Anne Frank Tree exhibit to be dedicated today at Clinton Center

AnneFrankTreeThe Clinton Foundation and the Sisterhood of Congregation B’nai Israel, in conjunction with the Anne Frank Center USA, have joined together to create a new powerful exhibit, The Anne Frank Tree, which will be located on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Park.  The permanent installation, which will surround the Anne Frank Tree sapling, will open today.

In 2009, the Clinton Center was one of 11 entities in the United States to be awarded a young chestnut tree by the Anne Frank Center USA’s “Sapling Project.” The sapling was taken from the white horse chestnut tree that stood outside Anne Frank’s Secret Annex when she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. The young writer cherished and wrote about the tree frequently in her famous diary.

“As long as this exists,” Anne wrote on February 23, 1944, “how can I be sad?” During the two years she spent in the Secret Annex, the solace Anne found in her chestnut tree provided a powerful contrast to the Holocaust unfolding beyond her attic window. And as war narrowed in on Anne and her family, her tree became a vivid reminder that a better world was possible.

Anne’s tree would outlive its namesake by more than 50 years before being weakened by disease and succumbing to a windstorm in 2010. But today, thanks to dozens of saplings propagated in the months before its death, Anne’s tree lives on in cities and towns around the world. The Anne Frank tree saplings provide an opportunity for these sites to tell the story of Anne Frank and connect it to incidents of injustice witnessed in each locale. To date, seven saplings have been planted at locations as diverse as the U.S. Capitol and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

The Center’s installation consists of five framed, etched glass panels – arranged to evoke the feeling of being inside a room – surrounded by complementary natural landscaping. The two front panels feature quotes from Anne Frank and President Clinton. The three additional panels will convey the complex history of human rights in Arkansas through descriptions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis of 1957. These panels will feature quotes from Chief Heckaton, hereditary chief of the Quapaw during Arkansas’ Indian Removal; George Takei, Japanese-American actor who was interned at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County in 1942; and Melba Patillo Beals, member of the Little Rock Nine.

In collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, Little Rock landscape architect Cinde Drilling and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, exhibit designer for both the Center and The National Holocaust Museum, assisted in the design of the exhibit. The installation has been made possible thanks to the support of the Ben J. Altheimer Charitable Foundation and other generous partners.

The Center’s sapling is currently housed in a local nursery where it is acclimating to Arkansas’s environment. And although it will be present during the ceremony, it will be returned to the nursery where it will be cared for until it has matured and can thrive in its new home, located on the grounds of the Park. A similar chestnut tree will be temporarily planted in its place until the Anne Frank tree can be permanently transplanted.

BEND, examining Japanese American experience in World War II, to be presented tonight

Bend-DrawingCloseUp72-bannerTonight at 7pm at the Ron Robinson Theater, the Arkansas Archeological Survey presents a play about the Japanese American experience during World War II.
Kimi Maeda’s solo performance, Bend, tells the true story of two men interned in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II: Maeda’s father, an Asian Art historian currently suffering from dementia, and the subject of his research, Isamu Noguchi, a half-Japanese-half-American sculptor. Weaving together live feed projections of sand drawings with archival footage from the 1940s, Maeda’s performance poses important questions about how the Japanese American internment camps will be remembered.
The Arkansas Archeological Survey is partnering with the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum, the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Japanese Club, and the University of Arkansas in Little Rock (UALR) to help teach the public about the state’s rich history. Art, particularly the performance and active creation of art, as Maeda does, is an important way to communicate the emotion of past events. Bend will be performed in Little Rock and McGehee. Dr. Johanna Miller-Lewis, a historian at UALR, and Richard Yada, who was born at Rohwer, will participate in a talk back session following the performance.
Bend in Little Rock – Thursday, August 27, 7 PM
Ron Robinson Theater
100 River Market Avenue
Purchase your tickets now. $10.00

Butler Center Legacies & Lunch today at noon: Frank Sata

legaciesEach month (usually the first Wednesday), the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies hosts “Legacies & Lunch”.  This month the program features Frank Sata discussing Unlikely Foundation: How WWII Internment in Arkansas Shaped a Family’s Life in Art and Architecture.  

