Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


Little Rock Look Back: A Dozen Years of the Clinton Library

SkipIt has been twelve years.  Have you warmed up yet?

Many remember November 18, 2004, for the rain and cold wind which greeted visitors to the opening of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park.  In the years which lead up to that day, November 18, 2004, was known simply as “Game Day” for a group of people.  The chief one was Skip Rutherford.

Overseeing the planning for the Clinton Presidential Center and the events surrounding it had been the focus of James L. “Skip” Rutherford for many years. A FOB for decades, he had stayed in Little Rock when so many went to Washington DC in 1993.

He oversaw the planning for the Clinton Library and led the Clinton Foundation.  No detail was too small or insignificant for him to consider. For months leading to the opening he led meetings to help restaurants, hotels, and attractions understand the scope of the opening.

Together with Dean Kumpuris and Bruce Moore on behalf of the City of Little Rock and Stephanie Streett of the Clinton Foundation, he reviewed plans for the Clinton Presidential Park and the streets and neighborhoods around the Clinton Presidential Center.

Skip used his connections with the business community in Little Rock and throughout the state to discuss the importance of a Presidential Library regardless of one’s personal political affiliations.  He withstood critics who second-guessed everything from the cost, the design, the location, the purpose, and even the anticipated tourism and economic impacts.

Finally the big day had come.  If the weather was not ideal, that was almost inconsequential. It was still the culmination of more than seven years hard work.  As he remarked later that evening when discussing the weather “Many who attended today go to events like this all the time.  This is one they won’t forget!”

However, the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center was not the end of the task. It merely was the move from one phase to another. A few years later, Skip’s role would change as he would leave the Foundation and become the second Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service.

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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.


Little Rock Look Back: Clinton Center Opened 11 Years Ago Today

SkipMany remember November 18, 2004, for the rain and cold wind which greeted visitors to the opening of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center and Park.  In the years which lead up to that day, November 18, 2004, was known simply as “Game Day” for a group of people.  The chief one was Skip Rutherford.

Overseeing the planning for the Clinton Presidential Center and the events surrounding it had been the focus of James L. “Skip” Rutherford for many years. A FOB for decades, he had stayed in Little Rock when so many went to Washington DC in 1993.

He oversaw the planning for the Clinton Library and led the Clinton Foundation.  No detail was too small or insignificant for him to consider. For months leading to the opening he led meetings to help restaurants, hotels, and attractions understand the scope of the opening.

Together with Dean Kumpuris and Bruce Moore on behalf of the City of Little Rock and Stephanie Streett of the Clinton Foundation, he reviewed plans for the Clinton Presidential Park and the streets and neighborhoods around the Clinton Presidential Center.

He used his connections with the business community in Little Rock and throughout the state to discuss the importance of a Presidential Library regardless of one’s personal political affiliations.  He withstood critics who second-guessed everything from the cost, the design, the location, the purpose, and even the anticipated tourism and economic impacts.

Finally the big day had come.  If the weather was not ideal, that was almost inconsequential. It was still the culmination of more than seven years hard work.

However, the opening of the Clinton Presidential Center was not the end of the task. It merely was the move from one phase to another. A few years later, Skip’s role would change as he would leave the Foundation and become the second Dean of the Clinton School of Public Service.


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.


Final Days for Dinosaurs at Clinton Center

These are the final days for the dinosaurs at the Clinton Center.  No, a huge meteorite is not hurdling toward the Clinton Presidential Park, it is just that the exhibit is coming to a close this weekend.

Clinton Dinos

Photo courtesy of Clinton Presidential Center

Dinosaurs Around the World takes you back in time on a dinosaur adventure and a tour of an Earth very different from today – a time before the continents as we know them existed, when lush landscapes covered Africa and greenery was the norm in Antarctica! With 13 life-sized animatronics, a multi-layered narrative, fossils, authentic casts, cutting-edge research and immersive design elements, you’ll experience the Age of Reptiles as it comes to life!

 Dinosaurs Around the World invites you to grab your prehistoric passport to Pangea and discover how continental splits driven by plate tectonics, land bridges revealed after sea level fluctuations, and new landforms created by volcanic activity allowed dinosaurs to disperse to all corners of the globe. These left each of the seven continents with its own unique selection of these giant reptiles. During their 172 million year reign, dinosaurs adapted into a variety of forms including enormous long-necked herbivores, the mighty T. rex, and more.
“We are thrilled to host the global premiere of Dinosaurs Around the World and look forward to sharing this interactive and scientific exhibit with our visitors,” said Stephanie S. Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation. “Our summer exhibits are highly anticipated by the community because they are specifically designed to appeal to the entire family.”
In addition to advanced animatronics, Dinosaurs Around the World also features information about the geologic time scale, geology, geography, and climatology. The exhibition questions how the dinosaurs lived on each continent, how they interacted with each other, how geography impacted their behavior and diets, and what the continents were really like at the time.
The exhibit also features an area that chronicles the accomplishments of four U.S. Presidents who worked to preserve the fossil-rich areas in North America where dinosaurs once roamed. Exhibit artifacts include items from the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman. This display includes a dinosaur skull replica on loan from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an area that President Clinton designated as a national monument in 1996.
Dr. Gregory M. Erickson, a world-renowned dinosaur paleontologist, is the Senior Scientific Advisor for Dinosaurs Around the World. Dr. Erickson received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington, a Master’s degree from Montana State University, and a Ph. D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and conducted post-doctoral research at Stanford University and Brown University before joining the faculty at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Dr. Erickson is currently the curator for the Florida State University Museum and holds research appointments with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, The Field Museum in Chicago, and University of Alaska’s Museum of the North in Fairbanks. Dr. Erickson is working with Imagine Exhibitions as an advisor, writer, and editor of the paleontology copy for the Company’s Dinosaurs Around the World exhibition.
Dinosaurs Around the World is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, through October 18, 2015. Tickets are available to purchase at the Clinton Center.


