New Conference for Creatives Offers Valuable Resources


NWA Creative Arts Network, in collaboration with New Design School, is proud to announce the first ever Creative Exchange Conference, a multidisciplinary arts conference focused on professional and business development within the creative community in Northwest Arkansas.

“The creative industry is now the third largest employer in Arkansas, yet it is woefully under represented in terms of access to affordable professional development opportunities,” Conference Director Lauren Embree explains. CXC plans to change that. “The Creative Exchange Conference is a one of a kind event for artists of all kinds to connect with other creatives as well as business professionals who can help you take your talent to the next level.”

Catch the action on August 5th-6th in Fayetteville at the Town Center and surrounding locations. Then, head north to Bentonville on August 7th for programming at 21C Museum Hotel. The weekend promises to deliver with 14 workshops, 3 community panel discussions, and 6 speakers covering marketing, funding, legal issues and entrepreneurship. Hands on workshops like “Marketing Your Art Beyond the Gallery,” “Website Basics,” “Creating an Artist Residency,” and “Meditation for the Creative Process” introduce you to tools unique to navigating the creative industry. Scheduled speakers feature notable business leaders from organizations including the Arkansas Arts Council, Crystal Bridges, Startup Junkie Consulting, New Design School, Modthink, the City of Fayetteville, Unexpected Festival and RopeSwing Group, as well as several creative artists and entrepreneurs. Immerse yourself with fellow creatives and get a chance for one-on-one mentoring from business, marketing, and legal professionals around the region. When the days are done, let loose and enjoy art and performance at carefully curated social events set inside two iconic Fayetteville venues, Puritan Coffee and Matt Miller Studio. Want to find out more? Visit for the full schedule of events.

Whether you’re looking to start or grow your own creative business, get hired for your skills, find freelance work, or simply reconnect with your community, CXC is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss. Secure your ticket from the conference’s official website. Tickets for CXC are available through July 31st for $125, and increase August 1st to $165. Single day tickets are available for $75. In addition to access to all speakers, workshops, panels, performances, and special events over the conference weekend, ticket holders will also enjoy several meals from Wood Stone Craft Pizza, The Green Goat, Mangos Gourmet Taco Shop, Onyx Coffee Lab, and more. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and military veterans.

To learn more about NWA Creative Arts Network, visit and New Design School at


Justus Fine Art Gallery to Host “Water Works” Exhibit in August

“Moving” by Laura Raborn
“Moving” by Laura Raborn

During a month when the temperatures traditionally soar, Justus Fine Art Gallery will offer a cool respite with an exhibit entitled Water Works. The August exhibit will showcase a selection of paintings which include water in the subject matter from selected artists including: Mike Elsass, Matthew Hasty, Dolores Justus, Gerri Much, Laura Raborn, Tony Saladino, and Rebecca Thompson. From the detailed, luminous paintings of Memphis artist Matthew Hasty, to the loosely rendered abstractions of Texas artist Tony Saladino, the show will feature a wide range of interpretations on the theme. The exhibit will open with a reception on Friday, August 5 from 5-9 p.m., in conjunction with the monthly Hot Springs Gallery Walk. The show will be on display fromAugust 5 – 31, 2016.

“The tides are in our veins.” – Robinson Jeffers
“Rivers have what man most respects and longs for in his own life—a capacity for renewal and replenishment, continual energy, creativity, cleansing.” – (John Kauffman, A Look At Our North Atlantic Rivers)
Suggestive of land, sky, and water, Mike Elsass’ strong abstracts are rendered on rusted sheets of steel. To Elsass the steel represents, “strength, life’s elements, aging, imperfection, and beauty.” Many pieces have over 40 coats of paint and glazing. The artist approaches his work with a spiritual and mediative mindset. Drawing inspiration from nature, Elsass travels throughout the country painting en plein air. Elsass’ work has been widely exhibited and collected.
“He (Mike Elsass) is dedicated to landscapes that reflect the moment of the soul; his paintings have emotional and visual connections with places of choice and memories beyond the present.  Elsass expresses his awe for natural elements through color, with a spontaneity and joyfulness that are the main traits of his work.  In his paintings, a memory of the horizon persists as a last thought before space dissolves.” – Anna Friedenberg

Memphis artist Matthew Hasty creates hauntingly beautiful landscapes of the South. His mastery of the effects of light in the landscape yields paintings that seem to emanate their own light. Hasty considers his paintings to be influenced primarily by landscape painters working in the Nineteenth Century. Prominent landscape and marine painters of the Hudson River school, the Luminists, the Barbizon school the Dusseldorf school, and notable Russian painters. Hasty’s paintings can be found in collections throughout the United States, as well as Russia, Germany, France, and South Korea.

