Unique Exhibition Holds a Mirror to the Life of Iconic Artist Frida Kahlo

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

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The Arkansas Arts Center presents a rare opportunity to see one of Mexico’s greatest painters captured by some of the 20th century’s most important photographers. Photographing Frida: Portraits of Frida Kahlo/Fotografiando Frida: Retratos de Frida Kahlo,  the first exhibition about Frida Kahlo to appear at the Arkansas Arts Center, will be on view February 1 through April 14, 2019.

Nickolas Muray, American (Szeged, Hungary, 1892 – 1965, New York, New York), Frida with Magenta Rebozo “Classic,” 1939, color carbon print, 14 ½ x 11 ½ inches. Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, New York.

Photographing Frida: Portraits of Frida Kahlo features 65 images of Kahlo as art and artist. The photographs document Kahlo’s life as seen by the greatest photographers of the time – Lola and Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Emmy Lou Packard, Graciela Iturbide, Nickolas Muray, and Edward Weston, among others. From casual snapshots to intimate family photographs to artfully posed studio portraits, viewers will see the full spectrum of Kahlo’s life, from self-assured adolescent, to influential artist, fashion icon and passionate lover, as she takes on a mythic presence in our collective imagination.

In the hands of photojournalists, friends and artists, the camera allowed Kahlo to explore her own image and identity, document her marriage to the great muralist Diego Rivera, express her strong political views, and artfully reveal her life-long struggle to overcome her physical challenges. In the process, she ultimately defined the principal subject of her own art – herself.

Edward Weston, American (Highland Park, Illinois, 1886 – 1958, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California), Frida Kahlo, 1930 (printed 2004), selenium-toned gelatin silver print repro copy, 9 ¼ x 7 ¾ inches. Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, New York.

Photographing Frida is an opportunity to see Frida Kahlo as you’ve never seen her before,” Chief Curator Brian J. Lang said. “These images defined not only the way the world saw her – and continues to see her – but how she saw and depicted herself through her own work.”

Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacán, Mexico City, Mexico in 1907. Her father, Guillermo Kahlo, was a photographer, and often photographed the young Frida. Through her father’s portraits, she became acquainted with the power of her own image.

Kahlo’s short life was punctuated by struggles with physical ailments. She was born with spina bifida, a congenital spinal condition that affected her health throughout her life. She contracted polio as a child, which left her right leg shorter and weaker than the left. At age 18, Kahlo was severely injured in a near-fatal bus accident, fracturing several ribs, both her legs, as well as her collarbone and pelvis. The effects of the injuries lasted a lifetime, informing her art and the identity she honed through photography.

In 1929, Kahlo married muralist Diego Rivera. Throughout their tumultuous marriage, the couple was often photographed together, both in Mexico and in the United States. Rivera was a major presence, both in Kahlo’s life and in the photographs that document their life. As they traveled through Mexico and the United States, “Frida and Diego” – as they were affectionately known – became a source of fascination and intrigue for the paparazzi: Kahlo, stunning in her Tehuana dresses, beribboned hair and beaded jewelry, accompanied her famous muralist husband. Photos of their second wedding (the couple divorced in 1939, only to remarry a year later) in California were captured by American press photographers.

Victor Reyes, Diego And His Bride Frida, Mexico, 1929, vintage gelatin silver print, 5 ¾ x 3 ¾ inches. Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, New York.

The exhibition reveals Kahlo’s fascination with fashion – as self-expression, political expression, and a means for concealing her physical disabilities. She was often photographed wearing traditional Mexican clothing – Tehuana dresses, huipils and rebozos, and beaded jewelry. Under the voluminous skirts and flowing dresses, she was able to hide the injuries that had affected her since youth. The pre-Hispanic clothing she was so fond of allowed her to express her belief in mexicanidad – the nationalist movement that found its inspiration in pre-Columbian Mexico after the end of the Mexican Revolution.

Kahlo continued to be photographed until her death in 1954. To each photographer she encountered, Salomon Grimberg writes, she became something new – ever present and continually beguiling – but made different through their lens. In the process, she herself became a work of art.

“I insist that Frida was a special being, not a person one ran into every day,” photographer Lola Álvarez Bravo said. “When she spoke, when she moved, when she painted, when she expressed herself, she already was inspiring something. To me, she was like birds and flowers and knitted quilts, a Mexican mood concentrated in an epoch and all expressed through her. She was like that.”

Emmy Lou Packard, American (El Centro, California, 1914 – 1998, San Francisco, California) Frida Kahlo and Emmy Lou Packard, Coyoacán, Mexico, 1941, platinum print, 10 ½ x 10 ½ inches. Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, New York.

Photographing Frida features images by Lola Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Florence Arquin, Lucienne Bloch, Imogen Cunningham, Gisèle Freund, Hector Garcia, Juan Guzman, Graciela Iturbide, Peter Juley, Guillermo Kahlo, Bernice Kolko, Leo Matiz, Nickolas Muray, Emmy Lou Packard, Victor Reyes, Bernard Silberstein, Edward Weston and Guillermo Zamora. A fully-illustrated catalogue, Mirror, Mirror: Portraits of Frida Kahlo, featuring an essay by Salomon Grimberg, a noted authority on Latin American art, accompanies the exhibition.

