Entries - Entry Category: Arts - Starting with R

Rabbit Foot Lodge

Built in 1908, Rabbit Foot Lodge in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) is one of the best examples of Adirondack-style architecture in Arkansas. It was most notably home to J. William Fulbright and his family from 1936 to 1941. Located at 2711 Silent Grove Road, on a hillside above a spring and creek, the two-story residence was built for Dr. Charles F. Perkins and Edith Clark Perkins on land that had formerly been the old Jonathan “Uncle Bud” Smith homestead. The property had once been owned by Joseph L. Dickson as part of an 1857 land grant, deeded as remedy for claims arising under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830); this treaty was mentioned on the abstract deed and …

Rackensack Folklore Society

The Rackensack Folklore Society was organized for the purpose of perpetuating the traditional folk music of the people of Arkansas, particularly in the mountainous area of the north-central part of the state. Stone County, located in the area, was unique in having music-making families throughout its boundaries who founded the base of the Rackensack organization. The society was begun by Lloyd Hollister, a doctor, and his wife, Martha. They came from the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area in 1962 and settled in the Fox (Stone County) community. Hollister set up his medical practice in Mountain View (Stone County) with Howard Monroe, a noted surgeon in the area. The Hollisters attended various musical sessions in the Fox community and joined in the …

Ragon, Imogene McConnell

Imogene McConnell Ragon was a well-known twentieth-century Arkansas educator and plein air (outdoor) artist. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout Arkansas and nationally. Today, she is best remembered for her watercolors of native wildflowers and landscapes, and her architectural renderings of historic buildings all around Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. The dogwood and the magnolia are among her most popular subjects. Imogene McConnell was born on May 21, 1887, in Clarksville (Johnson County) into the pioneer family of Edward Taylor McConnell and Alice Adele Porter McConnell. She was the third of four children. In 1894, when she was six years old, her father was appointed superintendent of the Arkansas prison by Governor William Meade Fishback. The family moved to Little …

Randolph County Courthouse

The Randolph County Courthouse is an Art Deco–style brick and concrete building erected in 1940–1941 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in Pocahontas (Randolph County). The courthouse was built in a natural depression of one city block across the street to the west from what became known as the Old Randolph County Courthouse, the former seat of county government. The Randolph County Courthouse, which houses the offices and government of Randolph County, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 22, 1996. Citizens of Randolph County voted their approval for the building of a new courthouse in 1940. After the election, Judge Joe S. Decker appointed an advisory board and building commissioners for the construction of …

Raney, Wayne

Wayne Raney was an American country singer and harmonica player best known for his hit song “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me.” Raney, along with fellow Arkansan Lonnie Glosson, played a major role in making the harmonica a popular instrument through their musical performances as well as through their mail-order harmonica business. Wayne Raney was born on August 17, 1921, on a farm near Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County), the youngest of five children of William Franklin (Frank) Raney and Bonnie Davis Raney. Due to a foot deformity, he could not do heavy labor. Instead, he pursued an interest in music, learning to play harmonica at an early age. He was drawn to the harmonica after hearing a street performer …

Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the longtime home of the minor league baseball team originally known as the Little Rock Travelers, a name that was later changed to the Arkansas Travelers. Known as Travelers Field when it opened in 1932, the stadium’s name was changed in 1966 in honor of Ray Winder, whose involvement with the Travelers, in roles ranging from ticket taker to part-owner and general manager, spanned half a century. The stadium, designed by the Little Rock architecture firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio, was built in 1931. It was located in what was known as Fair Park (later War Memorial Park), with the Little Rock Zoo as a neighbor to the west. In …

Raye, Collin

aka: Floyd Elliott Wray
With five platinum records and fifteen number-one singles to his credit, country star Collin Raye is one of the most successful recording artists to ever have emerged from Arkansas. Joining the ranks of acclaimed country performers Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and K. T. Oslin, Raye has proven to be a versatile performer, turning out diverse hits ranging from tender ballads to socially relevant tunes. Collin Raye was born Floyd Elliott Wray on August 22, 1960, in De Queen (Sevier County). His mother, Lois Wray, had achieved notoriety in the 1950s as a regional musician, opening shows for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Later in her solo career, Raye’s mother had Raye and his older brother accompany her on …

