Contemporary metalwork and sketches of family, all made with careful intention — that's a great combination at the Arkansas Arts Center right now, with "Cast, Cut, Forged and Crushed: Selections in Metal from the John and Robyn Horn Collection" and "Will Barnet at the Arkansas Arts Center: A Centennial Exhibition." How to describe the drawings and lithographs of an artist whose career has stretched nearly a century? Barnet, 100, was not exactly groundbreaking — he rejected abstract expressionism, deputy director Joe Lampo told us on a tour last week, for structured abstraction in flat space. He didn't address social issues; his subject matter was often his family. But, you will agree after you see the show, his work is masterful and magnetic.
His evolution from New York's Arts Students League drawings to his Indian Space paintings and work inspired by his young children to abstraction and finally back to his family and his "Silent Seasons" series is told in this exhibition of 80 works, made between 1929 and 1990 and 75 of them gifts of the artist to the Arts Center in 2001. Frequent visitors to the Arts Center will be familiar with the fine charcoal of the woman brushing her hair, "E.D. Poem," influenced by Japanese woodcuts. Another, "Study for the Vogels," captures the New York collecting couple perfectly with the sparest of line and the perfect amount of humor. Those two drawings alone make the show a must-not-miss exhibition.
Three-dimensional angularity is the prize in the stunning exhibit of contemporary metalwork from the Horns' collection. Hoss Haley's ribbons of steel are finely wrought, right down to the rivets; Tom Joyce's "Pierced Plate Bowl" looks like polished wood and shares with Barnet's work a Japanese aesthetic of simple lines. More on this show in the future.
The annual "Sculpture in the River Market" exhibit returns for a two-day run Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14-15, in the pavilions behind the market. (There will be a preview at 6:30 p.m. Friday; tickets are $100.) This will be the fifth year the city and the National Sculptors Guild of Loveland, Colo., has organized the show and sale, which features work by 34 artists from all over the country. Proceeds from sales will help fund upgrades in Riverfront Park and the River Market. Artists will compete for a $50,000 commission to create a sculpture to be placed in the park.
Arkansas sculptors showing include Shelley Buonaiuto of Fayetteville, Margaret Warren of Shirley, Ed Pennebaker of Green Forest, Michael Warrick and Terry Bean of Little Rock, Bryan Massey of Conway, John Sewall of West Fork and Gene Sparling of Hot Springs. There will be docent tours of the Vogel-Schwartz Sculpture Garden in the park, which features several pieces bought at the annual show and last year's commissioned work, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
New exhibits open Oct. 14 as part of 2nd Friday Art Night events. A new venue, Canvas Art Gallery at 1111 W. 7th St. Canvas will exhibit ceramics from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. by area potters in a show called "Kelly Edwards and Friends." Painters Dan Thornhill and Jon Shannon Rogers are paired for an exhibit opening Friday at the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Smittle Band will provide entertainment, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fans of Leon Niehues who can't make it to Fayetteville, where the basketmaker has an exhibit at the Walton Arts Center, will be happy to know the Arkansas Living Treasure is showing his baskets at the Butler Center Galleries in the Arkansas Studies Institute. Pinhole photographs by the late, great Thomas Harding, and the Arkansas Pastel Society's 4th national exhibition, "Reflections in Pastel" also open Friday. ASI will also be open 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.