Fay Jones School Selected to Exhibit at International Architecture Exhibition

A collection of work representing contemporary design culture and design thinking in Arkansas, assembled by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, is on display at the Venice Biennale,the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, which opens to the public Saturday in Venice, Italy.

The six-month event, held every two years, takes place from May 28 to Nov. 27 in the Giardini, the Arsenale and various other venues in Venice. This year’s theme is “Reporting from the Front.” The exhibition features 88 participants from 37 different countries, as well as 62 national participations and a selected choice of collateral events. This year’s exhibition is directed by Alejandro Aravena and organized by La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.

The Fay Jones School at the University of Arkansas was selected to be represented in the collateral events through the school’s alignment with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architects, a design practice led by Blackwell and based in Fayetteville.

Blackwell, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, is also a Distinguished Professor and holds the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture for the Fay Jones School. Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center, is a Distinguished Professor and holds the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies.

The title of the Fay Jones School submission, “Building:Community,” describes the reciprocity of practice and service in the complementary (and sometimes collaborative) work of Marlon Blackwell Architects and the Community Design Center, as well as the place-based education of the Fay Jones School and the University of Arkansas, in support of the authentic and contemporary culture of Arkansas.

“The opportunity to promote the state and the university at this world architectural venue, through the design work being done by our distinguished faculty in the Fay Jones School, is an opportunity to advance the U of A identity to a significant international audience. I was happy to lend my support to such an ambitious project,” said Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. “This is an impressive effort, and after such intense and challenging preparations, I’m pleased that the installation is now a reality we can proudly promote and bring to the attention of our community and all those who will visit the Biennale.”

The Fay Jones School exhibition is set up in the Palazzo Bembo, one of the spaces for the collateral events. Visitors will be able to experience the exhibition – which showcases the state’s natural resources, significant culture, and prominent industries, along with the school’s contributions to the state through design work and design education. Visitors also can take away three different postcards about the state and the school.

Josh Matthews, a Fay Jones School alumnus, designed the exhibition room for the University of Arkansas team.

“The Fay Jones School was pleased to be invited to participate in this collateral exhibition of the 15th Venice Biennale, and is very grateful to the chancellor and provost for their immediate and continuing support that has made our ‘Building:Community’ exhibition possible,” said Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School. “We have worked to design and install an exhibition that is reflective of the school, but also of the university and the state of Arkansas. Our commitment to the community of the state, as well as to excellence in professional architecture and design education, is the primary driver of our work.”

Projects in the exhibition display include Vol Walker Hall and the Steven L. Anderson Design Center, St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church and Gentry Public Library, all designed by Blackwell’s firm. Projects from the Community Design Center include Slow Street: A New Town Center for Mayflower, Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario and Conway Watershed Framework Plan.

One project — The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock — was a collaborative design between the Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architects.

The Fay Jones School will also participate in the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial and has been invited to return to the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design: The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas houses professional design programs of architecture, landscape architecture and interior design together with liberal studies programs. All of these programs combine studio design education with innovative teaching in history, theory, technology and urban design. A broad range of course offerings equips graduates with the knowledge and critical agility required to meet the challenges of designing for a changing world. Their training prepares students with critical frameworks for design thinking that also equip them to assume leadership roles in the profession and in their communities. The school’s architecture program was ranked 26th in the nation, and the 12th best program among public, land-grant universities, in the 16th Annual Survey of America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools, a study conducted in 2015 by the Design Futures Council and published inDesignIntelligence. For more information visit fayjones.uark.edu.

Artist’s Laboratory Theatre hold soft launch of Secret Life of Downtown Fayetteville

Secret Life Tours"it's time for a re-look"

Artist’s Laboratory Theatre invites audiences to a free “test run” of a prototype of “Secret Life of Downtown Fayetteville,” a walking tour that re-imagines the history and legacy of Fayetteville’s downtown square in an audio-guided tour on Sunday May, 29, 2016 at 2 pm. Audiences meet staff from Artist’s Laboratory on the SW Corner of the Square (Old Post Office) to start the tour. Audiences must download the tour prior to the arriving on the square at artlabtheatre.com. Parking is free on Sunday.

“Secret Life of Down Fayetteville” is an audio experience that leads participants on foot through a tour of the downtown square. The tour focuses on specific moments in Fayetteville’s history, and explores the context through imagined and actual stories of character, life, legacy, and the architecture of the places that make up what has been the town’s center of commerce for over 200 years. The project was funded by an Arkansas Heritage Month grant, and will be the first in a series of “Secret Life Tours.” May is Heritage Month and the theme is “Arkansas Arts: Celebrating our Creative Culture.” The workshop performance will be followed by a reception to celebrate the launch of the tour.

Secret Life of Downtown Fayetteville is the first in a series of MP3 performances called “Secret Life Tours,” which Artist’s Laboratory Theatre will create for different places and events, and is designed to engage audiences with their environment in novel ways, so as to see the world with new and fresh perspective. Artist’s Laboratory Theatre is currently developing an interactive website with Archetype Productions, which will be accessed by audiences during the tour like an audio museum guide. The technology will be completed by the end of June, at which point audiences will be able to take the tour on their own.

