The StART of the River Valley Arts Center
The Arkansas River Valley Arts Center Foundation, Inc. is a non profit located in Russellville, Arkansas which began in 1981 with a June planning meeting, a $5,000 grant from the Junior Auxiliary and commitments from community leaders for over $10,000. The Arts Center officially opened its doors to the public at an all day celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony on October 7th in the borrowed building on West Main Street. Articles of Incorporation prepared by Lu Hardin were signed in December 1981. A Board of Directors was formed and Richard Barton served as the first Executive Director. After three years the borrowed building was sold and the arts center needed a new home. The City of Russellville agreed to lease the rock building built by the WPA in 1936 which had formerly been the public pool bathhouse located in the City Park. The building was renovated with community donations and labor as well as the assistance of Van Horn construction. The Main building now houses a gallery space with monthly exhibits, a classroom, gift shop, office, restrooms, galley kitchen and a receptionist area. The original pool chemical storage building was a challenging renovation, but now functions as a kiln room. A small building was donated by City Corporation and moved to its current location to house the pottery studio. In 1999 a Memorial Garden was designed and added to honor the six residents who were lost in an airline crash, including then Arts Center president Gordon McLerran. Most of the operating budget for the River Valley Arts Center comes from memberships and support of area residents, with some funding from small corporate and foundation grants and the support of the Arkansas Arts Council. Class fees go towards supplies and paid instructors. A full time Executive Director, a part time administrative assistant, and artist in residence Winston Taylor comprise the staff of the Arts Center. With the help of the Board of Directors, community volunteers, and partnerships with area organizations we are able to provide an array of visual and performing arts programs and venues which enriches the Arkansas River Valley communities.
Our Board of Director's
Tanya Hendrix, Executive Director
Amanda Harrison, Administrative Assistant
Winston is an Arkansas native, born in Little Rock in 1948. He lived there until 1990 when he and his family moved to Russellville Arkansas. He attended public schools in Little Rock and received his bachelor degree in art from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He also studied and worked as studio assistant to the late Rosemary Fisher at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock. He has taught pottery at The River Valley Arts Center for 16 years.
He discovered his love for working in clay in the early 70's at U.A.L.R. as a student. "It was more as if it touched me and the potential for expression has entranced me ever since". He has studied with the late Paul Soldner, Don Reitz, Harvey Sadow, Adelphia Martinez, and Peter King. " Paul Soldner and Don Reitz showed me what clay does naturally; Harvey Sadow taught me the enchantment of Raku. Adelphia taught me the the importance of dedication and patience and that art is a catalyst for all cultures. Peter King inspired me to work in large scale and to never fear" .
Winston uses a variety of techniques to create his art form, such as raku, saggar and pit firing, and stone polishing in combination. He often combines wheel thrown forms with hand built tops influenced by architectural, mechanical and geometric forms.
"The meaning of Raku is enjoyment and I hope that my work is that for you as it is for me".
Winston was chosen Beaux Arts Visual Artist of the Year in 2013 by the River Valley Arts Center.
Winston was awarded Arkansas Living Treasure in 2011. A video about him was produced by the Historic Arkansas Museum and may be seen at arkansaslivingtreasure.com