By Mickey Howley
The annual Main Street Tri-State Conference was last week in Rogers, Ark. The three states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi hold a joint meeting every year—last year it was in Tupelo—to share ideas and stories and hear about what is new in re-vitalizing in the collective 122 Main Street towns in those three states. And while the conference is a busy three days, I always try and check out the local towns.
This year I had a look at not only Rogers, but also Bentonville and Eureka Springs. For being relatively close to one another, each town has a distinct personality. They look very different and there is distinct difference in the layout and architecture. But the architectural gem of this trip was not found in any of those three. That was nearby nestled in the Ozarks woods, the Thorncrown Chapel. Designed by architect Fay Jones and built in 1980, the Thorncrown Chapel is number four on the America Institute of Architects list of the most important 20th Century buildings. It was designed to be made of simple materials, mainly 2x4s, 2x6s, and 2x12s, such that two persons could carry material to the site and assemble the structure. It is built of simple and common materials, but is simply elegant. If you are in the Ozarks, it is worth seeing.
I thought I would get to the chapel early and I did, but I was beat by a group from the Sylva Rena Baptist Church. That’s right, at the crack of dawn and 400 miles from home, a bus load of Yalobushians were at the Thorncrown, too.
The 4th Annual Water Valley Studio Art Crawl is this Saturday evening from 5:30 to 9 pm. What makes the Art Crawl so much fun is a couple of things. It is only once a year, so it is not like you can do it every month. And while the Crawl has a commercial aspect, the art at the galleries and most of the studios is for sale; the Crawl gets you into the working studios and homes of Water Valley artists. It is that personal aspect that makes it so appealing. And as it is when one visits other towns, this Crawl is a great way to enjoy walking tour of downtown and see Water Valley’s architecture in a new light. Like being a tourist in your own town. There are a dozen stops and nearly 40 artists participating. See the map in this paper (click here) or pick up a fan map the night of the Crawl at any of Water Valley’s three galleries.
The last Farmers Market of the season is this Saturday morning. It has been a good season, with a great combination of established and new vendors keeping the market fresh. Make season ending effort to come out to the market this Saturday and grab the last direct from the farm fresh produce. From 8 to 11am this Saturday morning under the Big Magnolia on Main Street.