Hall of frame

M2 Gallery
M2 Gallery
Feb 21

A tour de art comparing and contrasting the artistic range of local galleries.

If you’re like many people, you probably suspect art galleries are only for people with thick wallets who never forgot all of the terms they learned in art class. Maybe you’ve visited a public gallery like the ones at the Arkansas Arts Center or the Historic Arkansas Museum, but ones where the art on display could be purchased and hung over the sofa? Never.

We admit to a certain degree of art intimidation going into this story. But after visiting the area’s wide array of private galleries — most of which are filled with art by native Arkansans, which somehow makes it less intimidating — we discovered local art creations range from whimsical to intricate, and can be quite accessible, and in some cases even affordable, to everyone.

Arshia Khan
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Gallery 26

2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., Suite 1, Little Rock

(501) 664-8996

Owner: Renee Williams

Works by some of the most peculiar and well-known artists in Little Rock cover nearly every inch of the walls at Gallery 26. Tables emerge from the floor like islands, offering jewelry, prints, greeting cards and glittering trinkets. With so many things to see, it’s impossible not to spend more time than you intended navigating the myriad treasures. And the most fascinating aspect of Gallery 26 is that Arkansas artists make everything there.

An artist herself, owner Renee Williams has been helping local artists gain footing in the community for 17 years. What began as a place to showcase her own work and the work of friends morphed into one of the most established galleries in central Arkansas. Gallery 26 represents around 75 local artists, from self-taught to professors, most of them from Little Rock. A few prominent names you’ll see on nameplates along the walls are John Kushmaul, Kathy Strause, Mindy Lacefield and Amy Edgington. Aside from the impressive collection of works she keeps circulating, Williams hosts six shows a year and events for each First Thursday in Hillcrest. The current exhibition, “Dream, Float, Burn,” features the shadowy, enigmatic works of Stephen Cefalo (who regularly displays works at the gallery) and runs through March 10.

A truly respectable thing about Gallery 26 is how accessible much of the art is. Prices for hanging art range from $25 to $5,000, and payment plans are available. The gallery also offers framing services.

— by stacey bowers

The Heights Gallery

5801 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock

(501) 664-2772

Owners: Mitch and Lee-Ann Jansonius

The interior of The Heights Gallery has the white walls, track lighting, wood flooring and the classical music playing overhead that you’d expect from a gallery in the Heights, but it also feels cozy and unpretentious at the same time.

There’s a light out here and box of tools there, as owner Mitch Jansonius slowly dismantles the elaborate Christmas displays. It’s perfectly imperfect. Artwork on the walls is all Arkansan, though some of the gift-y items might not be. The latter has become a larger part of the things on display at the 33-year-old gallery over the past few years.

Jansonius owns the gallery with his wife Lee-Ann.

When it comes to the artwork, Mitch Jansonius says he tends to choose pieces for the gallery with his heart and not his head.

“We’ve become much more pragmatic over the years because, in theory, I know more now than I used to, but we tend to approach everything pretty emotionally. I don’t approach it academically at all,” he says.

“Everything we show in here I choose, and I don’t show things I don’t believe in.

“It’s difficult for me to market stuff just because I think we should or because I think we might make some money.”

He says he doesn’t actively pursue artists anymore, which means the gallery misses out on some of the newer, emerging artists, but he accepts that trade-off.

Overall, he says pricing is one of the most difficult parts of owning a gallery.

“It is always a sort of elaborate dance with the artist and with us,” he says.

“It’s sort of a negotiation, and we learned long ago the bottom line for artists. If, say, this painting is $575. I say, ‘If I sell it and give you a check would you rather have the check or would you be sad you sold the painting?’”

He says the art-buying market in Little Rock is fairly unsophisticated, and he has to fight the stereotype that his neighborhood is overly snobby.

“There is a sort of preconceived notion about being real snooty, so we do anything we can to sort of minimize that,” he says.

“I used to feel that way when I was very young and first married about jewelry stores, I would feel very intimidated about going in and then my wife said, ‘It’s just a store. They’re interested in selling you stuff. It doesn’t matter who you are,’ and we take that approach, too.”

