Juried Exhibition Showcases Pine Bluff Art League Members

 The 2018 Pine Bluff Art League Juried Exhibition opens in the Simmons Gallery of the Arts & Science Center on Thursday, Sept. 13, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded at 5:30 p.m. Twenty-five works by 15 Pine Bluff Art League comprise the show.

The 2018 Pine Bluff Art League Juried Exhibition opens in the Simmons Gallery of the Arts & Science Center on Thursday, Sept. 13, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded at 5:30 p.m. Twenty-five works by 15 Pine Bluff Art League comprise the show.

The Pine Bluff Art League (PBAL) and the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) team up each year to showcase the best of the area’s talent with the Pine Bluff Art League Annual Juried Exhibition.

The 2018 show opens in the Simmons Gallery of the Arts & Science Center on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Prizes will be awarded at 5:30 p.m. for Best in Show; First, Second, and Third Place; and Honorable Mention.

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Twenty-five works in painting, photography, and mixed media by 15 PBAL members comprise the show. The artists with works chosen for the exhibition are: Melissa Abernathy, Jimmy Burton, Vickie Coleman, Richard Davies, Gerry DeLongchamp, Linda DeMint, Patrick Edwards, Dell Gorman, Rhonda Holderfield, Jenny Holley, Crystal Jennings, Glenda Mullikin, Inis Ray, Elizabeth Sadler, and Claudia Spainhour.

“It is the most beautiful Pine Bluff Art League Show I’ve ever seen,” ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults said. “The work is just fabulous. It’s going to be a stunning exhibition.”

Melissa Abernathy is the 2018 PBAL Exhibition chair.

Each year, ASC selects an outside juror to choose the pieces for the exhibition and the prize placement. Painter John Kushmaul had the honors for the 2018 exhibition, and was charged with selecting 25 works from the 67 entered.

“I am very impressed with the quality of the work, and appreciate the opportunity to participate as the juror for the show,” Kushmaul said. This was his first time to serve as an exhibition juror, he said.

“I’d encourage everyone who entered a piece to keep producing art. There were numerous tough calls as I narrowed down the field to 25,” he said.

Kushmaul lives in Little Rock but is a former White Hall resident. He lived in the Jefferson County city from 1983 to 1990, and from 1995 to 2004, he said.

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His subjects are often city scenes with varied architecture — many of them recognizable buildings and sites from Little Rock and Jefferson County. “There have been several pictures based on Pine Bluff scenes in the mix from the beginning.”

Kushmaul will be at the reception to speak and award the prizes.

The Pine Bluff Art League — currently at 39 members — meets the first Sunday of the month and conducts workshops for its members, PBAL President Vickie Coleman said. She led the most recent workshop, which was on acrylic pouring. They also host guest artists from outside the area to teach.

PBAL members also teach at the Shepherd Center at Lakeside United Methodist Church, with fall classes beginning Sept. 12.

The PBAL artists extend their talents and reach out to help children in the community. One of their projects is an annual art exhibition for middle-school students called “Top of the Middle,” of which Coleman said she is very proud. All children in Jefferson County can enter, and teachers may submit 10 works from each school, Coleman explained. PBAL then hosts a reception at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center to recognize each student and award prizes.

“The children get really excited and they do wonderful work,” Coleman said. “We are always pleasantly surprised. The art exhibition is a way of encouraging them to continue to do art.”

 One of the paintings by a Pine Bluff Art League artist for the art therapy bags prepared for foster children in Jefferson County.

One of the paintings by a Pine Bluff Art League artist for the art therapy bags prepared for foster children in Jefferson County.

The art league began another project his year. “We give an art backpack to every child who is new to the foster care system in Jefferson County,” Coleman explained. “We call it an art appreciation bag. It is full of art supplies and the ladies have painted small pictures, and there is a letter in there saying that is is done especially for them. And we put a book in there. The children have been appreciative of these.”

The present-day version of the Pine Bluff Art League was established in 1994, Coleman said. Previously, the organization was known as the Brush and Pallet Guild.

Those interesting in learning more about the Pine Bluff Art League are encouraged to call Coleman at 870-879-3825.

“We’d love to have more members,” Coleman said.

The Pine Bluff Art League Juried Exhibition exhibition will be on display through Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.



Explore Chinese fashion during ‘Sumptuous Silks’ workshop

 SPECIAL GUEST INSTRUCTOR YUNRU SHEN MODELS ONE OF HER LATEST DESIGNS, A MODERN TAKE ON THE TRADITIONAL QIPAO (or CHEONGSAM) DRESS POPULAR IN CHINA AND THROUGHOUT THE WEST.  Shen explained of the concept behind her dress' design: "It is inspired by the beautiful musical tones of the Chinese ancient stringed instrument, the guzheng. I learned to play this instrument during my childhood. It has deep meaning for me. Musical tones are very similar to daily life — sometime we are up, sometime we are down. At end, it is our beautiful and meaningful life with happiness and pain."

SPECIAL GUEST INSTRUCTOR YUNRU SHEN MODELS ONE OF HER LATEST DESIGNS, A MODERN TAKE ON THE TRADITIONAL QIPAO (or CHEONGSAM) DRESS POPULAR IN CHINA AND THROUGHOUT THE WEST.

Shen explained of the concept behind her dress' design: "It is inspired by the beautiful musical tones of the Chinese ancient stringed instrument, the guzheng. I learned to play this instrument during my childhood. It has deep meaning for me. Musical tones are very similar to daily life — sometime we are up, sometime we are down. At end, it is our beautiful and meaningful life with happiness and pain."

The Arts & Science Center invites the community to explore traditional and modern Chinese fashion during its next adult education class, Sumptuous Silks and Ancient Traditions: Exploring Chinese Fashion,” on Thursday, Sept. 20, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Special guest Yunru Shen, fashion designer and instructor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and will lead an engaging discussion on traditional and modern Chinese fashion. Participants will then have their turn to be creative as ASC Public Programs Coordinator Leonor Colbert guides them through making their own hand fans. Inspired by a variety of traditional Chinese hand fan designs, the silk brocade fans can be personalized to the makers’ taste. Participants can also enjoy a complimentary wine or beer while making their fans.

No experience is required, and all materials will be included. Advance registration is required and attendees must be at least 21 years old. The cost is $10 for ASC members or $15 for nonmembers.

Shen, who is originally from Shanghai, China, is a faculty member in UAPB's Merchandising, Textiles, and Design Program.

“I will talk about Chinese fashion from the 1920s qipao dress to today though history and culture change,” Shen explained. “I will also discuss three fashion cities: Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong in order to introduce today’s Chinese fashion trends with different major cities’ environmental influence.”

Shen will also show her own spring/summer 2019 collection.

“I created my newest fashion collection with new qipao style. It is a new Oriental/exotic American style,” she explained. She plans to wear the modern silk qipao dress for the event.

 "Sumptuous Silks and Ancient Traditions" Attendees will be guided in making their own personalized fans like the one shown. Inspired by a variety of traditional Chinese hand fan designs, the silk brocade fans can be personalized to the makers’ taste. They can also enjoy a complimentary wine or beer while making their fans.

"Sumptuous Silks and Ancient Traditions" Attendees will be guided in making their own personalized fans like the one shown. Inspired by a variety of traditional Chinese hand fan designs, the silk brocade fans can be personalized to the makers’ taste. They can also enjoy a complimentary wine or beer while making their fans.

The qipao (and the similar cheongsam) first became popular in 1920s Shanghai. Characterized by its close fit and brocade fabric, the dress style can still be seen in 21st-century eastern and western fashions.

