Home Community Upcoming “master” exhibition celebrates UAPB art department founder John Howard

Upcoming “master” exhibition celebrates UAPB art department founder John Howard

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John Howard’s oil painting “Old House Series #6” is one of the pieces in “An Arkansas Master: The Work of John Howard,” on view June 9 through Dec. 3, 2022, at The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) in downtown Pine Bluff.

By the Delta Informer Staff

PINE BLUFF — May 29, 2022 — An upcoming new exhibition at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff will celebrate the work of university arts leader and artist John Miller Howard.

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC), in collaboration with UAPB, will present “An Arkansas Master: The Work of John Howard.” The exhibition opens Thursday, June 9, with a drop-in reception from 5-7 p.m. 

“An Arkansas Master” features a selection of 16 paintings from UAPB’s John Howard Legacy Collection and ASC’s permanent collection. The works depict landscapes, houses, still lives, and abstract images. A grant from the Windgate Foundation made it possible for UAPB to restore 10 of the works — four paintings and six watercolor pieces. 

A longtime UAPB professor, Howard was an African American artist and arts leader. The Georgia-born artist was recruited in 1939 to start the art department at the university, then known as Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College (AM&N). Howard worked to provide a top-quality arts education to his students, many of whom came from rural backgrounds and lacked exposure to art. He taught at the university until his death in 1980.

Howard experimented in a variety of media and techniques, and “An Arkansas Master” celebrates the uniqueness of his body of work, explained ASC Curator Jessica Lenehan.

John Howard’s oil painting “Still Life with Fruit” is one of the pieces in “An Arkansas Master: The Work of John Howard,” on view June 9 through Dec. 3, 2022, at The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) in downtown Pine Bluff.

“John Howard’s legacy is alive and well in the state of Arkansas, especially in Pine Bluff,” Lenehan said. “Those Howard mentored have gone on to have enormous impacts in the arts community throughout the state, spreading Howard’s passion for the arts and his vision of the arts as an inclusive community. Howard’s dedication to his students, to his university, and to the arts was unmatched and unwavering.”

Nationally known artists who graduated from Howard’s program include Jeff Donaldson and Kevin Cole. 

“Today’s students benefit from Howard’s tireless advocation for his department and university and his insistence upon the importance of arts education. His legacy lives on in those who follow in his footsteps, railing against racial and economic barriers to provide access to the arts and make a life filled with meaning,” said Lenehan.

Howard’s contributions to UAPB also include his significant role in designing the Isaac Hathaway Fine Art Center and securing funding for the construction of the building, said Dr. Karen DeJarnette, associate professor and interim chair of UAPB’s department of art and design.

Howard convinced the Arkansas Higher Education Commission to fully fund the $1.4 million fine arts center, according to the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas. In 1969, the building opened to house the music, theater, and art departments. Howard insisted upon naming the building after Isaac Hathaway, a former arts faculty member. Today, this building is named the Isaac S. Hathaway-John M. Howard Fine Arts Center in honor of both men.

“His legacy as a painter, professor, and administrator continues to inspire UAPB’s faculty and students,” DeJarnette said.

“An Arkansas Master: The Work of John Howard” will be on display in the Ben J. Altheimer Gallery in ASC’s main building, 701 S. Main St., through Dec. 3, 2022. Gallery admission is always free. The exhibition is sponsored by the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff and the Arts & Science Center Endowment Fund, and the reception is sponsored by M.K Distributors. 

The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) is accredited with the American Alliance of Museums. It presents programming in the visual arts, performing arts, and the sciences through exhibits, performances, classes and local partnerships. Gallery admission is free and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday–Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

For more information about the upcoming exhibition, contact Lenehan at jlenehan@asc701.org or call 870-536-3375.

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