— by melissa tucker

The Showroom

2313 Cantrell Road, Little Rock

(501) 372-7373

Owner: Sandy Hubler

The common image of an art gallery is of an almost pristine room, with each piece given its own wall space, right at eye level, and handy track lighting above to show it off. But even at 11,000 square feet, Sandy Hubler’s warehouse gallery The Showroom, across the parking lot from Cajun’s Wharf, can’t do that and still accommodate the hundreds of works she has to display.

In that aspect the gallery, which features Hubler’s own work and that of 10 other artists (nine of which are Arkansans), feels very much like the home of any prolific artist. Works cover every wall, are tucked into every corner, sit on every flat surface and sometimes just lean against whatever will hold them up. And they’re sizable.

“I paint big,” says Hubler, whose works could just as soon be measured in feet as inches. “And most of what we have are big pieces. That’s what we’re known for.”

Those pieces range from abstract to landscapes, modern to classic. The subject matter could be New Orleans jazz or cypress trees in water. The medium could be oil, acrylic, collage, sculpture — anything really. Beyond that, The Showroom offers custom mirrors and framing. Hubler aims to please many tastes, but above all to please.

“I want the reaction to be, when you have someone over, before they even sit down you’re saying ‘You’ve got come see what I just bought!’” she says. “I don’t want it to be, ‘I may have made a mistake here, but I want you to come see it.’”

After all, you can’t make someone like a piece. And you do them a disservice by selling it to them if they don’t.

As for that selling, Hubler says she realizes the investment people are making when purchasing pieces, which may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. For that reason, she does offer financing for her sales. And it’s not a layaway plan. People can take home the pieces and pay as they go. Everyone comes out a winner that way, she said.

“I’d rather it be in your home and you’re the one dusting it off than it be here and me being the one dusting it off,” she laughs.

— by spencer watson

Cantrell Gallery

8206 Cantrell Road, Little Rock

(501) 224-1335

Owners: Cindy Scott-Huisman, Clarke Huisman and Helen Scott

What originally started in 1970 as Art Fair in downtown Little Rock split off into Cantrell Gallery in 1976 (the downtown location closed in 1980), and with the change came the gallery’s decision to concentrate on local artists, starting with the well-known painter (and printmaker, animator and sculptor) Warren Criswell, whose works are still featured by the gallery.

Today, Criswell is just one of about 35 local and regional artists at Cantrell Gallery, and the gallery continues to focus on those artists. One of the newest is Maumelle’s John Wooldridge, known for his paintings of Arkansas scenes and buildings. And coming up March 9, the gallery will showcase the acrylic paintings of Monticello native Daniel Coston during a show titled “Structures,” which will feature Coston’s paintings of churches, gins and other Delta scenes.

“We have a wonderful art community in Little Rock, and we do feel strongly about our gallery being a part of promoting this community,” co-owner Helen Scott says. “We do this by exhibiting local art and having a good working relationship with these artists as well as doing group shows.”

(Beyond local artists, the gallery also has prints of internationally known artists such as Norman Rockwell, Salvador Dali and more.)

Family-owned and operated, the gallery is not just paintings either; the current show is “Cinematic Rails: Trains in the Movies,” an exhibit of photographs by J.P. Bell of Fort Smith. The exhibit contains photographs of vintage trains used in films such as True Grit and more. Making local art affordable is another aim of Cantrell Gallery, and it does so by offering its version of layaway, titled hang-away.

“It allows clients to make payments on a particular piece of art they want and before very long it is paid for and ready to take home,” Scott says. “The program is flexible and lets people create a plan that works for them.”

And once the art is in the buyer’s home, Cantrell works with the purchaser, designing the right complementary framing using conservation glass and other materials that preserve the art.

— by shea stewart

Arshia Khan
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Ketz Gallery

705 Main St., North Little Rock

(501) 529-6330

Owner: Michelle Ketzscher

Nearing the end of Argenta’s bustling Main Street and in a bright purple building is where you’ll find Ketz Gallery. Inside, the gallery is spacious and deep, and the exposed brick walls and concrete floor give the space an edgy, urban, casual feel.

This is just the effect that owner Michelle Ketzscher is going for. “We wanted to keep it casual and comfortable, somewhere people feel welcomed.”

Ketzscher opened Ketz Gallery in 2009 when the space — which has been in the family since 1948 — became available. She was interested in being a part of the growing arts community in North Little Rock, and with other galleries opening nearby and interest in the local scene rising, the timing was just right.

Ketz Gallery specializes in new and emerging local artists.

