Portrait of a Patron: Jane McGehee Wilson

Author: Maria DavisonFiled under: Beaux Arts Ball, Events

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For more than 50 years, the Arkansas Arts Center has contributed to the cultural fabric of Arkansas, creating a legacy worthy of recognition. POP! honors those who have made it all possible. This year, the Arts Center community will toast Jane McGehee Wilson, Townsend Wolfe and the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas in red-carpet style, followed by music and dancing, drinks and light hors d’oeuvres. All proceeds benefit the Arts Center’s education and outreach programs.

Jane McGehee Wilson, circa 1973

Dating from the 1960s, Arkansas Arts Center’s Beaux Arts Ball was reimagined in 2014 to honor those who have played an integral role in the Arts Center’s past and continued success. The 2018 POP! Portrait of a Patron Awards will honor Jane McGehee Wilson for her service, the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas for its philanthropy, and Townsend Wolfe for his lifetime of service.

Jane Thomas McGehee Wilson has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Arkansas Arts Center for more than 50 years, and recognition of her contributions is long overdue.

Her involvement began when the Arts Center was still the Community Center of Arts and Sciences, and she served on both the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Board, for a total of 25 combined years. But Wilson’s true legacy is her fearless and relentless pursuit of a stable financial future for the institution. In a 1972 letter to then-president of the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees, she wrote: “The almost sole function of the Board of an institution like the Arkansas Arts Center can only be ‘fund raising.’” It was a task she undertook fiercely. That same year, determined to establish an endowment for the Arts Center, she convinced her father to make a challenge gift that hinged on the successful creation of an endowment. That foundation endowment today is essential to the ongoing operations of the Arts Center and the care and growth of the Arts Center’s collection.

With this award, the Arkansas Arts Center recognizes Wilson’s tenacity in service to the organization and her dogged pursuit of a secure financial future.

Join us for POP! Beaux Arts Ball at 6 p.m. on May 3 at the Arkansas Arts Center. The evening will begin with a brief awards ceremony then dancing to music by the Arkansas Symphony Big Band and a DJ (the unlikely combination is a unique hit).

POP! Beaux Arts Ball Gold Sponsor is The Stella Boyle Smith Trust. Red Carpet Sponsors are CDI Contractors; Stuart Cobb; Mr. and Mrs. Merritt P. Dyke; Entergy Arkansas, Inc.; Bill and Kay Patton; Mrs. Lisenne Rockefeller. Legacy Sponsors are Bank of America; Bank of the Ozarks; Jack and Nan Ellen East; Barbara Rogers Hoover; Cindy and Chip Murphy; Belinda Shults; VCC, LLC. Host Sponsors are AAC Contemporaries; Carolynn Conway Coleman; Dillon Homes & Real Estate; Maribeth and John Frazer; June Freeman; HoganTaylor LLP; Brenda Mize; Nabholz; Tabatha and Brodes Perry; Jane McGehee Wilson and Brooks Wolfe; Pat Wilson. Little Rock Soiree/Arkansas Business Publishing Group is the media sponsor. Moon Distributors is the beverage sponsor. Tipton Hurst is the floral sponsor. Hank’s Event Rentals is the furniture sponsor.

All members and friends of the Arkansas Arts Center are invited to POP! Beaux Arts Ball! Tickets are available here.

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Meet the Speaker: Michael Fothergill, Ballet Arkansas

Author: Maria DavisonFiled under: Art of Motion and Music, Education, Events

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The Birth of Contemporary Dance in America
Thursday, April 12, 2018 – 5:30 p.m.

Join us for a discussion with Ballet Arkansas Artistic Director, Michael Fothergill, examining the transformation of classical ballet into neoclassical, modern, and contemporary dance in America between 1930 and the present day. This conversation defines the parallels and differences between dance genres and brings to light the historical catalysts that helped shape America’s dance community.

We often ask speakers to tell us a little more about themselves before they visit the Arts Center. This time, we’ve asked Fothergill, a dance expert, to share a little bit about varieties of dance found in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection. Here’s a primer on a few types of dance, featuring works found at the AAC.

Abraham Walkowitz, Isadora Duncan

Abraham Walkowitz, American, (Tyumen, Russia, 1878 – 1965, Brooklyn, New York), Isadora Duncan, circa 1920-1950, ink and watercolor over graphite on paper, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Stephens Inc. City Trust Grant. 1986.008.006

Isadora Duncan was one of the true founders of what we know as popularized “modern dance.” She was highly active in Europe for most of her career, however an American. She was particularly well known for her dynamic and often alternated lyrical movements and very powerful gestures throughout her choreography. She also loved improvisational movement. I imagine that this what is depicted here – a lyrical, improvised movement.

