November is a fantastic month for art exhibitions on the historic Fayetteville Square, with a series of exhibits showing in the Art Ventures gallery throughout the month. The gallery is home to the Art Ventures organization, with a mission of promoting visual arts through collaboration, working to the highest standards, encouraging education and public engagement in the arts and providing accessibility to underrepresented communities.

The current shows are designed to stimulate the senses through artistic storytelling, and the diverse collection will represent and interest all ages. Area young people, through the University of Arkansas School of Art and Art Ventures K-12 Youth Initiative, selected a theme of Modern Folklore to share their histories and cultural traditions in the form of painting and sculpture. Guided by student teachers in the University’s Art Education Program, the youth tell their individual stories through stylistic interpretation, building an exhibit representative of a visual cultural tapestry.

Alongside Modern Folklore, the work of four exceptional artists will be on display:

Leon Niehues creates exquiste basket art at his Huntsville, Arkansas studio, made from native white oak trees found in the Ozarks. His work incorporates traditional and contemporary construction methods, and his exhibits have been seen nationwide, featured in multiple publications—including the New York Times, as well as display in museums around the country. Nieheus was named an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Department of Heritage.

Behnaz Sohrabian, originally from Tehran, Iran, brings a voice of female empowerment that resonates from her paintings. Sohrabian says, “My work is about me, being a woman and giving voice to the many challenges that women face in this era. I paint women as strong individuals free to express their feminine power and vision for a better world.” Her work was recognized as the winner of Best in Show at the 63rd Annual IAA Dallas Exhibition in June 2018.

Jody Travis Thompson of Fayetteville uses a variety of artistic conventions to present a unique visual experience. Thompson uses diverse methods to create a distinctive relationship between perception, time, memory, and space that takes the observer on his journey as a gay, white male and conveys how that journey reconciles with his perceptions of childhood dreams and third-person memory. Thompson’s works have displayed in exhibits around the country and are held in multiple private collections.

LaDawna Whiteside works from her Northwest Arkansas studio farm, where she reflects on her history in the South and human historical relationship to the land. Her collection of landscape abstractions raises questions about our impact on the land and those changes over time. Whiteside says, “With meditative and aerial perspectives, I equate my marks to those made by humans on the land. As I dig deeper, topographical compositions expose imaginative core sections that are analogous to my inner self.” Her works have been seen in exhibits around the world, including the 2009 Red Gate Residency Exhibition in Bei Gao, China.

Art Ventures invites the public to attend a special opening reception to celebrate Folklores and Odysseys on Thursday, November 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

Art Ventures is located at 101 W Mountain Street, Suite 222. Admission is free and donations to the nonprofit organization are appreciated.

Exhibition dates: November 7 – December 1, 2019
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday – 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 3 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays preceding Fayetteville First Thursdays)

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