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.

'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.