Eleven years’ worth of community outreach and arts philanthropy in its wake, the Thea Foundation has enjoyed meeting countless young and budding artists across the state of Arkansas. Akeen McDaniel, 18, is one of those young, budding artists. A first-time volunteer for Thea’s Visual Arts Scholarship Competition this past winter, McDaniel scrolled through a series of photos on his smart phone for bystanders during a break. At the awed viewers‘ gasps, he commented, “No big deal.” A relationship was instantly forged between the foundation and this aspiring “origamist.” debuted an exhibition of McDaniel’s origami sculptures a recent Argenta ArtWalk.
A Memphis native, McDaniel moved to Little Rock three years ago and is a graduate of Little Rock Central High School. He just completed his freshman year at Pulaski Technical College this past spring, and will be transferring to the University of Tampa in Tampa, Fla., this fall where he plans to major in Forensic Science in hopes of one day becoming a forensic chemist in a criminal laboratory. McDaniel was first turned on to origami, paper cranes to be exact, by a classmate at East High School in Memphis. “Once I mastered that, I started looking for other cool things I could make. I don’t think I’ve always been artistic; I just really like puzzles. However, once I got into origami, I also discovered that I love photography and painting,” the artist explains. McDaniel’s sculptures were on display in the gallery from August 12-30.
Works by Connecticut photorealist painter Eric Forstmann were also on display in the Thea Gallery through Aug. 30. Forstmann is represented by Eckert Fine Art of Millerton, N.Y., and studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston/Tufts University. He has been featured in four one-man shows around the country, and his work is in the collections of museums and private collectors, including Kevin Bacon, Annette Bening, Robert Rauschenberg, and Alfred and Judith Taubman.