Northwest Arkansas has developed a solid reputation for its vibrant art scene over the last few years. The month of February looks exceptionally strong for visual art lovers as the major towns each have exhibits and venues worth exploring.  Here is a breakdown of what to expect.

BENTONVILLE

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art presents their latest exhibit Soul of a Nation – a showcase of the vital contributions of Black artists to an important period in American history and art. Featuring the work of 60 artists and including vibrant paintings, powerful sculptures, street photography, murals and more, this landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artworks that changed the face of art in America. Developed by the Tate Modern in London, Soul of a Nation examines the influences – including the civil rights movement, minimalism and abstraction – that inspired artists such as Romare Bearden, Martin Puryear, Faith Ringgold, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas, Charles White and William T. Williams. To learn more about Soul of a Nation, visit the Crystal Bridges website. For updates, follow Crystal Bridges on the Blog, Facebook or Twitter.

21c Museum Hotel

It’s hard to believe it’s already been five years, but 21c Museum Hotel is set to celebrate its anniversary with the opening reception of Labor and Materials, an exhibition exploring  the evolution of industry in the 21st century, on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 7-10 p.m. The evening will begin with remarks from Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites, followed by a panel discussion with Alice, artist Lina Puerta and filmmaker Ava Lowrey of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Afterward, stay for live music by Funk Factory, performance art by ArkansasStaged and inspired bites and cocktails by The Hive. The event is free and open to the public. There is a suggested donation of $10 (cash or check) for entry, which will go directly to the Southern Foodways Alliance. RSVP at 21cfiveyear.eventbrite.com.

ROGERS

Rogers Experimental House

The Rogers Experimental House, located at 121 W. Walnut Street in downtown Rogers, will hold a show called “RE-” that highlights artists working within the context of sustainability and rediscovered materials.  It will feature Ashley Byers, Amber Eggleton, Jamie Espino, Kim Ly and Roxy Erickson. The opening reception is Thursday, Feb. 8, from 5-9 p.m. with music by Ghoulnoise and Robe Flax.

SPRINGDALE

Arts Center of the Ozarks

Springdale’s premier arts venue, Arts Center of the Ozarks, will host the Arts Rising Gala, a fundraiser to empower and uplift the thriving arts community in downtown Springdale. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased online at acozarks.org or by calling 479-751-5441.

The gala will feature gourmet hors d’oeuvres by Chef Miles James and the evening will be brought to life with live music and a listening room curated by the Fayetteville Roots Festival, including live performances by Smokey & the Mirror, The Honey Dewdrops and dueling pianos. Guests can try their luck at interactive games for high-value raffle prizes and a curated, luxury silent auction. The evening will also include live artwork by a local artist, a dessert room, a fine wine studio and wine raffle.

All proceeds benefit Arts Center of the Ozarks and community arts initiatives to support a socially connected, culturally rich and economically vibrant community in downtown Springdale.

FAYETTEVILLE

Art Ventures

Art Ventures celebrates Black History with a retrospective exhibition of John L. Newman’s art. Newman has had a far-reaching impact on the many students he taught and mentored from 1991 until retirement from the University of Arkansas in 2013. One of the most important teachings he imparted is that the artist must look deep inside to create authentic work that resonates with individuals and communities. Newman used this same premise in his own work.

Newman is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas, where he worked from 1990 to 2013. Newman has received numerous regional, state and national awards and his work has been exhibited in over 100 shows. In October 2009, Newman created a mural about the Underground Railroad for the Kansas City Kansas Community College and was named recipient of the Distinguished Cultural Award in 2010 by the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education for his body of work documenting the Black American Experience.

Lalaland Gallery

One Nite Standard is a series of small group exhibitions, typically featuring one work per artist for one night only. However, the first ONS of 2018 and the 26th ONS ever will feature art by Rob Gordon, Chance Ross, Izzi Savage, Ramirez (as Lou Reed) + Tomlinson. Exhibitions take place from 7-9 p.m. at Lalaland, located behind the Art Experience at 641 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

Local Colour Studio Gallery

Local Colour Studio Gallery, located at 275 S. Archibald Yell Blvd. presents Afterlife by Alissa Walls, which takes a new look at her past work with an explorative approach. Her previous performances have included multi-day events, often filled with ceremonious repetition, and even destruction of hundreds of objects. The remnants from these shows have been regarded as changed, not broken or dead, and how these pieces can be reconfigured into new wholes will be intriguing to see. A reception takes place on Feb. 10 from 6-9 p.m.

Walton Arts Center

The Grammar of Ornament, the latest exhibition at the Walton Arts Center, features work by art superstar Shepherd Fairey, known for his iconic portrait of President Barack Obama and his Obey clothing line along with Ryan McGuiness and Mary Judge. It runs until March 17 in the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery. This exhibition explores the interdisciplinary practices of contemporary artists who sit at the intersection of art and design to consider the ways that ornament can create visual languages.

University of Arkansas

Several visiting artists will lecture during the month of February at the University of Arkansas School of Art. Yoonmi Nam, who teaches lithography and Japanese woodblock printmaking (mokuhanga) at the University of Kansas will speak on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hillside Auditorium, room 206. The event is free and open to the public.

Visiting scholar Dr. Bernard Young will lecture on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hillside Auditorium, room 206. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Young, a professor in the Herberger Institute of Design and Art, School of Art at Arizona State University, will present a review of several generations of African American Artists in a single group study demonstrating issues of how prioritizing multiculturalism in art and design curriculum can be established in art education. He is also a practicing artist, with his work represented as mural art in the Soul of a Nation exhibit.

Visiting artist Osamu James Nakagawa will speak on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hillside Auditorium, room 206. The event is free and open to the public. He was named the 2015 Sagamihara Photographer of the Year and 2010 Higashikawa New Photographer of the Year.

Image:  “Shadows” by Adger Cowans. From the “Soul of a Nation” exhibit at Crystal Bridges.