No need for Jurassic World, See Dinosaurs around the World at Clinton Center

Clinton DinosIf Jurassic World has put you in the mood for more dinosaurs, the Clinton Presidential Center has just what you need.  Through October 18, it is featuring Dinosaurs Around the World through October 18.

Dinosaurs Around the World takes you back in time on a dinosaur adventure and a tour of an Earth very different from today – a time before the continents as we know them existed, when lush landscapes covered Africa and greenery was the norm in Antarctica! With 13 life-sized animatronics, a multi-layered narrative, fossils, authentic casts, cutting-edge research and immersive design elements, you’ll experience the Age of Reptiles as it comes to life!
Dinosaurs Around the World invites you to grab your prehistoric passport to Pangea and discover how continental splits driven by plate tectonics, land bridges revealed after sea level fluctuations, and new landforms created by volcanic activity allowed dinosaurs to disperse to all corners of the globe. These left each of the seven continents with its own unique selection of these giant reptiles. During their 172 million year reign, dinosaurs adapted into a variety of forms including enormous long-necked herbivores, the mighty T. rex, and more.
“We are thrilled to host the global premiere of Dinosaurs Around the World and look forward to sharing this interactive and scientific exhibit with our visitors,” said Stephanie S. Streett, executive director of the Clinton Foundation. “Our summer exhibits are highly anticipated by the community because they are specifically designed to appeal to the entire family.”
In addition to advanced animatronics, Dinosaurs Around the World also features information about the geologic time scale, geology, geography, and climatology. The exhibition questions how the dinosaurs lived on each continent, how they interacted with each other, how geography impacted their behavior and diets, and what the continents were really like at the time.
The exhibit also features an area that chronicles the accomplishments of four U.S. Presidents who worked to preserve the fossil-rich areas in North America where dinosaurs once roamed. Exhibit artifacts include items from the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman. This display includes a dinosaur skull replica on loan from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an area that President Clinton designated as a national monument in 1996.
Dr. Gregory M. Erickson, a world-renowned dinosaur paleontologist, is the Senior Scientific Advisor for Dinosaurs Around the World. Dr. Erickson received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Washington, a Master’s degree from Montana State University, and a Ph. D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and conducted post-doctoral research at Stanford University and Brown University before joining the faculty at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Dr. Erickson is currently the curator for the Florida State University Museum and holds research appointments with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, The Field Museum in Chicago, and University of Alaska’s Museum of the North in Fairbanks. Dr. Erickson is working with Imagine Exhibitions as an advisor, writer, and editor of the paleontology copy for the Company’s Dinosaurs Around the World exhibition.
Dinosaurs Around the World is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, through October 18, 2015. Tickets are available to purchase at the Clinton Center.


Heritage Month – Choctaw Station

Choctaw StationForty years ago today, on May 6, 1975, Little Rock’s Choctaw Route Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

This turn-of-the-century railroad depot is one of the finest examples of railroad, architecture in Arkansas.  This red brick with terra cotta elements building is a two story rectangular structure with one story wings projecting from both the north and south elevations.  A long one story porch covers the passenger loading area along the entire east elevation, with a smaller porch over the entry on the west elevation.

The Choctaw Route Station was built between 1899 and 1901 (records vary) by the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad.  This railroad amalgamated with many small lines in Oklahoma and extended into Arkansas in the early 1890’s.  Used as a passenger station, the Little Rock terminal building housed two waiting rooms, a baggage room, restaurant and dining room.

When the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad was sold in 1902, the Choctaw Route Station became the property of the Rock Island Railroad.  Until the mid 1950’s it continued to serve as a passenger station for the Rock Island.  It later served as a warehouse, restaurant and nightclub.

Since 2004, it has been the home to the Clinton School for Public Service as well as Clinton Foundation offices.  Restoration was underwritten by the Roy and Christine Sturgis Foundation. In recognition of this, it is now known as Sturgis Hall.  Former Clinton School Dean David Pryor referred to it as “the little red school house.”

On Earth Day (April 22, 2015), it was announced that Sturgis Hall had received Gold LEED certification from the US Green Building Council.  In August 2009, the Clinton School received a stimulus grant from Governor Mike Beebe to implement sustainable and maintenance practices for reducing the environmental impact of the building. Utility bills costs have already been lowered by $38,000 annually and water usage has been significantly curtailed.

This designation made it the oldest building in Arkansas to be LEED certified and one of the oldest university buildings in the world.  The LEED certification had been a goal of Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford and Clinton Foundation Executive Director Stephanie Streett.