A Decade of the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden

Wayne Salge’s SIZZLING SISTERS, one of the original sculptures installed in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden

On June 25, 2009, members of the Sculpture at the River Market committee and City leaders broke ground on the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden in Riverfront Park.

The groundbreaking followed an unveiling of the design plans for the new sculpture garden, which will be located east of the Peabody Hotel near the Forever a Rose garden and the Jack Fleischauer Garden.

“As part of the continuing improvements to Riverfront Park, we wanted to put more sculpture into the park to complement the new gardens, Peabody Park, and the upcoming La Petite Roche plaza,” said City Director Dean Kumpuris. “At the 2008 Sculpture at the River Market, six pieces were bought through proceeds from the show and sale to be placed in the park in 2009.”

According to Kumpuris, seven new pieces will join a dozen other sculptures in the park and along President Clinton Avenue that have been installed since 2004.

The sculpture garden features natural terraces and walkways. The design creates a space to host receptions, weddings or other events as well as to allow visitors to enjoy the sculptures in solitude.

The seven pieces which will be installed are “Full of Himself” by Jan Woods, “Cascade” by Chapel, “Bateleur Eagle” by Pete Zaluzec, “Sizzling Sister” by Wayne Salge, “Conversation with Myself” by Lorri Acott,  “First Glance” by Denny Haskew, and “Straight and Narrow” by Lisa Gordon.

“This is only the start,” said Sculpture at the River Market Chair Jane Rogers. “In addition to continuing to place sculpture in Riverfront Park, the committee is discussing ways to place public art throughout the city. In the months to come, we hope to be able to make some more announcements about sculpture and public art in Little Rock.”

The sculpture garden is made possible through the support of the Vogel Schwartz Foundation. Robert Vogel represented the family during the ground-breaking ceremony commending the city of Little Rock on their efforts to support the art community.

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Happy Father’s Day (with a sculptural flair)

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.

3 Finalists for 2019 Sculpture at the River Market public monument competition; winner to be announced this afternoon

The winner of a $60,000 commission to place a sculpture at Little Rock City Hall in 2020 will be announced on Sunday, May 5, 2019, as the 11th Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale concludes.

The three semifinalists for the 2019 Sculpture at the River Market Public Monument Competition were announced Friday night at the conclusion of Sculptacular, the preview party for the 2019 Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale. The three finalists are, alphabetical order:

  • Theresa Dyer – LITTLE ROCK
  • Nnamdi Okonkwo – UNITY
  • Charles Strain – THE GATHERING

Sculpture at the River Market invited all artists participating in the 2019 Show & Sale to submit a proposal for its $60,000 Public Monument Competition. This is the ninth such competition.

The proposals of the seven semifinalists were displayed during Sculptacular, the event’s preview party on the evening of May 3, and Preview Party guests voted for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice.  All votes were tallied and the top three finalists were announced at the end of the evening.

The top three proposals will be juried on May 4 and 5, and the 2019 winner will be announced at 3PM on Sunday, May 5.  The winning sculpture will be installed at the northwest corner of Markham Street and Broadway Street adjacent to Little Rock City Hall in the spring of 2020.

The other semifinalists were: Clay Enoch, Joe Norman, Ryan T. Schmidt, and Basil Barrington Watson.

Previous Public Monument Competition winners have been:

  • 2011 – Chapel, THE CENTER installed in Riverfront Park near the Junction Bridge
  • 2012 – Bryan Massey, Sr.,  NAUTILUS installed in Riverfront Park next to the Arkansas River near the Margaret Clark Adventure Park.
  • 2013 – Ted Schaal, OPEN WINDOW installed in Riverfront Park between the First Security Amphitheatre and La Petite Roche Plaza.
  • 2014 – Lorri Acott, PEACE installed at 2nd Street and Main Street
  • 2015 – Michael Warrick, MOCKINGBIRD TREE installed at Chenal Parkway and Chenal Valley Drive
  • 2016 – Clay Enoch, UNITED installed at Central High School
  • 2017 – Stephen Shachtman, ARKANSAS “A” installed at the Southwest Community Center
  • 2018 – Carol Gold, INFINITE DANCE installed in Riverfront Park near the Broadway Bridge

More information is available on the web at http://sculptureattherivermarket.com/.

Easter Parade of Bunnies

Little Rock has at least four different sculptures of rabbits.  Since today is Easter Sunday and the Easter Bunny is making his rounds, it seems a good day to highlight these sculptures.

RB MonThe newest sculpture is Dan Ostermiller’s R. B. Monument.  A gift to the citizens of Little Rock by the Little Rock Garden Club, it was dedicated in 2017.

Located at the southeast corner of Kavanaugh and Pierce, this rabbit has quickly become a landmark. It is a favorite for kids and adults as they walk or drive by.  The rabbit is situated so that people can easily pose for photos with it, without the photographer having to stand in the street.  At Christmas and Easter, the rabbit has been bedecked with an appropriate wreath to add to its festive nature.

Bun BumIn the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, Laurel Peterson Gregory’s Bunny Bump has been providing whimsy since 2010.

After she sculpts an animal in wax or oil-based clay, traditional lost-wax casting processes immortalize the design in bronze. One aspect of particular interest to me, and one for which I plan early in the sculpting phase, is the complex and rich patinas that constitute another hallmark of my limited-edition sculptures. Multiple layers of chemicals and oxides are applied to the heated bronze to achieve a range of unique effects, both translucent and opaque, that complement each design.

Two stylized rabbits make for an interesting piece of artwork when they are not only dancing, but also doing the butt bump while dancing. The smooth surface and color of the bronze add to the illusion. This small piece has been placed on a pedestal to elevate more to eye level.