Reeves-Melson House

The Reeves-Melson House is a dogtrot-style wooden home located in eastern Montgomery County. With two pens constructed in 1882 and 1888, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 5, 1986. The first pen was built by William Reeves in 1882. After service as a sergeant in the First Arkansas Infantry (Union) during the Civil War, Reeves appears as a sheriff in Montgomery County in the 1870 census. He subsequently was listed as both a farmer and merchant in other censuses. Information in the National Register nomination for the property states that Reeves homesteaded eighty acres at that time. Reeves lived and farmed the land until the winter of 1887–88, when Larkin Melson purchased the …

Rialto Theater (El Dorado)

The Rialto Theater stands as a testament to the cosmopolitan atmosphere found in El Dorado (Union County) during the prosperous 1920s oil-boom era. Completed in September 1929, the Rialto is one of the largest and most elaborate theaters in southern Arkansas. Restoration efforts on the theater were begun as part of phase two of the Murphy Arts District (MAD) plan to revitalize downtown El Dorado. Located at 117 East Cedar Street in downtown El Dorado, the Rialto Theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1986. Designed by the local architectural firm of Kolben, Hunter, and Boyd, and built at a cost of $250,000, the Rialto is an example of the Classical Revival style. The …

Rice, Jenny Eakin Delony

aka: Jenny Delony
aka: Jenny Meyrowitz
Jenny Eakin Delony Rice was the first woman artist from Arkansas to rise to national and international prominence as a painter and the founder of collegiate art education in Arkansas. Though Delony specialized in portraiture, her subject matter included miniatures, landscape, wildlife, still life, and genre (scenes of everyday life). Jenny Delony was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on May 13, 1866, to Alchyny Turner Delony, a capitalist, lawyer, and educator, and Elizabeth Lawson Pearson Delony, a teacher. She had four siblings. The Delony family lived in Washington until 1885, when they moved to Nashville (Howard County). In 1890, the Delonys moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). After finishing elementary schooling in Washington, Delony attended Wesleyan Female Institute (Stuart Hall) …

Rice, Wilburn Steven (Bill)

Wilburn Steven “Bill” Rice is an award-winning Arkansas musician and songwriter who, along with writing partner Jerry Foster, wrote hit records for some of the best-known figures in American music, including Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Conway Twitty. Rice has received many songwriting awards and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994. Bill Rice was born on April 19, 1939, in the small town of Datto (Clay County) to Arkansas natives Dewey Wilburn “Wid” Rice and Nova Stevens Rice. When he was a child, his family struggled to make a living in a tiny rural town in the throes of the Great Depression. According to the 1940 census, Rice’s father worked only twenty …

Rich, Charlie

Charlie Rich was a gospel, blues, and country singer and songwriter, and was probably the most musically gifted of the first generation of rockabilly stars. Charlie Rich was born on December 14, 1932, in Colt (St. Francis County), the only son (he had two sisters) of devout Missionary Baptist parents who sang in a church quartet; his mother also played piano. He grew up immersed in the whole range of southern music—along with the church music, there was the country music on the radio and the blues he learned from a sharecropper named C. J., who taught him piano. Rich played in his high school band in Forrest City (St. Francis County), where he was already known as Charlie Kenton …

Riddle, Almeda James

Discovered by a ballad collector in the 1950s, Almeda James Riddle of Greers Ferry (Cleburne County) became a prominent figure in America’s folk music revival. Her memory of ballads, hymns, and children’s songs was one of the largest single repertories documented by folksong scholars. After two decades of concerts and recordings, she received the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts for her contributions to the preservation of Ozark folksong traditions. Almeda James was born on November 21, 1898, in the community of West Pangburn (Cleburne County). She was the fifth of eight children of J. L. James, a timber worker, and Martha Frances Wilkerson. In 1916, she married H. Price Riddle and started family life near Heber …

Riedel, Teddy DeLano

aka: Teddy Redell
Teddy DeLano Riedel was a professional musician and songwriter. He toured widely throughout the nation and world, and his songs were recorded by artists such as Elvis Presley and country music star Sonny James. Teddy Riedel was born on June 7, 1937, in Quitman (Cleburne and Faulkner counties) to Ted Wilson Riedel and Mabel Quinn Riedel. His parents were farmers, primarily growing strawberries, which were a major crop in the region. Riedel graduated from Rose Bud High School in Rose Bud (White County). While in high school, Riedel played piano on KWCB radio in Searcy (White County) and became a member of radio show host Lloyd Sutherland’s band. He was befriended by the harmonica virtuoso Wayne Raney, who recruited the …

