Culturalist: Winter 2020

Where to be this winter

The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment might have brought about an end to slavery, but along with freedom came a whole new set of challenges for black Americans. However, an upcoming Central Arkansas Library System lecture from historian Story Matkin-Rawn and ecologist Theo Witsell will explain—through botanical field specimens, images and primary source accounts—how the wild places of Arkansas’ frontier environment became an asset to the roughly 200,000 members of the emancipation generation that relocated to The Natural State following The Civil War. (

Here’s a question: What do corporate offices, backyard decks, breweries, driveways and airport hangars all have in common? They’ve all played host to City Sessions, a Bentonville-based nonprofit that for the past several years has staged concerts around the Northwest Arkansas corridor. These past few months, however, the nonprofit has been taking a more intimate approach, staging concerts in private homes—what organizer Jerad Sears calls “listening rooms”—where musicians can have the undivided attention of 40 or so attendees. (Note: For location info, keep an eye on the City Sessions Facebook page; it’ll be announced there about a week beforehand.) (

Can’t make the January or February shows? Don’t miss April’s Home Sweet Home Festival, a two-day home-staged concert series boasting nearly 30 artists.

1.11 – 2.25 

Eureka Springs Mardi Gras


Ozark Mountain Music Festival in Eureka Springs


Gallery Opening Reception: The Faces of Syrian Refugees at UA Pulaski Tech: The Center for Humanities and Arts in North Little Rock


Opening Day at Oaklawn in Hot Springs


Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Center for UA Pulaski Tech: The Center for Humanities and Arts in North Little Rock

1.28 – 2.23

Ann at The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock


African American Soldiers in Wartime at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock


Opening Reception for Jonathan Lawes at The New Gallery in Little Rock


Ballet Arkansas’ Cinderella at UA Pulaski Tech: The Center for Humanities and Arts in North Little Rock


ACANSA’s Third Annual 10-Minute Play Showcase at The Rep Annex in Little Rock


Here We Go Again Tour: Cher at Simmons Bank Arena, North Little Rock


The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Tribute to the Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin at Robinson Center in Little Rock

If there’s one thing we Southerners love, it’s a good yarn. Storytelling is deeply rooted in our culture, and while we’re happy to share our stories just about anywhere—sitting on the porch, catching up with a friend at the grocery store—there’s one place where Southern stories tend to really shine: the dinner table. So on the fourth Thursday of each month, Potluck & Poison Ivy invites guests to enjoy a night of food and live storytelling at The Joint Theater in Argenta. This winter, expect tales from Arkansas Backstories author Joe David Rice, former state Rep. Kathy Webb and 2019-2020 Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellow KaToya Fleming. (

What’s better than a cold beer in summertime? Well, a cold beer in wintertime, of course! (Let’s be honest, we’ll take a frosty brew just about anytime.) Fortunately, the folks at Fossil Cove Brewing Co. in Fayetteville created an entire festival dedicated to celebrating craft beer, community and cold weather. Returning for its fifth year, Frost Fest invites beer nerds to descend on Northwest Arkansas to sample a variety of choice breweries’ offerings, including some not distributed in The Natural State. Factor in the live music, food trucks, vendors, makers and artists, and it’s no surprise the festival has sold out four years in a row. (

Artist Claire Helen Ashley’s influences read like the makings of the best mad lib ever: bio-luminescent organisms, Saturday Night Fever, beach balls, self-help books and the story of the Garden of Eden, just to cherry-pick a few. If you’re wondering how such a hodgepodged collection coalesces into artistry, your mind’s about to be blown (… up. Sorry): Beginning in February, a collection of enormous inflatables, ranging in size from 5 to 30 feet (or you-ish-sized to double-decker London-bus-sized), will fill the space of the First Financial Music Hall in El Dorado. Notably, this marks Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s first partnership with the Murphy Arts District—and makes us think: Any expectations we’ve got for future work and collabs are rightfully inflated. (