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story.lead_photo.caption Cast members of the 2019 STAR Academy theater workshop play "Trouble Blooms at Ruby Ridge Ranch" gather for a photo before the presentation. Photo by Submitted to the Texarkana Gazette / Texarkana Gazette.

HOPE, Ark. — Summer 2019 will enter the history books as one of Southwest Arkansas Arts Council's busiest seasons in its 34-year history, the organization reports.

At the beginning of the summer, the council held its annual membership party at Coulter Homestead in Washington. "With a live band, silent auction and enough food and refreshments to feed Patton's Army," said George S. Smith, SWAAC staff member, "the event got the non-profit's membership drive off to a great start."

One of the council's most popular annual annual events, STAR Academy theater workshop and performance, was bigger and better than ever. Dallas playwright and director Chris Espinoza wrote a melodrama especially for the SWAAC titled "Trouble Blooms at Ruby Rose Ranch."

The free show, a partnership performance with Hempstead Hall, garnered significant donations, plus funds from sales for commemorative Christmas ornaments made by the actors. More than 500 attended the performance.

The council also started first-time partnerships with two Hope institutional summer programs: UAHT's Kids' College and the Hope Parks and Recreation Department's summer student program.

Native American artist Norris Chee and Mary Overton worked with students at Kids' College. Chee's students designed and airbrushed individualized T-shirts. Overton's classes were titled "Foundations of Art," giving students a rudimentary exploration in the beginnings of being an artist.

Parks and Rec students assisted on cleaning and restoring the "Leaves of Hope" mural at the Arts Council's offices at 200 E. Division Street.

In other activities, an ARTpark painting by 13-year-old Lilly Allen of Blevins, was completed. Allen also wrote a poem to go with her painting and volunteer calligrapher Lindsey Heard scripted the poem, titled "The Giver."

In other summer activities, two art workshops were held with Sue Allen Pico, the "Art Lady of Arkansas," teaching four classes for students and adults. One class was on perspectives of facial features for portraits; another focused on creation of boxes in the style of origami without using tape or glue, as well as using common objects like paper and rubber bands to create simple optical illusions.

The summer exhibit at the Arts Station gallery were paintings from SWAAC's in-house collection and were viewed by more than 100 visitors from four states.

This week the council hosted the Farmers' Market and served donuts, cookies and coffee, and handed out SWAAC brochures and membership cards.

Smith said, "This summer was a very busy one for the arts council and its amazing corps of artists, board members and volunteers . You cannot put together a string of events like this without everyone pitching in and making it happen."

- from a Press Release

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