Crossroad Festival­ Explores Southeast Arkansas’s Cultural Heritage

Family-Friendly Programming Highlights African American, French, and CHinese Communities’ Contributions through Story, Music, Food and Film

Crossroad Festival logo.png

By Shannon Frazeur

The Arts & Science Center invites the community to learn more about the area’s cultural heritage during the 2019 Crossroad Festival, ASC’s three-day, family-friendly cultural celebration. This multi-program event explores Jefferson County and Southeast Arkansas’s cultural heritage through the interpretive lens of story, music, foodways, and film.

All festival events are free and open to the public with no tickets or reservations required. Families are encouraged to attend.

Attendees of Folktales Family Fun, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 2, will be invited to make masks of the French Creole folktale characters Bouki (left) and Lapin. (PHOTO COURTESY DR. ELISTA ISTRE)

Attendees of Folktales Family Fun, 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 2, will be invited to make masks of the French Creole folktale characters Bouki (left) and Lapin. (PHOTO COURTESY DR. ELISTA ISTRE)

Each year, the festival highlights different cultural groups that have made a lasting impact on the history, culture, and traditions of Southeast Arkansas. This year’s event features programming on the African American, French and Chinese communities’ regional cultural heritage.

“It’s not a festival in the contemporary sense with food and product vendors,” said ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller. “Instead, it’s a celebration.”

The festival kicks off Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m. with a program incorporating African American folktales and slave narratives into an interpretative performance involving musicians and actors from the community. Saturday, March 2, features two family programs featuring folklore and food, with hands-on activities. The event caps off Sunday afternoon, March 3, with a screening of the 2006 animated film The Adventures of Brer Rabbit, with director and Pine Bluff native Byron Vaughns.

The 2019 Crossroad Festival is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and sponsorships by the Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Simmons Bank.

This is the second year for the Crossroad Festival. Last year’s festival focused on the region’s Quapaw Indian, French, and African American cultural heritage.

The Crossroad Festival was inspired by ASC’s Heritage Detectives project. A historian and artist were placed in Pine Bluff, Dumas, McGehee, and Lake Village classrooms to work with students on uncovering and depicting the diverse cultural influences of Southeast Arkansas through pictorial histories.

The festival idea percolated after ASC staff attended cultural programs at other institutes.

“The event was first initially conceptualized after staff attended the FUSION: Arts & Humanities Arkansas festival hosted by the Clinton Presidential Center in February 2017,” explained ASC Executive Director Dr. Rachel Miller. “In discussion with members of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma Cultural Committee, it was determined that there would be an audience for a similar event, but specifically focusing on the Quapaw’s history and legacy in Jefferson County.”

ASC will host a screening of the animated film  The Adventures of Brer Rabbit  on Sunday, March 3, at 1 p.m. during the Crossroad Festival.

ASC will host a screening of the animated film The Adventures of Brer Rabbit on Sunday, March 3, at 1 p.m. during the Crossroad Festival.

Shortly thereafter, ASC staff attended a screening of the documentary film First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music in South Louisiana documentary, and met with the film’s producer and scholar Dr. Elista Istre about influences of Cajun and Creole culture in Delta regional music. 

“All agreed that Pine Bluff, a city originally settled by Joseph Bonne, who was half French and half Quapaw Indian, would be ideal central location to host a cultural event that explores the county's French and Quapaw roots through primary sources,” Miller said.

In June 2017, ASC hosted a free screening of the AETN documentary, Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street. “We received an overwhelming response from the audience to host more similar events that focus on the area's African American heritage,” Miller said. Subsequently, ASC reached out to Jimmy Cunningham Jr., executive director of the Delta Rhythm & Blues Bayous Alliance, about organizing an event exploring Jefferson County’s African American history through music.

2019 Programming

Friday, March 1, 7-9 p.m. — Tricksters, Tall Tales, and Blues Notes

Jimmy Cunningham

Jimmy Cunningham

This year’s festival kicks off with a night of lore, music and interpretation with the program Tricksters, Tall Tales, and Blues Notes. The event will combine living history, folklore, and musical performance in exploring African American experiences in Southeast Arkansas. Jimmy Cunningham Jr., with whom ASC collaborated during last year’s festival, writes and directs this program featuring regional actors and musicians.

The program is presented in four parts, and will explore four themes: folk heroes, prison folk music, animal folktales, and urban folklore.

Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. — Folktales & Foodways Family Fun

The festival’s second day will comprise two family-friendly programs, with lunch available for purchase.

In the morning session, Heritage Studies and Living History Interpretation scholar Dr. Elista Istre will lead Folktales Family Fun — a family storytelling, hands-on program. She will share traditional French Creole stories of the characters of Bouki (a fox) and Lapin (a rabbit), which are similar to the “Brer Rabbit” tales. She will also explore the links between West Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South. The program will include a craft workshop in which the children can make a mask of Bouki or Lapin to take home with them.

Dr. Elista Istre

Dr. Elista Istre

Ilstre is the founder of Belle Heritage, offering consulting, programming, and tours that inspire individuals and organizations to celebrate the beauty of heritage. Last year, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press published her book Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong, which began as a dissertation during her time in Arkansas State University’s Heritage Studies program. She will have her books available for purchase at the festival.