Inspired by the natural world, Dolores Justus’ paintings reflect a sensitive and intuitive view that distills patterns of light and form into compositions that engage and inspire. Her painterly style also contributes to the interactive quality of her art. In her exploration of the confluence of optics and painterly abstraction, her work belongs to the “new landscape” movement of contemporary American art. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the nation and abroad for more than 20 years.

“I’ve always had a strong identification with nature and am continually in awe of the depth of inspiration that it offers. Despite all it’s variety, there are essential elements in it and in us all, that we respond to. It is those universal, underlying truths that I seek to communicate in my own work.” – Dolores Justus


“Holding True” by Dolores Justus
“Holding True” by Dolores Justus
A selection of Gerri Much’s energetic abstracts that are suggestive of the waves that she watches from her Florida home on Sanibel Island, are also included in the exhibition. Dividing her time between Arkansas and Florida, Much’s expressive paintings has been included in many corporate and private collections.
Laura Raborn’s paintings have been exhibited throughout Arkansas and are in private collections across the United States, including the new CARTI Collection in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her work has earned numerous awards such as the Wilma and Jack Diner Purchase Award at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Juror Award at the Rosenzweig Biennial Juried Exhibition. Raborn was also awarded the Arkansas Arts Council’s Sally A. Williams Study Grant and completed an artist residency in Noepoli, Italy.
“I paint and draw the human figure and places as a way to explore modern life. Formal contrasts are important elements in my work: for example, there is representation contrasting abstraction. The abstract layers interrupting the body or place allude to the idea of time, or a frozen moment in time, which is difficult for us to recognize in a visually inundated and fast-paced world. Recognizable forms emerge from obscured layers of paint, which refers to the vast amount of unknown information in everything we see.” – Laura Raborn
Tony Saladino is highly respected for his expressive abstracts, landscapes, still life constructions, and printmaking. His work has been included in notable public and private collections including the collections of Tyson Foods, Bicardi Limited, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation of Austin, Texas, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Dallas, the Museum of Art and Archaeology of the University of Missouri, and the Museum of International Art in Brazil. Saladino has also been featured in The New York Times, Southwest Art Magazine, The Artist’s Magazine, American Artist Magazine, the Best of Sketching and Drawing by Rockport Publishers, Enrich Your Paintings with Texture by David Band of North Light Books, along with many other publications.
“Art is about more than beauty. An artist communicates an idea, or feeling, or tries to make connections. I want each piece to possess a spatial energy that compels a viewer to look. I want the images to be universal enough to be compelling. The viewer is either repulsed, pleased, made interested, or stimulated in such a way that they are made to consider other ideas that are not so easily conveyed by printed media.” – Tony Saladino
Rebecca Thompson’s paintings are inspired from her travels, from ordinary objects that catch her eye in a new way, and from people caught in a pivotal moment. Her atmospheric strokes of color, her washes of light and her sense of place engage the viewer and invite lingering. Thompson prefers to paint on-site. If this is not possible, she relies on site-made sketches, color notes, and journal entries to supplement photographic records. Along with many solo and group exhibitions, Thompson’s paintings have also been included in numerous public and private collections including: UAMS, Little Rock, AR; CARTI, Little Rock, AR; St. Vincent P. Allen Smith Garden Home, Little Rock, AR; the William J. Clinton/Thea Foundation Art Across Arkansas Collection, and many others.
Owned by artist Dolores Justus, Justus Fine Art Gallery offers a wide range of original art including sculpture, paintings, ceramics, photography, and more by recognized artists. Opening receptions are held in conjunction with the Hot Springs Gallery Walk held from 5-9 p.m. the first Friday of every month in downtown Hot Springs. Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday or by appointment. For more information, call 501-321-2335 or visit online at

Trillium Salon Series Brings Classical Music to Intimate Settings


I’m really excited to announce a brand new house concert series I’ve launched with locals Ron Chioldi and Glenn France. Trillium Salon Series takes live classical music outside the concert hall into intimate settings, this time at the KUAF studio (9 S. School at the corner of Mountain directly across from the Fayetteville Public Library) this Friday, July 22 from 7-9 p.m. featuring percussion recital from visiting musician, and Fayetteville native, Aaron Ragsdale.

