Little Rock Look Back: LR’s first government created

Little Rock started functioning as the capital of Arkansas in June 1821. But by 1825 the settlement known as Little Rock was little more than a loosely defined group of structures. One hundred and ninety-three years ago today, on October 27, 1825,Territorial Governor George Izard signed legislation which started establishing a framework for Little Rock to function as a city.

It established that Little Rock citizens could elect a board of trustees to decide matters. Those trustees would choose one of their own to be a presiding officer. Though Little Rock would not be officially incorporated until 1831, this was the first step towards incorporation. The first trustees, elected for 1826, were Robert Crittenden, Joseph Henderson, Nicholas Peay, Bernard Smith and Isaac Watkins. Smith was chosen to be the presiding officer.

Crittenden had been largely responsible for the relocation of the capitol to Little Rock, where he owned a lot of land. He was a major political force in Arkansas politics during the territorial days. Watkins was a nephew of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had established the first tavern in Little Rock in 1821 and later he first mill in 1826. He was murdered in 1827 and the perpetrator was never captured.

Peay bought the tavern from Watkins in 1826 and continued in the tavern and hotel business the rest of his life. He later served on the Little Rock City Council and was acting mayor. His son Gordon Neill Peay served as Mayor of Little Rock. The Peay family also cofounded Worthen Bank and Christ Episcopal Church. Members of several branches of Mr. Peay’s descendants including the Worthen and Hurst families remain active in Little Rock affairs.


Flag Day 2018

Today is Flag Day.  Here are several photos of the Stars and Stripes taken in Little Rock over the past few years.

Flag at Robinson Center

Flag outside of Tipton & Hurst main store in Heights

Flag outside of Tipton & Hurst main store in Heights

Flag at the Clinton Presidential Center

The red, white and blue stand out against the night sky and limestone of the Arkansas State Capitol.

The red, white and blue stand out against the night sky and limestone of the Arkansas State Capitol.

The stars and stripes unfurled from the balcony of the Capital Hotel.

The stars and stripes unfurled from the balcony of the Capital Hotel.

Flag Day 4

American flags mark the graves of veterans in Mt. Holly Cemetery

Kick of the Christmas Season at the Capital Hotel

2016-cap-hotel-treeOn the day after Thanksgiving, the Culture Vulture goes to the Capital Hotel to see the Christmas tree arrive and be erected.  This year’s tree is 34 feet tall. It very nearly touches the stained glass ceiling in the Capital Hotel lobby.

Over the weekend, the busy elves of Tipton Hurst work to get the tree decorated in time for the treelighting festivities.

Tonight (Monday, November 28) Santa makes his first 2016 appearance in downtown Little Rock for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting!

The Capital Hotel will be roasting chestnuts, enjoying Christmas cookies and sipping on hot chocolate and our famous eggnog. The festivities begin at 5:00pm with the tree lighting at 6:30pm.

There will be music, merriment, and more.

Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature exhibit brings larger than life photographs to Arkansas Arts Center

AAC LargerLifeToday through May 1, the Arkansas Arts Center plays host to photographer Nathalia Edenmont’s first major U.S. exhibition.

Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature is the artist’s first solo exhibition in a major American museum and features ten, richly colored, large-format photographs. Five of the photographs, including Eden, a self-portrait of the artist, are recent works and have never before been exhibited. Force of Nature is organized by the Arkansas Arts Center and Nancy Hoffman Gallery (New York City) and is presented in conjunction with the Garden Club of America Zone 9 annual meeting, which occurs in Little Rock in late-April 2016.

“Nathalia Edenmont’s photos are striking both in terms of their scale and colorful content,” said Brian J. Lang, chief curator and curator of contemporary craft at the Arkansas Arts Center. “We look forward to hosting Edenmont’s first major U.S. exhibition, giving Arkansans the opportunity to be among the first to see some of her most recent photos.”

Born in 1970 in Yalta, Ukraine, Nathalia Edenmont moved to Sweden by the age of 20, realizing that life in the former Soviet Union was disintegrating and held no future for her. At 27, Edenmont enrolled in the Forsbergs Skola to study graphic design. At the school her artist-mentor, Per Hüttner, encouraged her to visualize her inner pictures and to try to capture them with the camera.

All of Edenmont’s photographs derive from her life experience. “I only look inside my head,” the artist explains. “What I see in my mind is what I create. I do not sketch; the image is complete and sharp within me. I have absolute control over all aspects of what I do.”

Using a large-format Sinar camera with 8×10 film and many lenses, Edenmont works with a team of eight to twelve people over the course of one day to compose a single “shot.” She has two camera assistants (both professional photographers), a hair stylist and a dressmaker.

