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Building Connections and Showcasing the Region
with Bradbury Art Museum’s Radius I Exhibit

Story by Cody Moore , Photography submitted by BAM

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bradbury Art Museum, located inside The Fowler Center on the Arkansas State University campus, successfully hosted two virtual art exhibits. This month, the campus museum has plans to host Radius I, its first in-person exhibition since the pandemic began.

Bradbury Art Museum (BAM), formerly known as the Bradbury Gallery, was established in January 2001 by Curt Bradbury, who provided an endowment in honor of his wife, Charlotte, an A-State alumna and a former member of the university’s Board of Trustees. In August 2015, the gallery was reestablished as a museum, allowing the establishment to broaden its mission of educating, presenting and collecting.

Despite the current pandemic and having to close its doors over the last few months, BAM and its dedicated staff have continued to grow from the experience.

“One advantage of having to close our doors for the last few months is that we have had the opportunity to reflect on our role and identity as an institution,” said Garry Holstein, museum director of Bradbury Art Museum. “Our strategy serves to enhance quality of life across the Mid-South through interpretation and display of art, opportunity creation and program facilitation.

“As a museum, we are an institution that focuses on education, community engagement and cultural stewardship, rather than the sale of artwork. … We are a learning resource for the campus and community both inside the museum and through our growing outreach programs.”

While BAM was closed because of the pandemic, the museum still managed to host two virtual exhibitions, including the 2020 Senior Exhibition, an exhibit showcasing the achievements of graduating studio art seniors in A-State’s Department of Art + Design, and “No Boring Art,” a digital art exhibition by new media students within A-State’s Department of Art + Design.

“We have received really fantastic feedback on the virtual space,” said Holstein. “While we would have loved to host the friends and families of our graduating seniors and share in their celebration, we take pride in the knowledge that we were able to provide a dynamic and immersive experience for these students.”

“Further, students were able to utilize the framework created for the senior exhibition to create an experimental exhibition called, ‘No Boring Art’ that is very much in line with our function as a learning laboratory.”

Both of these exhibitions are still available for viewing on BAM’s website in a virtual museum built by Cameron Buckley, an assistant professor within A-State’s Department of Art + Design.

BAM’s upcoming exhibition and initiative, Radius I, was originally planned to be introduced further into the future; instead, BAM and its staff feel that now is the perfect time for its formal introduction.

“The idea for Radius I was not a direct response to COVID-19,” said Holstein. “We wanted to develop an exhibition that helped us to identify our regional sense of place and connect with the artists and organizations who drive it.”

“We recognized that this was the right time to focus on building relationships. We knew that many opportunities had been lost over the last few months and that we were in a position to create a new initiative that would build connectivity and engagement within the region we serve.”

The Radius I exhibition will be the first in-person experience hosted at BAM since COVID-19 struck and will feature an array of curated artists within a 180-mile radius of BAM. Holstein describes the reasoning behind the 180-mile restriction for this specific exhibit.

“We established the initial distance of 180 miles for two reasons,” said Holstein. “The first is that it creates a diameter of 360, which is the same as the number of degrees in a circle, so it’s catchy and kind of fun. The second reason is the more important one: this distance is an easily manageable drive of three to four hours. … This makes future collaborations more manageable and lessens the impact on the artists who need to drop off their work. It also increases the likelihood that individuals from their network would want to be involved in the future.”

Holstein states that the Radius I initiative was not only created as a way to introduce a typical art exhibit, but as an impressive survey of the cultural ecosystem that makes up everyday surroundings.

“Visitors can expect anything from traditional landscapes to room scale installations that you will be able to pass through,” said Holstein. “Most important to the description is that this is not meant as a statement which defines the scope of what is happening in our region, but rather an invitation to take part in a sort of harmonic manifestation of a shared sense of place.”

Among the 38 artists who will be showcasing their works are Glennray Tutor of Oxford, Miss., Carl E. Moore of Memphis, Lisa Krannichfeld of Little Rock and Mia Saine of Memphis.

“Each member of the BAM team spent time researching artists within the geographical boundary, and we then came together to decide on our top choices,” said Holstein. “We had the overarching goal of identifying artists who were both new to BAM and would allow us to connect with the range of different communities within the scope of our circle.”

In addition to the curated artists chosen by BAM and its staff, local artists represented by the NEA Artist Collective received an open invitation to be a part of the Radius I exhibition.

“We chose to create a separate, dedicated space for the NEA Artist Collective to emphasize our goal to work with the local artist group and to celebrate the headway they have forged in the development of the local art scene,” said Holstein. “In future exhibitions in the series, Jonesboro and surrounding area artists will be able to respond to the general call for entries.”

Local artists exhibiting in the Radius I exhibit include Matt E. Ball, Lori Block, Fred Bowers, Deb Callahan, Shannon Caples, Ariana Grace, Beau Jones, Shannon Lamb, Lyndsey Moore, Amy Morris, Calli Perkins, Sherrell Rodgers and Braden Walls.

If BAM is unable to host Radius I as an in-person exhibition due to COVID-19 restrictions, the museum is fully prepared to host the exhibition virtually.

“It is our hope that the museum will reopen for the chance to host a reception for Radius I on Sept. 10,” said Holstein. “However, the exhibition will have a virtual presence whether we are open or closed.”

The opening reception for the Radius I exhibition is slated for Sept. 10 from 5-6:30 p.m. The full Radius I exhibit is planned to be up for public viewing from Sept. 10 to Nov. 4.

“We look forward to welcoming our community back and introducing you to some new friends we have found during this shared isolation,” said Holstein.

Bradbury Art Museum, located at 201 Olympic Drive, is scheduled to be open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. during the month of September. For more information on the Radius I show, to view virtual exhibits, to see all upcoming events or to keep up with all updates, find Bradbury Art Museum on Facebook or visit bradburyartmuseum.org.