Artist’s Laboratory Theatre is a community-centric, site-specific theatre based in Fayetteville, AR. Since 2010, the Company has been busy staging handcrafted performances in surprising places that include audiences in unique ways. Other programming includesSunday Night Service on 91.3 KUAF Public Radio (showcasing the talent of Northwest Arkansas), Sheet Fort Experience (intimate and quirky performances inside a venue made from bed sheets), and the New Now (a site-specific immersive performance series that explores the impact of technology on community and culture).

See a full map of locations below.
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​​Bottle Rocket North hosting two-day installation and show by artist Ben Edwards with play by Ashley Edwards

Ben EdwardsBRG
On June 3 & 4 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Bottle Rocket North Gallery at 209 NE 2nd St. in Bentonville will host Redacted Marketplace, the second installation to date of Ben Edwards’ series #Redacted, with a reception at 6 p.m. that Friday the 3rd in conjunction with First Friday Bentonville.

The installation will open at 8 a.m. Friday and feature a temporary market staffed by the artist in which viewers may purchase his paintings, which are done on found and scavenged post-consumer materials, as he also works on new pieces as part of the installation. The viewer must decide upon entering the space what to view and what to purchase, if anything, in the midst of the artist’s process of creation and in conjunction with the artist’s expectations and salesmanship.

Using color and the layering of imagery or pattern, merchandise packaging becomes paintings that frame an examination of the consumer environment.  By un-branding the packaging, the series exists as an anti-corporate Pop Art, one that establishes a different consumer reality through subtraction of advertising strategies.

During open hours each day, live performers will present a 10-minute play by Ashley Edwards adapted from an interview with the artist. This live theatre piece uncovers additional information about the process of making the #Redacted series using performance to give this artist and interviewer voices to be juxtaposed with the installation. It is the story of the struggle and the joy that comes from creating a piece of art to be put into the world.


Ben Edwards is a visual artist, art educator, and advocate for the arts in Northwest Arkansas. He is the founding member of the city of Bella Vista’s Art Advisory Council and previously served on the inaugural staff of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as its exhibition programs coordinator. An instructor of ceramics and drawing at Northwest Arkansas Community College, he has facilitated numerous workshops throughout the region on ceramic and painting techniques.

His work is contained in the Kesher Collection at the State University of New York, Genesee; the Gann Museum collection of Arkansas Potter; and the University of Arkansas; as well as numerous private collections throughout the United States and Europe. Examples from his series of paintings titled #Redacted are on view at 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas through August 2016. He received his BFA in Studio Art from Louisiana Tech University and his MFA from the University of Arkansas. He has been married since 2000 to playwright Ashley Edwards. They have four children and live in Bella Vista, AR. https://bedwards.carbonmade.com/projects/5368745


Ashley Edwards is a professor of theatre and subject coordinator at Northwest Arkansas Community College. She is also the Region VI Chair for the National Playwriting Program through the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Her plays have been produced at Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta, the Theatre Squared Arkansas New Play Festival, the University of Arkansas, and other regional theatres. She received her BA in English from Louisiana Tech University and her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Arkansas. She has been married since 2000 to artist Ben Edwards. They have four children and live in Bella Vista, AR.


This event is sponsored by Lost 40 Brewery, Lemonades and Mexican Chile Lime Sodas by Pink House Alchemy, Food provided by Chef Emily Lawson and the Foxhole Public House Crew,  Yoga by Yoga Bell, Pinhole Photography Party hosted by Kris Johnson and Kat Wilson.

For more information, visit:  https://www.facebook.com/bottlerocketartgallery/


Murder for Two Delivers a Deadly Performance


Following the weighty production of Rapture, Blister, Burn, TheatreSquared returns with lighter-hearted subject matter, giving audiences something to laugh about in the hilarious and perfectly executed musical comedy Murder for Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. After my astringent experience with Rapture, Murder for Two feels like a complimentary head rub: simple and innocent, full of sensation and just what I needed. Brian Walters (Marcus Moscowicz) and James Taylor Odom (The Suspects) deliver one of the most cohesive performances I’ve seen to date, and if my word alone doesn’t convince then the audience’s howls and twice-standing ovation might.
TheatreSquared’s co-founder Morgan Hicks hits home with her casting of both Brian Walters and James Taylor Odom as the only characters in Murder for Two. Performing as police officer and aspiring detective Marcus Moscowicz, Brian Walters makes his TheatreSquared debut not only as actor but as vocalist and musician as well, joining his partner-in-crime James Taylor Odom in a lively musical score duet on piano.

Walters’ performance and focused personality sets the rhythm for the whirlwind changes by Odom. Odom returns to TheatreSquared as not only one, but nine different suspects in the murder of famous novelist Arthur Whitney. It’s a comical and innovative twist on the classic Whodunit as he switches from suspect to suspect with incredible dexterity, assuming his characters’ identities with just one prop and defining personality each. Who killed Arthur, then? Was it Dahlia Whitney, Arthur’s flamboyant and resentful wife? She never goes anywhere without her purple silk handkerchief and set of Southern-accented vocals.

Or was it Steph, the overly sensitive, overly eager and overly whiny student who just happens to be writing her thesis on “How to Solve a Small Town Murder”? Or perhaps it was Barb or Murray, the quibbling couple distinguished by the turn of a hat marked half-pink, half-grey. Odom breathes life into them all, but I won’t be the one to divulge whodunit.