She was also involved with the 2018 Crossroad Festival. She and her sister, Dr. Moriah Istre, screened their documentary film, First Cousins: Cajun and Creole Music in South Louisiana, and sat on a panel that discussed the French connections within Louisiana and Arkansas. She lives in Lafayette, La.

For the afternoon program, Istre will join Food Studies and Material Culture scholar Kevin Kim to expand the festival theme of cultural diffusion and adaption with Foodways & Tales. The program will provide a historical context for the foodways of South Louisiana’s Creole people, and Southeast Arkansas’s Cantonese communities, and address how both cultures have negotiated the fine lines between assimilation and isolation within the larger mainstream American culture.

Kevin Kim

Kevin Kim

Both scholars will share family stories and recipes. In a cooking demonstration, children from the Jefferson County 4-H Club will cook greens the Creole way to compare and contrast with how the Cantonese prepare greens as demonstrated by Kim.

Kim is a doctoral student in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he also teaches courses on material culture and popular culture. His research interests focus on the cultural politics of food in American life, with a special emphasis on Asian American foodways. His work has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR). He has held curatorial internships at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and has worked with the Southern Foodways Alliance. He was born in South Korea and has lived in Los Angeles and Little Rock.

Pop’s Place food truck will be at ASC from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. so visitors can enjoy lunch between the programs­.

Byron Vaughns

Byron Vaughns

Sunday, March 3, 1-3 p.m.The Adventures of Brer Rabbit Screening and Q&A with Director/Animator Byron Vaughns

Continuing the exploration of African American folktales, ASC will close the 2019 festival with a screening of the 2006 animated Universal Pictures film The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. A question-and-answer session will follow with the film’s director, Byron Vaughns.

A Pine Bluff native and a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Vaughns has worked on many classic animated television shows including Alvin & the Chipmunks, The Smurfs, Animaniacs, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. He won an Emmy in 1993 for directing Tiny Toon Adventures, which was selected for best animated daytime series. Vaughns lives in White Hall after residing in the Los Angeles area for more than three decades.



'Scenes' Offer Glimpse Along Delta Highway

David Trulock,  Wishbone at KVSA AM 1220 , 2018

David Trulock, Wishbone at KVSA AM 1220, 2018

Photo Exhibitions Take Viewers Through Southeast Arkansas, Past and Present

Nancy Abernathy,  Cotton’s Ready , 2010

Nancy Abernathy, Cotton’s Ready, 2010

Visitors can view images from the Delta past and present in the Arts & Science Center’s latest exhibitions, Scenes Along the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway and Women of the Arkansas Delta.

The exhibitions open with a free, public reception and awards presentation Thursday, Feb. 7, 5-7 p.m.

The Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Barbara House sponsor Scenes Along The Delta.

The Scenes exhibition captures the natural beauty and human experience of the Delta. Photographs of the landscape, people, artisans, musicians, wildlife, buildings and transportation give viewers a glimpse into the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway, which runs from Pine Bluff to Lake Village along U.S. 65, and into Greenville and Leland, Mississippi, along U.S. 82.

ASC invited amateur and professional photographers in fall 2018 to submit images for the juried exhibition. Photos were required to be taken within 1 mile of the highway.

The artists whose images were selected are:

  • Melissa Abernathy

  • Nancy Abernathy

  • Tim Davis

  • Frank Ferguson

  • Rita Henry

  • Ken Lamber

  • Jennifer Price

  • Kim Reese

  • Glenda Reeves

  • David Trulock

  • Anita Walden

  • Vickie Young

“I found in these photographs a powerful, nostalgic, mysterious, simplistic and haunting chapter of the story that is the Delta,” juror Lisa Burton Tarver of El Dorado said in her juror statement. She chose 27 pieces for the exhibition and the awards for Best in Show ($500), First Prize ($250), Second Prize ($150) and Third Prize ($100). Tarver will be on hand during the reception to award the prizes.

(Tarver, a photographer for more than 30 years, will have her own photo exhibition, titled “Southern Elegance,” March 9-30 at the South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado.)

“The criteria for this exhibition included composition, photographic skill, and use of light and went a step further to include exceptional interpretation and je ne sais quoi—that indefinable ‘something’ that speaks to the viewer,” explained ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults.

The Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway has officially been recognized in both Arkansas and Mississippi. In 2017, Act 451 designated the Arkansas Delta portion of U.S. 65 to be the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway. Mississippi followed in 2018, designated their portion of U.S. 82 that runs through the cities of Greenville and Leland.

The Delta Rhythm & Bayous Alliance sought this designation as part of a broader plan for tourism-based economic development in the region. The alliance is a cultural heritage tourism initiative highlighting music, arts, and bayou history along the route on U.S. 65 and U.S. 82.

“The ‘key’ to the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway is unbelievably hard to define in words, but immensely easy to understand in spirit for the residents who live in its bucolic wonder,” wrote Jimmy Cunningham for the Scenes Along the Delta exhibition catalog. Cunningham is executive director of the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Alliance and co-author of the book Delta Music & Film: Jefferson County and The Lowlands.

