Meet the Speaker: Melissa Messina, Mildred Thompson Estate

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Melissa Messina, Curator, Mildred Thompson Estate

Melissa Messina, Curator, Mildred Thompson Estate

LECTURE & LATE NIGHT WITH MELISSA MESSINA
Searching for Mildred Thompson: An Artist’s Legacy Project
Thursday, July 21
Arkansas Arts Center Atrium
5:30 p.m. Wine Reception | 6 p.m. Lecture | 7-9 p.m.  Late Night 

As part of a Lecture & Late Night on Thursday, July 21, Melissa Messina, a seasoned arts professional and curator of the Mildred Thompson Estate, will discuss her curatorial venture to reclaim a lost figure of American abstraction, Mildred Thompson.

Read about Messina’s interest in Thompson’s life and works below, and then join us for her lecture this week! Stay after the lecture and tour the galleries, enjoy dinner at Best Impressions and shop in The Museum Shop. The Arkansas Arts Center will be open until 9 p.m. Free for members, $10 for nonmembers; seating is limited, reservations are required: 501.372.4000. 

How and when did you first become familiar with Mildred and her work?

My life changed the day I met Mildred Thompson. I had just bravely switched majors from a practical design degree to fine art ­­and began my studies at the Atlanta College of Art in 1997. I showed up on the first day and, due to a computer glitch, none of the courses I had registered for were in the system. The registrar, apologetic and feeling terribly for me, slotted me into Mildred’s drawing class “Making the Invisible Visible,” which I didn’t know at the time was quite hard to get into. Mildred used to say, “what you are looking for is looking for you,” so perhaps it was fate!

Mildred’s lectures and courses are the stuff of art school legend. I immediately fell in love with her – knowing even at my young age that she was ahead of her time and out of this world! I took every class she offered twice, even set up independent studies so I could continue my education with her. As her pupil and mentee it was very important for me to learn about her work as well.

How would you define your personal relationship with her?

Mildred became a friend and mentor, and I spent as much time as I could with her until her passing in 2003. She was a true educator. Her personality and ideas were magnetic and students young and old flocked to learn from her. I adored her and was grateful to be taken under her wing. She opened up my mind and creative practice in ways I am still discovering today.

For those unfamiliar with Mildred, what three words would you use to describe her works?

Unique, dynamic and expressive. Though words do not do the work justice, I will do my best to more fully describe it during my talk!

What is the ultimate goal of the Mildred Thompson Legacy Project?

The goal for the legacy project is to provide platforms to generate broader interest for this historically important artist. This is happening through public speaking engagements and other programming, as well as research, writing, curatorial pursuits and acquisitions. The project also seeks to raise money for archival documentation and other collections management needs related to preserving her inventory.

Mildred Thompson’s contribution to the history of abstraction, and African American art, is only now being more fully examined. And I am very grateful to the Arkansas Arts Center for the opportunity to introduce Mildred and her work to your community.

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PokéStop by the Arts Center

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There are several Pokestops and two gyms in MacArthur Park

There are several PokéStops and two gyms in MacArthur Park

Pokémon Go is giving people another great reason to visit the Arkansas Arts Center—PokéStops.The Arkansas Arts Center has a grand total of FIVE PokéStops, plus several more in neighboring MacArthur Park. In fact, in the Park are two gyms: the Arkansas Korean War Memorial and MacArthur Park South Fountain.

Most of the PokéStops at the Arts Center can be accessed outside, but inside—along with free WiFi and incredible art—are Pokémon, just begging to be captured.

The five PokéStops include:
– Carrie Remmel Dickinson Fountain
– Winthrop Rockefeller bust (Actually located on the third floor, but accessible to visitors from galleries and the lower lobby.)
– Fountains near the Lower Lobby/Children’s Theatre entrance
– Harold Day’s Untitled sculpture in the parking lot, near the Lower Lobby/Children’s Theatre entrance
– Arkansas Arts Center sign, corner of 9th and Commerce Streets

So come explore the Arts Center and help lead your Pokémon Go team to victory!

