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Volunteer Ann Rowell Saddles Up for Southern Silks

Image by Lily Darragh

Ann Rowell helps Methodist Family Health with a Derby-themed fundraiser in May. (Jockey silks provided by Superior Racing Stables LLC)

An avid volunteer, Ann Rowell began donating her time and talents to Methodist Family Health about five years ago through the Women in Mission group at St. James United Methodist Church. “When we started, we volunteered for a different organization each month, and not far into it, we found Methodist Family Health,” she says. Rowell and her fellow Women in Mission loved the organization’s different programs and soon made a commitment to volunteer on a monthly basis. Now, Rowell serves as the ambassador for MFH at St. James UMC and her husband, Steve, serves on the MFH foundation board. “This has become a family mission,” she says. Next month she’s helping the organization put on a brand-new, Derby Day-themed fundraiser, Southern Silks.

What exactly does Methodist Family Health do?

MFH provides psychiatric and behavioral healthcare to children and families in Arkansas. MFH serves approximately 1,400 clients daily through inpatient, residential and outpatient venues of care, including a behavioral hospital, therapeutic group homes, residential treatment centers, counseling clinics and other specialized programs. The Arkansas CARES program that MFH administers is unique. Women enrolled in the CARES program are able to have their children with them while undergoing therapy and treatment for addiction – another instance in which MFH is helping the entire family.

What do we really need to know about MFH?

MFH programs primarily serve children ranging in age from 5 to 18, and clients are of all faiths and denominations (you don’t have to be Methodist!). MFH takes a team approach to treatment that includes both client and family participation, and works in concert with a highly trained staff of therapists, physicians, case workers and other healthcare professionals to address emotional and behavioral challenges.

What sets MFH apart from other similar organizations?

MFH provides all levels of care, from very basic outpatient care to the most intensive residential services. At MFH, that’s called our Continuum of Care. All programs use the Teaching-Family Model, a highly structured approach proven to be effective with troubled children. The model uses positive, non-punitive interactions to encourage behavior change and achieve positive outcomes. MFH is the only behavioral healthcare system in the state that uses the Teaching-Family Model.

Tell us all about Southern Silks.

One of our board members and volunteers, Sally Riggs, brought this idea to us. Southern Silks will be held Sat., May 3, at the Clear Channel Metroplex Event Center. This is the day of the Kentucky Derby and guests can celebrate with a Derby-themed buffet dinner, drinks, faux horse racing, prizes and a live auction. It is more than your traditional fundraiser; it’s a party where you can play! All proceeds will go to the MFH Compassion Fund, which assists families of our clients with gas, gift cards and whatever is necessary to help the family better care for their children and get them the help they need.

Gayla Jungmeyer Co-chairs Governor's Culinary Challenge for Thea Foundation

Image by Rett Peek

Gayla Jungmeyer prepares for her role as co-chair of the April 28 Governor’s Culinary Challenge. All of the proceeds will benefit Thea’s scholarship programs, which have awarded more than $2.2 million to Arkansas students. Photographed at the Capital Hotel; blouse provided by Vesta’s; hair and makeup by Angela Alexander.

“Why me, Lord?” This classic Kris Kristofferson gospel song is how Gayla Jungmeyer describes her reaction when asked to join the board of the Thea Foundation in 2011. “What could I bring to the table?” Jungmeyer wondered, as a board member for an arts foundation when she had little visual arts experience herself, “but it was meant to be and it’s been a great experience.”

A self-professed better listener than speaker (she has a degree in psychology) and someone who prefers not to be the center of attention, Jungmeyer has a warmth and elegance that draws people in. Thea has wisely chosen to not let her stay behind the scenes, electing Jungmeyer as next year’s President of the Board. Described by Thea founder Paul Leopoulos as a “true philanthropist,” Jungmeyer gives from the heart and expects nothing in return.

Besides, you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate art, and Jungmeyer thrives on experiencing art, be it here in central Arkansas or abroad.

“I love the theatre, even when we travel,” says Jungmeyer, “the exposure to a different perspective on the world broadens who you are.”

This is quite a cultured view from someone who grew up in the humble town of Jefferson City, Mo., where her father owned the local Sinclair gas station.

“I would go by his station and he would give me just enough gas to not get in trouble,” Jungmeyer recalls.

This usually led her to McDonalds, the local hangout, and the place where she met husband Dennis when she was 18. The couple moved with son Shawn to North Little Rock for Dennis’ job with the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association in 1979 and have been entrenched in the community ever since. They are particularly excited by the revitalization of artist businesses along Main Street in the Argenta district, of which the Thea Foundation is a prominent resident.

“When we first moved here in 1979 people never came to this side of the river,” says Jungmeyer. “Now we can stay on the north side of the river and take advantage of the art galleries and restaurants.”