Riggs-Hamilton American Legion Post 20

Riggs-Hamilton American Legion Post 20, located at 215 North Denver Avenue in Russellville (Pope County), is a Rustic-style structure erected in 1936 with assistance from the Civil Works Administration (CWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a pair of Depression-era federal relief programs. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 15, 1994. In January 1919, veterans in Russellville organized an Army-Navy Club to serve as a civic organization for the veterans and their families, with members having to have received honorable discharges from the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps after serving overseas or on home guard duty and with honorary membership open to relatives of men who died in service. Robert A. Ragsdale, who came …

Riley, Billy Lee

Billy Lee Riley was a rockabilly musician whose career began in the Arkansas Delta and peaked in the 1950s after he signed a record deal with Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. He recorded many songs during his life, alternating between the rockabilly style that made him famous and the blues music that he loved. Billy Lee Riley was born in Pocahontas (Randolph County) on October 5, 1933, to Amos and Mae Riley; he was one of nine children. Although his father was a house painter by trade, the economic disparities of the time led the family into sharecropping. As a result, the Riley family moved frequently to different towns in Arkansas, at times living in intense poverty. Through this lifestyle, …

Rimrock Records

Rimrock Records was founded by country music artist Wayne Raney and his son, Zyndall, in Concord (Cleburne County) in 1961. It is said to be Arkansas’s first and only record-manufacturing company. It was located on Rimrock Road off Heber Springs Road just west of the point at which Highway 87 from Banner (Cleburne County) intersects with Highway 25 at Concord. Such luminaries as the Stanley Brothers and Red Smiley made records, both 45 RPM and LPs, for Rimrock, and Elvis Presley and Ike and Tina Turner did dubbing and studio work there in the early 1970s. Big-name celebrities were often flown in to the Batesville Regional Airport at Southside (Independence County), slipping into Concord at night unbeknownst to the media. …

Rison Cities Service Station

The Rison Cities Service Station is located at the corner of Main and Magnolia streets in Rison (Cleveland County). Constructed in 1938 in an English Revival style, the building was used as a location for the sale of gasoline and other related automobile products for more than thirty years. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 10, 2001. The growing popularity of automobiles in the early twentieth century led to the establishment of various businesses to supply gasoline and other products to drivers. With many located in residential areas, these buildings were often constructed to resemble nearby homes. The design of this station resembles that of several other stations in the state, including the …

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, …

Riverfest Arts and Music Festival

Riverfest Arts and Music Festival was Arkansas’s premier summer event, offering three days of music on the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Operated by Riverfest Inc., a nonprofit organization overseen by a board of directors, Riverfest attracted more than 250,000 people in 2013, creating an economic impact of more than $30 million in the local community. Founded by the Junior League of Little Rock as the Summer Arts Festival in July 1978, the first Riverfest presented the American Wind Symphony and other activities at Murray Park. Following the event’s initial success, the date of the Summer Arts Festival was moved the next year to its well-known Memorial Day weekend …

Rivers, Diana

Diana Rivers is an author, artist, and promoter of women’s communities and art venues. Rivers has published numerous short stories and eight novels in the genre of speculative fiction, seven of which compose the Hadra series. Rivers lives in Madison County. Diana Rivers was born Diana Duer Smith on October 17, 1931, in New York City and grew up in suburban New Jersey near Morristown. Her parents, Schuyler Smith and Elizabeth Larocque, separated before she was three years old. Her mother wrote poems and stories, publishing a book of verse, Satan’s Shadow, in 1930. Rivers’s great aunt Caroline King Duer was a poet and an editor for Vogue magazine, and her other great aunt, Alice Duer Miller, wrote poems, stories, …

Robertson, Thomas Arthur

Thomas Arthur Robertson is a painter known for portraits, abstract paintings, and screen prints whose works are included in numerous public and private collections. Three of his pieces—the watercolor Anthurium and the serigraphs The Orange Point and Flight—are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Thomas Arthur Robertson was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 19, 1911. Robertson’s father, Thomas N. Robertson, was an attorney and secretary of the Arkansas Law School. Following graduation from Little Rock High School, young Robertson enrolled in the law school and began studying contract and real estate law. Soon, however, with his father’s blessing, Robertson decided against legal study in favor of a career in art. …

Robinson Center Music Hall

aka: Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium
aka: Robinson Auditorium
Built in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the Great Depression as a Public Works Administration (PWA) project, the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium—known since 1973 as the Robinson Center Music Hall—frequently hosts touring performances, including Broadway musicals, and is home to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Named for Lonoke County native Joseph Taylor Robinson, who was governor of Arkansas and a U.S. senator, the Art Deco building on Markham Avenue near Broadway Street is a major Little Rock landmark. Prior to the construction of the Robinson Center, Little Rock’s largest auditorium for concerts and other public events was at Little Rock High School (now called Central High School). Senator Robinson, a strong supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, helped …