Photographing Frida: Portraits of Frida Kahlo/Fotografiando Frida: Retratos de Frida Kahlo is organized by the Arkansas Arts Center in collaboration with Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, New York. The exhibition is sponsored by Bank of America; JC Thompson Trust; Judy Fletcher, In Memory of John R. Fletcher; Belinda Shults; Laura Sandage Harden and Lon Clark; Holleman & Associates, P.A.; Barbara House; and Rhonda and Tim Jordan. Additional support by Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock.

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Arkansas Arts Center to expand into community with collection on view, continued programs during future renovation

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Building, Collection, Education, Museum, News, Programs

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CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter at Art Start at the Arkansas Arts Center on October 17.

Select programs and craft collection will move to CALS locations during construction on MacArthur Park facility

The Arkansas Arts Center and the Central Arkansas Library System are launching a long-term partnership to build valuable creative connections between two Central Arkansas cultural institutions.

This collaboration with CALS is the first of several community partnerships the Arkansas Arts Center will offer as its building in MacArthur Park undergoes a transformational renovation. Beginning in the fall of 2019, arts patrons will find Arts Center collection works and programming at a variety of locations around Arkansas, including 15 Central Arkansas Library System locations. More details about additional partnerships will continue to be announced throughout 2019.

“CALS has always served as a partner and host for our regional arts institutions. Our many branch locations provide a perfect venue to share with local neighborhoods the cultural richness of the Arkansas Arts Center’s collection,” CALS Executive Director Nate Coulter said. “We are also delighted to enable the continuation of the Arts Center’s educational programs during their construction process, thanks to our many community classrooms and meeting spaces. It is our pleasure to collaborate with the Arts Center to support our arts community, and we know CALS patrons will greatly enjoy these classes as an addition to our regular library programming.”

Beginning in early 2019, patrons of CALS branches will see works from the Arkansas Arts Center’s extensive collection of contemporary craft objects as they browse their neighborhood libraries. Nearly 10% of the craft collection’s 1,500 works will be on view at all 14 CALS branches, as well as the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, with each installation carefully curated to the environment, history and mission of each individual library branch. These installations in communities across Central Arkansas will show off the incredible diversity of the Arts Center’s collection of contemporary craft objects.

“Between one and three percent of a museum’s collection is on view at any given time,” said Brian J. Lang, Chief Curator and Windgate Foundation Curator of Contemporary Craft. “This partnership with CALS will enable us to keep a significant portion of our craft collection accessible and visible to the community while our building is under construction.”

Lang, along with the Arts Center’s team of curators, registrars and preparators, has spent the last year meeting with CALS staff and visiting each library in the system to discuss goals and develop plans for collaborations that will benefit Central Arkansas communities. Carefully selected for their relevance and community value, the works will allow library managers to draw inspiration to plan programming around the collections. These long-term partnerships are designed to continue, even after the Arkansas Arts Center’s reopening, scheduled for spring 2022.

“It’s been a welcome challenge for me as a curator to use our collection in engaging and innovative ways that will be of interest to CALS and its patrons,” Lang said.

“Rohwer” and “Jerome” from Wendy Maruyama’s “The Tag Project” are on view at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

The CALS Main Library in downtown Little Rock will feature large scale sculptures in metal and wood. Across the street at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, two sculptures from artist Wendy Maruyama’s The Tag Project, installed in July 2018, will remain on view. At the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center, visitors will find a selection of whimsical Toys Designed by Artists, works that challenge children and adults alike to imagine beautifully-crafted toys as artistic expressions of personal experience. Judy Onofrio’s Just Pretending, a found-object assemblage sculpture depicting a mermaid, will also take up residence at the Children’s Library.

Some installations will reference the accomplishments of the libraries’ namesake patrons. At the Adolphine Fletcher Terry Library in West Little Rock, the Arts Center will pay tribute to the noted women’s rights and integration advocate with works from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection by women artists working in ceramic. At the John Gould Fletcher Library – named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author – an installation will feature craft objects that incorporate text.

The Roosevelt Thompson Library in Chenal will include a selection of teapots from the AAC collection. The Amy Sanders Library in Sherwood, which focuses on STEM programs, will install works made using recycled materials. The Sue Cowan Williams Library – near Dunbar Garden – will feature garden-themed works.

Other installations will connect with the land or industry of the library’s neighborhood. The Dee Brown Library in Southwest Little Rock will feature a woodland-themed installation of wood-fired stoneware. Surrounded by pine trees, the Millie Brooks Library in Wrightsville will feature works inspired by pine, including turned wood, coiled baskets and wall pieces. At the Max Milam Library in Perryville, works in metal will connect to the area’s long agricultural history. Near the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, the Esther DeWitt Nixon Library will feature works that explore the military experience and military history.

