Arkansas Arts

Robinson Center Gretchen Hall Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Christina Littlejohn
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Free tickets will be handed out Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the steps of the newly renovated Robinson Center in Little Rock for a thank you concert later this month by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. It comes as final work is being done before next week's grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony.

History of the Arkansas Gazette: Part One

Oct 21, 2016
Courtesy of the Center for Arkansas History and Culture

Today on Arts & Letters, we talk with journalist, researcher, and professor Donna Lampkin Stephens. Her book, If It Ain't Broke, Break It: How Corporate Journalism Killed the Arkansas Gazette, published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2015 "offers a firsthand account of how and why the Arkansas Gazette, then the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi River, died after perhaps the country’s last great newspaper war."

The 25th annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival begins this weekend. More than 100 documentaries will be screened over 10 days, with many filmmakers taking part in discussions afterward. You can find a full lineup of  documentaries and events here.

Matt DeCample, communications director of the festival, says one highlight this year is a showing of For the Love of Spock, a look at Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy. 

David Monteith / KUAR

The Robinson Center is eager to show off the expanded capabilities of its new theater once renovations are completed in November.

Ed Payton, CEO of Celebrity Attractions, announced Monday that The Lion King will be in the theater’s lineup of Broadway musicals for the 2017-2018 season. It and Broadway’s longest running musical, Phantom of the Opera, are shows that were not physically possible in the musical hall prior to the Robinson Center’s renovations.

All Wars Are Civil Wars

Sep 23, 2016

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we explore the historical fiction of Andrew Malan Milward's collection,  I Was A Revolutionary, interrogates historical Kansas from the Civil War to the present through literary fiction and artifacts, including Wikipedia entries, photographs, maps and satirical cartoons.

A&L Short: Kevin And Gus Kerby

Sep 12, 2016
Kevin and Gus Kerby
Mary Ellen Kubit

 

    

This back-to-school season, we highlight a father and son musical team from central Arkansas who spent a large part of their summer playing, practicing and laughing together.

Kevin and Gus Kerby sat down in the KUAR studios with J. Bradley Minnick of Arts and Letters. They talked about how playing music together has fostered a good sense of humor and strengthened their relationship.

Jeff Waddle Jeanfo
Alden Walters / KUAR News

Jeff Waddle looks like he rides a Harley Davidson. He’s an artist in Little Rock, whose work is full of arrows and stars wiggling through sheets of metal or brightly painted pieces of wood. But many of the sculptures in his studio are chunks of glossy, light green steel by Waddle's long-time friend, the French artist Jean Faure, known simply as Jeanfo.

We Have Taken & Eaten

Jun 23, 2016

 

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with percussionist Kevin Sims, composer Scott Wollschleger and poet Abby Minor about their experimental monodrama, “We Have Taken & Eaten.” The piece is performed with an array of traditional percussion and non-traditional instruments, including cassette tape players, temple bowls and light bulbs.

Arkansas Arts Center To Host Annual Delta Exhibition

Jun 9, 2016
Arkansas Arts Center Delta Exhibition Collectors Group
Arkansas Arts Center

The 58th Annual Delta Exhibition is opening Friday at the Arkansas Arts Center. It features contemporary works in all media by selected artists from Arkansas and bordering states.

Liz Garvey, the juror for this year’s exhibition, says it’s a high-caliber celebration of regional art.

"It’s a very competitive, highly sought after invitational show," says Garvey. "The purpose is to highlight some of the best artists who are currently working in the Delta region of our country."

Shakespeare's First Folio published in 1623.
arkshakes.com

One of the most valuable books in the world, the first compilation of plays by William Shakespeare will be on exhibit June 7 at the University of Central Arkansas. The school is partnering with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre to host the exhibit, entitled First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. UCA is the only location in the state to display the nationally-touring First Folio.

Down Home Soul

May 12, 2016
beaconpress.org

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with Hot Springs, Arkansas native Rashod Ollison. His memoir, Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues, & Coming of Age Through Vinyl, was published by Beacon Press in 2016.

Growing up in Hot Springs and Little Rock in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Rashod Ollison experienced a world of “cold love, redolent of vinegar, without the slightest hint of sweetness.”

