AKAS II originated at the kitchen table of this house in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The 1939 structure, a prime example of modern depression architecture, was demolished to accommodate the driveway of a 2007 bank building. Photo: B. Sloan, 1984.

Funny name. Serious business.

AKAS II marked its twenty-fifth anniversary on December 15, 2010 by announcing The Marjorie Lawrence Project to benefit the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts. This ambitious project bears the name of the world-class soprano whose real-life tragedy led to her arrival and permanent residency in Hot Springs.

From locations in Scottsdale and Hot Springs, AKAS II has provided art-related services and products to clients in all 50 states. This business is the offspring of Ana's Kitchen Art Services, a local multi-service art gallery and educational facility established by former college instructor, art administrator, and foundryman Barbara A. Sloan.

At age 14, Sloan began her art career with 16 illustrations for the nuns at St. Joseph's Hospital for their St. Louis province. Fourteen years and many awards later, her paintings, sculptures and drawings were being juried into national shows by New York curators from the Met, the MOMA, and the Whitney. Soon afterward, her art was being collected in places like Chicago and Sydney and Frankfurt and Phoenix. Recently, one of her artworks in the permanent collection of the Arkansas Arts Center was used to promote the museum's upcoming poetry slam.

Sloan was almost 14 when she started writing for newspapers in 1967. Her words have appeared in numerous publications, including books and magazines such as Art Marketing 101 and International Art Gallery. Her 1997 law dissertation, American Taxation and the Visual Arts, enabled her Quick-Fix TaxKits, an ongoing series of tax guides for artists doing business in the United States.

For the past several months, AKAS II has been working with local artist Daisy McDonald on a planned commission for The Marjorie Lawrence Project. A larger-than-life portrait of the opera star will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the diva's historic horseback ride in Gotterdammerung at New York's Metropolitan Opera on January 12, 1936. AKAS II has chosen McDonald for her exceptional skills in figurative and equine painting and for her knowledge of theatre.

"Daisy and I embrace the challenges of this painting," Sloan explains. "Things like coloration, foreshortening, historical accuracy, spatial requirements - and, yes, even cost recovery - must be calculated. Ms. Lawrence's landmark performance of the Immolation Scene has yet to be equaled, and her portrait deserves nothing less than the finest: Sennelier oils on Belgian linen."

Sloan continues, "There are so many lessons to be learned from this athletic Australian farm girl who, despite paralysis from polio at the pinnacle of her operatic career, found the strength to persevere as a performer and educator. As we honor her with this project, we hope to draw attention to the performing and visual arts programs at 'the math and science school' as well as the need for a performing arts center in this community."

So why does AKAS II do all this? The answer lies in its slogan: ... because there's more to Art than meets the Eye!

For further information about AKAS II and The Marjorie Lawrence Project, email or write to AKAS II, PO Box 123, Hot Springs, AR 71902-0123.

Courtesy of AKAS II - because there's more to Art than meets the Eye! (sm)
Photo: Copyright 1985 - 2010 B. Sloan. All rights reserved.
Text: Copyright 2011 AKAS II. All rights reserved.