Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bowie Knife Exhibit at Historic Arkansas Museum

The Largest and Most Important Bowie Knife Exhibit Ever Assembled Opens in December 

      Historic Arkansas Museum is proud to present A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America  in the Horace C. Cabe Gallery, December 13 through June 22. There will be a free opening reception 5 - 8 p.m. December 13 in conjunction with downtown Little Rock’s 2nd Friday Art Night and the museum’s eggnog competition, the 9th Ever Nog-off. 
       There will be live music, and a surprise guest of bowie knife fame is planned. As part of Art Night, a free shuttle is available to transport visitors to other Art Night venues. Shuttle service ends at 8:30 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free.
    “This exhibit is the largest and most important ever done on America’s iconic contribution to the world of blades,” Historic Arkansas Museum Director Bill Worthen said.  A Sure Defense: The Bowie Knife in America will trace the history of this country’s most famous knife from just before its birth in a rough melee on a sandbar above Natchez, Mississippi, in 1827, to the skilled craftsmen who keep the classic blade alive to this day in the form of hand-crafted reproductions and modernized versions. 
     More than 200 knives are included in the exhibit. A full-color catalog documenting this historic exhibit is planned and will be available from the museum’s gift shop and online store.
       Visitors to the public exhibit will have the opportunity to see knife designs associated with Alamo martyr James Bowie and his less famous brother, Rezin, and to examine bowie knives once owned by such historic figures as Davy Crockett, Theodore Roosevelt, General Winfield Scott and John Fox “Bowie Knife” Potter. The role of the bowie knife in the Antebellum era is explored along with the Civil War and the opening of the west, and there’s a special focus on the role bowie knives played in the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. 
     Among the 19th century knives featured will be those attributed to Arkansas’s own James Black, known knifemakers to the Bowie brothers Henry Schively and Daniel Searles, master silversmith of Texas and Tennessee Samuel Bell, and the highly skilled makers of the California school including Michael Price and Will & Finck. Fine English Bowies are also well represented with knives by such makers as Samuel Wragg, W. & S. Butcher, J. Walters and Charles Congreve, as are some of the finest known Northern and Southern blades from the Civil War. Visitors can also expect to see a superb group of folding bowie knives, and a variety of other knives that served as backup weapons during the bowie knife era, such as push daggers and dirk knives.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rock City Chiropractic in Hillcrest 
          Grand Opening in November 

     Dr. Mellorya L. Wynn is passionate about what she does.
     The owner of Rock City Chiropractic, 3000 Kavanaugh in Hillcrest, Dr. Wynn tears up when
talking about her job.
     "Getting to help people and getting them to feel better.  I feel very blessed and very fortunate that I get to do what I do.  When someone has been in pain for years, sometimes, oftentimes, I am the last resort. 
      A patient two or three months ago said you've changed my life - you've given me my life back."
      Known affectionately to friends and patients as "Mell" or "Dr. Mell," Mellorya is not only a chiropractic physician, but an acupuncturist and a specialist in golf injuries.
      That means she can not only alleviate your neck or back pain, but help improve your golf game, help you lose weight or stop smoking, or even stop your child from wetting the bed.
      "I think she is an amazing practitioner," Gene Ludwig of West Little Rock said.
     "My brother had neck pain, and he went to a local chiropractor who had taken an X-ray and told him that he was not comfortable treating him," Mr. Ludwig said.
     "I told him maybe Dr. Mell could help.  She found an occluded carotid artery.  She picked it up from X-ray.  My physician sister didn't think my chiropractor could have found that. Than she saw the X-rays, and said, 'She's spot on.'"
    Mell said, "The sister was a believer after that."  When Dr. Wynn found the occludd artery, she immediately sent Gene's brother to a cardiologist for additional testing.  "He could have had a stroke," she said. 
     Gene said he has had some cycling injuries that Mell has successfully treated.  "She incorporates 
other sciences like massage therapy.  As a team, they got me back on the bike sooner than I expected.  I think she is fantastic!  She has the highest credibility someone can have with me."
     Dr. Wynn earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas and then attended the Cleveland Chiropractic College.  After having graduated in 2004, she then attained an acupuncture specialty in 2005.  She began practice that year in North Little Rock, where she stayed until moving to west Little Rock and then to Hillcrest in July.  
     She hearts Hillcrest.  "I have never been happier.  I love it. I love the sense of community.  It's just a different feel you don't get in other areas.  People come by, stick their head in the door and say 'Oh, this looks so good.'"  Little Rock interior designer Jason Edwards put together the chic black, white and gray office. "His vision is phenomenal," Mell said.  "It blows me away when I walk in every day."
     Rock City Chiropractic will have a grand opening November 7.  Clark Huff, who worked as a chef at the Governor's Mansion, will cater the event.  Come and enjoy the food and wine, and pick up a gift bag with coupons for a discounted first visit and sign up to win a free acupuncture session.
     "I like to be diverse.  I like to treat kids, women, men," she said.  "My job is to put the spine in proper alignment so that the nervous system can function properly. The body is allowed to heal itself."
      She specializes in golf injuries.
     "I can teach people how to swing to avoid injur-ies. It's fun, and it's rewarding.  And it's taking their golf game to another level. They tell me, 'I'll be here forever.'"
     Chiropractic manipulations can relieve pain and help with digestive issues, endometriosis, tendinitis, and some bed wetting.
     Parents sometimes blame children for wetting their beds, thinking it is a behavioral problem.
     Mell said bed wetting is a nervous system issue.
     "There is bone pressing on a nerve that affects the bladder." She likened it to putting a foot on a water hose.  When that pressure is lifted, it opens up that signal and restores proper nerve function.
      Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine and is quite common in the States today.  It utilizes very thin needles to stimulate certain points on the body in order to correct the body's energy flow. It is used for healing and for fighting cravings,
      "I have a couple of patients who are long-term smokers. I treat that and alcohol addiction and weight loss. It is designed to not only help with cravings, but make it taste bad."
      She said acupuncture works differently on each person.  
      "The points for addiction are on the ear.  I had a patient who wanted to lose weight.  She loved diet Coke and chocolate. She ended up losing 17 pounds just because she wasn't doing those two bad habits."
     Acupuncture can help with many ailments, including digestive problems, sciatica, chronic pain, headaches and migraines, TMJ, allergies and fatigue.  
    There are few side effects or risks from its practice. 
    That's one of the things that Lisa Fischer of Chenal likes about acupuncture and chiropractic medicine.
      "For overall health, we go to the chiropractor.  We seldom see a medical doctor," Mrs. Fischer,  
the morning show host on KURB 98.5 radio, said.  "Our whole family, we go to her once a week."
       Lisa said acupuncture had given her immediate relief from sinus problems. Mell's chiropractic administrations had rapidly healed her frozen shoulder and helped her children with TMJ and sports injuries.  In addition, her husband had been helped with high blood pressure, and most dramatically, she had been brought into remission from a rare disorder that supposedly has no cure.
     "My husband was diagnosed with high blood pressure," she said, adding that he was skeptical at first that Dr. Mell could help him.  On the other hand, he said, "I am not the person who will be compliant and take blood pressure medicine for the rest of my life."
    Lisa said after treatment by Dr. Wynn, his blood pressure is now normal.
    For 15 years, Lisa had suffered from achalasia, a rare disorder that makes it difficult for food and liquid to pass into the stomach.
    "Now it is in remission.  My GI doctor said she'd never heard anyone see complete remission, see this success. It was done with no invasive procedures, no narcotics," Lisa said. "I'd really rather not put medicine in the body unless I have to."
    Lisa has the highest regard for Mell: "She shoots straight.  Mell is so quiet and unassuming.  She lets the adjustments work.  So, you can see, we love it.  It is very valuable to our family, and we just love her too."
      Folks should know that Mell's fees are often less than most insurance co-pays. You may contact her at 231-8296.

