Recent Acquisition “Wanderer” An Instant Hit

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Collection, Exhibitions, Gallery, MuseumLeave a Comment

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By Brian J. Lang, Chief Curator

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David Best, American (San Francisco, California, 1945 – ), Wanderer, 1986, clay, plastic, and found objects, 81 x 36 x 62 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Gift of the Porter-Price Collection, Columbia, South Carolina, in honor of Martha and Pat Connell of Atlanta, Georgia, 2015.001

Through the generosity of Dr. Ron Porter and Mr. Joe Price, collectors from Columbia, S.C., the Arkansas Arts Center recently acquired this visually powerful and deeply enigmatic narrative sculpture by internationally recognized “Burning Man” sculptor, David Best.

David Best is known for his life-size and large-scale sculptures made from a variety of media, all of which make reference to life and death, love and loss, and other themes faced by humanity. Best has been described as a “master of the metaphysical metaphor.” His three-dimensional creations typically are embellished with found objects, including broken toys, wheels, discarded and fabricated plastic parts, and more.

21421420755_8d72e191d0_bWhen once asked why he works with plastics, the artist replied: “I was raised on plastic yet it has always been considered a ‘forbidden’ material (While the multiple reproductions are cheap, the means of producing them are usually prohibitively expensive)… When I am working on an important piece, I am constantly reminded of two boys whom I worked with who are now dead. When I get to that point in my work where I think it is getting heavy, they appear, and say – ‘you haven’t even begun.’ The child riding on a journey is an image which may affect people… I don’t know if my work ‘makes magic,’ but I try to make it that.”

Wanderer is a powerful and spiritual—yet not overtly religious—work, one that commands a presence. In the nearly life-size sculpture, we encounter a pallid child riding atop a sighted donkey or burro, both cloaked in mystical coverings. The child—whether male or female is not readily apparent—wears a cone-shaped hat with bottom fringe that conceals its eyes so that it cannot see except through the eyes of its mount.

20798731544_47a98d89e3_bCarefully packed atop the burro is a bundle of what appear to be the child’s cherished possessions—a dog, purple ball, a clown-shaped figurine, and other items. The child and burro appear to be captured mid-journey, on a quest seeking truth, enlightenment, and purpose. But where are they going? From whence did they come? These and other questions immediately spring to mind when viewing the work, which seemingly poses more questions than it answers.

Visitors are encouraged to come create their own story about Wanderer on a future visit to the galleries of the Arkansas Arts Center.

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The Joys of Teaching Mixed Media: Part 2

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Adult Classes, Education, Museum SchoolLeave a Comment

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By Laura Raborn

Laura Raborn teaches a three-day mixed media workshop at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. The following is an excerpt from Laura’s blog about what students can expect to learn in her class. Click here to view the full entry.

In the last post, I described a workshop I periodically teach at the Arkansas Arts Center. The focus of that article shifted from the purpose and joy of teaching to a specific technique from the workshop: The use of stencils and stamps. This second post of the series focuses on a technique we explore in class called image transfer. As with most art materials, there are countless ways to use this technique and, of course, reasons abound.Blog - Mixed Media 3

Here is what you need: any type of gel medium (as long as the words “gel medium” are in the name of the product), a paint brush (a 1″ flat bristle brush works well) and an image you want to transfer onto your work surface. This technique works on paper, canvas, wood panels, lamp shades, fabric…just about any surface with a little tooth to it. As far as the image options to transfer, you can use photos and text from magazines, newspaper or your printer. Thick paper such as photos from a calendar are difficult and processed photography does not release the ink well. As you will see, we will rub off the paper as a final step and thick paper is much more laborious. So, magazine, newspaper and images on printer paper work well.

For this example, let’s say you are working on a paper surface and using magazines for your image source. Once you have your image cut out, apply a liberal amount of gel medium to your paper surface (this is the surface RECEIVING the ink from your image), slightly dampen the surface of the image you want to apply, and press it face down on the paper. Apply pressure in the middle of the image and gently smooth out the air bubbles, pushing them outward toward the edges. Wherever there are air bubbles, the ink will not adhere to your paper surface. A roller or brayer works well to remove air bubbles and helps press the image ink into your paper surface which will be a new home for the ink.