“There are so many good artists in Arkansas, we have no trouble finding great art for the gallery,” Ketzscher says.

Her artists are local, and their subjects tend to be as well. One of the gallery’s most recognizable artists, John Kushmaul, is known for his impressionist cityscapes of Little Rock. Then there’s Tim Jacob, whose “puddle paintings” portray rural and highway images of the state in a style very much like pointillism.

You’ll find pieces of three-dimensional art that reflect the folk arts of Arkansas’ heritage. Valerie Hanks-Goetz uses salvaged copper, pre-owned leather, horse hair, reclaimed clay, recycled glass and pine needles to create truly amazing baskets and vessels. Sterling Cockrill, Arkansas’ politician-turned-artist, creates Picasso-like sculptures out of salvaged oak wood from old barns. Sharon Dawn Clark turns real gourds into intriguing works of art, creating unexpected centerpieces from an unexpected medium. And Barbara Middleton calls her earthy, industrial jewelry “sculpture you can wear.”

Contrasting with the folk art is a wide range of contemporary styles. Sulac’s paintings and collages, Matthew Gore’s abstract human forms, even the overbiting little monsters of Little Rock’s own street artist, Woosel, grace the walls of Ketz Gallery.

Ketzscher’s mission in opening the gallery was to make art available to more people.

“We want to see good art accessible and affordable,” she says.

Mission accomplished. Not much in the gallery is priced more than $1,000, and a lot of what you’ll find is actually closer to the $200 to $500 range. The photography and folk art starts as low as $38. It’s the perfect gallery for those just beginning their art collections, and it’s definitely one to watch for the best of Little Rock’s up and coming talent.

— by stephanie maxwell

Arshia Khan
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Stephano’s Fine Art Gallery

5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., Suite C, Little Rock

(501) 614-7113

Owner: Stephano Sutherlin

Stephano’s Fine Art Gallery may only have five years under its belt, but it has made a name for itself with a contemporary atmosphere and offbeat works of art. (It even placed in the top 25 galleries chosen by the American Art Awards in 2011.) A bright Andy Warhol serigraph of Marilyn Monroe greets those who enter, setting the mood for a tour of this ultramodern collection and setting. A funky, green velvet chair and a chair that appears to be spray-painted bronze are functional works of art. Each piece is more interesting than the last. There are the colorful textures of North Little Rock artist V.L. Cox, Arkansas scenes by Mike Gaines that could be paintings or mosaics, a large, soon-to-be-nostalgic painting of the Broadway Bridge by John Kushmaul, and myriad sculptures by actor Tony Dow, a sculptor solely represented by Stephano’s. Patrons can’t miss owner Stephano Sutherlin’s affinity for Salvador Dali. Sutherlin’s odes to and portraits of Dali hang in every room, and several lithographs signed by Dali himself are on display and available for purchase.

“I could surround myself all day with Salvador Dali,” Sutherlin says. He has even set the dates for a Dali-inspired event to be held April 27 and 28 at the gallery. He also boasts an assortment of signed Andy Warhol prints. “Little Rock has never seen what we’re doing right now bringing in famous artists,” he says. For security purposes, Sutherlin sticks to signed prints instead of originals.

Sutherlin’s own work speaks to his love for surrealistic and abstract art. His Dali-esque paintings and mixed media pieces that incorporate found items like Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and flattened bottles are strong pieces that echo the gallery’s style. The gallery also hosts a handful of local crafters offering jewelry, gloves and small art. Since Sutherlin does not offer framing services, the gallery’s revenue comes solely from sold art.

Art isn’t the only thing luring Arkansans to Stephano’s. Sutherlin hosts several events each year — many of them charitable, all of them entertaining. On March 15, penguins will overrun Stephano’s during a benefit for the Little Rock Zoo called “March of the Penguins.”

— by stacey bowers

M2 Gallery

11525 Cantrell Road, Suite 918, Little Rock

(501) 225-6271

Owners: Mac and Ashley Murphy and John and Kim Magee

So where do the two Ms come from in the name of west Little Rock’s M2 Gallery? From Murphy and Magee, the last names of managing owners Mac and Ashley Murphy, and owners John and Kim Magee. The two pairs of gallery owners had years of experience in the gallery industry before opening M2 Gallery five years ago in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center. So five years? About time for an anniversary, right? Yes, it is, and March 9, the gallery will host an opening reception for its M2-5 anniversary show featuring the works of Jeaneen Barnhart, Dan Holland, Evan Lindquist and Cathy Burns.

