Thanksgiving Day visitors at Mt. Magazine State Park will have the added bonus of the scenery inside the large and modern lodge sitting atop the state’s largest mountain.
The work of Fort Smith artist John Bell Jr. will be on exhibit at The Lodge at Mount Magazine beginning Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) and concluding Nov. 28.
Bell, and wife Maxine, are planning to be at the lodge between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., each day of the exhibit.
“We're not planning on an official ‘opening’ as such, but primarily setting up as an exhibit for people to tour as they come through for Thanksgiving, so, it will be informal,” Bell explained.
The exhibit, featuring several new works by Bell, will be just off the lobby in the "hearth room" where the main traffic passes through the Lodge. Bell will have up to 15 paintings in the exhibit scheduled for the Thanksgiving holiday. About 10 of the paintings will be of the lodge and surrounding area, with about five paintings of scenes not related to the area.
At 2,753-feet, Mount Magazine is Arkansas's highest mountain, rising above the broad valleys of the Petit Jean River to the south and the Arkansas River to its north, according to the park’s website.
Bell is likely to have a crowd during the Thanksgiving exhibit.
Donna Spaght, assistant park superintendent at Mt. Magazine, said the grounds will be packed with people during the Thanksgiving holiday. She said the 60-room lodge and 13 nearby cabins are 100% booked. Also, Spaght said the restaurant at The Lodge will “serve between 400 and 500 people for lunch on Thursday.”
In addition to that crowd, Spaght said people who live nearby bring their relatives “just to show off the lodge” to their family members who are in for the holiday.
“There will be a great number of people coming in. We’re very excited about him (Bell) being here and seeing that (Lodge painting),” Spaght said.
The Magazine show will wrap up what has been a busy 18 months for Bell.
He recently completed a commissioned project for Subiaco Abbey and Academy, and that followed a commissioned project for First National Bank of Fort Smith. While working on the bank piece, Bell finished a painting for a War Eagle Mill television documentary produced by Larry Foley, a Fort Smith-area native and professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas.
In September 2009, Bell’s work was on exhibit at the Mullins Library at the University of Arkansas — Bell’s alma mater. Only six artists a year are invited to exhibit at the library.
In August 2009, his “Concert on the Green” piece was unveiled at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.