Shen has studied and worked in fashion on three continents. She earned a Bachelor of Design degree in fashion and apparel design in 2010 at Raffles College of Design and Commerce in Sydney, Australia. She worked in Shanghai — China’s the fashion and economic center — at KISMET+, a women’s fashion studio. She moved to the United States in 2011 to study at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where she graduated in 2014 with a Master of Fine Arts degree in apparel design. She has also worked in a design team for Edun Americas Inc., a New York City-based fashion brand founded to promote fair trade in Africa by sourcing production within the continent.

Shen joined UAPB in 2014, and teaches classes covering textiles, apparel design, fashion illustration, fashion buying and merchandising, and the fashion industry.

Tinkerfest 2018 Emphasizes Health with Maker-Centric Family Fun

 Visitors show off their pedal-art creations they made during Family FunDay on Aug. 11, 2018. Pedal-powered art is just one of the many activities planned during ASC's Tinkerfest 2018, to be held 1-3 p.m. Sept. 8.

Visitors show off their pedal-art creations they made during Family FunDay on Aug. 11, 2018. Pedal-powered art is just one of the many activities planned during ASC's Tinkerfest 2018, to be held 1-3 p.m. Sept. 8.

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Tinkerfest, the Arts & Science Center’s annual maker-centric festival, returns Saturday, Sept. 18, from 1-3 p.m. This year, we will explore the connections between the maker movement and health with a variety of fun and educational activities for the whole family. 

“We’re doing all kinds of different things that involve tapping into creativity while exploring physical fitness and nutrition,” said ASC Public Programs Coordinator Leonor Colbert

Admission to Tinkerfest and all activities are free.

Tinkerfest 2018 is sponsored by the Arkansas Art Council, Blue & You Foundation, the Discovery Network, and the Pine Bluff Area Community Foundation. ASC is partnering with the Pine Bluff Jefferson County Library System, Tour de Bluff, and the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock for the event.

Highlights of this year's activities include: A hands-on cooking workshop; pedal-power stations for visitors to create art, blend delicious smoothies, and see their muscles turn energy into light; “bike rodeo,” and Yoga for Kids.

Thanks to a grant from the Blue & You Foundation, special guest Faith Anaya of Kids Cook! (a nonprofit organization based in Little Rock) will lead a cooking workshop for young people ages 6-13.

“Kids will be able to get their hands on the food, and try some different skills that they would be using in the kitchen like cutting and cooking,” Colbert said. “And we’ll get to sample the recipe that they create.“ 

There will be two separate sessions — a 1 p.m. session for ages 6-9, and a 2 p.m. session for ages 10-13. Each class can accommodate up to 12 children. Participants must sign up at the event — first come, first serve.

Bicycling is a natural bridge between health and tinkering, and Tinkerfest 2018 features a plethora of fun pedal-related activities. 

Visitors can hop on one of the bikes to create a pedal-powered painting. How do you create art with a bike? The participant powers the bike, and through centrifugal force, paint “flings” outward from the center of the drum, creating a colorful swirling pattern. A sheet of paper is lowered into the floating paint to create a piece of art.

Visitors who bring their own bikes to Tinkerfest can create even more art. An attachment holding a large piece of chalk is connected to the back of a bike, and the visitor can pedal around to a draw vibrant patterns onto the asphalt.

At the bike power station, visitors can see how their pedaling generates electricity by using a bike connected to an LED tower.

Put together a variety of ingredients to create a unique smoothie recipe and blend it using the bike at the pedal-power smoothie station.

Volunteers from Tour de Bluff (Pine Bluff’s main annual bike event) will host a “bike rodeo,” or trick riding on BMX bikes. They’ll also share tips on bike safety, and how people in the area can get out and ride their bikes more.

Colbert will lead two Yoga for Kids sessions — one at 1:30 p.m. and another at 2:30 p.m. Each session has room for 12 participants. Participants must sign up at the event — first come, first serve. (These two sessions are in addition to ASC’s weekly Yoga for Kids class, held every Saturday from 10:15-11 a.m. Yoga for Kids is a Healthy Living program for children ages 6 and up.)

Visitors will even be able to play the classic video game “Donkey Kong” using bananas, lead by Museum of Discovery staff. The fruit is converted into a controller with a Makey Makey — a kit which turns ordinary objects into touchpads.

“It will be like playing a video game but instead of sitting down and controlling it with your thumbs, you’re controlling your character in Donkey Kong with your whole body — moving around, jumping, touching things,” Colbert explained.

In addition to the Tinkerfest activities, ASC’s current exhibitions will be open. They include: Interactive exhibit Imaginate! in the International Paper Gallery, Creative Construction Zone in the Simmons Gallery, Small but Mighty in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery, UAPB & ASC: Five Decades of Collaboration in the Ben J. Altheimer Gallery, and Elsie Mistie Sterling: Pencil and Persistence in the Catherine M. Bellamy Theatre Hall.

TINKERFEST 2018 ACTIVITIES

(All activities take place between 1-3 p.m., unless otherwise specified)

Kids Cook! 
Location: ASC Studio
1 p.m. session: Ages 6-9 (up to 12 children)
2 p.m. session: Ages 10-13 (up to 12 children)
Location: Studio
Hands-on cooking class for kids.
Note: Participants must sign up. First come, first serve. 

Makey-Makey Donkey Kong
(with Museum of Discovery)

Location: Bellamy Theatre Stage
Play “Donkey Kong” using a banana and your whole body.

Yoga for Kids
Location: Dressing Room/Studio
1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (up to 12 children per session)
Location: Dressing Rooms
Ages 6 and up
Note: Participants must sign up. First come, first serve. 

Smoothie Station
Location: Catherine M. Bellamy Theatre Hall
Make your own smoothie using a bike-powered blender!

Tinkerfest Buttons and Take-and-Makes
Location: Simmons Gallery
Make a Tinkerfest 2018 button and do a health-inspired take-and-make activity.

Bike Rodeo (with Tour de Bluff)
Location: Front parking lot
Trick-riding demos from area cyclists.

Bike Art and Bike Power
Location: Front parking lot
Pedal-powered spin art, LED tower station.

 Special guest Faith Anaya of Kids Cook! (a nonprofit organization based in Little Rock) will lead a cooking workshop for young people ages 6-13.

Special guest Faith Anaya of Kids Cook! (a nonprofit organization based in Little Rock) will lead a cooking workshop for young people ages 6-13.

 An example of the groovy art created using pedal power!

An example of the groovy art created using pedal power!

'Small but Mighty' Celebrates Art Collection for ASC's 50th Anniversary

 “Small but Mighty,” featuring 33 works from the Arts & Science Center's Permanent collection, is on display in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery through Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

“Small but Mighty,” featuring 33 works from the Arts & Science Center's Permanent collection, is on display in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery through Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

 Romare Bearden, "The Conjure Woman," 1964. Photostat of collage.

Romare Bearden, "The Conjure Woman," 1964. Photostat of collage.

 Nelson Stevens, “Homer de Brave." Silkscreen.

Nelson Stevens, “Homer de Brave." Silkscreen.

 Donald Gensler, “Quilt Blanket (A Protective Covering),” 1997. charcoal, graphite, and quilt.

Donald Gensler, “Quilt Blanket (A Protective Covering),” 1997. charcoal, graphite, and quilt.

By Shannon Frazeur

Good things come in small packages, the notion goes.

American Alliance of Museums recognized this in the Arts & Science Center, noting in a 2016 letter recommending ASC’s reaccreditation: “The museum [ASC] is an excellent example of a small but mighty museum serving its community with significant impact.”

