Art Connection visits Wildwood to prepare for upcoming Art in the Park Exhibit

Art Connection, a non-profit, after school and summer visual arts work program for North Little Rock High School students, visited Wildwood Park in March to gather inspiration for an Art in the Park Exhibition this summer. Art Connection’s young artists spent a day taking inspiration from Wildwood Park’s natural scenery in March. Working in the Plein Air tradition, artists will spent a morning sketching, photographing, or responding in some way to the environment at Wildwood, such as up-close photographs of rocks, or more traditional Plein Air drawing or painting while outside. Art Connection artists will bring their sketches, inspirations and ideas from Wildwood back into the studio at Art Connection to develop their ideas to finished pieces. These finished works will be exhibited and for sale at Art in the Park in June and July.

You can see photos of the visit here.


Wildwood Participates in Arkansas Gives on April 2

ArkansasGives is a one-day online giving event on April 2. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Arkansans can go to ArkansasGives.org to make a donation to the charities of their choice. During this event, each donation you give will help your favorite nonprofit organizations qualify for additional bonus dollars from Arkansas Community Foundation. All participating nonprofits will receive a portion of a $250,000 bonus pool; the more a nonprofit raises in proportion to the other participating groups, the larger the share of bonus dollars it will receive.

Here’s how you can help us:

• Put giving on your calendar for April 2, 2015. On that day, visit ArkansasGives.org to make a donation to Wildwood between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ArkansasGives requires gifts to be made via credit card (including American Express, Visa, Discover and MasterCard and debit cards that bear the Visa or MasterCard symbol). The minimum gift is $25.

• Please help spread the word to others! If you use social media, consider sending a Facebook message or Tweet on April 2 to let your contacts know why you support (insert name of organization) and why they should, too.

Your help makes a huge difference!

Click here to donate to Wildwood on April 2! 


Interns Sought for Summer WAMA Sessions

Interested in sharing your talents with our WAMA students? Become an intern!

Fill out the form below if you are interested in learning more about WAMA’s many intern opportunities in both the Instrumental and Vocal Program. After submitting the form, we will contact you with the complete 2015 WAMA Intern Application via email.


Wildwood Offers Fried Chicken and Made in the U.S.A. at Mulligan Brothers Concert

On April 2, The Mulligan Brothers will take the stage at the first of the LIVE! at Wildwood concerts to be held in April. The band’s unique blend of country, folk, and Americana are buoyed by partnerships with two local businesses that will lend a unique flare to the evening.

World famous Gus’s Fried Chicken will be providing an option dinner for patrons. The dinner is $8 and may be purchased at the same time as reserved seats for the concerts. For patrons with VIP tickets, the dinner is included. The dinner consists of two pieces of fried chicken, beans, and slaw.

Continuing the American theme, local retail shop Domestic Domestic will set up a pop-up shop in the theatre’s lobby. Specializing in goods made in the United States, Domestic Domestic is located in the Hights neighborhood and carries a wide selection of goods.

Tickets for the April 2 concert are available here.

The LIVE! at Wildwood series continues on April 23 with Marc Cohn.


LANTERNS! Festival This Weekend

LANTERNS! will happen as scheduled this weekend. In light of recent weather, here are a few things to keep in mind:

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You may purchase tickets here.


Vienna Announcement

Tonight’s Concert Rescheduled for October, 2015

Tonight’s performance by the Vienna Boys’ Choir has been cancelled and rescheduled for October. All tickets will remain valid for the October date. More information will be released as soon as possible.


Program Guide for WAMA 2015 Released

The Program Guide for the 2015 summer session of Wildwood’s Wildwood Academy of Music & the Arts (WAMA) has been released.

WAMA is designed for students ages 6-18, who are interested in studying music. The Academy’s mission is to bring access to the highest standards in music and arts education to students of all ages and backgrounds in Central Arkansas. In 2015, WAMA’s vision grows to include a vocal program in addition to the instrumental programs which are comprised of all instrument groups: strings, winds, brass, percussion, and piano. Through orchestral, large and small ensemble, and solo experiences, participants will be provided with educational and performance opportunities supported by a musically nurturing environment and professional faculty. Our distinguished faculty are chosen for their excellence as role models and arts educators. Additionally, student groups will have access to workshops, master classes, and multiple artistic genres. Through rehearsal and performance experiences, WAMA students will be inspired and challenged to grow through the arts.

