Exhibition celebrates Arkansas artists and importance of community support for the arts
August 13, 2019
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. has partnered with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on a new exhibition celebrating Arkansas artists included in the law firm’s corporate art collection and the importance of community patronage for the arts. The exhibition, Pairing Collections: Contemporary Art in 1980s Arkansas, opens Friday, August 16 and will remain on display in the university’s Windgate Center of Art + Design Brad Cushman Gallery through September 29.
“As we celebrate our firm’s 65th anniversary, we are delighted to collaborate with UA Little Rock to showcase the work of the vibrant Arkansas artists in both collections,” said Mitchell Williams Managing Partner Rick Beard. “We are happy to share our art collection with visitors to the Windgate Center of Art + Design.”
The exhibition showcases 22 works from the corporate collection at Mitchell Williams and 11 works from the UA Little Rock Permanent Collection, offering a snapshot of the 1980s art community in Arkansas. The corporate art collection at Mitchell Williams began in 1967 when the firm’s managing partner Maurice Mitchell and attorney Chris Barrier discussed how the law firm could support and focus attention on the arts in a unique way. The firm began collecting art by Arkansas artists, including work created by faculty and students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. UA Little Rock established an art collection in 1972 to supplement the teaching mission of the Department of Art.
“Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard has been a tremendous community partner of UA Little Rock for many years and has supported many initiatives that directly benefit our students,” said Brad Cushman, UA Little Rock’s gallery curator. “We are thrilled to be able to host this joint exhibition that showcases the incredible talent of so many Arkansas artists.”
Many Arkansas artists are represented in both collections, and their works are placed side by side in the exhibition - thus the title “Pairing Collections.” Artists represented include former UA Little Rock Art professors Al Allen, Kathleen Holder and William “Rocky” Sapp; UA Little Rock art students Alice Andrews, Dominique Simmons, Kitty Mashburn, Gertrude Tara-Casciano and Anne Fordyce; Evan Lindquist, former Arkansas State University art professor and Arkansas’s first artist laureate; Tarrance Corbin, a former University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff art professor; and artists David Bailin, Patrick McFarlin, Warren Criswell, Sally Williams, Cheryl Wall, Lou Boswell, Reita Miller, Margaret Speer and Warren Sims.
Maurice Mitchell, one of the firm’s founders and long-time managing partner, served on the UA Little Rock Foundation Fund Board from 1988-1993 and Attorney Sherry Bartley currently serves on the board. Mitchell Williams also supports the William H. Bowen School of Law, where a courtroom is named in honor of Maurice Mitchell. The firm awards the Maurice Mitchell Leaders in Law Scholarship annually to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law Moot Court board chair and sponsors student association events at the law school. Mitchell Williams has also sponsored UA Little Rock Trojan events as well as Taste of Little Rock, the university’s signature fund-raising event.
About Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. Corporate Art Collection
For more than 65 years, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. has been committed to service, a dedicated culture instilled by one of the law firm’s original partners and founders, Maurice Mitchell. Mitchell was actively involved in the arts community. He was a founding member of the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Board of Directors and served on the Arkansas Repertory Theatre Board of Directors. He was awarded the Edwin Hanlon Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Contributions to the Arts from the Arts and Humanities Association and the Arkansas Arts Center’s Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Award.
Mitchell Williams Attorney Chris Barrier also was committed to service in the arts. Barrier served on the Arkansas Arts Center Board of Trustees, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Foundation Board of Directors.
In 1967, Mitchell and Barrier discussed how the firm could support the arts community in a unique way that would bring attention to the arts, support individual artists, and promote local arts organizations. The idea was formed to build a corporate art collection. Because of his love, passion for and knowledge of art, Barrier became responsible for selecting and purchasing art for the collection. He began with the concerted effort to build a collection of works by Arkansas artists.
The Mitchell Williams Corporate Art Collection features 92 works of contemporary art including drawings, paintings, etchings, lithographs and prints. The collection focus is primarily works on paper by Arkansas artists. Barrier noted that the most striking pieces of art tended to be works on paper and that’s why he purchased them. Works were purchased at non-profit fundraising events such as the Arkansas Arts Center’s Tabriz, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Artworks and Saints & Sinners, and other charitable art auction events. Barrier would purchase work from artists living and working in the state. This collection strategy helped build the collection with sophisticated, contemporary works