This theme carries over into the title of ASC’s latest art exhibition, “Small but Mighty” as part of the center’s golden anniversary.

“This is our 50th year as the Arts and Science Center, and I wanted 50 works from the Permanent Collection for 50 years,” ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults explained. “They don’t correlate year-to-work; it’s just 50 favorites.” Shoults selected pieces she loved, and Curatorial Assistants Ashley Smith and Catherine McGibbony weighed in on their favorites.

“There were some works in the collection that had been in flat storage files that we wanted to bring out, frame up, and have the public see for the first time. The most notable of those would be the Romare Bearden,” Shoults said.

Bearden (1911-1988) was a noted African-American artist who worked in a variety of media including oil and collage. The work on exhibit is a 1964 photostat of Bearden’s collageThe Conjure Woman.”

Shoults saw the original work earlier this year in the “Soul of a Nation” exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. “I walked in, and lo and behold, there was that piece. The work in our collection is a signed photostat from the original exhibition. It’s extremely cool that we have it here, and it’s never been displayed here before.” 

“Small but Mighty” also includes a piece from the AfriCOBRA movement — Nelson Stevens’ silkscreen “Homer de Brave.”

“I happen to be a huge fan of Nelson Stevens,” Shouts said. The painter and printmaker was an early member of AfriCOBRA and is still in AfriCOBRA today.

AfriCOBRA (the African Community of Bad Relevant Artists) is a black arts movement that began in the 1960s. Pine Bluff native Jeff Donaldson (1932-2004) was the founding force that launched what has been referred to as “the Black Panthers of the art world.” 

“They were protesting the fact that most museums in the United States only had white male representation,” Shoults explained. “They wanted a presence, and they also wanted an African-American aesthetic. [“Homer de Brave”] is a good representation because it has shine. It has really bright colors. The images are flat. And it’s a print which was important  this was art for the people. So, as opposed to creating one artwork, they wanted multiple artworks so that all people could have art and it was accessible to everyone.”

(Three other works by AfriCOBRA artists — one by Donaldson and two by fellow Pine Bluff native Kevin Cole — are in the adjacent “UAPB & ASC: Five Decades of Collaboration” exhibit.)

Another standout work in the exhibit is Donald Gensler’s 1997 “Quilt Blanket (A Protective Covering),” created in charcoal and pencil, and incorporating a piece of blue quilt.

“A blanket may protect us yet also allow us a place to hide. Woven deep into the blanket we will find the wisdom and answers, which our families’ heritage provides,” Gensler wrote in his artist statement. 

The heritage theme continued in the mural Gensler painted in 2000 in downtown Pine Bluff. “Delta Heritage,” on Second Avenue just east of Main Street, depicts scenes in the life of Jefferson County residents between the 1920s and 1940s. It features John Rust, inventor of the first mechanical cotton picker, along with scenes of the Delta cotton fields.

Other artists included in the exhibition include Al Allen, Benny Andrews, Harold Altman, Leonard Baskin, Camille Billops, James Boodhoo, Margaret Burrows, Roger Carlisle, Warrington Colescott, Richard Day, Michael Dorsey, Jean Fosch, Palmer Hayden, Robyn Horn, Lynn Manos Huber, Joan Irish, Samella Lewis, Evan Lindquist, Kitty Mashburn, Byron McKeeby, Jack R. Carol Spencer Morris, Laura Phillips, Juliette Reed, Dale Rayburn, Don Shaw, Jack R. Slentz, Dominique Simmons, J.L. Tucker, and Ray Walters. 

“Small but Mighty” is on display in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery through Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

Interdisciplinary Camp Immerses Middle-Schoolers in Swing, Jazz Era

 Special guest instructor Nick Davis of Eugene, Oregon, teaches jazz and swing dance moves during ASC's summer program "Swing, Art, and all that Jazz," held July 30-Aug. 1. The program — open to students in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades — was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education.

Special guest instructor Nick Davis of Eugene, Oregon, teaches jazz and swing dance moves during ASC's summer program "Swing, Art, and all that Jazz," held July 30-Aug. 1. The program — open to students in seventh, eighth, and ninth grades — was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education.

By Shannon Frazeur

Students were immersed in the jazz and swing culture of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s during ASC’s recent “Swing, Art, and All That Jazz” summer program. The camp, held July 30-Aug. 3, introduced seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-graders to the dances, music, and culture of this period.

Although dance and music were central, the camp wasn’t all about performance. The camp also incorporated art, history, and culture of the era — particularly pertaining to African-Americans — along with videography, into a multidisciplinary program which culminated in a video the students shot and edited themselves.  

 "Untitled (Dancers)," Palmer C. Hayden, Watercolor and paper, 1927. From the Permanent Collection of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.

"Untitled (Dancers)," Palmer C. Hayden, Watercolor and paper, 1927. From the Permanent Collection of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.

The camp was made possible by a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education, through its Academic Enrichment for the Gifted/Talented in Summer (AEGIS) program. The AEGIS programs provide unique learning opportunities in specific areas for gifted students in Arkansas. “Swing, Art, and All That Jazz” was one of eight AEGIS programs funded for 2018. The camp was open to students in Arkansas at no cost to them.

ASC welcomed special guest instructor Nick Davis of Eugene, Oregon, for the week. Davis is founder of a nonprofit swing dance organization, Track Town Swing, in Eugene. He is also a Frankie Manning Ambassador with the Frankie Manning Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and instruction of traditional swing dancing. Davis has traveled nationally and internationally to teach and DJ at swing dance events.

Davis introduced the students to traditional swing and jazz dance routines such as the “Lindy Hop,” the “Shim Sham,” the “Charleston,” and “The Big Apple.”

A swing and jazz era painting from ASC’s Permanent Collection served as inspiration and a point of context for the class. Palmer C. Hayden’s 1927 watercolor “Untitled (Dancers)" depicts two African-American couples dancing with a swing and jazz band. Note: “Untitled” (Dancers) is on display now through Oct. 27 in ASC's William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery.

Each morning, the students learned a new dance style or routine, and in the afternoon, they discussed it as a group and decided what was the most interested part of what they learned that day — both in terms of the dance and the contextual information that they learned about it, ASC Public Programs Coordinator Leonor Colbert explained.

The students then split into two groups. One group returned to the stage with Davis to perfect the final choreography and record themselves performing the dance moves they learned earlier that day. The second group created a script, providing interpretive context for that particular dance move. Then they audio recorded themselves reading the script. With the support of ASC Digital Media Specialist Ashley Smith, both groups came back together to edit the video and audio clips. By the end of the week, they had completed a 3-and-a-half minute video that not only demonstrates dance moves they learned, but provided interpretation about African-American dance history, especially related to the period most relevant for the 1927 Hayden painting.

The first day of camp also included an art and behind-the-scenes tour with ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults. The tour provided context on visual art as a means of working through challenging ideas and some of the politics of representation, especially art depicting African-Americans, Colbert said.

The discussion continued Tuesday with guest speaker Jimmy Cunningham Jr., CEO of the Delta Rhythm ‘n’ Bayous Alliance and author of two books focusing on southeast Arkansas’ musical and arts cultural history and heritage. Cunningham, a Pine Bluff native, discussed regional connections between swing music, Delta blues, and hip-hop music. He also spoke on how music has always been a means of working through and expressing intense emotion.