                      Dr. Mell 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Volunteer at the Humane Society of Pulaski County

Warm Hearts, Cold Noses
     Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness make the biggest differences. Local hero Robert Ward has been volunteering at the Humane Society of Pulaski County for a little over six months. He is passionate about serving these wonderful animals who are so desperately in need, and he is quick to point out how they have changed his life for the better.
     The HSPC is a "no kill" shelter. Because the dogs and cats stay there for the rest of their lives if they are not adopted, it is essential they get exercise and loving attention outside of the cages just like any other pet. The shelter is staffed by generous and loving folks, but in this case, more is definitely better. For this reason, they depend on volunteers who give of their time to support these dogs and cats. Human interaction makes them more adoptable and gives them socialization skills.
     "These animals are, for the most part, just abandoned. Some come from other shelters. Some are involved in court cases. I chose this place because it is a no-kill shelter, and I don't see any reason why the animals should be put down if there is nothing wrong with them," Mr. Ward said.
     The day of our interview, we are outside in the facility's play park with a beautiful carmel-colored Chow and shepherd mix named Desaro. 
     "See how he's prancing around? He's having fun," Robert said.  "When he's happy, I'm happy! I'd take this one home if I had a yard.  My favorite part is the interaction with these dogs because they appreciate it, they show it, and they give it back to you right away. You get the rewards immediately. It's good therapy for both me and the dogs."
     In 2004 Robert moved back to Little Rock from Oklahoma, where he worked as a bail bondsman, for radiation treatment at UAMS Radiation Treatment Center. Much like the dogs, he is a courageous survivor. He's seen it all, and he has been free of laryngeal cancer for eight years. 
     When asked what his experience taught him he said, "Don't take anything for granted. That's why I help. I've always liked dogs. Unlike humans, they love unconditionally. They remind me to do that, too." He volunteers from four to seven times a week.
     "He's here so much, I thought he worked here!" Nathaniel Patrick, a new employee at the shelter, said. "Even folks who come one hour a week make a huge difference. Robert is special."
     "He's out here every day. Dedicated. Every day," said Sheldon Walker, a 12-year employee of the HSPC. "We need more like him. This is what we do: save animals. It's all we do." 
      Robert said some volunteers come one day a week for an hour and "that's great. Just give what you can. The rewards are many."
     The shelter is caring for some animals involved in abuse or neglect cases, and they are not available for adoption until the courts have ruled. 
     Robert said, "I think those people should be put in the same category as those people who would abuse or neglect a kid. That's basically what they are, four-legged kids."
     The shelter has many types of dogs. Tina, for example, is a Labrador and Staffordshire terrier mix, who is loving, kind and playful.  "There are also nine blue healer mixed pups that were found in a box in the cemetery. Eight survived. They are about four months old and are currently being treated for skin allergies.," Robert said. 
      A not-for-profit organization, the shelter benefits from donations of dog/cat food, treats, bath towels, collars and harnesses, isolation gowns, alcohol, peroxide, portable electric heaters, etc. A full list of needs can be found at
     If you feel inspired to give of your free time to these worthy little souls, Robert has some advice: "Mainly anyone who has experience with animals, or especially lovers of animals, would be great at this. You need to be patient too, because some of these dogs are still in training for leashes and such. If you have time, come spread the love! They need people who love cats as well."
     Mr. Patrick said working with the animals gives him the freedom to just be himself.  "No judgement, no expectation, just love. I can't really describe how profound it is working with these animals."
     The most important piece of advice Robert has for every pet owner:  "I know I'm stealing Bob Barker's line here, but, 'Spay and neuter your pets!'" 
     Mr. Walker agrees. "Spay and neuter! We have a lot, too many, strays that suffer. It's not necessary. People should really be responsible."
     Doug Ragsdale of the shelter said many of the dogs are helping returned soldiers heal PTSD and providing loving peace for assisted living patients. When asked about Robert's contribution, Mr. Ragsdale said, "He gives them love so they can give it to others." 
     To become a volunteer one must attend a  volunteer orientation. They are generally held every other Monday at 6 p.m. at the shelter. It's a good idea to call and check before coming.
     One last bit of advice from Robert, "If you show up, you're the right kind of person [to work with animals]. You never know how far your small act of kindness will expand into the community."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pinot's Palette

                                 Have Fun.

