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.

Easter Bunnies on Parade

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.

2015 In Memoriam – Kula Kumpuris

1515 Kumpuris

In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.

Kula Kumpuris owned every room she entered.  Whether she was holding court at Satellite Café or at the Capital Hotel, her sparkling eyes, generous smile and warm spirit entranced everyone.

She was devoted to her family and friends, always wanting to know the latest achievements or funny stories. Her zest for knowledge also extended to learning from books and keeping up with current events.

Born in Pine Bluff, she retained her girlhood friends throughout her life. She never shed friends, she only added to them through the various stages of life.

In 2006, her sons and daughter and their families established the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series at the Clinton School of Public Service in honor of Kula and her late husband.  In announcing the gift, son Dean Kumpuris noted that his parents, always believed “that through understanding, teaching and discussion, the world could be a better place, and they taught us that giving back to the community and the world is important and worthwhile. So, we decided that in keeping with our parents’ teachings, the Clinton School of Public Service was a perfect place to give back.”

For many years, Kula would be on the front row at the lecture series with an open mind awaiting the information from the speaker, and an engaging smile.

She was also a fixture at the annual Sculpture at the River Market show and sale. She charmed artists and arts patrons alike. Even as she found it harder to get around in later years, she was still a regular presence at the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, usually with her friend Jeane Hamilton.

A longtime and active member of the Little Rock Garden Club, Kula Kumpuris cultivated friendships with people from all walks of life as easily as she cultivated plants and flowers.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Louise Loughborough

louise_loughborough_fLouise Loughborough could be called the mother of historic preservation and history museums in Arkansas.

Born Louisa Watkins Wright in Little Rock 1881, her ancestors included many early Arkansas leaders. At age 21 she married attorney J. Fairfax Loughborough.  She became active in several organizations including the Little Rock Garden Club, Colonial Dames and Mount Vernon Ladies Association.

Her involvement in historic structures in Little Rock began when the Little Rock Garden Club sought to improve the appearance of the War Memorial Building (now known as the Old State House Museum) in 1928. The grounds were littered with signs and monuments, and the roof of the Greek Revival building sported figurative statues of Law, Justice, and Mercy, which had been installed above the pediment after being salvaged from the Arkansas exhibit at the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876. To take the façade of the edifice back to its original 1830s appearance, Loughborough had the statues removed—without the permission of the War Memorial Commission, which had legal authority over the building.

In 1935, Loughborough was appointed to the Little Rock Planning Commission, and it was in this role that she first heard about the plan to condemn the half-block of houses that she had grown up admiring on Cumberland and East Third streets. Although the neighborhood had fallen on hard times, becoming a red-light district and slum, Loughborough feared the loss of several historic structures, including the Hinderliter House, the oldest building in Little Rock and thought to be Arkansas’s last territorial capitol. She mobilized a group of civic leaders to save these buildings. She enlisted the aid of prominent architect Max Mayer and coined the term “town of three capitols” to try to capture the imagination of potential supporters, grouping the “Territorial Capitol” with the Old State House and the State Capitol.

In 1938, Loughborough secured a commitment from Floyd Sharp of the federal WPA to help with the project, on the condition that the houses be owned by a governmental entity. She persuaded the Arkansas General Assembly to create and support, with general revenues, the Arkansas Territorial Capitol Restoration Commission (Act 388 of 1939). This satisfied Sharp’s condition, and the WPA provided labor and material for the new historic house museum. A private fundraising campaign brought in the remaining monetary support necessary for the completion of the project.

The Arkansas Territorial Restoration opened on July 19, 1941. The project was the first Arkansas agency committed to both the restoration of structures and the interpretation of their history, and it served as a model and inspiration for historic preservation in the state. Around the same time, she was a moving force behind the creation of a museum at the Old State House as well.  Today both Historic Arkansas Museum (as the Territorial Restoration is now known) and the Old State House Museum are agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

As founding Chairman of the Arkansas Territorial Restoration Commission, Louise Loughborough provided daily direction for the museum house complex through the first twenty years of its existence, yielding her authority to architect Edwin B. Cromwell only as her health began to fail. She died in Little Rock on December 10, 1962 and was buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.