The 2015 WAMA Program Guide may be downloaded here: WAMA Program Guide.

Interested students may apply for WAMA by clicking here.



Art in the Park: An Interview with Artist Joli Livaudais

Jolie Livaudias, a recent transplant to Little Rock, explains how easily her process is informed by the world around her. 


How did you find yourself in Little Rock?

I came for the faculty position here at UALR. I lived in Monroe, Louisiana before we moved here in July. I had a gallery in New Orleans, but I lived in northeast Louisiana.


Had you visited Little Rock before you looked into moving here?

I’d passed through. I hadn’t really visited for a long period of time until my interview at UALR. I was really impressed with the area as far as the fact that it’s going through some exciting changes. It seemed to me like there was a lot going on. From talking to folks, it sounds like this has all been going on in the last decade so it feels like we are on the brink of doing something really exciting.


Do you think the city as a whole is on the brink or more so the arts community?

Of course, I’m all about the arts community. I think there are a lot of options in this city, culturally whatever you are into, like the Clinton museum, for example.


Does the art scene in Little Rock feel similar to that of Louisiana?

The culture is similar from northern Louisiana to Arkansas. The art scene here is better. We had some things going on Monroe, but it was a smaller town.


What has been the most exciting thing you have found here in Little Rock?

Because it is my first semester at UALR, I haven’t done as much exploring as I would like or as I will do. I haven’t gone out as much as I should, like to Crystal Bridges. Everyone says I have to go. So far it’s been discovering the faculty here; there is a lot of talent here and some interesting people. I am interested in finding some like-minded people and creating opportunities for local artists to show.


What have you found to be the most effective way to connect with your audience and other artists?

If you go to events that sure helps. You meet folks and you find the network that is definitely out there. It strikes the conversation. I have my students attend at least two art events each semester because I think it’s so key.


How long have you been teaching?

Not all that long. I was a professional commercial photographer, and then I went back to school to get my MFA in 2011. I graduated in 2013. I taught while I was in school and then adjunct for a year before coming here. I am still new to it, but I’m not new to photography.


How do you think teaching has affected your practice?

Well, I haven’t been able to make as much, which I hate to say, but it’s true. But, I still think that this was a really good decision because I feel that the teaching helps me. It’s all about the quest. I am trying to teach my students to see and to make, and so art is always top of mind. Although I don’t have as much time to make myself, I think all of that reflection helps to motivate me when I do have the time.

The delight of teaching is that you are surrounded by artists all of the time.


You teach photography. Is that a practice you have always done?

I actually got my undergraduate and graduate degree in psychology. Then I was photo assisting in the commercial market in the Dallas area for a couple of years. I learned through an apprenticeship. When I wanted to go back for my MFA, they evaluated me based on my photography portfolio.

I had always done art, but I had never taken it particularly seriously. It was just something I always did. It wasn’t until I got into my graduate psychology program and there was no time for art that I felt completely lost and miserable. I felt like I lost a limb. It wasn’t until that point that I realized how important art was to me.

So then I did a reevaluation. I finished that degree, but as soon I was done, I pursued photography more seriously.


Do you still see your psychology background coming through your work?

Oh yeah, have you looked at my work? I don’t think psychology and art are really fundamentally all that different. There is an introspection that happens in both that I think is really useful.


What kind of photography do you do?

I shoot digitally, but I also shoot with medium format and large format film. It depends on what I’m in the mood for or what the job is. In the end, my pieces are not very often flat photos. They are usually some kind of installation work, so it depends on what’s going to work best.


When did the 3D work start?

In my second year of graduate school. In my first year, I was doing alternative process work in photography. In my second year, I implemented the resin and started playing with layers and building things up. It kind of went from there.


I can see the creatures crawling up the wall behind you. Are those photographs as well?

Yes. They are folded photographs, all of them. That piece is about the cycle of life, loss and memory. It’s about transformation. I decided to keep a few beetles around from the installation.


Where did the beetle form come from?

I was thinking a lot about archetypes, the psychology thing coming back. I started getting interested in the difference between how we view beetles and birds. In thinking about archetypes, they are both symbols for transformation, often times a spiritual transformation. But one of them we see as being a beautiful, heavenly form and the other is something we are really scared of. I am intrigued by that difference. Birds and beetles both appear in my work pretty regularly.

