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It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's a crane!

Earlier this summer, we had to close the main Walton Arts Center building after our engineers identified structural issues on the roof of Baum Walker Hall. These engineers were planning for the upcoming expansion and renovation of our facilities when they discovered the issues.


The expansion of Walton Arts Center was set in place to maintain a quality facility that met the needs of larger touring productions. To do so, we needed to install steel trusses that would meet the requirements for greater rigging capabilities.


The Box Office had to move to a temporary location in Nadine Baum Studios due to the construction, and our staff was relocated to offices around the area. We are very happy that the Box Office will be moving back to their home offices tomorrow, and the expansion and renovation of Walton Arts Center will be completed before we kick off of our 2014-15 Season on September 28.




The Art of Finding Your Perfect Wine

Have you ever imagined yourself a wine connoisseur? Do you want to know your way around a wine cellar, sipping the finest wines and picking out their unique scents and flavors? Lucky for our wine-lovers, there’s no need to book an expensive trip to Napa Valley, but it does take a bit more than opening up a different bottle each night and sampling the fare. This is where the four S’s come in. See, swirl, smell and sip your way to identifying the perfect wine for you. All photos courtesy of Ironside Photography.

Step 1 – Seeing

Pour your wine into a clear glass and observe its color. The lighter a red wine is, the longer it has aged. A darker white wine signifies a more aged wine.

Step 2 – Swirling

Swirl the contents of the wine around your glass. This allows the aromas of the wine to be identified.

Step 3 – Smelling

In red wines, you might find a berry or fruity scent – strawberry, raspberry, even blackberry and plum. You also might smell an earthier scent, like chocolate or smoke. A white wine may have a more citrusy scent. You’ll might get hints of lemon, lime or tropical fruits. Other white wines might have a vanilla scent.

Step 4 – Sipping

When taking a sip, what you taste is influenced by what you smell. The combination of smell and taste allows you to decide which flavors you prefer. Identifying these flavors will help determine if you like sweet, citrusy or earthy wines.

Now that you know the four steps in determining the type of wine you prefer, the next natural step is to taste a lot of wine! Luckily, this weekend holds the 14th Annual Art of Wine Festival. Tickets are still available for the Premier Tasting on Saturday, June 14 where, for the price of an elite bottle, you can sample many of the finest wines in the world – some of which are not available except at prestigious wine festivals like this one. Guests will also enjoy delectable heavy hors d'oeuvres prepared by Northwest Arkansas' best chefs. The festival also includes a silent auction where you could win amazing prizes such as:

  • An LPGA tournament experience, including VIP passes and tickets to Dierks Bentley
  • A beach vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama
  • Football tickets to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, seated in the Tyson Foods box
  • A beautiful pearl necklace and earrings from Underwood's Fine Jewelers
  • Tickets to the Arkansas vs. LSU game on Saturday, Nov. 15
  • Original works of art
  • Local gift baskets

For tickets and more information, visit Grab your friends, enjoy the tasting experience and discover your new favorite wine!



Walmart AMP Grand Opening!

We’ve watched construction from I-49, kept up with news reports documenting the progress, marked our calendars each time a new concert has been announced and waited for the big day. That day has finally arrived as Saturday, June 7 marks the grand opening of the Walmart AMP! With an impressive line-up of inaugural shows and the largest outdoor amphitheater in the region, the Walmart AMP is guaranteed to be your destination for the best live music in all of Northwest Arkansas.

Though we have a brand new amphitheater, this year marks the Arkansas Music Pavilion’s tenth season. From the parking lot of the Northwest Arkansas Mall to the Washington County Fairgrounds, the AMP has been Northwest Arkansas’ home to a variety of incredible music experiences, including The Black Crowes, Alabama Shakes, Vampire Weekend, Luke Bryan and many more. The AMP was purchased by Walton Arts Center in February 2011 and has since experienced tremendous growth and exciting developments.

