‘The Juke Joint Project: An Exhibit’ Opens Friday, On Display at Pryor Center Through June

Photos by Orson Weems

The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History in the U of A’s Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is partnering with The Music Education Initiative to bring The Juke Joint Project: An Exhibit to the Pryor Center on the Downtown Fayetteville Square.

The Juke Joint Project exhibit will open at 2 pm, Friday, May 6, and musician Tony Redman will perform from 5:30 to 6:30 that evening. The exhibit will then be open from 9 a,m. to noon on Saturday, May 7, and regular hours to visit the exhibit will be from 8 am to 5 pm Mondays through Fridays through the end of June. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The Juke Joint Projectbuilt of period-aged cypress and tin, was originally created by renowned designer Kaki Hockersmith and was scheduled to go on display at the Clinton Presidential Center as part of the Fusion 2020: Arts and Humanities Arkansas exhibit, The Mighty Mississippi: The HeART and Soul of the Southern Delta. The Fusion event was canceled in March 2020 due to the pandemic, and The Juke Joint Project was never opened to the public.

Then, in June 2021, The Music Education Initiative received the authentic walk-through replica from the Clinton Presidential Center.

The Juke Joint Project: An Exhibitwhich is now on display at the Pryor Center, will be used to benefit The Music Education Initiative’s communities and amplify the voices of African American musicians, past, present and future.

“Our programs provide educational opportunities that are designed to inspire and educate students, musicians, underserved groups, majority groups and the community,” said Orson Weems, the group’s executive director and co-founder. “The Music Education Initiative’s unique perspective focuses on musical education in the interest of creating new writing, recording, performing artists, entertainers and industry personnel by exposing students and other interested parties to music and entertainment career paths at earlier ages.”

We share the music and entertainment industry expertise, experience, empathy, relationships, professionalism and first-class programs of our founding team and consultants, to develop and add value to the community, especially those of underserved communities, and quality of life in Northwest Arkansas,” he added.

As the custodian and curator of this cultural enrichment showpiece, Weems said The Music Education Initiative will infuse The Juke Joint Project With content and cultural enrichment to engage and encourage the community so the exhibit can also be used as an educational tool, a meeting place and a place for lectures, films, performances and guest speakers to share experiences.

Additionally, Weems said programming centered on The Juke Joint Project will also reflect and emphasize the conservation, historical preservation, interpretation, history, perspective and understanding of the Delta blues, gospel, soul and jazz music, and their importance and influence on society.

The Juke Joint Project: An Exhibit will be on display at the Pryor Center now through Thursday, June 30. The Pryor Center is located at 1 E. Center St., and parking is available on the Fayetteville Square.

Hours and a schedule of upcoming programs will be posted on the Pryor Center website.

About the Music Education Initiative: The Music Education Initiative is an art and education nonprofit located in Northwest Arkansas. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to engage, educate, elevate, and prepare the next generation of professionals in the business of music and entertainment. Orson Weems, the group’s executive director and co-founder, is a businessman, University of Arkansas alumnus, past member of the Arkansas Alumni Association Board, member of the Walton College Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board, member of the Chancellor’s Council on Diversity, and former Arkansas Razorback football player for four seasons from 1980-1983 under Coach Lou Holtz.

About the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History: The David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History is an oral history program with the mission to document the history of Arkansas through the collection of spoken memories and visual records, preserve the collection in perpetuity, and connect Arkansas and the world to the collection through the Internet, TV broadcasts, educational programs, and other means. The Pryor Center records audio and video interviews about Arkansas history and culture, collects other organizations’ recordings, organizes these recordings into an archive, and provides public access to the archive, primarily through the website at pryorcenter.uark.edu. The Pryor Center is the state’s only oral and visual history program with a statewide, seventy-five county mission to collect, preserve, and share audio and moving image recordings of Arkansas history.

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