Hosted by the Arkansas Arts Center's young professionals group the Contemporaries, the fifth annual Fountain Fest will descend on the AAC on Thursday, Oct. 19. A favorite event among art-loving locals, the fest celebrates the local food and arts community, including the unveiling of the winning art installation in the Carrie Remmel Dickinson Fountain (yes, in the fountain).

With the event just around the corner, we caught up with event chair Heather Wardle to learn more about the Contemporaries and what to look forward to at Fountain Fest 2017.


How did you get involved with the Contemporaries?

HW: I have always loved the arts, and the Arkansas Art Center holds a special place in my heart. I am a firm believer in the arts being therapeutic. That can be done by walking the galleries, watching a performance in the theater or actually taking a hands-on pottery class. I took dance for years growing up, and try to see as many galleries as possible when traveling; I love attending musicals and theatrical performances.

Which is why we as a community are so fortunate to have an art center that values all aspects of the arts. My motto is: Art is not defined by something that is bound to a frame. So dance, drawing or even acting, we can all be a part of art at the Arkansas Art Center!

As for Contemporaries, I was fortunate enough to attend Fountain Fest three years ago because of a sponsorship with my husband's job at Stephens (and we are so thankful for their sponsorship again this year!). It was around that time that I started asking about volunteer opportunities. A few months later a board seat opened up on the Contemporaries and I never looked back!

I knew this group was a great fit for me because I had this love for art, and I was thankful to find other professionals coming together for the same love.

I think our group is the next generation of the Art Center. We have a lot of fun and encourage a new generation of art appreciation. We get together once a month for private gallery tours throughout town, then we go behind the scenes at theaters such as the Robinson and take trips to learn how to make art, like at James Hayes' gallery.

This group is not just about buying works of art — which we do each year to add to the collection for the Art Center — but we learn and grow as a group of young professionals and in our appreciation of various aspects of the art world.


Since this is Fountain Fest's fifth year, are there any special activities planned?

HW: We try to keep Fountain Fest fun and engaging each year. We are featuring two activities set up by the museum school that I think most attending will really enjoy participating in this year! Loblolly Creamery will be serving a unique flavor just for our event! We are always thankful for Stone's Throw and Lost Forty being on site, but this year we have special guest Roxor Gin doing a gin tasting. And expect a large (and super cool) photo op, set up by the children's theatre.


What else can guests expect at Fountain Fest?

HW: Well, a lot. The idea of Fountain Fest is to draw attention to the winning art piece that is installed in the fountain. We have announced a winner (Polk Stanley Wilcox), but the unveiling of the sculpture will be that night. It is huge! This is perhaps the biggest piece of art to be installed in the five years we've done the event, so get ready. It's going to be amazing!

We have two great donations this year for our raffle: a Louis Vuitton purse and a 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon (both valued over $1,500). Southern Life in Little Rock Donated the Louis and 107 Liquor in Sherwood donated the Pappy. Raffle tickets are $10 each and will be sold online until the event, then at the door when you arrive.


Why is this event meaningful to the local arts community?

HW: This event is to showcase art! While we do display art in the fountain, the museum school and the children's theater will also be present. We surround the fountain with various activities and insights to each unique aspect of the arts.

I think the art community should be very proud of Fountain Fest because it really exists to draw in young professionals or those not already engaged in the arts to have a fun night, but also to provide a little insight as to what is inside the Arts Center they may not know about.


If you're interested in learning more about the Contemporaries, visit the AAC website. And make sure you get your tickets to Fountain Fest by clicking here.