The aim of TSS is to connect likeminded individuals and also celebrate the vibrant local culture in our hills.

For this installment of TSS we’ve partnered with Apple Blossom Brewing, Blackboard Grocery, Foxhole Public House, Ozark Natural Foods, and Conscious Coco for this concert to offer concertgoers fantastic food and drinks made locally.

The concert, as well as food & libations, are free. It’s a rad opportunity to hear vibrant classical music in an intimate setting while enjoying handcrafted libations and victuals made right here in the Ozark Mountains.

Check out the Facebook event.  For additional information you can email


“Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” coming to The Pocket in Hot Springs this August


The musical thriller Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is coming to The Pocket Community Theatre in August. The 26-member cast at The Pocket is having fun rehearsing this show with music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; the book was written by Hugh Wheeler and adapted by Christopher Bond.

This play details the partnership between fellow tenants Benjamin Barker, alias Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, and Mrs. Lovett who operates a struggling pie shop. Sweeney Todd has been wrongfully sentenced to life imprisonment by a corrupt judge and returns to get revenge only to find out his family has been torn apart. Their plans lead to some pretty deadly consequences,

Mrs. Lovett2
Roxanna Collingwood as Mrs. Lovett

Directed by Taylor Oxley, Sweeney Todd will be at The Pocket on August 5, 6, 12, and 13 at 7:30 p.m., with matinees on Sunday, August 7 and 14 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The box office hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday thru Saturday, beginning August 1.

Reservations can be made by visiting The Pocket website at or calling 623-8585. The Pocket Community Theatre is located at 170 Ravine, just off Park, at the intersection of Ramble and Ravine streets in Downtown Hot Springs.


Latino Art Project and Argenta Gallery/Rock City Werks presents “Collaboration of Color”

Rick VanHook-Conundrum
The Latino Art Project of North Little Rock, Arkansas is partnering with Argenta Gallery/Rock City Werks of North Little Rock to present “Collaboration of Color,” an art exhibit.  The exhibit will celebrate artists from a wide variety of backgrounds (nationalities, races, ethnicities and genders) showcasing colorful abstract art.

America today is comprised of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, races, and ethnicities.  This exhibit strives to celebrate our diverse society through the work of artists from all walks of life.  These works, done in a variety of exciting mediums, will inspire you to celebrate, not only our differences, but also our common love for amazing art.
Vickie Hendrix-Siebenmorgen-Color Me Happy
Participating artists include:  Virmarie DePoyster, Luis Saldaña, Jeannie Stone, Vickie Hendrix-Siebenmorgen, Buddy Whitlock, Jatso, Rolando Quintero, Gerald Brown, and Rick VanHook.

An opening reception will be held at Argenta Gallery on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.  “Collaboration of Color” will be on display at Argenta Gallery from July 13 through August 29.  Argenta Gallery is located at 413 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art debuts its first-ever folk art exhibition, American Made: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces the opening of American Made: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum, on viewJuly 2 through September 19, 2016. The exhibition features 115+ works of art including quilts, carvings, signs, samplers, weathervanes, whirligigs, and more—handmade by Americans when the nation was young. Tickets are $10 for adults; free for ages 18 and under and museum members.

“We’re excited for visitors to experience Crystal Bridges’ first-ever folk art exhibition which provides a glimpse into early American life with these extraordinary objects,” says Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Executive Director Rod Bigelow. “As we approach the fourth-of-July holiday, American Made tells the story of a nation of makers.”

Created especially for Crystal Bridges in partnership with the American Folk Art Museum in New York, the selection of artworks and exhibition concept forAmerican Made were provided by Stacy C. Hollander, Deputy Director, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions, American Folk Art Museum, NY. Written interpretation, exhibition design and educational programs were developed by Crystal Bridges. Sponsored at Crystal Bridges by George’s and Becky and Bob Alexander.

Photo courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Photo courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

“We are honored that the American Folk Art Museum was invited to collaborate on the first folk art exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,” says Hollander. “We are dedicated to reaching new audiences and having them discover the beauty and power of folk art to testify, inspire, move, and inform from a perspective that is unique in American art.”