“May the photographic images of this exhibition reveal the ‘key’ to our beloved Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway in myriad illustrious iterations,” he added.

Anne R. Zachary of Marvell

Anne R. Zachary of Marvell

Women of the Arkansas Delta

In a companion exhibition, visitors will also have a chance to view photos from a 1976 book of the same name, Women of the Arkansas Delta. The Pine Bluff Women’s Center, through a grant by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission in 1970s, sought to “gather, preserve, and publish information about women of the delta, their history and lives.” They documented social justice activists, farmers and small business owners—African American and white.

Among the women documented:

  • Annie R. Zachary of Marvell. Appointed in 1969 by Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, she was the first African American named to a governor’s board.

  • Mildred Laureles of Snow Lake. She has been postmistress of the small Desha County community near the Mississippi River since 1947.

  • Ora Brown of of Pine Bluff. She owned a beauty shop and several rental properties in the city. The 1976 book included a recipe for her chocolate pound cake.

The book, photographs, and original negatives are now in ASC’s Permanent Collection.

ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults, in a letter that appears in the exhibition catalog, thanks the women documented in the collection:“You could not have known that over forty years later a woman would stumble upon your stories and be inspired to curate an exhibition based on your lives.”

“My favorite line is from Geneva Byrd, of Tucker, ‘I’m independent. I work for what I get. (My husband), he’s working. Let me work for mine. I can buy what I want … if you’re working, you can go and get what you want. Like that little blue car sitting there.’”

Scenes Along the Delta & Bayous Highway and Women of the Arkansas Delta are on view in the International Paper Gallery through Saturday, April 20, 2019.

Bork 'Shapes' Up for Solo Exhibition

Dustyn Bork during a 2018 Vermont Studio Residency, featuring two works in his solo exhibition  Complex Shapes and Empty Space.  The exhibition is at the Arts & Science Center though Saturday, April 13. Photo by H Romero, courtesy of Dustyn Bork.

Dustyn Bork during a 2018 Vermont Studio Residency, featuring two works in his solo exhibition Complex Shapes and Empty Space. The exhibition is at the Arts & Science Center though Saturday, April 13. Photo by H Romero, courtesy of Dustyn Bork.

Lyon College Professor Explores Architectural Structures, Color in ASC Show

By Shannon Frazeur

Printmaker, painter, and professor Dustyn Bork brings his colorful, abstract and geometric work to the Arts & Science Center with a solo exhibition Dustyn Bork: Complex Shapes and Empty Space.

The exhibition is now open, and ASC is hosting a free, public recept­ion 5-7 p.m. Thursday, January 24.

The 21 pieces in the exhibition — acrylic on shaped panels and framed seriographs — are inspired by architectural forms.

“The theme for the exhibition is formally about shape and color,” Born explained. “Conceptually, the work is all inspired by the built environment. I am interested in how architecture shapes our daily experience.”

ASC Bork Exhibition - Complex Shapes - 72dpi.jpg

The title of the show comes from a line in a book on Japanese aesthetics called In Praise of Shadows by Jun'Ichiro Tanizaki. “It is a brief but beautifully written first-hand account on what makes Japanese architecture unique based on space, lighting, and an appreciation for age.”

“I am interested in the contrast between old and new structures. I want viewers of my work to make connections between the textures, colors, shapes, and lines in my work with the world around them.”

The exhibition is an excellent fit for not only ASC’s gallery space but for Pine Bluff.

“The dimensionality and vibrant colors of Dustyn Bork’s bold shapes catapult off the gallery walls and one cannot help but smile when entering the space,” ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults said. “Bork’s exploration of the constructed environment, upon which this series is built, and Pine Bluff’s current moment of architectural decay and renewal is particularly poignant. Again, art guides us and, during this exhibition for sure, keeps us joyful and optimistic about the outcome.”

Bork explored the structures and design aesthetics of the 1970s for his solo exhibition at the East Arkansas Community College Gallery last fall. Split Level included a series of paintings in which traditional rectangle compositions were cut into shaped panels to more accurately reflect architectural forms in split-level. 

For another 2018 exhibition, Bork teamed up with his wife, artist Carly Dahl, for Going Unnoticed at the Historical Arkansas Museum in Little Rock.

“She is one of the most talented, smart, and creative people I have ever known,” Bork said. “She is always making things; if not art, then textile weaving, knitting, or crafts. She has a great eye and lends her critical attention to work in the studio — a big help.”

“We have been together for 10 years and enjoy traveling, attending art exhibitions.”

He is originally from Monroe, Mich., about an hour south of Detroit and part of the heavily automotive-centered region. (Monroe is also home to a nuclear plant and a large equestrian monument dedicated to former resident Gen. George Custer.)

Bork taught for seven years in Ohio at the University of Toledo: Center for the Visual Arts before moving to Arkansas in 2010. He is an associate professor of art at Lyon College, a small private liberal arts college in Batesville.

“I have since received tenure and have really enjoyed the academic and artist community here. It is a great gig, a beautiful place to live in the foothills of the Ozarks, talented students to work with, and a wonderful community to live, work, and play in.

“Lyon is amazing place to teach. The students are great, and I enjoy the impact I can have in a nurturing environment working with small class sizes. It is a great campus.”