An avid traveler, Jungmeyer began collecting watercolors from her travels. Her house is adorned with pieces from Instanbul, Saint Petersburg, Paris and Helsinki. Her most prized creative possession, however, is a collection of poems written by her grown son Shawn when he was a senior in high school.

“I recently reread them,” she says, “and they were very deep and introspective for an 18-year-old.”

This ability to reach young artists and foster their talent is where Jungmeyer really connects with her work at Thea. She enjoys seeing the impact the organization has on young artists through its educational programs and college scholarship presentations.

“The families come from across the state to present their entries. The students are young, energetic and grateful,” says Jungmeyer.

Thea scholarship recipients are also very fortunate. Thanks to the dedicated work of Thea’s staff, board and volunteers, this program has grown immensely since its inception in 2002, offering $80,000 annually. Thea scholarships are accepted anywhere, and all Arkansas four-year institutions offer matching funds with many surpassing the match.

“The great thing about our scholarship program is that you can come from any school background: public, private, home school or have your GED,” says Jungmeyer. “There’s also no GPA requirement because a lot of times creative people don’t test well.”

This lack of a GPA requirement goes back to the story of Thea and the reason this organization was founded by Paul and his wife Linda in 2001. Thea was a young artist with a bright future. She was also Paul and Linda’s daughter. Her life was tragically cut short at the age of 17, just when her school grades were starting to show a vast improvement. Paul and Linda noticed that with an outlet for her creative expression in her arts classes, Thea had gained the confidence to tackle more traditional school subjects like science and math and was starting to excel in areas where she had typically underperformed.

For this reason, the scholarship application is based solely on a student’s artistic abilities with no GPA or test requirement. Students can also major in any field they choose. The Thea Foundation aims to reward students for their talents and provide a path to college that is not dependent on academic strengths.

High school seniors can apply to six scholarship categories, including: visual arts, performing arts, film, creative writing, poetry slam, and new this year – fashion design.

The scholarships are funded through private donations to Thea and funds raised from the upcoming Governor’s Culinary Challenge (GCC) on April 28. Jungmeyer will be co-chairing the event, which promises to delight all the senses. Guests will enjoy gourmet bites from eight of Arkansas’ most celebrated chefs and a signature cocktail created by two local mixologists. Also, Dr. Danny Fletcher and company will provide live jazz entertainment. Tickets are available for $100 each and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Thea Scholarships, which in its history has made more than $2.2 million available to Arkansas high school seniors seeking higher education.

For more information about Thea’s scholarship programs or the upcoming GCC, contact Emily Mitchell at 379-9512 or visit TheaFoundation.org or GovernorsCulinaryChallenge.com.

Governor’s Culinary Challenge

When: 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 28
Where: Capital Hotel mezzanine
Tickets: $100 per person
Info: Emily Mitchell, 379-9512, Emily@TheaFoundation.org

Standing Firm: Ed Lowther Leads Wright, Lindsey & Jennings

Image by Rett Peek

For Ed Lowther, it’s not being managing partner of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP or being a high-profile trial lawyer that he enjoys the most. It’s working every day with his fellow attorneys and staff, and collaborating on developing themes and implementing successful strategies. Photographed in Judge Moody’s courtroom at the Federal Courthouse.

Even though he’s now the managing partner of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Ed Lowther still gets a case of the butterflies before every trial.

“However,” he says. “Once I’ve said my first words in open court, whether it’s in selecting a jury, giving an opening statement or cross-examining a witness, the nerves go away.”

And while he runs the third-largest law firm in Arkansas, which has clients that include Baptist Health, Bank of America, Deltic Timber Corp., Stephens Inc., Acxiom and Tokusen USA, being a lawyer wasn’t first on Lowther’s list of things to do when he graduated college. There was always an allure with Lowther and law, but his first love was journalism.

The Arkadelphia native graduated cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science. His immediate plans included becoming a successful, respected journalist, not a high-profile lawyer.

“My goal was, by the time I hit my mid-40s, to be the editor of a mid to large market newspaper the caliber of the Louisville Courier-Journal, which in the 1970s was an award-winning publication,” he says.

Just a year later, while working as an editor of his hometown publication, Lowther’s fascination with law grew when an attorney general candidate, by the name of Bill Clinton, made “a highly favorable impression” on him during an interview.

“I told his campaign manager that if [Clinton] got elected and needed some non-lawyerly type on his staff, I’d appreciate him considering me,” Lowther says.

When Clinton won the election, he hired Lowther in 1977 as an investigator with the Consumer Protection Division.

Not long after taking the position, Lowther realized a law degree would open the door to several opportunities, and enrolled in night school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

He graduated from the William H. Bowen School of Law in 1981, and started as an associate at Wright, Lindsey & Jennings. In 32 years, it’s the only firm where Lowther has worked.