Apply a liberal amount of gel medium to the receiving surface. Press your magazine image face down into the layer of gel medium and gently push out air bubbles using your finger or a brayer. Remove excess gel medium with a damp paper towel.

Blog - Mixed Media 4Some people let the image dry for a few hours and have success with the transfer. However, many artists (myself included) insist that waiting 24 hours for the image to dry and set increases the success rate. So, put the piece aside and work on something else until tomorrow!

The next day, apply water to the transfer and don’t be stingy—it will not hurt your artwork. The more water, the more it assists in breaking down the paper pulp. Using fine grain sandpaper, gently sand the back of the image transfer paper. Once you have the paper roughed up, apply more water. If it gets lots of pulp balls, just clean the surface with a damp paper towel and apply more water. Using your fingers, gently rub the paper pulp and wipe it away. Some paper is more stubborn (aka high quality) than others and the amount of time on this step can vary greatly. Be sure not to sand too hard or rub too vigorously or you might remove some of the ink that you are trying to transfer.

Let the water soak in and lightly sand the back of the transfer. Do not over sand or you might accidentally remove the ink. Once the pulp is roughed up, use wet fingers and remove layers of the pulp by rubbing the transfer in a circular motion.

There are many reasons and uses for image transfer. Like collage, transferring commercially produced imagery contrasts drawn line and paint. Unlike collage, transferred images attach seamlessly to the paper (or canvas or whatever you are working on) so the image integrates with other areas of the composition. Instead of looking added on top or glued on, the transferred photo or text appears to be embedded into the design. This is particularly effective when building a surface with layers under as well as over the image transfer.

Speaking of appropriating imagery, next up in this mixed media series: collage.

Ready to try a class? Registration is open NOW for the winter quarter which begins January 4. Click here to view the vast array of available classes for all levels of experience. 

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The Joys of Teaching Mixed Media: Part 1

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Adult Classes, Education, Museum SchoolLeave a Comment

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By Laura Raborn

Laura Raborn teaches a three-day mixed media workshop at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. The following is an excerpt from Laura’s blog about what students can expect to learn in her class. Click here to view the full entry.

Blog - Mixed MediaTeaching the “Happy Accidents” mixed media class at the Arkansas Arts Center provides me with an opportunity to channel my former teachers. Students see me at the front of the room lecturing through a demo, but they are actually getting a David Bailin inspired drawing lesson. Or as I circle the room with individual instruction, the students are experiencing the questioning technique of David Clemons who taught me that listening is essential in critiques and often more important than talking. I’m finding as I teach workshops, most students want to learn new techniques but most of all, they want to be heard and want to use the workshop, and their art-making to help them communicate. People want to experience the moments of success and joy that art can bring. As abstract artist Pinkney Herbert taught me, kindness and caring about students can go a long way in helping them learn.

How does a mixed media class meet these needs? Well, for starters, I ask the students to leave their fear at the door. The class is a place to try new techniques, to experiment, to focus on method and not on results. This is a chance to stop trying so dang hard to achieve and stop comparing ourselves to others. What a relief! The more students are able to take this advice, the more they accidentally create amazing pieces of art.

So, to get started during Day 1, using acrylic paint we quickly add a ground layer to two pieces of paper. The paper must be heavier than drawing paper in order to handle the multiple layers to come. As the paint dries, students answer a few questions that are meant to prompt them throughout the three day workshop, and offer ideas if they feel stuck. I ask questions such as, “What is your favorite place to spend time?” “If you had a completely free week, what would you do with your time?” and “Do you have any favorite words, quotes, poems, lyrics?”

And then the action really starts. We cover various tools and ways to apply paint to paper. A paint brush works fine, of course, but imagine the marks made when dragging the paint with a squeegee? Or using a straw to blow paint around, or dabbing paint on with a sponge, or splattering with a toothbrush?

