ASC Awarded $2.2 Million Grant for Community Engagement Initiative The ARTSpace

 A $2.2 million grant from the Windgate Foundation will help fund renovations to convert a building owned by the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas Endowment Fund into a multi-use space to support The ARTSpace for Creative Thinking & Entrepreneurship. Renovations of the historic commercial building at 623 S. Main St. in downtown Pine Bluff are targeted to begin in June 2019, with the goal of opening by the end of 2019.

A $2.2 million grant from the Windgate Foundation will help fund renovations to convert a building owned by the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas Endowment Fund into a multi-use space to support The ARTSpace for Creative Thinking & Entrepreneurship. Renovations of the historic commercial building at 623 S. Main St. in downtown Pine Bluff are targeted to begin in June 2019, with the goal of opening by the end of 2019.

Windgate Foundation Grant to Help Fund Renovations of ‘The Annex’ for The ARTSpace for Creative Thinking & Entrepreneurship

 ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller announces during the Dec. 1 Potpourri Gala that the Arts & Science Center has received a $2.2 Windgate Foundation grant to renovate "The Annex” in support of The ArtSpace for Creative Thinking & Entrepreneurship.

ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller announces during the Dec. 1 Potpourri Gala that the Arts & Science Center has received a $2.2 Windgate Foundation grant to renovate "The Annex” in support of The ArtSpace for Creative Thinking & Entrepreneurship.

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas has received a $2.2 million grant from the Windgate Foundation in support of ASC’s expanded community engagement initiative, The ARTSpace for Creative Thinking & Entrepreneurship.

ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller made the announcement Saturday, Dec. 1, during the Potpourri Gala fundraising event held at ASC.

The grant will make it possible for the Arts & Science Center to renovate and utilize the building known as “The Annex” as a multi-use space to support The ARTSpace project. The ASC Endowment Fund owns the historic two-story commercial building at 623 S. Main St. near the Arts & Science Center.

“We are immensely grateful to the Windgate Foundation for their long-time support and investment in the Arts & Science Center’s public arts education programming,” Miller said.

The Windgate Foundation is a private grant-making foundation with primary funding interests including projects that promote visual art and crafts in the United States.

New programming in the updated space will be funded by grants, designated donations and supported by in-kind partnerships.

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The renovation will provide designated office and studio spaces for an arts education community support partner and extended teaching artist residences; more classrooms to simultaneously accommodate multiple school groups, support theatre youth workshops, and art entrepreneurial-themed workshop series; a public gallery space for University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff art students, area school youth and regional artists; and a community gathering space to host ASC’s arts-integrated healthy living initiative and monthly art night events.

Future programming will be in partnership with the UAPB’s Economic Research and Development Center (also known as The Incubator), area schools, and The Delta Consortium for Arts and Innovation.

For 50 years, ASC has provided neighborhood stabilization. The institution’s current location has served as a cultural anchor for downtown Pine Bluff for almost 25 years, Miller said.

The ARTSpace will contribute to the revitalization of downtown and serve as an already established entry point for the planned development of an arts and entertainment corridor.  

The target date for renovations to begin is June 2019, with the goal of opening The ARTSpace by the end of 2019, Miller said.

Painter Kushmaul Lends Brush to Art Auction

 “White Hall Looking East” is one of 20 paintings by Little Rock’s John Kushmaul in the Potpourri 2018 art auction and Exhibition. Kushmaul, who is from White Hall, is the featured artist of the event.

“White Hall Looking East” is one of 20 paintings by Little Rock’s John Kushmaul in the Potpourri 2018 art auction and Exhibition. Kushmaul, who is from White Hall, is the featured artist of the event.

White Hall Native is Potpourri 2018’s Featured Artist in auction, exhibition

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By Shannon Frazeur

Known often for cityscapes and architectural landmarks of Little Rock, painter John Kushmaul has been a part of the central Arkansas art scene for more than 20 years. In Pine Bluff, he’s lending his eye for capturing scenes and structures as the featured artist for the Arts & Science Center’s Potpourri 2018 Exhibition and Art Auction.

