The Oxford American welcomes new Jeff Baskin Writers Fellow KaToya Ellis Fleming

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Help the Oxford American welcome their new Jeff Baskin Writers Fellow, KaToya Ellis Fleming, at this special reception!

Tonight (September 6) from 4pm to 8pm, ESSE is opening up the museum free of charge and serving light refreshments during SoMa After Dark for this casual meet-and-greet.

Grab a snack, sign up to win a door prize from ESSE and the OA, and stay to hear KaToya do a brief reading from her work at 5:30 PM and again at 7:00 PM.

FREE Admission this evening to ESSE Purse Museum in conjunction with Purses with Purpose: Girl Scouts through the Decades exhibit

This Friday, June 7th, from 4-8 pm ESSE Purse Museum will host a reception for our newest temporary exhibit, Purses with Purpose: Girl Scouts through the decades. FREE admission to the museum and refreshments will be provided.

This show spans from the 1930s to the present. With her creativity and tenacity Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, was able to foresee what girls and woman are capable of with the guidance and support of this organization.

Many would claim that cookies are the first thing that comes to mind when speaking of the Girl Scouts. The courage, confidence, and character that are synonymous with these young woman is seen through the handbags, uniforms, and objects on display. The remarkable history of the Girl Scouts is presented alongside a unique perspective of women’s history.

The artifacts on display are on loan from the GSUSA, GS – Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, ESSE Purse Museum, and from the personal collections of Kathleen Pate and Marsha Stone.

Regular museum admission ($10, $8 seniors, students, and military) includes the special exhibit. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

As part of SoMa After Dark, ESSE Purse Museum is celebrating 70’s Night!

Friday, May 3rd, is another SoMa After Dark! Come on down and spend the evening enjoying specials at all the different businesses in SoMa.

It’s 70’s night at ESSE! Bust out your bell bottoms! Perch on some platform heels! Dress to impress, you cool cats. Dance to disco all night (errr… until 8pm)! Special Museum Entry fee of $7 with other 70’s specials and refreshments.

It is the last week to see ESSE’s temporary exhibit, Remembrances. Come by ESSE before May 6th and see some of the wonderful donations we have received over the years.

ESSE is open Tuesday through Saturday 11am- 3pm, and Sundays 11am-4pm. Bring your family and/or friends and learn about women’s history through the lens of the handbag!

2019 Arkansas Literary Festival events on tap for today

Though there have been a few events earlier, today (April 25) offers several events to kick off the 2019 Arkansas Literary Festival.

During the day at the Clinton Presidential Center and also the Museum of Discovery is a Day of Science and Reading. Students meet Miami-based author Laurie Friedman, Mallory McDonald, Super Sitter and Can You Say Catastrophe? and Nashville-based illustrator, Higgins Bond, A Place for Turtles and Lorraine: The Girl Who Sang the Storm Away. Both successful presenters are originally from the Natural State. Limited seating is available. 

Tonight at 6pm at the ESSE Purse Museum a program will feature Anita Davis, the museum’s founder.  The author of What’s Inside?: A Century of Women and Handbags, 1900–1999, she is a native Arkansan and lifelong collector who loves outsider art, Gladys Knight, dream work, her two daughters, and learning about the mysteries of life. Her varied life experience includes owning a mail-order catalog called Pure and Simple in the 1980s and co-owning Vagabonds coffee house and vintage store in the 1990s. She has a talent for finding valuables (“They’re valuable to me!”) in unexpected places and has led the revitalization of Little Rock’s SoMa neighborhood, where ESSE Purse Museum & Store is located. What’s Inside? is an extension of her endeavor to explore concepts of art, history, and the feminine at ESSE – the only purse museum in the United States and one of only three in the world.

At 7pm at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, Elliot Ackerman & Charmaine Craig participate in a discussion entitled, The Human Element of War. Despite the dehumanization that goes hand in hand with war and the media coverage of conflict, moments of deep humanity can be glimpsed even in the most harrowing of circumstances. How do we ensure that those moments are not overlooked, and that our stories – even fictional ones – reflect the nuances of a historical moment? Join 2017 National Book Award Finalist Elliot Ackerman (Dark at the Crossing) and 2017 Longlister Charmaine Craig (Miss Burma) for a discussion on depicting conflict, preserving humanity, and finding truth in fiction. This session is presented in partnership with the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards.

Open Studios Little Rock today (6/2) from 10am to 4pm

The City of Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission is hosting the second annual Open Studios Little Rock on Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A map of participating artists is available here: 2018 OSLR Map FINAL.

Guests can gain access to over 20 artist studios and cultural institutions that will open their doors and give you a firsthand look at their creative process. The lineup of studios visits includes artists working in the visual and performing arts, plus cultural institutions that will open their respective studios for guided tours and demonstrations.

The public can participate in FREE, self-guided tours of art-related studios, live-in/work studios and homes, galleries, schools, and other creative spaces. (Please note, some of the participating cultural institutions may have admission fees for specific exhibits.)

Referred to as a city-wide exhibition, Open Studios gives you unparalleled access to artists living and working in Little Rock. Studio visits are free and open to the public.

Artists who are unable to welcome the public into their studios will showcase their work at the Alternative Space hosted at the Bobby L. Roberts Library of Arkansas History and Art at 401 President Clinton Ave.  A welcome station will also be set up there with maps of all the participating artists and information on them.

During Open Studios, the colorful “Open Studio” signs will alert you to Open Studio spaces.