In the end I didn’t want something that was that specific; I wanted a generic beetle form. I ended up doing a lot of research. Once I found an origami pattern I liked, I modified it a bit. I wanted to suggest a beetle without you seeing “a horn beetle” or specific species.


How did the resin come about, like the resin in the pieces you have on display at Wildwood?

I wanted to layer images. I started researching how to do that. The first idea was that I wanted to print a photograph on gold. I found a couple of photographers who played with various things and looked at the kind of materials they were using. I did a little experimentation on my own and came up with this process. The trick is that if you print your photograph on a very thin kozo paper and then impregnate it with resin, the paper goes almost completely transparent and the only thing you can see is the ink. I started with thin layers and then wondered, what would happen if I went really deep with the resin? What if I did more than one layer?


And the translucence came next?

Light is key to almost all of my work. That just sort of worked its way in there as well.


Do you find you do a lot of specific reading or material research?

Whenever I am looking, it’s usually psychology. Joseph Campbell, psychology, things like that. Most of my inspirations come from a dream journal.


What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Days like today I can do dark room work. I try to keep Fridays as a resin day. I have a little studio space in the university plaza. Usually my pieces take a long time. I have more than one thing going on at one time because they all take so long.


Have you taken any photographs outside here in Arkansas yet?

Not yet. One series I made came from tromping around in the forest. Since then, I’ve done more studio oriented stuff, although it’s funny that you should mention it. I’ve been thinking the last few weeks that it might be time to pack up my camera and go outside again. It’s so beautiful outside here.


What are you currently working on in the studio?

I have in the works a series of installation pieces where I am casting different women’s bodies and suspending them in a gallery space. The casted figure would be solid resin, no photos in this one, just translucence. In my figure at Wildwood I have hooks to suspend the figure with fishing line. You know how fishing line is supposed to be invisible, but isn’t? I am thinking of putting hooks all around the top and bottom of the figure so that there is this pillar that goes up all the way to ceiling. The fishing line would come down through the body and come out across the floor. The idea is that it is suppose to suggest a tree, but what I think is interesting is if the bodies are real bodies, not mannequin bodies. All different kinds of women. I would want to have 10 or 12 of these so you walk through the figures in the space. That’s what is in progress. I think it would be cool if there were enough of them. I don’t know where I would show that around here, though.


I see there is a birdcage over here. Do you have a bird?

I do, I bring him up on Sundays when I am not teaching. I have a parrot, an African grey parrot.


Any upcoming shows?

I am supposed to have a show in Mississippi over the summer, but nothing scheduled locally.


What do you think being a successful artist?

I think that’s an interesting question. I guess, for me, the ideal success as an artist would be that you could make a living at it. In the end that’s not really what I am striving for. I want to be able to show and share my work, to do pieces that I am proud of, and to be able to get those pieces out so other people can see them.



Joli’s work is on view at Art in the Park through Sunday, February 15.

To see more of Joli’s work visit joli-livaudais.com.


Art in the Park: An Interview with Artist Amanda Hubbard

I asked myself what I want do with my life? What do I want to spend my life doing? Where do I feel comfortable? I realized I wanted to be where I am learning and growing but also feel like myself at the same time. Art it was, for sure.

Arkansas runs deep for Amanda Hubbard. A native of Redfield, a railroad town on the edge of the delta, Hubbard grew up designing, making, and creating. It started with an “aluminum foil purse for my Grandma, my Nanny,” she said. In school she loved her art classes, and when she studied art in the Arkansas Governor’s School summer program she finally found her utopia. “They had art, music, psychology, and film – all these different things. And no TV’s – it was a long time ago, so no cell phones either. We had to entertain ourselves, which allowed us to be more creative.”

After earning a Bachelor and Master Degree in Sociology, she knew there was something lacking: “Not being able to use my creativity as much as I believe I need in my life. I figure you’re given these gifts, these abilities, and then you don’t use them. It’s like something you enjoy doing, but you never get to do it.” Finally, after a birthday she was honest with herself. “I asked myself what I want do with my life? What do I want to spend my life doing? Where do I feel comfortable? I realized I wanted to be where I am learning and growing but also feel like myself at the same time. Art it was, for sure.”


How do you think your sociology background has affected your painting? Do you see a connection or do you see this as a new adventure?

