Summer Splash exhibit on display in Arkadelphia

By Wayne Bryan Published June 12, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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Wayne Bryan

Artist and Arkadelphia Arts Center volunteer Dolores Middleton, left, joins Arts Center Director Farrell Ford to look over some prints and original paintings by Clark County painter Sam Blackmon that are on display and for sale at the arts center on Main Street in downtown Arkadelphia.

ARKADELPHIA — The Arkadelphia Arts Center was opened on Main Street to bring art to the community. The Caddo River Arts Guild was created about nine years ago to support and highlight local artists in the region.

The two organizations, whose goals and membership often overlap, combined to create Summer Splash, an exhibition highlighting mostly local artists to not only show their work to the community, but to invite art lovers in the region to take artwork home with them.

“It is a good thing to come see the art on display,” said Farrell Ford, director of the arts center and one of the four founders of the Caddo River Art Guild. “It is a great thing for people to see something they like and buy it. Nothing supports the arts and artists like people in the community having a work of a local artist on display in their homes or workplace.”

Summer Splash opened June 4 and will run through Aug. 2. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

Ford said the exhibition is very diverse, offering all types of media, including pen-and-ink drawings, watercolors, oil paintings, textiles, ceramics and art made from gourds.

“We sent requests to artists all over the region. I wish we had some more,” she said. “However, artists can still come in, and if there is space and the work is good, we can add it to the exhibition as pieces are sold.”

Ford said that if a visitor wants to purchase a piece, all the art has a price listed on the identifying card near the artwork that gives the title of the piece and the name of the artist.

“We have pieces from some very good and well-known artists in the area, like Ed Martin, Richard Stevens and Rita Earl,” she said. “They are professionals.”

Another local artist with several pieces in the exhibition is Nik Chamberlain.

“She is an artist who just seems to be unable to not produce art,” Ford said, showing several of Chamberlain’s watercolors of horses. “She lives in Bismarck near the lake, and it seems sometimes she can turn out a work in very little time. I wish I could do that.”

A new artist in the community has contributed several paintings to the show and also has prints available for sale.

“Sam Blackmon is a new artist that uses bold colors, and some of the best work depicts musicians,” Ford said.

Another new artist is John Paul Jones, who creates digital art that is then printed and framed.

Ford is also an artist and has some work on display. She said she has become a better teacher than a painter.

“I don’t concentrate on painting,” she said. “I am a restless person, and while I paint, I have diversified into all kinds of media.”

While she is in the arts center, Ford is working on a piece using wool in a process called felting.

“I take colored pieces of wool and place them over the canvas and punch them into the canvas with a punch with three needles sticking out of it,” she said. “The process is something like a punch needle used for rugs, but the textile fibers are very small and can be blended easier.”

Using the tufts of wool, Ford was working on what looked to be a landscape.

Greeting guests at the arts center was volunteer Dolores Middleton, another Arkadelphia artist who has samples of her art on display.

Middleton, an Ohio native who moved to Arkadelphia in 1989, makes temari, a Japanese art form in which a ball is covered with yarn and thread. The covering is then a surface for colorful designs that are hand-embroidered.

Two weeks after Summer Splash ends, the arts center will open Aug. 17 with a new display of Arkansas Champion Trees by Linda Williams Palmer of Hot Springs. A collection of large colored-pencil drawings depict the largest trees of their kind in Arkansas.

Palmer’s drawings of the champion trees have been a popular exhibit around the state and come to Arkadelphia with the help of grants from the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Clark County Strategic Plan Foundation.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or

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