LopsA few yards from the bumping bunnies, James Paulsen’s Lopsided presents a much more laconic rabbit.

Paulsen is a self-taught artist. Alternately studying the wilds of the northern forest, and the open beauty of the American Southwest, he concentrates his work on natural subjects he has grown up with, and is heavily influenced by his family’s artistic background, being raised by an artist-illustrator and an author. In his work, he explores merging the beauty he sees in the natural world with the expressiveness of clay and bronze.

While having most of his work in galleries or private collections across the country, he has recently completed two public commissions

And at the corner of President Clinton Avenue and Sherman Street, Tim Cherry’s Rabbit Reach welcomes visitors to the River Market.

The sculpture is located at the corner of Sherman Street and President Clinton Avenue across from 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.

Cherry’s sculpture was selected for this spot because of its proximity to children at the Museum and in the River Market district.  The design and size of the sculpture encourages children to climb on it and to play around the rabbit.  While some public art is situated so it cannot be touched, this one is situated to be touched as part of the appreciation experience.

Little Rock Look Back: The 2004 opening of the Clinton Presidential Center

wjc library openingIt has been fourteen years since the Clinton Presidential Center opened on a wet, cold Thursday.

The days leading up to it had been glorious.  And while the weather may have literally dampened spirits a bit, it was still an important day for Little Rock and Arkansas.

The events leading up to the opening included a concert by Aretha Franklin with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and an appearance by Senator John Glenn at the Museum of Discovery.  Events were hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Historic Arkansas Museum, and Old State House Museum.  There were scores of receptions and parties as Hollywood, New York, and DC descended on Little Rock.

November 18 dawned rainy and cool.  As the day continued on the precipitation continued while the temperature did not warm up.  Years of planning for a grand opening ceremony came down to this.  But at the appointed time, festivities began.

On the site of an abandoned warehouse district and unofficial dump which had previously been a train station, many leaders of the free world were gathered.  They rubbed shoulders with thousands of Arkansans from probably every county in the state.

It had been seven years and eleven days since Bill Clinton had announced the site of his presidential library.  It had been five years since artifacts and articles started arriving from Washington DC in Little Rock.  There had been lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, the threat of a Counter-Clinton Library, and countless meetings.

After speeches from Presidents Carter, Bush 41 and Bush 43, remarks from President Clinton and then-Senator Clinton (who was made even wetter by water pouring off an ill-placed umbrella), and even a musical performance by Bono and The Edge, Chelsea Clinton turned over the ceremonial key from the Clinton Foundation to the National Archives to officially open the Clinton Presidential Center.

In his capacity leading the Clinton Foundation, Skip Rutherford oversaw the planning for the Clinton Library and the grand opening festivities.  He, along with the foundation’s Executive Director Stephanie S. Streett, oversaw a phalanx of volunteers and staff to anticipate every detail.  The 1,000 days countdown sign that had been on the construction site (the brainchild of Tyler Denton) finally reached 0.

Isabelle Rodriguez, Shannon Butler, Mariah Hatta, Jordan Johnson, Lucas Hargraves, Ben Beaumont, Denver Peacock — among others — had been putting in twelve plus hour days for months on end to get ready for the opening.  City Manager Bruce T. Moore led a team of City officials who had assisted on the planning and execution of the site preparation and making sure Little Rock was ready to welcome the world.  Moore and City Director Dean Kumpuris had been appointed by Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey to lead Little Rock’s efforts to land the library.  After Clinton’s announcement of the site, Dailey, Kumpuris and Moore continued to work together to ensure the library would be successful.

Among those present were Oscar winning actors Barbara Streisand, Robin Williams, and (of course) Arkansan Mary Steenburgen.  Future Oscar winner Morgan Freeman was also in attendance. Among the Oscar nominees who were present were Bono and The Edge (who performed at the ceremony) and Alfre Woodard.  It was the first public appearance by Senator John Kerry after his loss earlier in the month to President George W. Bush. Scores of Senators and members of Congress as well as countless Clinton Administration staffers were also in attendance.

While the weather on November 18, 2004, may have been a disappointment, the people who were gathered knew they were witnesses to history.  And fourteen years later, is a day people still talk about.

 

 

Little Rock Look Back: Little Rock announced as Clinton Library site

Refuse on the site where the Clinton Center would be built

On November 7, 1997, President Bill Clinton announced his intentions to locate his presidential library in Little Rock at the end of a warehouse district.

The Little Rock City Board met in a special meeting that day to rename part of Markham Street, which would lead to the site, as President Clinton Avenue.

While the announcement was met with excitement in many quarters, there were still some skeptics who had a hard time envisioning a presidential library and park in the middle of a wasteland worthy of a T. S. Eliot poem.

There would be many hurdles between the November 1997 announcement to the December 2001 groundbreaking. But for the moment, City of Little Rock leaders, celebrated the achievement.  Then Mayor Jim Dailey had appointed City Director Dean Kumpuris and City employee Bruce T. Moore to lead the City’s efforts.  Moore and Kumpuris worked with Skip Rutherford and others to narrow the potential sites.

In September 1997, the Clintons were in town for the 40th anniversary of the integration of Central High School.  They surprised Kumpuris and Moore with a decision for a Sunday afternoon visit to the warehouse district proposed site. Secret Service would not let the limousine drive in part of the property, so the Clintons, Moore, Kumpuris, and Rutherford walked up a path to the roof of the abandoned Arkansas Book Depository.  It was there that the Clintons could see the Little Rock skyline which would be visible from the library.

Of course by the time the library had opened in November 2004, the Little Rock skyline was different. Spurred on by the library, several new highrises had been constructed in downtown.

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.