Walters and Odom work seamlessly together to color each other’s spotlights, taking turns at the piano when the other takes center stage. With relatively few resources, Murder for Two turns a black box theatre into an interactive game of Clue, and nobody is overlooked as suspect. Even the members of the audience aren’t safe from questioning – but I won’t to spoil the fun.

Eventually, Murder for Two feels like it hits its 90-minute runtime, but I am not one to complain. Just as one of Odom’s suspects repeats throughout the musical, “I’ve seen a lot woise!”


Ozark Natural Foods announces 2016 Farm Tour to help NWA residents meet local farmers and vendors

(Editor’s Note:  Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville is a strong supporter of The Idle Class and we love what they do for the community.  Along with providing delicious, fresh and healthy foods, they support farmers in Northwest Arkansas.  Here is a look at their latest endeavor.)

Now, more than ever, people all over the world are becoming more interested in where their food comes from. They wonder how far it travelled to make it to their local grocery store, what growing methods were used, and who the people are who grew it. At Ozark Natural Foods, one of our focuses is having great relationships with our local farmers. We support over 100 local farmers and producers at the co-op. Because of these partnerships, we are thrilled to announce the third annual Ozark Natural Foods’ P6 Tour de Farms, a weekend where our owners and the community of Northwest Arkansas can visit up to 19 local farms and businesses. Many of our customers place a premium value on being able to buy local products from our store, and we would like a way to connect people more closely with our local producers.

The tours will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 11th and 12th. The visits will include tours, demonstrations, snacks, and a time for questions and discussion. You can visit as many stops as you would like. Here is the schedule for the tours:

Saturday, June 11th

Team Springdale

Wheatgrass Express 920 71 Plaza Ct, Springdale, AR 72764 10:00am – 11:00am Come watch the grass grow and learn about the power or wheatgrass and microgreens with our area’s local Certified Organic sprout farmers while you enjoy samples of freshly made organic cold-pressed juice from Ozark Natural Foods.

Onyx Coffee Lab 7058 W Sunset Ave, Springdale, AR 72762 11:30am – 12:30am Snack on a house-made scone from the deli at Ozark Natural Foods while you sample coffee from this treasured farm-to-cup coffee roaster.

Plentygood Farm 4160 E Hewitt Springs Rd, Springdale, AR 72764 1:00pm – 2:30pm Tour this beautiful farm and enjoy the tuberoses while sipping on fresh cold-pressed juice samples from local P6 producer, Native Nectar. Beauty by Nature will also be available offering samples of their all natural personal care products.

Black Apple Crossing 321 E Emma Ave, Springdale, AR 72764 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Enjoy cider samples and a tour of the area’s newest cidery. Black Apple Cider is alcoholic—you must be 21+ to sample cider at this stop.

Team Fayetteville

Roots in Bloom 14148 Sugar Mountain Rd, West Fork AR 72774 10:00am – 12:00pm Tour this lovely off-grid farm and learn about their all natural wellness products while enjoying some chips and Dragon’s Breath Salsa. Includes a hike of moderate difficulty.

Across the Creek Farm 3106 W Pear Lane, Greenland, AR 72737 1:00pm – 2:00pm Tour the farm and enjoy Across the Creek chicken and pork samples paired with local P6 producer JJ’s BBQ Sauce. House-made salad from Ozark Natural Foods will also be available for our vegetarian participants. This tour stop does require attendees to sanitize their shoes.

Cobblestone Farm 5298 – 5526 W Wedington Dr, Fayetteville AR 72704 2:00pm – 3:00pm Tour the Certified Naturally Grown farm and enjoy refreshing samples of raw cold-pressed juice from local P6 producer, Berry Natural.

Honeysuckle Garden 1618 N Oakland Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72703 4:00pm – 5:00pm Tour the urban farm and sample locally made kombucha from P6 producer, JR’s Kombucha.

Tri Cycle Farms 1705 Garland Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72703 5:00pm – 8:00pm Enjoy food and drinks from local P6 producers, Ozark Beery Company, Fossil Cove, Pink House Alchemy, Pedal Pops, My Brother’s Salsa, Great Fermentations, Bernice’s Hummus, Ozark Pasture Beef, and local smoked meats slathered in JJ’s BBQ Sauce. And it wouldn’t be a party without the Chunky Dunk and Tyler’s Craft BBQ trucks on site!

Sunday, June 12th

Team Fayetteville

Rocky Comfort Natural 237 Madison 5548, Ekins, AR 72727 10:00am – 11:30am Tour the farm and try samples of their fresh heirloom veggies paired with hummus from local P6 producer, Bernice’s Hummus.

Ames Orchard and Nursery 18292 Wildlife Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72701 12:00pm – 2:00pm Tour the farm and enjoy house-made sandwich bites from the deli at Ozark Natural Foods and samples from local cidery, Black Apple Crossing. Black Apple Cider is alcoholic—you must be 21+ to sample cider at this stop.

Ozark Herbal Creations 523 E Prospect St, Fayetteville, AR 72701 3:00pm – 4:00pm Tour the urban farm and medicine wheel garden and sample OHC tonic and bath and body products as well as samples of tea from P6 producer Frontier Co-op.

