On a January night in 1959, some 600 people packed into the Hotel Marion ballroom for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame's inaugural induction banquet. The freshly minted organization was to honor the best-of-the-best from the Natural State–individuals who had achieved athletic greatness, and exhibited strong character and leadership along the way. Since that evening more than five decades ago, the Hall of Fame has continued to swell with new members, adding to a trophy case of inductees that already includes the likes of Brooks Robinson, Pat Summerall, and Jerry Jones.
The Arkansas Arts Center stokes the innate creativity of all its visitors with a close look at artistic expression. Since its creation in 1960, the AAC has amassed a permanent collection of more than 5,300 drawings and paintings (primarily American and European), 1,000 contemporary crafts and sculptures, and 27 lost mittens. Examples of French neo-impressionist drawings share space with the work of old masters, while early modern paintings complement studio-forged glass sculptures and other pieces dating as far back as 1465. Throughout the year, the museum also casts its light on the local community by hosting special exhibitions of established artists and emerging talent.
Outside its gallery, the AAC encourages the community in another way. Through classes and workshops, instructors explain the fundamentals of composition in photography, ceramics, painting, woodworking, and printmaking while helping students create their own pieces. An onsite children's theatre, meanwhile, routinely stages family-friendly shows, and the troupe even offers workshops on the art of acting.
Harnessing more than 24 years of border-building experience, Artistic Edge constructs custom frames on-site from myriad object-encasing supplies. Celebrate an offspring's emergence from the academic cocoon by encasing his or her diploma in a quality frame, or protect your office's overtime schedule from passive-aggressive spitballs by placing it behind glass. With a selection ranging from sleek and minimal to a baroque explosion of swirls, the accomplished framers at Artistic Edge will help patrons choose the perfect frame and ensure that it's lovingly assembled from materials of the highest quality (basic custom framing, $100+). Artist Edge offers on-site parking, allowing easy pick-up of large-format Yoda posters.
More than 200 of The Painted Pig's bone-white, clay-skinned bisque items await the adoring strokes and huggable hues of a hungry, loving artist-owner. Choose your pottery piece from a variety of items, such as mugs, bowls, plates, drawer pulls, and banks (ranging from $1.50 to $100 each, with an average value of about $20). The price includes the piece itself, paint, glazing, and firing. After picking paint colors, you're free to head to The Painted Pig's Idea Center, which supplies an array of books, stamps, sponges, and stencils, or tap the expertise of the studio's friendly staff to stir creative capital from cranial couches. Upon completion of the finishing dabs and drizzlings, you'll hand your claysterpiece to the caring hands of The Painted Pig's glazing and firing squad. The glazing and firing process takes 7–10 days.
The Historic Arkansas Museum, opened in 1941, preserves some of the state's oldest buildings and precious pieces of frontier history for generations to come. Visitors can tread the fateful footpaths of yore on a one-hour guided tour through four 19th-century homes and two of the oldest buildings in Little Rock in a restored pre-Civil War neighborhood. Tour-takers may bump into living history re-enactors who will relate harrowing tales of pioneer survival from before the sun was invented. The museum's collection features artwork and artifacts from throughout the state’s history, and temporary exhibitions, such as The Model Trains of Bill Albright, offer specialized showcases of the state's artstuff and techno-things. Former assistants for circus performers may wish to throw themselves at the museum's knife gallery, which contains more than 100 antique pointed utensils, including a special exhibit on the Bowie knife, a native Arkansas weapon that was highly influential in shaping communications between ground control and Major Tom.