Abraham Walkowitz, American (Tyumen, Russia, 1878 – 1965, Brooklyn, New York), Isadora Duncan, circa 1920-1950, ink and watercolor over graphite on paper, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Stephens Inc. City Trust Grant. 1986.008.005

Another interesting note about Isadora is that she often wore Grecian looking robes, or long dresses when dancing. These garments were of interest to her largely to cover her form, but also because the weight of the fabric would allow it to move with her. She often felt that the movement in her body should continue into her garments. The dress pictured is a very common look for her.

Edgar Degas, Blue Dancer

Degas was certainly fascinated with dancers, more than half of his works were inspired by dance. It is likely that the subject of this painting was taking a break between rehearsals, stretching out a sore muscle, or perhaps adjusting her pointe shoe ribbons. It was common during the early stages of ballet training, for all dancers to wear uniformed ballet attire. Because of this, without inside knowledge of the specific location of the painting, it would be difficult to assess whether this painting was a depiction of a class of students, or a group of professionals in costume before performance.


Terry Rosenberg, Home #13 (Mark Morris Dance Group)

Terry Rosenberg, American, (Hartford, Connecticut, 1954 – ), Home #13 (Mark Morris Dance Group), 1993, charcoal and graphite on paper, 27 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of John G. Prouty. 2001.012

Mark Morris is one of the big names in American modern dance. His troupe, based out of Brooklyn, NY, tours all over the world and presents some of the most vibrant and thought provoking repertory out there. This piece is likely inspired by a rehearsal or performance of one of his ensemble pieces. Knowing that Mark’s work of is often very high energy, it is likely that the blur in the work represents speed and intensity.

Tickets are still available for Fothergill’s April 12 lecture on Contemporary Dance in America here.

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Five Women Artists: Metalpoint

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Collection, Museum

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Can you name five women artists? In honor of Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts challenges museums across the country to highlight women artists featured in their collections.

Here’s a look at five artists – all women – whose influential work has continued to shape metalpoint – a field with a long history at the Arkansas Arts Center. The AAC Collection is one of the leading collections of modern and contemporary metalpoint works in the world. Metalpoint is an ancient medium that involves using a metal stylus on paper prepared with a slightly abrasive ground. Silver is the most popular metal – it tarnishes to an attractive warm color on the paper. Metalpoint is often associated with Renaissance artists – think Da Vinci, Durer and friends. But the medium has also seen a recent revival – to which these artists have all contributed significantly.

Works by all of these artists are on view now in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection galleries.

Susan Schwalb

Susan Schwalb, American (New York, New York, 1944 – ), Icon, 1984, silverpoint on prepared Strathmore paper, 40 x 30 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase. 1985.069

Susan Schalb’s career stretches back to 1960s. As one of America’s foremost metalpoint artists, Schwalb has helped to spark a revival of interest in metalpoint by both artists and scholars. Throughout her career, she has transferred these traditional Renaissance media to the realm of abstraction, while retaining their beauty and serenity. In her work, Schwalb uses a variety of metals – silver, bronze, copper and more – and a variety of drawing tools, including wires and flat pieces of metal. Schwalb also uses graphite, goua che and gold leaf throughout her work. A 35-work exhibition surveying Schwalb’s career, A Luminous Line: Forty Years of Metalpoint Drawings by Susan Schwalb, is on view at the Arts Center through April 29.

“My new drawings use the classical Renaissance technique of metalpoint in a way which challenges all the traditional concepts,” Schwalb said. “Juxtaposing a wide variety of metals (silver, gold, brass, copper, platinum, pewter, bronze and aluminum) I obtain soft shifts in tone and color reminiscent of the luminous transparency of watercolor. Horizontal bands evoke an atmosphere of serenity, and the shimmer of light on the surface, created by the metals, is quite unlike any of the usual effects of metalpoint.”

Carol Prusa

Carol G. Prusa, American (Chicago, Illinois, 1956 – ), Weep Holes, 2005, silverpoint heightened with titanium white on wood panel with graphite, sulfur, 84 x 48 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 2005.015

Carol Prusa is an important contemporary artist working in metalpoint. Based in Florida, Prusa’s work has appeared in exhibitions around the world. According to her artist statement: “Merging silverpoint drawing with contemporary strategies, surfaces are articulated to create liminal skins between known and unknown worlds. Prusa seeks to express her euphoria when glimpsing the strangeness and vital beauty of what is possible – to give form to thin spaces that evoke the mystery that both surrounds and binds us together.”