Participating Artists:

  • Co-Op Art – 7509 Cantrell Rd (back side)
  • Creative Art Studio – 7509 Cantrell Rd (back side)
  • Jennifer Cox Coleman Fine Art – 2207 Hidden Valley Dr., Suite 203
  • Amanda Heinbockel – 1701 Louisiana St, Apt 2
  • The Little Rock Violin Shop – 316 E. 11th St.
  • McCafferty Academy of Irish Dance – 6805 W 12th Street, Suite D
  • Daniella Napolitano – 916 Scott St, Apt A
  • Jenn Perren Studio – 1701 Louisiana St, Apt 4
  • Catherine Rodgers Contemporary Art – 2207 Hidden Valley Dr., Suite 202
  • Liz Smith’s Ceramics Studio – 125 Dennison St.
  • South Main Creative – 1600 Main St
  • Michael Warrick – 19 Mohawk Circ.
  • Elizabeth Weber – 11901 Hilaro Springs Rd

 Alternative Space (401 President Clinton Avenue):

  • Jericho Way Art Class
  • MNHenry Artwork
  • Paintings by Glenda McCune
  • Sheri Simon
  • Michael Ward

 Participating Cultural Institutions:

  • Arkansas Arts Center
  • Esse Purse Museum
  • Historic Arkansas Museum
  • Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Old State House Museum

The Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission cultivates connections between diverse audiences and the City’s creative community. More information (including maps and artist bios) available at

Leo “Bud” Welch with Jimbo Mathus at South on Main tonight

Leo Bud Welch with Guest Jimbo Mathus [Archetypes & Troubadours Series]Tonight at 7:30 PM, the Oxford American magazine brings Leo Bud Welch to the South on Main stage as part of the Archetypes & Troubadours Series. Welch is welcomed by the Esse Pure Museum. Doors open at 5:30 PM, with dinner and drinks available for purchase at that time. This series is made possible in part by the generosity of The Summer Foundation. Single tickets are still available, but going fast.

Welch is joined tonight by Jimbo Mathus.

Leo “Bud” Welch was born in Sabougla, Mississippi in 1932, and he picked up a guitar for the first time in 1945. By 1947 at age fifteen, Bud could play well enough to perform publically and garnered the blessing of many elder guitar players. He was offered an audition by B.B. King but could not afford the trip to Memphis. Bud played the blues continuously until 1975, when he converted to playing mostly gospel with the Sabougla Voices, which consisted of his sister and a sister-in-law. He also played with the Skuna Valley Male Chorus. Bud earned his living by carrying a chain saw up and down the hills and hollows of North Mississippi, logging for thirty-five years.

Leo Bud Welch does not believe that blues is the Devil’s music, but rather they’re a way of expressing the highs and lows of one’s life through song. He has played his guitar for close family and friends for the past sixty-five years and has remained under the radar, undetected by the vast majority of Blues Aficionados. Welch’s debut album, Sabougla Voices, was released January 7, 2014, just two months before his 82nd birthday.

Jimbo Mathus was born and raised in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he often spent time listening to blues music in the Mississippi Delta. “I break down walls and stereotypes with my music,” says Mathus, “I confuse people. I use Mississippi Music, which is renegade music at heart, as my inspiration and motivation…” He excels as a songwriter, a producer, a recording artist, and at spreading the gospel of Mississippi Music in concert. “I like to let the shows be the test and keep the boogie going thirty minutes if needs be,” Mathus says. “If everybody is grooving on something why bother and stop it?”

Mathus can regularly be found performing at the world-famous Ground Zero Blues Club, which is co-owned by fellow Clarksdale resident Morgan Freeman, who co-produced Mathus’ 2004 live album Jimbo & Friends at Ground Zero Blues Club. Mathus is a continuation of the storied music history of Clarksdale and of Mississippi, when all is said and done. His current band, The Tri-State Coalition, features solid talent cut from the same Delta cloth: Tri-State bassist Justin Showah and keyboardist Eric Carlton are also from Mississippi. Guitarist Matt Pierce hails from Arkansas. Missouri native and drummer Austin Marshall rounds out the group, whose sound, Mathus describes as “inner-planetary honky-tonk. Basically I’m using a lot more of white country, folk, and southern rock influences. It’s a great Southern band that is versatile to the extreme.”

Now’s the time to nominate museums and libraries for National Medal for Museum and Library Service

National MedalLittle Rock is blessed to have a dynamic library system and over a dozen exciting museums.  Let’s face it, the words “dynamic” and “exciting” are not always synonymous with libraries and museums.

Each year, the Institute of Museum and Library Services presents select museums and libraries with the nation’s highest honor, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  IMLS is now accepting nominations for the 2016 award which recognizes libraries and museums that make significant and exceptional contributions in service to their communities. Nomination forms are due October 1, 2015.

All types of nonprofit libraries and library organizations, including academic, school, and special libraries, archives, library associations, and library consortia, are eligible to receive this honor. Public or private nonprofit museums of any discipline (including general, art, history, science and technology, children’s, and natural history and anthropology), as well as historic houses and sites, arboretums, nature centers, aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, and planetariums are eligible.

Winners are honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC, host a two-day visit from StoryCorps to record community member stories, and receive positive media attention. Approximately thirty finalists are selected as part of the process and are featured by IMLS during a six-week social media and press campaign.

Winning the medal elevates an institution’s profile and can positively impact fundraising, programming, and outreach activities.

Anyone may nominate a museum or library for this honor, and institutions may self-nominate. For more information, reach out to one of the following contacts.

Program Contact for Museums:
Mark Feitl, Museum Program Specialist

Program Contact for Libraries:
Katie Murray, Staff Assistant

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. To learn more, visit and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.