 American Made shares the story of early American culture and identity. Societal values, national symbols, and personal narratives are stitched together to showcase American creativity and resourcefulness. The artworks in the exhibition demonstrate a high level of skill and help chronicle everyday life of early Americans, as well as themes of patriotism and politics.

The exceptional variety in materials, subject matter, and scale can be seen throughout American Made. A few examples include a set of 4-inch tall, delicately crafted paper figurines of horses and soldiers used as children’s toys post-Revolutionary War; a sprawling 6 x 7-foot embroidered silk map quilt of the United States that creates a snapshot of the nation’s geography in the late 1800s; and a weathervane featuring an 8-foot tall copper figure of the Delaware Indian leader, Tammany (1890)—possibly the largest surviving American weathervane.

American Made invites the viewer to look closely and discover the stories behind these works of art,” says Crystal Bridges Curator Mindy Besaw.  “Many of the artists’ names in American Made will never be known. They did not receive formal art education, but they had tremendous expertise and skill, and this exhibition is a way to honor their important contributions to our own artistic heritage.”

This exhibition reveals the self-taught nature of American artists from the mid-1700s to the early-1900s, and tells the story of how these objects found their way into museums. After the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the development of American identity and American art progressed along similar paths. The United States began as a grand experiment in self-governance, in which each citizen became a self-reliant participant. The idea of being “self-taught” became especially important to early American artists, who adopted the term as a point of pride. The self-taught artist expressed independence, self-realization, and self-direction as the nation cultivated a new, cohesive American identity.

The artworks in this exhibition were not shown and appreciated in art museums until the 1920s and 1930s. This gradual shift of folk art from everyday life to the walls of museums began with a growing desire to connect with an authentic American past. In the early twentieth century, a small but influential group of artists, curators, dealers, collectors, and critics started collecting and exhibiting American folk art. Their renewed interest drew attention to art forms that had previously existed primarily as household goods. For the first time, the work of self-taught American artists was integrated into the larger context of the fine arts, and the ordinary objects that once filled lives and homes were recognized as extraordinary.

“Folk art embodies a uniquely American character that resonates with many of us,” says Besaw. “The artwork in American Made highlights the role folk art has played in the creation of a national identity. The exhibition also complements Crystal Bridges’ own collection of paintings and sculpture and broadens our definitions of American art.”

Additional treasures complement the exhibition at Crystal Bridges:

  • Audio Tour – features 20 objects, centering on the stories behind the works.
  • Discovery Guide– a brochure designed for all ages that includes a scavenger hunt and encourages an in-depth look at the objects.
  • In-Gallery Activity Space – invites visitors to create their own magnetic quilt squares, contribute to a community loom, and design stencil boxes to take home.
  • Local Artist Demonstration Space – weavers, quilters, metalsmiths, woodworkers, broom makers, and many more will demonstrate their crafts throughout the exhibition.
  • Take-Home Reading List – suggests works of early American literature published during the era of the exhibition. Rare editions of many of these books are on display in the museum library including Moby Dick, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Exhibition Tours: Mondays and Thursdays, 1 to 2 p.m.  Enjoy a tour through the temporary exhibition with one of Crystal Bridges’ knowledgeable Gallery Guides.
  • Public Programs: Crystal Bridges will offer more than 20  programs related to the exhibition, including the Exhibition Opening Lecture onFriday, July 1, with Stacy C. Hollander, Deputy Director, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum.

Non-flash photography is welcome for personal, non-commercial use. #CBAmericanMade.

About Crystal Bridges
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Since opening in 2011, the museum has welcomed 2.5 million visitors, with no cost for admission. The collection spans five centuries of American masterworks from Colonial to current day and is enhanced by temporary exhibitions. The museum is nestled on 120-acres of Ozark landscape and was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A rare Frank Lloyd Wright house was preserved and recently relocated to the museum grounds. Crystal Bridges offers public programs including lectures, performances, classes, and teacher development opportunities. Some 130,000 school children have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. Additional museum amenities include a restaurant, gift store, library, and 3.5 miles of art and walking trails.

For more information, visit  

The Crude Mechancials Shakespeare in the Park performance to feature “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”

The Crude Mechanicals are back for a third season in Fayetteville’s Gulley Park at the gazebo. This time to tackle the magic and wonder of the show that gave them their name “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 

The free performances will take place near the Fayetteville Gulley Park gazebo. Audience members are encouraged to bring seating or blankets, along with picnic dinners. All shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. from July 8 to 12.