Prusas’s work appears in collections around the world, including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, the Hunter Museum of American Art and the Perez Art Museum – Miami, among others. She also teaches painting and drawing at Florida Atlantic University.

Isabel Bishop

Isabel Bishop, American (Cincinnati, Ohio, 1902 – 1988, New York, New York), Studies for Straphangers (SH 17), circa 1937, graphite, ink, and ink wash on paper, 14 3/8 x 13 3/4 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with a gift from the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust, Barry B. Findley and Katie Speer, Trustees. 2001.004

Social realist Isabel Bishop’s depictions of women are particularly significant. Every morning for over fifty years, Isabel Bishop took the subway from her home downtown to her studio near Union Square. There, she watched and drew the local young women workers and students as they walked, ate, applied makeup, and socialized on the street. Bishop said, “When I feel drained, I stand in front of this window. I feel as if I’m eating a feast.” The subway also provided visual sustenance to the artist. Bishop might well have stood next to the young working woman she studied in these sketches, wearing a fetching hat, as the custom of the time demanded. “Strap hangers,” habitual subway riders, populated many of her etchings and paintings. While Bishop didn’t commonly work in metalpoint (this study is graphite on paper), her women-centric work has influenced many women working in metalpoint today, including Susan Schwalb.

Paula Gerard

Paula Gerard, American (Brighton, England, 1907 – 1991, Chicago, Illinois), Vortex, 1975, silverpoint, goldpoint, watercolor on casein-coated parchment, 4 x 8 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase. 1985.065

While not much is written on Paula Gerard or her art, her work was very influential to metalpoint artists who would follow. Gerard was born just after the turn of the 20th century, and studied art in Florence, Paris and Brussels before moving to the United States, where she continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. She would eventually go on to teach that the Layton School of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work is held in collections around the country, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Arkansas Arts Center.

Marjorie Williams-Smith

Marjorie Williams-Smith, American (Washington, D.C., 1953 – ), October, 1998, silverpoint with gouache and watercolor on prepared paper, 5 1/16 x 4 1/16 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 1999.048.001

Little Rock-based metalpoint artist Marjorie Williams-Smith first saw contemporary American metalpoint drawings at the Arkansas Arts Center’s 1985 exhibition The Fine Line. She was immediately enamored with the ancient medium. The artist took years to master the demanding technique, making lines on prepared paper with silver wire. Williams-Smith had been drawing fading flowers since her childhood days in Washington, D.C. The serene subject, medium, and artist were made for each other. Williams-Smith says, “The flower became a symbol of strength and fragility, and that evolved to wanting for myself this quiet moment with this form. These flowers represent the passage of time, energy, life and spirit.” Williams-Smith taught for 33 years at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Since retiring, she’s devoted herself to art and family. Williams-Smith’s work will also appear in the upcoming 60th Annual Delta Exhibition, opening May 25.

Who are your favorite women artists in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection? Let us know in the comments.

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Meet the Speaker: Merline Labissiere

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Art of Fashion, Events, Meet the Speaker

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ART OF FASHION: March 29, 2018
Becoming a Fashion Designer: How Merging Architecture and Fashion Impact the work of Merline Labissière

Merline Labissiere. Photo by Cedric Smith.

Merline Labissière, a designer from Project Runway All Stars Season 6 and an alum of Project Runway Season 14, has utilized her creative talents to establish her own fashion line and launch a non-profit, Provoke Style Fashion Camp Corporation, which utilizes fashion-filled curriculum to instruct inner city youth in Miami, Florida. Labissière holds an Associate of Arts in architecture from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion with a minor in Architecture from the Savannah College of Art and Design. We asked Labissiere a few questions before her talk.

How would you describe your current role?

My current role – I would describe it as half fashion designer and half business owner. For me, I’m always juggling both and trying to find a balance. I can’t be 100 percent fashion designer because then I’m not running a business, and I’m not making a profit. But at the same time, I’m not just a business owner – I’m more than that. Merging both of those are really important as an creative person – and in understanding the customer and why I’m designing what I’m designing. There’s different levels and the creative aspect where I get to just design things that are simply for the purpose of creativity. As an artist, I’m constantly juggling being a part of knowing my product and knowing who I’m targeting that product for.

How did you first become interested in fashion?