What’s the reason he’s stuck around for so long? His colleagues, he says.

“The firm is blessed with not only intelligent, competent and ambitious individuals, from partners to associates to staff, but we honestly like and get along with each other,” he adds.

Early on, Lowther knew to effect change, taking a leadership role within the firm was necessary. But after an extended period on the executive committee, Lowther exited the management side of things for a while. In the years that followed, the firm saw difficult days until it was able to right the ship around 2005.

Of all of his achievements, Lowther says being unanimously elected as managing partner in 2005, during those difficult days, is still his most prized accomplishment.

“My partners seemed to have confidence that although I might not always be right, whatever decision I helped make with the consensus of our management team was motivated with the best interests of the firm in mind.”

As for his personal success and rise as a lawyer, Lowther credits his ability to listen and delegate.

“I frankly don’t care who gets credit for a job well done,” he says. “I just want the job well done.”

Recently, Lowther was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, an exclusive group of elite trial lawyers that includes attorneys from more than 30 countries. It was a lofty honor, but one that was not fully appreciated until his induction ceremony.

Lowther recalled the first person inducted in his group was a two-time U.S. Olympic silver medalist and had a leading role in a high-profile case in U.S. Supreme Court. The last person inducted was a former Wyoming governor and ambassador to Ireland.

“Fortunately, my introduction didn’t immediately follow the former’s or immediately precede the latter’s,” he jokes. “But the thought did strike me, ‘what am I doing up here?’”

FAST TRACK

• Typical day? Arrive at the office around 8:30 a.m. or so, and peruse emails and mail. Then, confer with Steve Lancaster, our COO, on any business-related issues, usually before tackling the pressing law-related issues of the day.

• Who have been some of the bigger influences in your life? Professionally, Bill Clinton for giving me an opportunity to branch into this career, and Jim Moody and Gordon Rather for mentoring me during my formative years as a lawyer. Personally, my wife Susan for reminding me — constantly and appropriately — that there is far more to life than just being a lawyer.

• Favorite song? It’s a toss-up between “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Maggie Mae” and “Sympathy for the Devil.”

• If you could only see one musical act or group in concert, who would it be? The Beatles for their entire body of work. Pretty sure that won’t be happening, though.

• Best movie you’ve seen recently? “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”

• Favorite sports team? The Arkansas Razorbacks and the ever-frustrating Dallas Cowboys.

U.S. Theatrical Premiere of 'Devil's Knot' Scheduled for Little Rock

"Devil's Knot," a film about the case of the men known as the West Memphis Three, will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock.

This theater, the newest, state-of-the art performance space in Little Rock, was chosen as the site for the film's U.S. theatrical premiere because, though the case has garnered international attention, the story remains rooted in Arkansas, where most of the people portrayed still live, according to the CALS press release.

Starting with a personal look at the murders of three young boys in West Memphis, in 1993, "Devil's Knot" explores the investigation and trials that followed, as experienced by an investigator and the mother of one of the victims. Directed by Academy Award-nominee Atom Egoyan, "Devil's Knot" is based on the nonfiction book by award-winning Arkansas author Mara Leveritt. Egoyan, Leveritt and several cast members will attend the U.S. theatrical premiere showing of the film.

The film stars Academy Award-winners Reese Witherspoon as Pamela Hobbs, the mother of Stevie Branch, and Colin Firth as Ron Lax, a Memphis private investigator who volunteered his services to the court-appointed defense lawyers. Other cast members include Stephen Moyer, Dane DeHaan, Alessandro Nivola and Amy Ryan.

Egoyan has won numerous prizes at international film festivals including the Grand Prix and International Critics Awards from the Cannes Film Festival and two Academy Award nominations for "The Sweet Hereafter." Leveritt, a contributing editor to the Arkansas Times and past Arkansas Journalist of the Year, has twice been awarded Arkansas's prestigious Booker Worthen Prize, given by CALS.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and general admission tickets are available online at www.RonRobinsonTheater.org or by calling (501) 320-5715. For more information contact 501-918-3086 or email sgele@cals.org.

Check out the trailer for the highly anticipated movie below.

Photos: Cher and Pat Benatar's Rockin' Concert at Verizon Arena

Gallery by Mark Wagner

#asset

Legendary singer Cher made a stop on her "Dressed to Kill" Tour Friday night (March 28) at Verizon Arena with '80s icon Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo opening the dazzling show.

LittleRockSoiree.com photographer Mark Wagner was able to catch all of the action-- music, outfits and all at the packed concert. Enjoy!

Jazz in the Park Kicks Off This Week

Image by Little Rock Convention & Visitors' Bureau.

