The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas recently received the Arkansas Museum’s Association “Best Exhibition of 2012, In-House,” award during the annual conference awards ceremony held at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Lenore Shoults, executive director, said “The idea (about the jazz exhibition) came about in a conversation with Mrs. Virginia Hymes, the Pine Bluff High School art teacher.” That conversation emanated from Shoults’ first day on the job in 2011, when she heard music coming from the theater and it turned out to be Kenny Fisher’s jazz history session and she got a tutorial in the rich local jazz history from Fisher, Milt Jackson and others.
“The resulting exhibition is a great example of the power of artistic collaboration. Jazz is an artform enjoyed by people of diverse backgrounds and ages and the subject can be expressed through music, painting, photography, documentary film, and the exhibition of objects with local history - in this case the vintage instruments of Pinky Curry,” Shoults said.
“Everyone involved was eager to help capture this local jazz history, from the UAPB music professors Milt Jackson and Darryl Evans and the students of the UAPB Jazz Band; the interviewees, some of whom included Gwen Terry, Mac Bellingrath, Tommy Curry, Mary McBee, and Tyson Travis; Bobby Dandridge of Black Butterfly Media who worked with Pat Hopkins on the project; and Al White whose original photographs were featured in the exhibition and who played with Faron Wilson during the opening reception,” she said.
Ultimately, the high school students expressed jazz through their artwork with such passion that two pieces were selected as the logos for the wildly successful Potpourri 2012-OnStage. Shoults tells the story of Potpourri co-chairs, Laura Smart and Amber Robinson, falling in love with two students’ work: DaQuaron R. Dale’s, “Lady Sings the Blues”, that ended up on the event invitation and posters, and Ashley Gragg’s, Lips, artwork that was incorporated into invitations, magnets, and mirrored compacts. Students were paid for the use of the artwork and also received half of the amount fetched for their artwork during the live auction.
“I was doing the happy dance when they announced that we had won because this award is for everyone who worked so hard to bring the community together in support of local jazz history and Mrs. Hymes’s art students - they’re a great group of kids,” Shoults said.