I think it started with growing up from a immigrant family and knowing that we were different because our clothes weren’t “cool.” My parents would dress us like how kids in Haiti would go to school. So I’d wear church dresses with ribbons in my hair and tennis shoes and church socks, and I would go to school and get picked on. So I would imagine how I’d dress if I had money. What would I look like? How people would perceive me! I dreamed this at a very young age. That seed  grew every year. I was always creative at school – I was in drama, band and art classes. Creativity has always been a foundation for me. And I think in my senior year of high school, I designed my own outfit for Haitian flag day, and just the feedback I got from my other classmates in that moment was the first time I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer.

How do art and architecture influence your work?

Architecture influences my work in so many ways. It’s the foundation and the lens that I see fashion. It’s given me a platform to think outside the box in ways that I could never imagine. It’s empowered me as a fashion designer to articulate certain elements that couldn’t do if I just studied fashion.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I’m inspired by everything, but not ”everything.” When I’m designing a collection, there’s so many things that the foundation of architecture has given me. I’m also influenced by a very Pride and Prejudice aesthetic, like 1800s garments with the sophistication of the fashion in that era. The last element I would say is the couture wedding industry and combining all those elements, which basically shows my journey as a designer, mixing Avant-Garde, ready to wear, and architecture all in one collection. I’m constantly combining these elements to make something new and innovative in the industry.

Can you tell us a little bit about Provoke Style Fashion Camp Corporation?

Provoke Style is a non-profit that I started right after college. It started because there was a teacher that took the time to teach me how to crochet. I think that was the foundation of me as a creative artist, and that spoke volumes in my life. I really wanted to give back to students that didn’t have a voice or the same opportunities as me growing up. I wanted to take my whole experience and go back and provoke the next generation to think big that they can do exactly what I do. I go into the inner city and my students do everything I learned in school. They create garments and showcase their designs and then use it as a portfolio to go to college. I’m just giving the next generation the voice and tools for them to go after their own dream and beyond.

What advice would you offer young people who are interested in fashion?

The first advice I would offer someone young that wants to be in fashion is do it. Go after it very passionate and hard. I believe that education is ongoing, so you should seek out resources to get to the next level. Create even if you think you’re not where you think you should be. You just need to create and keep getting better at your craft. I think as artists, we’re always waiting for that perfect moment, that perfect collection, or timing. Just by creating we grow from that creation and the next creation we grow. Just keep growing. One of my favorite quotes is  “20 percent talent and 80 percent showing up.” It’s less with having the talent –it’s putting that work in, and that’s what makes the difference.

The Arkansas Arts Center’s Art of Fashion series is presented by Little Rock Soirée magazine.

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Reimagined Arkansas Arts Center Revealed

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Building

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Transformational changes are coming to the Arkansas Arts Center, Executive Director Todd Herman announced Tuesday. Alongside architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and landscape architect Kate Orff of SCAPE, Herman presented a striking architectural design that strengthens the connections between the visual and performing arts in an inclusive space that welcomes a diverse community.

“This an exciting moment for the Arkansas Arts Center, central Arkansas, and the entire state,” Herman said. “The reimagined Arts Center will be a welcoming place that encourages prolonged and meaningful interaction with the collection and programs at the Arts Center. It is intended to be a gathering place for the community that highlights the interplay between the AAC and the surrounding park.”

The Arkansas Arts Center welcomes more than 200,000 visitors annually to its facility in historic MacArthur Park. Roughly 40,000 children and families and over 200 schools from across the state use the Children’s Theatre each year.

“The AAC is well-loved and has been well-used,” Herman said. “The building has held up well, but this renovation and expansion is needed for the Arts Center to be the kind of community resource that meets the changing expectations of our visitors, our growing world-class art collection and art school, and to continue offering groundbreaking educational programs to a diverse community.”

The Arkansas Arts Center concept design features 127,000 square feet of renovated and new spaces. New areas include a versatile indoor/outdoor restaurant overlooking MacArthur Park, a new north entrance reveals the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts façade, a second floor of galleries, expanded art studios and art school gallery, a new drawing research center and conservation lab, a dedicated black box theater, and expanded education spaces, including a family art adventure space. A flexible Cultural Living Room can serve as an extension of the galleries, event space, or community gathering space with bar and lounge seating enjoying a view north across downtown Little Rock.

The design will increase visitor services by 81 percent, exhibitions and collections management by 25 percent and education, public programs and the Museum School by 50 percent.

