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Upcoming events include Mona Lisa, water music and ‘some kids’

Museum openings, another performance of the classics by the Fort Smith Symphony, a “Musical Folly” with pianos and children, and a lecture by Hannibal Johnson are key events on the Fort Smith area calendar for January and early February.

FORT SMITH REGIONAL MUSEUM
The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum is conducting a museum opening gala and “The Secrets of Mona Lisa Exhibition” preview event that will also serve as a fundraiser for the museum.

The gala begins at 7 p.m., Jan. 19 at the museum located at 1601 Rogers Ave. Reservations for "The Secrets of Mona Lisa" Jan. 19 private preview and museum Opening Gala can be made by calling (479) 784-2787. "The Secrets of Mona Lisa" will open to the general public Sunday, Jan. 20, and remain on view through Sunday, March 17.  Tickets are $100 per person, or $800 per table.
 
"The Secrets of Mona Lisa" features the findings of French scientific engineer and expert of fine art, Pascal Cotte. Granted unprecedented access to the "Mona Lisa" by the French government and the Louvre Museum,Cotte studied this iconic work of art andconducted a scientific analysis that revealed dozens of secrets about history's most elusive paintings. Cotte's findings have been verified and endorsed by the Louvre Museum curators over a 2-year period.
 
The exhibition showcases Cotte's studies and 25 of his most compelling revelations, illustrated by 40 super-magnified, high-resolution sectional images exploring every aspect of the work. Other highlights include the only 360-degree exact replica of the Mona Lisa ever created. Original archives memorabilia, and a giant infrared image reveal secrets of the painting never before known.
 
The exhibition was developed by Grande Exhibitions Australia, with the assistance of Pascal Cotte of Lumiere Technologies, France. Mr. Cotte will be in Fort Smith and available for press interviews Jan. 18-20. He will present the keynote address at the museum Opening Gala and give comprehensive talks as part of museum programming.

Helping to oversee the opening and the exhibit is FSRAM Executive Director Lee Ortega. She was February 2011 after a transitional fundraising campaign launched by the Fort Smith Art Center in late 2008 to relocate from its location in the Belle Grove Historic District, where it sat for four decades. Arvest Bank made the expansion possible by donating the new building in Jan. 2009 following a $211 million buyout of Superior Federal Bank in 2003.

FORT SMITH SYMPHONY
The Fort Smith Symphony will perform some of the most beautiful orchestral music ever written during its Evening Serenade concert. The concert will be held Jan. 26 at the Arkansas Best Corporation Performing Arts Center. The concert is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Handel's Water Music, with its snappy rhythms and majestic melodies, is a cornerstone of the Baroque concert repertoire, according to a press release from the Fort Smith Symphony.

“The Arkansas Premiere of Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in D minor will treat the audience to the sound of beauty. Written when Mendelssohn was 14 years old, this work is a brilliant, virtuoso piece that stands alongside Mendelssohn's famous E minor concerto,” noted the Symphony statement.

Soloist Er-Gene Kahng is assistant concertmaster of the Fort Smith Symphony and professor of violin at the University of Arkansas. Following intermission, the Symphony will perform Johannes Brahms' Serenade No. 1, one of the most lyrical pieces from the Romantic period.

Tickets are $35 & $30 for adults; $20 & $15 for students. Link here for ticket information.

A MUSICAL FOLLY
Tons of fun for performers and audience members alike will be on the program Feb. 8 when the lights go down in Breedlove Auditorium at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith for “4 Pianos & Some Kids - A Musical Folly,” according to Dr. Rosilee Walker Russell of Fort Smith, executive director of the Academy of the Arts.

The performance is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

“This is going to be so enjoyable,” said Russell. “We’ll have four grand pianos on the stage. So, just by themselves, we’ll have more than two tons of instruments for a fun-filled night of entertainment.”

The program is comprised of three sections, according to Russell. The classical portion includes works such as movements from Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals,” Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance,” Mozart and others. The sacred selections include “Holy, Holy, Holy,” an old-time gospel medley and a praise medley. The Broadway/pop section includes a couple of jazz standards along with the best of the “Sound of Music,” arranged for four pianos. Russell added that select Academy theatre students will sing and dance as the Von Trapp family.

On a more quiet note, the concert will include a special performance of “O Holy Night” for choir and four pianos. Guest pianists Lindsay Hobbs and Katie Kerr will be joined by the Oak Cliff Baptist Church Choir for this part of the program.

The concert will conclude with a four-piano arrangement of a patriotic medley, Russell said.

“This will be such a wonderful evening for everyone,” she said. “The concert will be both entertaining to hear and exciting to watch.”

The Academy provides a curriculum of activities geared to children and teens and currently offers a preschool MusikGarten program, art classes for elementary-age children, private music lessons and music theory classes, as well as instrumental, choral and theatre programs.

Tickets are $12 and are available online at this link.

To learn more about the academy, email sarah.taylor@uafs.edu or call (479) 788-7253.

INDIAN APARTHEID?
Hannibal B. Johnson – noted author, attorney, consultant, and lecturer – will speak about his latest book, “Apartheid in Indian Country? Seeing Red Over Black Disenfranchisement,” at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Reynolds Room of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

The event is co-sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Honors International Studies Program and the Fort Smith Museum of History. Generous gifts to the Museum from George McGill, Tonia Holleman, The Lincoln Echo, Lincoln Alumni Association and the Fort Smith Round Table assisted in bringing Johnson back to Fort Smith.

A book signing of his latest work will follow his presentation.

According to Johnson’s book, the Cherokee controversy is a saga that is rich, complex and fascinating. In many ways, he says, it presents yet another prism through which to examine race, ethnicity, culture and inclusion.
 
Dr. Henry Rinne, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said Johnson grew up in Fort Smith and attended Kimmons Junior High School, where he served in 1973-74 as the first African-American student council president. At Northside High School, he served in 1977 as the first African-American president of a senior class and the first African-American class valedictorian.

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Johnson attended UAFS when it was Westark Community College before transferring to the University of Arkansas, where he graduated with a double major in economics and sociology.

He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and maintains his law practice in Tulsa. He has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.

He has authored several books, including “Black Wall Street -- From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District.”

Johnson’s play, “Big Mama Speaks -- A Tulsa Race Riot Survivor’s Story,” has been performed at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Philbrook Museum of Art. It was selected for the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

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