Sesame Club hears program on history of art in PB


The Sesame Club met recently at the Pine Bluff Country Club.

The president, Donna Davis, presided over a short business meeting after leading the members in the reading of the Collect.

Jane Townsend, who was in charge of the program — “Pine Bluff and the Arts”, the sixth study in the series “Celebrating Pine Bluff, Arkansas — Past to Present” — introduced Lee Milbourn, a member of the Pine Bluff Art League.

Milbourn pointed out that art helps scholars research the history of a culture. From the ancient cave art and pottery to the latest technological methods, “Man has always created.”

In Pine Bluff in 1879, a notice in the Pine Bluff Press advertised classes for drawing, painting, and piano at The Pine Bluff Art School at the corner of Barraque and Bonne [Chestnut] Streets.

St. Joseph Catholic Church’s Annunciation Academy was the first Pine Bluff school to offer classes in drawing and painting in 1880.

When the Merrill Institute was opened at Fifth and Main, the Merrill Art and Music Club was organized and an exhibit of local artists was held in 1891. One of the drawings displayed was by Mrs. John Crawford, who later founded Davis Hospital.

In the early 1900’s the Pine Bluff School District added classes to teach art in the schools.

In 1942, the Brush and Palette Guild was organized by a group of local artists under the leadership of Eva Jane Pearson. The purposes of the group were “to study and practice painting, organize and promote local exhibitions, and arouse interest in and appreciation of visual arts.”

Barbara Owen, a member of the Pine Bluff Art League and former member of the Brush and Palette Guild, described the exhibits that Brush and Palette sponsored in past years at the Jefferson County Livestock Show. Art from local artists was carefully arranged to best advantage on chicken wire hung on the walls of one of the barns. It was a monumental task but was much appreciated by the artists and viewers.

Shirley Dawson, president of Pine Bluff Art League, described her painting process of taking a digital photograph into a graphic computer program and using a stylus to paint over every pixel in the image, adding objects and replacing colors as necessary. The image is then printed on canvas professionally and the inks sealed. Then, the painting is sometimes finished or embellished with acrylics or oils and sealed again. She displayed the resulting beautiful painting.

Paintings by other local artists were on display.

The Art League has 67 members, an office, shop, and studio at the Reynolds Building.

Milbourn closed her program with thoughts in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail: “He must study politics and war so that his sons could study mathematics, commerce, and agriculture. So their children, in turn, could study painting, poetry, and music. Americans have always wanted something ever higher for their children and then their children’s children — till that golden day when men shall study war no more and can devote themselves to the arts.”

Hostesses Sue Smith, Davis, Linda LaFrance and Vicki Taylor invited members and guests for refreshments to tables centered with Easter decorations.

The next meeting of Sesame Club will be the Spring Luncheon on April 24.