One month left to submit for Arkansas Arts Center’s 61st Annual Delta Exhibition

The deadline to submit art for the Arkansas Arts Center’s 61st Annual Delta Exhibition is February 13. That means there is still one month remaining.

The Annual Delta Exhibition presents a vision of contemporary art in the American South. Founded in 1958, the exhibition provides a unique snapshot of the Delta region.

The Delta Exhibition reflects the region’s strong traditions of craftsmanship and observation, combined with an innovative use of materials and an experimental approach to subject matter.

A guest juror will select the artworks to be exhibited and assign the $2500 Grand Award and two $750 Delta Awards. Additionally, a $250 Contemporaries Award will be selected by the Contemporaries, an auxiliary membership group of the Arkansas Arts Center.

The exhibition is open to all artists who live in or were born in one of the following states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. Art must be original, completed in the last two years, and not previously exhibited at the Arkansas Arts Center.

For guidelines and the entry form, visit here.

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2nd Friday Art Night – Christ Church

Christ Episcopal Church will open a new art exhibit in its Gallery on Friday, January 11, 2019. Brenda Fowler will be the featured artist from January 11 through the end of March 2019.

Fowler’s paintings will be on display for purchase in the Gallery. The exhibit is entitled “Life Changes,” which, Fowler explains, embraces the essence of an ever-changing life, as well as the emotions experienced throughout these changes.

Fowler is an Arkansas artist whose original contemporary abstract expressionist paintings are intended to convey the creative energy and passion for expression through which all artists go. Her mixed media, large-scale paintings on deep, gallery-wrapped canvas, are comprised of multiple layers of strong, vibrant, high-quality fine art acrylic colors, often with added texture. Each piece begins with a concept, a thought, or an idea with the intent to convey emotions and are reflective of their titles.

Fowler received her formal education at the University of Arkansas Little Rock and the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. Her paintings have been displayed at numerous art galleries and interior design firms throughout Arkansas and in Dallas.

Christ Church believes that artists, whether painters or singers or sculptors or poets, show something of God when they show us the world’s truth and beauty through their talents. The Gallery is open to the public each weekday during regular business hours and is also a regular stop on downtown Little Rock’s Second Friday Art Night. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on Friday, January 11 from 5 pm-8 pm.

Little Rock Look Back: 1936 groundbreaking of Museum of Fine Arts

On January 3, 1936, the ground was broken for the Museum of Fine Arts building in City Park.  The facility would face Ninth Street and be to the west of the Arsenal Tower Building.   That building was the one remaining structure of more than 30 which had populated the grounds when it was a federal military establishment.

Excavation for the building uncovered the foundation for another structure.  New footings for the Museum would be poured into the old footings.

The cornerstone would be laid in October 1936, and the building would open in October 1937.  The building would serve as the museum’s home until the new construction for the new Arkansas Arts Center began in 1961. That construction would enclose the original Museum of Fine Arts.  By that time, the City had long renamed the park in honor of General Douglas MacArthur, who was born there when it had been a military installation.

Subsequent additions to the Arkansas Arts Center over the decades have further expanded the museum’s footprint.  After the 2000 expansion, the original 1937 facade was featured prominently in a gallery, giving it more visibility than since 1963. With the Arkansas Arts Center again slated for renovation and expansion, the original 1937 facade will be maintained and re-exposed as an entrance to the building.

But it all began on January 3, 1936.

18 Cultural Events from 2018 – Todd Herman departs Arkansas Arts Center

On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, Dr. Todd Herman, announced to Arkansas Arts Center staff that he would be leaving to take a position in North Carolina.  His last day at Little Rock’s art museum was August 10.

Herman, who joined the AAC in 2011, succeeded Nan Plummer as director, who served from 2002 to 2010. She was preceded by longtime director Townsend Wolfe, who led the AAC from 1968 to 2002. Between 1961 and 1968, the Arts Center had a revolving door of directors and acting directors including Muriel Christison (1961), Alan Symonds (1962-1964), William H. Turner (1964-1965), and Louis Ismay (1966-1968).  William Steadman (1958) and George Ware (1959-1960) lead the museum as it transitioned from the Museum of Fine Arts to the Arkansas Arts Center.  Irene Robinson was the director of the original Museum of Fine Arts from its opening in 1937 until her retirement in 1957.

T. Laine Harber, the Arts Center’s Chief Operations Officer/Chief Financial Officer will be Interim Director while a search is conducted for Herman’s replacement.

Work continues on the planning for the expansion and enhancement of the Arts Center which is currently slated to be completed in 2022.

18 Cultural Events from 2018 – Arkansas Arts Center unveils plans for expansion

South entrance of new AAC

On February 27, the Arkansas Arts Center unveiled design plans for a renovation that would cost $70 million.

Construction for the museum is scheduled to begin in 2019, and the center is expected to open in 2022. The upgrades, led by architecture firm Studio Gang, include new exhibition areas, a children’s theater space, an expanded educational facility, a glass-enclosed walkway, a garden, and the uncovering of the institution’s original facade from 1937. The $24 million budget increase, which does not include additional costs such as architectural or consultants’ fees, will be taken care of by private funds.

Officials originally explained that $50 million in private donations would complement general obligation bonds approved by Little Rock constituents for the expansion of the museum, whose artworks are owned by the nonprofit Arkansas Arts Center Foundation. “It’s a more expensive project than we originally thought it would be,” Studio Gang owner Jeanne Gang said. “You discover things. There’s a lot to it. There’s a lot of, also, ambition for the project to make it visible, to make it really bring the institution up to the next level.”

The building is currently made up of eight different structures that were added over a period of time to the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, built in 1937. Studio Gang’s aim is to offer a more coherent layout, as well as provide additional space for the AAC’s expansive public arts programming of classes, lectures and film showings.

Among the main features of the project is the introduction of a new axis, which will cut through the center of the building. It will lead from the northern entrance facing Crescent Drive to the 36-acre MacArthur Park on the southern side.

Four glazed volumes featuring curved walls and folded roofs will join up to form the axis – a new entrance will be placed at the front with walls angled to open up to the city, while three others will trail towards the park at the rear, ending with a double-height dining room.

Around 127,000 square feet of space will be added or revamped. The enhanced location will feature an edition of British sculptor Henry Moore’s Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge, 1976, which is currently on view in the city’s Union National Plaza.

Polk Stanley Wilcox is the associate architect and SCAPE is the landscape architect.  More members of the consulting team were added throughout 2018.

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.

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.