“He was talking about music on the edge — ‘super black music,’ as he called it, and how that has changed over the years,” Colbert said. “What’s pushing the boundaries — there always has to be something new coming after it, but that idea has been continuous. So he had an intergenerational panel that had folks that were involved in various dance scenes, ranging from the 1950s to the 1990s, and they talked about the music, the cultural scene, what people were wearing and doing and talking about how they danced to that music. And then the kids got the chance to share a little of the music of what they are listening to now. So it was a really nice intergenerational exchange; that continuity, even though the music styles sound very different.”

The students also created individual works of visual art inspired by the pieces they saw during their curatorial tour. They could choose to either make a figurative work of art (like the Hayden watercolor) or a more abstract work of art.

“They’re identifying a discrete source of inspiration — whether it’s photo or a dance clip or a piece of music,” Colbert explained. “And they’re deciding on their media, which is either acrylic or watercolor or collage. So there is a lot of choice. There is a lot of learner-driven experience in this, where we’re not forcing them into pigeonholes in which they have to all do the same thing.”

Unlike many dance-based programs, there was no public performance.

“We are learning some routines that are from performances, but a lot of what they are learning are vernacular art forms or social art forms that are meant to be improvised or meant to be experienced with people and not on a stage in front of somebody. It loses a lot of the spontaneity that makes it special when you codify it in a package to be performed.”

Colbert, a longtime dancer herself, developed the curriculum and program proposal.

“It’s something that I’ve always really loved and appreciated its ability to bring very diverse people together. It’s just a very joyful, fun thing.”

Colbert also saw the potential for the program to introduce weightier topics.

“I particularly wanted to do this kind of camp that was focusing on interdisciplinary aspects, using dance and music as an entry point for larger conversations, especially as it relates to race, race representation, commodification of racial art and how it is consumed, and the power dynamics that come into play with African-American art forms,” she said. “Because in recent years, in the jazz and swing dance community nationally and internationally, there have been a growing momentum in the conversation about race and racism in the dance scene because it is a historically African-American art form, that is largely appropriated and performed by white people.

“So I felt that was something that was really important to a large community of artists, jazz dancers and jazz musicians, and I thought that the Arts & Science Center was uniquely well-positioned to start that conversation,” she said.

Nick Davis' ’Crazy Journey’

Nick Davis’ love for swing and jazz dance has taken him beyond the U.S. borders, as far away as Sweden.

His interest began in 1998 in Eugene after he started taking hip-hop and R&B dance classes. Those classes led him to other styles and, eventually, Lindy Hop swing.

“I found out that I really liked that kind of music,” he said.

Noticing his interest, his dance teacher told him there was a fellow teacher in town who specializes in swing. Denise Steele was a prominent teacher on the scene in the early 2000s, and would bring swing dance pioneer Frankie Manning to Oregon to teach workshops. Manning is widely considered the grandfather of Lindy Hop.

Although Manning was in his late 80s when Davis began taking class, he was still very active in the dance community and still teaching workshops.

“He would come to Oregon once or twice a year to pass on his wealth of knowledge to people. It was a pretty exciting time for me. So that helped me get connected to the dancing — not just to the dancing, but get connected to it from a cultural point.”

Davis connected to swing and jazz in a way that he didn’t with more contemporary dance and music styles.

“For me, I like hip-hop and all that stuff but it didn’t really resonate with me personally, and so hearing this style of music and this style of dance, to me, it felt much more elegant. It was something that was easier for me to get behind than just music that really, it paints a picture of more hardship than just kind of a lot of violence and a lot of things that I, personally, I understand but I’ve never really experienced. But with jazz, hearing more, getting more exposure to that, to me, it was more about songs about love and just trying to connect. And so I was like, OK, I feel this, this is resonating with me. So I was very happy to get connected to some swing dancing and jazz music.”

After the swing dance scene in Eugene faded, Davis returned to performing more contemporary jazz styles and hip-hop dance, he said. After Manning died in 2009 at age 94, Davis realized he wanted to return to the older dance styles.

“He definitely lived a good life, but that touched me to be like, ‘Oh, this person who I’ve been so inspired by is now no longer here — what does that mean for me?’” Davis said. “I was still dancing with my other group at the time but eventually the pull of ‘Let’s go back to swing dancing. Let’s try to connect with a person instead of just performing to seek attention, seek adulation.’ Getting back into social dance really helped me to feel like I was connecting with people on a more personal level.”

There still wasn’t much of a swing and jazz scene in Eugene but In 2012, Davis and a handful of other dancers began practicing together. Two or three people become 12 people, and when they held their first dance, 80 people showed up for what would become Track Town Swing. “So basically, I just put all my other dance stuff aside and focused on this ever since then.”

Davis was looking for ways to improve his teaching and applied for and was awarded the Frankie Manning Ambassador Scholarship, which included a three-week trip to Sweden, site of the world’s largest vernacular jazz dance camp.

“After that, I felt very inspired,” he said. From that opportunity, they were able to build up the scene in Eugene, and right now, Track Town Swing hosts five classes a week and regular dances.

Davis’ swing and jazz expertise goes beyond the dance floor. Although he still teaches quite a bit, he mostly works traveling as a DJ.

“For swing dance, what you want is to be able to have a live band play at your event,” he said. “It’s more fun, there’s a person there giving you something. You can’t always afford that, so obviously it’s really nice if you can get a person who is decent and knows enough about the music to rock the party by pressing play.”

Davis has worked as a DJ in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. “And a few weeks ago, I was actually in Sweden as a DJ. So once again, we have this crazy situation where somehow I was able to get from Eugene, Oregon, to a village in Sweden where there is going to be hundreds of people staying up all night dancing, and I’m one of the people who is helping make that happen. It’s a crazy journey.”

First-Time Director Brings Musical Fun Of 'Sister Act' To ASC's Bellamy Theatre

 Nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier (Angelica Glass) shakes up a Philadelphia convent and helps its vocally challenged choir became a singing sensation in ASC's musical production of "Sister Act." The show opens Thursday, July 26, and runs through Sunday, July 29.

Nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier (Angelica Glass) shakes up a Philadelphia convent and helps its vocally challenged choir became a singing sensation in ASC's musical production of "Sister Act." The show opens Thursday, July 26, and runs through Sunday, July 29.

By Shannon Frazeur

Lindsey Collins has been running around for months, spinning the plates that is directing a theatrical production.

The musical Sister Act marks her 30th — that’s right, 30th — production at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. But it is her first time calling the shots.

  Sister Act  director Lindsey Collins

Sister Act director Lindsey Collins

Collins, her crew, and her cast of almost 30 are in final rehearsals for Sister Act, which opens at ASC on Thursday, July 26, runs until Sunday, July 29.

Sister Act tells the the story of a nightclub singer named Deloris Van Cartier, who witnesses her gangster boyfriend murder one of this cronies. She is put into protective custody at a convent full of non-singing nuns. Deloris uses her singing abilities to help the choir become a sensational singing group, all while learning valuable life lessons and the value of sisterhood, Collins explained.

“It’s a very fun little story.”

The musical is based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, but with some key differences.

“The music is all original, written for the show,” Collins explained. “It’s actually written by Alan Menken, who did all the music for The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors, and a bunch of other very popular musicals. And it’s all ‘70s disco music. It’s set in the ‘70s, so it has that fantastic disco vibe to it.”

Sister Act is also a heavy ensemble show. “Usually you have a few ensemble numbers and mainly solos, but in this show, it’s mainly ensemble numbers and a few solos.”

It’s also music heavy, she said. “It’s probably 80 percent music, and 20 percent dialogue.”

NEWCOMERS AND VETERANS

For most of the cast, Sister Act will mark their first time on the Catherine M. Bellamy Theatre stage.

