Tonight – Clinton School and UA Little Rock present program on The Struggle in the South mural

Today (January 16) at noon, UA Little Rock officially cuts the ribbon on the new UA Little Rock Downtown campus in the River Market district.

Tonight at 6pm, the Clinton School Speaker Series in conjunction with UA Little Rock presents a panel discussion on the Joe Jones mural, “The Struggle in the South” which is featured in that new space.  It will take place in the UA Little Rock Downtown location.

In 1935, famed American artist Joe Jones created “The Struggle in the South,” a provocative depiction of Southern sharecroppers, coal miners and a black family in fear of a lynching.

Originally painted in the dining hall at Commonwealth College near Mena, Arkansas, this 44-by-9-foot work was recently restored with a $500,000 grant from Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Center.

During this program, moderator Senator Joyce Elliott will join Brad Cushman, UA Little Rock Department of Art and Design Gallery director and curator; author Guy Lancaster; Dr. Brian Mitchell, UA Little Rock professor of history; Dr. Bobby L. Robert, former UA Little Rock archivist and Central Arkansas Library System executive director; and Taemora Williams, UA Little Rock student, to discuss the artwork’s historical significance and importance of its new home in UA Little Rock Downtown’s reflection room.

All Clinton School Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. Reserve your seats by emailing publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu or by calling (501) 683-5239.

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2nd Friday Art Night – Christ Church

Christ Episcopal Church will open a new art exhibit in its Gallery on Friday, January 11, 2019. Brenda Fowler will be the featured artist from January 11 through the end of March 2019.

Fowler’s paintings will be on display for purchase in the Gallery. The exhibit is entitled “Life Changes,” which, Fowler explains, embraces the essence of an ever-changing life, as well as the emotions experienced throughout these changes.

Fowler is an Arkansas artist whose original contemporary abstract expressionist paintings are intended to convey the creative energy and passion for expression through which all artists go. Her mixed media, large-scale paintings on deep, gallery-wrapped canvas, are comprised of multiple layers of strong, vibrant, high-quality fine art acrylic colors, often with added texture. Each piece begins with a concept, a thought, or an idea with the intent to convey emotions and are reflective of their titles.

Fowler received her formal education at the University of Arkansas Little Rock and the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. Her paintings have been displayed at numerous art galleries and interior design firms throughout Arkansas and in Dallas.

Christ Church believes that artists, whether painters or singers or sculptors or poets, show something of God when they show us the world’s truth and beauty through their talents. The Gallery is open to the public each weekday during regular business hours and is also a regular stop on downtown Little Rock’s Second Friday Art Night. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on Friday, January 11 from 5 pm-8 pm.

18 Cultural Events of 2018 – UA Little Rock unveils restored Joe Jones mural from 1930s

As curator Brad Cushman said at the unveiling of the Joe Jones mural, “There is absolutely no reason this mural should still exist.”  But it does.  And now fully restored Jones’s 1935 mural The Struggle in the South is a centerpiece of the new UA Little Rock Downtown Campus in the heart of the River Market.

First painted in the 1935 to be placed at Commonwealth College in Mena, it spent many years lining two closets in a house after it had been taken down from its original location. When that house was being torn down, someone called Bobby Roberts because they thought it might be something worth saving.

Dr. Roberts drove to west Arkansas, picked it up, and brought it back to Little Rock.  For years it sat in storage at UA Little Rock. While that probably stopped its deterioration, it did nothing to restore it.

In 2009, the St. Louis Art Museum restored one panel of it to include in an exhibition on Jones, a native of the Gateway City.  That prompted Cushman to push even harder to have the rest of it restored.  In 2012, the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council provided a grant which made restoration possible.  Additional funding came from the University and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The 29 pieces of the mural were sent to Helen Houp Fine Art Conservation in Dallas.

The mural consists of three sections that brutally but honestly tell tales of the South in the first third of the 20th Century.  The first section depicts coal miners about to go on strike, the middle section shows a lynching of an African American man, and the third shows an African American family in fear inside a wooden shack – both in the shadow of the lynching and an impending tornado set to destroy the land they are working.

It is a difficult piece. It is intended to be disquieting. But UA Little Rock also sought to put the piece in context. They did not do this to explain away or make excuses. But they did it to relate it to events in Little Rock both during that time period and other times in the City’s history.  It is designed to encourage dialogue, scholarship, and collaborations.

