The Arkansas Arts Center announces the appointment of Dr. Victoria Ramirez as its new Executive Director

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Building, Museum, News

Dr. Ramirez’s leadership and vision will be key to fulfilling the promise of the reimagined Arkansas Arts Center, slated for completion in 2022

Dr. Victoria Ramirez
Arkansas Arts Center Executive Director Dr. Victoria Ramirez

The Arkansas Arts Center (AAC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Victoria Ramirez as its new Executive Director. A visionary leader in the museum field, with more than 20 years of executive-level museum administration experience, Dr. Ramirez has led renovation projects, developed exhibitions and education programs, and launched programmatic and 21st century digital initiatives to increase museum attendance and participation. She has also played an integral role in many fundraising campaigns, securing support from significant national foundations and major corporations.

Dr. Ramirez will come directly to the Arkansas Arts Center from her position as Director of the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA), a municipal museum in El Paso, Texas that serves community members of all ages. While at EPMA, she oversaw all aspects of museum administration, operations and programming, including a collection of more than 7,000 works, 12 annual exhibitions, and a robust art school. She led gallery renovation activities; oversaw strategic planning; expanded the art school; increased attendance, membership and student engagement; and worked closely with the EPMA Foundation Board on planning and fundraising initiatives. Under Dr. Ramirez’s direction, the EPMA was awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor by the Institution for Museum and Library Services in recognition of dynamic programming and services.

Previously, Dr. Ramirez served as the Deputy Director of the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin Texas, where she oversaw a staff of 85 members and was responsible for all museum facilities, including permanent galleries, rotating exhibition spaces, two theatres, classrooms, café, store, and grounds. She was also the W.T. and Louise J. Moran Education Director at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, where she oversaw long-range planning and directed activities of the education department.

Dr. Ramirez holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston, in Houston, Texas; a M.A. in Museum Education and Art History from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. She is also a Member of the Task Force on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion in Museum Excellence for the American Alliance of Museums.

“We are truly honored to welcome Dr. Ramirez to the Arkansas Arts Center,” said Merritt Dyke, President of the Arts Center Board of Trustees. “Her deep experience in exhibitions, education, planning, and fundraising comes at the perfect time as we work to strengthen the Arkansas Arts Center as the regions’ premier center for the visual and performing arts. I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to Laine Harber, our Chief Financial Officer, who has expertly served as the Interim Director of the Arts Center since August 2018.”

“The Arkansas Arts Center is a jewel for Little Rock and the region, and the project to re-envision the Arts Center will undoubtedly usher in the most expansive era in the institution’s history,” said Dr. Victoria Ramirez. “It is an honor and a privilege to be the new Executive Director during this transformative time. I am looking forward to working with the Arts Center’s Board, Foundation, staff, and Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Harriet and Warren Stephens to realize the vision for the new Art Center and launch its next, exciting chapter.”

“As we continue on our journey toward the Grand Opening of the reimagined Arkansas Arts Center in 2022, Dr. Ramirez is an ideal choice for Executive Director. The renovation project is grand in scope and impact, and her experience and vision will be central to fulfilling the promise of the new Arkansas Arts Center,” said Campaign Co-Chair Warren Stephens. “With the hiring of Dr. Ramirez, the Arts Center Board is reaffirming its commitment to the inspirational power and educational possibilities that art brings to the young people and adults in our city, state and region.”

The Arkansas Arts Center is currently conducting a $128 million special fundraising campaign, Reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center: Campaign for Our Cultural Future, that will realize a stunning new Arts Center for the 21st Century. The project will result in a complete reenvisioning of the AAC by renowned architect Jeanne Gang and her practice, Studio Gang. The new AAC will include a landscape design, by Kate Orff and SCAPE, which will expand the connection between the AAC facility and MacArthur Park. Both Jeanne Gang and Kate Orff are award-winning architects and MacArthur fellows who have received prestigious MacArthur “Genius” grants. The Campaign will also provide transition and opening support, and endowment funds.

During construction, the Arkansas Arts Center has moved from its current facility in MacArthur Park into a temporary location at the Riverdale Shopping Center at 2510 Cantrell Road in Little Rock. Classes, education programs and performances will continue at the temporary location from Fall 2019 through the new Arts Center’s planned Grand Opening in early 2022.

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: Emily Moll Wood

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

Emily Wood, Working Self-Portrait, 2018, watercolor and watercolor pencil on worn shirt, 13 x 28 x 2 inches

Working takes many forms, and it is how we spend so much of our waking hours. But what does it mean to work? I painted a self-portrait on one of my husband’s discarded “work shirts” to explore this question. For work, he wears one of these “work shirts” with a suit and tie and goes to an office. Am I “working” if I’m caring for a child at home and painting while naps, hopefully, happen? Am I “working” if I’m making art but not making a regular paycheck? Of course I am! But does society really think so? How does it affect others’ view and my own self-worth when sometimes it seems as though caring for kids and making art are not viewed as “work”?

