Michael Worsham and Jean Flint are Arkansas artists traveling on nearly opposite aesthetic paths, but both are passing through Little Rock currently. Worsham's exhibit “Compositions and Faces” at the Historic Arkansas Museum of painterly, up-close portraits of friends and family is the figurative wrought in 2-D. Jean Flint's installation work at the Arkansas Arts Center of objects in space is abstraction in 3-D.
Worsham, a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, works from photographs but overcomes the flat and frozen look that technique produces by introducing angularity, both in composition (some of the portraits are painted from above) and brushstroke. A great appeal of the paintings is the everydayness of the subjects: Children making funny faces, a man smoking a cigarette on a porch, a young man making gang signs on a street of older one-story homes, a young woman with big hoop earrings standing in front of a chain-link fence. The HAM purchased “Danielle,” a portrait of a little girl looking up into the face of the artist, light shining on her head and nose.
At the Arts Center, you've got to shake off all the emotional charge and accessibility of the student work you pass through (the “Young Arkansas Artists Exhibit”) on the way to appreciate Flint's show. But Flint, an Arkansas native who teaches at Southern Louisiana University in Hammond, is not dispassionate. For “Interior Forms” she creates translucent acrylic skins of various dimensions: In long strips, hanging in a thicket from wire mesh suspended from the gallery ceiling; in a wide sheet suspended in a U-shape from two bars; stretched across a wire skeleton to make a vessel. The skins are as two-dimensional as three dimensions can get. Complementing the work are large, unframed sketches for the installations, flowing and loose abstractions.
About those students: The annual “YAA” exhibit is a showcase of talent by both pupil and teacher. The high school work includes a detailed, fanciful and slightly scatological line drawing a la Hieronymus Bosch by Ethan Foster, soldiers reflected in an Iraqi woman's face by Jessica Turner, a gorgeous neo-impressionist still life by Anja Talbert and a neat chiaroscuro charcoal of boats by Katherine Gentry.
The grade school stuff is, of course, charming — as Clement Greenberg is supposed to have said, all child artists are prodigies.
Second Friday Art Night rolls around from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 14. The Cox Creative Center will feature “The Subject is Books III,” books made by artists, and oils by Steven Wise in its two galleries at 120 Commerce St. Hearne Fine Art, 500 President Clinton Ave., will debut “Salute to Women Artists.” River Market ArtSpace, 301 Clinton, will feature new work by glass artists Gary Carter and Ed Pennebaker, gourds by Kate Venus and pottery by Mark Rademacher. The Arts Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and Ten Thousand Villages fair trade shop will also be open.
“Tete au Collier,” a pencil by Matisse acquired in 2007 by the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation, goes on exhibit March 14 in the foyer to the Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery. Matisse made the line drawing of a woman's face in 1946; it's 16 7/8 high by 13 inches wide. Arts Center director Nan Plummer said that announcing the work “is a new approach for us,” and meant to better inform the public. “It's a gift to you,” she said. Three other significant acquisitions have been selected for later exhibition.