Robinson, Fatima

Fatima Robinson was described in the New York Times as “one of the most sought-after hip-hop and popular music choreographers in the world” and was once named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 100 most creative people in the world of entertainment. Her dance choreography has been featured in numerous music videos, movies, and television shows. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2004. Fatima Robinson was born on August 29, 1971, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). At four years of age, she left Arkansas with her mother, Kadijah Furqan, and two younger sisters, moving to Los Angeles, California. She graduated from high school at age sixteen and started to work in her mother’s hair …

Rock ‘n’ Roll Highway 67

Rock ’n’ Roll Highway 67 is a segment of U.S. Highway 67 running approximately 111 miles through Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, and Clay counties in northeastern Arkansas, with a portion in Miller County in southwestern Arkansas. Its name is derived from the rockabilly music performed at nightclubs and other venues located on the highway by legendary progenitors of the genre. The designation by Act 497 of the Eighty-seventh Arkansas General Assembly in 2009 has since spawned music festivals, museum exhibits, and plaques in communities situated along the highway. The term “rockabilly”—a portmanteau of “rock ’n’ roll” and “hillbilly”—is defined as a mixture of blues, country and western, and rhythm and blues music that saw its biggest popularity beginning in the post–World War II era …

Rock and Roll Music

Although the roots of rock and roll music can be traced back much farther, the genre made its musical debut in the early 1950s with artists such as Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis, all of whom helped shape what rock music has become. The music of the 1950s gave way to the 1960s and the popularity of surf music, as well as the very significant “British Invasion.” Arkansas musicians played an important part in this burgeoning genre. In the mid-1960s, Little Rock (Pulaski County), along with many other mid-sized American cities, saw an explosion in the formation of garage bands, all of which began competing for performance spots at school, fraternity, and country club engagements. This excitement …

Rock Island Line, The

“The Rock Island Line” is a world-famous song—recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Harry Belafonte, and Grandpa Jones—the earliest known performances of which are two 1934 recordings made in Arkansas prisons. A tall tale in rhyme, the song’s subject is a train so fast that it arrives at its destination in Little Rock (at 8:49) before its departure from Memphis (at “half past nine”). The collectors responsible for the first recordings were an unlikely pair. John Lomax was a white, Mississippi-born college teacher already well known as a folksong collector, while Huddie Ledbetter was a black, Louisiana-born singer and guitar player just released from prison and soon to be even better known as “Leadbelly.” Arriving in Arkansas in late …

Rockabilly

Rockabilly, a musical genre that appeared in the mid-1950s, is an early form of rock and roll initially performed by white musicians from the mid-South. Several Arkansans became leading rockabilly songwriters and performers. A distinctly American phenomenon, rockabilly was strongly influenced by developments of the post–World War II period. These include the introduction of the single-play 45 rpm record, the early phases of the civil rights movement, and the increasing mobility and purchasing power of teenagers. Characterized by a blues structure and a moderately fast tempo, rockabilly music celebrated a world of cars, parties, fast living, and sexual relationships. Its use of slang, much of it from African-American origins, and its themes of rebellious youth and self-indulgence, caused disfavor in …

Rockport Cemetery

Established in 1851 and expanded for the first time around 1900, the Rockport Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in the Hot Spring County town of Rockport. The oldest sections of the cemetery were added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 28, 2002. The first settlers in the Rockport area arrived by the 1820s. A post office serving the community opened in 1837, and the settlement became the county seat in 1846. Never a large town, the community did have several churches, stores, and law offices by 1850. Some sources report that land for the establishment of a cemetery was given by John A. Miller in 1851. This is unlikely, as Miller was only fifteen years old …

Rodriguez, Dionicio

Dionicio Rodriguez, recognized as one of America’s foremost faux bois sculptors, created works that resembled wood, though made of concrete, with its peeling bark, wormholes, and signs of decay. Arkansas was a major beneficiary of his work, which was an outgrowth of a Mexican folk tradition known as el trabajo rustico (rustic work). Under the designation “The Arkansas Sculptures of Dionicio Rodriguez,” his Arkansas work was collectively listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 4, 1986. Dionicio Rodriguez was born in Toluca, Mexico, the son of Catarine Rodriguez; his birthdate is a matter of some dispute, usually stated as either April 11, 1891, or April 8, 1893. With little formal education, he began, at the age of …

