Little Rock Look Back: Fine Arts Club opens first public art gallery in Arkansas

Pulaski County Courthouse, site of Fine Arts Club first gallery

On Tuesday, May 15, 1928, the Fine Arts Club opened an art gallery on the fourth floor of the Pulaski County Courthouse. This was the first step toward their dream of creating a visual arts museum.

County Judge C. P. Newton identified space within the Courthouse for the gallery.  It opened with works by 40 Arkansas artists and fifteen from outside of the state. The collection was mainly watercolors and oil paintings.

Judge Newton spoke at the dedication ceremony. Other speakers were Fred W. Allsopp, representing the Fine Arts Club and Janet Hempstead Pierce (making historical remarks prepared by her father, Fay Hempstead, who was unable to attend).

Berta Hamilton Baird, president of the Fine Arts Club presided over the event and also made remarks about May Danaher, the founder of the club. Musical entertainment was provided by Alma Colgan, Toistine Haley, sisters Grace and Elizabeth Schaer, Margaret Farrior, and Lucile Owens.

Among those helping Mrs. Baird and Miss Danaher plan the event were Eula Terral (former First Lady of Arkansas), Mary Chapple Allsopp, Frances Edmonson Almand, Jennie Holmes Tillar, Louise Loughborough, Jean Hollenberg, and Dilla Horrocks among others.

The gallery was open from 2pm to 5:30pm on weekdays.

Seven Mays later, plans were authorized by the City of Little Rock to construct the Museum of Fine Arts in City Park.  In May 1961, the plans were unveiled for the new Arkansas Arts Center (incorporating the existing Museum of Fine Arts building).  Now, 91 years later, the Arkansas Arts Center is preparing for an even bigger future.

The Quapaw Quarter Association 55th Spring Tour of Homes is this weekend

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This weekend, Join the QQA for the 55th Spring Tour of Homes in MacArthur Park, Little Rock’s oldest historic district. Visit the Mills-Davis House and the Bracy-Manning House on sixth street, the Holtzman-Vinsonhaler house on 9th street, and others.


Candlelight Tour, Dinner & Silent Auction ($150.00)
Mother’s Day Brunch ($60.00)

Dates & Times
May 11, 2019
Tour starts at 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Candlelight Tour, Dinner & Silent Auction starts 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm (located at the Arkansas Arts Center)

May 12, 2019
Mother’s Day Brunch 11:00 am — 1:00 pm (located at Curran Hall, 615 E. Capitol)
Tour 1:00 pm — 5:00 pm

Check-in Sites
Curran Hall, 615 E Capitol Ave, Little Rock, AR 72202.
MacArthur Park, outside the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, 503 E 9th St, Little Rock, AR 72202.
The Patrick Powers House, 1402 Commerce, Little Rock, AR 72202.

Adult night for Arkansas Arts Center production of THE HOBBIT

The HobbitBack by popular demand!

Join the Arkansas Arts Center in the Lower Lobby before the 7 p.m. performance tonight (May 9) of The Hobbit™. Guests will adventure “there and back again” with specialty drinks and snacks before the show. 21+ event

The 2018–2019 Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre closes this spring with The Hobbit. The show runs through May 12, 2019.

Performances of The Hobbit are Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 each or $10 for members of the Arkansas Arts Center.

Bilbo Baggins is swept away – a reluctant hero on the adventure of his lifetime. In the company of thirteen rough and tumble dwarves and one cryptic wizard, Bilbo braves danger at every turn on this exciting quest for dragon’s gold. Mister Bilbo Baggins cordially invites you to travel with him “There and Back Again” in this new adaptation of Tolkien’s classic tale. So come and join the quest. There’s a partner’s share of treasure waiting just for you.

The play is based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and licensed by Middle-earth Enterprises. It was adapted for the stage by Keith Smith. The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre’s production of The Hobbit is directed by John Isner. Bradley D. Anderson is the Artistic Director. The set was designed by Keith Smith, costume design by Nikki Gray, properties design by Cathleen Brignac, and lighting design by Mike Stacks. Liz McMath is the stage manager. The Hobbit is a trademark of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises under license to Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre.

2019 Young Arkansas Artists exhibition now open at Arkansas Arts Center

Image result for 2019 young arkansas artistsThe 2019 edition of the Arkansas Arts Center’s Young Arkansas Artists exhibition is now open.

In 1961, the Arkansas Arts Center hosted the first statewide Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition to ensure learning, inspiration, and creative expression. Now in its 58th year, the annual Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition showcases artwork by Arkansas students to celebrate the artistic talent and achievement of Arkansas students.

An annual crowd-pleaser, Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition features works by Arkansas students – from kindergarten through 12th grade – in a wide range of mediums and techniques.

“The Young Arkansas Artists Exhibition fosters arts appreciation throughout the state,” said Rana Edgar, Arkansas Arts Center Director of Education and Programs. “By providing a platform to celebrate creative expression, the Arkansas Arts Center reinforces the important role art plays in every classroom and every community.”

This year, 500 works in a variety of media were entered by 145 public and private school educators, homeschool educators and private art instructors from all corners of the state. Following submission, a panel of art professionals selected the top works from each grade to be exhibited at the Arkansas Arts Center. The panel selected 79 works for the exhibition, representing 47 schools across the state. From those works, one Best in Class and two Honorable Mention awards will be chosen for each grade by a grand juror. The juror will also select recipients of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists Award for Achievement in Watercolor and Ray Smenner Award for Achievement in Painting. Members of the Arkansas Art Educators Association will also select one Teacher’s Choice award from each grade level.

On May 3, 1963, the first Arkansas Arts Center produced show took place in its theatre

The Arts Center Theatre view from the stage in 1963

On May 3, 1963, at 8:30 pm, the curtain rose as the Arkansas Arts Center produced its first show in its own theatre.  Though the building would not be officially dedicated until later in May (more about that later), programming had been taking place in the facility for several months.

In December 1962, a community theatre production was the first play in the Arkansas Arts Center theatre.  Over the ensuing months, it would play host to a variety of concerts and performances.  At the time, the Arkansas Arts Center planned to use the theatre as a house for its own productions (one series geared to adults, the other series geared to kids), other shows produced by Little Rock organizations, and touring shows which might be too small for Robinson Auditorium.

Friday, May 3, 1963, was a momentous evening, as the Arkansas Arts Center presented Rumpelstiltskin.  (Since the theatre space has been focused on children’s theatre since the late 1970s, it seems prescient that the first AAC produced play was a children’s production some fifteen years earlier.)

The production was overseen Joseph N. Carner, who was the theatre director.  It was his hope that the Arts Center plays geared toward children would also encourage other groups throughout the state to produce plays specifically for younger audiences.  Margaret Davies Carner, who taught speech at Little Rock University, directed the play.  She also taught drama classes at the Arts Center.

The cast included Garry White as the title character with Dell Blaine, Michael Hosman, Lesie Smith, Tom Abraham, Dickie Atchison, Butch Lashee, Henry Fletcher, Charles McRaven, Ann Thomson, Dannette Joe Baker, Sallie Penn, Paul Motes, Leslie Newell, and Robin Hosman.

In addition to a Friday night performance, there were 2:30 matinees on Saturday and Sunday that were geared toward children’s audiences.