Oddish visits the 58th Annual Delta Exhibition

Oddish visits the 58th Annual Delta Exhibition

Kids in the Drawing Animals from Life class with Pidgey

Kids in the Drawing Animals from Life class with Pidgey

Rattata explores the AAC Collection

Rattata explores the AAC Collection

Zubat helps prep art for hanging and storage

Zubat helps prep art for hanging and storage

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Drain Smart – Painting with a purpose

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Daniella Napolitano's design, "Sunset Herons," won the public vote for the 2015 Drain Smart Rivermarket District

Daniella Napolitano’s design, “Sunset Herons,” won the public vote for the 2015 Drain Smart Rivermarket District

Now in its second year, the Arkansas Arts Center is proud to be a supporter of the Drain Smart Central Arkansas program, an engaging public education/environmental program that uses art to communicate the function and importance of local storm drains. Like many cities, Little Rock’s municipal storm drains are a direct link to our streams, rivers and lakes. Many residents have a misconception that the storm drains are part of our sanitary sewer system that lead to the wastewater treatment plant, which leads them to misuse storm drains–thinking it’s a “safe” way to dispose of waste. When pollutants are disposed of via storm drains, they end up directly in our waterways. Drain Smart calls attention to this issue by showcasing original murals by local artists on storm drains to educate the public about runoff water and the effects on local water resources, like Fourche Creek and the Arkansas River.

Members of the Arts Center staff are actively engaged in the project, including Daniella Napolitano, marketing coordinator.

AAC security officer Emmanuel Rice paints "Grandpa Catfish" for the 2016 Drain Smart competition

AAC security officer Emmanuel Rice paints “Grandpa Catfish” for the 2016 Drain Smart competition

“I first got involved with Drain Smart last year when AnDi Tompkins, AAC Museum School manager, forwarded an email calling for artists to submit design proposals for an environmental program,” Napolitano said. “I submitted my design proposal that night thinking it would be the perfect way to combine my interest in nature conservation with my love of art. My design, ‘Sunset Herons,’ focused on animals native to Arkansas. After the designs were completed, a public vote was held to award top prizes and my drain was voted the best in the River Market district. You can still see it on the corner of President Clinton Avenue and Cumberland Street.”

This year, Napolitano serves on the Drain Smart committee, providing an artist’s perspective. Additionally, one of the Arts Center’s security officers, Emmanuel Rice, was selected to paint a Drain Smart mural – keeping the tradition of AAC participation alive. His design “Grandpa Catfish” can be seen on South Main in front of Booker T. Washington Elementary.

On Tuesday, June 14, the 2nd Annual Drain Smart Unveiling Party & Fundraiser will be held at the Former Juanita’s location at 614 President Clinton Ave. The party is free and offers the public a chance to meet the 2016 Drain Smart Artists and to vote for their favorite drains. Please join us in congratulating these great Arkansas artists and their support of this great cause.

For more information, visit the Drain Smart website, drain-smart.org.

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Museum School Profile: Jim D. Johnson

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JimJohnson1

“HOME FOR OLD MUSEUM SCHOOL STUDENTS” Small 9-inch by 9-inch cartoons by Jim D. Johnson are on display in the Museum School Student Gallery through June 20

Jim D. Johnson of Little Rock, Ark., is considered an icon in the advertising and art worlds, having been honored nationally and globally. This year he will add one more award to his repertoire when he is inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame on June 25.

A long-time student of the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School, Johnson is best known as the co-founder of Cranford/Johnson Inc. 1961. Now known as CJRW, it is the state’s largest advertising, marketing and public relations agency.

Johnson’s career path to drawing and design was destined from an early age. As a fifth grader in Hot Springs, Ark., Johnson, encouraged by his teacher, entered a crayon drawing into a national competition…and won.

After studying art at the University of Arkansas, he began his professional career as a cartoonist and gag writer for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City.

Among Johnson’s accomplishments are designing the 1993 Presidential Inaugural Program for President Bill Clinton, as well as logos for the State of Arkansas, the Save Old Main Campaign at the University of Arkansas, Keep Arkansas Beautiful and the Arkansas Arts Center, among others. In 1994, he was awarded the AAF Silver Medal for career contributions and service. He also received a Special Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Arts Council.

Johnson started painting and working in acrylics and pastels as a student at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. In addition to his paintings, he creates small 9-inch by 9-inch original cartoons, many of which are on display in the AAC Museum School Student Gallery through June 20.

“I believe that to make someone laugh is to give them a wonderful gift,” Johnson said. “Visual art can evoke many emotions. But laughter and a sense of humor add flavor to life.”

The Arkansas Arts Center would like to extend a special thank you to Jim Johnson for his unwavering support and to congratulate him on this much deserved recognition.

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On the Other Side of the Lens

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In May, tintype photography Keliy Staley-Anderson

In May, tintype photographer Keliy Staley-Anderson took photos of Arkansas Arts Center patrons.

As a working photographer, I often find myself amazed at what I can capture with an iPhone. The advancement of iPhone camera technology makes the ease of capturing a moment very simple for most of today’s society. But for me, the convenience of the 5.04-ounce savvy device will never take the place of the true artistic process and history of photography.