           Pinot's Palette is the newest fun place to be in Little Rock, whether it's date night, girls' night out, a birthday party or a corporate shindig. 
           Owner Lisa Montgomery just wants you to be happy.
           Ms. Montgomery, who wanted a change from her 30 years as a university administrator, hired someone to help her find the perfect business opportunity.
          "I said, 'What I want is simple.  I want to be happy and to make other people happy.  Find me a franchise that does that.'"
           Pinot's Palette fit the bill, and Lisa opened her studio in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center in September.
          "The studio is just very elegant, upscale and sophisticated," she said. "You will walk in the door and you will go Wow! Wow!  Wow!"
           Bring your favorite wine, and the studio will provide the art instruction and all of the supplies.  And, at the end of the evening, you will have a finished canvas.  No painting experience is required - none at all.
         "They are going to have fun.  It's not just painting, but entertainment.  All of our artists are entertaining.  First and foremost, they are artists, but they are also performers.  I have one lady who recorded hip hop.  I have artists who perform on stage.  The artists interact with the customers," Lisa said.
         There are two-hour sessions and three-hour sessions, with time spent painting, socializing and talking with the artists.  
         Lisa's website,, has the class schedule.  There are images of the paintings that will be done each day, class times and prices.  The images are beautiful and the prices quite reasonable, typically $35 to $45.  You may select from fall scenes, cityscapes, flowers or even old masters, such as Van Gogh.  
        One really fun class offered this month is "Paint Your Pet."
       "Little Rock is such a pet-friendly city.  This allows you to paint a painting of your favorite pet, and it will look just like your pet. We guarantee that!  You send a photo of your pet, and a stencil is done.  The customers are always really pleased with that."
       Pinot's Palette is a good spot to unwind after a hectic work week.  Time there will make a memorable date night, with paintings to commemorate the evening. It's a great way to learn that you can create art. 
       "I love proving to people that they can do something.  They say, 'Oh, I can't paint.'  Yes you can!  And we are going to teach you how."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Saturday Morning Farmers' Market in Hillcrest

Hillcrest Farmers Market
You need a good Arkansas tomato in your life 

     Pulaski Heights Baptist Church has helped bring "the neighborhood back into the neighborhood" with its popular, fun Hillcrest Farmers Market, a teeming Saturday morning spot where you can find fresh local produce, home-baked bread and confections, flowers, local cheeses and meats - and your neighbors. 
    Carolyn Staley, associate pastor for the church, 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd., said the market is open every Saturday 7 a.m. to noon, and will be open 8 a.m. to noon beginning in October.
    "They (the vendors) are all local farmers or producers,"  Mrs. Staley said. "The rule is you have to grow what you sell.  They are all from the central Arkansas area.  We have farmers who grow vegetables and fruits.  We have dairy.  We have meat.  And we have lots of bakers. We have flowers and bath soaps made in the kitchen."

Madison Barnhill
Barnhill Orchards
Bob Barnhill (in background) 
Family owned and run produce farm in Lonoke 
Email and find them on Facebook.

      Foods sold are for Arkansas' growing season, she said, adding that some farmers grow in houses so that they can offer strawberries and tomatoes earlier.
     "Everything is right off the vine, from right here in the state," Carolyn said. 
      Some members of Pulaski Heights Baptist had seen the busy stream of bikers, 
dog walkers, joggers and strollers going past in the front of the church for years and decided the church should make its presence known.
     "We said, 'We want to know our neighbors.  What is a service we can provide that will add to quality of life?'  We wanted the community to know that we are a serving church.  We care about food … about food security."   
      So the notion of a market that would sell wholesome, locally grown food was realized right on the front steps of the church and the sidewalks along its front.
      "We have been so pleased. It's like a little block party.  Someone told us, 'You've brought the neighborhood back into the neighborhood.' We love the idea of being able to help farmers make a living.  Many of our growers have told us that the market has enabled them to add a couple of employees.

Kelley Carney
North Pulaski Farms
Certified organic fruits and veggies; grows year round in high tunnel hoop houses using sustainable practices to conserve water and retain carbon.

Ethan Frazier, and his sister, Ellyse Frazier,
Ethan's Heirloom Garden
Ethan is an organic farmer with a passion for food from seed to plate.  You may email him at He has plants for starts. Find him on Facebook. 

Rebecca Berry
Andrew Kenley (middle)
Kyle Melton
Little Rock Urban Farming 
Find them on Facebook 

      "And we are able to share information about our church," Carolyn said.  "We don't pressure anybody.  Nobody has to stop at the church tent.  But people stop to chitchat.  We have an email list they can sign if they want to know about church events, such as concerts, rummage sales or Easter egg hunts. We have children's crafts from nine to noon."
      And the beautiful gesture that the church put out into the universe has come back to it.
      Carolyn said the church folk have had a great time manning the hospitality tent. It's become a morning when they can sit, relax and visit with other members, many of whom they haven't had the chance to spend time with because of normal, busy church schedules. 
     Next Saturday, ride, walk or jog on down to the market.
     You need a good Arkansas tomato in your life.  And some blackberries big as your thumb.  And a giant red sunflower.  Some fresh-baked bread.  And a smile from your neighbor. 