 John Kushmaul captured The Arts & science Center’s roof replacement over the summer in “roofers,” one of the artworks in the Potpourri 2018 Art Auction and Exhibition.

John Kushmaul captured The Arts & science Center’s roof replacement over the summer in “roofers,” one of the artworks in the Potpourri 2018 Art Auction and Exhibition.

Kushmaul, who grew up in White Hall, served as juror for the 2018 Pine Bluff Art League Annual Juried Exhibition, held at ASC in September.

His 20 pieces in the ASC auction include recognizable buildings from Pine Bluff and Jefferson County — such as downtown landmarks the Saenger Theatre and the Hotel Pines, and the Mammoth Orange burger stand in Redfield. He also explored less traveled or identifiable spots in the county. Train tracks and other roadways feature prominently in several other paintings.

Kushmaul’s years in Jefferson County are reflected in his art, particularly the outdoors. His pieces often involve “trying to capture the temperature of the place,” he said. “It always seemed like when we moved to Pine Bluff it had a very specific temperature in the summertime.”

“Since I work with photography a lot, I try to focus in on moments like that and part of the moment is just the climate. And there’s a bit of culture to that too. So yeah, it’s still an influence, stretching back three decades and a half.”

His paintings have a dream-like quality but are mostly representational, based on photos he often takes himself.

“I try to keep it open for experimenting around,” he says.

Kushmaul works out of a small studio above the venerable Vino’s Brew Pub in downtown Little Rock; he’s had the space for 20 years. He also lives nearby, so scenes from the capital city’s downtown are naturally seen in many of his works.

Architecture is a favorite subject of his pieces. He likes varieties including buildings from the late 19th century to mid 20th century, buildings in decay, and buildings under construction.

“I did a bunch on the construction of the Broadway bridge down by the river; it kind of combines nature and architecture. I do a lot of people at work, but without the people, for the most part. I do sometimes paint pictures of people but they tend to not be commercially what I do.”

He was born in Selma, Ala.; his father was in the Air Force. His parents were both from Arkansas, and he had grandparents in White Hall. His family lived in Fayetteville, Ark., Louisiana, and Waldron, Ark., before then settling near White Hall when Kushmaul was in middle school. He graduated from White Hall High School in 1990.

Right after graduating from the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a minor in art, he “lucked into” a job in broadcast news. After four years, he quit to paint full time for about 14 years. He returned to TV seven years ago, and currently works at KARK-TV as an assignment editor.

Kushmaul has been showing at Gallery 26 in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood for the last 20 years; he had a show there last summer and was part of the gallery’s recent holiday show. Other Little Rock locations where his works can be seen include the CALS Butler Center Galleries in the River Market, Stephano's Fine Art Gallery, and Boulevard Bread Company’s Main Street location.

Keep up with Kushmaul’s work via his Instagram page.

ASC’s biennial fundraising event takes place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and proceeds from Saturday’s auction help support the Center’s free arts and STEAM programming.

Photographers Invited to Share 'Scenes Along The Delta' in Juried Exhibition

Entries due Nov. 1 that capture Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway in Arkansas, Mississippi

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The Arts & Science Center invites amateur and professional photographers to capture the natural beauty and human experience of the Delta with a juried photography exhibition, Scenes Along the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway.

Digital entries are due by Nov. 1, 2018. The entry fee is $10 per entry. Read the complete entry information, rules, guidelines and registration.

Photographs of the landscape, people, artisans, musicians, wildlife, buildings and transportation will give the viewer a glimpse into the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway, which runs through the Delta from Pine Bluff to Lake Village along U.S. 65, and into Greenville and Leland, Mississippi, along U.S. 82. Submitted photos must be taken within 1 mile of the highway.

