Other art organizations available to Arkansas artists in the central region include the Arkansas League of Artists (ALA)and the Conway League of Artists (CLA).
The web site for the ALA is http://www.arkansasleagueofartists.org. The Mission Statement on the web site reads: “The Arkansas League of Artists is an organization formed to promote fine arts in Arkansas. The League is a growing membership of artists and art enthusiasts who gather to learn from one another by exploring new techniques, working in new mediums and sharing their collective knowledge.” The group meets the last Tuesday of each month except for December at 7:00 PM at the North Little Rock Community Center. Programs include demonstrations and lectures, and each member may bring an original art work to the meetings to be voted on by those attending. Each winning piece is displayed for a month at local banks as “The Artist of the Month.” In addition, several exhibitions are hosted throughout the year. The 5th Annual Juried ALAart show is scheduled for September 12th – December 27th at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in the Arkansas Studies Institute. The organization also awards scholarships to high school students and to the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School.
The Conway League of Artists meets at either the Faulkner County Library in Conway, or the Art on the Green (a local art gallery and studio) the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7 PM. On the web site at http://www.conwayleagueofartists.org, it is stated that the “Conway League of Artists is about creating visual art. We’re artists of all types: students, teachers, professionals, hobby painters and creatives who just want to learn and talk about art. We have painters, sculptors, potters, photographers, and illustrators… and a wide variety of media.” There are several exhibits held in Conway areas yearly and ongoing displays at banks, the library, and other Conway businesses. The meetings include demonstrations, information, and member voting for the “Art of the Month”.
All four of these Arkansas art organizations are active, involved, and inclusive. Dues range from $20 to $30, and are well worth the price for the degree of encouragement, inspiration, and education derived from membership. If you’re not already a member of one of these groups, think about joining — membership will greatly enhance your creativity and confidence.
The making of art is a solitary profession. It’s not like teaching, where you try to impart the love of learning in impressionable young minds, or working for a company as manager, supervisor, or general flunky. No, you work alone at a table or easel, placing on canvas or paper what is in your mind, your heart, and your soul. Conversation gets in the way of the creative process. So it’s only natural that an artist sometimes craves the presence of other artists for comradeship, inspiration, and/or advice. We take workshops, attend weekly groups, and join art organizations.
Art organizations serve to support a particular medium or theme and furnish information, exhibit opportunities, and friendship to its members. I belong to every art organization possible: Mid-Southern Watercolorists (Signature membership), the Arkansas League of Artists (Signature membership), the Arkansas Pastel Society (charter member), the Conway League of Artists, and the Pastel Society of the Southwest in Texas (Signature membership) and the Colored Pencil Society of America. If there was a colored pencil society in Arkansas, I would be a member of that group as well! I’ll give you a short overview of each of these Arkansas organizations.
Mid-Southern Watercolorists was organized in 1970 by five Arkansas artists who desired to educate the public about the values of watercolor. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month at 7 PM at the Arkansas Arts Center except during the summer months. An educational program follows a brief business session. Several exhibition opportunities are held during the year as well as workshops and demonstrations that increase expertise in the medium. Members hail from Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Mississippi as well as from Arkansas. The organization holds one juried membership show and a juried open show each year with major awards. I am currently the Regional Advisor for the Pulaski County area.
The Arkansas Pastel Society meets on the first Tuesday of each month (except January, February, and July) at 6 PM in the Education Building of St. Vincent’s Infirmary. It was founded in 2004 by a group of pastel artists who saw the need for a regional society to promote pastels as a medium and as a means of networking with other pastel artists. APS is a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies whose objective is “to celebrate worldwide the expanding presence of dry pastel as a major fine art painting medium,” and to “provide a strong voice for pastel artists and the luminous medium of pastel” (from the APS website). Scholarships are granted to deserving art students, demonstrations and workshops are held periodically, and a National Exhibition as well as member exhibits are held yearly.
(Discussion to be continued on the next post).