What each figure wears is central to the meaning of each work. The artist’s “portraits” reflect intensity, each subject stands expressionless and motionless against a pitch-black background, cloaked in flowers revealing only her neck and shoulders; light emanates from within. It is the “flower pile” or dress the artist composes that tells the tale, sometimes with birds or snakes, sometimes with fresh flowers or vegetables, and at other times with wilted blooms. “Since my childhood I have heard that a woman’s beauty is like a flower, it passes quickly,” Edenmont says. “That is why I switch from fresh flowers to dry and very old. I see much beauty in dried flowers. I grew up as a Russian Orthodox and in the cemetery the fresh graves covered in flowers looked like my flower piles from which I compose my dresses.”

Edenmont is a two-time recipient of the Konstnarsnamndens Arbetsstipendium, a grant awarded by the Culture Department in Stockholm, Sweden. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including museums in Sweden, Russia and Germany; Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature is the artist’s first solo exhibition in a major American museum.

Edenmont will speak at an AAC Member Lecture & Late Night event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 21. A book signing will immediately follow the lecture.

Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature is sponsored by Tipton & Hurst, Kara and David Dowers for Annie Dowers and Dr. and Mrs. Charles Cole.

Hurst to lead Department of Arkansas Heritage

stacy-hurstYesterday Governor-Elect Asa Hutchinson announced that Stacy J. Hurst of Little Rock will be the next director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

“Stacy is extremely bright and hardworking, and she understands the importance of protecting and preserving our state’s incredibly rich history and culture. I have no doubt she will do a remarkable job in her new position as the director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage,” Hutchinson said.

As director of the agency, she will serve as the state’s chief preservation officer. She will oversee the Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templar’s Cultural Center, and Old State House Museum.

From January 2003 until December 2014, Hurst represented Ward 3 on the Little Rock City Board.  A native of Pine Bluff, she moved to Little Rock in 1985 after graduating from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a degree in Communications.  Since 1996, she has worked at Tipton & Hurst, Inc.  Prior to that, she worked for Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation for twelve years, retiring from the organization as Vice President.

From January 2007 to December 2008, she served as Vice Mayor of the City of Little Rock.  Prior to her election to the City Board, she served as co-chair of the Vision Little Rock, Recreation and Tourism workgroup.  She also served as a member of the Little Rock Zoo Board of Governors from 2000 to 2002.

Hurst chaired the three (3)-year community-wide planning process that led to a vision and Master Plan for the renovation of War Memorial Park.  Since the plan was adopted by the Board, over $2 million has been devoted to improvements within this signature park.  She was instrumental in the revitalization of the Midtown Redevelopment Corridor.  These efforts started with the Statement of Expectations planning document and a Design Overlay District adopted by the Planning Commission and board of Directors.  As a result of this work, tens of millions of dollars of private investment in the Midtown Corridor that continues today.

She was founding chair and board member of the City Parks Conservancy, which raises money for the City’s parks.  She has served as chair of the Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees in Arkansas.  She is currently a sustaining member of the Junior League of Little Rock, after having led the League’s efforts to purchase and restore the historic Women’s City Club in downtown.  Her numerous other community memberships include the Nature Conservancy,Arkansas Arts Center, Youth Home Board of Trustees, Arkansas Women’s Forum, CARTI Foundation Board of Trustees, Little Rock Garden Club, First Tee of Arkansas Board of Trustees, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, Alzheimer’s Arkansas Advisory Board.

Capital Christmas commences tonight with Christmas Tree lighting at 5:30pm

cap christ 2014Last Friday, the twenty-seven (27) feet tall Christmas tree was delivered to the Capital Hotel in downtown.  Since then, the elves of Tipton Hurst have been scurrying to decorate it and put the finishing touches on other decorations throughout the hotel.

Tonight at 5:30, the Capital Hotel Christmas Tree lighting will take place in the lobby of the hotel.  It will feature Santa Claus, dancers from Ballet Arkansas’ production of The Nutcracker, holiday music, treats and some Christmas surprises.  There is no charge.

This only kicks off the Capital Christmas festivities.

On Sunday, December 7, December 14 and December 21, Santa will return to the Capital Hotel lobby from noon to 2:30. Free.

On Tuesday, December 9, Tales from the South will host its Annual Holiday Show in the Capital Ballroom at 6pm. Tickets are $40.  Reserve tickets at

On Saturday, December 13, the popular Teddy Bear Tea will take place in One Eleven from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.  Tickets are $25 for child and $38 for adult. Reserve a spot at 501.370.7011

On Saturday, December 20 from 10:30am to 12:30pm, the Gingerbread Workshop will take place in the Capital Ballroom.  Cost is $55 for child and $20 for adult. Reserve a spot at 501.370.7011

On Monday, December 22, Storytime with Santa in the Capital Lobby from 6pm to 8pm.  No charge, but reservations are required at 501.374.7474.

In addition, there will be music performances in the Capital Lobby throughout the season.