COMING SOON: Public display of Joe Jones' mural, "Struggle of the South," envisioned as a lure to a new space UA-Little Rock plans on Clinton Avenue in the River Market neighborhoodl.
UA-Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson
says he's aiming for a June opening of a facility going in the Central Arkansas Library System's
newish parking deck and office building on Clinton Avenue, immediately north of the main library.
The exciting thing, to me, is that the opening will bring with it public
display of a treasure owned by the school and in storage for 27 years. Leslie Newell Peacock told this story for the Times
several years ago:
For the past 27 years, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has stored a fragile mural by social realist painter Joe Jones, after then-UALR archivist (and now Central Arkansas Library Director) Bobby Roberts rescued it from oblivion in 1984. Painted for Commonwealth College in Mena in 1935, "The Struggle of the South" portrays the miseries of sharecropping, a lynching and the plight of coal miners. Jones was a Missourian who said "I'm not interested in painting pretty pictures to match pink and blue walls. I want to paint things that knock holes in walls."
It's a heckuva tale. Rescued by Roberts for $500 when destruction was planned for a Fort Smith structure in which it was used as building material, it had one panel restored for display by a St. Louis art museum. This was a controversial lynching scene, likely to still stir emotions. Some $500,000 in restoration was done with grant money. The work, now worth an estimated $4.5 million remains in controlled storage in Texas. And, at last, Rogerson thinks he'll have a great place to display it.
He was downtown yesterday talking to architects about design
of the new space and I talked with him at lunch afterward about many things. (You do know, don't you, that Little Rock has a university, a recognized research institution that is doing great things in many disciplines, including those that matter to Sen. Bart Hester?)
Rogerson had many things to say on topics great and small that will work their way into future conversations. But I was happy to hear plans about
a new arrival to the neighborhood near my office.
It was announced last year that the library system and UA-Little Rock had struck a deal for use of space on the first floor of the parking deck as a place for meetings and events. Rogerson envisions lectures, classes and something of a recruiting office for prospective students. He has a lot of ideas about attracting young brainy people to Little Rock and thinks a reputation as a university city should be a part of that. An outpost in the heart of a downtown with a lot of entertainment, residential and cultural activity couldn't hurt.
UA-LITTLE ROCK SPACE: On first floor of CALS facility on Clinton Avenue.