Team Huntsville

Ugly Bunny Garden 761 CR 546, Berryville, AR 72626 10:00am – 2:00pm Tour the vegetable garden and check out the antique barn sale while enjoying some light refreshments provided by Ugly Bunny.

Dripping Springs Garden 1558 CR 548, Huntsville, AR 72740 10:00am – 11:30am Tour the farm and learn about organic farming methods for cut flower and vegetable production while you enjoy samples of freshly made organic cold-pressed juice from Ozark Natural Foods and fresh organic produce from the farm.

Ridgecrest Garden 761 CR 546, Berryville, AR 72626 12:00pm – 2:00pm Tour the farm and learn about seed saving and native plant identification while enjoying samples of herbal tea from P6 producer Frontier Co-op.

Marty’s Produce 903 CR 2349, Huntsville, AR 72740 3:00pm – 4:30pm Tour the farm and enjoy prepared samples of their fresh produce, house-made sandwich bites from the deli at Ozark Natural Foods, and beer samples from local P6 producer, Apple Blossom Brewery, who purchase hops grown by Marty’s Produce. Must be 21+ to sample beer at this stop.

Team Eureka

Foundation Farm 327 CR 244, Eureka Springs, AR 72631 10:00am – 12:00pm Tour the farm and perk up with coffee samples from local P6 producer Mountain Bird Coffee as well as samples of baked goods from the deli at Ozark Natural Foods, and fresh organic produce from the farm.

Barefoot Farm 327 CR 244, Eureka Springs, AR 72631 10:00am – 12:00pm Tour the farm and perk up with coffee samples from local P6 producer Mountain Bird Coffee as well as samples of baked goods from the deli at Ozark Natural Foods, and fresh organic produce from the farm.

Sycamore Bend Farm 875 CR 3025, Eureka Springs, AR 72632 1:00pm – 3:00pm Tour the farm and aquaponics greenhouse and enjoy wine samples from Keel Creek, as well as cheese from local P6 producer White River Creamery, house-made bread from the deli at Ozark Natural Foods, and fresh organic produce from the farm.

Tour de Farms is a free event but anyone wanting to participate will need to register by June 9th at the Owner Services Desk inside the store, or by calling 479-521-7558. Each participant will need to pick up their Tour de Farms passport the week of the event, which includes a map and a place where you can get stamped when you visit a farm. Passports will be available for pickup on June 1st. After you’re done with your tour, you will be able to turn in your passport to the Co-op. People who visit at least five of the farms and businesses will be entered to win a $100 shopping spree, and the person who visits the most farms will win a $150 farm and garden prize package with tools, seeds, soil amendments and other goodies (if several people tie for the most farms visits, we will hold a drawing to determine the winner).

So please join us on June 11th and 12th and experience first-hand where the food you love comes from!

Ozark Natural Foods is a locally owned consumer cooperative dedicated to healthful living and sustainability by providing our owners and the Northwest Arkansas community with natural and organic products and related services, located at 1554 N. College Ave. in the Evelyn Hills Shopping Center.

For information about our 3rd annual P6 Tour de Farms online, please visit: http://onf.coop/2016-p6-tour-de-farms/

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If you would like more information or to come by the store, please contact Ali McIntosh by phone or email: 479.521.7558 | Ali@onf.coop

TheatreSquared receives $250,000 award from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts to fund creation of “Romeo & Juliet: Damascus”

TheatreSquared Artistic Director Robert Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller announced today a $250,000 grant from the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts (DDFIA). This major, three-year grant will help TheatreSquared reimagine Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in contemporary Damascus, Syria, through a free adaptation that will be developed in collaboration with Syrian theatre director Kholoud Sawaf.

The first phase of the project will be a three-week workshop presented as part of the five-play 2016 Arkansas New Play Festival, with staged reading performances at 7:00pm on June 17 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and at 8:00pm on June 23 at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville (Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios). This reading is the first step towards a fully staged production as part of a future season.

“The tension between love and violence—between the will of a group and an individual’s choice to defy fate—in a city where any spark can ignite conflict,” said Ford, “these are timeless themes in Romeo and Juliet, and they’re as relevant on the world’s stage today.”“The story is very human and very universal,” said Sawaf. “Our job at the first workshop is to dig deep into Shakespeare’s words and examine them through the lens of modern Syria. How do two young people fall in love in the divided world of Damascus, and bridge the chasm between their families? In Shakespeare’s world and in ours, the peaceful flag of a love story asks us to pause and reconsider each other.”

“In a world fraught with divisive problems, the work of creative people can be a powerful conduit to one another, a way to connect and see each other more clearly,” said Zeyba Rahman, senior program officer for the DDFIA Building Bridges Program. “We are proud to support this fresh idea and look forward to watching it unfold.”

Kholoud Sawaf, director and co-adapter, is emerging artist-in-residence at TheatreSquared. She was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, where she worked with Al Qabbani and Al-Hamra theatres and is a member of the Nihna Cultural Group. She recently assistant directed Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone at Oregon Shakespeare Festival under director May Adrales. She attended the American University in Sharjah and holds an MFA in directing from the University of Arkansas.