“Because the Arkansas Arts Center is made up of eight additions to the 1937 Museum of Fine Arts, it’s a very complicated puzzle,” Herman said. “We have the right architects and the right landscape architects to transform our institution into a destination for arts education and a hub that connects the programs of the AAC with newly designed outdoor spaces.”

The concept design developed by Studio Gang lends a new, highly visible architectural identity to the Arts Center. Reorganizing and ordering the current program and architectural envelope, Studio Gang has designed a pleated, organic architecture that connects the new north-facing city entrance with the new glass pavilion and south-facing park entrance to create an open axis public gallery through the building, connecting the program components of the AAC.

“Starting from the inside out, the design clarifies the organization of the building and extends its presence into MacArthur Park and out to Crescent Lawn,” said Gang. “By doing so, the Center becomes a vibrant place for social interaction, education, and appreciation for the arts.”

Throughout the project, sustainable practices are being applied in both the materials and mechanical systems of the building and the landscape elements featuring native plants and rainwater reclamation.

The Arts Center’s transformation will also extend to MacArthur Park, bringing new outdoor amenities to the park. Herman and Orff presented a vision of the Arkansas Arts Center as a “museum within the forest.” Drawing inspiration from Little Rock’s unique regional ecologies – including the banks of Fourche Creek, the bluffs of Emerald Park, and the agrarian landscapes of the Mississippi Delta – the landscape design features inviting outdoor spaces that contribute to AAC’s emerging role as a cultural beacon for Arkansas.

New public plazas and gardens at the north and south entrances of the Arts Center will foster deeper connections with the park. Planted groves along the west side of the building will create a forested edge that blends into the park. A framework of new trees will, over time, merge with the existing canopy to form a park forest.

“The site design will rejuvenate and expand the connection between the AAC to MacArthur Park, welcome and orient the Little Rock community to the grounds and weave native regional landscape forms into the existing park,” Orff said.

The construction budget is $70 million coming from a combination of public and private funds, with groundbreaking scheduled for fall 2019. The project is anticipated to be completed in early 2022. During construction, the Arts Center is working with arts partners to provide programming in locations throughout the city. The “Arts Center Outside the Box” idea will allow staff to explore new programs in new spaces while still offering some of its favorite programs.

“In addition to adding to the quality of life and increasing educational opportunities in our community, arts institutions add to the economic vitality of a city,” Herman said. “More people visited art museums in the United States last year than attended every NFL and NBA game combined. In two recent studies conducted by the American Alliance of Museums, data shows that museums contribute $50 billion to the U.S. economy and generate more than $12 billion a year in tax revenue. We expect that this project will set Little Rock apart from similar sized cities and be an essential partner in building our economic future.”

In February 2016, Little Rock residents voted in favor of bonding the revenue from a 2 percent tax on lodging paid primarily by out of town visitors for the benefit of the Arkansas Arts Center, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and Historic MacArthur Park. The Arkansas Arts Center has undergone eight additions since its 1937 opening as the Museum of Fine Arts. Renamed the Arkansas Arts Center in 1960, the organization accepted a renewed mission to serve the entire state. The renovated building will continue to serve the community with the Museum, Museum School, Children’s Theatre and Statewide ArtsReach Programs. The most recent addition to the facility was in 2001.

Studio Gang was selected as design architect out of five finalist firms in December 2016 due to their elegant and smart approach to architecture, understanding of the issues posed by the AAC’s current facility, vision for the Arts Center as a cultural beacon for Central Arkansas, and commitment to sustainability and strength as urban planners.

Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. Founded by Architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang and recognized internationally for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities, and environments, Studio Gang produces award-winning work that ranges in scale from the 82-story Aqua Tower to the 14-acre Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Recent projects include the new United States Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; a unified campus for the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California; and an expansion to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Intertwined with its built work, Studio Gang develops research and related projects such as publications, exhibitions, and events that push design’s ability to create public awareness and lead to change – a practice Jeanne calls “actionable idealism.” These include Civic Commons, a multi-city project reimagining public buildings across the United States, and Reverse Effect, an advocacy publication produced to spark a greener future for the Chicago River. This is Studio Gang’s first project in Arkansas.

SCAPE is a design-driven landscape architecture and urban design studio based in New York. They believe landscape architecture can enable positive change in communities through the creation of regenerative living infrastructure and public landscapes. SCAPE works to integrate natural cycles and systems into environments across all scales, from the urban pocket-park to the regional ecological plan. They do this through diverse forms of landscape architecture – built landscapes, planning frameworks, research, books, and installations – with the ultimate goal of connecting people to their immediate environment and creating dynamic and adaptive landscapes of the future.