This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and appeared in the July 2013 issue of Shoppe Talk


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Angela Davis Johnson Exhibit at Gallery 360

Angela Davis Johnson
Exhibit at Gallery 360
Kinfolk and the apothecary dream 

       "Kinfolk and the apothecary dream," an exhibit of work by Little Rock artist Angela Davis Johnson, will be on display at Gallery 360 in May and June.

        An opening reception will be held 6:30 p.m. May 17 at the gallery, 900 S. Rodney Parham.  It is free and open to the public. 
     "'Kinfolk and the apothecary dream' is part family history, part allegorical interpretation of a dream I had about being led out of the city by a strange man through an apothecary, to the woods, onto a levee where I could see my ancestors toiling in the field below me," Mrs. Johnson said.

     "By juxtaposing sketches from my family snapshots with images and text of the Elaine Riots/Massacre, I created a series of drawings, collages, and mixed media pieces that not only reflect my Eastern Arkansas heritage but also attempt to start an honest dialogue about how the past actions of our predecessors affect today's society and cultural identity.  This show is visual medicine for the mind, an apothecary for the soul."
    Come out and enjoy Angela's vibrant art.  For more information, call Gallery 360 owner, Jay King at 663-2222 or 993-0012.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Stitchin' Post Creates a Fantastic New Space

                                                 Dr. Jane Bell and Linda Bowlby  

      Everything is well made and beautifully displayed in The Stitchin" Post's new 7,000-square-foot space at 1501 Macon in West Little Rock.
      From the lovely entryway with displays of  exquisite heirloom children's clothing all the way to the adorable Cafe Room in the back, talent and creativity are exhibited in every corner.
      Dr. Jane Bell and Linda Bowlby, owners of the shop, have created perfect spaces for sewing, quilting and embroidery work .
     "We needed to be able to spread out.  Our inventory had grown and people's interest in the classes had grown. We needed more space in a classic, attractive setting," Dr. Bell said. 
     The Stitchin' Post offers heirloom quality fabrics  that are made of natural, finely woven, often imported fabrics; clothing made from them can be worn and handed down to the next generation. 
       The shop has always been a bustling spot filled with women having fun learning to sew, smock and embroider.
     "Jane teaches heirloom and embroidery," Mrs. Bowlby said. "Carolyn Hartstein, who helped us put this (the new shop) together, teaches our smocking class.
     "We have teachers for quilting and for kids.  That's my favorite part, that we teach children. I think it's really important.  In our Mom and Me classes, kids can start at (age) 8.  We have classes for high schoolers.  Jane has taught embroidery for children, 
and we plan to do that again. Jane does beautiful embroidery."
      Now they have the space to offer all sorts of activities.  
      "We used to have a small classroom space," Jane said. "It was not segregated from the retail space, so it was not quiet.  Now, we have two rooms for classes.  And we have design walls in place."
        Design walls, Jane explained, allow women to take pieces of fabric and lay out quilt blocks.  They can see how they want to position colors and move them around. 
       "We have expanded our selection of threads.  We have brought in some wool fabrics for a lot of quilters and craftspeople use wool felt and applique.
       "We have a larger area to display sewing machines and sewing machine cabinets.  The most basic sewing machine sells for $199. We have  other machines, for sophisticated sewing and embroidery, deluxe machines that sell for $9,999.  We have an entire notions wall."  
         Reaction to the new space has been "overwhelmingly positive," Janes said. "People go 'Wow!'"
         Judi Tolliver of Sherwood, a customer of The Stitchin' Post since 1996, said she loves the new space.  "It's gorgeous."
          The store "is my most favorite place in the world to shop.  They have the best employees,  They're friendly and helpful, and they are wonderful teachers.  They are very patient," Mrs. Tolliver said. "Jane and Linda are both great. If you see something you like and they don't have it, they will try their best to find it for you."

       There's one space everyone really likes, and it has been great for daily use and for special events.
       "One of the problem points in the old location was that we didn't have a place for eating," Jane said.  "With classes and employees and the retail area,  there were always problems such as drinks spilled on people's work.  Now, we have a very nice room that we call our 'Cafe Room.'  
       "And, we have a sitting area in our entry where people are welcome to come in and bring a handwork project and sit and relax.  It helps add to the sense of community," she added.
       Linda said the camaraderie of women learning and working together helps make for the pleasant atmosphere of the shop.
       "Everybody is real happy here.  It's a fun place to be, a fun place to work," she said.
        Jane agreed.  "We are very blessed. We have wonderful customers, and it is just a fun place to be."

        Judi said the shop is a great place to socialize with friends - and to meet new ones.  "I'm over there at least three or four times a week.  You meet a lot of friends there.  It's really a good outlet for young women, as well as old ones like me."
         The shop offers batiste, voile, linen, cotton, Swiss flannel and some silks.
        "We have 100 percent cotton fabrics," Linda said.  "You can tell the difference in good quality cotton.  It's the tightness of the weave.  Heirloom cotton are going to last.  It's the same thing with quilting fabrics.  They expect then to last for generations. People here appreciate nice fabrics.  Some come in just because they want to walk through and feel the fabrics."
        Fabric suppliers include Michael Miller, Moda, Fabric Finders, Spechler-Vogel, Henry Glass, Westminster, Free Spirit  and Anna Griffin.
       "Just outstanding" is how Judi described the quality of fabrics at the store.  "If I am going to sew, I want it to last. I've got stuff I made for my granddaughter, who is 28 now, and it still looks as good as when I made it."
        The shop has a ton of kids clothes on display so customers can see the patterns and fabrics.  These are not for sale, but just there for teaching and so that customers can hold a model garment in their hands.
       A number of women in the community help out in the shop, including Sharon Chandler, Sharron Taylor, Billie Beauchamp, Karen Davis, Carol Flowers, Stacie Ferguson, Peggy McQueen and Barbara Steely.   Mrs. Steely teaches children to sew.  Ms. Davis is a certified technician for Husqvarna Viking sewing machines, the brand the shop carries.
       The Stitchin' Post has operated in Little Rock for 39 years.  Customers come from all over Arkansas and beyond its borders.  Come and join them and share the joy of seeing your children - and then your grandchildren - wear the fine clothing you have created for them.
      To  check out the latest classes, visit the shop's website:
      If you see one you like, you'd better sign up right away.  "They fill up pretty fast," Linda said.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fantastic Jewelry Show by Belgian Artist Steph Brouwers at Gallery 360 April 5