Mac Murphy owns another gallery in Kentucky (he’s an 11-year veteran of the gallery business), but after moving to Little Rock and meeting (and marrying) his wife Ashley, Mac Murphy and John Magee decided to open a gallery.

“We both felt west Little Rock needed a strong gallery,” Mac Murphy says.

Since opening, M2 has built a reputation as a gallery best known for modern fine art (from paintings and photography to pottery and sculpture), while also supporting local charity organizations, especially the Easter Seals of Arkansas. And while M2 focuses on modern art, the gallery offers a wide variety of artwork from a number of local, national and international artists.

Some of the artists offered by the gallery include landscape and figurative sketcher (and sculptor) Tim West, Little Rock artists such as Burns, Taylor Shepherd, Robin Tucker and more, and artists from Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and elsewhere. The artwork in the gallery is unique, sometimes edgy or haunting, but always beautiful, interesting and engaging. The gallery also includes the works of jewelers such as Lauren Embree, Dawanna Young and Gail Wilcox, and photographers such as Fayetteville’s Don House.

There’s not necessarily an Arkansas-centric focus at M2, but one of the gallery’s newest artists is Lindquist, a former art, printmaking and drawing teacher at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro for 40 years. The artist is mostly known for his engraved prints, and M2 has access to his entire catalog of prints, Mac Murphy says, and will be showing some 60 of Lindquist’s pieces during an upcoming show.

“We are tremendously honored to be representing such a true American talent,” Mac Murphy says. “Our primary focus is to bring great artwork to the public, and if it happens to be that the artist is from Arkansas, then it’s that much better.”

— by shea stewart

Hearne Fine Art

1001 Wright Ave., Little Rock

(501) 372-6822

Owner: Garbo Hearne

Garbo Hearne, owner of Hearne Fine Art on Wright Avenue just off Chester Street in downtown Little Rock, will be quick to tell you that the idea you have to travel to New York to find fine art is downright “nutty.” That’s after more than two decades in business in the capital city featuring work from dozens of artists, both local and otherwise. Art is everywhere.

“From the Roman times and the Egyptians, what did they leave behind when those societies were gone? Their art,” she says. “Every time someone wants to get a point across, who do they call? An artist to create their vision.”

Hearne’s gallery focuses on African-American art. And it’s not that she thinks black artists are better or more talented than artists who are white, Hispanic or any other ethnicity, she says. Indeed, she doesn’t want those she features to be seen as “black artists” — just artists. But when she started in the late 1980s, she found that so much of the market was devoted to recreating works seen in The Cosby Show, one of the first TV programs to really pay attention to what was on the walls in the home of a black family. It was her desire to showcase the original talent she knew was out there. And that is what she does, whether it’s dozens of works by a single artist or, as in the current exhibition, about a half dozen works from five different artists. In a second, smaller gallery, she retains a “condensed” version of the previous showing, as well as assorted highlighted works throughout her adjoining business, Pyramid Art Books and Custom Framing. The styles and subject matter vary, from folk artists with no formal training painting images of the rural South to an abstract expressionist from Ghana whose splashes of color take the form of crowds at sporting events when viewed from afar. There’s also sculpture, quilts and works of mixed media. And it’s frequently changing.

“When you go into a clothing store, you don’t want to see the same clothes. You want a new experience,” says Hearne. “The more variety you can show, the more excited people will be.”

— by spencer watson

Arshia Khan
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Red Door Gallery

3715 JFK Blvd., North Little Rock

(501) 753-5227

Owners: Steve and Melody Stanley

The rain poured outside of Red Door Gallery one Wednesday afternoon, but the laid-back owners had a sunny disposition that erased thoughts of pooling water outside on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

Co-owner Melody Stanley cracks a lighthearted joke right away in her gallery intro that her work is supported financially by her spouse.

“My husband has the real paying job that supports us, but we’ve been here 31 years and we started out as framers and now we sell only original art,” she says, and bid me to take a quick tour around the room with gallery manager Kelly Strother.

Red Door has a gallery with a diverse mix of art, and they’ve planned it that way.

“We don’t do prints or anything, it’s all just one-of-a-kind pieces,” she says. “Our main thing is to try to make sure every artist has something different, so we kind of reach everyone’s different tastes.”