Bork has even called the Lyon campus home the last few years. “Carly and I live on campus and serve as resident mentors. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience working with all of the students and watching them grow.”

The couple is a fixture in Batesville’s art community. He serves on the board of the Ozark Foothills FilmFest and volunteers for the Batesville Area Arts Council, where Dahl is executive director.

Dustyn Bork and his Lyon College mural class students with one of the murals they created in Batesville. Bork and North Carolina- based artist Grace Engel designed the mural, and the students painted it. Photo by Carly Dahl, courtesy of Dustyn Bork.

Dustyn Bork and his Lyon College mural class students with one of the murals they created in Batesville. Bork and North Carolina- based artist Grace Engel designed the mural, and the students painted it. Photo by Carly Dahl, courtesy of Dustyn Bork.

Last fall, Bork and six students — along with artists Steve Adair of Rogers and Grace Engel of Asheville, N.C. — designed and executed four murals in Batesville.

The students created one mural — from concept to paint — completely on their own. Protect explores the local emergency services and was commissioned by the Independence County Judge. 

Greetings from Batesville — created for Main Street Batesville — is in the style of a retro postcard. Each letter includes landmark buildings in the city.

“It was a great experiential learning opportunity for students on show to work with stakeholders, think through the design process, and learn a few different mural techniques,” Bork said. “It's been awesome to see the community response — a lot of selfies and sharing on social media. It's awesome to see your impact in the community. Batesville is experiencing a bit of a Renaissance downtown and it’s been awesome to play a small part in that.”

More information about Bork can be found at his website, dustynbork.com. He can also be followed on Instagram.

Bork will be back at ASC for the next Second Saturday Family FunDay on February 9, to demonstrate screen printing and to help visitors screen print a T-shirt they can take home.

Dustyn Bork: Complex Shapes and Empty Space is on display in ASC’s William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery through Saturday, April 13, 2019. Simmons Bank and the Arkansas Arts Council are the exhibition’s sponsors.


MORE ABOUT DUSTYN BORK

  • Bork earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking in 2002 from Indiana University in Bloomington and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking in 1999 from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

  • His work has been included in a number of juried exhibitions, including the 2016 Annual Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, the Delta National Small Prints Exhibition at the Bradbury Art Museum in Jonesboro, and the Print Exhibition at the Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton, N.J. He has also had more than 20 solo and two-person exhibitions with Dahl.

  • In 2016, Bork won one of three Arkansas Arts Council individual fellowships in Visual Arts painting, the largest individual artist fellowship the council awards.

  • Bork has taken his talents internationally, with an artist residency at the Franz Masereel Centre in Kasterlee, Belgium, and the Martignano International Residency for Artists in Martignano, Italy. He was also part of a juried exhibition at the International Printmaking Biennial of Douro Alijó, Portugal.

  • Bork has two sons. Eddie is also an artist, working in graphic design, printmaking, and new media. He graduated from Lyon College with a degree in art. Aiden, his youngest son, is a high school senior and interested in counseling. He too plans to attend Lyon next year.

  • Bork’s work can also be seen at Justus Fine Art Gallery in downtown Hot Springs.

  • Bork and Dahl both contributed works to ASC’s 2018 Potpourri art exhibition.

  • Music is another one of Bork’s loves. “I recently started DJing for KILT, the Lyon College radio station, and I'm hooked.”


Artist Statement for Complex Shapes and Empty Space

shaped no. 10  by Dustyn Bork, acrylic on shaped panel

shaped no. 10 by Dustyn Bork, acrylic on shaped panel

“Certainly, some architectural forms are favored over others, a hierarchy exists for preserving and restoring styles of architecture based on their historical or cultural significance. I am interested in the contrast between old and new structures. It is a curious fate for the life of a building. Some go through many visual iterations and renovations while others will not stand the test of time. I want viewers to make connections between the colors, lines, textures, and forms in my artwork and those to be found in their daily interactions with the constructed environment.

“Certain architectural forms find their way in my work. My paintings and prints focus on the built landscape from my observable surroundings. I have experimented with abstracting forms and structures lifting them from their original context. The current series of paintings are reminiscent of building facades and remove the compositions from the more traditional rectangle and are cut into shaped pieces to more accurately reflect forms pulled from various sources. I want the works to take on an object-oriented feel. Will the new designs and forms constructed today soon collapse, be replaced, or last a lifetime? Each composition is meant to represent the beauty implicit in everyday surfaces and structures in various levels of decay and renewal.” — Dustyn Bork

Small Works on Paper Tour Kicks Off At ASC

Ladies Night , a pencil, pen, watercolor piece by Richard Davies of White Hall, is one of 39 works on display in ASC’s International Paper Gallery as part of the 2019 Small Works on Paper touring exhibition.

Ladies Night, a pencil, pen, watercolor piece by Richard Davies of White Hall, is one of 39 works on display in ASC’s International Paper Gallery as part of the 2019 Small Works on Paper touring exhibition.

Pine Bluff Artist Markeith Woods Awarded Best in Show

Annual touring show Small Works on Paper — often dubbed simply “SWOP” — is kicking off its 32nd year with a two-week exhibition at the Arts & Science Center. The show officially opens with a free public reception Saturday, January 12, 1-3 p.m. Ten participating artists will be on hand to speak during the reception.