The space in which the mural is displayed was designed by architect Steve Rousseau.  Credit goes to the UA Little Rock Board of Visitors, Chancellor Andrew Rogerson, and many other faculty and staff at the campus for making the UA Little Rock Downtown campus a reality and a showcase for this important mural.

18 Cultural Events from 2018 – Windgate Center for Art + Design opens at UA Little Rock

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Photo of Windgate Center (courtesy UA Little Rock Department of Art and Design)

2. In February, the new WIndgate Center for Art + Design opened on the UA Little Rock campus.  This 65,000 square foot building put, for the first time, all of the art and design programs under the same roof.  In addition to classrooms, it features two gallery spaces.

The Windgate Center of Art + Design building is physically divided into two distinct architectural forms based on the distinctly unique use of the spaces. However both forms are connected and share common building utilities and circulation patterns. The Applied Design area of the building is a single story high bay industrial style space that lends itself to 3 dimensional forms of art. The Visual Arts portion of the building is a 3-story structural steel framed building to house the typical classrooms, galleries, lecture hall, admin area and other miscellaneous spaces that make up the visual arts program.

The Windgate Center of Art + Design building is designed to have a strong community presence to help strengthen the various community partnerships that have been forged over the years. Access for gallery shows, art festivals and other events is an important component in the building design.

Sustainable measures are fully integrated into the building orientation, exterior envelope and support systems to support energy and long-term maintenance efficiencies. The building will pursue LEED Gold and is currently being registered in the LEED Certification program.

As part of the Windgate Foundation’s commitment to the project, the University pledged to raise $3 million in scholarships for art students.

In October of 2018, a new seven foot tall wooden sculpture by Robyn Horn was installed at the entrance to the building and dedicated.

Sculpture Vulture: Michael Warrick’s MOCKINGBIRD TREE installed in 2016

Mockingbird Tree install LRCVB

Photo by LRCVB

On April 21, 2016, Michael Warrick’s Mockingbird Tree sculpture was installed at the corner of Chenal Parkway and Chenal Valley Drive.

The piece was commissioned by Sculpture at the River Market after winning the 2015 Public Monument Sculpture competition.

The eighteen (18) foot tall sculpture is made out of stainless steel. It presents a fanciful version of a tree with cloud-like foliage.  Nestled in the tree are bronze mockingbirds (Arkansas’ state bird).

Warrick is a professor in the Department of Art at the University of Arkansas Little Rock and has been an artist and educator for 30 years. His work has resulted in more than 150 solo and group exhibitions and has been represented in 29 private collections and 34 public venues.

15 Highlights of 2015 – New Visual Arts Building Announced for UALR thanks to gift from Windgate Foundation

Entry DriveFor the final fifteen days of 2015, a look back at some of the cultural highlights of 2015.

Up next–

In May, UALR announced plans for a new Visual Arts Building.  With a target date to open in fall 2017, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s newest building will be among the finest higher education facilities in the country for visual arts education.

UALR unveiled the design concept for the 71,636 square-foot building during a news conference in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. The visual arts building will be funded by a $20.3 million grant award approved by the Trustees of the Windgate Charitable Foundation, headquartered in Siloam Springs. The grant, designated for building construction and equipment, is the second largest gift in UALR’s history.

UALR serves about 1,000 students each year who are enrolled in visual arts classes. This semester, 180 students have designated visual arts as their major, and there are 16 full-time faculty devoted to visual arts programs.

The new facility, to be located on the UALR campus at 28th Street and East Campus Drive, will bring together under one roof the applied design program currently located at University Plaza and the art history and studio arts programs currently in the Fine Arts Building, a structure built in 1977 to house the departments of art and music.

The new building will integrate UALR’s Applied Design, Art History and Studio Arts classes into a facility that promotes collaboration and creativity between students, faculty and guests under one roof. Drawing/Painting/Printmaking/Art History and 2D Design and Illustration classrooms will be located on the north side of the building to make use of the large expanse of glass along 28th Street.

Faculty and administrative offices will be oriented on the south side to take advantage of the campus and natural plaza views. Photography and Graphic Design spaces will complete the programs that are housed within the visual arts track.

Students and visitors have the opportunity to experience two generous art galleries within the building showcasing both permanent and transitional exhibits or attend a guest lecturer speaking in the 80-seat lecture hall and reception venue on the ground floor.

