A Little Rock woman has made a $100,000 donation to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to create an endowed scholarship in her mother’s name for senior art students.
Leslye Shellam, the daughter of Linda Blaine Flake and L. Dickson Flake, created the scholarship to honor her mother’s love of art.
“Though recognized as ‘gifted’ from an early age, Linda knew that knowledge and experimentation to new, unfamiliar ideas kept her work fresh and inspired,” Shellam said. “The endowment in her name is intended to allow an art student more time for curiosity and self-exploration to channel their talent into a lifelong contribution to the rest of us who may need to be reminded of the ‘undefined’ that encourages personal creativity of all forms in each of us.”
The Linda Blaine Flake Endowed Art Scholarship will benefit senior undergraduate students studying the visual arts in the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education at UA Little Rock.
“Mrs. Flake was a longtime practicing painter and considered painting a vocation and an avocation,” said Joseph Lampo, director of development and external relations. “Both she and her husband Dickson Flake had been active members of the Little Rock community for many years. I can’t think of a better way for a community member to honor someone than to provide support for students at the local metropolitan university studying a subject important to that person. We are grateful to Leslye Shellam for her appreciation of the need for this support.”
Linda Blaine Flake was a native of Little Rock who attended Central High School through the 11th grade. Her father, Fletcher Clement Jr., was a civil engineer whose work took him and his family to places all around the world, including Canada, Morocco, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Colorado. She graduated high school in North Africa and later attended school in Gstaad and Neuchatel, Switzerland.
She developed a love of the arts at a young age. Drawing and painting helped Flake navigate her early school years when the family moved frequently because of her father’s job. She had a summer job in Africa as a draftsman with the Corps of Engineers and another in the mapping section of the Arkansas Highway Department.
After she married Dickson Flake, the couple moved to Detroit where their daughter, Leslye, was born. After the Flakes returned to Little Rock to be near family and friends, she studied and developed her art skills while her husband established a successful commercial real estate business.
Flake continued her passion for creating art by studying at UA Little Rock. She also participated in a painting master class invitational in Maine, and attended workshops in China, Guatemala, Mexico, Bali, California, and New Mexico.
She was a successful artist who showed her work at the former Art on the Green Gallery in Conway, Arkansas, as well as the well-remembered Heights Gallery in Little Rock. She was an active member and former president of the Mid-Southern Watercolorists and also worked in other mediums. She and Townsend Wolfe, past long-serving director of the former Arkansas Arts Center, now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, had an exclusive extended two-person exhibition of their work inspired by their visits to Asia, when China was still not fully open to the Western world.
“My mother, Linda Blaine Flake, was an exceptionally intelligent and insightful woman,” Shellam said. “Art was the vehicle that kept her challenged and questioning established guidelines in life as well as her career. Linda’s artwork was not produced by what might interest a prospective buyer, but was an outpouring of what she wanted to share of her soul with others. By not defining herself in a specific category, she stayed open and embraced many mediums which facilitated rewarding life experiences, spurring even more creative and personal achievements.”
The scholarship, to be awarded to a rising senior, will provide assistance for any education related expenses, including tuition, books, fees, and room and board. At the end of their senior year, the scholarship recipient will also have the opportunity for a solo exhibition of their work in one of the art galleries at the Windgate Center of Art and Design.
“We’re delighted and gratified by the gift of the Linda Blaine Flake Endowed Scholarship,” said Thomas Clifton, chair of the Department of Art and Design at UA Little Rock. “This unique scholarship, which provides annual funding for a solo student exhibition, will give us the opportunity to highlight the talents of an outstanding graduating senior each year.”
In the upper right photo, UA Little Rock studio art major Caleb LeFevre, left, was awarded the first Linda Blaine Flake Endowed Art Scholarship by philanthropist Leslye Shellam during a celebration of World Art Day at the Windgate Center of Art and Design. Photo by Ben Krain.