Small Works on Paper is a program of and sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

The juried visual art exhibition showcases two-dimensional artwork no larger than 18 x 24 inches by Arkansas artists.

The artists must be members of the Arkansas Artist Registry, an online gallery that is free and open to all Arkansas residents. The artists are invited to submit their work each summer — entry fees are $10 for one entry, $20 for two entries, or $25 for three entries. An out-of-state juror selects a maximum of 40 pieces to tour with the exhibition. Cash prizes totaling $1,000 are awarded each year.

The exhibition travels to up to 10 locations in each yearlong show, offering Arkansas artists an opportunity to have their work viewed by patrons all over the state. Many of the works are available for sale to the public, and commissions are not taken on the sales.

“Small Works on Paper provides Arkansas artists with a wonderful opportunity to have their artwork displayed at multiple locations around the state,” said Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. “Likewise, patrons and students statewide have the opportunity to see Arkansas’s established and up-and-coming contemporary artists. For more than 30 years, the touring exhibition has showcased a variety of subject matter, styles and techniques. That holds true for this year’s exhibition. You’re sure to find something that captures your interest!”

This year, 39 works by 37 artists were selected, including Richard Davies of White Hall and Markeith Woods of Pine Bluff.

Do You Remember What I Worked For? , a mixed media piece by Pine Bluff’s Markeith Woods, was named Best in Show.

Do You Remember What I Worked For?, a mixed media piece by Pine Bluff’s Markeith Woods, was named Best in Show.

Woods received Best of Show ($500 Award) for the mixed media piece Do You Remember What I Worked For?

Other recipients were Juror’s Choice ($300 award) winner Daniella Napolitano of Little Rock for the linocut Curia Regis, and Merit Award ($200 award) winner J.P. Bell of Fayetteville for his digital photograph Repair of No. 2.

Daniella Napolitano of Little Rock earned the Juror’s Choice award for the linocut  Curia Regis .

Daniella Napolitano of Little Rock earned the Juror’s Choice award for the linocut Curia Regis.

 The 37 artists in the 2019 show are:

1. Kathy Attwood, Eureka Springs

2. J.P. Bell of Fayetteville

3. Maria Botti Villegas of El Dorado

4. Hillary Brooks of Jonesboro

5. Susan Chambers of Little Rock

6. Harrison Cole of Rogers

7. Leslie Coston of Fayetteville

8. Norwood Creech of Lepanto

9. Richard Davies of White Hall

10. Rex R. DeLoney of Little Rock

11. B. Duncan of Van Buren

12. L.S. Eldridge of Rogers

13. Carol Flori of Texarkana

14. Terra Fondriest of St. Joe

15. Ike Garlington of Little Rock

Repair of No. 2 , a digital photograph by J.P. Bell of Fayetteville. received the Merit Award.

Repair of No. 2, a digital photograph by J.P. Bell of Fayetteville. received the Merit Award.

16. Diane Harper of Little Rock

17. Neal Harrington of Russellville

18. Jeri Hillis of Hot Springs

19. Jeff Horton of Little Rock

20. Cary Jenkins of Little Rock

21. Matt Kaye of Camden

22. Evan Lindquist of Jonesboro

23. Dennis McCann of Maumelle

24. Glenda L. McCune of Little Rock

25. Dewana McIntosh of Smithville

26. David McRoberts of Sherwood

27. Mike Means of El Dorado

28. Jessica Medeiros of Van Buren

29. Jessica Mongeon of Ozark

30. Daniella Napolitano of Little Rock

31. Cary Smith of Little Rock

32. Stacy Spangler of Fayetteville

33. Richard Stephens of Hot Springs

34. Shirley Tipton of Hot Springs

35. Melissa Wilkinson of West Memphis

36. Markeith Woods of Pine Bluff

37. Anna Zusman of Magnolia

Robin Dru Germany, professor of photography and interim director of the School of Art at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, served as this year’s juror.

“In selecting the exhibition, I looked for works that highlight the artist’s engagement with the process of making art,” she explained in her juror's statement. “I am drawn to works that I feel are authentic, genuine and personal. Uniqueness is less important than evidence that the artist is continually exploring, perhaps seeking the answer to a question. Sometimes the question may begin as a technical query, or as a conceptual one, but I seek work that seems to be part of a process of figuring something out. I use the word ‘process’ because I value artworks that defy an ending and instead propose a beginning, opening the door to a larger consideration of the subject or concept. I perceive artmaking as a continuum, where selected pieces represent the best of a particular moment. Consequently, my choices are not based on medium (though as a photographer, I could have picked only photographs), nor are they based on subject or approach. Rather, they are grounded in a sense of the artist’s commitment to learning through their work, and allowing the activity of artmaking to reveal to them fundamental truths about their lives. 

“I feel strongly that every work in this exhibition demonstrates an indelible connection to the complex communication that is art.”

Small Works on Paper originated in 1986 with a temporary exhibition at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It launched as a touring exhibition in 1988. The exhibition was coordinated by the Arkansas Artist Registry at UALR until the registry became a program of the Arkansas Arts Council in 1995.

