Art Organizations

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Arkansas Art Educators

Arkansas Art Educators (AAE) is a statewide organization of art teachers. The organization’s focus is to advocate for art education through supporting legislation and providing quality professional development for all art instructors in the state. AAE began as the art section of the Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA), which later became the Arkansas Education Association (AEA). The art group met as early as November 1922 for the ASTA fall conference. Classroom teachers from across the state gathered to discuss how to incorporate picture study and art history into the classroom curriculum. The group continued to meet yearly to hold elections and to discuss ways to further art education in the Arkansas school system. Members supported art education by writing articles …

Arkansas Arts Center

The Arkansas Arts Center in the MacArthur Park Historic District of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is an art museum with a children’s theater and a studio school. Its mission is to facilitate learning, inspiration, and creative expression for all ages and backgrounds. The seed for the Arkansas Arts Center was planted in 1914, when the Fine Arts Club of Arkansas was formed. In 1937, its core supporters and volunteers contributed to the creation of the Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park. In 1959, in cooperation with the museum’s Fine Arts Club, the Little Rock Junior League, and the city of Little Rock, the future governor and first lady—Winthrop and Jeannette Rockefeller—agreed to help launch a statewide capital campaign …

Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

The Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts is composed of a group of well-connected Arkansas women who work to support female Arkansas artists. The committee focuses upon primarily visual art done by noted female artists in the state, though it also sponsors writers, poets, and songwriters. Learning about the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) while on a visit to Washington DC, Ed Dell Wortz, a member of the Wortz family, and Helen Walton of the Arkansas Walton family called together a group of Arkansas women interested in the arts on February 1, 1989, to develop plans for a state committee. The Arkansas Committee of the NMWA was organized in Little Rock (Pulaski …

Arkansas Humanities Council (AHC)

aka: Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities
The Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities, known since its early days as the Arkansas Humanities Council (AHC), was formed in 1974 for the purpose of supporting and promoting the humanities in the state. The AHC and humanities councils for fifty-five other states and territories were established by Congress and operate under the guidelines of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an independent agency of the United States government. While state councils were formed under NEH legislation, they are separate, independent entities. The AHC is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Arkansas. In its legislation creating the NEH, Congress gave the term “humanities” a wide-ranging definition. In brief, it may include history, literature, languages, philosophy, archaeology, jurisprudence, comparative …

Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM), is the hub for fine arts, performing arts, arts and science classes, and hands-on children’s science exhibits for the ten-county area of southeastern Arkansas. The mission of the Arts & Science Center is to “provide opportunities for the practice, teaching, performance, enjoyment and understanding of the arts and sciences.” The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas traces its history to March 4, 1968, when two local community arts groups merged by ordinance of the Pine Bluff City Council and assumed the name of Civic Center Arts Museum. Soon afterward, the center grew to include performing arts, science exhibits, …

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, located in Bentonville (Benton County), officially opened to the public on November 11, 2011. The 201,000-square-foot museum with its 120 acres of forest and garden was designed to portray the spirit of America. The museum was founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart Inc. The museum took its name from Crystal Spring, which is located nearby on the grounds, and the bridge-shaped design of the building, designed by Moshe Safdie. The museum collection includes art from colonial times to the present day. It also offers temporary exhibits from other museums and collections. Alice Walton was ranked as one of the richest people in the United States in 2010 and …

Fort Smith Regional Art Museum

The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum (RAM) is an art museum with exhibits, art classes, and a studio art school for children and adults. It serves as a regional center for art education and appreciation in the greater Fort Smith (Sebastian County) area. What today is RAM began in 1948 as the Arkansas Association of University Women (AAUW). In September 1950, the AAUW held its first exhibit at the KFPW Studios Fine Art Gallery in Fort Smith. The AAUW also formed a sketch class at Fort Smith Junior College, now the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS). In 1951, the AAUW became the Associated Artists of Fort Smith (AAFS) and began exhibiting art and holding classes across the city. …

Mid-Southern Watercolorists

Mid-Southern Watercolorists (MSW) was founded and incorporated in 1970 as a nonprofit organization by five artists: Doris Williamson Mapes, Bruce R. Anderson, Josephine Graham, Edwin C. Brewer, and Catherine Tharp Altvater. The purpose of MSW, which has its headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is to elevate the stature of watercolor and educate the public about the significance of watercolor as an important creative, permanent painting medium; to promote the highest aesthetic standards; and to further the interest of painters in watercolor by its programs and competitive exhibits. At the group’s first organizational meeting, nearly forty people, responding to a newspaper advertisement, met in the Sears Community Room at University Mall in Little Rock. MSW’s articles of incorporation and by-laws, …

Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair

aka: War Eagle Fair
The Ozark Arts and Crafts Fair (a.k.a. War Eagle Fair) is an arts and crafts festival held each October. The event takes place on historic War Eagle Mills Farm, seventeen miles east of Rogers (Benton County). The fair, begun in 1954, grew out of an exhibition hosted by a local handweavers guild and into an institution that some have described as the “granddaddy of craft fairs.” Each year, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors flock to this rural community in the northwest corner of the state. Throughout its history, the fair has served as a major economic stimulus within the state and contributed thousands of dollars to scholarship funds at major universities and colleges throughout Arkansas. The War Eagle …

River Valley Arts Center

The River Valley Arts Center in Russellville (Pope County) offers art classes; week-long immersion art camps; more than forty exhibitions each year; and live performances in storytelling, music, and dance. The center receives small corporate and foundation grants and a grant from the Arkansas Arts Council but is supported mainly by memberships. The impetus behind the establishment of the nonprofit River Valley Arts Center was Richard Barton, who was born and raised in Russellville. After his military service, he studied and painted abroad for about ten years. After returning to Arkansas, he shared his passion for art with others. On June 27, 1981, Barton met with Charolette Doty, John Hlass, Sue Gray, Marge Crabaugh, Bonita Church, Bobbie Moore, Faye Crumpler, …

Thea Foundation

Paul and Linda Leopoulos founded the Thea Foundation in 2001, six months after their seventeen-year-old daughter Thea Kay Leopoulos died in a car accident. The nonprofit foundation’s mission is based on the idea that young people achieve confidence and personal success due to involvement with the arts. The Leopouloses found this to be true of their daughter, and they wanted other young people to benefit from the arts as Thea had. The Thea Foundation’s scholarship program awards Arkansas high school seniors based on their hard work and artistic talents. The twenty-eight scholarships in the categories of visual and performing arts, short film, creative writing, and poetry slam are not based on test scores or GPAs, nor do the students have …

Walton Arts Center

Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street in Fayetteville (Washington County) is a unique facility not only for its wealth of arts programs usually found in a much larger metropolitan area but also because of the circumstances of its creation. A shared vision, sense of community, and willingness to compromise led to a mutually beneficial union of public and private sectors. In the 1980s, the Sam Walton family donated a $5 million gift toward construction of a performance space at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville for touring shows and other events. At the same time, the city of Fayetteville was considering a multiuse space to accommodate various groups, conferences, and special events. A tax on hotels, motels, and restaurants …