With three universities, Conway has a thriving performance art and maker scene.By Dwain Hebda
Conway’s college campuses provide year-around opportunities to experience the arts. Foremost among them is Reynolds Performance Hall (223 Beatrice Powell St.) at the University of Central Arkansas, a 1,200-seat, state-of-the-art theatre that’s home to a variety of performances and events. Through the years, Reynolds has hosted concerts and lectures, national Broadway tours and international touring companies such as the Russian National Ballet, Sowetto Gospel Choir and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Peruse the art collection, listen to a lecture, take a few classes or enjoy a cup of espresso and immerse yourself in an art book from the collection at Art on the Green (1100 Bob Courtway Drive). Exhibits rotate every three months, so there’s always something new to view.
Conway Alliance for the Arts nurtures collaboration, promotion and development of resources for the advancement of the Conway artistic community. Each fall, the group hosts ArtsFest, held in the city’s downtown district.
Another organization dedicated to the promotion of arts and artists is the Conway League of Artists. With more than 100 members representing five counties, the league sponsors several shows annually. The largest, the Tri-County Show, is a juried exhibition held in November at the Faulkner County Library.
Conway Men’s Chorus is comprised of more than 60 men from all walks of life bound by a common love for singing and community. The group presents two free concerts each year at the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall, the WinterSong on Dec. 5, and SpringSing on May 14.
Conway Symphony Orchestra performs a full season of six professional concerts, including a free outdoor community concert, a holiday performance and a children’s concert. The CSO alsooffers a classroom program for local elementary and intermediate schools and sponsors a number of ensemble performances throughout the year.
Learn to craft and design at the UCA Makerspace (250 Donaghey Ave., Ste. 130), a new community learning facility that’s the product of a partnership between the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting. The space is open to the public during the week, and is equipped with six 3D printers, a laser cutter, CNC machines, routers and other digital fabrication tools.
There is no shortage of locally roasted coffee in Conway. Pop in for a warm or iced cup of your favorite blend at Blue Sail (1028 Front St.), Zeteo (911 W. Oak St.) or Round Mountain Coffee (2850 Prince St.).
Conway’s retail community has exploded in recent years with several major developments attracting a bevy of national stores. Those seeking the truly unique, however, should look to the historic downtown district, where small, independent stores line the charming brick streets. Here you’ll find more than 30 independent antique resellers, clothing and jewelry boutiques and high-end consignment shops.
Gifts don’t get more original than the ones you make yourself. Explore your inner artist at Branch Out Paint Bar+ Boutique, which offers both public and private art classes for people of all ages and experience levels.
Just a few minutes west of Conway in neighboring Menefee, discover 2Brothers Reclaimed & Repurposed Inventory Sales. This one-of-a-kind architectural salvage reseller offers rescued furniture pieces and those made from reclaimed lumber, as well as hard-tofind components for artists, furniture makers, antique home remodelers and other artisans.
Bryan Massey Sr.’s sculpture artwork changes lives and perspectives and he’s got the letters and accolades from presidents, university chiefs, peer artists and ordinary people to prove it.
In addition to working on his award-winning creations, Massey is a professor of art at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Primarily a stone carver, he also casts in iron, bronze and aluminum and fabricates steel sculptures.
Some of his signature pieces include a statue of Silas Hunt for the University of Arkansas system and “The Jazz Player,” created for the fifth anniversary of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock. In addition, Massey was selected for the Governor’s Award for the Individual Artist of the Year in 2006. Find his work at Art on the Green in Conway.