Throughout the workshop, students can look at the terms on the chalkboard and learn to self-direct and analyze their work.  We discuss scale, value, contrast, line, the color wheel, texture and pattern. We discuss how to abstractly represent an idea and how to simplify subject matter. And one of my favorites – we discuss layering, and how the additive and subtractive process of layering builds an alluring surface that is rich with information and history. Though we could spend days on these lessons, the 20-minute discussion helps students learn language and methods that quickly improve the quality of their work. To really drive the key terms home, and get a deeper understanding, we watch a few short videos on artists such as Chris Wool, Joan Mitchell and Sigmar Polke. The work of these iconic artist leads to many “Ah-ha” moments and the students rush to get back to their work stations.

In the next layer, we work with stencils and stamps while considering pattern. While places like Michael’s Arts and Crafts carry beautifully designed stencils, you can make your own for free. Using parchment paper, drawing paper or cardboard, you can cut all kinds of shapes, patterns and letters for one-of-a-kind stencils. Additionally, instead of laying the stencil on your surface and painting around it, you can paint directly on the stencil, flip it over and press it into the surface where it acts as a stamp (styrofoam works really well). Once you start stenciling and stamping, and get a handle on all the possibilities, you might notice all sorts of products in your trashcan that add pattern and shapes to your paintings.

Blog - Mixed Media2So, what’s the point of using stencils? When creating a painting, I think often about CONTRAST. Work that has contrasting colors, subjects, shapes or brushwork, for example, tends to engage the viewer. Stencils allow an artist to contrast hard edged shapes with loose brushwork, as seen in the above example. They also allow for recognizable imagery to contrast abstracted areas. One artist who provocatively contrasts stamped or stenciled images with loose abstracted areas is Firelei Báez.

Her exhibit, currently showing at the Perez Museum in Miami, explores identity of a group of people. Initially, many of the pieces appear to be organic and bright, with perhaps a focus on animal life and the natural world. However, once the viewer’s eye lands on stamped chains, fists, foot prints, and hair picks, we begin to see much more than nature, pattern, color and abstraction. We see symbols, shapes, stereotypes and history associated with a group of people. Suddenly, our minds are forced to acknowledge a darkness amongst the beauty presented by Báez. Again, CONTRAST is an important element used by the artist. And stencils and stamps are one of the tools she uses to create powerful contrasts.

Ready to try a class? Registration is open NOW for the winter quarter which begins January 4. Click here to view the vast array of available classes for all levels of experience. 

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Six Artists in Sixty Minutes: Highlights from the AAC Collection

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Collection, Exhibitions, MuseumLeave a Comment

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We hear it all the time: “What should I see? I only have an hour.” It’s a tricky question because the answer is always changing. With more than 12,000 objects ranging in date from the Old Masters to the present, the Arkansas Arts Center Collection is always new…and always free. Every few months, the AAC rotates the works on display, giving visitors a fresh perspective with every visit.

As you look for ways to keep visiting friends and family occupied over the holidays, we recommend you check out the following works which will be on display through early 2016.

Diego Rivera’s Dos Mujeres (Two Women)

Location: Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery

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“Dos Mujeres (Two Women)” by Diego Rivera

The pièce de résistance of the Arts Center’s collection, Dos Mujeres, came to the AAC in 1959 as a gift from Abby Rockefeller Mauzé to what was then named the Museum of Fine Arts. Painted in 1914 by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, it is a monumental modernist painting and has been featured in many important international exhibitions.

When Rivera painted Dos Mujeres, he was exploring Cubism, a modern style of art that had recently been created by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and his French colleague Georges Braque. In Cubist images like this one, the artist shows people and objects from a variety of viewpoints, as the viewer glimpses them moving through space and time.

Rivera was working in Paris at the time he created this work. Dos Mujeres is set in the apartment where he lived with his Russian-born girlfriend, Angelina Beloff, featured in the painting standing in a blue dress. The other woman is Alma Delores Bastién, a neighbor of Rivera and Beloff.