Rolling Stones, Arrest of the

The July 5, 1975, lunch stop and subsequent arrest of Rolling Stones guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards in Fordyce (Dallas County) is fabled in the town, and the incident became a footnote in the police record of the English rock and roll band. The quintet had cultivated an outlaw image since its early 1960s inception. According to Arkansas native Bill Carter, the Rolling Stones’ attorney from 1973 to 1990, everywhere the Stones went in 1975, it was a challenge for authorities. Riot squads and narcotics units were common during the group’s twenty-eight-city, $13 million-grossing tour. On July 4, the Stones played Memphis, Tennessee. Richards and new member Wood decided to sightsee and drive with two others to their July …

Rosedale Plantation Barn

The Rosedale Plantation Barn is a hand-hewn log barn located near Arkadelphia (Clark County). Constructed around 1860, it is the largest known log barn in Clark County and possibly the state. It was moved from its original location southeast of Arkadelphia in 2002 and reassembled in its current location north of the city. The barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2004. Rosedale Plantation was built by Joseph Allen Whitaker, who arrived in Clark County around 1855. Purchasing land in Manchester Township, which belonged to both Dallas and Clark counties during its history, Whitaker hired a number of carpenters to follow the plans by architect Madison Griffin. Along with a plantation house, a brick …

Rowland-Lenz House

The Rowland-Lenz House, located northeast of Benton (Saline County) on Highway 5, was listed on the National Register of Historic Properties on February 11, 2004. Originally built as a two-story dog-trot log house, its late nineteenth-century modifications make it an interesting example of Swiss/German-influenced construction applied over an existing log home. The house, built in 1838 by Thomas Rowland with slave labor, was occupied by the Rowland family until 1848. At that time, the house was rented by John Nelson and purchased by him in 1850. The Nelson family occupied the home from 1848 to 1873, when it was purchased by former Confederate colonel and circuit judge Jabez M. Smith upon Nelson’s death. Smith rented the home to his brother, …

Royal Theatre

The Royal Theatre on South Market Street in downtown Benton (Saline County) dates back to the early 1920s, making it one of the oldest theaters of its kind in the state. Although it no longer shows Hollywood films, the Royal remains a beloved landmark for the people of Saline County. It has been owned by a local family, a corporation, a celebrity, and, finally, a group of locals who took their name, the Royal Players, from the theater’s marquee. What is now the Royal Theatre began its life when Wallace Kauffman, a native of Princeton (Dallas County), moved to Benton in 1917. Kauffman, who had worked at a similar establishment in Fordyce (Dallas County), started working for Alice Wooten, owner …

Rucker House

The Rucker House in Bauxite (Saline County) is one of only two standing structures that date back to Bauxite’s early history as a company town, the other being the 1926 Bauxite Community Hall, which now houses the Bauxite Historical Museum. The Rucker House was built in 1903 by employees of what was then called the Pittsburgh Reduction Company and later became Alcoa for plant superintendent William Armour Rucker. Rucker and his family occupied the home until 1938. Since 1986, the Rucker House has been owned by the Bauxite Historical Association and Museum. The Rucker House, which was listed on the National Register on June 16, 1988, serves as a residence for the museum’s caretaker. William Armour Rucker was born on …

Rush, Bobby

aka: Emmett Ellis Jr.
Bobby Rush, known as the “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit,” is an award-winning blues artist whose music also parlays elements of southern soul, funk, and rap into a genre he calls “folkfunk.” Bobby Rush was born Emmett Ellis Jr. on November 10, 1935, near Homer, Louisiana, to Emmett and Mattie Ellis; however, the 1940 census lists him as three years old. The son of a minister, Rush was influenced by his father’s guitar and harmonica playing, and he first experimented with music by tapping on a sugar-cane syrup bucket and playing a broom-and-wire diddley bow. In 1947, his family moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where his music career began. He headed a band at a local juke joint behind a sawmill, …

Rwake

Rwake is a sludge/doom/experimental metal band based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The band, originally called Wake, formed in 1996 and consisted of Kris Graves on guitar, Jeff Morgan on drums, Chris (C. T.) Terry on vocals, and Aaron Mills on bass. The band added the R to its name when it realized that another band had already claimed the name Wake. The original line-up played its first show on March 15, 1997, in Batesville (Independence County). Rwake melds elements of a number of metal subgenres including sludge, doom, hardcore, and death metal. Due to the band members’ fondness for many styles of music, especially southern music, subtle influences from artists such as Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams (as well as …