I am glad you asked that. Sometimes I see different things in other people’s work; I don’t notice themes so much about mine. If people are talking about their art or I see something, it makes the connection with sociology, like feminism or things like that. It’s always kind of there, but certain things spark it at different times. There is nothing I am consciously connecting between my painting and sociology.



Is there any inspiration behind your process or is it about the physical act of painting?

I think I draw inspiration from being in the moment and being very present and very conscientious of what you do. I am not sure how I am going to do my thesis show yet. I am trying to figure out if I need to feel a specific emotion to paint that emotion at that moment. It’s hard to be in the present all of the time, so of course you are going on memories here and there. I go from being in the present, to being in the past, to being in the present, to being in the future all of the time. To me, that’s very challenging. I don’t look at anything when I paint. If I were more of a realist I would have something to look at and I would go off of that. I don’t do that as an effort to be in the present.


I feel like being in the present is a constant struggle as a painter. How do you paint something new without thinking about all of that history, the baggage of paintings before you?

You’d have to have amnesia. I focus on trying to be in the present, that mindfulness of trying to be. It makes you more aware when you are not. That’s part of it. I really try to be in the present but also pepper it with the past and the future.


How does your studio process work? Can you describe your average day in the studio?

I usually work on the weekends, I love being in the studio at school when no one is there. It takes a while to get my things out. I have different things in different places. I usually try to do more than one painting at a time. Last night I did three. So I have gallons of paint that are separated into smaller jars. I mix different colors of acrylic enamel house paint from primary colors. I use large and rectangular Tupperware containers to store the colors I have already mixed. I have them because I thought that would be the best for my large brushes. When I first started I was experimenting with brooms and things. I need something large. I got back in touch with how to mix my own colors.

Then I pull brushes and I just start going. I just start. I really, over time, have learned not to fret or manipulate. I can’t keep messing with it, or else my paintings turn out horrible. Now I just dive in, I just go until I feel like it’s at the line where I feel like it is complete. There is that fine line between painting too much and not enough. I try to find that line.


Do you work at multiple paintings at the same time?

I do one at a time. I was thinking I might want to try to do two at the same time, like Joan Mitchell does her paintings. I read that because her paintings were so large she divided them in half to make them more manageable. I think that is something I will try in the future.


How long do you spend on one painting?

I spent over an hour to do three last night. But I am working a lot of that time and I am looking. So its not like I am listening to music or that kind of thing. I am doing actual painting during that entire time.


When you finish do you ever come back to the painting and do another layer of paint?

Usually, when I finish, that’s it. I started off doing traditional landscapes before the more abstract. I started with 8 inch by 10 inch canvases, and those were more layered in the beginning. With the bigger ones, I just want that moment in time to be captured. To me it’s more difficult to go back to fix something; it just doesn’t work that well. It’s missing the present moment. I thought about trying it, but I don’t know how it’s going to roll out.


Do you have a project plan when you work? Like how many paintings to display in a space?

It’s as it comes. I try not to expect too much. I know by doing you just got to do. It may not be the best, it may not be a masterpiece, but you are doing. It’s an art practice, so you are practicing. Like some people practice a piano, you have to practice painting. That way of thinking just came about. I used to think each piece had to be a gem. But over time I got over that and realized each piece may not be a masterpiece. If it’s not, I’m like, “Hey I can just paint over it, that’s okay to.” I not try to be too attached.


Any artists you’ve been specifically looking to for inspiration?

I was looking initially at Richard Diebenkorn and his topography pieces. I like how he took landscapes but made them into abstractions. I liked his colors. Then I became interested in de Kooning and his spontaneous, painterly marks. He seemed to express a lot of emotion in his painting. I have a similar process to Joan Mitchell, style not so much. I had never heard of her until recently and felt cheated that I had never heard of her before. It’s terrible. I took a woman in art and music class and she was in that book, but I dont know if we ever touched on her. There are not a lot of women artists that are really studied and given the kudos that they deserve.


Especially in abstract expressionism.

Jackson Pollock and the men got all of the accolades. I would really love to see Joan Mitchell’s work in person someday. To me, it looks huge and all encompassing.


How do you choose your colors?

I pull a little from de Kooning and Diebenkorn. Diebenkorn the earthy tones, and de Kooning the bright colors. Last night I had a tank top and pair of underwear right next to each other, and I thought to myself, “I really like those colors; I’ll have to mix those up.” I think its just colors I really like together or that catch my attention.