Dos Mujeres will be out on loan in early 2016, so come see the treasure of the AAC collection before it goes on tour.

Michele Marieschi’s The Rialto Bridge, Venice and The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Dogana di mare and Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute

Location: Jackson T. Stephens Gallery

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“The Rialto Bridge, Venice and The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Dogana di mare” and “Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute” by Michele Marieschi

If you’ve ever wondered how art is able to last centuries, then you’ll want to stop by these two oil paintings by Michele Marieschi.

Painted in 1740 and donated to the AAC in 2011 at the bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Stebbins, these picturesque Italian veduti (views) have been recently conserved. Over the centuries, Marieschi’s paintings accumulated dirt and soot on its varnish—a shiny protective coating originally applied by the artist and perhaps renewed by later hands—turning it yellow.

These dark layers veiled the painting’s sunny colors and details until a recent cleaning by art conservation firm Norton Arts using a carefully calculated combination of solvents to dissolve the varnish, yet leave the paint layer unharmed.

Louise Nevelson’s Tide Garden IV

Location: Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery

"Tide Garden IV" by Louise Nevelson

“Tide Garden IV” by Louise Nevelson

When the collection was most recently reinstalled in August, the Arts Center proudly reopened the Winthrop Rockefeller gallery as a gallery dedicated modern and contemporary works. One of the more popular pieces is a monumental wall-construction, Tide Garden IV (1964), by Louise Nevelson.

Made of black-painted wood and measuring more than 11.5 feet long, the totemic assemblage perfectly illustrates the sculptor’s signature style of repurposing both manipulated-and-found-materials—much of which she collected from the streets of New York City—in crafting a work that is recognizable yet abstract.

Claude Monet’s Effet de soleil couchant sur la Seine à Port-Villez (Effect of the Sun Setting on the Seine at Port-Villez)

Location: Jackson T. Stephens Gallery

"Effet de soleil couchant sur la Seine à Port-Villez (Effect of the Sun Setting on the Seine at Port-Villez)" by Claude Monet

“Effet de soleil couchant sur la Seine à Port-Villez (Effect of the Sun Setting on the Seine at Port-Villez)” by Claude Monet

While not a part of the AAC collection, this oil painting by renowned French artist Claude Monet, is on extended loan from the Jackson T. Stephens Charitable Trust for Art.

Claude Monet was a key figure in the Impressionist movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the 19th century. Throughout his long career, Monet consistently depicted the landscape and leisure activities of Paris and its environs as well as the Normandy coast. He led the way to 20th century modernism by developing a unique style that strove to capture on canvas the very act of perceiving nature.

Auguste Rodin’s Buste de Balzac jeune (Bust of Young Balzac)

Location: Virginia & Ted Bailey Gallery

"Buste de Balzac jeune (Bust of Young Balzac)" by Auguste Rodin

“Buste de Balzac jeune (Bust of Young Balzac)” by Auguste Rodin

Even though the AAC is internationally renowned for its extraordinary drawing collection, the AAC collection includes paintings and works of art that provide a broader exposure to the arts for its visitors. Among the other areas are its contemporary crafts, encompassing clay, fiber, glass, metal and wood, and Impressionist and early modern paintings and drawings.

One such work is this bronze sculpture by French artist Auguste Rodin who was considered by some critics to be the greatest portraitist in the history of sculpture. His portraits include monumental figures of authors Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac, as depicted here.

His The Gates of Hell, commissioned in 1880 for the future Museum of the Decorative Arts in Paris, remained unfinished at his death but nonetheless resulted in two of Rodin’s most famous images: The Thinker (1880) and The Kiss (1886).

Donald Roller Wilson’s 7:00 P.M. Early Fall *Full Moon* While Naughty Betty Waits for Caroline and J. J.

Location: Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery

"7:00 P.M. Early Fall *Full Moon* While Naughty Betty Waits for Caroline and J. J." by Donald Roller Wilson

“7:00 P.M. Early Fall *Full Moon* While Naughty Betty Waits for Caroline and J. J.” by Donald Roller Wilson

Born in Houston and now based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Donald Roller Wilson is a Gothic storyteller with the phenomenal technique and precision of an old master, animating his paintings with finely clothed chimpanzees, dogs and cats.