In their production of “Twelfth Night” last summer, The Crude Mechanicals flipped genders and played with expected norms of character and identity. Women loved women and men loved men. This was done to reflect the world as it is today and to reflect the fantastic community of Northwest Arkansas this company proudly calls home. This summer The Crude Mechanicals are looking to continue exploring representation with more gender flipping in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Crude Mechanicals are proud to represent on stage what they see in the community.

Our hearts were broken by the news of the shooting in Orlando this month. In an act of solidarity The Crude Mechanicals will be dedicating this summer season in the memory of those lost. The company will also be donating 50% of the earnings from this summer’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Planting Peace’s CrowdRise based in Orlando and the Northwest Arkansas Center for Equality.

Bottle Rocket Gallery North and Regional Artists Team Up to Bring Video Art to Bentonville

Bottle Rocket Gallery recently opened up their newest location at 207 NE 2nd St. in downtown Bentonville through an alliance with Artansas, a local organization that promotes Arkansas artists. In just a few days, Bottle Rocket presents Video – Future Art, its third show in just three months. Utilizing video to explore the world of motion picture, Video – Future Art alters guests’ perceptions of the visual landscape through manipulation, recombination and experimentation.

Works by Mike Abb, Kat Wilson, Dillon Dooms, Corey Johnson, Sara Segerlin, Danny Baskin and Joel Vedros showcase the complexity of human connection and the importance of human memory. Using video – a medium to record memories – as a tool not only to record, but to manipulate popular memories, the works of these artists inspire viewers to question their own patterns of recollection and discover new ways of seeing into their everyday environments.

“The recollection of memories is like creating a work of graffiti on the walls of the mind,” featured artist Cory Perry explains. “Over time, thoughts/words/expressions get fuzzy, marked out, altered or deleted. In my work I take the ‘memory’ and push it through this struggle, so by the end the piece becomes an eclectic beauty.”

To celebrate the work of these artists, Bottle Rocket North will host a soft opening at the upcoming First Friday in Bentonville on July 1st from 6-10pm, followed by a closing reception the following First Friday on August 5th from 6-10pm. This show is free and open to the public! Follow the artists’ progress all month as they evolve their pieces into final form, just in time for the closing reception where Bottle Rocket North will provide music, refreshments and plenty of good company.

For further details, please contact Kat Wilson at

Justus Fine Art Gallery features Gary Simmons, Kristin DeGeorge, Donnie Copeland & Michael Ashley in July

The July exhibit at Justus Fine Art Gallery will feature a selection of pen and ink drawings by Gary Simmons, along with original prints by Kristin DeGeorge, paintings by Donnie Copeland, and new work by ceramic artist Michael Ashley. The exhibit will open with a reception on Friday, July 1 from 5-9 p.m., in conjunction with the monthly Hot Springs Gallery Walk. The show will be on display from July 1 – 31, 2016.
Gary Simmons is a multifacted artist having worked in numerous media, but it is his pen and ink drawings that he is most known for. His mastery of the use of line is evident in Changing of the Guard, an imaginative piece that features riggings and tattered trappings with hints of bird forms connected by a central mast. Simmons’ drawing entitled Destiny offers a close-up view of dark poles lashed together by fraying cords in a dramatic composition. Simmons is the author of The Technical Pen, considered a “must have” for anyone interesting in learning more about pen and ink techniques. Originally published by Watson Guptill in 1992, the book has been republished by Echo Point Books. Along with an extensive exhibition history and long list of collectors, Simmons recently retired from serving as an art professor at Henderson State University. He has also taught numerous pen and ink workshops throughout the nation at venues including: the Dallas Arts and Crafts Association in Dallas, TX; the National Art Materials Trade Association in Philadelphis, PA and in Arlington, VA; the Flushing Art League in Queens, NY; Allegheny Highland Arts in Clifton Forge, VA: Woodlands Workshop in Vancouver, WA; the Visual Arts Center of NW Florida in Panama City, FL; Rapid City Arts Council in Rapid City, SD; Artist and Display in Milwaukee, WI; the Barnwell Art Center in Shreveport, LA; the Naperville Art League in Naperville, IL; the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, AR; Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR; the Daytona Beach Art League in Daytona Beach, FL; Camp Brook Comer Gallery in Bethel, Vermont; and many others.