For example, local artist Theresa Cates, who paints soulful and whimsical church ladies, has her work on display at the gallery and therefore Red Door would not show the work of an artist in a similar vein.

A look around the cozy, carpeted gallery space drives that point home. There’s sculpture, metal work, jewelry, blown glass, and abstract and portrait paintings in a variety of mediums.

The majority of the artists reside in Arkansas, though two are from overseas — Lola Abellan of Spain and Georges Artaud of France — and they’re exclusive to the gallery. The Arkansas artists are not always exclusive to Red Door, but they won’t be found anywhere else in North Little Rock, says Strother.

Prices range from $25 for a small piece to $16,000 for a 38-by-96 oil-on-canvas print called Pinnacle’s Southern Serenity by Pat Matthews.

“The artists price them, and we try to make sure that everything stays consistent with size,” says Strother. “Some artists think, ‘Well I spent 20 hours on this and two hours on this, so I’m going to charge way more for this one,’ but a customer basically sees size, and they’re not going to understand that, so we make sure that everything’s pretty consistent.”

Looking around the gallery one would think that the supply of Arkansas artwork has the potential to outpace demand, but Strother doesn’t think so.

“Seems like every time we start to get a lull, people come in and buy a painting.”

— by melissa tucker

Chroma Gallery

5707 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock

(501) 664-0880

Owner: Robert Reep

Have you ever wondered about that bright orange statue in the window as you pass Chroma Gallery in the Heights? If so, you’re not alone.

The nearly fluorescent jockey played a role in one of Robert Reep’s “found objects” pieces from years ago, and he’s indicative of the kind of art you’ll find in Reep’s gallery: quirky, unexpected and lighthearted.

Reep opened Chroma Gallery in 1991 with a focus on custom framing and local contemporary art. Until 1997 he did featured shows, but since he moved to his current gallery space in 1998, his focus has shifted to a continuously rotating display of art.

Chroma features a fair amount of Reep’s own work. He paints, but mostly he works in “found objects” mixed media. He enjoys incorporating everyday materials in his art; marbles, buttons, paper towels, even Twister game boards and bug zappers have become his medium. “People will come in the gallery, recognize the stuff, think about their own daily lives, and see there are materials always around them readily available [for making art].”

But Reep admits that this is a double-edged sword. “Some people don’t want to go into an art gallery and feel that they could make the things that are there.”

In the same way that everyday objects make their way into his art, they also have found their way into his gallery. There are eclectic touches — an old barber’s chair, an inflatable Egyptian sarcophagus, a blanket paying homage to Elvis — that might otherwise be what Reep calls a “detriment” in another gallery, but are at home at Chroma, mixed right in with the art.

“You’re going to hang your art behind your sofa,” Reep says. “The feel of this gallery should be like how you live.”

Abstract paintings and mixed media sculpture dominate the styles you’ll find at Chroma, though even the more traditional, realistic pieces are unpredictable. Take for instance Tom Watt’s still lifes: The images are instantly recognizable, but combinations like Screwdriver in Baby Bottle are just unusual enough to create a sense of surrealism in the piece.

Chroma’s art is undeniably unique, and also considerably affordable. Reep reckons that his prices reach $2,500, but there are also works for less than $200, which Reep points out is a very reasonable price for an original piece of art. And original, it is. Chroma Gallery is worth a visit if you enjoy unconventional art that is beautiful and intriguing, but that also doesn’t take itself too seriously.

— by stephanie maxwell

Arshia Khan
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Local Colour

5811 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock

(501) 265-0422

Owner: Co-op run by artists

2012 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Local Colour Gallery, a Heights co-op art gallery that represents 28 Arkansas artists who work in mediums that include oil, pastel or watercolors; raku or high fire; and jewelry among other mediums, from painter Jean Ann Abernathy to postcard artist George Wittenberg — a new addition to the gallery.

“Local Colour has been a huge success since opening,” says Boots Barnett Warrick, the creator of Local Colour Gallery and the current manager. “Most co-ops have a life span of [three to five] years.”

Here’s what else Warrick had to say about Local Colour:

On how the gallery got started:

“I had seen a co-op in Oklahoma City, and thought it would be a wonderful idea and place for Arkansas artists to show their work and provide a venue for studio painting, art classes and just a gathering of creative people to share their talent and, of course, a venue to sell their works. It is a casual atmosphere, and we encourage all of our artists to use the space for classes, personal shows, etc.”