The new amphitheater – at its permanent location: 5079 W. Northgate Rd. in Rogers, AR – will have strong technical capabilities, improved access, great sightlines, air-conditioned restrooms and the largest stage house in the state. The 2014 season of the Walmart AMP will carry on its tradition of headlining concerts from the best of every genre with another outstanding roster of nationally touring shows, holding true to its reputation as one of the top 100 amphitheaters in the nation.

On Wednesday, June 4, the Walmart AMP held a preview event for sponsors and supporters, including a tour of the facility and a presentation of all the new amphitheater has to offer. Check out the photos below – courtesy of Hitt Photography – for a look at the completed Walmart AMP, and get your boots shined and ready for Saturday’s grand opening concert with Blake Shelton and special guest Hunter Hayes!

Peter Lane, President & CEO Walton Arts Center speaks to sponsors during the Sneak Peek preview event.

Jenni Taylor Swain, VP Programs Walton Arts Center with Founding Benefactor, Johnelle Hunt

The Walmart AMP grand opening concert will be one to remember with Blake Shelton. Shelton earned superstar status with a slew of No. 1 singles, including “Home,” “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” and “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking.” Many know Shelton as the breakout star of NBC’s “The Voice,” a show that gave this Oklahoman the spotlight his fans knew he deserved all along. With special guest Hunter Hayes, this concert will kick off an amazing season at the Walmart AMP. Gates open at 6:00pm and music will begin at 7:30pm.

In addition to Shelton, the outstanding lineup of inaugural shows includes Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss & Union Station, Miranda Lambert, Steely Dan, Pepe Aguilar, Cheech & Chong, Foreigner and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

We couldn’t be more excited for the grand opening of the Walmart AMP, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating this wonderful expansion for the arts of Northwest Arkansas. For tickets and more information on how you can become an AMP Insider and an AMP Rocker visit or call 479-443-5600. Every summer needs a soundtrack; let the Walmart AMP be yours. 


5th Annual Artosphere

The 5th Annual Artosphere Festival has kicked off all across the NWA region, offering a spectacular selection of events to connect the community through arts and nature. The mission of Artosphere is to celebrate artists, influenced by nature, who inspire us to live more sustainable lives. Spanning the months of May and June, the festival is packed with kids and family events, movement, visual arts and music performed all over the region. Below are photos from the Artosphere Celebration and Chapel Concert (courtesy of Beth Hall Photography), as well as a look at upcoming events.

On Friday, May 16, the Artosphere Celebration was held in the Tyson Plaza of the Walton Arts Center and featured live music by the Arkansas-based band Cletus Got Shot. 

The event allowed community members to observe the visual art of the Translating Earth, Transforming Sea exhibition by Shawn Bitters, Joan Hall, and Laura Moriarty. The exhibition is on display in the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery from May 1 – June 21.

Children interacted with the urban art installation Under the Stars by renowned street artist Maser.

Guests were encouraged to take home free mulch from Patrick Dougherty’s Out of the Woodwork installation, as part of the 2012 Artosphere Festival.

On Tuesday, May 20, guests of the Thorncrown Chapel of Eureka Springs were serenaded by the enchanting voice of Shannon Wurst as part of the Chapel Music Series.

On Sunday, June 1, Artosphere’s signature event, the Trail Mix Concert Tour is back! Celebrating all that our wonderfully unique region has to offer, Walton Arts Center invites you to wander the trails of Bentonville and Fayetteville while enjoying performances from a talented array of artists. This year's Trail Mix artists include the Artosphere Festival Orchestra Ensembles, Carter Sampson, Candy Lee & the Sweets, Street Drum Corps, Martha Redbone Trio, Smokey & the Mirror and Cry You One. In Fayetteville, the Street Drum Corps will be performing on Maser’s art installation, Under the Stars, at Nadine Baum Studios. All Trail Mix photos courtesy of Ironside Photography.

Starting along the beautifully sculpted Art Trail near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (1-3pm) and continuing along the Frisco Trail in downtown Fayetteville (5-7pm), Trail Mix combines music, hiking and biking for a one-of-a-kind, free outdoor experience. With no tickets or registration required, this unforgettable event is free and open to the public.

