Final day to visit current Arkansas Arts Center galleries

At 5pm today, the galleries of the Arkansas Arts Center will close in MacArthur Park. They will not reopen until sometime in the first half of 2022.

While Arkansas Arts Center programming will continue in its Riverdale location and at various partner sites, the galleries, as they have been configured since February 2000, will be changed forever.  When the Arkansas Arts Center reopens in MacArthur Park, there will be new gallery spaces.

The current exhibits are:

  • Pop! Out of the Vault: Andy Warhol’s Little Red Book
  • Then, Now, Next: Reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center
  • 58th Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition
  • 61st Annual Delta Exhibition

Today also marks the final chance to eat at Watercolor in the Park.  Though the famous Petit and Keet Sunday Brunch will continue at the namesake restaurant, this will be the final time to enjoy it in MacArthur Park.

Museum School classes and youth summer programming will continue in MacArthur Park through the remainder of the summer sessions.  The Museum School will start the Autumn Quarter of classes in the new Riverdale location in September.

Warhol, Lichtenstein and More as Arkansas Arts Center opens POP! Out of the Vault exhibit

Mini Frog Sub

David Gilhooly, American (Auburn, California, 1943 – 2013, Newport, Oregon), Mini Frog Sub, 1980, hand-built, glazed low-fire whiteware, 2 ¼ x 1 3/8 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift from the Diane and Sandy Besser Collection, 1987.043.003.

POP! Out of the Vault, on view February 19 through July 7, 2019 at the Arkansas Arts Center, features more than 50 works from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection by some of Pop Art’s most influential figures, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Mel Ramos.

In 2013, the Arkansas Arts Center received a book of Polaroids by Andy Warhol as a gift from the Warhol Foundation. Throughout his career, Warhol was fascinated with Polaroids. In the 1970s, long before digital photography, these photographs that instantly developed themselves were a wonder – and very convenient for artists. The “Prince of Pop Art” made hundreds of Polaroids as sketches for his Pop Art portraits. The Arts Center’s 1975 Little Red Book #9 (Warhol produced hundreds of such books) features images of Easha McCleary. The Polaroids served as source material for a portfolio of prints related to a suite of 105 paintings, both titled Ladies and Gentlemen and commissioned by an Italian art dealer.

To show Warhol’s Polaroids of drag queens and transgender women of color in context, the curators of the Arkansas Arts Center went to the vaults in search work by of Warhol’s peers. They found a treasure trove of Pop Art and art from related movements.

POP! Out of the Vault will feature some rare examples of the first iterations of Pop Art, which arose in Britain in the 1950s. There, the artists of the Independent Group created collages that used American magazine pictures to mock the commercialism of contemporary life. Eduardo Paolozzi, a leading Independent Group artist, made collages, but also gathered popular imagery in prints, drawings, and sculptures like the Arts Center’s Triple Fuse.

In the early 1960s, young American artists created their own, independent version of Pop Art as they turned away from the hyper-expressive Abstract Expressionist works that had dominated American art through the 1940s and 1950s. Lichtenstein, Warhol, Oldenburg, and  Ramos were among the first American Pop artists. They shocked art critics by making fine art paintings and sculpture that appropriated mass-produced commercial images.

Lichtenstein used the colorful, hard-edged visual language of commercial art to reimagine a procession of different artistic subjects and movements from comic books to Cubism. Warhol mass-produced his paintings and prints of soup cans and celebrities using silkscreen – a process previously only used to print posters and packaging. Oldenburg turned the dignified tradition of monumental sculpture on its head with his giant hamburgers and clothes pins. Ramos, who was working in California while the others worked on the East Coast, appropriated images of Superman, Wonder Woman, and other heroes before he began creating his signature paintings pin-up advertising women and his sendups of famous art works.

At about the same time that American Pop artists were beginning their work, other artists found their own ways of reacting against Abstract Expressionism. In England, painter and printmaker Patrick Caulfield found an elegant modernist approach to every-day subject matter. Often referred to as a Pop artist, Caulfield abhorred the label. In California’s San Francisco Bay Area, an irreverent approach to art took the form of self-depreciating, ironic Funk Art. Funk artist David Gilhooly even founded his own ceramic amphibian-based planet – The FrogWorld.

POP! Out of the Vault is organized by the Arkansas Arts Center.