“We have a cast of 28. And 20 of the 28 have never been in a show before — this is their first time ever being in a play here,” Collins said. “And they all heard through word of mouth and through Facebook, through the marquee outside The Center, and they just decided, ‘Hey, I love Sister Act!’ The name drew them in. Everyone sees the name and thinks of the movie.”

A production with so many new actors might seem daunting, but not for the Sister Act cast and crew.

“They are very very committed to what they’re doing for this show, and that makes my job a whole lot easier,” Collins said. “They're all super talented. Pine Bluff has way more talent than I think we've ever knew, and we’re just scratching the surface with what we’ve done so far here.”

 Angelica Glass plays the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier in  Sister Act .

Angelica Glass plays the lead role of Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act.

One of the newcomers is Monticello native Angelica Glass, who plays the lead role of Delores Van Cartier.

“She literally came out of nowhere,” Collins said. “We had a not-so-great turnout for our first round of auditions, so I decided to make an audition notice on all the swap shops on Facebook that I could think of. She just happened to see it go through her newsfeed and came to the audition that night.

“The minute she walked through the door, all three of us lit up like Christmas morning,” Collins said.

“She walked in, and she just embodied everything. And she’s one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met, and she’s super talented. As a director, you want someone who’s very easy to work with and takes direction really well.

“This voice comes out of her, and it’s just awesome.”

Collins pride in her entire cast is evident. “Everyone in this cast is so incredibly talented. We have a 17-year-old all the way up to 70-something.”

“There’s some people in this that just blew me away. They’re all very considerate of everybody else. It’s a very wonderful atmosphere to be a part of. We’re all working toward the same goal. There’s not anybody who feels like they’ve got too much on them. It’s a very cohesive unit, and we’ve been working together very well. I want everyone to leave this process, wanting to come back and do another show.”

While most of Sister Act’s cast is comprised of newcomers, the production crew are mostly ASC stage veterans.

  Sister Act  Music Director Andee Book

Sister Act Music Director Andee Book

Andee Book works alongside Collins as Sister Act music director. He an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he teaches applied voice, piano, music history, diction, vocal pedagogy, and music appreciation courses. He is also the assistant director of the Vesper Choir and departmental accompanist for various recitals and performances.

”He is amazing and I don’t know how we would have been able to have put this all together without his expertise because he is absolutely wonderful and gifted at being a music director,” Collins said.

Bethany Gere is choreographer. “She has this wonder vision, and she's able to get non-dancers to look like dancers, and that's a huge accomplishment in community theater,” Collins laughed.

“My choreographer and music director have been amazing,” Collins said. “We’ve had moments where we’ll have one thing going on on the stage, one thing going on in the studio, and one thing going on out in the hallway, just to keep things moving. I don’t like downtime, either. I don’t like people to sit there not doing something.”

Joel Anderson is assistant director. Sister Act is Anderson’s eighth ASC production. He played Edna Turnblad in ASC’s 2012 production of Hairspray. Anderson is also a pageant judge for the state of Arkansas. “He notices things I might have missed aesthetic-wise,” Collins said.

“It’s a very cohesive team. The crew is, the cast is. If we don’t all work together, it’s not going to work out right. And without them, I don’t think I would have my sanity left.”

‘Theater Rat’

Collins began working on or in ASC productions as a teenager in 2001, and Sister Act is her 30th production to be part of at the Arts & Science Center.

Previous ASC shows in which she has been in the cast or crew include:

  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory ("Mrs. Gloop")
  • Hairspray (“Velma VonTussle”)
  • Gypsy (“Mama Rose”)
  • Bye Bye Birdie (“Ursula Merkle”)
  • Chicago (stage manager)
  • Rebel Without A Cause (assistant stage manager)
  • Alice in Wonderland (makeup and costumes)
  • 42nd Street
  • Mr. Scrooge (“Mrs. Fezziwig”)
  • Antigone
  • About a dozen Razzle Dazzle productions (she’s done so many that she’s lost count)

“I love theater. I’ve been a theater rat since I was 15. It’s like putting on a pair of pajamas that fits just right. It may not fit everybody, but it fits me!”

So taking on the role of director was a natural progression for her.

“I got to the point where I wanted to be more creative with what goes on and I wanted to call the shots and make sure we had a great summer production. I was excited when [ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller] asked me to do it. First, I messaged her and asked if I could direct, and then we when decided on the show, I was thrilled.”

In addition to its theater productions, Collins has had an hand in other ASC projects, such as the biannual fundraising gala Potpourri.

“If The Center calls me, I’m answering the phone to help.”

Collins also helped teach ASC’s after-school shadow puppet program this spring. “That was so much fun. We had a group of about nine kids and they were amazingly smart and well- behaved, and it was a great experience, and I got to work with Leonor [Colbert, ASC’s public programs coordinator], who is a blast to work with.”

“I love The Center. It’s my second home. I might as well have a tent here.”

Collins has a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and did several productions while a student. She is a Pine Bluff High School graduate, and except for the four years she attended UAF, has lived in Pine Bluff her entire life.

She works for CoOperative Life Insurance Company. Collins said that her boss, ASC board member Adam Robinson, is “super supportive” of everything she’s doing with the show. Her family — which includes her husband of 10 years, Jeff, son Dorian, and daughter Caylex — is also supportive. “There are times when it becomes consuming being in charge of something like this, but the outcome is so worth it.”

She has dedicated every show she has been a part of in honor of her father, John Byus III, since he died two years ago.

Collins has enjoyed the collaborative and creative process of bringing Sister Act to ASC.

“It’s a really awesome process. I like that we have a lot of new people because they’re able to share their talents with me, and our cast, and the rest of Pine Bluff. That’s exciting, to share your abilities and your talents, and your love and your passion and whatever it is. That’s why I wanted to direct something.”

 

SISTER ACT

July 26 (opening night-SOLD OUT!), July 27, and July 28 at 7:30 p.m., and July 29 at 2 p.m.  

Director: Lindsey Collins. Music Director: Andee Book

Music by: Alan Menken. Lyrics by: Glenn Slater

Tickets are $18 for members, $22 for nonmembers, and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased online, by calling 870-536-3375, or visiting the Center in person at 701 S. Main St. in downtown Pine Bluff.

 

King Foundation Grant to Expand ASC's Makerspace Theatre Program

 Students in the Arts & Science Center’s shadow puppet program shared the product of their work with family and friends May 23 during Family & Community Night at ASC. The evening was a culmination of a 12-week after-school theater program with students from the Boys & Girls Club. The program was facilitated by Leonor Colbert (above), ASC Public Program Coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, director for "Sister Act," ASC's summer musical. The King Foundation grant will help to support ASC's youth theatre-immersion program.

Students in the Arts & Science Center’s shadow puppet program shared the product of their work with family and friends May 23 during Family & Community Night at ASC. The evening was a culmination of a 12-week after-school theater program with students from the Boys & Girls Club. The program was facilitated by Leonor Colbert (above), ASC Public Program Coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, director for "Sister Act," ASC's summer musical. The King Foundation grant will help to support ASC's youth theatre-immersion program.

King-Foundation logo.jpg

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas has received a grant of $35,000 from the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation in support of ASC's expanded youth theatre-immersion program, "The Stage," ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller announced June 13. "The Stage" is a makerspace for innovation and creativity through theatre.

 students in The Boys & Girls club get ready to show off their shadow puppetry for family and friends at ASC on May 23.

students in The Boys & Girls club get ready to show off their shadow puppetry for family and friends at ASC on May 23.