The Arts & Science Center first hosted Small Works on Paper in 1995, with 2019 marking the exhibition’s 17th stop at ASC.

Small Works on Paper is on display in the International Paper Gallery until Saturday, January 26. After that, it moves on to the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Taylor Library. See the touring schedule for a complete list of 2019 venues and dates.


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Markeith Woods

Markeith Woods

Markeith Woods

How would you describe your work and style?
My work describes my personal narrative of my life experiences. I’ve created mixed media works of art that describes the difficulties of living a purpose driven life and the importance of using one’s influence for a greater cause. I create leaders that made an impact in their communities. However, growing up in Pine Bluff, I had an uneven start and made several bad choices. I didn’t have a visual example of who I could become so when I met my UAPB art instructor, they gave me hope of a better future besides living in poverty also was willing to show me the process.

My style is mixed media expressionism.

“What Do You Believe In"?” by Markeith Woods of Pine Bluff, mixed media

“What Do You Believe In"?” by Markeith Woods of Pine Bluff, mixed media

What was the inspiration behind the two pieces selected for Small Works on paper — Do You Remember What I Worked For? and What Do You Believe In?
The lady wearing the crown in Do You Remember What I Worked For? is Alice Paul, and the man wearing the crown in What Do You Believe In? is W.E.B Du Bois. The inspiration for the Alice Paul piece is her values, beliefs, and principals. Because of the work she did as a women's rights activist, her efforts helped to pass the 19th amendment [which granted women the right to vote]. As an African American, I feel there are several bills that need to be created for the betterment of blacks living in poverty.

The inspiration for the W.E.B Du Bois piece is he that was the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University. I’m the first out of my family to pursue a career in art, and when you are the first in striving for a goal, one must work harder to achieve it. Also, people won’t understand the choices/steps that must be planned in order to make the vision a reality.

Where do you currently live? Where did you grow up?
I live in Pine Bluff, and grew up here most of my life.

What's your educational background?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Visual Arts from the University of Pine Bluff in 2014. I also have 33 hours towards my Master of Fine Arts degree from Memphis College of Art.

What is your “day job”?
I am an art teacher at James Matthews Elementary School in Pine Bluff.

When did you first become interested in making art?
I first became interested in making fine art when my mother bought me a tracing desk in the third grade. But what gave me the confidence to take classes in high school was when I won my first award in art in a citywide art contest in the seventh grade that my grandmother pressured me to enter. Finally, after she was able to convince me to use my gift, I built up enough confidence to take a chance with a new experience. After I entered, I won a free trip with the other winners to Memphis.


ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Richard Davies

Richard Davies

Richard Davies

How would you describe your work and style?
Very Eclectic … a new world every day. I have painted violins, Barbie dolls, rocks (not what you are thinking), mailboxes, canvas, paper, acetate, wood and people. Mostly all mediums except oil. I have gotten into digital art — what a blast!

What was the inspiration behind Ladies Night?
After browsing some art pieces, I got into a discussion with an individual about the style and technique of some of the pieces — which, of course, I liked. I thought I would try my version of the style and pictured women at a book or card club in my mind. I find humor in the fact there is always someone disgruntled and got their feelings hurt in these social gatherings. It is just a fun, simple little watercolor.

Where do you currently live? Where did you grow up?
I live just north of White Hall and have been here over 35 years. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, and in Waco and Dallas.

What's your educational background?
No formal degree but have accumulated numerous credit hours. I’m a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police—Staff and Command. I have completed over 4,000 hours of Law Enforcement Training and have a Senior Law Enforcement Certificate.

What is your “day job”?
I’m a crisis negotiator, gang specialist, public and community relations officer. I currently work as a part-time One Officer at the White Hall Police Department where I serve as an school resource officer at Moody Elementary School. I also conduct contracted trainings all over the state for law enforcement agencies and schools. I'm a retired law enforcement training sergeant, and one of the positions I held as a full-time officer was as a school resource officer, where I designed presentations that involved art, music, and magic to illustrate important life, responsibility, and communication and conflict resolution skills to our young people. I’ve presented to more than 80,000 kids in Arkansas.

When did you first become interested in making art?
I have been “doodling” all my life. I usually draw from my mind’s eye — that’s where the “Mind of D” comes from. I love all kinds of art. All styles and change as often as the months that pass. I see art in everything.

Diverse Art Exhibitions Lined Up for 2019

Dustyn Bork: Complex Shapes and Empty Space  , on display in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery, opens with a reception Thursday, January 24.

Dustyn Bork: Complex Shapes and Empty Space , on display in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery, opens with a reception Thursday, January 24.

“Small Works,” “Era of Activism,” and “Complex Shapes” Kick off New Year

After a noteworthy 2018 — in which the Arts & Science Center marked its 50th anniversary with sculptural installations, the biennial Potpourri exhibition, and a UAPB-ASC collaborative exhibition — 2019 is shaping up to be another stellar year with a diverse lineup of exhibitions.

“The 2019 exhibitions hit every area of the Arts & Science Center's collecting and exhibition focus: Arkansas artists, art of the Delta, and works by African American artists,” said ASC Curator Dr. Lenore Shoults.