A technically-skilled painter with a tradition of portraying whimsical subjects, Roller has developed a cult following of celebrity collectors including Robin Williams, Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Paul Simon, Elizabeth Taylor, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin, Meryl Streep, Carol Burnett, Diane Sawyer and Carrie Fisher.

If you need assistance finding these works or would like more information about the Arkansas Arts Center, please visit the Visitors Services desk in the atrium.

While we’ve only recommended six artists for those visitors with limited time, we hope you’ll stay longer or come back to see the hundreds of other fantastic works on display. The Arts Center is pleased to feature the world’s second largest collection of works by neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac, the 47th Collectors Show and Sale (closing January 3, 2016) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, closing January 17, 2016.

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Museum School Profile: Miranda Young

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Adult Classes, Exhibitions, Faculty & Staff, Museum SchoolLeave a Comment

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Miranda Young instructs aspiring young screen printers

Miranda Young instructs aspiring young screen printers

Miranda Young is no stranger to the Arts Center. She took classes as a child, has been an instructor in the Museum School for the past decade, is the scenic designer and properties manager for the Children’s Theatre and is even the proud mother of a Museum School student. Soon she will add one more AAC title to her repertoire: featured Museum School Gallery artist.

From February 23 through May 29, 2016, a collection of Miranda’s drawings and prints will be on display in the Museum School Gallery. Visitors will be treated to a menagerie of predators and prey.

“I love to draw, print and sculpt foxes, coyotes, snakes and wolves,” Young said. “I spend a lot of time researching animals, looking at pictures as well as observing them in nature.”

She often depicts the animals outside of their natural habitats in order to “focus the picture” so viewers can focus on the animal’s posture and the perceived meanings of those postures.

dsc_8001_21262333369_oYoung was first drawn to printmaking by the sense of community of the artists. And while she also creates a lot of sculpture, Young appreciates the speed with which she can convey her ideas through printmaking.

“I focus on linoleum and silk screen. It’s faster—you can get in there and play with ideas.”

Animals remain a focus in her sculpture where she often creates handmade taxidermy plaques as the base of her work.miranda-young-5_21280217619_o

“I would say my work is about 50-50 sculpture to printmaking.” In fact, Young considered a major in sculpture when she first began studying at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Today, she is working to expand her collection. “I am currently working on several new sculptures that include coyotes, foxes and maybe a bat. I’m stuck on coyotes right now because I have been seeing them in the wild and am amazed by how large and beautiful they are.”

Her work within the Children’s Theatre is more collaborative. “I read the script, learn the story and develop an idea of what I think the space looks like and then share that with our design team. We work collaboratively to develop a concept and the design from there. It’s a very rewarding process to see everyone’s ideas come together to make a cohesive picture.”

While her work in the Children’s Theatre provides her with a lot of teaching moments, the majority of her teaching is done in the Museum School through her Introduction to Printmaking and Open Studio classes. Young is particularly fond of the Open Studio classes wherein she brings some of her own works and offers demonstrations.miranda-young-6_20844416714_o

“You get to show them how to get from an idea to actually creating a collection of their own,” she said.

“They already have an idea of where they’re headed, so we talk about their goals on the first night and I get to help them get there.”

While the AAC has long been her home-away-from-home, Young values her roles within the Museum School and Children’s Theatre. “The AAC has given me the opportunity to make art all day as my job—it feeds my need to make art and I appreciate that.”

Want to see more of Miranda’s art? Make plans to attend the Museum School Sale, Saturday, November 14, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and visit her booth! Interested in trying print making for yourself? Register now for winter classes: arkansasartscenter.org/adult-classes.

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In case you missed it… “Our America” member reception

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Exhibitions, MuseumLeave a Comment

With expectations high for the Arkansas Arts Center’s biggest exhibition of the year, the pressure was on to host an equally impressive opening reception for Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. And impress they did!