The Applied Design spaces will be organized within a single story industrial high bay section of the building to take advantage of the expansive volumes of space necessary for Sculpture/Metalsmithing/Furniture Design /3D Craft & Fibers/Ceramics. Each of these spaces has access to an outdoor studio space that allows work on large pieces with natural ventilation and sunlight.

The building will be designed to achieve a LEED Silver rating with the USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Art/Applied Design track, a unique program in Arkansas, primarily serves students interested in the study of traditional arts and crafts representative of the South Central region of the U.S., with particular emphasis upon craft practices within Arkansas.

“The vision of the Department of Art is to be a destination center for students intent on pursuing lifelong careers in the visual arts,” said department chair Tom Clifton. “This new facility will enable the department to embrace traditional, contemporary, and technological approaches to the visual arts in central Arkansas and provide opportunities for students throughout the southern region of the United States.

The Windgate Charitable Foundation has provided consistent and visionary support of the UALR Department of Art through scholarships, program support, visiting artists, workshops and gallery exhibitions.

Arts & culture advocate, Dr. Joel Anderson to retire as UALR Chancellor

jeasmile-444x668University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor Joel E. Anderson announced today that he will retire following a 13-year tenure as chancellor and a 45-year career at the university. His retirement will be effective June 30, 2016.

Anderson became UALR chancellor in 2003, bringing with him more than 30 years of university and community service. He had previously served UALR as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and as founding dean of the Graduate School.

Chancellor Anderson’s announcement comes on the heels of a 1.2 percent increase in enrollment at UALR, including a 19 percent increase in first-time college students and a 7.1 percent increase in first-time transfer students.

“It has been a tremendous pleasure to see UALR grow and mature into the excellent, comprehensive university that it has become,” said Chancellor Anderson. “The faculty and staff of UALR deserve more credit than they will ever receive for their tireless efforts to help students achieve the dream of a college education that will enable students to adjust to a changing future and support themselves and their families.”

University of Arkansas System President, Donald R. Bobbitt will form a search committee in the coming weeks with the goal to complete the search by July 1, 2016.

One of the achievements he was most passionate about was the founding in 2011 of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity, a center designed to move Arkansas forward on the broad front of racial and ethnic justice through education, research, dialogue, community events, and reconciliation initiatives.

As professor, dean, provost, and chancellor, Anderson always related success of the university to success of the students UALR served. As chancellor, he launched numerous initiatives to recruit and retain more students and to reach out to underserved student populations. His signature is on more than 26,836 diplomas and the university’s fall-to-fall retention rate is the highest it has ever been.

“Joel is a true gentleman who cares about the university more than himself”, said Dr. Dean Kumpuris, chair of the UALR Board Visitors.  “He has no ego and has sought our advice and support more than he probably had to,” “His primary goal has been to shepherd the university to a better place, which he has done. We are lucky to have had him as a leader for so many years.”

Anderson, who grew up on a farm east of Swifton in northeast Arkansas, received a BA degree in political science from Harding University, an MA degree in international relations from American University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.

“The university has good momentum. I need time to catch up on a backlog of books and also to see my grandchildren more often,” Anderson said.  “All the while I will watch with pride as UALR grows and changes.”

Highlights of his service as chancellor include:

  • The Windgate Charitable Foundation awarded UALR a grant of $20.3 million for a new Visual Arts and Applied Design center.
  • Since 2003, UALR has purchased the University Plaza shopping center which is now home of KUAR-KLRE Public Radio as well as the current home of the applied design center.

  • As part of the Coleman Creek Greenway project, the Trail of Tears Park was completed in 2011 to recognize the historical significance of the location on the south end of campus where the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes stopped for water along Coleman Creek.

  • Establishment of a Dance major, the only one in the state, within the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.
  • Much of the campus’s infrastructure has undergone substantial renovations including the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall. Likewise, there has been an added emphasis on the promotion and maintenance of public art on campus.

  • Chancellor Anderson served as a “Scholar in Residence” in 2010 at the Center on Community Philanthropy at the Clinton School for his work on issues of race and ethnicity.

  • Dr. Anderson launched the Institute on Race and Ethnicity in 2011 to move Arkansas forward on the broad front of racial and ethnic justice through education, research, dialogue, community events, and reconciliation initiatives.  One of their projects has been the annual Civil Rights Heritage Trail installation.

  • In 2015, as part of its 40th anniversary celebration, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation honored Chancellor Anderson as one of 40 Community Leaders in the categories of community, education, nonprofits, and prosperity.