Mr. Sata’s appearance is also presented in partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service’s speaker series.

sataAs a young boy, Frank Sata was one of thousands of Japanese Americans who spent time in Arkansas during World War II, imprisoned by their own country merely because of their ancestry. He was eight years old when his family was shipped from their home in California to Jerome, where one of two Arkansas internment camps for Japanese Americans was built by the War Relocation Authority. Mr. Sata’s father, J.T. Sata, was an accomplished artist who documented his family’s time in camps in Arkansas and Arizona in a series of remarkable oil paintings and charcoal drawings. Much of that art is currently on display in Concordia Hall of Butler Center Galleries, as part of Drawn In: New Art from WWII Camps at Rohwer and Jerome, and will remain in the Butler Center’s collection following the closing of the exhibition on August 23, 2014.

Mr. Sata, who lives in Pasadena, California, went on to become an architect. His own work was influenced by his experience of the World War II camps, his father’s art and photography, and famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s fascination with Asian architecture. He will discuss the internment experience, his father’s art, and the ways his work as an architect reflects his memories of his years in Arkansas.

Despite the sadness embedded in the injustice of the World War II camps, Mr. Sata says, “I have since developed a sense of comfort and place for Arkansas.” He says, “Sometimes words do not come easily for me to describe that special meaning, but he is an eloquent interpreter of the power of a harsh experience visited upon a country’s citizens by wartime frenzy and the healing power of creativity to overcome anger and bitterness.

Legacies & Lunch is sponsored in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council. Bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided. For more information, visit

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra – Beethoven, Schoenberg, Takei

Actor and activist George Takei joins the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra this weekend in concerts at Robinson Center Music Hall to narrate Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw at a concert featuring a message of hope and unity with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony also known as Ode to Joy.

The ASO MasterWorks concerts are tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 3pm.

Takei’s appearance is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust and he will take the stage as narrator during Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw. The narration that accompanies this piece depicts the story of a concentration camp survivor from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. Takei, a Japanese American who as a child was interned at an internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas during World War II, is a supporter of human right issues and community activist.  Takei is chairman emeritus and a trustee of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and was appointed to the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission by former President Clinton.
Just after Schoenberg’s moving piece, Maestro Philip Mann and the ASO musicians will be joined by over 400 voices from the state of Arkansas for Beethoven’s prayer for hope and peace,Symphony No. 9, Ode to Joy. “This is perhaps the most recognizable work in the history of classical music, and for good reason,” said Mann. “Its message of triumph and victory through a shared brotherhood between peoples is an enduring, timeless, and transcendent declaration. Seen as a watershed movement in music history, the work has gained such significance and is now synonymous with important moments in world history—like its performance marking the re-unification of Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall.”


George Takei, narrator
Schoenberg Chorus
River City Men’s Chorus
Beethoven Chorus
Arkansas State University
Harding University
Hendrix College
Lyon College
Ouachita Baptist University
Philander Smith College
Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Members of River City Men’s Chorus
Philip Mann, conductor
Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Arts & Humanities Month: Rowher Art Exhibit at Arkansas Studies Institute

The Arkansas Studies Institute (ASI) is a collaboration between the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Rohwer Camp #23 artist unknown

In addition to being a repository for historical collections, the ASI houses four art galleries, , featuring the work of Arkansas artists and art related to the state. The exhibit galleries feature rotating exhibits including works from the CALS permanent collection.

Currently on display is the multi-media exhibit entitled “The Art of Living: Japanese American Creative Experience at Rowher.”  Curated by Butler Center staff from the Mabel Rose Jamison Vogel/Rosalie Santine Gould Collection, it showcases art created by internees at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County and tells the story of creativity in the face of dire circumstances. It is on display through November 26.


Also on display at the ASI are the following exhibits:

  • Thomas Harding, Pinhole Photography – October 14 – December 31
  • Arkansas Pastel Society’s National Exhibition – October 14 – January 14
  • Leon Niehues: 21st Century Basketmaker – October 14 – January 28

Designed by the architectural firm of Polk Stanley Wilcox, the ASI campus is comprised of three buildings from three different centuries which were combined seamlessly.  In recognition of this effort, the Arkansas Studies Institute (ASI) received the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Award—one of only five awards given worldwide. The award, presented every two years by the national American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association, honors excellence in the architectural design and planning of libraries.

“We worked diligently to design a facility that would both connect the public with Arkansas’s rich history and enliven the streetscape, drawing people in,” said Reese Rowland, project design principal with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects. “This national recognition is a testament to the public’s trust and continued investment in one of our community’s most critical assets, the public library. Our firm takes great pride in contributing to that trust. It’s always an honor to work with the visionary leadership at CALS.”