In collaboration with Artosphere and Trail Mix, Upstream Art will be leading a walking tour of the storm drain murals in the downtown area from 3-5pm, beginning at the Fayetteville Underground. 

If you’ve yet to attend an Artosphere event, pull out your calendar! There are still plenty of opportunities to take part in the Artosphere Festival with upcoming events including Compagnia TPO’s Bleu! On May 24 in Starr Theatre and Artosphere Festival Orchestra with Corrado Rovaris as Music Director Live From Crystal Bridges: Mozart In The Museum on May 28.

For a listing of all Artosphere events and more information, visit or call 479-443-5600.


Getting down with Down the Dirt Road Blues

Down the Dirt Road Blues is Walton Arts Center's newest arts education performance, featuring musician Spencer Bohren. The production is an award-winning, original music concert for middle school through high school students that shares the history of American music from the blues to Rock ‘n’ Roll, with stops in Arkansas along the way. This week, Down the Dirt Road Blues has performed for over 2,000 Northwest Arkansas students with the goal of reaching more in the future. 

Rachel Breitfeller, Walton Arts Center's Ad/PR intern, had the opportunity to see the performance earlier this week. Here's what she had to say.

Photo courtesy of Ironside Photography

“No I ain’t going…down this road alone,” sings Spencer Bohren for the most well-behaved middle schoolers I've ever seen. Does the tune sound familiar? Maybe it doesn’t, maybe it does, but one thing is for sure: roots of this song by Charley Patton can be heard in everything from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones.

So, what exactly am I talking about? Walton Arts Center is hosting Spencer Bohren for Down The Dirt Road Blues educational performances throughout this week. I had the opportunity to sneak down for one of the performances and caught myself surrounded by middle school-aged children, tapping my foot to the beat and humming along to this famous tune.

Down The Dirt Road Blues is an educational show that demonstrates the growth of music in America. From the cotton fields of the south, to the bustling city of Chicago, all the way across the pond to London--Down The Dirt Road Blues showcases how one tiny tune travelled a lifetime and transformed from blues, to country, to rock n’ roll, to folk music.

 The performance first traced the history of this one tiny tune through its blues phase with Charley Patton and Sonny Boy Williamson, to its country music phase in Arkansas with Johnny Cash. It then traces the song from country to the birth of rock n’ roll in Tennessee with Elvis Presley. From there, the tune transforms again with the Rolling Stones and eventually ends up on Bob Dylan’s first record.

Photo courtesy of Ironside Photography

Spencer Bohren played a variety of instruments during the education performance, including a banjo and an electric guitar. Not only was the hour-long show filled with great tunes; it was also a history lesson at the same time! I never much cared for history back in middle school and high school, but I’m thinking that if my history lessons had been more like this performance, I would have definitely paid more attention.

The children in the theater on Tuesday morning were so enthralled with the story and the music that every time Spencer mentioned a new artist that was influenced by the original song, the kids would “ooh” and “ahh” in excitement. Not only were the kids on the edge of their seats, the parents and teachers there were also laughing at the throwback references. Regardless of whether or not they really took the important message from the performance, everyone in the theater was completely engaged and having a blast…and that’s all we can really hope for here at Walton Arts Center. 

Photo courtesy of Ironside Photography

Bohren developed a version of Down the Dirt Road Blues in 1997 and has since presented it to 30,000 students of all ages, as well as concert audiences in America and Europe. For Walton Arts Center performances, Bohren adapted his Down the Dirt Road Blues concert that he has performed worldwide to feature moments in Arkansas history alongside American history as a whole.

Walton Arts Center has partnered with the Ozark Blues Society, the Department of Special Collections of the University of Arkansas Libraries and Bohren to make this performance possible. The Department of Special Collections has provided photographs of Arkansas throughout the years that are digitally projected behind Bohren as he performs.  Down the Dirt Road Blues is made possible by the generous support of individuals, foundations, corporate sponsors and benefactors.

For more information on Down the Dirt Road Blues, click here.