Arkansas and Mexico: The Early Years is focus of Old State House Museum Brown Bag lecture today

Arkansas and Mexico each became political entities in the first decades of the 19th century. Both before and after Mexican Independence, Arkansans looked for commercial and political opportunities in Mexico.

Join the Old State House Museum on ThursdaySept. 12, from 12 to 1 p.m., as Dr. Kristin Dutcher Mann explores the first 100 years of relationships between Arkansas and Mexico.

Dr. Kristin Dutcher Mann is professor of history and social studies education coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

She is a specialist in the history of colonial Latin America and the U.S./Mexico Borderlands. In addition, she frequently works with teachers and students on public and local history projects and grants.


Exhibit celebrating the work of sculptor Jose Sacal opens at Clinton Center

José Sacal: A Universal MexicanA new exhibit is now open at the Clinton Presidential Center.  José Sacal: A Universal Mexican is presented in celebration of the CCIX Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico and National Hispanic Heritage Month

This exhibit is displayed in partnership with the Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock and the José Sacal Micha Foundation.

José Sacal is undoubtedly one of the most prominent representatives of contemporary sculptural art. Known for his experimentation and freedom, Sacal recognized no boundaries in his sources of inspiration and was not afraid to find new meaning in old forms.

José Sacal: A Universal MexicanJosé Sacal: A Universal Mexican includes two groups of the artist’s work: sculptures inspired by other works of art and portraits of historical figures. In his works, Sacal finds the essence of each character or work. It can be a detail or an object, but the rest is something deeper. By recreating them, Sacal gives them a new meaning and establishes an artistic dialogue at a higher level. In his intelligent observation of art and history, Sacal reveals himself as a universal Mexican.

José Sacal: A Universal Mexican is sponsored locally by Arvest Bank, Arkansas Tech University, Centennial Bank, Hope Credit Union, ISTI Plant Services, Morelos Supermercados, Bank of America, First Community Bank, First Security Bank, and The Ramirez Law Firm, PLLC.

Arkansas Heritage Month – Cinco de Mayo with Diego Rivera

portrait-of-two-womenToday is Cinco de Mayo. This Mexican holiday seems a good day to return again to the art 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 Abby Aldrich Rockefeller — well as cordial as an anti-social Communist could be with the doyenne of capitalist NYC Society.)

The Arkansas Arts Center has several other works of art in their collection with ties to Mexico. Some are by Mexican artists. Others are inspired by Mexico. They have several by Elsie Fruend depicting scenes in Mexico.

Human Rights along U.S./Mexico border topic of Clinton School address today at noon

UACSIn the summer of 2014, the headlines were dominated with stories about human rights issues at the border between the US and Mexico.  While the headlines may have faded, the issue has not.  Today at noon at the Clinton School, Chelsea Halstead will discuss “The Human Rights Crisis on the U.S. Mexico Border.”

Chelsea Halstead is a program manager for the Colibrí Center for Human Rights where she leads the Colibrí’s Family Advocacy program, speaking with families to collect information on missing persons and making case matches by comparing reports to forensic data.

The Colibrí Center is a family advocacy nonprofit based in Tucson, Arizona that works with families, forensic scientists and humanitarians to end migrant death on the U.S.-Mexico border.  The three major avenues for fulfilling their mission are: family advocacy, arts & storytelling, policy reform.

Halstead is an Arizona native. She grew up in Flagstaff and moved to Tucson in 2008 to earn her B.A. in Geography from the University of Arizona. After studying and working for a year in Guatemala, Chelsea returned to complete her senior honors thesis which explored humanitarian border activism and migrant death. After graduating in 2012, she worked as a Research Assistant for a Department of Justice-funded study investigating the practices, protocols, and procedures associated with the handling of migrant remains along the border.

In 2013, she was selected for a Humanity in Action Fellowship in Berlin. Soon after completing her fellowship, Chelsea joined the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, first as a volunteer and later as Program Manager. She currently heads Colibrí’s Family Advocacy program, speaking with families to collect information on missing persons and making case matches by comparing reports to forensic data. Chelsea also works to build relationships between Colibrí and various partners across the region.

Colibrí’s Executive Director, Robin Reineke and Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Bruce Anderson, first began this work in 2006 as the Missing Migrant Project at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner. In 2013, Robin Reineke and William Masson co-founded the Colibrí Center for Human Rights to expand the Missing Migrant Project and create a more comprehensive effort for the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

The program will begin at 12noon at the Clinton School of Public Service.

Light Up the Night This Weekend with LANTERNS! at Wildwood

Don’t miss THE MOON! at this year’s LANTERNS! Festival March 6 – 8. You can check out our giant moon balloon, delight in a moon-pie, and sip on a Blue Moon beer. Visit six locations spread throughout the park!

Located in Wildwood’s award-winning Asian Woodland Garden, the Asian Vista is a perennial highlight of LANTERNS! Don’t miss the wide variety of foods, including sushi, dumplings, egg rolls and fried rice. Sake and beer will be available as well as hot jasmine tea. Two bands, The Lemon Drops and The News Kids will perform in the garden’s Tea House while a Chinese harpist and a calligrapher will be on hand to showcase their art!

Wildwood is alive with the sound of music! Austria comes to Arkansas in the lobbies of Wildwood’s Cabe Theatre. Piping hot Viennese beef soup with crepe slivers will be served with apple strudel and delectable pastries. Be on the lookout for bands of gypsy vagabonds. The theatre’s south lobby has been transformed into a Alpine winter wonderland – complete with gourmet chocolate shoppe, mountain goats and polka band!

There is a literal pot of gold at the end of Wildwood’s Ireland rainbow, and a bit o’ gold for everyone who makes it through the leprechaun’s maze. Traditional Irish dancers entertain while festival goers dine on two Irish staples: beer and potatoes. For those looking to stay warm, there’s a steaming cup of Irish coffee waiting for you, and there’s Fizzy Leprechaun punch for the kids! Be careful where you step! Daffodils are a’bloom and William Wordsworth, one of Ireland’s greatest poets, will be on hand to tell you all about them!

Are you ready to live la vida LANTERNS!? All the tastes of Mexico can be found in Wildwood’s gazebo. Beer and tequila shots will be on hand, while a mariachi and DJ get the party started. The festival’s famed floating lanterns are launched from the gazebo, piñatas will be broken nightly!

It is England in 1600 in Wildwood’s Studios, and Shakespeare’s greatest works are being performed on the hour! Smoked turkey legs and brats are for sale and you’ll find a few lovely ladies hawking cherry tarts to passers by. Make your way down High Street and be on the lookout for carnival performers of all kinds. If you’re visiting with someone special, get them a fresh orange – these rare fruits are the ultimate symbol love!

Visit America in the 1950s as the Greatest Generation is home and ready to rock! Stop by your local soda shop to enjoy a Coke Float and snack on some classic American treats. Grab your poodle skirt and get on the dance floor where Elvis, Chuck Berry, and the Supremes are waiting for you. When you’re ready for a break, sit bit and enjoy a show by amazing performance artists!

Buy your tickets at