I was excited to see two outstanding photography exhibitions at the Arkansas Arts Center this year: Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature, January 19 – May 1, and Dorothea Lange’s America, February 26 – May 8. Adding to the education and photographic experience of these two exhibits, the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School invited Keliy Anderson-Staley to set up a tintype portrait photo booth May 5-8.

Like Keliy, my photographic work focuses on portraits. I often discourage the use of make-up artists, stylists or designers because my intent is to capture a person in their truest form. I’m inspired and captivated by the personality and style of others, thus encouraging me to reach out and ask to take someone’s photograph. My overall goal in photographing someone is to assist them in seeing the beauty I see in them. However, the art of portrait photography brings to light issues of self-confidence, personal approval, and self-love. My biggest struggle has always existed in breaking through walls and encouraging relaxation, comfort and ease during a portrait session.

Heather Canterbury, AAC visitor services supervisor and freelance photographer, posing for a tintype portrait

Tintype of Heather Canterbury, AAC Visitor Services supervisor and freelance photographer, by Keliy Anderson-Staley.

Upon hearing about the photo booth, I immediately reserved a time slot. As a photographer, I rarely find myself in front of a camera; therefore, I wanted to relish this experience and remain true to myself. On the day of my sitting, I happened to be wearing a dark blue blazer over a sleeveless, beige top. After thumbing through Keliy’s book, On a Wet Bough, I decided to take off my blazer, revealing an arm of tattoos. I sat in a chair placed in front of a beige backdrop and managed to sit still as Keliy focused the lens. As she prepared the plate, I attempted to keep my composure. She returned to the camera and asked me to sit still for 8 seconds while the plate was exposed to light. Although I felt slightly vulnerable under the bright set lights, there was a hint of empowerment, too. With my shoulders aligned, back straight and eyes piercing through the lens, I felt strong. Just as quickly as she had begun, Keliy capped the camera and told me the process was complete.

She immediately began developing the photograph. I didn’t have to wait long since collodion is an immediate process. As I stared at the metal plate, expecting to cringe, I breathed a sigh of relief as I recognized myself. Because of the asymmetry of my face, I often feel as if I’m looking at a stranger when I view myself in photographs, like listening to a recording of your voice. However, this experience was different because I recognized myself. The tintype was truer to how I see myself every day. This was me.

My portrait sitting with Keliy proved to be a personal learning experience. By being on the other side of the camera, I was able to gain a new perspective. My insecurities have been difficult to overcome when placed in front of a camera, but beauty, like most things, is all about perspective. And making the simple move to the front of the lens provided me a whole new focus.

A Brief History of Tintype…

The Harry Ransom Center, located at The University of Texas at Austin, houses the earliest known surviving photograph made in a camera. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce coined the term “heliography” to identify his process and approach to creating the first photograph in 1826/1827.

The wet-plate collodion process was invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer. However, it was not until 1853 that Adolphe-Alexandre Martin described the tintype process, and then in 1856 it was patented by Hamilton Smith in the United States and by William Kloen in the United Kingdom. The process originated as melainotype, then ferrotype and ending with the name of tintype; however, no actual tin is used in the process.

Because tintypes were reproduced on metals and proved relatively cheap with quick results, the tintype process made it possible for the general public to have their portrait taken. The tintype is a positive image on a metal plate. The plate is coated in collodion, sensitized for three minutes in silver nitrate and then developed and fixed.

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Portrait of a Patron: Windgate Charitable Foundation

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Community, Events, General, Museum, Support, Uncategorized, VolunteerLeave a Comment

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15015858270_bf6fe88a28_oAt this Saturday’s Beaux Arts Ball, the Arkansas Arts Center and the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas are proud to introduce a new arts patron recognition event—Portrait of a Patron (POP!). The addition of the Portrait of a Patron (POP!) Awards is a way for the AAC to pay homage to those who have contributed both to the Arts Center’s continued success and its existence. The event which begins with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, will honor Jeane Hamilton, Winthrop Rockefeller and the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The Windgate Charitable Foundation will receive the Portrait of a Patron Award for Philanthropy. “The Windgate Charitable Foundation has been, and continues to be, a champion of the arts within Arkansas and throughout the country,” said Todd Herman, AAC executive director. “They have supported—at a significant level—a number of educational and art initiatives at the Arts Center with the belief that the arts can positively change lives.”

Founded in 1993 in Siloam Springs, Ark., by the Bill and Deede Hutcheson family, Windgate has supported countless organizations across the country, but local groups like the Arkansas Arts Center, UALR and Thea Foundation have also benefited from their generosity.

At the AAC, Windgate gifts have supported a multitude of efforts including the AAC Foundation endowment, the Museum School, acquisitions and sponsorship of major exhibitions like Kenwood House.

