Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Little Rock Look Back: Opening of the Arkansas Arts Center!

On Saturday, May 18, 1963, amidst fanfare and fans of the arts, the Arkansas Arts Center officially opened its doors.  (This was thirty-five years and three days after the Fine Arts Club had opened the first permanent art gallery in Arkansas in the Pulaski County Courthouse).

The dedication ceremonies on May 18 featured U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright (who was in the midst of championing what would soon be known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Congressman Wilbur Mills, Governor Orval Faubus, Little Rock Mayor Byron Morse, Winthrop Rockefeller and Jeanette Rockefeller.

On Friday, May 17, 1963, film star Gordon MacRae performed two separate concerts in the theatre space.  There were other assorted small events and tours on May 16 and 17.

The culmination of the weekend was the Beaux Arts Bal.  This black tie event, featured Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), James Rorimer of the Metropolitan Museum, and Dave Brubeck.  Chaired by Jeane Hamilton, the event set a new standard for events in Little Rock.

Among the exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center for the grand opening was a special exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled Five Centuries of European Painting.  In Little Rock for six months, this exhibit featured works by El Greco, Titian, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Pierre Renoir, Paul Signac, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin among many others and spanned from the fifteenth century Early Renaissance era to the nineteenth century.

Prior to the opening, a profile on the Arts Center in The Christian Science Monitor touted the building as one of the first regional arts centers in the country to be completed. Benefiting from national ties of the Rockefeller family, the events in May 1963, set a high standard for the institution, and for other regional art museums.

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Arkansas Heritage Month – Celebrities and Celebrations open Arkansas Arts Center on May 18, 1963

AAC opening programOn Saturday, May 18, 1963, amidst fanfare and fans of the arts, the Arkansas Arts Center officially opened its doors.  (This was thirty-five years and three days after the Fine Arts Club had opened the first permanent art gallery in Arkansas in the Pulaski County Courthouse).

The dedication ceremonies on May 18 featured U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright (who was in the midst of championing what would soon be known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Congressman Wilbur Mills, Governor Orval Faubus, Little Rock Mayor Byron Morse, Winthrop Rockefeller and Jeanette Rockefeller.

On Friday, May 17, 1963, film star Gordon MacRae performed two separate concerts in the theatre space.  There were other assorted small events and tours on May 16 and 17.

The culmination of the weekend was the Beaux Arts Bal.  This black tie event, featured Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), James Rorimer of the Metropolitan Museum, and Dave Brubeck.  Chaired by Jeane Hamilton, the event set a new standard for events in Little Rock.

Among the exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center for the grand opening was a special exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled Five Centuries of European Painting.  In Little Rock for six months, this exhibit featured works by El Greco, Titian, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Pierre Renoir, Paul Signac, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin among many others and spanned from the fifteenth century Early Renaissance era to the nineteenth century.

Prior to the opening, a profile on the Arts Center in The Christian Science Monitor touted the building as one of the first regional arts centers in the country to be completed. Benefiting from national ties of the Rockefeller family, the events in May 1963, set a high standard for the institution, and for other regional art museums.


Arkansas Heritage Month – Kaki Hockersmith

KakiIn 2015, Kaki Hockersmith was honored at the Governor’s Arts Awards.  She creates art as a designer. In addition, she promotes arts and heritage through her tireless efforts on behalf of numerous cultural institutions.

In 2010, she was appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for The Kennedy Center.  In that capacity, she serves as a national ambassador for The Kennedy Center. She has also brought programs from The Kennedy Center to Arkansas to help established and emerging arts organizations. She also serves as a commissioner on the cultural committee of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In 1993, she redesigned the interior of The White House during the Clinton Administration. She was also appointed a member of the Committee for the Preservation of The White House.  Her work on this American landmark was featured in Hillary Clinton’s book An Invitation to the White House: In Celebration of American Culture.

Locally, she serves on the Board of Trustees for the Arkansas Arts Center and the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion Association. She is an active supporter of many cultural organizations in Little Rock.  She and her husband Max Mehlburger open their home to host receptions and fundraisers for numerous cultural institutions and organizations.  In 2014, she was recognized for this support at Ballet Arkansas’ Turning Pointe gala.

Professionally, she has been honored by the national ASID organization as well as the Washington D.C. chapter. Her projects have won 16 regional ASID awards, including seven gold awards.


15 Highlights of 2015 – Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter led panel at Clinton Presidential Center

Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter addressing the audience. Photo by James Doyle

On October 21, 2015, Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter and a distinguished panel of Arkansas educators and artistic directors discussed national trends in teaching the arts and humanities, while exploring new ways to give Arkansas schools access to combined national and local resources.