Building upon ASC’s established STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Math) programming foundation, “The Stage” takes a holistic approach to theatre by engaging students in all aspects of theatre: directing, acting, playwriting, scenery construction, costume design, light and sound design, stage management, playbill design, and marketing and promotion of productions. All components are considered STEAM learning. By incorporating technology, students will learn coding and circuitry for scenery special effects, audio and film for documenting, and basic graphic design — all which ASC already provides through our programs.

Involving youth in community arts programs provides opportunity to cultivate civic engagement, which benefits the community at large; develop practical and personal skills considered instrumental in academic and career success, such as creative thinking, self-confidence, identity building, problem solving, collaboration, communication skills, and valuing constructive feedback, and ensures access to the arts for youth from low-income families who don’t possess the means to participate in programs in arts-resource rich regions of Arkansas.

ASC leverages funding from local and state grants, sponsorships, and foundations to provide half and full scholarships for “The Stage” summer program for ages 7-17. The all-day, month-long camp kicked off Monday, June 18, and culminates in an all-youth production of “It’s Not Ugly ... It’s Art!” on Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14.

In addition to the summer program, “The Stage” offers professional development workshops, internships, and free after-school theatre programming. This spring, Leonor Colbert, ASC Public Program Coordinator, and Lindsey Collins, director of ASC's summer musical production of "Sister Act," led the Boys & Girls Club 12-week shadow puppet program.

The King Foundation grant will assist the growth of ASC’s scope of community outreach through “The Stage” project. Starting this fall, programming will include an in-school component, a “digital” tool box for educators, and regional outreach.

ASC is immensely grateful for the King Foundation's support of our endeavors to provide access to the arts for everyone.

About the King Foundation

Carl B. and Florence E. King started the foundation that bears their names in 1966. Since then, the King Foundation has distributed more than $64 million to agencies operating in Texas and Arkansas while maintaining the legacies created by Carl “Big Jim” and Florence “Meemaw” King and their daughter, Dorothy.

PBHS Artists Shine In Annual Exhibit

 Justin Thomasson’s self-portrait, “Ikicki No Uta,” is one of the eye-catching works in this year's show.

Justin Thomasson’s self-portrait, “Ikicki No Uta,” is one of the eye-catching works in this year's show.

 Ashia Shelton, who will be a senior this fall at PBHS, stands next to her painting "Stranger Fruit." She has two other works in this year's show.

Ashia Shelton, who will be a senior this fall at PBHS, stands next to her painting "Stranger Fruit." She has two other works in this year's show.

Sixteen young artists are featured in the Arts & Science Center’s 2018 Pine Bluff High School Annual Art Exhibit, on display in ASC's Simmons Gallery.

The exhibit comprises 20 works, in mediums such as pencil, colored pencil, and acrylic paint. Colorful pieces covering the walls of the Simmons First Gallery contrast with black and white pencil self-portraits.

The artists, all juniors and seniors from Shalisha Thomas’s Art I and Art II classes this year, are:

 Pine Bluff High School teacher Shalisha Thomas (left), curated the 2018 exhibit of her students' works. She took over from Virginia Hymes (right), who retired last year after more than 40 years of teaching. Thomas is herself a former student of Hymes.

Pine Bluff High School teacher Shalisha Thomas (left), curated the 2018 exhibit of her students' works. She took over from Virginia Hymes (right), who retired last year after more than 40 years of teaching. Thomas is herself a former student of Hymes.

  • Aiyanna Arnold
  • Tamisha Battles

  • Jatavian Bell

  • Mya Breedlove

  • E’Leecia Clark

  • Lakeycia Cleveland

  • Johnathan Collum

  • Carrington Craig

  • Colby Davis

  • Kalaya Evans

  • Marcus Lindsey

  • Morgan Mitchell

  • Aliseyanna Nole

  • Ashia Shelton

  • Kyla Taggart

  • Justin Thomasson

Ashia Shelton, who will be a senior this fall, has three pieces in the show. “Stranger Fruit,” despite its deceptively bright colors, explores a darker narrative. The piece’s title is inspired by the poem written by Abel Meeropol and set to music, most famously performed by Billie Holiday.

“Instead of focusing on the raw meaning of the poem ‘Strange Fruit,’ I wanted to imply a different one,” Ashia explained in her artist statement. “I wanted to represent the lost voices of black men and black people in general. It was important to represent the lost voices as beautiful fruit. In this piece, I chose primary colors. Primary is defined as ‘of chief importance; principal.’ I wanted to also represent the voices as important ones rather than the ones that were outcast.”

Justin Thomasson’s “Ikicki No Uta” is one of the eye-catching works in this year's show. Justin, who will be a senior this fall, drew the self portrait in color pencil. The title was inspired by a Japanese song called “Shiki No Uta,” he said. "I chose to do myself holding the guitar because that was the kind of feeling that came from listening to the song."

Ashia's and Justin's talents have been recognized outside of school. They both previously lent their talents to the Drain Smart program, which uses art to communicate the function and importance of local storm drains. They each painted a drain near the Pine Bluff Civic Center complex; Ashia’s can be seen at 10th and State streets, and Justin’s at 11th and State streets.

Ashia designed the Go Forward Pine Bluff logo for the task force in 2017. This spring, Justin finished second in the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Talent Hunt, winning a cash prize and received an all-expense paid trip to Houston, Texas, where the Omega Psi Phi Ninth District Talent Hunt was held.

Ashia and Justin were recently accepted into Girls State and Boys State., respectively.

 Johnathon Callum, who recently graduated from PBHS, speaks during the May 3 opening reception. HIs piece, "Brotherhood," seen to his left in the photo, "depicts the image of two interracial players coming together during a political conflict," Johnathon explained in his artist statement. 

Johnathon Callum, who recently graduated from PBHS, speaks during the May 3 opening reception. HIs piece, "Brotherhood," seen to his left in the photo, "depicts the image of two interracial players coming together during a political conflict," Johnathon explained in his artist statement. 

Johnathon Callum's "Brotherhood" depicts two interracial players coming together during a political conflict. "I use paint to allow the picture to pop out at you, and allow the emotions to pour out of my work," Johnathon explained in his artist statement. "It really grabs your attention, the reason I chose to do this is because I am currently channeling my art work toward the topic of 'Football and Politics.' Currently, NFL players are dealing with many political issues that are being covered up. I am trying to be their voice, and show them they do have people that see the injustice taking place. I hope to wake people up to the problems, so we can solve them one at a time." 

PBHS art teacher Shalisha Thomas curated the show for the first time this year. This was Thomas’s first year teaching at PBHS as well. She previously taught at Belair Middle School for five years.

PBHS art teacher Virginia Hymes, who retired last year after more than 40 years of teaching, facilitated the show from its inception until 2017. Hymes is also an ASC board member.

Thomas, herself a 2002 PBHS graduate, was one of many students Hymes inspired during many years of teaching.

“The high school experience is different for each student. For me, the quiet introvert, I did not feel like I fit in at times,” Thomas said. “Taking Mrs. Hymes' class in high school made me feel like I belonged. She was so encouraging, and she did not allow you to just sit in class. You had to participate!

“Mrs. Hymes saw the potential in her students. She worked tirelessly to produce strong artists. Her influence helped me make my decision to become an art educator. I have always loved art, but her passion for teaching inspired me to become a teacher. It is definitely an honor to assume Mrs. Hymes' position at Pine Bluff High School. No one can take Mrs. Hymes's place, but it is my privilege to continue to teach and inspire students like she did, and still continues to do today.”

Virginia Hymes’s pride in both her former students and Thomas’ students is evident when speaking to her. "Shalisha — she’s a former student of mind. She’s a jewel." 