“The hope is that this program will be our opportunity to integrate into the fabric of our community,” Lang said. “We hope to introduce people to the rich diversity of our collection, as well as inspire people who might not already know about the Arts Center to stay connected and visit these works in our new space.”

Beginning in September 2019, CALS patrons will also find some of their favorite Arts Center youth and adult programs at their neighborhood libraries, with programs carefully placed to fit the communities already present at each library.

“We’re always looking for meaningful ways to engage audiences with the arts,” said Rana Edgar, Arkansas Arts Center Director of Education and Programs. “Partnering with CALS will allow us to reach new audiences while continuing some of the programming Arts Center patrons have come to know and love.”

Art Start, a collaboration between the Arkansas Arts Center and CALS, will be moving to the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library & Learning Center. The program, designed for toddlers and pre-school-aged children, includes stories about art and artists, gallery activities and art-making projects. Other youth classes and programs that will move to the Children’s Library include the ever-popular Me & My Grown Up and Spring Break youth camp. After-school youth classes in a variety of media will also be held at the Terry, Maumelle, Sanders and Dee Brown libraries.

Terry, Maumelle, Dee Brown and Main libraries will also host a variety of classes and workshops in a range of two-dimensional media for adults.

Little Rock artist Lisa Krannichfeld gives a Feed Your Mind Friday talk on her 60th Delta Grand Award-winning piece, New Skin.

Feed Your Mind Fridays, monthly free gallery talks offered during the lunch hour, and docent tours will continue at the Main Library. Art Together, a partnership with Alzheimer’s Arkansas to provide an art experience for adults with dementia-spectrum disorders and their care partners, will be offered at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Young Arkansas Artists, an annual exhibition of youth artwork from across the state – a perennial favorite Arts Center exhibition – will also be on view at CALS.

“The partnership is an opportunity to foster greater engagement with CALS and AAC,” said Nathan James, CALS deputy executive director of technology & digital innovation. “There may be CALS patrons who have never taken advantage of the wealth of opportunities AAC offers, and likewise there may be AAC members who haven’t explored the programs, services, and collection CALS offers. We can build a community actively involved with both organizations, and more importantly, build relationships and understanding between the people who make Central Arkansas such a vibrant place to call home.”

This collaboration between the Arkansas Arts Center and CALS is one of the many opportunities that will allow the Arts Center to remain vibrant and community-oriented while its building undergoes renovation.

“Partnerships within our community have always been critical to our mission,” said Laine Harber, Arkansas Arts Center interim executive director. “As we look toward the future, we want to continue to build the Arts Center into a true community gathering space. During our construction process, we look forward to building community with our many partners across the state.”

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Arkansas Arts Center announces partnership with Nabholz | Pepper | Doyne

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Building

The Arkansas Arts Center announced Monday the selection of tri-venture Nabholz Construction, Pepper Construction, and Doyne Construction Company to serve as the construction management team for the Arts Center’s transformational building project.

Nabholz | Pepper | Doyne has nearly 200 years of combined construction experience and an exceptional portfolio of work on museum, learning, and performance spaces. Collectively, they have built or renovated more than 2.5 million square feet of museum space. Nabholz | Pepper | Doyne has strong existing connections with lead architect Studio Gang and associate architect Polk, Stanley, Wilcox, as well as established relationships with local subcontractors and regional and national suppliers. Their expertise in museum MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) systems and LEED certification, high-performance and environmentally friendly construction methods make them the ideal team to complete this project. Additionally, their use of virtual construction technology, including model-based estimating and scheduling, will allow them to integrate seamlessly with project architects and design partners.

The team has collectively built a world-class portfolio of museums and art spaces. In a joint venture with Linbeck, Nabholz constructed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. Crystal Bridges, designed by Moshe Safdie and completed in 2010, features galleries, classrooms, a library, lecture hall, curatorial wing, reception and hospitality wing, and multi-purpose great hall.

Pepper has also previously worked with the design architect on the Studio Gang-designed Nature Boardwalk in Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. This project included the restoration and enhancement of Lincoln Park’s South Pond, changing it from a shallow 6.4-acre open water body into a 5.3-acre pond with an average depth of six feet. A recycled plastic boardwalk was built around the pond both on water and wetland-based plants. In addition, an open-air pavilion was built along with a freestanding single-use toilet facility and ticket-selling booth.

Pepper Construction’s museum experience includes St. Louis Museum of Art’s 2013 renovation and expansion. The most significant expansion in the museum’s history, the David Chipperfield-designed modern structure adjoined the museum’s main building, constructed for the 1904 World’s Fair. The expansion added 21 new gallery spaces, expanded public amenities, and connected the museum’s main and lower levels with construction of a new Grand Stair. Additionally, Pepper oversaw construction of a 140-seat restaurant and 60-seat café, new underground parking garage, along with renovation of the Museum Shop, auditorium, and education space.

