PINE BLUFF -- It seems a stretch to think of Pine Bluff, with all its woes, as a city that nurtures the visual arts. But that perception is gracefully rebutted at the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas on downtown Main Street.
The center's three art galleries are displaying a trio of shows. Each is quite different, but all provide the visual pleasure of imagery that stimulates creative thinking. A fourth gallery houses an interactive science exhibition.
One of the art exhibits is a flashback to painting and sculpture done by University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff faculty members and alumni in the 50 years since the founding of the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas.
The works in "UAPB & ASC: Five Decades of Collaboration" -- displayed until Nov. 3 -- are mainly by black artists. As the show's pamphlet notes, the center's birth in 1968 occurred when "African-American artists were fighting for recognition on the national arts scene."
Two of the show's paintings are by John Miller Howard, who established the university's art department in 1939 and remained on the faculty until his death in 1980. Howard's Still Life With Fruit, painted in 1967, is rich in colors and gives a fresh twist to traditional subject.
Another longtime UAPB professor, Henri Linton, is represented by one of the triptychs for which he is renowned. Arkansas Landscapes 1, 2, 3, painted in 1979, is described in the show's brochure as "a stunning example" of his creations with an airborne perspective.
Contemporary works are presented in "Fire & Fiber," featuring metalsmith David Clemons and fiber artist Sofia V. Gonzalez. Their art on display until July 28 was created over the past three years.
Clemons, an artist in residence and instructor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, uses the exhibit's brochure to explain his jewelry: "My practice has become deeply introspective as probing my understanding of loneliness, friendships, creativity, Southern culture, fatherhood and finding a new sense of place and redefined identity have been my source material."
Gonzalez is an adjunct professor at UALR and the University of Central Arkansas. She writes that "sewing, looping and layering naturally stained textiles focuses a restless mind as I archive through making to respond to the fear of what might happen when a place changes. A homesickness for places I still know saturates each stain."
Opened this month and running until July 7 is the "Pine Bluff High School Annual Art Exhibition." Several of its 20 paintings are by junior Ashia Shelton. Curator Lenore Shoults calls the talent in art teacher Shalisha Thomas' class "extraordinary."
The museum describes its current science show, "Imaginate," as "an interactive, multi-activity exhibition that promotes innovation through collaboration and creative risk-taking."
Participants "will experience activities where experimentation and failure are vital components, where it is safe to test ideas and build on them even further, where materials are seen as both a product of innovation as well as an important component, where collaboration is encouraged and where outcomes are many."
The center organizes a variety of activities, including "Second Saturday Family Funday," next scheduled for June 9. The monthly activities are designed to mesh with current art or science exhibits.
Latest in "Live Five," a monthly musical event, is Friday's performance by Billy Jeter, who plays guitar and dulcimer in a mix of folk, rock and blues. Admission is $5 for center members, $10 for others, with a minimum age requirement of 21.
The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, 701 S. Main St., Pine Bluff, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Visit ASC701.org or call (870) 536-3375.
Weekend on 05/31/2018
Print Headline: Pine Bluff home to varied mix of artists, exhibits