And the only thing that helped him endure was music.

Wikimedia Commons

A temporary exchange of paintings will bring a Renoir masterpiece to the Arkansas Arts Center. Dr. Ann Prentice Wagner, curator of drawings, says Pierre Auguste Renoir’s “Madame Henriot in Costume” will bring a new perspective to other pieces in the museum's permanent collection.

“Of course, Pierre Auguste Renoir is one of the great impressionist masters and this is a really fabulous full-length portrait,” said Wagner, “and it’s not like anything we have on the wall. We have a small Renoir, still life of dead game.”

The Threshold of Structure

Apr 7, 2016

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with poet Terry Wright, whose book Graphs published by Kairos Editions in 2008 and chapbook Fractal Cut-Ups from Kattywompus  Press in 2011 demonstrate the organic heuristics of mashing up data and Internet search strings to produce prose poetry.

Courtesy of Mike Ammons

A 67 year-old homeless man hit and killed by a car in Little Rock last year was once one of the world's foremost Beatles fans and collectors. He was even financially supported at the end of his life by a $10,000 check from Yoko Ono.

KUAR's Sarah Whites-Koditschek spoke with Will Stephenson of the Arkansas Times about his reporting on Fred Arnold's lifelong love of the Beatles.

Arts Scene: If All Arkansas Read The Same Book

Mar 24, 2016

If All Arkansas Read the Same Book is a project begun in 2001 when the Arkansas State Library chose a book that it then introduced statewide, also then bringing in the author to encourage a wider reading public. The first author was Terry Kay, and his book, To Dance with the White Dog.

To read is one of the greatest gifts. To be immersed in a book, in a story to the exclusion of all else. What could be better? It gets better with me, because I can talk about the book with the author. And the 2015 State Library choice is Jenny Wingfield, and her novel, her first: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.

One-Man Play To Tackle Life of President Bill Clinton

Mar 23, 2016
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Greg Henderson

A play about former President Bill Clinton takes to the stage in Little Rock this week. 

The one-man show, "Bill Clinton Hercules," was written by attorney Rachel Mariner who represented Clinton in a harassment case brought by Paula Jones. 

Actor Bob Paisely is performing the piece at the Arkansas Reparatory Theater starting Thursday. The show runs through Saturday.

Arts Scene: UALR Opera Gala, UALR Shakespeare Scenes

Mar 9, 2016

Part 1: The Second annual UALR Opera Gala is a chance for those of us who are looking at the voice department with interest, following last year's gala under its director, Rosella Ewing. She is my first guest, and brings us up to date on the developments and activities during the past year and the program to be heard at the gala this coming Thursday.

The UALR Opera Gala is Thu., March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Clinton Presidential Center.

Arts Scene: Lynn Kompass, Lily Afshar, Joe Graves

Mar 9, 2016

Part 1: The third Artspree concert of 2015-2016 brings the Stallard-Eller-Kompass trio from the University of South Carolina. Just before pianist Lynn Kompass and I were to tape the following interview, the trio became a duo. The group’s soprano had an unexpected conflict. However, all three members have considerable careers as soloists, over and above their many faculty commitments, and so they had back up plans.

Part 1: Hendrix College in Conway has a wonderful tradition in the theater department, where, each Spring, a guest director is in residence for several weeks, working with students on the play of choice suggested by the director and approved by the department. This year, Melora Kordos is here. The play chosen is Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Chicago-born Melora grew up in a theatrical family. An exceptionally fine high school laid the groundwork for what has become her career.

Mourner's Bench

Feb 26, 2016

On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with Arkansas Delta novelist and Ph.D student Sanderia Faye, whose novel Mourner's Bench published by The University of Arkansas Press in 2015, recounts the experiences of Sarah Jones from the summer of 1964 to the fall of 1965. Sarah is an eight year old who has to “navigate the growing tensions of the fictional small town of Maeby, Arkansas.”