Kristin DeGeorge’s mixed media monoprints employ the use of delicate etched lines that suggest barbed wire, chain mail, flags, and armor, along with accents of color and texture in her spare and intriguing compositions. DeGeorge’s work has been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, including Coffee Brea: Tertulia en Imáenes at the U.S. Embassaby in Madrid (1994), Spain; Warriors at Galerîa Hartmann-La Santa in Barcelona (2012); Works on Paper and Metal, de Pata Negra in Madrid (2012), Made in Spain: Weapons of Unwelcome, England Gallery, Arkansas State University, Beebe, AR (2016); Inked Arkansas, work by the Arkansas Society of Printmakers at the Laman Library, North Little Rock, AR (2016); and others.
Donnie Copeland’s painted paper on canvas stria employ strong patterns of line and form which are suggestive of the planted fields and prairie that run along Mississippi and Arkansas, while also bringing in patterns from cultures from throughout the world. Donnie Copeland earned a BA in Studio arts from Ouachita Baptist University and then continued his education at the University of Dallas where he obtained a MFA in painting. Copeland currently serves as Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Chair of the Department of Visual Arts at Ouachita Baptist University where he teaches painting, drawing, and art history.

“Bent curvilinear bands are painted on paper and then affixed to the canvas which in turn serves as a platform for the abstractions. There is a definitive point of distinction between the paper, paint and canvas. Copeland’s paintings suggest cross-sections of ambiguous natural forms or… geological structures and sedimentary materials. Through his investigation of charcoal, acrylic and paper, Copeland’s lyrical strata emerge as both rich and detached. The worked-over surface of the collage elements contradicts the austerity of the pristine canvases.” – Eric Sutphin, Boundary Hunters: Four Parts to Every Story. Exhibit Catalog, 2012.
New work by ceramic artist Michael Ashley will also be featured in the July exhibit at Justus Fine Art Gallery. Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, Ashley spent his childhood playing in rivers, creeks and exploring the complex landscape of the Ozarks. He earned a MFA in ceramics from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS and currently teaches workshops and courses throughout the nation. He also operates a studio and gallery in Tupelo, MS. A prolific artist, Ashley’s work has been widely collected.
“Participating in a sensory overloaded society keeps most of us moving to a beat that discourages insight and quiet appreciation. I strive to create opportunities for people to pause and reflect by adapting functional and utilitarian hand-made objects into moments of serenity and meditation.” – Michael Ashley
Owned by artist Dolores Justus, Justus Fine Art Gallery offers a wide range of original art including sculpture, paintings, ceramics, photography, and more by recognized artists. Opening receptions are held in conjunction with the Hot Springs Gallery Walk held from 5-9 p.m. the first Friday of every month in downtown Hot Springs. Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday or by appointment. For more information, call 501-321-2335 or visit online at

Nichelle Nichols packs the house at Rock City Comic Expo


Nichelle Nichols, famous for her portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, appeared at River City Comic Expo in Little Rock this past weekend.

Uhura was one of the first African American women on television whose role was not of a servant or slave. Her career has inspired generations of young women including fellow actress Whoopi Goldberg and astronaut Mae Jemison, who in 1992 became the first African American woman to enter space.

During the expo fans had the opportunity to meet the iconic actress at her booth in the showroom. The highlight of her appearance, however, was her question and answer panel Sunday afternoon.

Nichols, who is now in her 80s and walks with the assistance of a cane, entered a packed conference room to standing ovation. Her message was one of compassion and solidarity, and her responses emphasized the importance of collaboration between fans and production in making Star Trek a creative success. Women from every race and generation stood to thank Nichols for her inspiration, and Nichols responded to each with heartfelt gratitude. “The people watching affect you as much as you affect the audience,” she said, and her respect for her fans was apparent in the consideration with which she treated their questions.

The response that struck this author most powerfully was to the question of her favorite memory from making the show. Nichols said that it was the selflessness of the project and the cooperation of her coworkers that has stayed with her the longest. “The character [of Uhura] can’t mean anything in isolation.” She went on to say, “you never know everything; you learn in every show and every script where someone is coming from. You aren’t just talking at another person or at the world, you’re talking with them. You learn from one another.”