How often do you refresh your palette? How many Tupperware are we talking at one time?

About ten at one time. If I get an idea for a color I just mix it up. I have a contractors’ paint sample fan that a neighbor gave to me. I think I might start taking my colors to Home Depot to get them mixed in large quantities. I didn’t know what colors I wanted a gallon of until recently. It’s a commitment. I think I am going to have them mix specific colors that I have figured out that I like. As time goes on I will probably keep adding to that palette.


How would you describe the art community in Little Rock?

I think it’s growing. I know I had been out of the community for a few years, and I think the art scene is definitely more accessible if you are a student. It seems like you find out more about things that are going on, like artist talks. I can compare being in class to not since I have moved back in 2006, and I know a lot more than I did by being at UALR.


What have you found to be the best way to talk to other artists or your audience?

I talk with most artists through classes, my peers and professors. I have friends who are artists and that helps to have friends in the greater community. My friend Robert Bean organizes art events here. My brother is a photographer, so he hears about stuff. Facebook is really helpful to get invited to different events and things.


Have you used social media to get your work out to a wider audience?

When I’ve had artist receptions I’ve invited people via Facebook. I post paintings as I’m working on social media. When I’m watching the paint dry, literally, I’ll post pictures. Its fun to show people what your doing.


I love the drips.

Sometimes I have water. I use a spray bottle. I erase sometimes with any kind of color. I like painting over other paintings, so the painting before shows through the current one. For Puerto Viejo I used a broom for the blue going into the red, I was experimenting with that. I tried a sponge, a tampon. I tried whatever I could get to get different strokes. Right now I have up to five-inch paintbrushes. I love that I have everything from really small to 5 inches.


What’s the biggest size canvas you have used?

36 by 48 probably. I have some bigger canvases at my house I am hoping to give a whirl. I am hoping to work bigger because it feels like it encompasses you more, but I also think you can get the point across at a smaller size.


What is exciting you the most right now?

I love the 5-inch brush. I think it’s a deck painting brush to do stains. I got a couple of those that I like to use. I think now the choice comes from figuring out which brush size to use, of course color too, but I have such a range in brush size now. In the beginning I focused on minimal strokes with bigger brushes, but that works sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t. I think I go back and forth. Like last night I tried to see how few strokes I could use to make what I wanted to make. That’s a challenge in and of itself. It’s all a part of not expecting a masterpiece. You just have to try it. I don’t know how successful you could be if everything you worked on turned out great.


What’s next for you?

I am applying to graduate school for my MFA. I hope to learn a lot from being around a group of artists. I think it really helps to be around people who can give you honest feedback and constructive criticism. The energy that comes from that is helpful. I’m really looking forward to learning and the experience of it in and of itself.


Do you have any goals for your work? Do you see it in a gallery space or in someone’s home?

I would really like to teach, to be an art professor at a university, because I think it’s really important that people express themselves. There are few places you can really do that besides the arts. Those are the places where you can express yourself freely, and there are no boundaries or limitations. As a teacher, I can do my work but also inspire students as they inspire me. It sounds like a nice way of living.


How would you describe being a successful artist?

That’s a really good question. I’m not really sure. I think it depends on what your definition is. I think that for me if I do work and people see it, whatever shape or form that is, I think it’s successful. If someone buys it, that might be successful, too.

A painting is successful when I like the painting when I am done. Actually liking something that you have done and being able to own it – that’s part of being successful, too. You might do something and someone likes it, but what’s the point if you don’t like it.


Music Education Benefit Concert This Friday

Wildwood Park for the Arts Announces Benefit Performance by the Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra (MEBCO) on Feb 13

The Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra (MEBCO) will perform a benefit concert at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock at 7pm on Friday, February 13. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to support the Wildwood Academy for Music and the Arts (WAMA) and the Arkansas Youth Symphony Orchestra (ASYO).

Eric Meincke has formed the Music Education Benefit Concert Orchestra (MEBCO) and will conduct eight Wildwood Academy of the Music and the Arts 2014 students and Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra members, all of which are volunteering their time for this performance. Eric is a former WAMA student and current ASYO trumpet player as well as co-drum major for the Central High School Band. He has been studying conducting since he was in the 7th grade.

A reception will follow the concert, which includes music by Bach, Cacavas, Lauridsen, Lecuona and Mozart.