Over the course of the three-year development and production of R&J: Damascus, TheatreSquared will lead public conversations with local partners including Interfaith Arkansas, the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies, the Fayetteville Public Library, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and others. These forums will help initiate dialogue inspired by the production among diverse audiences.The cast and creative team for the June 2016 workshop of R&J: Damascus also includes playwright and actor Leila Buck, as both a script consultant and cast member, and Victoria Nassif, who will play Juliet. Additional team members will be announced in late May.

Passes for the 2016 Arkansas New Play Festival are on sale now for an early bird price of $40 and include admission to four staged readings and a workshop production over two weekends in Bentonville and Fayetteville. The full lineup will be announced on May 16 and tickets for individual performances will go on sale soon.Subscriptions to TheatreSquared’s upcoming 2016/17 season are also on sale. Six-, five-, and four-play packages are available for purchase at (479) 443-5600 ortheatre2.org.

TheatreSquared is Northwest Arkansas’s professional regional theatre, offering an intimate live theatre experience for 35,000 patrons each year. In 2011, TheatreSquared was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s ten most promising emerging theatres. TheatreSquared has experienced remarkable growth in recent seasons, expanding its audience tenfold in the past five years. For further information or press tickets, contact TheatreSquared at (479) 445-6333 or visit theatre2.org.

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) is an operating foundation funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). The mission of DDFIA is to promote the study, understanding and appreciation of Muslim arts and cultures. Based in New York, the Building Bridges Program is the grant-making program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and supports national efforts to advance relationships, increase understanding, and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org/what-we-fund/building-bridges.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

Artosphere returns to Northwest Arkansas

Artosphere trail concert series on Sunday, June 1, 2014, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Photo by Beth Hall
Artosphere trail concert series on Sunday, June 1, 2014, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Photo by Beth Hall

Walton Arts Center proudly presents the
7th Annual Artosphere Festival — Arkansas’ Arts and Nature Festival — May 10-27, 2016. Featuring both free and ticketed kids and family events, music performances and more at locations throughout Northwest Arkansas, Artosphere celebrates artists influenced by nature and provides a creative framework to discuss issues of sustainability.

A highlight of the festival is the annual Trail Mix weekend, and this year’s event is bigger and better than ever! Capturing the very essence of Artosphere, Trail Mix is a time of music, hiking and biking along local trails and the Razorback Regional Greenway. Creating a one-of-a-kind musical and outdoor experience, audiences hike or bike between stages while enjoying performances by bands from across the country. On Saturday, May 14, enjoy a full day of free programs along the Razorback Regional Greenway, from the Fayetteville to Bentonville town squares and many points in between – this festive event will also mark the one-year anniversary of the Razorback Greenway opening. And on Sunday, May 15, the Trail Mix fun comes to the Frisco Trail in downtown Fayetteville.

Another festival highlight is the Artosphere Festival Orchestra (AFO). Now in its sixth year and comprised of more than 90 musicians from prestigious ensembles, orchestras and music programs around the world, the AFO will once again gather in the Ozarks for a professional music-making experience unique to Artosphere.

Performing under the baton of internationally acclaimed Music Director Corrado Rovaris, the orchestra will present three concerts: the opening Russian Masterworks performance on May 21 showcasing works by Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff, featuring renowned pianist Benedetto Lupo (tickets $10); the Heroic Beethoven concert on May 24 presenting two works by Beethoven, complemented by the American debut of Impetus by Daniel Schnyder featuring the Dover Quartet (tickets $10); and the ever-popular Live from Crystal Bridges: Mozart in the Museum concert on May 27 featuring AFO musicians and soprano soloist Deanna Breiwick performing a program of Mozart concert arias and early Mozart symphonies, which will be broadcast live on KUAF 91.3 FM Public Radio. The May 21 and May 24 concerts take place at Walton Arts Center’s Baum Walker Hall.

Other 2016 Artosphere Festival Highlights:

Artosphere Chapel Music Series
Locations throughout Northwest Arkansas
May 10, 16, 18, 20 (times and locations vary)
Tickets: $10

Listen to exquisite music played in local churches and architectural marvels like St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville and the E. Fay Jones designed Mildred B. Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista. This year’s Chapel Series lineup includes vocalist/ukulelist Paula Fuga, bluegrass band The Barefoot Movement, and two renowned string quartets, the Dover Quartet and the Aizuri Quartet.

Starr Theater, Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville
Thursday, May 12, 7pm & Friday, May 13, 8pm
Tickets: $8

Part indie music concert, part performance poetry, part history lesson, SPIN celebrates the bicycle as muse, musical instrument and agent of social change. Inspired by the incredible true story of the first woman to ride around the world on a bicycle, SPIN features a vintage bike hooked up to simple electronics and played as a brilliant accompaniment to the magnetic songs and monologues at the heart of this performance.

Circa’s Carnival of the Animals
Baum Walker Hall, Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville
Friday, May 13, 2pm & 7pm
Tickets: $10-25

The wondrous world of the animal kingdom comes to life when the Circa Carnival comes to town! With whimsical tales of creatures of land and sea who tumble, fly, leap and spin, Carnival of the Animals will whisk you away on a thrilling circus escapade, with the antics of performers set to a moving backdrop with animated visuals that create the feeling of being in a larger-than-life story book.

Plus, much more!


For a complete festival event listing, visit artospherefestival.org.