Stone, thread, fine silver wire, old piece of silver from Syria on leather cord

         Gallery 360 is proud to announce "Inner Voices: Wearable Art," a jewelry show April 5 featuring the work of the enormously talented Belgian artist Steph Brouwers.  A reception will be held 6 - 10 p.m.  It is free and open to the public. 

      Ms. Brouwers carefully selects leather, bone, glass, found objects, ancient coins, her own hand-made beads and talismans, African glass beads, animal teeth, fabrics, ostrich egg shells, horsehair, thread, turquoise, amber, and other materials for her jewelry.  Her pieces reflect her humor, intelligence and love of craft.

     Steph is also a sculptor, and she teaches art in Belgium.  She will have artist trading cards from some of her students available for trade at the show.

    Steph will teaching a class on Polymer Clay Talisman 2 - 5 p.m. April 6 at the gallery.  The goal of the workshop will be to create a small amulet or talisman.  She will discuss amulets and talismans.  "We will discover the amazing world of folk beliefs," Steph said.  "Then we will get familiar with the polymer clay and see what an incredible medium it is.  And then we create." Clay and tools will be provided.  She suggested that students bring things  such as ear wires, jump rings, clasps, cotton cord or broken jewelry.  The cost of the class is $35.

    The gallery will be showing the work of Angela Davis Johnson, Byron Werner, Kelley Naylor Wise, and Lynn Frost, as well.  The show will continue until May 4.

    Gallery 360 is located at 900 South Rodney Parham. For more information, call 663-2222 or 993-0012.  Steph's wearable art may be found on Pinterest, on, and Etsy.

 Steph and Mrs. Wise will appear on Fox television's Good Day program
with host Nichelle Sullivan 7:45 a.m. April 5. 

Steph Brouwers Profile 

      When did you first know you were an artist?  I don't see myself as an artist.  I see myself as someone who makes stuff.  I've always been playing, creating.  As a child, I was attracted to my mom's jewelry box and my dad's tool box. Then I got the chance to study at the Fine Arts School.  A lot of people call me an artist.  That's strange to me.  I could not go without doing what I do.  It is a need. 

       What do you like about teaching?  The ability to share my knowledge.  I give them a lot, but they give me a lot too.  I like interacting with teenagers.  I think they are fun.  They are not kids any more and not quite adult, and I quite like that.  I am teaching them sculpture.  It's part of the process.  But my main goal is to make them creative adults, even if they don't pursue a career in art. 

      How many times have you been to the States?  This is the fifth time.  I like the States.  I like the people.  They are friendly and interesting and generous.  I never felt bad.  I never felt judged.  A lot of people in Europe think most Americans are narrow-minded, and I think it is quite the opposite.

      What is a typical day?  I get up and have breakfast, and I go running. And then I go to my studio and play with my supplies.  Sometimes I have an idea about what I want to make.  Sometimes just looking at the beads I have, the idea just pops in. 

      What inspires you?  Ethnic jewelry.  What people call Tribal Art, like African art and art from Papua New Guinea.  And life and death.  That's something you can find a lot in my jewelry.  I think if you ignore one, you are ignoring the other.  They are both part of the path.  And I am interested in talismans and amulets and folk beliefs.

      Who is your favorite writer?  That's a tough one.  I like a lot of American writers from the 20th Century … Pat Conroy, Raymond Carver, Dos Passos.  I like French writers from the early 20th Century.  I like history about the United States and the Civil War and slavery.  I like Giono. And Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I liked his "Love in the Time of Cholera" and "Chronicle of a Death Foretold."  I like Borges. It's always an adventure to open a book. 

      I just finished John Irving's "The Hotel New Hampshire," and it's on my mind.  Do you like Irving?  Yes, I liked "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and "The Cider House Rules" and "The World According to Garp."  I also like Stephen King. I love books.  I've got lots of books, and I give them away too.  I have a great pile of books here I need to read, and I keep buying books.  When I went to study abroad in England during the last year of university, I spent my time in the library rather than going to class.  I read all of Orwell, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Dos Passos. I read a great Charlie Chaplin autobiography.  

       Tell us about the work you are bringing for your show.  It's quite eclectic, I think.  Some pieces are tribal, some have found objects in them, some are quite romantic.  They are for every means.  Some pieces are quite affordable.  The prices range from $20 to $250. Last summer, before I started running, I took walks.  And I would pick up things like rock and pieces of metal.  I make swaps with people all over the world.  That's something I really like about the Internet.  And recently, I've sold quite a lot of pieces all over the world and a lot of different states in the United States.  It's amazing.  I am in Belgium, and people so far away can be interested in my stuff.  I know I could do more to try to sell more.  But it would be less time for creativity.  I'd rather take time to make a necklace than to take time to promote my work.

