October 20, 2012
For much of my third day of Fall Break I was confined to my hotel room, struggling through some gastroenteritis. But things had calmed down enough by 2 p.m. for me to venture out. I did not dare go hiking in my condition, needing adequate restrooms wherever I ventured, but I could take in some of downtown Little Rock.
Arkansas Arts Center
I always enjoy art museums, so I drove over to the Arkansas Arts Center, which has several galleries off a central atrium. The atrium was a busy scramble of people and tables, setting up for a wedding to be held after the museum closed. I was encouraged to go ahead and venture into all of the galleries, but I did skip one because of the bustle in its entryway with lights and rigging of some sort.
The museum’s main focus is collecting works on paper, but the type of paper works museums tend to collect has never appealed much to me. I do enjoy multiple pen-and-ink representational art pieces in my home by family friend Douglas Fulks and the more surrealistic C. J. Bradford of Norman, who likes to have a symbolic meaning in his works. But I generally don’t like abstract art on paper.
I was particularly put off by the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel collection for Arkansas: they are the New York City couple who collected thousands of conceptual and minimalist works on his postal worker salary and donated 50 pieces to each of the 50 states. A museum that collects paper art got a lot of paper art from the Vogels, and combining paper art with minimalism leaves me out. I was particularly put off by Richard Tuttle’s watercolors on notebook paper. I have no patience with scanning these “complex and difficult” works for “intricacies”. It all seems pretentious nonsense at best.
But I did see a few works I liked a great deal. One of Chuck Close’s self-portraits (the lower one on this linked webpage) was the anchor for the Multiplicity exhibition and it was fun to get close and see the very colorful swirls of paint on titled background squares which resolved into the portrait as you backed away. It’s a hand-made photo mosaic of the type which became popular on the internet some years back.
The museum allows photography in its permanent collection if you include a person in the shot (presumably to make it an original work). So in the fun exhibit of glass works I held a flashlight by Mark S. Ferguson which projected a beam of glass and dipped my hand in a bowl by Sonja Blomdahl.
Sculpture at the River Market
I then drove down to the Arkansas River to see the annual Sculpture at the River Market, with 43 artists selling about 700 pieces. My favorites were Conversation With Myself by Lorri Acott, a pole with stained glass inserts by Reza Pishgahi and Rock, Paper, Scissors by Kevin Box. It was fun to later learn that Kevin grew up in Bartlesville and graduated from BHS in 1995. His clever origami-style sculptures Plane Folding and Crane Unfolding are permanent additions along the riverside.
Other permanent sculptures I enjoyed were The River Market Pig by Sandy Scott, which was an interesting background for a bloated figure in the foreground. I managed to get the moon to appear in the Touch the Sky sculpture, and liked one of the figures in Denny Haskew’s Native Knowledge.
That brought me to Junction Bridge, built in 1899 by the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. It carried trains across the Arkansas River until 1984 and now it is a pedestrian bridge with its 17-foot-wide and 360-foot-long lift span lofting one 40 feet above the river for good views of the Arkansas Queen riverboat and the USS Razorback submarine. I watched a skier on the river below and a trolley car traversing an adjacent bridge linking Little Rock and North Little Rock. Below me were folks lounging in the sculpture garden and a mother and daughter playing beneath Native Knowledge.
The bridge’s south anchorage is on the Little Rock which provided the name for the capital city of Arkansas, although sadly much of it was blasted away when the bridge was constructed. A nearby history pavilion sported a large wooden Indian head carved by Peter Toth.
I concluded my riverfront walk as dusk approached, heading back to my hotel to rest and recover for the journey home the following day.
October 21, 2012
On the last day of Fall Break I had lingering problems from my bout of gastroenteritis as I zipped home. Along the way I stopped over at Mount Magazine. I was a bit feverish but still managed to get a shot of the water feature out front and folks enjoying the views from turnouts along Overlook Drive. The trees up on the cooler mountain slopes were sporting autumn colors.
I was very glad to bring this trip to a close, what with the unwanted health issues from some bad food. Thankfully they did not prevent me from accomplishing all of my major objectives, and I enjoyed my brief foray to Little Rock.