Tracing Time: the Sculpture of Robert Lemming


Robert Lemming is an artist who, instead of looking to a past shaped by humans, looks to Arkansas’ pre-history to create abstract, yet organic, forms. The most recent work from the artist’s two ongoing, related series that he often shows together–Burrows and Fucoid Arrangements–will be shown at the Trinity Gallery in the Historic Arkansas Museum from May 13 until August 8, with the opening reception held the evening of May 13. Lemming’s unique, thoughtful, professional, and well-crafted art is the product of a lot of hard work, a little serendipity, and traces of emotional complexity.

Lemming came to sculpture in a round-about way. After graduating high school in Huntsville, AR, he attended Henderson State in Arkadephia for drawing, painting, and printmaking. Having not quite finished his degree, he moved back to Northwest Arkansas, stopped creating art, and worked outdoors. After a few years, Lemming finished his art degree at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in 2011.


The inspiration for the work Lemming makes came when he dropped out of school and began finding fossils while working with a survey crew in very remote areas; “You end up in a lot of beautiful places in Arkansas where people that own that land maybe have never seen . . . and so there was a strange adventurous quality [I had when] I started finding these fossils that had organic patterns [with] something very lush and beautiful about them,” Lemming said. He took them to the Geosciences Department at the University of Arkansas to discover that they were fucoids, indigenous trace fossils alive when a shallow sea covered Arkansas–a type of fossil created when animals would move and their physical pathways made scrapes in the earth that created overlapping shapes.

Lemming’s work, highlighted in Fucoid Arrangements, plays upon the barriers between the grotesque and the beautiful, challenging the assumption that if something is ugly, it can’t also be pretty. The animals responsible for these fossils “were bottom feeders, which seems to some people like a disgusting thing, and yet inadvertently through their very presence they have created these things that are beautiful 325 million years later by a random person finding them in the woods,” Lemming said. “What I don’t see enough of is when things get to that borderline abject state where you don’t know if they’re beautiful or if they’re ugly, and you have to kind of investigate yourself.”


To play upon this beautiful/ugly balance, the artist casts these abstracted organic forms from common synthetic materials such hot glue, an untraditional medium not thought of as beautiful, yet it becomes striking with the right touch and lighting. Lemming uses glue because it is found anywhere, translucent, and flexible, and the viewer will be able to see every moment where he retraced or reworked, laying bare the artistic process to those who look close enough.

The fossils themselves have inherent sculptural qualities that keep him fascinated while giving him a structure in which to base his work; “The best thing I could do, the most dangerous thing I could do, was to let some thing else dictate what I was doing, so by going to fossils, I can have endless, random possibilities of how I put them together and use them, but I can’t completely control it,” Lemming said. “I have to work with their limitations, so there was already a structural element that I was taking myself out of and paying homage to.”

The Burrow Series comes out of the continued interest in traces of movement–static representations of where organisms have been–but comes more directly from the artist’s imagination. In these, Lemming starts with a flat sheet of acrylic that he paints and then drills designs into, so every tool mark is visible in the final work. Coming from a two-dimensional background, Lemming see this process as drawing with tools rather than pencils or paint brushes. He thinks like a painter, but creates sculpture.


Although Lemming focuses on formal qualities of shape and color, he says emotions might be buried in his work. His sculptures seem like something integral and primal to our being, etched into us in times long before we were capable of documenting our experiences. Psychological thoughts might bubble to the surface with more time spent with this work, beyond the initial repulsion/pull gut reaction we have to seeing it for the first time. Something from a high school science class might seem familiar, something we studied invisible to the naked eye like nervous systems or firing neurons or parts of simple organisms in a shallow sea. Perhaps we see pieces of our physical selves, a kind of David Chronenbergian body horror playing on our fears of infection or injury, as we gawk like when we view specimens at a natural history museum. But Lemming’s sculptures evoke these feelings lightly, even politely, letting us come to the work in our own way. 

Robert Lemming will continue investigating what lies on the surface and just beneath in  Burrow Series and Fucoid Arrangements. “These both are very interesting; I’m able to find enough variety in these bodies of work,” Lemming said. “I think they’re personal enough. They’re things I don’t see anyone else doing right now, and maybe that will change, but they seem rich and I don’t feel like I’ve come to an end.” 

REVIEW: Animal Collective at George’s Majestic Lounge


It was a dicey proposition.  It could have been a five-hour round trip drive for nothing.

Psychedelic mavens Animal Collective were playing in Fayetteville, Arkansas – their first ever show in the state. I had waited too late to get tickets to the sold out show so I turned to Stubhub, a solidly shady ticket reseller where you have no contact with the seller. This would be a key point once I read the specifics on George’s Majestic Lounge website that any resold tickets had to have an email confirmation. I knew that chances were I was on the fringes of this concert, yet these things have a way of working out.

As the line to the venue door crept along, the warmth of a faint beat let me know that Animal Collective had already kicked off.  “Ain’t got time for that, the shows started,” said the doorman as he ushered us through no questions asked.  As luck would have it we were the breaking point in giving a damn about ticket verification.

I walked in to everything I hoped it would be – a pretty rare feeling. Panda Bear, Geologist and Avey Tare were set up across the front of the stage with all manner of samplers, keyboards, electric organs, mixers set up around them, occupying an individual space, while melding rhythms, beats, squawks, beeps and blips that formed new shapes and movements before disintegrating into something wholly new.


