#5WomenArtists – Reita Walker Miller

November Birds 
1980
22 x 29 1/2 in.
watercolor on paper
Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection:
Gift of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists Exhibition. 1980.008

Through their social media campaign #5WomenArtists, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) asks, “Can you name five women artists?

In response to that, this month five artists with Little Rock connections will be highlighted throughout March.  The final one for 2019 is Reita Walker Miller.

Reita mainly paints in watercolor. She has long been active in the Mid-Southern Watercolorists and held many leadership positions within the organization; she is currently serving as an at-large board member.

In addition to being a talented artist, she is known as an educator and encourager of others whether it is in watercolors or another artform.  She helped establish the art program at the Central Arkansas Library System during her tenure on staff there. She was also a founding member of Little Rock’s Arts+Culture Commission.

Her artwork is in numerous collections. The Arkansas Arts Center has three of her pieces in its permanent collection.

#5WomenArtists – Marjorie Williams-Smith

Through their social media campaign #5WomenArtists, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) asks, “Can you name five women artists?

In response to that, this month five artists with Little Rock connections will be highlighted throughout March.  Up next is Marjorie Williams-Smith. 

Marjorie Williams-Smith has worked with silverpoint for over 30 years. Silverpoint is an especially challenging medium, but that is part of the allure. The effect of light on the silver lines creates a shimmering quality that is quite different from any other drawing medium.

She draws with a metal stylus on a prepared surface.  Hatched and cross-hatched lines create values and textures.  The white of the page provides the contrast. Since erasing is not possible with silverpoint, every line has to be premeditated.

Silverpoint is the perfect medium for the subject matter of Marjorie’s work: nature. She uses these natural forms as symbols for the spiritual energy that exists within us all.

Two of her works were included in the recent exhibition: ON THEIR OWN TERMS which was on display at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Earlier this month, she received the Individual Artist Award at the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards presented by Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Arts Council.

#5WomenArtists – Robyn Horn

Through their social media campaign #5WomenArtists, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) asks, “Can you name five women artists?

In response to that, this month five artists with Little Rock connections will be highlighted throughout March.  Up next is Robyn Horn. She is a talented artist who also is an avid collector and promoter of other artists.

Born in Fort Smith, Horn graduated from Hendrix College with a degree in art.  In the late 1970s, she was the photographer for Arkansas Parks and Tourism.

Her work as an wood artist started in 1983.  Since then, she has worked in a variety of styles that have evolved over the years. Horn is drawn to abstract, geometric sculpture, the volume of it, the form, the textures, the negative spaces. She is influenced by the nature of the material and its resistance to being changed and thinks in terms of wood and stone,.  Her works explore line and mass, the interplay of angles and planes to create effects of light and shadow, with a strong emphasis on visual grace, and a sense of structural strength and unity.  She has also resumed painting.

Currently her works can be seen at the Clinton Presidential Center (in the White House Craft exhibit which runs through the end of the month) and at Galleries at Library Square on the CALS campus. Her work is also part of the Arkansas Arts Center permanent collection as well as on display at Crystal Bridges and other locations throughout Arkansas and beyond.  In 2018, she published a book The Sculpture of Robyn Horn.

#5WomenArtists – Elsie Bates Freund

 

Through their social media campaign #5WomenArtists, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) asks, “Can you name five women artists?

In response to that, this month five artists with Little Rock connections will be highlighted throughout March.  Up first is Elsie Bates Freund.

Born in Missouri in 1912, she was active as an artist in both Eureka Springs and later Little Rock. She died there in 2001.

Freund drew inspiration from her home in the Ozarks and applied it to painting and ceramics. As a painter and ceramicist and she signed all of her jewelry as “Elsa” and her paintings as “Elsie.”  Her work can be found at many museums including the Smithsonian, Arkansas Arts Center and Historic Arkansas Museum.

Freund is one of the 5 Women Artists being highlighted by Historic Arkansas Museum this month as part of its #5WomenArtists effort.

LR Women Making History – Mimi Dortch

Madalyn “Mimi” Breitzke Dortch, was known for getting worthwhile projects off the ground.

She was a founder along with dear friend Cliff Baker, of the Arkansas Repertory Theater; hosted the first Arkansas Opera Theatre outdoor perforomance at her home Marlsgate, was a founder along with Helen Walton of Arkansas Committee of National Museum of Women in the Arts, and was the Director of AIC Choir Camp at Subiaco for 22 years.

When Baker had the idea for the Rep, she made use of her personal connections and helped form the first Board of Directors.  She served as an ambassador for the Rep and theatre in general.   Throughout the rest of her life, she would be a stalwart supporter of the Rep.  Her interest in theatre had been nurtured while she was in college.  Her interest in founding community endeavors had been inherited from her father who founded the North Little Rock Boys Club.

The AIC Choir Camp was originally founded by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.  She oversaw the transition to it being under the auspices of the Arkansas Interfaith Conference of Churches and Synagogues, which she led.

There were few art forms or art organizations in Little Rock and Arkansas that Mimi Dortch did not attend or support.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Virginia Bailey

Bailey, Virginia MitchellVirginia Mitchell Bailey was an avid supporter and promoter of visual and performing arts.  A real estate developer, she was a wife, mother, grandmother, and tireless community volunteer as well.  She was a trailblazer in the area of balancing a business career with continued volunteerism.  While today that is common, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was very rare for women to do both.

Virginia served on the Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. She was a member of the Fine Arts Club since 1960. She served for 17 years on the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees and for 12 years on the Arts Center Foundation Board. She was Secretary of the Arts Center Board in 1974, President of the Board from 1976 to 1977, and Chairman of the Board from 1977 to 1978. In 1989, she received the Winthrop Rockefeller Annual Award for outstanding service to the Arts Center. In 2001, the Arts Center Board named the Virginia and Ted Bailey Gallery in her honor.

From 1992 to 1995, Virginia served on the Advisory Board of the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. She served as the first President of the Friends of the Arts at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  She was also a board member of Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts.

In recognition of their philanthropic support for so many charitable groups in the community and elsewhere, and by nomination from UALR, Virginia and her husband Dr. Ted Bailey received the Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Arkansas Chapter of the National Association of Fundraisers in 1994. In 1990, Virginia received one of the annual Outstanding Women of the Year Awards sponsored by Boatmen’s Bank. She was honored with the Little Rock Arts and Humanities Award (AHA!) in 1995.