Pepper also served as the construction manager for the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The 125,000-square-foot building features 20,000 square feet of gallery and exhibition space and is the world’s first LEED Gold museum, earning this accreditation with energy-efficient lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as strict recycling systems for water and operational supplies. The three-story concrete and glass structure is organized around a 5,0000-square foot central pavilion of glass and light-colored architectural concrete flanked by a reflecting pool with a water wall and pocket park, open-air sculpture courtyard, and dining terraces. The museum also has a multi-use auditorium, education center, art reference library, café, and conference rooms.

Also in Pepper’s portfolio is Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, built to house the expanding collection of the Davenport Museum of Art. Part of a riverfront revitalization project, the four-floor, 99,515-square foot building features a rooftop winter garden for temporary collections; a 110-seat, 1,200-square foot auditorium; 20,600 square feet of gallery space; common areas; office space; and 35,000 square feet of underground parking. On the back of the museum, a grand staircase leading to the main lobby and a restaurant cuts directly into the facade and offers sweeping views of the river. The project also included construction of a café, office space, classrooms, a research library and studios.

Nabholz and Doyne had previously entered into a joint venture to construct the new Windgate Center for Art and Design at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The 65,000-square foot facility is comprised of two buildings connected by a main gallery and administrative wing. The project features 13 studios, eight classrooms, 21 faculty and staff offices, two galleries totaling a combined 2,000 square feet, an archival storage facility, an art history reading room, a lecture hall, and 30 process and support rooms. Other features include a fine arts foundry, a makerspace and fabrication lab with 3D printers, laser cutters, and a 12,308-square foot courtyard.

In 2017 Nabholz worked on the renovation of the Griffin Building in the Murphy Arts District in El Dorado, Ark. The old open-air filling station, showroom, warehouse and automotive shop became a restaurant and live music venue enclosed by a glass curtain wall. The building boasts a commercial kitchen and VIP area for events. For live music events, the old warehouse can seat 1,800 with a standing capacity of 2,400.

Between the three firms, their respective portfolios also include additions and renovations to the Art Institute of Chicago; construction of the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Ark.; construction of the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville, Ark.; an addition and renovation of the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Mo.; construction of Little Rock Southwest High School, the South Wing addition and Energy Building expansion at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Ark.; renovation of the Chicago Children’s Theatre in Chicago, Ill.; and historical preservation and addition at the Haish Memorial Library in Dekalb, Ill.

The Arts Center also announced the selection of six specialty consultants that will be working on the project:

  • Anderson Engineering Consultants, Inc. will serve as the Geotechnical Engineering Consultant, providing analysis of the geology and soils upon which the building will be sited.
  • Terracon will serve as Environmental Consultant, providing assessments of types, locations and estimated quantities of hazardous materials resident in existing construction.
  • CTEH will serve as Industrial Hygienist, evaluating art school processes, including chemicals, paints, powders, elevated temperatures, gases, etc. and provide design criteria for special ventilation requirements associated with art school studios.
  • Peters & Associates will serve as Traffic Engineering Consultant, providing vehicular traffic analysis to support and understand the impact of the design on traffic patterns and flows.
  • Manask & Associates will serve as Food Service Consultant, providing an evaluation of the restaurant/café operational potential based upon an analysis of market conditions, patron base and demographics, and food industry trends. Manask & Associates will also serve as Retail and Design Services Consultant, assisting with merchandising concepts and advising the design team on millwork, storage, lighting, displays and point of sale locations, as well as specialized design of restaurant layout and interiors.
  • Layne Consultants International will serve as Security Consultant, assessing the physical security needs of the AAC and providing specialized guidance to the design team to ensure appropriate means of establishing security perimeters within the AAC are incorporated into the design, as well as surveillance systems using the most current technologies.

Future consultant selections will include signage consultants, commissioning agents, and owner’s testing services.

The construction managers and consultants will work to realize the concept design presented by lead architect Studio Gang and landscape architect SCAPE Studio. The striking architectural design strengthens the connections between the visual and performing arts in an inclusive space that welcomes a diverse community.

The $70 million construction budget will be realized as combination of public and private funds. Groundbreaking is 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.

ABOUT NABHOLZ

Since 1949, the Nabholz name has been synonymous with quality, service, and integrity in the construction industry. Committed to serving clients at every turn, we have become experts in commercial, industrial, civil, and environmental construction and draw from an unmatched pool of knowledge and experience on each new project we undertake. We share our clients’ passion for creating unique culture experiences in our communities, a passion we have cultivated on past projects including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (a Linbeck-Nabholz Joint Venture), Scott Family Amazeum, Mid-America Science Museum, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Windgate Center of Art + Design. Additionally, our construction experience includes highly technical and conservation-based construction, with projects Arkansas Children’s Northwest, Arkansas Children’s South Wing and Energy Building Expansion, and the UALR Energy Conservation Project acting as our precedent. With offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oklahoma and over 1,100 highly skilled professional and craftworkers working towards a common goal, Nabholz continues to lead the construction industry forward. Learn more at www.nabholz.com.