Little Rock-based Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects was selected as associate architect for the renovation project in February 2017. Polk Stanley Wilcox is working in partnership with Studio Gang Architects on a reimagined Arkansas Arts Center. Polk Stanley Wilcox has previously worked on a number of local projects, including the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer International Headquarters, the Arkansas Studies Institute and the recently opened Robinson Center expansion and renovation. The firm also has experience working with clients in a variety of industries and focuses on sustainability and creating buildings that operate on minimal energy usage.

The leadership phase of a capital campaign to maximize the impact of public dollars dedicated to the project is currently underway. Arts Center officials expect to announce fundraising updates later in the year.

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Delta Exhibition jurors announced; entry deadline extended

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum

Celebrating the exhibition’s 60th year with a return to its roots, the 60th Annual Delta Exhibition will be juried by a panel of three distinguished art professionals: Bradbury Art Museum director Les Christensen, conceptual artist Shea Hembrey, and Baum Gallery director Brian K. Young.


Leslie Ann (Les) Christensen is Director of the Bradbury Art Museum at Arkansas State University, a position she has held since 2001. Trained as a sculptor working with a variety of media, Christensen’s artwork has appeared in six previous Delta Exhibitions; her Portrait with Fur Collar won an Honorable Mention in the 29th Annual Delta Exhibition (1986).


Shea Hembrey is an American conceptual artist. An advocate for artwork that “marries intellectual rigor, technical mastery, and heart and soul,” Hembrey earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. In 2011 he received national attention with the release of “seek,” a biennial of art, which contained artwork by 100 artists – all of whom were invented by Hembrey and for which he created the artwork. That same year he delivered a TED talk entitled, “How I Became 100 Artists,” which has since been viewed more than 1.5 million times. Hembrey lives and works in Hickory Grove, Arkansas.


Brian K. Young earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and his Master of Arts degree in Art History from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Since August 2016, Young has served as the Director of the Baum Gallery, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas, where is also a lecturer in the Department of Art. Prior to joining the Baum Gallery, Young worked as a curator at several institutions, including: the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, Arkansas; the Academy Art Museum, Easton, Maryland; the University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Maryland; and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland.

The deadline to enter work to be considered for the exhibition will be extended to February 26. The competition is open to all artists who live in or were born in one of the following states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Texas. All work must be completed during the last two years and must not have been exhibited previously at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Showcasing artists living and working in Arkansas and its border states, the Annual Delta Exhibition presents a vision of contemporary art in the American South. Founded in 1958, the exhibition provides a unique snapshot of the Delta region and features work in all media. On view May 25 through August 26, 2018, the exhibition reflects the region’s strong traditions of craftsmanship and observation, combined with an innovative use of materials and an experimental approach to subject matter.

The panel of jurors will select the artworks to be exhibited as well as a $2,500 Grand Award and two $750 Delta Awards. Additionally, a $250 Contemporaries Delta Award will be selected by the Contemporaries, an auxiliary membership group of the Arkansas Arts Center.

Interested parties may enter their information and upload images of their work at ArkansasArtsCenter.org/delta by February 26, 2018. The entry fee is $20 for one entry and $10 for each additional entry. Artists may submit up to three entries. Notifications will be sent March 16 and all accepted work must be received by April 18. Artists will be responsible for all shipping arrangements.

The 60th Annual Delta Exhibition is sponsored (at this time) by Isabel and John Ed Anthony; The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; Mrs. Lisenne Rockefeller; Terri and Chuck Erwin; Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP; the AAC Contemporaries; and Barbara House. The Grand Award is supported by The John William Linn Endowment Fund. The exhibition is supported by the Andre Simon Memorial Trust in memory of everyone who has died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

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American Modernism from the Arkansas Arts Center Collection

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Beacon Content, Collection, Exhibitions, Museum

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Interested in more art by American Modernists after visiting Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work? The exhibition features 114 works exploring Marin’s evolution from intuitive draftsman to innovative watercolorist and etcher. But Marin was only one of an influential group of artists – commonly referred to as the “Stieglitz Circle” for their association with photographer, art dealer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz – working in and around New York in the first half of the 20th century. Stieglitz and his galleries took a leading role introducing America to modernism. In these galleries, you will find work by several artists who were also promoted by Stieglitz and showed work at the famed 291 Gallery – and at Stieglitz’s later galleries, The Intimate Gallery and An American Place.