The visuals took a minute to process as I angled up the side of the packed room for better position. Behind each member of the band were large white Dadaist statues on which the intricate visual light show was projected, writhing and twisting along to the music. They had a new drummer who banged wildly and found strange pockets in the hypnotic sounds. This was a nice development as it freed up Panda Bear who typically plays drums and works samplers more toward the back of the stage.

Being about halfway familiar with the new album “Painting With” was a benefit, as I had no clue where the soundscape would detour next. It was guided by the soaring vocals of Panda Bear and the slow speak-singing switching instantly to spastic yelling of Avey Tare. At times both were harmonizing – stretching words that were rich and unintelligible then veering into a syncopated back-and-forth that was mesmerizing.

The crowd was in a frenzy down front as security kept trying to pick out someone from the happy madness happening near the stage. I eventually eased to the back of the room for a beer and to take in the encore, which started with the subdued magic and off kilter harps of “Bees” – muted blue lights and swarming oversized bees projected across the stage.  When the first notes of the new single “FloriDada” hit the crowd erupted and sang along as best they could to an Animal Collective twister.

After the show, I had that post-life affirming moment whenever you see something that’s surpasses expectation, that takes you places you had been wanting to go – when humanity as a whole goes up a few notches in your book.

“Anybody got a light?” said a sweaty pixie-haired girl in a purple skirt to no one in particular. I happened to, held it out, and asked her why she was dragged out of the show.

“For crowd surfing,” she said, inhaling the first drag deeply then slipping away quickly, wild-eyed into the night.

Books in Bloom Brings Writer Amy Stewart to Eureka Springs


Each year the Books in Bloom literary festival in Eureka Springs brings a bevy of authors to Northwest Arkansas. This year, The Idle Class was able to sit down with one of these authors to discuss her most recent work.

Amy Stewart is the author of eight books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Drunken Botanist and Flower Confidential. Her most recent book, Girl Waits With Gun, is an incredible feat of historical fiction set in rural New Jersey at the outset of the 20th century. Its protagonists are the stubbornly self-reliant Kopp sisters Constance, Norma, and Fleurette, who run afoul of a powerful silk manufacturer and soon find their home under siege. At a time when women were still fighting for the right to vote, the Kopp sisters allied themselves with local law enforcement and took up arms to protect their lives, their property, their independence.

And the whole nation took notice.

Set against the backdrop of factory strikes and a growing labor rights movement, Girl Waits With Gun depicts a world at a crossroads, struggling to reconcile the progress of technology and culture with the tenets and traditions of local communities. The Kopp sisters’ stories are brought to life with joyful and inventive use of the press of the day, and Stewart’s detailed and extensive research makes this century old tale leap from the page with clarity and urgency. A sequel, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, will be published by Houghton Mifflin in September.

[Idle Class]: How did you first come across the story of the Kopp sisters?

[Amy Stewart]: While researching The Drunken Botanist, I ran across a story about a man named Henry Kaufman who was arrested for smuggling tainted gin. I thought I should do a little more investigation to see if Henry Kaufman went on to do anything else interesting. That’s when I found an article in the New York Times from 1915 about a man named Henry Kaufman who ran his car into a horse-drawn carriage driven by these three sisters, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp. They got into a conflict over payment for the damages, and it escalated from there.

The sisters received kidnapping threats, shots were fired at their house, and they were generally tormented for almost a year. I never did figure out if this Henry Kaufman was the same one who was arrested for gin smuggling, but I kept digging into the story of the Kopp sisters.

Once I compiled a short stack of newspaper clippings, I thought, “Well, surely somebody has written a book about the Kopp sisters. At least a little local history book, or a children’s book, or something.” I was amazed to find out that nothing had been written about them at all. There was no book, no Wikipedia page—nothing. They’d been completely forgotten
about. I reconstructed their life stories from scratch.  

[Idle Class]: Given your previous experience in nonfiction, did you ever consider writing their story as a biography?

[Amy Stewart]: Briefly. But the problem with nonfiction (as I know well, having done a lot of it) is that you always have to be able to answer the “so what?” question. If I told you I was going to write a nonfiction book about about New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff, you might say, “So what? Why would I care about that?” People tend to decide whether or not to read a nonfiction book based first on what they think about the topic. People who are not interested in earthworms are not going to read my book about earthworms, no matter how fascinating it might be.

But fiction doesn’t have that problem, exactly. You might read a novel about a French tennis player or a Depression-era schoolteacher or a Civil War doctor, and it wouldn’t matter so much if you’re not normally interested in tennis players or doctors. You’ll read it because you think it’s a great story.

Also, there’s so much I don’t know about the Kopp sisters. I don’t know what they talked about at home, or why people did what they did. Months and sometimes years go by when I don’t know specifically what they were doing. Fiction lets me fill in those gaps.

[Idle Class]: You’ve written now in multiple genres, both fiction and nonfiction. How does this range of experience influence your writing?

[Amy Stewart]: Well, in both cases, I do a tremendous amount of research, which I very much enjoy. I’m always improving my process and figuring out new ways of digging up facts from the past. But in the case of fiction, what’s so great is that I get to write in someone else’s voice. My nonfiction books are all written in Amy Stewart’s voice, but these books are written in the first person from Constance’s perspective. So I get to think about how a woman born in 1877 would have talked about her life.