Hymes, who attended the 2018 opening reception in May, loves seeing the students show off their art with their families.

“I tell you, it is such a joy when I see the kids and the parents are so proud of them," Hymes said. "It feels so good. You should see the grandparents. They bring their families. As a teacher, to see that, it means a lot. These kids are the ones you know you want to reach out to. It’s an experience you know they will never forget.”

The exhibit, sponsored by Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel, is on display through Saturday, July 7.

'Imaginate' Exhibit Encourages Experimentation, Collaboration

 students from JF Wahl Elementary school in Helena check out  "Light Hearts in Concert" Art Tower during a tour of "Imaginate" on May 9.

students from JF Wahl Elementary school in Helena check out  "Light Hearts in Concert" Art Tower during a tour of "Imaginate" on May 9.

Imaginate, ASC’s latest STEAM exhibit, is now open in the International Paper Gallery.

 Friction zone

Friction zone

The interactive, multi-activity exhibit encourages collaboration and experimentation — two concepts that innovation and invention rely upon. All of the stations are designed to involve multiple people and creative risk-taking. The activities also encourage to visitors to think about different ways of seeing, creating, and using things.

Innovation has been essential to our survival — driving the evolution of our civilization and the change in our daily quality of life. In this changing world a culture of innovation will help us meet the challenges ahead for our continued survival, both in terms of globalization and environmental changes. Whether you are doing science, art or engineering — innovative thinking can take us on the paths we have not yet explored.

Explore the different activity stations:

Friction Zone

Many good innovations come from an understanding of the properties of the materials being used. Explore kinetic friction in action by sending sliders down ramps with different surfaces. Try using heavier blocks on your slider to see how the mass affects the force of friction. Is heavier slide faster or slower? By experimenting with the surface properties of a range of materials, you can discover which combinations yield the fastest or slowest run.

 Making Faces

Making Faces

Making Faces

In this experience, one face is made of many different people. Take a picture of your own face and choose from a video collection of other people's features to create a bizarre new image. Experiment with the face you create and experiment with different facial expressions. See what makes a face beautiful to you.

 Sound Panels

Sound Panels

Sound Panels

Of the songs on your portable music player, how many sample another song? Innovation in science and technology made this possible and changed music forever.

In this room of sound and lights, you can create your own musical masterpiece involving rhythm, light, pattern and emotion. Step inside play and experiment with sets or samples programmed into the sound walls. Collaboration lets you work with each other's sounds, and competition and collaboration push and pull you to be more creative. Work together and have fun! 

“Light Hearts in Concert” Art Tower

This interactive light sculpture is powered by heartbeats. When you and a group of friends interact with it, the sculpture interprets your heartbeats and integrates them into a light show. Hold onto one of the four bars — the bar has a heart rate monitor built in. Your heartbeat becomes the drum to which the lights dance. The more people connected to the sculpture and the more heartbeats in combination, the grander the display. “Light Hearts in Concert” is designed to inspire experimentation as a team and to visually celebrate each individual as a necessary and valued part of a whole.

Material Exploration Wall

Discover the unexpected — explore materials both nature and manmade. Consider how nature has inspired man-made products. Explore the unexpected ways of using materials, and different ways they have been repurposed. Use the microscope to examine the details of a wide range of fun materials.

 A'Niyah Jones, 7, makes her own small film at the Stop-Motion Animation station.

A'Niyah Jones, 7, makes her own small film at the Stop-Motion Animation station.

Stop-Motion Animation Station

Create your own animation short using small toys and other objects. Capture your scenes with a fixed camera and easy-to-use touch screen interface. When you are finished with your story, play your movie to see your figures come to life on the screen!

Imaginate is the latest interactive traveling exhibit on loan from the Arkansas Discovery Network, a statewide museum partnership operated by Museum of Discovery in Little Rock. The traveling exhibits makes interactive STEM learning more accessible to the state’s children and their families.

Imaginate is sponsored by the Pine Bluff Area Community Foundation, an affiliate office of the Arkansas Community Foundation, Inc.

Explore Imaginate through Saturday, October 6, 2018.

Scholarships Available for Summer Camps

 Students create their own short films during the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ filmmaking camp in 2017. The 2018 filmmaking camp for ages 7-17 will be held July 16-20.

Students create their own short films during the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ filmmaking camp in 2017. The 2018 filmmaking camp for ages 7-17 will be held July 16-20.

By Shannon Frazeur

Children and teens have several options for fun and educational activities this summer at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. ASC is hosting a slate of camps for students ages 6 to 17 in art, engineering and technology, game design and development, theater, filmmaking, and even swing dance.

Through the generosity of the June and Edmond Freeman Endowment, Simmons First Foundation, Windgate Foundation, Ben J. Altheimer Foundation and Synergy Forum Inc., ASC can provide full and partial scholarships for students to attend this year's summer camps.

“We’re very fortunate this summer to have the support of the community and to be able to offer these scholarships,” said ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller.

The camps exemplify ASC’s mission to serve as a cultural crossroad: engaging, educating and entertaining through the arts and sciences. The camps’ curricula incorporates aspects of “STEAM” — science, technology, engineering, ART and math — through student-driven projects. The camps also help students to develop the “soft skills” needed to cultivate leadership and collaboration.

“The arts help to develop 21st century skills,” ASC Public Programs Coordinator Leonor Colbert explained. “Art helps prepare kids to be future leaders in many areas of their lives because it boosts problem-solving skills, empathy, being able to see problems from other people’s perspectives, and communication and collaboration.”

Colbert is leading the two visual art camps. Art I (ages 6-11) and Art II (ages 12-17) combine lessons in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture with exploration of current ASC art exhibitions. Students will create 2D and 3D projects, and focus not only on artistic methods and working with different media, but also on the creative process itself.

“With the art camps, it’s more than just doing a bunch of art projects — we will also do activities each day to stretch their creativity muscles,” Colbert said. “The older students will be encouraged to explore the value of art in their own lives and what role art can play in their future success.”

ASC Digital Media Specialist Ashley Smith will lead the two STEAM camps, which are for ages 12-17.

Through hands-on building and experimentation, Engineering & Technology students will be introduced to electric circuits, LEDs and switches, stop-motion animation, beginning computer coding and apps, conductors and semiconductors, programming motors and app development.

Game Design & Development students will use virtual development to learn the fundamentals of creating a game through computer programming and animation, creative problem solving, mathematics, storytelling and teamwork.

Students can enroll in both half-day technology camps for a full day of STEAM learning and a discounted fee.

Justin Pike, Artistic Director for The Studio Theatre in Little Rock, is leading “The Stage” makerspace theater camp for ages 7-17.

The program takes a holistic approach to theater. Participants will sample all aspects of theater — including script writing, stage management, set design, light and sound design and costume design — as well as acting and directing. Incorporating technology, participating students will learn coding and circuitry for scenery special effects, audio and film for documenting, and basic graphic design to create a program for their production.

Their month of hard work will culminate in the production of a one-act play, Gary Ray Stapp’s “It’s Not Ugly ... It’s Art!” with public performances Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14.

“The students will have done everything in this play from the ground up,” Colbert said. “Each student will be making substantive creative contributions to the production.” The students will do everything needed to put on a production, including designing and building the sets and other jobs that do not necessarily include acting and directing but are equally important.

“They don’t always see themselves on center stage — but there are so many different ways that they can be a part of it,” Colbert said.

Eva Belle, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Mass Communication instructor and debate coach, will lead the Filmmaking camp. Students ages 7-17 will explore storytelling as an art form, develop a film idea, shoot video, record audio and edit their creation. They will be immersed in both the technology and the creative and artistic aspects of filmmaking.

