Art appraiser and urban renewal enthusiast Jennifer Carman does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that makes Little Rock such a quaint place to live.
1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Jennifer Carman; Art Appraiser at J. Carman, Inc. Fine Art Advisory; I’ve lived in central Arkansas for the past 25 years (apart from several years in London for graduate school); home sweet home is in the Wright Avenue Neighborhood, which is part of the Central High School Historic District.
2. You're doing some exciting things to help such a largely forgotten, yet important downtown neighborhood. What inspired you to take on such an important mission? Little Rock’s downtown neighborhoods are its best-kept secret. They are rich with history and diversity, and are filled with friendly and creative residents dedicated to cultivating a real sense of community. We urban dwellers know our neighbors, and regularly spend time making memories with them. We can eat, drink and be merry within walking distance from our own homes. We don’t sit in traffic, EVER. Bottom line? We are living the good life!
3. What is, hands down, your favorite meal you can only get in Little Rock? Pffft. This one’s easy: Bruno’s Little Italy. An amaretto on ice as an appertif. An order of meatballs as an appetizer. Chicken parmesan as an entrée. Four loaves (I’m not even kidding) of that delectable, crusty, buttery bread. All of this washed down with a gigantic bottle (or two) of red wine, and an order of cannolli (if one can manage after all of that bread…..).
4. It's a Saturday -- what's on your agenda? First up: A long run on the River Trail, usually starting at Rebsamen or the Big Dam Bridge. My route usually takes me to Two Rivers Park, where I enjoy the sunshine reflecting on the water, the cover of tall pine trees, and the occasional sighting of forest-dwelling critters. I’m training for my third Little Rock Marathon, and I’m living proof that it truly is “the race for every pace.” Next up: Lunch. Usually at The Root Cafe (Chicken Salad Salad and vegan vanilla cupcake), Brownings (Tortilla Soup paired with a pina colada) or The Purple Cow (veggie burger and a peanut butter milkshake.) Afternoon: River Market Books and Gifts at the Cox Creative Center, a gently-used bookstore whose sales benefit the Central Arkansas Library System. Some might say that I have a little book “problem.” Without a doubt, this is my favorite place to fritter away an afternoon. Snack time? Either a Vino’s Root Beer or Community Bakery for an iced sugar cookie with milk. Salty bottom with a sweet icing on top…..this cookie alone is reason enough to live in Little Rock.
5. Finish this sentence: My perfect evening in Little Rock involves... a stop at the Capital Bar and Grill for a cocktail (I adore the “Debutante”), followed by a gallery opening (with Meredith Stepp, my art-loving sidekick) at a favorite local haunt such as Gallery 26 or Cantrell Gallery. After this, a late dinner at Café Bossa Nova for the traditional pao de queijo (cheese bread) and the classic beans with rice. If it’s a late one, I might meander to the White Water Tavern, especially if Bonnie Montgomery, Little Rock’s favorite songbird, will grace the stage (but I have a strict granny bedtime, so this is all purely hypothetical, of course…).
Check out Jennifer's Facebook initiative, Stop The Demolitions, Little Rock, which seeks to explore constructive and viable alternatives to the destruction of neglected and abandoned structures. She is also the freelance art historian and curator behind the selections for Historic Arkansas Museum’s popular Arkansas Made “Object of the Day” Facebook series, which documents decorative, mechanical and fine art produced by Arkansas artisans.