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Best Dorms of the Future | Stadium Drive Residence Halls, University of Arkansas

If you, like a certain editor of this magazine, called an aging, AC-less, cinder-block-walled dorm room home as a UA freshman, it might come as a shock to learn that a new residence-hall project underway on Stadium Drive is breaking ground, literally and figuratively: It’s the first large-scale mass timber residence hall in the U.S. What is mass timber (or cross-laminated timber, if we’re being fancy)? Think of it as plywood on steroids—it’s sustainable, renewable and, quite possibly, a boon for the Arkansas timber industry. Headed up by local firm Modus Studio, with help from firms out of Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia, these timber-glass-and-metal structures look to be as easy on the eyes as they are on the environment. Take that, Humphreys Hall. (modusstudio.com)


 

Best Source of Gallery Wall Inspo | Fellow Human

You can’t miss it if you walk by. Through a glass storefront on Bentonville’s Central Avenue, just a block west of the square, you see whitewashed brick walls and gridded mashups of edgy, thought-provoking art spread across them: digital collages, screen prints, acrylic canvases, letterpress. It’s exactly the way your walls would look if your walls were in a Brooklyn loft, and you were, say, a badass contemporary art curator. Forget Brooklyn, though—your walls can look like this, and Fellow Human can help. “Do your walls a favor, give them a story,” the gallery’s Instagram profile reads. Challenge accepted. (fellowhumangallery.com)


Best Public Display of Affection | AETN Grant

Maybe it’s because you grew up watching Sesame Street. Maybe it’s because you caught the science bug from Bill Nye, or the reading bug from Reading Rainbow. Maybe it’s because you’ve been reading the news and know that the future of public broadcasting is as uncertain now as it’s ever been. No matter the reason, if you were one of the more than 8,140 people who signed up for membership with the AETN Foundation between October 2017 and June 30, 2018, you played a sizable role in helping the local PBS affiliate land a $100,000 challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation. And if you didn’t—and if any of the above rings a bell—just remember: You still can. (aetn.org)


 

Best Pupparazzi | Tammy Swarek and Tammy Michael of the Shelter Pets Project

You know those ASPCA commercials? With the dogs and the Sarah MacLachlan? Yeah, we have a hard time watching those, too. So did El Dorado photographer-slash-dog-lover Tammy Swarek and her friend Tammy Michael. “We couldn’t change the channel fast enough,” Swarek says. “So we decided to take an outside-the-box approach.” That approach? The Shelter Pets Project, which found the Tammys taking glamour shots of Union County Animal Protection Society’s pups: Gonzo the corgi in a preppy pink suit and tie, Excalibur the mutt in a floral headdress, etc. Not only did it work, but the photos started attracting the attention of national and international media, as well as fellow artists who wanted to contribute, like fashion designer Anthony Rubio, who designed the costumes worn here. Stay tuned for a book—Canine Couture—out this fall, featuring collaborations between the Tammys and Anthony, as well as a handful of other philanthropic photographers and designers. (tammyswarek.com/shelter-pets-project)


Best Way to Have Your Pie and Support Local Radio, Too | SQZBX

File this under things we didn’t know we needed: an accordion-themed pizzeria and microbrewery flanked by the state’s only solar-powered radio station. The masterminds behind SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint and KUHS-FM community radio are Cheryl Roorda and Zac Smith—partners in business, partners in marriage and partners in accordion-helicon polka duo The Itinerant Locals. Zac had dreamed of having a place on the airwaves since 2000, when the FCC assigned a designation for Low Power FMs, where noncommercial stations could broadcast at low wattage. He launched KUHS back in 2015 but needed a revenue stream to support his efforts. That’s where SQZBZ came in—between the restaurant and the radio station, Smith is able to pursue both his livelihood and his passion. “I wanted both halves,” he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette back in February. “SQZBX is where, hopefully, I’ll be making money, and the radio station was my dream.” (sqzbx.com)


Best New Chapter for a Reading Series Argenta Reading Series + CALS

Staff Pick

We’re not sure about y’all, but stories of our book clubs past have often followed a pretty familiar trajectory: Month 1: Books. Month 2: Books and wine. Month 3: Wine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But a recent collaboration between the Argenta Reading Series and CALS’ River Market Books and Gifts foreshadows what might very well represent a plot twist in the otherwise oft-repeated dissolution story: Thanks to their combined efforts, the quarterly book club dubbed After Hours—debuting this month on Aug. 16—will bring together readers to discuss the work of upcoming ARS writers. Friends of CALS members will score complimentary copies of the book. Plus: There’s wine. (argentareadingseries.com)


Best Most Unexpected Places to Rock Out

Verizon Arena and the Arkansas Music Pavilion aren’t the only places to get your groove on. When it comes to unique concert venues, these spots are music to our ears:

The Undercroft

Music in a church? Not that surprising. Secular folk, jazz and bluegrass concerts in a church basement that serves home-brewed beer for donation? Praise be! Don’t miss singer-songwriter Stephen Chopek take the stage at Christ Episcopal Church in Little Rock on Aug. 10. (facebook.com/theundercroftlr)

Crystal Bridges Forest Series

Send summer off in style by boogieing down in Crystal Bridges’ North Forest in Bentonville. On Aug. 11, Jamie Lou and Friends drop by, as well as Dog Days of Summer, featuring 1 oz. Jig. (crystalbridges.org/forest-concert-series)

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Now this is our kind of garden party. Sway and sashay with the flowers at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville on Aug. 21 while National Park Radio keeps the beat with their folk and Americana tunes. Plus, it’s free! (bgozarks.org/free-summer-concert series)

Ozark Folk Center

State parks aren’t just for taking in our state’s natural features. Case in point: The Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View is tailor made for jamming out and cutting a rug. The center hosts daytime performances every Tuesday through Saturday, with additional evening concerts Thursdays through Saturdays. (ozarkfolkcenter.com/music)

Sounds in the Stacks

As readers and writers, we’ve always loved the library. As music fans, we now have one more reason. The Central Arkansas Library System hosts frequent community concerts at rotating branches as part of their free Sounds in Stacks series. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Brian Nahlen performs next on Aug. 14 at Little Rock’s Fletcher Library. Don’t worry—all library quiet policies will be temporarily suspended. (arkansassounds.org/schedule)

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