Little Rock Look Back: MOCKINGBIRD TREE sculpture installed on April 21, 2016

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.

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#5WomenArtists – Marjorie Williams-Smith

Through their social media campaign #5WomenArtists, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) asks, “Can you name five women artists?

In response to that, this month five artists with Little Rock connections will be highlighted throughout March.  Up next is Marjorie Williams-Smith. 

Marjorie Williams-Smith has worked with silverpoint for over 30 years. Silverpoint is an especially challenging medium, but that is part of the allure. The effect of light on the silver lines creates a shimmering quality that is quite different from any other drawing medium.

She draws with a metal stylus on a prepared surface.  Hatched and cross-hatched lines create values and textures.  The white of the page provides the contrast. Since erasing is not possible with silverpoint, every line has to be premeditated.

Silverpoint is the perfect medium for the subject matter of Marjorie’s work: nature. She uses these natural forms as symbols for the spiritual energy that exists within us all.

Two of her works were included in the recent exhibition: ON THEIR OWN TERMS which was on display at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Earlier this month, she received the Individual Artist Award at the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards presented by Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Arts Council.

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.

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

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree and outdoor

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.