“Arkansas artists are represented by Dustyn Bork's shape series, and we are delighted to be the opening venue for the Arkansas Arts Council's Small Works on Paper tour. Heavy Metal comes to us from the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and features the work of Michele Fox, Amanda Heinbockel, Robyn Horn, and Holly Laws. The Scenes Along the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway exhibition partners with a treasure from our archive, Women of the Arkansas Delta, a series of photographs from 1976. James Matthews pushes the envelope with his Eviction Quilt series and Chrystal Seawood explores our society's scrutiny of young black men.”

The following is a rundown of ASC’s art exhibitions scheduled for 2019. Keep up with all of ASC’s current and upcoming exhibitions on our website.


Do You Remember What I Worked For? ,  Markeith Woods  of Pine Bluff, mixed media. Selected by the 2019 Small Works on Paper juror for the Best in Show Award.

Do You Remember What I Worked For?, Markeith Woods of Pine Bluff, mixed media. Selected by the 2019 Small Works on Paper juror for the Best in Show Award.

2019 Small Works on Paper

On exhibit: January 5-26, in the International Paper Gallery

Opening reception: Saturday, January 12, 1-3 p.m., featuring speeches from approximately 10 participating artists. The reception is free and open to the public.

Small Works on Paper — often dubbed simply “SWOP” — is an annual juried visual art exhibition that showcases artwork no larger than 18 x 24 inches by Arkansas artists who are members of the Arkansas Artist Registry. The exhibition travels throughout the state, and ASC is the first stop for the 2019 tour. The exhibition is already installed, but officially opens with a free public reception Saturday, January 12. Ten participating artists are scheduled to speak.

Thirty-seven artists are included in this year’s exhibition, including Richard Davies of White Hall and Markeith Woods of Pine Bluff.

Woods received Best of Show ($500 Award) for the mixed media piece Do You Remember What I Worked For?

Other recipients were Juror’s Choice ($300 award) winner Daniella Napolitano of Little Rock for the linocut Curia Regis, and Merit Award ($200 award) winner J.P. Bell of Fayetteville for his digital photograph Repair of No. 2.

This year’s entries were juried by Robin Dru Germany, professor of photography and associate director at the School of Art at Texas Tech University.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council.


shaped1  by Dustyn Bork is one of the works featured in Bork’s solo show, now on display in the Kennedy Gallery.

shaped1 by Dustyn Bork is one of the works featured in Bork’s solo show, now on display in the Kennedy Gallery.

Dustyn Bork: Complex Shapes and Empty Space     

On exhibit: January 8 — April 13, in the William H. Kennedy Jr. Gallery

Opening reception: Thursday, January 24, 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

Printmaker/painter Dustyn Bork often works in mixed media, and incorporates cultural notions of pattern, color, and design. He is an associate professor of art at Lyon College in Batesville. Bork earned his Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from Indiana University in 2002, and his Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking from the University of Michigan in 1999.

Bork’s work has been selected for and won awards in numerous juried printmaking exhibitions including the Delta National Small Prints Exhibition in Jonesboro, The International Printmaking Biennial of Douro Alijó, Portugal, and the Print Exhibition at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, New Jersey. 

Exhibition sponsors are Simmons Bank and the Arkansas Arts Council.


The We In You Is The Nation Calling , Nelson Stevens, Poster, ASC82.001.078

The We In You Is The Nation Calling, Nelson Stevens, Poster, ASC82.001.078

Era of Activism

On exhibit: January 12 — August 31, in the Ben J. Altheimer Gallery

“Era of Activism explores 1960s and 1970s posters and prints from our Permanent Collection — a time when artists, and society at large, were tackling issues of social justice and challenging the status quo,” Shoults explained. “AfriCOBRA stood for social justice in the ‘60s and continues today. A special thanks to Garbo Hearne and Kevin Cole for making this mini exhibition possible.”

Some work is more radical as shown in the AfriCOBRA pieces and some is more playful such as Claes Oldenburg’s print from Once Cent Life. Whether Black Power, the Irish Republican Army, or Feminism, these artists are a testament to the impact of activism through art.

This exhibition is sponsored by Simmons Bank.


Mississippi Bridge, 2018  by Ken Lambert is part of the  Scenes Along the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway  Exhibition, opening February 7.

Mississippi Bridge, 2018 by Ken Lambert is part of the Scenes Along the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway Exhibition, opening February 7.

Scenes Along the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Highway and Women of the Arkansas Delta

On exhibit: February 7 — April 20

Opening reception: Thursday, February 7, 5-7 p.m. with artists’ remarks at 5:30. The reception is free and open to the public.

Amateur and professional photographers capture the natural beauty and human experience of the Delta in this juried photography exhibition. Photographs of the landscape, people, artisans, musicians, wildlife, buildings and transportation give viewers 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.

Scenes Along the Delta is sponsored by Pine Bluff Advertising & Promotion Commission and Barbara House.

In a companion exhibition, visitors will also have a chance to view photos from a 1976 book by The Pine Bluff Women’s Center, Women of the Arkansas Delta.