ABOUT PEPPER CONSTRUCTION

Pepper Construction, one of nation’s largest contractors, is on the forefront of new markets and methods, leading the industry in virtual technologies, lean and sustainable construction. For more than 30 years, Pepper has been working with some of the country’s leading cultural institutions, forging a stronger bond between art, education and the community.  In addition to the Arkansas Arts Center, we have been privileged to work with such recognizable names as The School of the Art Institute, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Children’s Theatre, St. Louis Art Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum and The Figge Art Museum, among others. The firm’s current projects include The 1060 Project at Wrigley Field; Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, which will be the first net-zero zoo; the new academic and residence hall at University of Illinois at Chicago; and multiple projects at Northwestern University. Now in their third generation of family leadership, Pepper serves clients across the country from offices in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin in markets such as education, healthcare, manufacturing and light industrial, multifamily residential, data centers, entertainment, hospitality, interiors and retail, among others. For more information, please visit www.pepperconstruction.com.

ABOUT DOYNE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY

Doyne Construction Company, Inc. was formed in 1983 to provide quality construction, meaningful employment, and community engagement for our home communities. Through careful planning and controlled growth, the company now performs work throughout the entire state of Arkansas and in surrounding states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Florida. We’ve made our name in both the public and private sectors, serving clients on projects ranging from site development to residential apartments and subdivisions; commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings; and everything in-between. We’re proud to offer general construction services, design-build services, construction management services, facilities maintenance, and contract administration.

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AAC Contemporaries present the 6th Annual Fountain Fest

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Events

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The Arkansas Arts Center’s Contemporaries return to the Carrie Remmel Dickinson Fountain this fall with the 6th Annual Fountain Fest. The fundraiser – featuring food, music, art and libations – will center around the reveal of a surprise art installation in the fountain on Thursday, October 25.

“Fountain Fest is back, bigger and better than ever,” Contemporaries President Jessie McLarty said. “But Fountain Fest is also more than just a great party – funds raised will support our efforts to expand the Arkansas Arts Center Collection and provide exceptional arts programming in Little Rock.”

The 6th Annual Fountain Fest will feature food from Fassler Hall, beer by Flyway Brewing Company and Stone’s Throw Brewing, cocktails by Roxor Gin and ice cream by Loblolly Creamery. Local duo Luke Johnson and Brian Nahlen will provide music. Museum School instructors and students will assist with a variety of art-making activities and games. SoMa’s Electric Ghost will demonstrate screen printing-techniques on limited edition Fountain Fest t-shirts. The Arkansas Arts Center Artmobile will also be onsite for attendees to view its current exhibition, Who, What, Wear.

“Fountain Fest is the perfect way for the community to engage with everything the Arts Center and the Contemporaries have to offer,” Fountain Fest Chair Stacy Grobmyer said. “And tickets are only $25? What a deal!”

Fountain Fest will begin at 5:30 p.m. on October 25 around the Carrie Remmel Dickinson Fountain in front of the Arkansas Arts Center. Event tickets are $25 and can be purchased at arkansasartscenter.org/fountain-fest or by calling (501) 372-4000. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; for more information contact Spencer Jansen at (501) 396-0337.

The event will also feature a raffle for a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23yr Bourbon, generously donated by 107 Liquor. Barrel-aged for 23 years, the whiskey is lyrically described: “See a deep amber red. Taste the various hints of caramel, ripe apples, cherries, oak wood and tobacco with a hint of chocolate. This bourbon finishes with a long-lasting and pleasant taste. Starts with a lot of wood flavors but leads to a nice sweet caramel finish.” Raffle tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at arkansasartscenter.org/fountain-fest or at the event. The winner does not have to be present to win.

Fountain Fest provides an opportunity for the community to engage with the Contemporaries, an affiliate-membership group of the Arkansas Arts Center made up of art enthusiasts who wish to expand their knowledge and appreciation of the arts. The Contemporaries programs provide young professionals with an opportunity to experience the Arkansas Arts Center and become involved with the local art community. Through exclusive tours of the Arts Center, private homes and local galleries, the Contemporaries develop a more informed appreciation of art. The funds raised at Fountain Fest support acquisitions on behalf of the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection and other programming that supports the Arts Center.

The 6th Annual Fountain Fest is chaired by Stacy Grobmyer and Heather Wardle. Fountain Fest is sponsored by CenterPoint Energy and Party City. In-kind sponsors are 107 Liquor; Fassler Hall; Flyway Brewing Company; Moon Distributors; O’Connor Distributing; Roxor Gin; and Stone’s Throw Brewing.

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Arkansas Arts Center celebrates year of community support, accomplishments at 2018 Annual Meeting

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Collection, Community, Education, Events, Exhibitions, Faculty & Staff, General, Museum, Museum School, Programs

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The Arkansas Arts Center finished its eighth consecutive year operating in the black on June 30, interim executive director Laine Harber announced August 20. It was a year marked by community support and significant achievements, including the reveal of concept designs for a reimagined Arkansas Arts Center and a landmark exhibition of John Marin works nearly four years in the making.