Fabiola Briones, Deputy Mexican Consul of Little Rock Edgardo Briones, Arts Center Executive Director Todd Herman and Lauren and Beau Blair, representing exhibition sponsors Donna and Mack McLarty.

Fabiola Briones, Deputy Mexican Consul of Little Rock Edgardo Briones, Arts Center Executive Director Todd Herman and Lauren and Beau Blair, representing exhibition sponsors Donna and Mack McLarty.

On October 15, more than 500 guests were treated to live music by Viva Jalisco, a local mariachi band, and delicious frozen Margaritas, Piña Coladas and an assortment of Mexican beer. Before the reception, E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, delivered a lecture to a sold out crowd of 150 members and guests.

“We were pleased to see so much youth and diversity represented at the lecture and reception,” said AAC Executive Director Todd Herman. “Our partnerships with ¡Hola! Arkansas, Telemundo Arkansas and the Mexican Consulate really helped to heighten awareness of Our America within the central Arkansas Latino community.”

The Arkansas Arts Center would like to extend a special thank you to all of its in-state sponsors: Donna and Mack McLarty, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock and Alan DuBois Contemporary Craft Fund. Media sponsors include ¡Hola! Arkansas and Telemundo Arkansas.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Altria Group, the Honorable Aida M. Alvarez; Judah Best, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Tania and Tom Evans, Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, The Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, Henry R. Muñoz III, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank. Additional significant support was provided by The Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Support for “Treasures to Go,” the museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art opened to the public October 16 and will remain on display through January 17, 2016.

Maria Elena de Auilo, Miriam Conguegra, Laura Bahena-Castillo, Mayor Mark Stodola, exhibition sponsor Maura Lozano-Yancy with !Hola! Arkansas and Gloria Bastidas

Maria Elena de Auilo, Miriam Conguegra, Laura Bahena-Castillo, Mayor Mark Stodola, exhibition sponsor Maura Lozano-Yancy of !Hola! Arkansas and Gloria Bastidas

David and Alex Robinson, Eileen Devereux, Daniel Edelman, Sara Massana

David and Alex Robinson, Eileen Devereux, Daniel Edelman, Sara Massana

AAC Staff Angel Galloway, Kim White, Kelly Cargill Crow, Kelly Fleming with Viva Jalisco

AAC Staff Angel Galloway, Kim White, Kelly Cargill Crow and Kelly Fleming with Viva Jalisco

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, delivers a lecture to a sold-out crowd

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, delivers a lecture to a sold-out crowd

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Preview the Artists of “Our America” – Luis Jiménez

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Luis Jiménez, Man on Fire, 1969, fiberglass in acrylic urethane on painted wood fiberboard base, 106 1/4 x 80 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Philip Morris Incorporated, © 1969, Luis Jiménez

Luis Jiménez, American (El Paso, Texas, 1940 - 2006, Hondo, New Mexico), El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd), 1998, watercolor and crayon on paper, 50 x 34 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with Gallery Contributions, 1999.007

Luis Jiménez, American (El Paso, Texas, 1940 – 2006, Hondo, New Mexico), El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd), 1998, watercolor and crayon on paper, 50 x 34 inches, Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection: Purchased with Gallery Contributions, 1999.007

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) and in anticipation of the opening of Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art (October 16), the Arkansas Arts Center has pulled from their vaults works created by Latino artists and artists who inspired contemporary Latino art. Pablo Picasso (Spain), Diego Rivera (Mexico), Luis Jiménez (Mexico) and Carlos Jose Alfonzo (Cuba) are among several Latino and Hispanic artists currently featured throughout five galleries.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is a major collection of modern and contemporary art drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. The exhibition, which will be on display October 16, 2015 through January 17, 2016, presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-20th century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge.

Our America features works by two Latino artists currently on view at the Arkansas Arts Center, Luis Cruz Azaceta and Luis Jiménez.

