, Arkansas Sounds is hosting a special presentation of rare video and audio clips and photographs, as well as a panel discussion celebrating the continued legacy and eighty-fifth birthday of Arkansas pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher Art Porter Sr. This event is co-sponsored by AETN.

Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. They can be made here.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

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LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Black History Month – Art Porter Sr. and Robinson Center

bhm art srArthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.  One of the new event spaces in the Robinson Conference Center is named in his memory.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954. The next year, he married Thelma Pauline Minton. Following his marriage, he pursued graduate study at the University of Illinois, University of Texas and Henderson State University.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

John Plays Joni tonight at South on Main featuring John Willis and friends

johnplaysjoniToday is John Willis’ birthday – and we get the present!
“John Plays Joni” is his birthday gift to Little Rock.
Little Rock-based singer/songwriter and founder of Late Romantics band John Willis performs a tribute concert to the music of singer/songwriter legend Joni Mitchell. The program will feature selections from the iconic songwriter’s over 5-decade career in music and give tribute to Mitchell’s genius as a poet and word-painter, a lover, an activist, and as a modern day mystic. Willis will be at the piano and the mic as usual with help from some of Little Rock’s finest musical talents.

Show begins at 8:30 PM with a $10 cover. Call (501) 244-9660 to reserve a table for the show.

John Willis is a singer/songwriter based in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. He writes and performs on piano with insightful lyrics, sensitive arrangements, and lush harmonies that derive from in part from the gospel music of his minister father, Motown groups that were his mother’s favorites, and his classical training at the piano.

Willis has been a featured songwriter in the UALR Songwriter’s Showcase (2011) and on local PBS affiliate AETN’s “On the Front Row” television series (2013). He was a finalist in the 2014 Arkansas Times Musician’s Showcase and has released two EPs, “King of the Cocktail Party” in 2013 and “Bad Boyfriend” with his band Late Romantics in 2015. Willis is an Artist, Inc. Fellow with the Mid-America Arts Alliance and has taught on faculty at the Wildwood Academy of Music and the Arts teaching yoga for young musicians.

Sessions at South on Main is a series of concerts featuring Arkansas artists, curated by one of their own. He is curating the December Sessions. His birthday show will kick off the month; watch the South on Main website and social media for updates on the rest of December.

Little Rock Look Back: AETN goes on the air

Happy 50th Birthday to AETN!

On December 4, 1966, AETN officially went on the air and launched what has been 50 years of arts, history, and educational programming.

KETS, the flagship station, broadcast only in black and white from 1966 until 1972. The focus was only in Central Arkansas until other stations started going on the air in 1976. Today there are a total of six PBS affiliate stations in Arkansas covering not only the entire state, but also portions of the surrounding states.

In the early days, the programming was focused in instructional supplements to teachers.  From 1966 to 1970, AETN was affiliated with the National Educational Television network.  With the advent of PBS, AETN’s programming expanded as many other public television offerings were available.

AETN has brought the best of Broadway, opera houses, ballet, and symphonic halls into houses in Arkansas.  It has broadcast sweeping historical programs which have educated, enlightened and entertained audiences.  The educational programming has nurtured creativity in budding artists.

Quite simply, without AETN, the cultural landscape of Arkansas would be vastly different.

RobinsoNovember: Art Porter Sr.

bhm art srAs part of the new Robinson Center, nine Little Rockians (Little Rockers?) have been enshrined by having spaces in the building named after them.  One of those is Art Porter Sr.

Arthur Lee (Art) Porter Sr. was a pianist, composer, conductor, and music teacher. His musical interest spanned from jazz to classical and spirituals.

Born on February 8, 1934 in Little Rock, he began his music education at home. He played in church at age eight; played his first recital at twelve; and, by fourteen, hosted a half-hour classical music radio program on KLRA-AM. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Arkansas AM&N College (now UAPB) in May 1954. The next year, he married Thelma Pauline Minton. Following his marriage, he pursued graduate study at the University of Illinois, University of Texas and Henderson State University.

He began his teaching career at Mississippi Valley State University in 1954.  When he was drafted into the Army, his musical talents were responsible for him being assigned as a chaplain’s assistant in New York.  In the late 1950s he returned to Little Rock and taught at Horace Mann High School, Parkview High School and Philander Smith College.

He also started playing piano jazz in the evenings. This led to the creation of the Art Porter Trio, which became THE music group for events.  Many musicians who came to Arkansas to perform in Little Rock or Hot Springs would often stop by and join in with Porter as he played.  From 1971 to 1981 he hosted The Minor Key musical showcase on AETN.  His Porterhouse Cuts program was shown in 13 states.

Often encouraged to tour, he instead chose to stay based in Arkansas.  He did, from time time, perform at jazz or music festivals.   He also performed classical piano with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, founded the Art Porter Singers, and created a music group featuring his four oldest children.  Though Porter received many honors and awards, he found particular satisfaction in the “Art Porter Bill” enacted by the state legislature, which allowed minors to perform in clubs while under adult supervision. Porter’s children thus were able to perform with him throughout the state. Governor Bill Clinton, at the time a huge fan and friend of Porter, often joined Porter’s group on his saxophone.

In January 1993, Porter and his son Art Porter, Jr., performed at festivities in Washington DC for the Presidential Inauguration of his friend Bill Clinton.  In July 1993, he died of lung cancer.  Today his legacy lives on in the Art Porter Music Education Fund as well as in the lives of the many musicians and fans he touched.  He was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994.

2015 In Memoriam – “Miss Polly” Loibner

1515 Loibner

In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.

“Miss Polly” Loibner taught Arkansas how to draw!

In the late ’60s, when television in the schools was almost unheard of, the Arkansas Education Television Network sought an art educator to teach elementary-age children across the state via the airwaves, and Frances Pauline “Polly” Loibner took the job.

Using her signature puppets, became THE elementary art teacher for most Arkansans, producing 13 art series for AETN, including “Polly’s Paintbox,” “Everyday Artist,” “Art Parade,” “Sketch Pad,” and “Gazebo.” She did not talk down to kids, but she DID break artistic tasks down into smaller sections to make things easier to do.

Following her 14 years on AETN, Loibner became artist-in-residence for Russellville Public Schools.  Later, she and her husband opened Vango Galleries, billed “a home of fine arts and creative framing,” in Russellville.

Not just a talented teacher, she was also a talented artist. She liked to work in charcoal, pastels, ink and dry brush, acrylics, paints, mixed media and oils.

“I love the drama of nature and I am very happy painting in the open, surrounded by beauty, smells, sounds and feelings,” Loibner to University of the Ozarks when she was a featured artist. “Sometimes the finished painting is an impression of the moment; other times the painting is more abstract. There are times my work shows the struggle; others show the flow of feelings through the brush stroke and the excitement of colors, more real than real. There is no better life on this earth than painting.”

A graduate of University of Central Arkansas, Loibner has won numerous honors and recognition for her work, including Best-In-Show and first place in the contemporary category in the annual Grand Prairie Festival of Arts. Her paintings are in numerous public and private collections throughout Arkansas, as well as in many other states and Mexico.

Loibner was an active member of Mid-Southern Watercolor Society, Southern Watercolor Society, Arkansas League of Artists, National Art Education Association, Arkansas River Valley Art Center, Arkansas Education Association, ART of Russellville, AR Retired Teachers Association and Puppeteers of America.