Join us Saturday, May 21 as we extend our appreciation to the Windgate Charitable Foundation at the POP! Beaux Arts Ball. Music will be provided by the Arkansas Symphony Big Band, accompanied by a DJ.

Tickets to the event are $150 per person and all members and friends of the Arkansas Arts Center are invited. For tickets or more information, please call 501-396-0345 or visit arkansasartscenter.org/beauxartsball.

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Portrait of a Patron: Winthrop Rockefeller

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Community, Events, General, Museum, Support, Uncategorized, VolunteerLeave a Comment

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Former Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller

Former Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller

The Arkansas Arts Center and the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas are proud to introduce a new arts patron recognition event—Portrait of a Patron (POP!)—as part of its biennial Beaux Arts Ball fundraiser. The event which begins with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, will honor Jeane Hamilton, Winthrop Rockefeller and the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The addition of the Portrait of a Patron (POP!) Awards is a way for the AAC to pay homage to those who have contributed both to the Arts Center’s continued success and its existence.

“It’s safe to say the Arts Center would not exist without the generosity and vision of Winthrop Rockefeller,” said Todd Herman, AAC executive director. “He led the charge to make an Arts Center for all of Arkansas a reality. Arkansans—and the arts—were lucky he decided to make the Natural State his home.”

Rockefeller, who served as governor of Arkansas from 1967-1971, will be honored with a posthumous Portrait of a Patron Award for Philanthropy and Service.

The Artmobile has been traveling across Arkansas and serving Arkansans across the state since the 1960s.

The Artmobile has been serving Arkansans across the state since the 1960s.

Members of the Junior League of Little Rock, including fellow POP Award recipient Jeane Hamilton, first approached Rockefeller about the idea of creating an arts center. It was Rockefeller who insisted it be called the Arkansas Arts Center, to ensure it wold serve the entire state. In doing so, the AAC Artmobile was also established, and continues to travel every corner of the state today.

His support continues today through members of the Rockefeller family as well as the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Join us Saturday, May 21 as we express our appreciation for this great leader and the entire Rockefeller family at the POP! Beaux Arts Ball. Music will be provided by the Arkansas Symphony Big Band, accompanied by a DJ. Sweet and savory heavy hors d’ oeuvres will be served with a gourmet breakfast from RH Catering to cap off the evening.

Tickets to the event are $150 per person and all members and friends of the Arkansas Arts Center are invited. For tickets or more information, please call 501-396-0345 or visit arkansasartscenter.org/beauxartsball.

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Portrait of a Patron: Jeane Hamilton

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Community, Events, General, Museum, Support, Uncategorized, VolunteerLeave a Comment

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Jeanne Hamilton speaks at the Clinton School November 5, 2015. Photo credit: Nelson Chenault

Jeanne Hamilton speaks at the Clinton School November 5, 2015. Photo credit: Nelson Chenault

The Arkansas Arts Center and the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas are proud to introduce a new arts patron recognition event—Portrait of a Patron (POP!)—as part of its biennial Beaux Arts Ball fundraiser. The event which begins with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, will honor Jeane Hamilton, Winthrop Rockefeller and the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The addition of the Portrait of a Patron (POP!) Awards is a way for the AAC to pay homage to those who have contributed both to the Arts Center’s continued success and its existence. As a founding member of the Arts Center, with more than 20,000 hours of recorded volunteer time, it’s obvious why Jeane Hamilton is receiving the inaugural Portrait of a Patron Award for Service.

“You cannot mention the founding of the Arts Center without including Jeane Hamilton,” said Todd Herman, AAC executive director. “One of the three women from the Junior League who presented the idea of an arts center to Winthrop Rockefeller, Jeane has been an indefatigable supporter of the Arts Center and its programs ever since. Her face and positive attitude have graced nearly every event and program at the Arts Center for the past 50 years.”

One of Jeane’s most significant contributions was the AAC Traveling Seminar program. Over 35 years, Jeane led 99 trips, 76 international and 23 domestic. The group traveled to China in 1975 and was the first non-official U.S. group to be given permission to visit the country.

And at 90 years young, her support and passion for the Arts Center is just as strong today as it was nearly six decades ago. You’ll see her at lectures, exhibition openings and Board of Trustees meetings.

Join us Saturday, May 21 as we thank Jeane for her service at the POP! Beaux Arts Ball. Music will be provided by the Arkansas Symphony Big Band, accompanied by a DJ. Sweet and savory heavy hors d’ oeuvres will be served with a gourmet breakfast from RH Catering to cap off the evening.

Tickets to the event are $150 per person and all members and friends of the Arkansas Arts Center are invited. For tickets or more information, please call 501-396-0345 or visit arkansasartscenter.org/beauxartsball.

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