Abraham Walkowitz

A lesser-known name, but still a critical member of the Stieglitz Circle, Abraham Walkowitz is best known for creating more than 5,000 watercolors of modern dancer Isadora Duncan. In addition to Abstraction, which is on view now, the Arkansas Arts Center Collection includes several of Walkowitz’s watercolors featuring Duncan.

Abraham Walkowitz, American (Tyumen, Russia, 1878 – 1965, Brooklyn, New York), Abstraction, 1912, graphite and crayon on paper, 12 1/2 x 8 1/8 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Zabriskie Gallery. 1993.015.001


Peggy Bacon

Peggy Bacon’s caricature of Alfred Stieglitz captures the photographer in his signature black cape. Bacon was particularly well known for her often-humorous caricatures of famous personalities in the 1920s and 1930s. The Arkansas Arts Center Collection also includes a caricature of Stieglitz’s second wife, modern artist Georgia O’Keeffe, by Bacon.

Peggy Bacon, American (Ridgefield, Connecticut, 1895 – 1987, Kennebunk, Maine), Alfred Stieglitz, circa 1930, charcoal on paper, 18 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with Gallery Contributions. 1989.018

Edward Steichen

Photographer and painter Edward Steichen served as a European talent scout for Stieglitz, introducing Stieglitz to interesting modernism by both European artists and Americans abroad, including John Marin. Steichen was one of American’s greatest photographers, making both fine art and commercial images, and also became a pioneering curator of photography.

Edward Steichen, American (Bivange, Luxembourg, 1879 – 1973, West Redding, Connecticut), The Maypole (Empire State Building), 1932, printed 1981-1982, gelatin silver print, 13 1/2 x 11 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Diane and Sanford M. Besser and Irene and George H. Davis. 1983.004.021

Arthur Dove

Arthur Dove was perhaps the first American painter to fully embrace abstraction. His abstract work remains based in nature, however. As he had with Marin, Stieglitz championed Dove’s work and showed it annually.

Arthur Dove, American (Canandaigua, New York, 1880 – 1946, Long Island, New York), Abstraction, Untitled, circa 1917-1920, charcoal on paper, 20 7/8 x 17 1/2 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund and with a gift from the Dove Estate. 1982.016

John Marin

Draftsman, watercolorist and etcher John Marin is one of America’s iconic modernists. The etching is a recent purchase by the Arkansas Arts Center, adding to the 290 works by John Marin given to the Arts Center by the artist’s daughter-in-law, Norma Marin. For more by John Marin, visit the exhibition Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work, on view through April 22. You can also learn more about Marin’s life and work here.

John Marin, American (Rutherford, New Jersey, 1870 – 1953, Cape Split, Maine), Lower Manhattan from the Bridge, 1931, etching on Whatman paper, 7 x 9 11/16 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchase, Tabriz Fund. 2015.031.002

The Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection also includes works by several other Stieglitz circle artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley and Max Weber. The art on view in the Arkansas Arts Center Collection galleries is always changing – visit again soon to see works by these artists.

Haven’t been to see Becoming John Marin yet? You can find the exhibition in the Jeannette Edris Rockefeller and Townsend Wolfe galleries through April 22.

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Arkansas Arts Center shines new light on John Marin drawings

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Exhibitions, Museum

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The artistic evolution of an iconic American modernist is the focus of a new exhibition opening January 26 at the Arkansas Arts Center. Featuring never-before-exhibited drawings and watercolors from the Arkansas Arts Center Collection, Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work explores the artist’s transformation from intuitive draftsman to innovative watercolorist and etcher.

A revelatory new look at Marin’s work, Becoming John Marin affords a unique opportunity to see finished watercolors, etchings and oil paintings reunited with the sketches on which they were based for the first time outside the artist’s studio.

“Drawing was central to Marin’s artistic process, and he made thousands throughout his career,” exhibition curator Ann Prentice Wagner, Ph.D. said, “Becoming John Marin looks over the artist’s shoulder as he created and honed the private sketches he would interpret into completed watercolors and etchings.”

John Marin, American (Rutherford, New Jersey, 1870 – 1953, Cape Split, Maine), Woolworth Building Under Construction, 1912, watercolor and graphite on textured watercolor paper, 19 5/8 x 15 3/8 in., Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Norma B. Marin, New York, New York, 2013.018.011 (catalog 101)

As the second largest repository of John Marin works in the world, the Arkansas Arts Center’s 290-work collection is surpassed only by that of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work features 79 works from this exceptional collection, donated to the Arts Center by the artist’s daughter-in-law, Norma Marin, in 2013, and recently conserved with support from The Henry Luce Foundation, Luce Fund in American Art. They will be shown alongside 33 distinguished Marin works loaned by outstanding public and private collections, including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Colby College Museum of Art, and the Phillips Collection, among others.