[Idle Class]: As you were writing, did your characters ever want to break from the factual restraints of the plot? How did you reconcile the demands of creative license with your loyalty to the historical record?

[Amy Stewart]: I’m trying to do a very specific thing, which is that I’m trying to take what I know–the actual facts of their lives, gleaned from newspaper articles, census records, and so on–and stitch them together, using fiction to fill in the gaps. So for the most part, I try to stay very faithful to their real lives. I have made a few changes, all of which I disclose at the end of the book. For instance, in real life, their mother was still alive. I killed her off a few years early, only to simplify the story and to make my job a little easier!  (Sorry, Mrs. Kopp.)

[Idle Class]: The story of Lucy Blake and her lost child is your largest fictional invention in Girl Waits With Gun; what inspired you to include her story?

[Amy Stewart]: The criminal in this story, Henry Kaufman, owned a silk dyeing factory. Paterson was a very industrial city in 1914, and the silk factory owners ran the town. So of course I had to research the silk industry a little. It turns out that the Paterson silk strikes of 1913 were a pivotal moment in the history of the American labor movement. I was fascinated by that story and wanted to tell it somehow.

So entire plot thread involving Lucy Blake is fiction. She’s a factory girl who worked in Henry Kaufman’s factory and got into some trouble. She was useful to me because she gave Constance a reason to reflect on her own past, and she helped me make Henry Kaufman more of a three-dimensional villain. She also gave me an excuse to talk about those strikes and what happened to workers during that time.

[Idle Class]: Media and the press play an important role in this story. During their standoff with Kaufman the sisters use media attention to ensure that their case will see justice, and their subsequent exposure in the papers puts them in jeopardy; it is also suggested at one point in the book that the enthusiastic coverage of New York City mob activity at least partially inspires the blackmail letters they receive. How do you feel your book engages with this transformative relationship between the Kopp sisters and media?

[Amy Stewart]: Well, much of what I know about the Kopps comes from newspaper clippings. Stories about this case ran all over the country. I wanted to use the actual newspaper clippings in the novel to help anchor the story in reality, but I also know that some of those stories were inaccurate. I can compare disparate newspaper accounts and see the mistakes. So it’s also fun to have scenes of the sisters reading their own newspaper coverage and reacting to all of those mistakes and misstatements.  

[Idle Class]: You have so many amusing and bizarre newspaper headlines scattered throughout the book, and I think you mention in your acknowledgements that all are actual headlines published during and around the events of the book. Did you find any headlines or anecdotes that you were especially fond of, but that did not make it into the book?

[Amy Stewart]: I did, but I’m not going to tell you about them, because I’m saving them for the next book!

[Idle Class]: You have done an extensive amount of research over the course of your writing career; what kind of sources do you find the most fun to work with, and which are the most informative? Have you ever come across relevant information in unusual or unexpected places?

[Amy Stewart]: Well, in this case, I found actual family members! I did a lot of research on Ancestry.com–I basically built the family’s entire family tree–and a few other family members were also working on the same tree. I’ve been able to sit down with people who either remembered one of the sisters from when they were children, or who had family stories to share. There’s nothing better than coming face-to-face with people who have firsthand knowledge of my characters. How many novelists get to do that?

[Idle Class]: Girl Waits With Gun includes stunning, vivid depictions of agricultural life in the early twentieth century. Were these a result of your already substantial experience in botany, or did you have to conduct more practical research in order to realize these scenes so fully?

[Amy Stewart]: Well, I certainly knew where to look. I have a guide to the trees of New Jersey published in those days, and a guide to the diseases of livestock, and all kinds of things like that. What was important to me was to think about life on a farm in New Jersey the way Constance would have. She mentioned that they did some canning, but she didn’t devote pages to describing it. That’s because canning was an ordinary part of life in those days, and she would no more spend pages describing that than you and I would spend pages describing what it’s like to answer our emails, or drive to work. It was just routine for them.

[Idle Class]: The Sequel to Girl Waits With Gun – Lady Cop Makes Trouble – comes out in September. Are you continuing to draw your inspiration from historical events in this second installment?

[Amy Stewart]: Oh yes! I know a tremendous amount about what happened in their lives for many years. This is one long story that I hope to tell in many installments. Some books, including Lady Cop will be very closely based on fact, and others will be more fictional, simply because I just don’t know what was happening in their lives at that time.

[Idle Class]: Do you know how many books you would like to write about the Kopp sisters? Do you have a conclusion in mind for them?

[Amy Stewart]: It sounds kind of crazy to say this, but it could be as many as ten books. Actually, it could be even more than that. But this is one long story that definitely has an end to it. As long as people keep reading, I’ll get to tell all of it.

[Idle Class]: Are you interested in writing more works of fiction? And if so, would they continue to be works based in history?

[Amy Stewart]: All I can think about right now is the Kopp sisters.

Amy Stewart will be in attendance at the Books in Bloom literary festival at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs on May 15th. More information on the festival can be found at www.booksinbloom.org. For more information on Amy Stewart, her works, and appearances, visit www.amystewart.com.