On a recent late summer day, the Senior Adult Ministry (SAMS) from First Baptist Church journeyed to Little Rock to have lunch at the Arkansas Arts Center and tour their galleries. In addition to the ongoing exhibitions, “Masterworks” and “Paul Signac Watercolors and Drawings: The James T. Kyke Collection,” there are also two current exhibitions, the “11th National Drawing Invitational” and “Tattoo Witness: Photographs by Mark Perrott.”
The “Masterworks” exhibition is the starting point of a sampling of the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection. Works begin with the late 19th century Impressionist movement, featuring drawings and paintings by Degas, Monet and Pissarro. Moving into the 20th century, viewers will be delighted by pieces by Diego Rivera, Odilon Redon and the sculptor Rodin. Moving through the century, highlights include works by Henry Moore, Picasso and Andrew Wyeth.
An installation of watercolors and drawings by French Neo-Impressionist Paul Signac features a selection of the gift of 133 works by local collector James T. Dyke. With this donation, the Arts Center has become the most significant repository of the artist’s drawings and watercolors.
The “National Drawing Invitational” continues the Arkansas Arts Center’s commitment to collect and exhibit drawings of all periods. The Arkansas Arts Center began its collection of drawings in 1971 when AAC director and chief curator, Townsend Wolfe, purchased Willem de Kooning and Andrew Wyeth works on paper. Today, the drawing collection includes over 5,000 sheets. In 1986, Wolfe created the first National Drawing Invitational to further advance the Arts Centees commitment to collect and exhibit drawings and to focus on living American artists and their work. Guest curator, Charlotta Kotik, puts together an exhibition that features drawings by New York artists whose work borders on obsession.
The large-scale black and white photographs in the Tattoo Witness exhibition document 25 years of tattoo culture. In 1979, Pittsburgh photographer, Mark Perrott, spent weekends making black and white portraits at Nick’s Island Avenue Tattoo parlor in McKees Rocs, Penn. Later, he took his camera on a rust belt tour of tattoo parlors where he made more photographs. His continued curiosity compelled him to visit 10 American mid-career tattoo masters where he made portraits of each artist and a handful of their clients. In this exhibition, Perrott’s stark photographs present the viewer with a clear-focused image of individuals, who have stories to tell. The artistry of the tattoos and the photographs come together to offer a unique look at one of the oldest subjects in art — capturing a true likeness of an individual. In these portraits of both the tattoes and their owners, Perrott investigates the very personal and public nature of tattoos. The exhibition also challenges visitors to question who gets tattoos and why people have found the need to mark their bodies for more than 5000 years.
Lunch was in the AAC Best Impressions Restaurant. Best Impressions has panoramic views of landscaped lawns and blooming flowers and offers an opportunity to enjoy delicious culinary works. The lunch menu included soups (on the day of the visit, spiced tomato and Soup du Jour with Focaccia bread), salads (house, classic Caesar with or without grilled chicken, steak house style, Greek salad with grilled chicken and grilled salmon salad), and sandwiches (veggies on focaccia, chicken salad croissant, grilled chicken focaccia, blackened tilapia clabatta, pimento cheese on berry wheat, gridiron burger, and classic bacon cheddar burger). Entrees included penne pasta in pesto cream sauce, penne pasta and grilled chicken in tomato cream sauce, pan seared salmon and pan seared tilapia with soy reduction. Desserts included cream cheese pie with seasonal berries, Dutch apple pie with vanilla ice cream, white chocolate creme brulee, and brownie vanilla ice cream and chocolate ganache with or without vanilla ice cream. White chocolate cream brulee was a favorite with the group. Best Impressions serves the standard beverages and also a divine peach or raspberry iced tea.
A visit to the Arts Center would not be complete without a visit to the Museum Shop. AAC seeks to ensure that learning, inspiration and creative expression in the arts flourish throughout Arkansas for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Museum Shop supports this mission by offering artists and artisans from the state and the region a platform to showcase their work to national and international audiences. The Museum Shop has many beautiful pieces of art from which to choose and offers James Hayes glass pieces.
Those making the trip were Jackie Carr, driver, Jeanette McGrew, organizer of the SAMs trips, Catherine Long, Ann Holt, Ann Adair, Audrey Borecky and guest, Val Tolbert.