Final days to view INDEPENDENT VISION exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center

Martin with “Teenage Diary” suite of photographs by Judy Dater, 2018

Martin with “Teenage Diary” suite of photographs by Judy Dater, 2018 Photo: Vivian Sachs Image courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco

Sunday, December 30 is the final day to view Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection at the Arkansas Arts Center.

San Francisco-based gallerist and collector Martin Muller curated the exhibition from his personal collection as a tribute to Little Rock – the city where he spent his formative early years in America. During those years, Muller discovered an affinity for post-war American painting in the quiet library of the Arkansas Arts Center. It was the beginning of a lifelong, relentless pursuit of new artistic treasures.

“This was the beginning of a rich, colorful, challenging and rewarding journey, started in Little Rock, where I made many lifelong friends,” Muller said.

Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection features nearly 90 works from Muller’s personal collection representing his journey through contemporary art. The works in the exhibition represent a range of artistic expression, from American photographers Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, modernist masters Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, pioneers of the Russian avant-garde Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Bogomazov, and El Lissitzky and pop artists Andy Warhol, Mel Ramos and Edward Ruscha. The show also includes a diverse array of contemporary works by artists such as Joel Besmar, Damian Elwes and Jean-Charles Blais.

Independent Vision draws from Muller’s personal collection – and represents 77 artists he has championed throughout his career. Together, these works form a picture of Muller the collector, on a life-long journey for enlightenment through art and literature.

Born in Switzerland, Muller moved to Little Rock in 1975 to take a job with a Swiss-American company based in Little Rock.

Muller was an avid student of 19th and 20th century Russian literature and art – but developed a fascination with post-war American painting – Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism. While living in Little Rock, he pursued his studies in the Elizabeth P. Taylor library of the Arkansas Arts Center. In 1977, having decided to pursue his passion for art professionally, Muller moved west and opened Modernism, Inc. in San Francisco’s warehouse district South of Market.

“During my trip cross country, I marveled at discovering masterpieces of modern American art, from Edward Hopper to Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and later, the Pop and Minimalist artists, especially Donald Judd,” Muller said. “Now, some 40 years later, it gives me great joy to have come full circle back to Little Rock and be able to share at the Arkansas Arts Center some of the wonderful artworks gathered along the way.”

Founded in 1979, Modernism has since presented more than 450 exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, in media ranging from painting to photography, sculpture to performance, by an international roster of artists. Throughout its 39 years, Muller has aspired to keep the gallery’s challenging, museum quality program at the forefront of the art world, with exhibitions encompassing Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Vorticism and German Expressionism. Muller was also an early promoter and champion of the artists of the Russian Avant-Garde (1910–1930) in the United States. The gallery has held a long list of exhibition “firsts” – in 1980, Modernism held the first exhibition of the Russian Avant-Garde in a West Coast gallery, the first Andy Warhol show in San Francisco in 1982, and in 2003, the first Le Corbusier gallery show in the United States.

Ballet Arkansas premieres AMERICAN IMAGES

Just a few short years ago, Ballet Arkansas pretty much existed to produce the annual production of The Nutcracker.  Now, they are in the position to present an evening of six newly commissioned dance pieces!  Congratulations to all who have made this possible.

Tonight, Ballet Arkansas kicks off the 2012-2013 season with American Images, an evening of six commissioned works each built around the American cultural landscape.  The works are:

Times Torn
A Civil War ballet by Marla Edwards, the ballet’s new Ballet Mistress, herself a former soloist with Ballet Arkansas and a veteran of the Houston Ballet School.
American Dream
Choreography by Stephanie Thibeault, Associate Professor of Dance at UALR.
Choreography by Michelle Alexander, based on the art and writings of pop culture icon Andy Warhol.
Delta…Push Up Open
Choreography by Little Rock native Leslie Schickel, which premiered in March, 2012.
A silent-film era pas de deux choreographed by former Ballet Arkansas guest dancer Edmond Cooper
Nowhere/Now Here 
Choreography by Tong Wang, currently assistant professor at University of California – Irvine Department of Dance. Wang is a former principal dancer at Ballet West in Salt Lake City and has worked with Shanghai Ballet, Tulsa Ballet Theatre, Dayton Ballet,
and Colorado Ballet, among many others.


The works premiered last night and will continue today at 4:00pm and tomorrow at 2:00pm at Wildwood Park for the Arts.  Also, while at Wildwood, enjoy this weekend’s Harvest Festival.