On what Local Colour is known for:

“We are known for original, affordable art. We offer commissions, portraits — any piece you like you can commission in any size. We are flexible and creative. We have two large shows featuring new work by 26 artists each year. One in spring and one in late fall before the holidays. We have smaller events throughout the year.”

On how artists join Local Colour:

“We are currently in the market for two new artists and are taking applications. We have had a huge waiting list since the gallery opened.”

On remaining committed to local artists:

“We have chosen to stay focused on local artists as they are required to work in the gallery. Many artists around the state would be a great addition, however, they cannot be here to work and support the gallery.”

— by shea stewart

Greg Thompson Fine Art

429 Main St., North Little Rock

(501) 664-2787

Owner: Greg Thompson

Looking down at the turreted Baker House from the second floor of an antiquated building, Greg Thompson Fine Art crowns the Argenta Arts District. Enter through a door adjacent to Ristorante Capeo and mount the steep, shadowy staircase. All along the stairwell visitors are faced with framed awards and magazine and newspaper features. Two impressive articles are most prominent: a 2010 mention in the New York Times and a 2011 article in Garden and Gun. As they reach the uppermost step, visitors should prepare for a flood of light, which pours through the numerous windows and bounces off the stark white walls.

There are windows even where there are not windows — in the form of paintings of white window facings by Georgia artist Edward Rice. Rice is one of many great Southern artists Thompson has helped introduce to Arkansans. Other artists that may ring a bell include William Dunlap, Kendall Stallings and Glennray Tutor.

“The gallery’s focus is well-established Southern regionalists,” Thompson says. “We are quickly becoming a destination gallery for collectors of Southern regionalism.”

Arkansas artists are not neglected at Greg Thompson Fine Art. Works by the state’s most notable artists, living and deceased, are found here. Sculptor Robyn Horn’s awe-inspiring works appear to be made up of many sections of wood, but in reality are detailed carving done to one complete piece. The late Al Allen’s details of buildings draw the eyes closer to marvel at their clean lines. Fayetteville artist Donald Roller Wilson delights with whimsical portraits of chimpanzees in human attire. Perhaps the most breathtaking works in Greg Thompson’s gallery belong to the late Carroll Cloar of Earle, Arkansas. It’s as if his semi-surrealist recollections of Southern life, all made up of tiny brush strokes, never release their hold on you once you’ve laid eyes on them.

Each summer, Greg Thompson Fine Art hosts a Best of the South exhibition, which invites many of the represented artists to join a discussion panel and mingle with the public. This year’s show begins May 17 and will feature William Dunlap, Edward Rice and other artists and prominent people in the art business. It will also be a chance for Thompson to showcase fresh additions to the gallery.

— by stacey bowers

L&L Beck Gallery/

5705 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock

(501) 660-4006

Owner: Louis Beck

L&L Beck Gallery is the displayed collection of more than 50 years worth of paintings and carvings by Louis Beck. Despite having earned his bachelor of fine arts in painting, Beck spent most of his professional life in the packaging industry and pursued art merely as a hobby. He opened the gallery in December of 2010, and in doing so, fulfilled a dream that he and his late wife, Lottie, shared.

L&L Beck’s curator, John Stroud, is friendly and knowledgeable about Beck’s history and style. He helps guide visitors through the gallery, answering questions and providing anecdotes behind many of Beck’s works. The artist’s painting is crisp and realistic, a style that Stroud says people seem to enjoy amidst the prevalent trend of contemporary art. “People seem pleased to see a more classic style,” Stroud says. “It’s unique and different.”

The arrangement and schedule of L&L Beck is easy and consistent. One wall showcases a collection of Beck’s paintings which all exhibit a common theme, and the opposing wall simply shows a patchwork of other pieces from his collection. The themed exhibits rotate monthly and include flowers, clowns, landscapes, westerns, and this month’s exhibit, Ducks in Arkansas. “You never know what will inspire him,” Stroud says.

One piece that never moves? An enormous one centered on the back wall, and the focal point of the gallery: The Last Supper, hand-carved and painted by Beck, which he worked on periodically from 1962 to 2002. Priced at $30,000, you have to wonder if Beck is ready to part with it after so many years, but Stroud insists that they’ve come close a time or two.