Arts Scene: Bobby Roberts

Feb 14, 2016
arktimes.com

It was something of a shock to hear that Bobby Roberts, Director of the Central Arkansas Library System, was retiring. Under his leadership, so much has developed: in the buildings that now serve the downtown campus in the River Market District, a children's library, neighborhood libraries built where the need was apparent. Bobby came to talk about this decision, so, of course, we went back a bit. Born in Helena, well known for its blues festival, a graduate of Helena's Central High School - as he tells it - gave little indication of what he has since achieved and how he did it.

Arts Scene: Composer And Recordist Michael Fine

Feb 12, 2016
finesoundproductions.com

The last two weeks in January, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra had an extra-full engagement calendar. Neighborhood concerts, Masterworks pair, new works, visiting composers, and on the 31st, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Orchestra's spring concert. Among the notables on-hand, was musician Michael Fine, a name to conjure with in the recording of classical music. And the recordings he has produced have won just about every major award in the classical recording industry.

Committee Lobbies Little Rock Voters On Hotel Tax For Art Center Improvements

Feb 2, 2016

To kick off early voting, supporters are encouraging Little Rock residents to vote yes on a bond issue benefiting the Arkansas Arts Center, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, and MacArthur Park.

Arts Scene: Linda Holzer And Caroline Doctorow

Feb 1, 2016
Kelly Hicks

Part 1: My first guest today, pianist Linda Holzer, has always brought new ideas to the recitals she presents at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, often with guests, friends or colleagues from the UALR music faculty, where she is professor of music and coordinator of piano studies. This by no means covers the whole range, which includes piano lessons and an interdisciplinary course with a professor from the UALR George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology.

There are new works in her recital, but nothing of technology to challenge her audience. She opens the program, joined by baritone and faculty member Farris Allen in three songs, including Prayers and Blessings, a new work by well-known composer Gwyneth Walker. And Linda continues her concept of ear-opener in her program title Ear-Opener! A Celebration of the Known and the New.

Arts Scene: Mendelssohn And Visconti

Jan 28, 2016
danvisconti.com

Part 1:

What has been called the best-known violin concerto in the world, the best-loved, most easily recognized? All of these apply to the violin concerto by Felix Mendelssohn. An Arkansas audience will certainly be caught up in it from the opening measures January 30-31. The soloist, Kiril Laskarov, is the Arkansas Symphony's Concert Master. He is from Bulgaria, where he received his training, up to his bachelors degree, from the state academy of music in Sofia. In 1995 he won the Bulgarian national competition and all that implied before moving to America where he earned his masters degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He was brought to Arkansas by then-maestro David Itkin to be one of the newly established co-concert masters. He is now in his 17th year with the ASO. 

Pop Up In The Rock

Jan 27, 2016
Mary Ellen Kubit

Each year, "Pop Up in the Rock” focuses on a neglected block in Little Rock and illustrates what is possible when community volunteers reclaim the block.

Peter and the Starcatcher

Part 1:

Arkansas Rep's fourth show of its 2015-2016 season was a bit upstaged by the headlines announcing its director Bob Hupp's resignation, but that news will be two weeks old when Peter and the Starcatcher opens on January 22. Another departure from the usual for Peter and the Starcatcher, is that this is a shared production with Theatre Squared, the northwest Arkansas repertory theater in Fayetteville, which held the production slot for its Christmas show which closed January 3. 

TheRep.org

The artistic director at The Arkansas Repertory Theater is resigning after 17 years in Little Rock.

KUAR's David Monteith spoke with Bob Hupp who is currently in New York conducting auditions for The Rep’s upcoming production of Windfall, which is being directed by Jason Alexander.

Windfall, scheduled for June 10-26, will close The Rep’s 40th season and also be the final production under Hupp’s leadership at the theater.

A fountain outside the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Backers of a bond issue to revamp the Arkansas Arts Center and also the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and MacArthur Park launched their campaign Tuesday. Revenue from a two-cent hotel tax was passed by city officials last November for renovations and will be pledged to $37.5 million in bonds if passed in a special election February 9.

Gary Smith chairs the Committee For Arts and History behind the campaign effort. He told onlookers at the Arts Center that upgrades are in need.

Tales From The South

North Little Rock-based Bourbon & Boots, the online retailer featuring Southern artisan merchandise, has entered into an agreement to purchase Tales From The South, a radio show and media company featuring Southern storytelling. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

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