Speed Dating

Speed Dating

UA art school tries out relationship with Walker-Stone House


While crews repair the building, an historic home downtown will have temporary tenants, which may lead to a more lasting arrangement.

Molly Rawn, the Fayetteville tourism director, introduced to the Advertising and Promotion Commission on Feb. 19 a deal with the University of Arkansas School of Art for a three-month residency at the Walker-Stone House, 207 W. Center St.

The school will host a gallery of student and faculty work from March through May. An official opening date has not been set, says Kayla Crenshaw, director of communications for the School of Art.

Becoming a destination for art in the state, expanding outreach and looking for new venues all fall in line with the school’s goals, Crenshaw says. The three-month stay will feature a mixture of paintings, drawings and graphic design work. Faculty will exhibit work of all types of mediums in May.

“We want to make sure we’re giving back to the community as much as we’re receiving from our community partners,” Crenshaw says.

Repairs and renovations at the 170-year-old house will continue during the gallery’s stay, Rawn says. The commission has $225,000 budgeted this year for the project.

The commission bought the home in 2016 for $750,000. Ideas have bounced around about what to do with it.

The house has served as an art show venue before with collective Fenix Fayetteville’s events and Experience Fayetteville’s Green Candy Art Action, which brought several mural and sculpture projects to the city last summer. (Experience Fayetteville is the name of the tourism bureau.)

The School of Art will have its three-month trial run, and at the end of it, will come back to the commission and make a presentation on the experience. From there, a long-term arrangement could be made that would generate revenue and tourism, Rawn says.

“I am thrilled with this opportunity,” she says. “I think it will be wonderful, even if it does not turn into something long term.”

Commissioner Robert Rhoads brought up the commission’s September meeting in which it was decided a committee would determine the house’s long-term future. Rawn says she didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity with the School of Art, and the arrangement would serve as a test for how to potentially move forward.

The School of Art will pay for utilities during its stay and won’t interrupt the repairs and renovations, Rawn says.

Work at Walker-Stone House will happen in phases. Much of the first phase has been completed with new air conditioning, insulation and bids ready to go out for an ADA-compliant entrance. The next phase largely entails interior work. Future phases include the roof and gutters, exterior and electrical and lighting work.

Architect Aaron Ruby with Allison + Partners drafted the plan, which has an estimated $293,000 cost. Rawn says after talking with Ruby certain aspects of the plan won’t cost as much as initially thought. Wireless internet and a security system have already been installed, for example.

A deer sculpture on the lawn, which was part of the Green Candy event, has started to collapse. Tourism officials are looking into structural support, Rawn says.

“The deer is a little bit sick,” she says. “We hope to get him some medicine soon and be able to restore him to his full majesty.”

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