RUSSELLVILLE — Works by six local artists are included in the Heart of America Artists’ Association’s Arkansas Territory Collection and Exhibition, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the creation of the Arkansas Territory. The exhibit, which is co-sponsored by the River Valley Arts Center, opened Tuesday at The Center for the Arts at Russellville High School.
Local artists include Bill and Gloria Garrison, Brenda Morgan, Boyd Osborne and Debbie Frame Weibler, all of Russellville, and Doyle Young of Dardanelle.
Tanya Hendrix, executive director of the River Valley Arts Center, coordinated the show’s stop in Russellville. The exhibit is on display at The Center for the Arts because of lack of space at the River Valley Arts Center.
“This is a big thing for the River Valley area,” Hendrix said.
“I knew several local artists had entered and been selected for this show, and I wanted to bring the traveling show here to their home. I reached out to the community to help make this happen,” Hendrix said.
“We are very excited to partner with RVAC to host an exhibit of this magnitude,” said Chrissy Clayton, executive director of The Center for the Arts. “There are 80 pieces of framed artwork submitted by Arkansans that will be on display. … When Tanya mentioned her ideas about bringing this traveling show to our area, I was quick to jump on board.
“She had the connections and the means to secure the show, and The Center for the Arts has a gorgeous lobby and gallery to showcase these pieces. We are approaching one of our busiest times of the year at The Center, which will allow many of our patrons and students to enjoy the exhibit as well. One of our primary goals is to add value to the community, and we are grateful for our partnership with the River Valley Arts Center.”
The exhibit will remain at The Center for the Arts for 90 days. Clayton said the exhibit will be open to the public for viewing from 2:45-4 p.m. Monday through Friday; group reservations or other arrangements may be made by calling the box office at (479) 498-6600.
The juried exhibition was assembled by the Heart of America Artists’ Association, based in Siloam Springs, in partnership with the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The exhibit opened in March and will continue to travel to several locations, including museums and galleries in Arkansas and Oklahoma through 2020. Mindy N. Besaw, curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, served as juror for the exhibition.
Artists and their work in the exhibit include the following:
Gloria and Bill Garrison
The Garrisons are both represented in Gallery Central in Hot Springs, 1894 Gallery in Texarkana, Gallery 307 in Russellville and the Ingrid Gipson Sculptures Studio and Gallery in Oklahoma.
Bill works only in oils, and Gloria works in watercolor, acrylic and oil.
The Garrisons were selected as the first artists-in-residence at the Buffalo National River in 1996 and at Glacier National Park.
Bill Garrison’s entry in the Bicentennial exhibit is an oil painting titled Hoga and Razorback.
“The subject is significant because it is the only place in the world where two floating Naval vessels, which bookend World War II, can be seen — and it is right here in Arkansas,” he said. “I am connected to the subject, having served on U.S. Navy nuclear submarines in the 1960s, and I participated in the effort to bring the Razorback up the Arkansas River to North Little Rock and prepare her for museum duty.”
Gloria’s work in the show is a watercolor titled Rush.
“The ghost town of Rush stands as silent testimony to a bygone era,” Gloria said. “Zinc carbonate ore was discovered in this valley in the late 1880s, and the ‘rush’ was on. The population of the valley fluctuated with the zinc market, peaking around 1914-1917, when more than 5,000 people lived and worked here. Mines were abandoned as the zinc market crashed at the end of World War I. The remaining circa-1900 buildings in this Buffalo National River community housed miners until the 1960s and are now controlled by the National Park Service.”
Morgan is represented by Gallery 307 in Russellville and Lovetts Fine Art Gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She most recently exhibited her work in a solo show at the River Valley Arts Center. She is a signature member of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society.
“For as long as I can recall, I have loved to draw and paint,” Morgan said. “I always strive for realism in my oil paintings. Living with my family in rural Yell County has provided me the opportunity to capture the beauty of the landscapes, wildlife and horses. Though I am largely self-taught, I have attended several workshops given by prominent artists and have been painting professionally for 10 years.”
Morgan’s piece in the bicentennial exhibit is an oil painting titled Petit Jean Dawn.
“The landscape vista in my painting is from Petit Jean Mountain’s Sunrise Point,” she said. “The story of Petit Jean (French for Little John) takes place in the 18th century, when a young French girl stowed away on a voyage to the New World in order to be near her fiance. Legend has it that she died of fever and was buried on the mountain’s Sunrise Point.”
