The handmade rockers, quilts, knives, psyanky eggs, fiddles and more that go on exhibit July 10 at the Historic Arkansas Museum are treasures made by treasures — the Arkansas Arts Council’s Living Treasures.
Dallas Bump is the rocker maker. Irma Gail Hatcher, the quiltmaker. J.R. Cook, the bladesmith. Lorrie Popow, the egg artist. Jim Larkin, the potter. Violet Hensley, the fiddle maker. They are just six of the 14 Arkansas Living Treasures, chosen by the Arts Council since 2002 for their work preserving and advancing their craft.
“Art. Function. Craft. The Life and Work of Arkansas Living Treasures” will also feature documentary films made of several of the artists, a HAM project to bring the Living to life. Filmmakers and photographers Dave Anderson, Gabe Gentry, Greg Spradlin, Nathan Willis, Kat Wilson and Joe York worked with HAM on the project.
The exhibit opens with the 2nd Friday Art Night event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., where Clancey Ferguson, three-time state fiddle champion, will play and Saddlebock Brewery will serve its craft brews.
That will make it an evening of Arkansas artisans of all ilk.
The other Living Treasures include three potters — Jim Larkin, Winston Taylor and Peter Lippincott; two wood sculptors — Doug Stowe and Robyn Horn; log cabin builder Robert Runyan; woodworking plane crafter Larry Williams; basketmaker Leon Niehues; and stained glass artist Beatrice Stebbing. Here is some brief information about the artisans whose work HAM will display:
Lorrie Popow, 2015 Living Treasure: The Arts Council is honoring a traditional Ukranian art form in their choice of Popow: A Chicago native who moved to Hot Springs in 1973, Popow decorates eggs using the lost-beeswax and dye psyanky method. She also paints, carves, filigrees, etches and decoupages her eggs. Psyanky eggs were created to ward off bad spirits. Who could feel bad around a pysanky egg?
Robert Runyon, 2014: Runyan, who lives off the grid in Winslow, builds log cabins without benefit of modern machinery. Instead, he uses teams of mules to haul wood, antique axes and other tools to shape the timbers and wood notching and pegs to join them together. His work includes Underwood-Lindsey Pavilion at Mount Sequoyah Woods and the Yellow Rock Overlook at Devil’s Den Park.
Dallas Bump, 2013: Bump has been making rockers, as his father, grandfather and great-grandfather did before him, in Bear (Garland County) with 100-year-old tools and without glue or bolts. The “Bump Rocker” is the most popular of his chairs.
Jim Larkin, 2012: Larkin and his wife, Barbara, have operated Fox Pass Pottery outside Hot Springs for more than 40 years, where they mix their own clays and make their own glazes; Larkin has also built several wood-fired and gas kilns. Their studio is open to visitors and they will often demonstrate their craft.
Winston Taylor, 2011: Taylor is known for his spare, almost Asian aesthetic in his raku pottery. He teaches at Arkansas River Valley Arts Center in Russellville, where he introduced the ceramics classes.
Peter Lippincott, 2010: If you have ever been to Arkansas Craft Guild shows, you’ll know Lippincott’s Mudpuppy Studio. Lippincott, who came late to the craft, at age 38, is known for his intense glazes and functional forms. He teaches at the Fort Smith Regional Arts Museum.
Doug Stowe, 2009: The Eureka Springs woodworker, contemporary furniture maker and author created the Wisdom of Hands program at Clear Spring School to introduce the craft to younger people.
Robyn Horn, 2008: The Little Rock wood sculptor creates large geometrical forms, and is the first artist to have a piece installed in the Governor’s Mansion sculpture garden. She also is known nationally for her support of contemporary crafts.
James R. Cook, 2007: Cook, who studied with famous Arkansan bladesmith Jerry Fisk, exhibits his knives, including the Arkansas Razorback” and “Tuxedo Bowie,” internationally.
Larry Williams, 2006: To do traditional woodwork, you want traditional tools, like the handmade woodworking planes made and sold by Williams.
Leon Niehues, 2005: This self-taught basketmaker from Pettigrew is known for his large-weave sculptural vessels that often incorporate black emery cloth, waxed linen thread and small bolts. Each basket is unique.
Violet Hensley, 2004: The documentary of this Yellville fiddlemaker is one of the best short films about an Arkansas subject you’ll see. Hensley, who’ll turn 100 in October 2016, started making fiddles when she was 15 years old.
Irma Gail Hatcher, 2003: Hatcher, who lives in Conway, has won 10 national awards for her quilts and is the only Arkansan to be named a Master Quilter by the National Quilting Association.
Beatrice Stebbing, 2002: Stebbing taught herself the art of stained glass in the 1930s, studying under Emil Frei of St. Louis, to create glass windows for a chapel at her Texas college. She died in Siloam Springs in 2004.