While no single cultural institution in Arkansas can match the reach & multi-disciplinary offerings of The Kennedy Center, Little Rock and Arkansas have many of the same resources distributed across multiple institutions. Educators and arts advocates from across the state participated in this very important conversation about the transformation of arts and humanities education in Arkansas through deeper collaboration between these institutions.
The program included two engaging panels.
Educator Discussion Panelists
  • Joy Pennington ( Moderator ), Executive Director, Arkansas Arts Council
  • Zinse Aggine, Teaching Artist and Musician
  • Jama Best, Senior Program Officer, Arkansas Humanities Council
  • Dr. Jeff Grubbs, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Lana Hallmark, Fine Arts Coordinator, Arkansas Department of Education
  • Melanie Landum, Executive Director, Arkansas A+ Schools
  • Dr. Lenore Shoults, Executive Director, The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas
Institution Discussion Panelists
  • Dr. Todd Herman  ( Moderator ), Executive Director, Arkansas Arts Center
  • Sericia Cole, Director, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
  • Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director, Arkansas Repertory Theatre
  • Philip Mann, Music Director, Arkansas Symphony
  • Deborah Rutter, President, The Kennedy Center
  • Stephanie S. Streett, Executive Director, Clinton Foundation
This event was hosted by the Clinton Foundation; President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts member, Kaki Hockersmith; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Donna and Mack McLarty; and the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.


Creative Class of 2015: Stephanie S. Streett

StreettStephanie S. Streett is the executive director of the Clinton Foundation. In this role she oversees the day-to-day operations of the Clinton Presidential Center, including the development and implementation of its educational programs, special events, exhibits, and services as well as staff management. She establishes and cultivates strategic partnerships and cooperative arrangements with state and local governments, the non-profit and private sector, community groups and other organizations. Stephanie also serves as the corporate secretary for the Clinton Foundation Board of Directors.

Stephanie has used her position to broaden culture in Little Rock through the wide variety of exhibits which the Clinton Center has hosted. A wide variety of styles of visual arts, design, contemporary craft, sports, science and history have been showcased in exhibits at the Clinton Center.  She also was instrumental in planning the special events in conjunction with the Clinton Center 10th Anniversary in 2014.  In addition, she has been active in promoting partnerships with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Together with Kaki Hockersmith, she has facilitated several seminars which have brought key Kennedy Center leaders to Little Rock.

She is the president of the University of Arkansas Alumni Association National Board of Directors and is co-chair of the Board of Directors for City Year Little Rock. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Partnership of Little Rock and is a member of the International Women’s Forum Arkansas.


Piano recital this afternoon by UALR Music Professor Dr. Linda Holzer

Piano recitalDr. Linda Holzer, professor of music at UALR, will hold​ a piano recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22, in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in UALR’s Fine Arts Building.

Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the UALR Department of Music at 501.569.3264​

The music will present something for everyone, from the jazz stylings of Bill Evans piano solo “Peace Piece” to a poetic masterpiece, “Sonata Op. 109,” by Beethoven​,​ to three selections by award-winning U.S. composers.

For one the three selections, Dr. Holzer will perform “Love Twitters” by Augusta Read Thomas.

She will be joined by Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s English horn player, Beth Wheeler, for John Steinmetz’s Suite from an “Imaginary Opera.” The program will conclude with Lowell Liebermann’s “Sonata for Flute and Piano,” featuring guest artist Diane McVinney of the ASO.

An active soloist and chamber musician, Holzer has delivered performances in 29 states, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in New York, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and New York Public Radio Station WNYC-FM.

She has performed at Qingdao University in mainland China, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Palffy Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia. An advocate for contemporary music, Holzer has participated in numerous premieres, and her concert recordings have been broadcast internationally.

She has served as chair of the Committee on the Pedagogy Student for the 2007 and 2009 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Chicago and is an active member of the Network of Music Career Development Officers.

She is a founding member of the duo Mariposa with violinist Sandra McDonald, assistant concertmaster of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Holzer was also named College Teacher of the Year by the Arkansas State Music Teachers Association in 2001.

Holzer is a native of Chicago and holds degrees in piano performance from Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Florida State University.


LR Cultural Touchstone: Kaki Hockersmith

KakiKaki Hockersmith creates art as a designer. In addition, she promotes arts and heritage through her tireless efforts on behalf of numerous cultural institutions.

In 2010, she was appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for The Kennedy Center.  In that capacity, she serves as a national ambassador for The Kennedy Center. She has also brought programs from The Kennedy Center to Arkansas to help established and emerging arts organizations. She also serves as a commissioner on the cultural committee of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In 1993, she redesigned the interior of The White House during the Clinton Administration. She was also appointed a member of the Committee for the Preservation of The White House.  Her work on this American landmark was featured in Hillary Clinton’s book An Invitation to the White House: In Celebration of American Culture.

Locally, she serves on the Board of Trustees for the Arkansas Arts Center and the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion Association. She is an active supporter of many cultural organizations in Little Rock.  She and her husband Max Mehlburger open their home to host receptions and fundraisers for numerous cultural institutions and organizations.  Earlier this year she was recognized for this support at Ballet Arkansas’ Turning Pointe gala.

Professionally, she has been honored by the national ASID organization as well as the Washington D.C. chapter. Her projects have won 16 regional ASID awards, including seven gold awards.