“Over the past year, the Arkansas Arts Center staff has worked diligently to engage our communities and realize our goals.” Harber said. “We’re incredibly proud of our accomplishments over the past year.”

At the Annual Meeting, Harber announced a generous gift in support of the Arkansas Arts Center. The Windgate Charitable Foundation will endow two curatorial positions at the Arts Center: the Windgate Curator of Contemporary Craft, to be held by Brian J. Lang, and the Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr. Curator of Drawings, to be held by Ann Prentice Wagner, Ph.D.

In February, the Arkansas Arts Center, Studio Gang Architects and SCAPE Landscape Architects presented a striking new concept design for the Arts Center. The design will strengthen the connections between the visual and performing arts in an inclusive space that welcomes a diverse community.

A successful POP! Beaux Arts Ball honored those who have played an integral role in the Arts Center’s past and continued success. The 2018 POP! Portrait of a Patron Awards recognized Jane McGehee Wilson for her service, the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas for its philanthropy, and Townsend Wolfe for his lifetime of service on behalf of the Arkansas Arts Center.

A $350,000 grant from The Henry Luce Foundation helped the Arts Center to realize Becoming John Marin: Modernist at Workalong with its accompanying catalog and narrative website. Becoming John Marin, on view January 26 through April 22, included never-before-exhibited drawings and watercolors from the Arkansas Arts Center Collection exploring the artist’s transformation from intuitive draftsman to innovative watercolorist and etcher. Organized by the Arkansas Arts Center, Becoming John Marin featured 79 works from the Arts Center’s exceptional collection of Marin drawings, donated to the Arts Center by the artist’s daughter-in-law, Norma Marin, in 2013, and conserved with support from The Henry Luce Foundation, Luce Fund in American Art. They were 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.

The Henry Luce Foundation also supported the development of a narrative website, www.becomingjohnmarin.org. The website features analysis of Marin’s favorite subjects, from New York’s Woolworth Building to Small Point, Maine, guides viewers through Marin’s life and work, and explores 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. The Arts Center also launched its first beacon program to complement the exhibition, bringing interactive technology into the galleries, allowing visitors to build deeper connections with the art.

A $50,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, announced earlier this year, will support continued conservation of the Arts Center’s collection of John Marin works. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

The Arkansas Arts Center was one of 80 institutions across the country selected to participate in the Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) program. CAP helps museums improve the care of their collections by providing support for a conservation assessment of the museum’s collections and buildings. The museum will work with a team of preservation professionals to identify preventive conservation priorities. The final assessment report will help the museum prioritize its collections care efforts in the coming years.

The Arkansas Arts Center also partnered with ACANSA Arts Festival to present Will Counts: The Central High School Photographs, on view August 8 through October 22, 2017, marking the 60th anniversary of the historic integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The exhibition featured 38 prints from the black and white negatives local press photographer Will Counts (1931 – 2001) made of the integration of Central High in 1957, 1958 and 1959. Counts donated the prints to the Arkansas Arts Center in 1997. To provide historical context, the Arts Center also produced an interactive timeline detailing the integration process in Little Rock, beginning with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The timeline was accessible to visitors in the gallery.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola recognized outgoing trustees Albert Braunfisch, Mike Maulden and Mimi San Pedro, as well as outgoing ex-officio trustees Catherine Robben for the Contemporaries, Emily Mitchell and Lisa Nichols for the Fine Arts Club, and Paul Bash for the docents. Stodola also recognized incoming trustees Stan Hastings, LaRand Thomas and Paul Parnell, reappointed trustees Merritt Dyke, Gordon Silaski, Pat Wilson and Isabel Anthony and incoming ex-officio trustees, Jessie McLarty for the Contemporaries and Susan Day for the docents.

Chief Curator Brian Lang highlighted the acquisition of 209 works of art, including 22 purchases and 187 donations of art. The acquisitions list included a diverse selection works from the Russian avant-garde artist Alexander Archipenko, contemporary Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson, American painter John Singer Sargent, craft artists Iguchi Daisuke, Betty Scarpino and Marjorie Schick, as well as European masters Rembrandt van Rijn and Eugene Delacroix.

Works from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection traveled a total of 10,714 miles to be loaned to museums across the country, including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Texas, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California in Berkeley, California, the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia, Penn., and the Windgate Center for Art and Design in Little Rock, Ark.

Harber also took a moment to recognize outgoing Executive Director Todd Herman, who served as director from 2011 – 2018.

Over the past year, the Arkansas Arts Center hosted 79 lectures, gallery talks, film screenings and hands-on art-making activities were held at the Arts Center. 300 volunteers donated their time to make programming possible, the Arts Center boasted 3,346 member households and welcomed 185,479 visitors from 45 states.

