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.



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.”

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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.

Painter Kushmaul Lends Brush to Art Auction

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

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

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

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By Shannon Frazeur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.