1109 Layers of Steel , Robyn Horn, steel, 2007, is one of the pieces in Heavy Metal: Arkansas Women to Watch 2019.

1109 Layers of Steel, Robyn Horn, steel, 2007, is one of the pieces in Heavy Metal: Arkansas Women to Watch 2019.

Heavy Metal: Arkansas Women to Watch 2019

On exhibit: April 20 — June 22

Opening reception: Thursday, April 25, 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

Heavy Metal: Arkansas Women to Watch 2019 features work by Arkansas artists Michele Fox, Amanda Heinbockel, Robyn Horn, and Holly Laws.

The Women to Watch exhibit program was developed by the National Museum of Women in the Arts to feature underrepresented and emerging women artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. NMWA curators select the theme, and local arts professionals curate submissions to the national museum.

This theme explores the medium of metal: from the ornamental to the functional, regardless of outmoded distinctions or traditional definitions of what constitutes fine art or design and craft. The exhibit will show a broad range of women artists’ expressions in metal to demonstrate that contemporary artists carry on a vibrant legacy in the medium: sculpture, objects of adornment, conceptual applications, home furnishings, and vessels.  

ACNMWA guest curator Matthew Smith of the Arkansas Arts Center selected the national nominees and the four Arkansas artists featured in the 2019 state tour.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.


Wail  by Angela Davis Johnson, from Our Front Porch exhibition.

Wail by Angela Davis Johnson, from Our Front Porch exhibition.

Our Front Porch

On exhibit: April 29 — May 11

Traveling Arts Fiesta, an Arkansas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing cultures together and celebrating Hispanic art, is launching a year-long outreach project called “Our Front Porch.” The traveling art exhibit itself is a multi-sensory experience touching on the themes of home, connectedness, rootedness, landscape — a place where we unpack the word “neighbor.” Video and audio installations share stories, anecdotes and songs from the people who inhabit Arkansas.

This exhibition is sponsored by Traveling Arts Fiesta.                                 


Ashia Shelton and her painting “Man Holding Water” were part of the 2018 Annual Pine Bluff High School Art Exhibition at ASC.

Ashia Shelton and her painting “Man Holding Water” were part of the 2018 Annual Pine Bluff High School Art Exhibition at ASC.

2019 Annual Pine Bluff High School Exhibition

On exhibit: May 2 — July 6

Opening reception: Thursday, May 2, 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

This annual exhibition showcases the best of Pine Bluff High School's art classes from the 2018-19 school year, and is curated by PBHS art teacher Shalisha Thomas.





Full Moon , James Matthews

Full Moon, James Matthews

Eviction Quilts by James Matthews

On exhibit: June 27 — September 28, 2019

Opening reception: Thursday, June 27, 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

The quilts in this series by James Matthews are all made from clothes and bedding left curbside after local evictions — each quilt representing a single eviction in Little Rock. The found material was washed, pieced, and sewn into quilt tops, which were then backed and hand-tied with cotton yarn. The quilts serve as a sort of material archive, documenting the personal and physical loss of the eviction, while also transforming the fragments into something that speaks to function and comfort.

Matthews is a documentary artist with a bias toward the human-made landscape, manual processes, and the physical object. In addition to his Eviction Quilts series, he continues documenting Little Rock's places of worship, and exploring disparities of race, wealth, education, and especially violence in Little Rock, work he began in 2006. He holds a Certificate in Documentary Arts from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies and has also studied folklore in graduate school at UNC and pottery at the Arkansas Arts Center. He lives in Little Rock with his family.

Exhibition sponsors are Relyance Bank and the Arkansas Arts Council.


2019 Annual Pine Bluff Art League Exhibition

On exhibit: August 8 — October 9

Opening reception: Thursday, August 8 12, 5-7 p.m., with juror remarks and prizes awarded at 5:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

Twenty-five works from members of the Pine Bluff Art League will be on display in this annual exhibition. In addition to selecting the top 25 pieces, an outside juror determines prizes for Best in Show; First, Second, and Third Place; and Honorable Mention.


New Work from Chrystal Seawood

On exhibit: September 12 — November 16

Opening reception: Thursday, September 12, 5-7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

This exhibition is sponsored by Simmons Bank.


2019 Irene Rosenzweig Biennial Juried Exhibition

On exhibit: October 10, 2019 — January 4, 2020

Opening reception: Thursday, October 10, 5-7 p.m., with juror remarks at 5:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

The Rosenzweig juried show has a long history with the Arts & Science Center, beginning with a gift from the Irene Rosenzweig Foundation in 1992. Irene Rosenzweig was born July 26, 1903, in Pine Bluff and graduated first in her class in 1920 from Pine Bluff High School. She received a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and was awarded the Prix De Rome fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. Fluent in French, German, Spanish, Latin and Greek, she served as tutor to the Franklin D. Roosevelt family in the White House. Rosenzweig died in Pine Bluff in 1997.

The Rosenzweig Exhibition includes entries in most media from Arkansas artists and artists from surrounding states.

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.

Windgate Foundation logo.png

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

Kushmaul gallery 1Nov2018 72dpi-0025.jpg

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

Scenes from Delta - Hwys 65 and 82.png

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.

PBAL 2018 Sept11 lo res-0472.jpg

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.

PBAL 2018 Sept11 lo res-0473.jpg

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.