The Eye Of The Beholder

The Eye Of The Beholder

Visual arts continue to catch the eye in new venues


Since Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in 2011, the interest in visual arts has done nothing but expand in Northwest Arkansas. From the newly endowed School of Art at the University of Arkansas to the soon-to-launch contemporary art venue The Momentary in Bentonville, that momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. In fact, independent art studios and galleries are blooming like flowers all around the area.

“I think that what encourages the opening of new galleries is the same impetus that has supported the robust music and theater scene in Northwest Arkansas, and that is a growing diverse and sophisticated audience that wants to experience and support the visual arts,” says Jeanne Parham, curator and leadership team member of the well-established gallery Fenix Fayetteville. “Give it up to Crystal Bridges and the forward thinking exhibitions at 21c [Museum Hotel] for awakening this interest in the public. People visit these two amazing organizations, and then they want to see what the local artist community has to offer.

“To quote an often used aphorism, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, so the opening of new galleries will benefit the existing galleries greatly,” Parham says. “A community that supports multiple galleries makes the statement, ‘we are an art destination.’”

Take a look at just a few of th ventures appearing recently on the Northwest Arkansas art scene.

Eureka Springs

Studio 34

34 N. Main St.

Teresa Pelliccio DeVito says she has longed for years to open an art gallery of her own. So when one of her buildings in Eureka Springs lost its tenant, she decided the time was right to make that dream come true.

“I had been talking to this group of artists for a minute about doing a gallery, and, when my space came open, we were up and running within a few weeks. As soon as we could get everything painted and make a sign and a counter, we were open.”

She says the group of artists that joined her — including Robert and Suzanne Norman and Hilka and Rigdon Irvin — were “handpicked.”

“It’s a really fresh space — that’s what we get from people: ‘It’s fresh, and it feels peaceful yet lively and colorful,’” she says.

All five artists in the gallery are local.

“Robert [Norman] is a master painter — he blows me away,” says DeVito. “He does a lot of nature — birds, a lot of fish, landscapes, as well as architecture pieces. Robert and Susan have a company called Woodzy, and they make these beautiful pieces of furniture from found wood — so unique and so high quality. Susan also finds driftwood and other sorts of gnarly pieces of wood and makes these beautiful sculptures out of them. Hilka [Irvin] is a self-taught artist — her talent blows my mind. She does a little bit of everything: acrylic, oils, watercolor. Her stuff just flies out the door, and she’s so prolific, too. Her work is very emotional — you just look at it, and it gives you these feelings. Her husband, Rigdon, does this abstract work, and he is mostly acrylic. Very colorful work.”

DeVito creates works on barn wood and canvas that are whimsical, sweet and nostalgic, as well as mixed media “intention bowls” that are meant to hold “hopes, dreams and wishes.”

Currently, the gallery is open Thursday through Sunday, and, because it’s staffed by the artists, visitors will have the opportunity to meet the talent behind the art and, possibly, watch them work.

“We have a studio there, so the artists are also in there, painting,” says DeVito. “It’s so great for us — we can continue [creating] while we work. People really love to come in and watch us paint.”


Art Collective

228 S. First St.

James Forman, owner of the Art Collective art gallery in Rogers, has lived in major urban hubs around the country, including New York and Los Angeles. When he settled in Northwest Arkansas, the art lover says he noticed right away that something was missing.

“We’re trying to bring some contemporary art to the area that we felt was lacking,” he says. “So far, the response has been awesome — we’re getting a lot of traffic, and the people who have come in have been amazed at the quality of the work and the space. It’s all been quite positive.”

Forman, who is a professional illustrator and graphic designer, says he wanted Art Collective to represent not only local artists, but also artists from across the country and around the world.

“Locally, I have people like Sara Birch and TigerSasha,” he says. “He is tremendous. He could be a national figure in a matter of years. We also have a pop-up room in our gallery, and we change those artists out every two weeks. Primarily, it’s local artists. Right now [we’re featuring] Ruth Lawlor, a local artist who does black-and-white abstract work. She’s highly spoken of in this area.

“Outside the area, I have Victor Rodriguez from New York — a tremendous talent. He does large, realistic portraits of people and juxtaposes them against other objects. He’s super talented.”

Forman has high hopes for the burgeoning artistic economy of Rogers.

“Rogers has become an art colony of sorts — there’s a tremendous amount of artists that live in town,” he says. “That’s part of the reason why I put the gallery in Rogers. I felt like there was no place to show their work. There are so many artists and so many creative people, and there’s no outlet for them.”

He also has high hopes for Art Collective’s future.

“I think the amount of people coming to Northwest Arkansas just for art is going to go gangbusters in the next couple of years,” he says, citing the opening of The Momentary in Bentonville as one of the catalysts. “I see the gallery becoming a go-to place for art lovers. Not to blow my own horn, but I think we’re at the forefront of creating a new buzz about Rogers.”


Art and Hazel’s Museum Antiques

205 S.E. Second St.

Art is in the eye of the beholder, and avid collector Jerry Taplin sees nothing but art when he looks over his extravagant collections. In fact, Talpin loves the things he collects so much that he decided to share them with the world. He recently opened Art and Hazel’s Museum Antiques, just off the Bentonville square, and filled it with the artifacts of the past that make him the most happy: vintage toys from the 1920s to 1980s, collector cars, vintage vinyl, automobilia, instruments and the only known bronze statue of rocker Bill Haley. And that’s barely scratching the surface.

“I didn’t even know I had this much stuff until I put it out,” confesses Talpin, who named his business after his mother and father. Visitors can come to the store just to admire the collection, but they can also make purchases. Everything, says Talpin, is for sale. “Wait until you see the vast array.”

He says he started collecting about 40 years ago — particularly vintage toys.

“I have a massive collection of toys,” he says. “Cast iron and steel toys, cars, trucks, 42 Madame Alexander dolls in the original boxes. The very few toys that I had growing up, I thought were very cool — I paid a lot of attention to them and kept them in good condition. They’re cool moments in time. It’s interesting to think about who would have played with them.”

Talpin says his vintage automobilia collection is full of rare and hard-to-find items.

“I have some incredible, one-of-a-kind automotive art,” he says. “Signed and numbered lithographs by noted automobile artists and some old original prints. For the avid collector that really wants high end, they’re going to be drooling over my place. This is for the people that know what they want and only want the best.”



Where to Find Them

Studio 34

34 N. Main St., Eureka Springs

Art Collective

228 S. First St., Rogers


Art and Hazel’s Museum Antiques

205 S.E. Second St., Bentonville


Categories: Galleries