Fayetteville Underground hosts “A Sense of Place” exhibit for Black history month

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WORDS / JULIA TRUPP

Flashes of bright primary colors and images of elegant ebony figures surrounded the gallery on Groundhog Day at the Fayetteville Underground. But the audience didn’t gather to welcome a change of season, but rather to celebrate the African-American culture for the start of Black History Month with a special First Thursday exhibit.

“A Sense of Place,” a presentation of local artwork, video-recorded interviews and music to highlight the Northwest Arkansas African-American community, welcomed a diverse group into the art gallery for its premiere of the month-long exhibit.
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To get the exhibit up and running, the Northwest Arkansas African-American Heritage Association received a grant from the Arkansas Arts Council and the Fayetteville Art Alliance received funding from the Walmart Foundation to support the exhibit, said Joëlle Storët, Fayetteville Underground gallery manager and curator.

Storët acted as a Black practicing artist for the exhibit after she was encouraged by the gallery board to do so. The Underground already promotes visual arts, community collaboration, and public engagement in the arts, so with “A Sense of Place,” the gallery mission was taken to the next level and included “artists from the African-American micro-communities that usually do not get the opportunity, until now, to share their work,” she said.

Along with showcasing local artists’ paintings, printmaking, digital design, photographs and video segments to engage exhibit visitors, the Underground also hosted a fashion show to honor the African-American tradition.

Brandon Watts submitted photos that featured Afro-sporting women specifically for this First Thursday and took one at a hair salon and one at a Little Rock-based dance studio. The rest were taken at his home studio. His inspiration for his series “The Black Woman Crown” came from all of the black women in his life — his grandmother, mother, wife, sister and daughter.

“I believe black women is what holds the black culture together,” Watts said. Because of his love for his heritage and for photography, he was able to express the understanding of his cultural history in a way for the audience to enjoy it.

“The reason I focus on afros is because it’s more than just a hairstyle,” he said. “…When slavery was abolished black people straightened their hair to blend in with society. Basically to look more white. In the 1960s with the Civil Rights Movement the Afro came back as a sign of rebellion, pride, strength and encouragement, basically saying we won’t be molded or form into something we’re not and should be accepted for who we are.”

While attendees walked around eating hors d’oeuvres and drinking wine, Gelynda Johnson serenaded them with her saxophone and guitar. She accepted this solo performance after Storët asked her if she wanted to, and by doing so, she was able to show that multiracial female musicians “exist in the NWA music scene and we have our stories to tell through song,” she said.

“The exhibition and the fashion show were extremely important to our community because you get to hear their stories through their works,” she said. “This event brought the learning at a closer, more personal level. When I think about it, seeing my family and friends there, I truly felt like it was a big family reunion that involved both the artists and attendees… We are truly one,” Johnson said.

“African-American culture is poorly represented in our history books and media. We are beyond being slaves, gangster, thugs, girls twerking in music videos… Those are negative media portrayals that further oppress us. We are creators, designers, artists, innovators,  but you rarely see that in history books or the media,” Johnson said. “We are much more than that and I hope the community could see that as well as understand that this is part of their history too, as we are all part of the human race.”

“A Sense of Place” will be up at the Fayetteville Underground until the end of the month.

 

Ozark Beer Co. Commissions Olivia Trimble to Paint Iconic Walls in NWA

Olivia Trimble

Ozark Beer Co. has commissioned Fayetteville artist Olivia Trimble to paint a series of iconic walls in Northwest Arkansas over the coming year. The first wall, Dickson St. Liquor’s west-facing wall on Dickson St. is the first painting, beginning 2/9/17 with a base coat of black.

Over the weekend Trimble will trace the design of Ozark Beer Company’s Elk logo, prominently featured on their American Pale Can onto the wall. “Were creating signs that will last a hundred years,” says Trimble, whose work gained national attention late last year after her #RepaintHate campaign went viral, inspiring artists around the country to replace hateful graffiti with positive and loving messages.   Trimble creates intricate works of her own, and is a well-respected sign painter for some of Northwest Arkansas’ most iconic brands.

The elk logo itself was created for Ozark Beer Co. by the dynamic Fayetteville arthouse BLK BOX Labs as one of four designs that draw from Ozark themes. The group has produced additional art for Ozark Beer Co. featuring an elk, a red-tailed hawk, a bear and bison.   The goal of the commission is to place each of these striking designs on walls throughout NWA over several months to a year. Next week, Trimble will climb into a scissor lift and paint the historic building that will be OBC’s new home in downtown Rogers.

Dickson St. Liquor has long been one of the most prominent liquor stores in NWA, and was one of the first companies to put their faith in the young Ozark Beer Co.

“A couple years ago, we were filling each can by hand and DSL and a few others took us on,” says Marty Shutter, art director for OBC. “They quickly grew to be one of our biggest accounts and with their help, our pale ale made it much farther out of the brewery than it had before, introducing us to so many new people.”