Mexican artist Luis Jiménez’s 1998 drawing El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd) is the sketch for a lithograph of a tragic incident: The death of Esequiel Hernández on May 20, 1997. In El Buen Pastor, Luis Jiménez depicts a young goat herder mistakenly killed by Marines near the U.S.-Mexico border as the Good Shepherd, with references to Jesus in the halo conceived as a gun sight.

It hovers somewhere along the borders between myth and reality, politics and popular culture. The artist questions the sacrifice of an 18 year old American citizen to the greedy gods of the drug war.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Altria Group, the Honorable Aida M. Alvarez, Judah Best, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Tania and Tom Evans, Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, The Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, Henry R. Muñoz III, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank. Additional significant support was provided by The Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Support for “Treasures to Go,” the museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta.

Our America is sponsored in Arkansas by Donna and Mack McLarty, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock and Alan DuBois Contemporary Craft Fund. Media sponsors include ¡Hola! Arkansas and Telemundo Arkansas.

For more information about Our America, visit arkansasartscenter.org/our-america.

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On the Road Again

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“On the road again…just can’t wait to get on the road again!”

20875962239_c35120416e_bIf the Artmobile could sing, I think it would be eagerly crooning Willie Nelson’s signature homage to life on the road as it waits all summer at the edge of the Arkansas Arts Center’s parking lot in beautiful MacArthur Park in Little Rock. Because on the road is where this particular gallery is most at home. One of only a handful of mobile art museums in the nation, the Arkansas Arts Center’s Artmobile has been serving the state for over 50 years featuring curated exhibitions of works from the Arkansas Arts Center’s permanent collection. It spends its touring season, which coincides with the school year, visiting towns on a schedule that ranges from a busy Saturday at a weekend festival in Northeast Arkansas to an energetic week of student tours at an elementary school in rural South Arkansas. And as the educator that gets to accompany the Artmobile on its travels, I can honestly say that the Artmobile and I LOVE our jobs. The Artmobile is greeted with excitement and curiosity in each town and I am reminded every day what an honor it is to be able to share with these communities in this art-discovery experience. By reaching people in their own communities, the Artmobile has allowed the Arkansas Arts Center to fulfill its mission of providing quality art experiences to the entire state.

Community Night at DeQueen Elementary School – Sept. 22, 2015

Every summer, the Artmobile comes in for a brief vacation from the road. The tractor cab goes in for maintenance check-ups to ensure it can keep the Artmobile moving all year and an entirely new exhibition of artworks gets installed in the trailer’s state-of-the-art gallery space. The Artmobile’s new 2015-2016 exhibition Animals: Familiar & Fantastic is a vibrant and dynamic collection of artworks, highlighting various artistic methods and techniques used to bring life to creatures both real and imaginary. A colorful, mobile menagerie, this year the Artmobile will inspire conversations about the exploration of the human-animal connection and an assessment of our role in the animal world. And to help spark these conversations, a Curriculum Guide with unique lesson plans has been written to accompany the Artmobile exhibition, connecting the artworks the students will see to topics and themes found in the Arkansas Educational Frameworks and the Common Core Standards.

The AAC Artmobile kicks off the 2015/2016 season at Valley Springs in Boone County

The AAC Artmobile kicks off the 2015/2016 season at Valley Springs in Boone County

The Artmobile has already been inspiring such conversation in the past couple weeks at its first few venues. The exhibition made its debut at Valley Springs School District in North Arkansas two weeks ago, where students got the first peek at the painted and sculpted animals. It was so exciting to see the response to the show as students explored the artworks and their details, had amazing discussions together, and connected with the artworks. Immediately after that, it was at the ACANSA Arts Festival in North Little Rock where young visitors were able to connect with artworks in a gallery setting before creating their own masterpieces at the Children’s Art Activity in Argenta Plaza. This week the Artmobile is in DeQueen, Ark., and the creatures in the different artworks have been greeted with excitement by students who have already studied the curriculum materials and are now eager to experience the exhibition in person. Then this weekend the Artmobile will travel to the Fall Festival in Wilson, all the way across the state to Northeast Arkansas. And this is all just in the first month! With a busy touring schedule ahead, it is so good to be on the road again!

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