When sculptor and UALR professor Michael Warrick (he’s the sculpture coordinator in the UALR Art Department) learned a travel writers tour of Little Rock was interested in seeing sculptures, he immediately thought of pointing them to The Bernice Garden.
He has a piece there and great respect for what the Garden is doing for Arkansas artists and “thought the writers would possibly promote The Bernice Garden and ESSE” (the soon-to-open sister venture across Main).
Warrick met with George Percy of Geiger and Associates in Tallahassee, Fla., in late March at his studio, where they talked about visiting other exciting sculpture ventures in Little Rock. (Percy was organizing a travel writers tour of Little Rock and other nearby communities for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.)
Several large vans pulled into the parking lot Saturday, and travel writers from all over the country spilled out – and took off for Boulevard Bread Company and The Green Corner Store. Some returned with coffee, others with Loblolly Creamery treats. They were already impressed with the area.
When the group arrived at the Garden, Warrick introduced founder and owner Anita Davis and spoke about what he thought the Garden added to the community.
“The Garden promotes Arkansas artists, adds culture, is a place to meet with groups, is a quiet place to have an outdoor lunch, a place to enjoy plants, cornbread, and music,” Warrick told them.
He also explained how he and Davis came to know each other and explained his sculpture in the garden.
“The sculpture that I created for the Garden is titled ‘Visionary’ and is a model for the large piece (6′ x 6′ x 8′ in bronze) that I created in Little Rock’s Sister City Changchun China at the International Sister City Sculpture Garden in 2008 during a nine-week International Sculpture Symposium,” Warrick explains. “The idea behind the work is that of a person in meditation or prayer.”
Then he turned the group over to Anita Davis, who had them enthralled as she described, with her typical Southern hospitality, how the garden came to be. The writers were very interested in details about the garden, especially the repurposed boards covering the cistern that came from slave’s quarters on a plantation in Scott.
But when she mentioned the soon-to-open ESSE Purse Museum, located across the street next to The Root Cafe, you’d have thought she shot off fireworks – the gasps and “ooh, purses!” from the women writers were delightful to behold. And the questions really started firing then.
Fortunately, lovely brochures could answer some of their questions.
The writers had plenty of time to explore the garden, ask one-on-one questions and shoot countless photos before loading up to go visit Henry Moore’s “Knife Edge” downtown.
It was just another great day in the garden, one the travel writers are sure to remember.