“The summer camp will be composed of educational and fun creative activities that we’re sure your child will enjoy,” Belle said. “They will learn the logistics of acting, storytelling and filming."

 Special guest instructor Nick Davis will lead the “Swing, Art and All That Jazz” camp. Interested students must apply to this camp. If selected, this camp is provided at no cost to the student. 

Special guest instructor Nick Davis will lead the “Swing, Art and All That Jazz” camp. Interested students must apply to this camp. If selected, this camp is provided at no cost to the student. 

In the “Swing, Art and All That Jazz” camp, made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education, students will explore the living traditions of swing dance and music. Students will learn a different style of swing dance each day of camp and produce a short video about the history of swing. Special guest instructor Nick Davis is an ambassador with the Frankie Manning Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and instruction of traditional swing dancing. Davis has traveled nationally and internationally to teach and DJ at swing dance events, and founded Track Town Swing Club.

This camp is for students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades during the 2017-18 school year. Participants do not need to be in gifted and talented programs at their school to apply. If selected, this camp is provided at no cost to the student.

For full descriptions and dates of the camps, please visit the summer camp webpageAdvance registration is required for all camps.

Scholarship eligibility is based on financial need, including household size and household income. The deadline for submitting scholarship applications for June camps is June 1, and July 1 for July camps. Parents are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible.

Any questions about camps or scholarships may be directed to Leonor Colbert, ASC public programs coordinator, at 870-536-3375 or lcolbert@asc701.org.

Organic Forms in Metal, Textiles Intrigue in Fire & Fiber Exhibit

 ASC Digital Media Specialist and collections care assistant ashely smith (left) and ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults finish the installation of "fire & FIber: New Works by Sofia V. Gonazalez and David Clemons" on Tuesday, April 24, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery. 

ASC Digital Media Specialist and collections care assistant ashely smith (left) and ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults finish the installation of "fire & FIber: New Works by Sofia V. Gonazalez and David Clemons" on Tuesday, April 24, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery. 

By Shannon Frazeur

Metal and fabric come together for the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas’ latest art exhibit, Fire & Fiber: New Works by Sofia V. Gonzalez and David Clemons, opening Thursday, April 26, 2018, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery. The exhibit kicks off with a reception from 5-7 p.m. April 26. The artists will be on hand to make remarks at 5:30.

Fire & Fiber features the work of metalsmith David Clemons and fiber artist Sofia V. Gonzalez.

“The organic nature of both artforms comes together in a sumptuous feast for the eyes,” says ASC Curator Lenore Shoults, Ph.D.

“Clemons’ sculpture and jewelry conjoin the raw power of metalwork and delicate use of found objects,” Shoults says. “Gonzalez conjures a palette from nature dyeing silk, wool, and cotton to form the exquisite layers of her sculptures. In both artists’ work, we find unexpected use of materials. Gonzalez uses fiber almost like paint, stroke upon stroke of rich color building sculptures sometimes reaching over four feet in size. Clemons’ work is diminutive and yet powerful, the use of found objects packing a punch once enveloped in silver. By the hand of both artists, the ordinary elevates to art; Gonzalez takes debris from the natural environment boiling it into luscious colors and Clemons frames the detritus of humans in sterling.”

 David Clemons, “Debris Field ,”  2016 (Neck Piece) Sterling silver and mixed media, 18” diameter

David Clemons, “Debris Field,” 2016 (Neck Piece)
Sterling silver and mixed media, 18” diameter

Clemons is an artist in residence and instructor in metalsmithing and jewelry in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has a Master of Fine Arts degree in metalsmithing from San Diego State University.

“My studio work has always been an extension of the experiences I have internalized, and I dissect my experiences and tease out greater awareness of the impact levied by each experience,” Clemons says in his artist statement. “My practice has become deeply introspective as probing my understanding of loneliness, friendships, creativity, Southern culture, fatherhood, and finding a new sense of place and redefined identity have been my source material. This personal exploration has been difficult at times as I do not always feel I have the adequate tools or emotional distance to gain insights into some of these uncomfortable mental places.

“The nagging question at the root of the work is: What happens as you confront and reconcile the mental image of yourself with the reality of who you must be, based on the demands of your life? This was the question I pondered sitting on a rocky shore line watching a boat struggle against the waves to reach open sea. The infinite possibility in the vast expanse of the ocean posed a physical and metaphorical escape; this is an escape with brilliant potential but fraught with danger. The seeds for this body of work initially grew in the form of a short story inspired by this observation. The story chronicles a character fleeing from captivity only to meet an uncanny stowaway on his boat. I found myself being more enticed by the objects I began sketching than the written words. The objects have nautical references and heavily feature crude boats and warning buoys foreshadowing impending destruction.

“As I executed the work in this new direction I utilized a process-based approach, a methodology driven by trying to convey emotional tension and introspection through material manipulation and alluring objects. Ultimately, the objects stand alone from the narrative and are intended to evoke a visceral response in the viewer, tapping into subconscious fears, anxieties, sympathies, and curiosities. The works are intended to be stand-ins for a human need to probe the darkness of the unknown within one’s self.”

 Sofia V. Gonzalez, “portrait of place, 3,” 2015 Mint, rosemary, blackberry, black bean, oak galls, and eucalyptus natural dye with iron on raw silk, 30”h x 12”w x 7”d

Sofia V. Gonzalez, “portrait of place, 3,” 2015
Mint, rosemary, blackberry, black bean, oak galls, and eucalyptus natural dye with iron on raw silk, 30”h x 12”w x 7”d

Gonzalez is an adjunct professor of art at the University of Central Arkansas and UA-Little Rock. She has an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where she focused on furthering her skills in textiles and natural dye techniques. She was a 2017 Hot Springs National Park artist in residence. The Arkansas Arts Council awarded her an Individual Artist Fellowship in Contemporary Craft in 2017.

“As a maker, I feel a frantic urge to record the places I have known, such as northern California and central Arkansas, to attempt to embody the way these locations have shaped me and the way I feel within them,” Gonzalez says in her artist statement. “Recording and archiving both physical and emotional landscapes, I create a moving methodology to respond to places that have already affected me and those I will meet in the future.

“Collecting flowers, hulls, barks, fruits and vegetables, I boil the materials to release the inherent colors of the land. Sewing, looping, and layering naturally stained textiles focuses a restless mind as I archive through making to respond to the fear of what may happen when a place changes. A homesickness for places I still know saturates each stain and reveals a constant concern of what might happen when a specific site and I are no longer connected. The fleeting feeling of place leaves me frantically trying to grasp onto something I cannot hold. To keep still, my hands must move and I ground myself in the physical plants and fibers. I knot, loop, cut, and drape dyed textiles to focus and to remember the intimate moments in each place I know. The cardinal singing in the backyard at dawn is woven into each crocheted thread, actually colored by the neighboring summer weeds.

“I am colored by the land; together, we generate place.”

“I have been fortunate to see both of these artists at work: Sofia teaching young students the techniques of hand-dyeing with natural materials, and David demonstrating the process of forging metal for maker audiences young and old,” says ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller, “Each artist's methodology and aesthetic reflects ASC's aim to explore with our community the diversity of artistic expression.”

This exhibit marks the debut of the gallery’s new LED lighting, which was made possible by the generosity of the late Diane Ayres. She was a longtime supporter of ASC.

The exhibition is sponsored by Relyance Bank, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission.

Fire & Fiber runs through Saturday, July 28, 2018.