Beginning with his 1909 debut exhibition of watercolors at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 Gallery in New York, until his death in 1953, Marin was a major force among the cutting-edge modern artists who gathered around Stieglitz. The artist was best known for his lively, idiosyncratic watercolors, etchings and oil paintings of the disparate worlds of gritty New York City and coastal Maine.

John Marin, American (Rutherford, New Jersey, 1870 – 1953, Cape Split, Maine), On Mount Desert, Maine, 1920, watercolor and charcoal with graphite on textured watercolor paper, 14 x 16 ¾ in., Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Norma B. Marin, New York, New York, 2013.018.142 (catalog 50)

In 1948, a Look magazine survey of museum directors, curators, and art critics selected Marin as the greatest painter in America. But Marin’s early years had not foreshadowed any such recognition. Until age 40, he was unsure of how he wanted to make his living. The young Marin shifted between working for a wholesale notions house, training and working as an architect in his native New Jersey, and attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and later the Art Students League in New York. From 1905 to 1909, he lived in Paris and made picturesque etchings of European architecture for the tourist trade. But one overriding passion was always there for Marin – drawing. He said, “I just drew. I drew every chance I got.”

​While in Paris, Marin was discovered by Edward Steichen, photographer and talent scout for Alfred Stieglitz. Settling in New York, Marin showed work annually at Stieglitz’s galleries – 291, The Intimate Gallery, and An American Place. Stieglitz became Marin’s dealer, promoter, mentor and friend. Marin’s drawings occasionally appeared in exhibitions, but most were informal, private documents made for his own creative purposes. In rural places, where he could work undisturbed and simply make a watercolor on the spot without a preparatory sketch, he made few drawings. But on the teeming sidewalks of New York, he often drew on inexpensive 8-by-10 inch writing pads the artist could afford to buy in large numbers. Marin accumulated piles of sketchbooks that he consulted as sources for finished works he made in his studio.

“These working drawings give us invaluable insights into Marin’s creative process,” Wagner said. “The on-the-spot sketches are priceless. They capture the artist’s initial ideas about subjects he went on to paint or depict in prints – like the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York skyline.”

Marin – who was trained as an architect – made unexpectedly precise drawings of Manhattan’s towering skyscrapers and bridges. Other drawings were experiments in visually fragmenting forms to creative expressive modernist compositions. But most of Marin’s New York drawings were quick, vigorous notations recording the forces and motions he felt in the buildings and figures around him. He caught fleeting glimpses of rushed pedestrians or flying trapeze artists performing under the big top. The exhibition also follows the artist to lesser-known places – the cliffs outside New York City known as the Palisades – and to lesser-known subjects – portraits of friends and family and charming drawings of zoo and circus animals.

John Marin, American (Rutherford, New Jersey, 1870 – 1953, Cape Split, Maine), Blue Shark, 1922, watercolor and charcoal on textured watercolor paper, 12 1/8 x 16 1/8 in., Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of Norma B. Marin, New York, New York. 2013.018.085 (catalog 211)

“Most of his informal drawings and watercolor sketches have rarely been seen outside his studio,” Wagner said. “These very personal images let us travel with Marin through the crowded streets of New York, along the rocky shores of Maine, and into the cluttered creative space of his studio.”

Wagner, Curator of Drawings at the Arkansas Arts Center, edited the accompanying catalog and narrative website. The fully illustrated catalog features the complete, recently conserved John Marin Collection at the Arkansas Arts Center, and includes essays by Wagner, Josephine White Rodgers, Ph.D., Research Assistant, Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, along with other Marin authorities. The narrative website, www.becomingjohnmarin.org, launching this month, will feature thorough analysis of Marin’s favorite subjects, from New York’s Woolworth Building to Small Point, Maine. The website will guide viewers through Marin’s life and work, exploring some of the artist’s favorite subjects – places he depicted time and time again – with a focus on how his work evolved throughout his career.

Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work was organized by the Arkansas Arts Center. Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Work is sponsored (at this time) by: The Henry Luce Foundation, Luce Fund in American Art; The Arkansas Arts Center Foundation; Windgate Charitable Foundation; In Memory of John R. Fletcher by Judy W. Fletcher; Laura Sandage Harden and Lon Clark; JCT Trust; Philip R. Jonsson Foundation; Holleman & Associates, P.A.; Barbara House, and Mid-Southern Watercolorists.

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