Interview by Bobbi Nesbitt 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Arkansas Literary Festival

Arkansas Literary Festival 

      Arkansas Literary Festival 2013 will be held April 18 - 21 in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
      This is the tenth year for the Festival, which features workshops, performances, readings, opportunities to meet authors, book signings and special events. More than 80 presenters will participate. Most of the events are free and will be held in the Central Arkansas Library System's Main Library campus and other venues in the River Market and Argenta. 
      This year's Festival authors have won an impressive number and variety of distinguished awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Newbery Honor, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Coretta Scott King Honor, the PEN/O. Henry Prize; the Pushcart Prize, the Barnes &amp, Noble Discover Prize for Fiction, the Pura Belpré Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Many of the presenters' works have been translated into multiple languages and made into films.
      Special events include a cocktail reception with the authors, wine workshops, films, a play, and Spoken Word LIVE!, which is a city-wide poetry competition. 
       Children's events include a story time on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion, a book fiesta, The Artmobile, plays, outdoor activities, and Super Hero Activity Afternoon. Some Festival sessions for children will take place at the new Children’s Library, 4800 W. 10th Street, and the Youth Services Department at the Main Library, 100 Rock Street.
       At the Main Library’s teen center, there will be "zombie survival" activities, a video game tournament, and a writing workshop.  Teens will have the opportunity to meet authors and illustrators. 
       Through the Writers In The Schools initiative, the Festival will provide presentations by  authors in Pulaski county elementary, middle, and senior high schools and area colleges.
       The Festival is a project of the Central Arkansas Library System.  Brad Mooy is Festival Coordinator. Jay Jennings is the 2013 Festival Chair.   For more information, email Mr. Mooy at, call 918-3098 or visit  

 Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The Illumination, The Brief History of the Dead, and The Truth About Celia, as well as the story collections Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer.  Mr. Brockmeier was born and raised in Little Rock, and he taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he received his MFA. He has won three O. Henry Prizes, along with the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction, the Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, the Booker Worthen Literary Prize, and the Porter Fund Literary Prize.  He lives in Little Rock.

Jay Jennings is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has worked at Sports Illustrated and Tennis Magazine, and his work has been recognized in The Best American Sports Writing.   Mr. Jennings has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Oxford American, and Travel + Leisure.  He wrote Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City and edited the recent collection Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany.

Tim Gallagher is an award-winning author, wildlife photographer, magazine editor, and currently editor-in-chief of Living Bird. Gallagher spent several years traveling across the South, and then had a sighting of the legendary ivory-billed woodpecker. This sighting quickly led to the largest search ever launched to find a rare bird and ultimately to the announcement of the rediscovery of the species. His new book is Imperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker through the Wild Sierra Madre.

Paula J. Giddings is the Elizabeth A. Woodson Professor of Afro-American Studies at Smith College. Her fourth book, Ida: A Sword Among Lions, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award and was deemed a best book of the year by The  Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune.

Ben Fountain has won many awards for his fiction, including a PEN/Hemingway Award for Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.  He has been honored with a Whiting Writer's Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and an O. Henry Award.  His Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction, and a Good Reads Choice Award.  He lives in Dallas.

Ben Katchor is a cartoonist best known for the strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer. He is the author of the graphic novels Hand-Drying in America: And Other StoriesThe Jew of New York, and The Cardboard Valise.   Mr. Katchor teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and has contributed to The New Yorker, The Forward, and Metropolis Magazine. He was the first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship and is the subject of the offbeat film Pleasures of Urban Decay. He lives in New York.

Domingo Martinez has worked as a journalist and a designer in Texas and Seattle.  His work has appeared in Epiphany, and he has contributed to The  New Republic.  His book The Boy Kings of Texas was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award in the nonfiction category, and an excerpt from that book has been nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize.  Mr. Martinez lives in Seattle. 

Richard Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and grew up in Little Rock. He is the author of more than ten works of fiction, including Rock Springs, Independence Day, and A Multitude of Sins. Independence Day was the first novel to win both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He has won the Rea Award for Short Story and the PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction. Mr. Ford's  2012 novel, Canada, was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in Boothbay, Maine, and is Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.

C. D. Wright has published a dozen poetry collections, most recently One With Others, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, winner of the Lenore Marshall Award, and finalist for the National Book Award. Rising, Falling, Hovering won the International Griffin Prize for Poetry. One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster, was awarded the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize.  Steal Away was on the international shortlist of the Griffin Trust Award, and String Light won the Poetry Center Book Award.  Ms. Wright was born in Mountain Home.  She lives in Rhode Island and teaches at Brown University.  Earlier this year, she was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Rita Williams-Garcia is a bestselling author of books for teens and younger readers. Her most recent novel, One Crazy Summer, was named a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and a Scott O'Dell Award winner for Historical Fiction. The sequel, P.S. Be Eleven, will be released in June.  Ms. Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York and teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Dennis Vannatta has published four collections of stories and a novel.  He is winner of a Pushcart Prize and the Porter Fund Literary Prize.  His story collections are This Time, This Place, Prayers for the DeadLives of the Artists, and Rockaway Children – and a novel, Around Centralia Square. He is a professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Lydia Millet has written nine books and was awarded the PEN Center USA Award for Fiction for her 2002 novel, My Happy Life.  Known for her dark humor and wit, Ms. Millet's first novel, Omnivores, was published in 1996.  She was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Love in Infant Monkeys and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for Magnificence.   She was a 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellow.  She lives in Tucson. 

Kevin Moffett is the author of two books, Permanent Visitors, which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, and Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events. He is a frequent contributor to McSweeney's, and his stories have received the National Magazine Award, the Nelson Algren Award and the Pushcart Prize.  He was awarded a literature fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. The Silent History, a serialized digital novel he wrote with Matthew Derby, Russell Quinn and Eli Horowitz, was released as an app for mobile devices in the fall of 2012.