The medium and surface used for this piece involves some control and some element of chance. I like to experiment with how watercolor paint spreads and/or the colors bleed together differently when using various types of fabrics as the surface. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to make the paint work – controlling it as much as the medium and surface will allow, but while also embracing the unpredictability of it. This is an appropriate metaphor to my life right now – raising small children while trying to maintain a career and grow as an artist. I’m learning to let go but finding ways to control what I can.

– Emily Moll Wood

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: Deb Peregrine

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

Deb Peregrine, Bix, 2018, encaustic, 10 x 10 x 2 inches

Art class was my favorite. I won a summer scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, earning my first solo exhibition. Wandering the halls of the Art Institute at a young age affected me deeply. I wanted to become an Impressionist. One of my idols is Carl Krafft, an early 20th century Expressionist painter from Chicago. He traveled to the Ozarks to paint and started the Ozark Painters Society. When he passed in 1936, the Art Institute had an exhibition of his work. I can see Krafft’s influence in my paintings. I want my art to tell a story, to be viewer friendly, to inspire someone to pick up a brush or pen.

– Deb Peregrine

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: Jason Rankin

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

Jason Rankin, Bend 4, 2018, graphite on paper, 50 x 38 inches

It is my intention to create art that is accessible to the greatest number of people. I feel that graphite pencils on paper is the most ubiquitous of all art forms, as almost everyone in the Western world has drawn with a pencil on paper at some point. My drawings are intended to express my personal concepts of beauty, mostly through human form and expression.  

My friend Katya has become my muse for most of my recent work, including the “Bend” series. This work is a collaboration between artist and model, allowing her to express herself in the way she chooses, while allowing me to express my own personal concepts of beauty via the human form.

– Jason Rankin

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: Carrie Ballinger Porter

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

Carrie Ballinger Porter, Cracks in the Landscape I, 2018, Polaroid emulsion transfer with graphite, 6 x 12 x 1 1/2 inches

In my most recent work, Cracks in the Landscape Series, I have been focused on manipulating the agricultural landscapes that one sees on the eastern half of Arkansas. These works are first taken on a 1980’s era Polaroid Instant camera. After the image has developed, I take the actual photo apart and soak it. I then remove the film or skin on which the image sits and then place it carefully on basswood or other suitable backing. At this point the image can be moved, twisted, pulled or folded. Almost as if it were a piece of unique, delicate fabric. Working in this way it is difficult to predict what the image will do. Sometimes they break or tear sometimes not. I think the imperfections are what make these landscapes so inviting. These images are meant to capture a quietness and stillness of the landscapes they represent.

– Carrie Ballinger Porter

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: Alice Guffey Miller

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

Alice Guffey Miller, Survivor Barbie and the Naked Truth, 2019, mixed media, 8 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 feet

Barbie, the Great American Icon, has become an artistic medium in several of my creations. This particular Barbie survived thousands of miles as a hood ornament before rising up to expose the naked truth about today’s America. Climbing out of the ruins, she lifts with her all the little people: the down-trodden, the marginalized, the others. Barbie’s ascension speaks of the survival of the Feminine over oppression and subjugation, a triumph of peace and love over strife and hatred. She is naked because truth is always naked: without pretense, show or shame.

– Alice Guffey Miller

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: Carol Hart

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

Carol Hart, Big Changes in the Old Neighborhood, 2018, mixed media, 30 x 30 x 1 1/2 inches

Time just seems to stand still while I’m painting. I continue to be surprised and delighted at how painting both intrigues and engages me. I am an acrylic and mixed media painter and I paint with a sense of urgency.  I love experimenting with a variety of subjects, mediums and materials. I enjoy the challenge and joy of painting figures, landscapes, and abstracts. Regardless of the subject matter, I take an abstract approach, using bold bright colors, broad-brush strokes and frequently embellish my work with drawing and collage. I focus on the relationship between shapes and create the movement necessary to draw the viewer in and around the painting.  Once the process has started, I tend to paint instinctively looking for those unanticipated surprises to guide me.

– Carol Hart

Share this Post

Voices of the Delta: John Green

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 61, Delta 61, Delta Exhibition, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

John Green, Toys and a Book, 2017, drawn from life on an iPad, archival inkjet on rag, 12 5/8 x 17 3/4 inches

Some of my recent work is made with a stylus on an iPad. The tablet frees me to make finished work directly from subjects and in places where traditional paints are impractical or too conspicuous. This broadens the range of subjects from which the painter can work, unfiltered by photography or preparatory sketches.

The tools of digital painting have evolved to the point that they feel very natural to me. Still, I am quite conscious of many differences between the processes and products of painting digitally versus the use of physical pigments. Digital painting has no physicality and no fixed scale. Changes can be unmade and remade easily. There is nothing of the destructive quality intrinsic to traditional painting. My digital paintings are only paintings at all in that they are mark by mark constructions of an image on a flat plane.

I use software that does not affect qualities of traditional pigments. I prefer flat, unbroken pieces of color with no emulation of physical brushes or the slippage of wet paint. Even printed, these paintings should reflect that they were made on a computer.

– John Green

Share this Post