First Beaux Arts Bal raised money for fine art acquisition in Little Rock on December 12, 1958

Snow covered highways throughout the state on Friday, December 12, 1958.  However, the 400 guests at the Fine Arts Club’s first Beaux Arts Bal braved the roads and made their way to the blue drape bedecked ballroom of the Country Club of Little Rock. (Note, the event used the French spelling of Ball using only one “l.”)

Proceeds from the evening would be used by the Fine Arts Club to build up an acquisition fund for the Museum of Fine Arts. At the time, the club was in the process of launching an effort which would lead to the creation of the Arkansas Arts Center.

With the theme “bal de tete” (or “Head Ball”) guests were encouraged to come in their finest evening wear while sporting elegant and/or creative chapeaus atop their crowns.

Gege Darragh

Among the revelers were:

  • Elsie Stebbins, president of the Fine Arts Club, wearing a papier-mache silhouette of Arkansas adorned with the five flags which had flown over it
  • Howard Stebbins, president of Ducks Unlimited, wearing a replica of a duck blind complete with Mallard ducks
  • Daisy Jacoway, beneath a white Christmas wreath
  • Cooper Jacoway, clad in a black and white bear’s head with eyes flashing on and off
  • Carrie Dickinson, wearing a hat made of pink and red roses
  • Mayriann Hurst, bedecked in an epergne holding Christmas ornaments and fresh white orchids (as befitting the owner of Tipton Hurst florist)

Gege Darragh won a prize as “Most Artistic” hat which included lighted candles on a styrofoam base intermingled with white glitter oak leaves and silver balls. Her prize was a portrait by noted Arkansas artist Edwin Brewer.

The Hamiltons (as Marie Antoinette and her executioner) and the Kreths (as Siamese dancers)

Dr. and Mrs. K. M. Kreth won the prize for “Best Hats” which were a matching pair of elaborate gold peaked headdresses in the style of Siamese dancers. Their prize was a trip to Nassau.

The “Most Creative” prize went to Jeane and Jim Hamilton who wore hats depicting Marie Antoinette and her executioner.  They received a Swedish crystal masque.

The headgear was judged by a triumvirate of notables: Little Rock hotelier, restaurateur, and raconteur Sam Peck; future Arkansas First Lady Jeannette Rockefeller, and architect Edward Durrell Stone.

Among the many women serving with Elsie Stebbins on the planning committee were Jane McGehee, Daisy Jacoway, Raida Pfeifer, Buff Blass, and Kula Kumpuris.

Just as the Museum of Fine Arts made way for the Arkansas Arts Center, so too did this event change.  In 1971, the annual Beaux Arts Bal was replaced by Tabriz. In 1976, it became a two night event which took place every other year.

Peck, Rockefeller, and Stone judging the head wear

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.