The Last Supper piece is representative of another constant theme in Beck’s art: Christianity. A devout Catholic, many of Beck’s paintings and some of his carvings feature biblical scenes and saints.

Beck generally uses oil paint on masonite, but the Ducks in Arkansas collection also features pieces which use acrylic on barn wood which adds a nice contrast in texture to the gallery.

The few pieces that depart from Beck’s consistent realism are his reproductions. Studies of paintings by Picasso, Renoir and Vermeer are for sale alongside Beck’s original works, a practice that Stroud says has helped Beck continue to push himself artistically. Each reproduction displays the original artist’s signature right there with Beck’s to give credit where credit is due.

Beck’s paintings average $800 and hand-carved sculptures are about $800-$1,000. With the exception of The Last Supper, the highest price is generally $1,600. Whether you crave the crisp simplicity of classic realism or are intrigued by the idea of seeing the culmination of a lifetime of art, stop by L&L Beck Gallery to talk to Stroud. If you’re lucky, you just might catch the artist; he stops by every Saturday after mass and pops in periodically and unexpectedly as well.

— by stephanie maxwell

Boswell Mourot Fine Art

5815 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock

(501) 664-0030

Owners: Kyle Boswell and Jon Etienne Mourot

Stepping into Boswell Mourot Fine Art is like stepping into a world-class gallery. It’s sleek, it’s sophisticated, but what makes Boswell Mourot an unusual gallery in Little Rock is that it features both local and international art.

Co-owner Kyle Boswell says that when the gallery opened in 2009, it was a no-brainer to include the artists that he’d been collecting for more than 30 years. The decision to include international works as well as local artists came naturally, as well. He wanted to create a gallery where Little Rock could see what artists are doing all over the world. “We’re all connected by art, as primitive as it is,” he says.

There is truth in Boswell’s statement. It’s evident in the way the international and local works blend seamlessly throughout the gallery. Works by Little Rock residents Elizabeth Weber, Samuel Gray and John Allison hang alongside those of artists from Germany, Hong Kong and Chile. It’s a testament to the world-class artistic talent that is coming out of Arkansas.

On the walls of Boswell Mourot you’ll find charcoal on vinyl, ink on linoleum, polymer gravure etching, oil, acrylic, pastel and graphite in a range of styles, from abstract minimalism to hyper-realism. Sculptures on display include unique techniques like raku and sgraffito. Carla Davis, Diana Ashley and Kelly Edwards are among some of Arkansas’ favorite sculptors featured at Boswell Mourot.

The gallery follows a seasonal schedule of shows: four shows between March and June, rotating every five weeks, and then four again between August and November. An interesting feature of the gallery is a floor-to-ceiling curtain which can be used to separate the back third of the space for smaller shows. Boswell calls these shows “Behind the Curtain.”

“It gives those artists who don’t produce a huge volume of work, who maybe have another profession, the chance to have a show.”

The prices at Boswell Mourot range from around $700 to $2,500, and there are smaller sketches and studies available for $375.

The collection of international artists that Boswell and Mourot have brought into Little Rock are museum-worthy, and the gallery has put Arkansas on the map in terms of fine art.

— by stephanie maxwell

Brush with frame: Further Viewing

The central Arkansas arts scene has far more than could be digested in one arts issue. If you’re looking for more art viewing, try these galleries in the Little Rock area.

Schmidt Gallerie, Little Rock

The newest addition to the gallery scene is at 301 President Clinton Avenue. It’s owned by Ryan Schmidt, a sculptor and artist born in Little Rock. He works primarily in stainless steel.

Historic Arkansas Museum, Little Rock

Art ranges from historic exhibits to quirky pieces created by local artists.

Thea Foundation, North Little Rock

Devoted to cultivating the next crop of local artists. Currently showing the artwork of its Visual Art Competition winners and pottery by Janet Donnangelo.

Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock

Showing current and international art as well as touring exhibits. The annual Delta Exhibition and the Masters of American Watercolor are on display through March 28.

Cox Creative Center, Little Rock

The art of the Central Arkansas Library System’s staff is shown in the A Thousand Words gallery.

Hillcrest Gallery, Little Rock

Specializes in framing and selling prints and poster images.

UALR galleries, Little Rock

The campus has three galleries with work from visiting artists, traveling exhibitions and faculty and students.


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