Statewide ArtsReach programs visited 63 communities in 40 Arkansas counties. Children’s Theatre on Tour performed 100 shows at 62 venues, and those productions were enjoyed by 36,863 people. The Artmobile traveled 3,610 miles across the state, serving 16,098 visitors. In addition, the Young Arkansas Artists exhibition at the Clinton National Airport reached more than 1,026,252 travelers.

In the Children’s Theatre, 147 performances were held for 40,710 children and families, including 80 school shows for 213 schools across the state. The Children’s Theatre also offered programs for 206 students.

In the Museum School, 273 visual art classes and workshops were offered for 2,330 adult students, as well as 56 youth classes and special programs for 529 youth students, including 114 attendees of the popular annual Junior Arts Academy, now in its 22nd year.

Harber previewed the upcoming exhibitions slated for 2018 and 2019. The exhibition calendar begins with Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary from the Martin Muller Collection, on display September 28 through December 30, 2018. Independent Vision, organized by the Arkansas Arts Center, will feature works from the private collection of gallerist and collector Martin Muller.

Robert Baines: Living Treasure and Fabulous Follies remains on view through October 7, 2018. A leading scholar in the field of archaeometallurgy, Baines has studied and revived Bronze Age goldsmith techniques in service of international jewelry scholarship. His study of the ancient techniques also has informed his artistic practice for more than 40 years. In Living Treasure and Fabulous Follies, Baines assembles a fictitious jewelry narrative, captivating not only in the creativity and craftsmanship evident in the works, but also in the artist’s fascination with the enigma of jewelry as material evidence of authentic history.

Harber also previewed Photographing Frida: Portraits of Frida Kahlo/Fotografiando Frida: Retratos de Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol’s Little Red Book, both on view February 1 through April 14, 2019. Photographing Frida/Fotografiando Frida, organized by the Arkansas Arts Center in collaboration with Throckmorton Fine Art, New York, New York, will be the first exhibition about Kahlo to appear at the Arkansas Arts Center.

The 61st Annual Delta Exhibition, the Arkansas Arts Center’s annual exhibition of juried work from the Mississippi Delta-region, will be on view May 31 through September 1, 2019. The exhibition highlights innovative contemporary art from the Arkansas and its border states.

The 2018–2019 Children’s Theatre season features six Main Stage shows: Curious George: The Golden Meatball (September 21 – October 7, 2018); Hansel and Gretel’s Gingerbread Games (October 26 – November 11, 2018); Jack Frost in Santa Land (November 30 – December 16, 2018); This Little Piggy Went to Market (February 1 – February 17, 2019); Charlotte’s Web (March 8 – March 31, 2019) and The Hobbit (April 26 – May 12, 2019).

Harber announced the upcoming Tabriz – the last to be held before groundbreaking for the reimagined Arkansas Arts Center – is slated for April 25 and 27, 2019 at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Ann Prentice Wagner, Ph.D.

Harber presented the Arkansas Arts Center “Employee of the Year” award to Curator of Drawings Ann Prentice Wagner, Ph.D. Since joining the Arkansas Arts Center in 2012, Wagner has organized numerous exhibitions, contributed to the collection and advocated for the Arts Center among the museum community. Wagner’s diligent scholarship on the life and work of John Marin made Becoming John Marin possible, bringing the work of this fascinating artist to life for Arts Center visitors.

“Ann’s exceptional scholarship made Becoming John Marin – the exhibition, catalog and website – possible, and her diligence and commitment to the art in our collection is unparalleled,” Lang said. “Ann is very deserving of this honor.”

Harber presented the “Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Award” to Shep Russell. The award, presented each year, honors those who serve and support the arts and the Arkansas Arts Center above and beyond the normal call of duty, as demonstrated by the late Winthrop Rockefeller, for whom the award is named. The awardees are selected by a committee of past recipients, who are – by definition – the experts in public service through the arts.

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Arkansas Arts Center presents an Independent Vision

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Exhibitions, Museum

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Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection on view Sept. 28 – Dec. 30, 2018

Martin Muller with 4 Legs by Charles Arnoldi, 2011. Photo by Philip Cohen. Image courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco.

The Arkansas Arts Center presents the striking vision of a master collector in Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection, on view September 28 through December 30, 2018.

Joel Besmar, Cuban (Camagüey, Cuba, 1968 – ), Descensus (The Descent), 2013, oil on canvas, 78 5/8 x 57 1/2 inches. Image courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco.

San Francisco-based gallerist and collector Martin Muller curated the exhibition from his personal collection as a tribute to Little Rock – the city where he spent his formative early years in America. During those years, Muller discovered an affinity for post-war American painting in the quiet library of the Arkansas Arts Center. It was the beginning of a lifelong, relentless pursuit of new artistic treasures.

“This was the beginning of a rich, colorful, challenging and rewarding journey, started in Little Rock, where I made many lifelong friends,” Muller said.

Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection features 89 works from Muller’s personal collection representing his journey through contemporary art. The works in the exhibition represent a range of artistic expression, from American photographers Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, modernist masters Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, pioneers of the Russian avant-garde Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Bogomazov, and El Lissitzky and pop artists Andy Warhol, Mel Ramos and Edward Ruscha. The show also includes a diverse array of contemporary works by artists such as Joel Besmar, Damian Elwes and Jean-Charles Blais.

“The thing that brings all these works together is their superlative quality,” said Brian Lang, Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Craft. “They are exceptional examples of their type.”

Independent Vision draws from Muller’s personal collection – and represents 77 artists he has championed throughout his career. Together, these works form a picture of Muller the collector, on a life-long journey for enlightenment through art and literature.

Born in Switzerland, Muller moved to Little Rock in 1975 to take a job with a Swiss-American company based in Little Rock.

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, called Le Corbusier, Swiss/French (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, 1887 – 1965, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France), Coeur sur la main, 1948, collage and gouache on paper, 19 1/8 x 14 1/2 inches. Image courtesy of Modernism Inc., San Francisco.

Muller was an avid student of 19th and 20th century Russian literature and art – but developed a fascination with post-war American painting – Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimalism. While living in Little Rock, he pursued his studies in the Elizabeth P. Taylor Library of the Arkansas Arts Center. In 1977, having decided to pursue his passion for art professionally, Muller moved west and opened Modernism, Inc. in San Francisco’s warehouse district South of Market.

“During my trip cross country, I marveled at discovering masterpieces of modern American art, from Edward Hopper to Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and later, the Pop and Minimalist artists, especially Donald Judd,” Muller said. “Now, some 40 years later, it gives me great joy to have come full circle back to Little Rock and be able to share at the Arkansas Arts Center some of the wonderful artworks gathered along the way.”

Founded in 1979, Modernism has since presented more than 450 exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, in media ranging from painting to photography, sculpture to performance, by an international roster of artists. Throughout its 39 years, Muller has aspired to keep the gallery’s challenging, museum quality program at the forefront of the art world, with exhibitions encompassing Dada, Cubism, Surrealism, Vorticism and German Expressionism. Muller was also an early promoter and champion of the artists of the Russian Avant-Garde (1910–1930) in the United States. The gallery has held a long list of exhibition “firsts” – in 1980, Modernism held the first exhibition of the Russian Avant-Garde in a West Coast gallery, the first Andy Warhol show in San Francisco in 1982, and in 2003, the first Le Corbusier gallery show in the United States.

“This exhibition celebrates the individual collecting vision in all of us,” Lang said. “We can all see ourselves in the variety of works Martin has chosen to collect.”

Independent Vision: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Martin Muller Collection was organized by the Arkansas Arts Center and Modernism Inc., San Francisco. Independent Vision is sponsored by Brenda Mize, Jane McGehee Wilson and Stifel.

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Executive Director Todd Herman to Depart Arkansas Arts Center

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Faculty & Staff

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The Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Arts Center announced Thursday that Executive Director Todd  Herman will leave the center, effective August 10, 2018, to accept a position as President and CEO of The Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C. The Board of Trustees is conducting a search for a successor to direct the AAC’s transitional goals of growth and expansion. Laine Harber, Deputy Director and CFO, will act as interim Director until the position is filled.

“We regret that Todd is departing, but know that our priorities for the Arkansas Arts Center remain unchanged,” said Merritt Dyke, President of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Arts Center. “We are encouraged by the positive response and participation from the community regarding our capital campaign, co-chaired by Harriet and Warren Stephens. Everyone in the organization is focused on making the AAC an unparalleled cultural destination for the citizens of central Arkansas and beyond.”

Herman came to the Arkansas Arts Center as Executive Director in 2011, and led one of Little Rock’s premier cultural institutions through a period marked by growth, expansion and financial stability. During his tenure, the Arkansas Arts Center saw seven consecutive years of balanced budgets and increased endowment funding. Herman oversaw the campaign to launch the transformation of the Arkansas Arts Center’s building in MacArthur Park. He also brought nationally recognized exhibitions to the Arts Center, developed a five-year strategic plan focused on civic involvement, arts education and cultural significance, and directed the organization through reaccreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing that I will be leaving the Arkansas Arts Center,” Herman said. “We accomplished a lot in the past seven years with the help of dedicated and talented staff, board, foundation and donors, and the commitment of both the City of Little Rock and our loyal members. As you know, you can’t always plan when opportunities will find you. The opportunity to lead an institution and to be in close proximity to family was likely an opportunity I will never have again. The Arts Center is in very good hands, with one of the finest staffs I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I am honored to have been a part of the history of this fine institution and of this community.”

“We thank Todd for his contributions to the AAC and his help launching this exciting transformation,” Dyke said. “We wish him the best in his new endeavor and look forward to working with Laine through this transition.”

The Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board will continue to implement the strategic plan developed in 2016. The Arkansas Arts Center redesign is underway with the new museum scheduled to open in 2022.

Featured image courtesy of Little Rock Soiree magazine.

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