LITTLE ROCK Two artists from the Tri-Lakes Edition coverage area have works in the 31st annual Small Works on Paper touring exhibition at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.
The free exhibit, which opened Jan. 4, is sponsored by the Arkansas Arts Council. It features 39 works by 35 artists and will remain on display at the Little Rock venue until Saturday.
Patrick Ralston, director of the Arkansas Arts Council, told the large audience gathered in the gallery for the opening reception that this year’s exhibition “is outstanding.”
“This is one of the best shows we have had and one of the best opening receptions ever,” he said. “We are here in our sister institution, and that gives us an opportunity to also highlight what they are doing here. This is a great space.”
Both the Arkansas Arts Council and the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center are divisions of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
Small Works on Paper is a juried visual art exhibition that showcases artwork no larger than 18 by 24 inches by Arkansas artists who are members of the Arkansas Artist Registry, an online gallery showcasing the artwork of Arkansas artists.
Two Hot Springs artists — Kristin DeGeorge and Michael Preble — have works in the exhibition, which will move to Harding University in Searcy in February, opening Feb. 5 and closing Feb. 23. The exhibit will be shown at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia in September, with an opening reception set from noon to 1 p.m. in the Russell Fine Art Gallery.
DeGeorge is participating in the Small Works on Paper exhibit for the second time. This year’s entry is Mare Nostrum: The Crossing, which is a mixed-media — watercolor and pen and ink — monotype. DeGeorge spent most of her adult life in Spain. She came to Hot Springs a few years ago because of family ties and lives and works in Hot Springs, as well as Montpellier, France, and Madrid, Spain.
She studied fine arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Jersey and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in 1987. She studied graphic design and printmaking at a private university in Barcelona, Spain, from 1989 to 1991.
“Being a part of this and last year’s SWOP, a traveling show, is right in line with my nomadic spirit,” she said. “Having my base in Arkansas is important for exchange with the vibrant art scene here.”
She recently founded an international printmaking movement for women artists, which will launch soon in Hot Springs and several countries around the world.
“I have spent much of my life in Mediterranean countries,” DeGeorge said. “It is impossible to ignore the tragedy and human suffering of those crossing the sea today to escape war, poverty and slavery when you see the blue waters. This mixed-media monotype is a mere reflection of how deeply we are stained by this turmoil and how it influences my work.”
Preble is also participating in the Small Works on Paper exhibit for a second time with an archival photograph he titled Bamboo Abstract, Kyoto.
“For many years, the art of Japan, particularly printmaking in the 19th century, has served as an inspiration for my photography,” he said. “And as a curator, I was fortunate to curate a number of Japanese Ukiyo-e exhibitions.
“Last November, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and Japan, focusing on Kyoto,” he said. “Kyoto was chosen because it maintains much of its history — many of its historic monuments, architecture and traditions remain intact. One of our outings was to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, one of Japan’s national treasures, a short train ride from Kyoto.
“Bamboo Abstract was photographed in its forest,” Preble said. “Initially, I took several shots of bamboo, differing in composition, color, form and shape. Eventually, two emerged above the rest. One, emphasizing the extraordinary height of the bamboo, was transformed into a 60-inch-high work on vinyl. The other I manipulated digitally to create two panorama images, one called Bamboo, Day, the other Bamboo, Night. For a third in the series, I worked with a selection of software filters, laying one atop the other, then manipulating hue and saturation. I eventually reached my goal — to push the image to a point just before total abstraction occurred. So Bamboo Abstract emerged with brilliant color, an abstract linear quality and just enough ‘bambooness’ to reference the subject.”
Preble has been a photographer since the late 1980s, first publishing his Caribbean photographs with International Voyager Media in Miami, Florida. Subsequently, he participated in many art fairs and museum and gallery exhibitions. His photographs can be seen at the Artists’ Workshop Gallery in Hot Springs and at Local Colour Gallery in Little Rock.
Preble retired in 2013, having served approximately 40 years as a curator, including as curator and program director at the Arkansas Arts Center. He is also editor of the William Baziotes Catalogue Raisonné.
Preble holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Cornell University and a Master of Arts degree in humanities from California State University at Dominguez Hills.
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a museum dedicated to telling the story of the African-American experience in Arkansas. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 501 W. Ninth St. in Little Rock. For more information, call (501) 683-3593.
For more information on the Small Works on Paper exhibition, including the touring schedule, visit the Arkansas Arts Council’s website, www.arkansasarts.org.