Osborne, who has lived in Russellville for 42 years, earned a bachelor’s degree in art in 1970 at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He is a real estate broker and owns his own real estate company, as well as The Nest, an antique and home decor business.
“I quit doing art after I graduated from college but picked it back up about 15 years ago and began painting again,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to sell enough paintings to support my habit — art.
“I am friends with John
Lasater, [co-founder with Todd A. Williams of the Heart of America Artists’ Association] in Northwest Arkansas, and he encouraged me to enter this show. … I had never entered a juried show before, … and I was accepted,” Osborne said.
Osborne’s work in the show is an oil painting titled Council Oak, which depicts a massive white oak tree that is in Dardanelle and is listed on the National Register.
“This painting features the only remaining oak tree at the site of the June 24, 1823, Cherokee signing of a treaty forfeiting all land in Arkansas, resulting in the displacement of the Cherokee to Oklahoma,” Osborne said. “[It’s] a sad memorial.”
Debbie Frame Weibler
A native of Yell County, Weibler moved to Russellville approximately 20 years ago. She has been self-employed for 30 years and recently returned to Arkansas Tech University to seek a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She is a retired Arkansas Army National Guard veteran with 27 years of service and is a past chairwoman of the Traveling Arts Fiesta, a community art and cultural integration project.
“I chose the 1891 pontoon bridge as the painting subject for the Arkansas Territory Bicentennial Art Competition and was fortunate to be juried into the show,” Weibler said. “The historic pontoon bridge spanned the Arkansas River between Dardanelle [in Yell County] and Russellville [in Pope County], a beautiful area in Arkansas that my family has called home for seven generations.
“I paint simple representational Americana like U.S. flags, ordinary or vintage objects and the beauty of nature in florals and landscapes,” she said. “I have a loose, colorful, impressionistic style and often paint with a pallet knife and my fingers rather than a brush. My medium of choice is oil on cotton canvas.”
Her work in the show is an acrylic and oil on canvas titled If You Had a Nickel .
“The Dardanelle pontoon bridge was approximately 2,208 feet long and believed to be the longest pontoon bridge ever built over moving water,” she said. “It cost a nickel to walk across, 15 cents on horseback and a quarter for a buggy — just add a nickel per cow or horse. The bridge remained in use for almost 40 years.”
Young is an Air Force veteran and a retired jewelry designer. He is a 1965 graduate of Dardanelle High School and attended Arkansas Tech from 1970-1973.
He is the recipient of the 2017 Visual Artist Beaux Arts Academy Award from the River Valley Arts Center and the 2018 winner of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum’s Permanent Collection Purchase Award.
“I am one of the fortunate few to have two paintings in the bicentennial show,” he said, noting that both paintings reflect “the black (African American) culture of Arkansas.”
He titled his two watercolors in the show Where Jim Crow Dwells No More and The Last Sermon.
“I am a true Southerner at heart, and I take pleasure in all aspects of the Southern culture,” Young said. “Having traveled extensively throughout the Delta regions of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, I have become captivated with the remnants of a cultural potpourri that is becoming more and more just a fading memory — a culture consisting not only of cotton fields, sharecropper shacks, field labor and river plantations, but the colorful small-town Southern way of life as well. In my paintings, I want to recreate this disappearing culture and, in doing so, depict the people and their culture with all the respect and dignity possible.”
Young said his painting Where Jim Crow Dwells No More is a “rendition of the atmosphere at the Yell County Courthouse in Dardanelle after the abolishment of the notorious Jim Crow laws, which adversely affected the rights of Southern blacks at polling places.
“This abolishment was successfully accomplished by passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Young said. “The Yell County Courthouse in Dardanelle is one of two county seats and was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.”
Young said his second painting, The Last Sermon, features a church in Helena-West Helena in Phillips County.
“The Centennial Baptist Church in this painting … was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 25, 1987, and designated a National Historic Landmark on July 21, 2003,” Young said. “This building serves as a physical symbol of the work of [the] Rev. Elias Camp Morris.
Morris dedicated his life to furthering the religious, political and societal achievements of African Americans, both locally and nationally, through his work as president and founder of the National Baptist Convention.”
Young, who is a signature member of the Watercolor Honor Society, will also have an exhibit of his works on display at the River Valley Arts Center during October. A reception for that show is planned for 1-3 p.m. today.
For more information on the Arkansas Territory Collection and Exhibition, visit heartofamericaartists.com.