“The intention of this photo exhibition is to raise the dialogue, reinterpret the Delta, and move beyond the photography of poverty,” explained ASC Curator Lenore Shoults, Ph.D. “We are more than a financial indicator on a census sheet and we aim to tell a new story with these images. We chose the Rhythm & Bayous Highway to support Jimmy Cunningham’s work with the Rhythm & Bayous Alliance which tells the rich history of this region’s music and cultural heritage. U.S. 65 through the Arkansas Delta and U.S. 82 from Greenville to Leland in Mississippi recognizes the contributions of musicians who came from this region and influenced music around the world. This ribbon of road is the glue which binds and we intend to put it on the map as a destination.”

The chosen photos will be on exhibition at ASC from February to April 2019. Cash prizes will be awarded for Best in Show ($500), First Prize ($250), Second Prize ($150) and Third Prize ($100).

The exhibition is supported in part by a sponsorship by Barbara House, and a grant from the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission.

Colorful Sculptures Help Mark ASC's 50th Year

 Artist James Hayes installs his blown glass sculpture, titled “Celebration Chandelier,” on Sept. 20, in the atrium of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff. A public reception for the unveiling of sculptures by Hayes and fellow Pine Bluff-born artist Kevin Cole is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Arts & Science Center.

Artist James Hayes installs his blown glass sculpture, titled “Celebration Chandelier,” on Sept. 20, in the atrium of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff. A public reception for the unveiling of sculptures by Hayes and fellow Pine Bluff-born artist Kevin Cole is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Arts & Science Center.

Cole, Hayes works To Be Unveiled During Oct. 18 Reception

By Shannon Frazeur

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas will celebrate the installations of works by internationally acclaimed artists Kevin Cole and James Hayes, with a public reception 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18.

ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller and ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults will speak at 5:30 p.m.

The pieces were custom designed for the ASC atrium: Cole’s aluminum and mixed-media, wall-mounted sculpture “A Tale of Two Blessings: Passion vs Purpose,” and Hayes’ blown glass “Celebration Chandelier,” which is suspended from the rotunda. 

The works of art were commissioned to commemorate the Arts & Science Center’s 50th anniversary.

“A 50-year anniversary is a great time to thank those who had the vision for the Arts & Science Center and who, over the decades, built it into an accredited museum,” Shoults said. “I can think of no better way to celebrate this milestone than with great art that will be enjoyed for the next 50 years.”

Shoults, who has been at ASC since 2011, has looked forward to these colorful additions to the atrium for years.

 James hayes and his wife, meg, work on lifts to assemble hayes’ hand-blown chandelier in the ASC atrium. The chandelier is suspended from the atrium’s rotunda.

James hayes and his wife, meg, work on lifts to assemble hayes’ hand-blown chandelier in the ASC atrium. The chandelier is suspended from the atrium’s rotunda.

"Seeing these stunning works of art in place is a dream come true. Kevin's sculpture and James' chandelier represent Pine Bluff's creative genius, and will provide beauty and inspiration for the thousands of people who pass through these doors."

Cole and Hayes both grew up in Pine Bluff.

Cole works in a variety of media such as metal, wood, paper, and other materials. His works are known for their often colorful and rhythmic shapes, textures and lines.

He is a member of the esteemed AfriCOBRA artist collective. Several of his works can be seen at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock in its newest exhibit, “RESPECT: Celebrating 50 Years of AfriCOBRA.”

Cole earned a Bachelor of Science degree in art education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1982. He went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in art education from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., and a Master of Fine Arts degree in drawing from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Cole lives in the Atlanta area and regularly visits Pine Bluff.

Hayes owns and operates the James Hayes Art Glass Company in Pine Bluff. His studio in south Pine Bluff is open to the public. A range of bright, contrasting bowls, stemware and ornaments can be found there and in showrooms and gift stores across the country. He is also known for his custom chandeliers, much like the one he created for ASC.

After earning an art degree from Hendrix College in Conway in 1988, Hayes discovered glassblowing at the Arkansas Art Center Museum School. He has studied in Murano, Italy; Columbus, Ohio; and the Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle, Wash.

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.

By Shannon Frazeur

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.

'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.

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.

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.