On Friday, Feb. 10 around noon, OBC will be on hand at Dickson St. Liquor sampling two of their newest beers and celebrating the beginning of their newest artistic endeavor as Trimble transforms a portion of the wall outside.

 

 

Frost Fest Returns with Music, Art and 39 Breweries

Frost Fest 2017

WORDS / JULIA TRUPP

The weekend’s chilly weather won’t stop one craft beer festival from happening; in fact, it’s expected and welcomed. Fossil Cove’s Frost Fest is back for its second year of frothy fun in close-to-freezing temperatures, with even more space to indulge in various brews. Continue reading “Frost Fest Returns with Music, Art and 39 Breweries”

It’s All in the Fingers: Amanda Wathen Paints with the World’s Oldest Technique

Amanda Wathen paintingWORDS / ASHTON ELEY

She started painting murals in Hot Springs Village at the age of 13, but world-traveler and artist Amanda Wathen never thought she would end up as a finger painter.

Her bright, bold and impressionistic oil finger painting – implematic of Wathen’s personality and the new wave of Instinctualism –  are now available at Two25 Art and Wine Gallery in Bentonville. Continue reading “It’s All in the Fingers: Amanda Wathen Paints with the World’s Oldest Technique”

Stage Eighteen Announces Grand Opening Celebrations Featuring Galaxy Tour Guides, Beat Bachs & More

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Fayetteville’s newest performance art venue + bar is officially open! Located in the heart of downtown, just off the square at 18 E Center St, Stage Eighteen is set to host a variety of productions and events, including live music, comedy, theatre, film screenings, visual art, fashion presentations, private parties, and much more, accompanied by a full service cocktail bar. They will host their grand opening on Thursday, Feb. 2 from 6-9 pm and on Friday and Saturday from 7 pm to 1 am. Continue reading “Stage Eighteen Announces Grand Opening Celebrations Featuring Galaxy Tour Guides, Beat Bachs & More”

Feeling Lonesome: White Mansions New EP is a Shoegaze Delight

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WORDS / ASHTON ELEY

After half a year of labor, Travis Keymer released his latest EP, Lonesome, under White Mansion earlier this month.

Keymer – known locally as the guitarist for the surf-folk, rock ‘n’ roll band Teenagers – said he took an introspective look into the past, which inspired his six-song album. Now nearing 30, He recently started revisiting more shoegazey instrumental music – like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Explosions in the Sky – he loved to play around the age of 18. Continue reading “Feeling Lonesome: White Mansions New EP is a Shoegaze Delight”

International Artist Ana Maria teams up with 64.6 Downtown to Launch New Art School in Fort Smith

“Universal Chapel” by Okuda in downtown Fort Smith. Future home of La Colmena art school.

64.6 Downtown in partnership with world-renowned artist Ana Maria, is opening an art school called La Colmena (the Beehive) in downtown Fort Smith. The classes will be held in the building at the intersection of Rogers and Garrison Avenue presently known as Okuda’s Universal Chapel.
Continue reading “International Artist Ana Maria teams up with 64.6 Downtown to Launch New Art School in Fort Smith”

Sigh-Fi: UALR Hosts a Transformative Group Exhibition

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WORDS / KASTEN McCLELLAN SEARLES
On the surface, the role of science fiction (in its many forms) has often been to present us with a world of advanced technology that makes nearly any storyline possible. “Sigh-Fi” is instead an exploration of the real frustration that occurs when humans interact with that technology. The results are less than utopian.UALR Gallery I has been transformed by architectural forms and populated by video installations, paintings, and sculptural work. The group exhibition curated by Haynes Riley of Good Weather features works from Hartmut Austen, Aaron Jones, Lap Le, Anne Libby, Sondra Perry, Martine Syms, and Tan Zich.

Continue reading “Sigh-Fi: UALR Hosts a Transformative Group Exhibition”

Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design Hosts George Dombek’s “Barns and Portraits” Series

 

photo 1WORDS & PHOTOS / JULIA TRUPP

Look around a room for one esteemed artist, and you won’t find someone asking for attention and praise. Instead, you might find him trying to blend in with the audience, even though all eyes will reach him eventually. He might be talking with a colleague about future projects and pretending like the mass of people around aren’t there solely for him while showing humble pride in his work with a soft smile. Continue reading “Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design Hosts George Dombek’s “Barns and Portraits” Series”

Step Into Fort Smith’s Past with “Miss Laura’s” This Summer

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WORDS / ASHTON ELEY

Van Buren native and director Devon Parks and the Emmy-award winning production team Mad Possum Pictures is now in post production with “Miss Laura’s,” the second film in the Arkansas-based historical series “Step Into.”
Continue reading “Step Into Fort Smith’s Past with “Miss Laura’s” This Summer”