Darcy Pattison is an Arkansas children's book an author writing teacher.  Her work has been published in eight languages. Her nature book for children Wisdom; The Midway Albatross, was first-place winner in the 2013 Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards, Children's Picture Books. Desert Baths, which was a National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Book in 2013.  She created the Novel Revision Retreat in 1999 and has written two books on revision.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald and the author of the novels Freeman and Before I Forget.  Nonfiction work includes Becoming Dad: Blackmen and the Journey to Fatherhood  and Forward from This Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009.  Mr. Pitts is a five- time recipient of the Atlantic City Press Club's National Headliners Award. He has received the American Society of Newspaper Editors award for Commentary Writing and has been named Feature of the Year Columnist by Editor & Publisher.   His nationally syndicated column is published twice weekly.  He lives in Washington, D.C.

Lori Perkins is president of L. Perkins Agency, a New York literary agency, an author, and the publisher of Riverdale Avenue Books, a digital and audio book publisher. She is the editor of Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as twenty erotica anthologies, including Hungry for Your Love, a zombie romance anthology.  She lives in New York City. 

Karen Russell was named a National Book Foundation "5 under 35" young writer honoree and won the Bard Fiction Prize for her story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.  Her novel,  Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was named one of The New York Times' Ten Best Fiction Books of 2011, and won the New York Public Library's  2012 Young Lions Fiction Award. Her newest work is Vampires in the Lemon Grove, a group of stories.  She is writer in residence at Bard College in Red Hook, New York.

For additional profiles, please visit

Friday, February 1, 2013

Little Rock Wind Symphony
     The Little Rock Wind Symphony will pull out all the stops when Adam Savacool joins the orchestra on the organ 7:30 - 9 p.m. February 21 at Second Presbyterian Church.
     This is joyous music for winds and organ, including the finale from Saint-Saens' organ symphony.  Karen Fannin will conduct.
    The cost is $10, $8 for seniors and free for students.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dog and Cat Sitting in Little Rock

Penny with Tippi, a 14-year-old Jack Russell mix at the home of Javier Revollo in Chenal

Five Cats and a Dog Pet Sitting

Trust Your Fuzzy Babies to Penny

      Penny Boyer loves animals, and they love her.  So, when she decided to start her own business last March, Five Cats and a Dog Pet Sitting, she found her dream job.
      "I love animals, and I always wanted a job working with animals," Ms. Boyer said.  "I connect very well with them.  Owners will tell me, 'Oh, be careful, he might bite.'  And the next moment the dog is rolling over for me to scratch his tummy.
       "I take care of cats and dogs mostly.  Most of my teen and adult life, I have rescued animals. I think they sense that I have a heart for them."
         Clare Carothers of Little Rock declares that Penny is "wonderful."
        "We use her for our little dog, Boogie.  She takes care of Boogie when I am at work and when I am out of town.  She's always real flexible, and she meets my scheduling needs.  She goes the extra mile.  She spends time with him and develops a bond.  Boogie just loves her.  It's much more than just walking.  She knows his favorite toys, his favorite food.  She cuts out coupons and keeps me up to date," Ms. Carothers said.
          If Boogie needs to go to the vet, Penny will drop what she is doing and make time to take him, Clare said. 
         "She makes the pets a priority.  We could not have a better sitter.  We leave her our key.  She's very trustworthy. 
Boogie is like my baby.  I don't have any children.  Penny takes pictures and gives me updates by text. She's just an extraordinary person.  We are very lucky to have someone that special to help take care of our baby."
         In addition, Penny is willing to help with little chores, Clare said. 
         Included in her pet sitting service for no extra charge, Penny will bring in mail, open curtains, alternate lights in the house, water plants, scoop litter boxes and carry out trash.
         In March, when Penny started the pet service, she also started Just in Time Errand Service.  She will grocery shop, pick up or deliver cleaning, gift shop, pay bills, pick up prescriptions and even take your car in for repair. 
         But she's happiest when she is with what she calls her "fuzzy babies."
         She was pet sitting during our telephone interview in December and described the dog she was with that day.
         "He's a little dog, but he has a big dog syndrome.  When I first met him, he was just loving all over me.  (His owner) said that that had never happened with anyone else.  I have a natural affinity for them.  I just get attached to them."
         Penny sits for two terriers owned by Mary Price of Little Rock, administrator for a Little Rock hospital. 
         "I have two West Highland white terriers, Woody, who is 12, and Nikki, a rescue who is 9 1/2 or 10. Oh, my gosh, they just adore Penny. When we were out of town, she came by three times a day and fed, watered and walked them.  When we came back from Thanksgiving, we decided the dogs were so happy, they were so much calmer,  to use her more," Ms. Price said.
       "I was so excited to get the job," Penny said.  "They do what I call 'the little happy dance' when I come in. That's my goal.  I want the animals to not feel lonely and continue to feel love, and I think so far that has happened."
        Mary said she appreciates the notes that Penny leaves about how the dogs are doing and the photographs Penny sends on the iPhone  "She obviously cares about them and they have become attached to her."
        Mary said she also values Penny's willingness to help her around the house.  "I had her swap out the regular dishes for holiday dishes.  She is so helpful.  And she communicates with me about what is going on."
        For the errand service and the pet sitting service, Penny has insurance, so folks can rest easy whether she is moving their fine china or taking their fuzzy baby to the vet.
       "I am licensed and insured, and my bond is covered in my insurance. I have three insurance policies: commercial auto, for transportation of animals and items; business insurance, for, say, if I dropped and broke something; and pet insurance, so that if a dog I am walking bites, it covers it. I try to make sure that I am fully covered."
       If you want to hire Penny to pet sit, the first thing she will do is come out and meet with you and your pets.
       "For the pet's comfort, it is best not to have a stranger walk through the door."
        And when she sits, she's not just sitting.
       "I'll play with them, hold them, love them. My goal is for when the parents are gone, that they still feel love and comfort and are not stressed."
       Often, the pet sitting and the errand service mesh quite well for this Jane-of-all-trades.
       "I have one client who is not able to drive, and I go grocery shopping for her. She also has a dog.  I take him to the vet.  I am a 'pet taxi service,' and I'll take them to be groomed." 
       Penny has had a lifetime of experience loving and caring for all sorts of animals.  The love of her life was her cat, Sam, who passed away at 21.
      "Sam was like my child. I have five cats.  I was going to get a dog, but the deal fell through. It has to be a dog that needs me.  All of my cats were abused or abandoned.  Seeley was found in a locked house.  The owners had moved out and left him.  A real estate lady found him skinny and hungry. Now he almost 15 and a half pounds.  He'll be five in March.
      "I went to the vet to get some food, and they said you need to look at these kittens."  Penny ended up taking the kittens home, bottle feeding them and then re-homing them.   
       "A friend called and said, 'I have something to show you.'"
       That something turned out to be an abandoned kitten.  Penny named him Wally.  He'll be five in April, a happy member of her household.
       "Somebody dumped a cat at my mom's house.  When I caught her, she was about 8 weeks old."
        Now Freckles is three years old and playing the part of mom to the latest members of the clan, two kittens who had been abused.
         "My guess is that they had been kicked.  They were terrified of shoes.  Freckles - took them in like they were babies.  They are Scooter and Ziva, who was named after the pretty lady on (the television show) NCIS.  Ziva has 
silky black hair and is really an exceptionally beautiful cat.  But she is not normal.  She still thinks she is a kitten needing her mommy.  Freckles bathes her.  I couldn't re-home them when one is not normal.  Now, I love her dearly and wouldn't give her away for the world. Nobody gets to pet her but me."
        In the last four years, Penny has rescued and re-homed 13 animals.  She had to stop, because she didn't have the money for vet care and to have them fixed.  She was even putting out food for all the wild critters in her back yard for years.  But that ended when a family of skunks showed up, and her neighbors were not pleased.
        Penny said her life has been enriched by the animals that she has loved and is amazed about the things they teach her everyday. 
       "Several years ago, I had fallen and I had hurt my right wrist.  I went to the doctor who did an MRI, and it showed it was okay.  Sam would come and smell of my arm.  It turned out I had a severe ganglion cyst.  He knew it was there, and he could smell my arm and he knew something was not right.  When my arm healed and the cyst went away, he stopped smelling my arm."  

