Our Front Porch: A Place for Art, Talk in Little Rock

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Talon Gustafson Country Husband (Eat M) Exhibition View. Image courtesy the gallery.
Talon Gustafson Country Husband (Eat M) Exhibition View. Image courtesy the gallery.

The idea for BURNAWAY originated from a front-porch conversation about the need for more dialogue about local art. Please welcome Haynes Riley, today’s guest writer of Our Front Porch.
As this series is titled Our Front Porch, I find it appropriate to use personal pronouns in the short-form essay that follows. Even further, when I say I, I mean we and when I say we, I mean I. That is the nature of this place—Arkansas and Good Weather.
There is a definite cultural fabric in Little Rock/North Little Rock that has been established through various platforms. Music is the weft (for some history, see the Towncraft documentary) and the warp is theater, storytelling (listen to Paula Martin Morell’s live audience radio show Tales from the South), and literature (read Oxford American magazine).
These same platforms exist in visual arts—Arkansas Art Center, Argenta Arts District and Art Walk, Thea Foundation, Arkansas A+ Schools, and so on. And there are artists working, galleries exhibiting, and educators teaching at all levels that make up the visual arts community in Arkansas. But as I expanded my practice in Arkansas, I recognized a noticeable dearth in this community: No entity existed for exhibiting contemporary art.
And so I established Good Weather—a platform for our community to engage in conversation about contemporary art to encourage understanding and awareness of the diverse practices that exist and how they play a vital role in defining and challenging our current local and national ethe (to borrow from our mission statement).
In the South conversation is currency. The more something is talked about, the more importance and value it gains. As you can imagine, conversation concerning contemporary art happens sporadically and tangentially in Arkansas. And as is the case with the pace of life, that fact and the cultural currency of contemporary art are changing slowly. But surely. Percolating at the beat of a rocking chair moving back and forth on a concrete patio.
With Good Weather an organic dialogue has started flowing in and out of a cast of characters: a group of people who are family, friends, colleagues, and supporters. And as that dialogue has expanded, the pace of what we are creating at Good Weather has hammered on, and we are becoming more than just a vehicle for exhibiting and experiencing contemporary art. Good Weather is now a salient space in which to literally sit, think, and talk.
That’s a front porch. That’s contemporary art. That’s conversation.

My questions for the Front Porch:
Where is your space? What is your conversation?
Please feel free to participate in the open comments underneath this article, or share it elsewhere and discuss informally with your friends. Talking in person counts!
Our Front Porch is a series inviting guest contributors to share thoughts on local art for open discussion with you, our readers.

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