Windgate Center to debut new gallery spaces

Through the Trees, oil on canvas by Kate Freeman Clark

The Windgate Center of Art and Design opens this month, and with it come two new gallery spaces that will feature works from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Permanent Collection as well as temporary exhibits.

The Main Gallery on the second floor will house “Building A Collection: Recent Acquisitions made possible by the Windgate Charitable Foundation,” featuring art purchased for the UA Little Rock Permanent Collection. Gallery Director and Curator Brad Cushman has selected about 30 of the university’s more recently acquisitions for the exhibit, running Jan. 16 through March 11.

The UA Little Rock Permanent Collection, started in 1972, now includes more than 1,600 drawings, paintings, fine art prints, photographs, graphic illustrations, political cartoons, sculptural objects, ceramics, and contemporary crafts.

“It is very important as a teaching tool and continues to grow because of the generous support of donors such as the Windgate Charitable Foundation,” Cushman said. “Most of the works featured in the inaugural exhibit have been acquired since 2011, but we are also featuring work done by the artists in residence in painting and metals.”

Beacon by Sylvia Rosenthal, 2010, basswood, poplar wood, paint is in the Permanent Collection
Beacon by Sylvia Rosenthal

The painting residency began in 2003, and the metal residency began in 2010. The Windgate Foundation has funded both residencies.

“The foundation’s support of the department’s Applied Design program is reflected in several works from the Contemporary Craft Movement, in which artists interpret and question traditional approaches about design, materials and function,” Cushman added.

The Windgate Charitable Foundation awarded a grant to the Gallery Program at UA Little Rock in 2011. The funding has supported exhibitions, the conservation of two public sculptures on campus, the development and publication of a catalog featuring highlights of the permanent collection, and the purchase of artworks for the permanent collection.

The Lower Level Gallery will exhibit “Discovering Kate Freeman Clark,” introducing the work of an American Impressionist from Holly Springs, Mississippi. The exhibit runs Jan. 16 – March 11.

Kate Freeman Clark, who spent much of her childhood in Holly Springs, Mississippi, enrolled in an oil painting class taught by Impressionist William Merritt Chase on Long Island, New York, in the summer of 1896. She became one of Chase’s most successful students, and between 1896 and 1923 she produced more than one thousand works of art, including still lifes, landscapes, portrait drawings and paintings. More than 40 of these works will be on display in Windgate.

Clark worked at a time when female artists often used a gender-ambiguous pseudonym to receive serious professional attention. She often signed her work “Freeman Clark” so her skill would not be judged based on gender.

She gave up her painting career after the death of her teacher, grandmother and mother and returned to Holly Springs.

There has been a renewed interest in Clark’s work and career. A new book entitled “The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark” by Carolyn J. Brown and a recent exhibition at The University of Mississippi Museum entitled “Lasting Impressions: Restoring Kate Freeman Clark” has introduced her work to a new generation of art patrons. Works for this exhibition are on loan from Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Two lectures are planned around the gallery exhibits. On Jan. 21, Annette Trefzer, associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Mississippi, will speak on “Discovering Kate Freeman Clark,” beginning at 2 p.m. in Lecture Hall Room 101 in the lower level of the Windate Center.

On Feb. 25, Cushman will discuss “Building A Collection: Recent Acquisitions” at 2 p.m. in the Main Gallery. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

In the photo (upper right) is Through the Trees, an oil on canvas by Kate Freeman Clark.


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