The Dog Bowl in Little Rock

The Dog Bowl 

       The Dog Bowl is a delightful new shop in Pleasant Ridge Town Center that carries a wealth of food, toys and treats to keep your best friends happy and healthy.
         Mike Catanach's store offers a variety of heathy food for dogs, organics and brands with no corn, soy or wheat. You can get canned or dry or even raw foods.
        "We have a wide selection of raw foods - the healthiest way to feed your dogs.  You thaw them out.   They are raw, not cooked, so your dogs get all the nutrients out of the food, all the protein and goodness before it is cooked out," Mr. Catanach said. 
         The store offers healthy chew treats starting at 95 cents and different everyday treats, what Mike calls "that a boy" biscuits. 
         "We have long-lasting chews that last a couple of weeks and keep them from chewing the furniture."
         The shop is just chock-full of toys, collars and leads.  
        "We have an excellent selection of beds that range from $90 to $210.    We have a collegiate line of bowls, jerseys, even car magnets.  'My dogs heart Baylor.'" 
        Those two dogs are Mike's two beagles, Digger, a 10-year-old, and Samantha, an 8-year-old.
        And, of course the shop carries a huge line of Razorback clothing, beds, feeding bowls, collars, leads and even hair bows.
        "I also have a lady who does custom leads and collars and hats.  She is Pam Kaplan of Dallas, and her line is called Zamora's. These are really high-quality items.  She has one green collar with red felt in the middle and some with bows. We've had a big response for those. She does things for every season." 
        Mike offers a line of toys called "Hear Doggie."
       "The dogs can hear the sounds, but we can't.  We hear only a whoosh of air, and they hear an audible squeak.  It's become my dogs' favorite toy."
        Mike opened his shop at the suggestion of his mom, Sandra Catanach of Dallas.  Mike said there is a store like his in Dallas where she liked to shop for her dogs.
       "'Why don't you do that,' she said.  I told her she was crazy."  But Mike began investigating the possibility and liked the information his research disclosed.
        "I found there is nothing like this here, a complete whole store devoted to dogs. I know how much the people of Arkansas and Little Rock love their dogs.
        He hired the owner of the Dallas store to help him set up in Little Rock. "I've had people come in here and look around and say, "You know, there's a store like this in Dallas."  The people in Dallas root for me and we exchange business cards."
        Mike said that Pleasant Ridge Town Center has been a great location for his business.
       "Lou Schickel (owner of the center) has been fantastic.  He's a great landlord.  He's been great to work with. He and his staff have been supremely supportive and great."
       Mike had been working 16 hours a day to get his store up and running.  Christmas day is going to be his first day off since July.  
      "I've had a lot of good friends and family helping me,  Without them, I definitely couldn't have done it in five months."
      The Dog Bowl is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is open 1 - 5 p.m. on Sundays for the holidays only.  You may contact Mike by calling the store at 353-1260, or visiting, www.facebookcom/ or
       Stop by and meet this pleasant young man, and, oh, don't forget to bring your dogs.

This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Shoppe Talk.