Get ready to enjoy the fresh air and relax to the sounds of jazz this week.

Jazz in the Park kicks off its second season this Wednesday (April 2). The music festival will feature jazz musicians every Wednesday in April from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the History Pavilion in Riverfront Park. This year, the event will be split in two sets, spring and fall. The fall festival will take place in September. 

Here's the lineup for April: 

  • April 2:  Dizzy 7
  • April 9: Johnny Burnette Band
  • April 16: TwiceSax
  • April 23: That Arkansas Weather
  • April 30: Art Deco Trio

The event is completely free, but no coolers are allowed. Beer, wine, soft drinks and water will be available for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit Sculpture at the River Market. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome, and there will be seating in the natural stone amphitheater at the History Pavilion.

**In case of rain, the West Pavilion will be the alternate location for the event.

Get additional information about this event here or call (501) 375-2552.

Farm Fresh: 5 Farmers Markets to Visit in Central Arkansas

Image by C. Waynette Traub
The Bernice Garden Farmers' Market opens for the season on April 12.

Free-range eggs, sustainably-raised meats, locally-grown veggies, artisan cheese: Springtime is here, and we're so ready for the bounty of fresh, local produce the warmer weather will bring. Seasonal farmers markets in Little Rock and North Little Rock start opening in March and continue to pop up throughout April and May. Here are five essential markets to visit in central Arkansas this spring and summer.

Opening March 29

Argenta Farmers Market -- This Saturday morning market, located on Main Street in downtown North Little Rock, boasts an impressive number of vendors at the height of the season. They'll open up this weekend with eggs, strawberries, butternut squash, cheese, honey, bread, meats and more. Shoppers can also enjoy an artisan market and live music. 7 a.m.-noon each Saturday. Located at 520 Main St., North Little Rock. For info, click here.

Opening April 12

Bernice Garden Farmers' Market -- Sunday shoppers can pick up their sustainably-raised and -grown produce, cheese, nuts, berries and more at this quaint market in SoMa. Bonus: Scope out the public art and sculptures in the surrounding garden and treat yourself to a Loblolly Creamery soda or ice cream cone from the nearby Green Corner Store. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each Sunday. Located at 1401 South Main St., Little Rock. For info, click here.

Opening May 3

Little Rock Farmers' Market -- This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Little Rock Farmers' Market, located in the River Market. The season opening will feature a special party with cake, balloon animals and fun activities. In addition to Saturday markets, this year's schedule will also include a "Night Market" each Tuesday from May 27-Aug. 26. 7 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday; 3-7 p.m. each Tuesday (May 27-Aug. 26). Located at 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock. For info, click here.

Opening May 7

Westover Hills Presbyterian Church Farmers' Market -- This evening, mid-week market is perfect for picking up last-minute needs like veggies, fruit, flowers, baked goods and more. Plus, the market is a hotspot for some of Little Rock's favorite food trucks, which means you can grab groceries and a little snack for the road. 4-7 p.m. each Wednesday. Located at 6400 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. For info, click here.

Year-round

Hillcrest Farmers Market -- Little Rock's year-round farmers market at the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church serves up local honey, fresh greens, nuts and granola, eggs, breads and more. Plus, visitors can grab brunch at one of the regular food trucks, including Southern Salt Food Company, The Southern Gourmasian, Beast Food Truck and more. Winter Hours are 8 a.m.-noon. Summer hours are 7 a.m.-noon and start May 3. Located at 2200 Kavanaugh Blvd. For info, click here.

Fine Art Sculpture Show Scheduled for Late April

Mark your calendars for the 7th annual fine art sculpture show and sale held on the banks of the Arkansas River.

On April 25, the Sculpture at the River Market Committee will be hosting a Show and Sale Preview Party benefiting the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden located in Riverfront Park. The evening will include more than 800 pieces of art by nearly 50 nationally recognized artists, gathered in the River Market Pavilions. This event serves as a fundraiser to enhance public art in our capital city. The funds raised have been used to commission more than 60 pieces of sculpture in Little Rock with a value of approximately $2 million.

The Preview Party starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature live music by Dizzy 7 band and a cocktail buffet. Party guests mix and mingle and have the opportunity to visit with the sculptors, who offer a variety of works, ranging in medium and price point.

On Saturday and Sunday (April 26 and 27), the Show and Sale is open to the public – a great opportunity for families to see these fantastic sculptures.


Show and Sale Preview Party:
Friday, April 25

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

River Market Pavilions

Tickets: $100


Bronze & Brewskis:
Immediately following the Preview Party

Friday, April 25

8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

River Market Pavilions

Tickets: $30

For additional information on the event and tickets, click here. 

 

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What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of InArkansas.com be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make InArkansas.com your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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