Monday, February 2, 2015

Field Trip to El Dorado, AR

Hubby and I had a field trip!

An artist friend told me about an art exhibit in a nearby town - 2.5 hours away in another state - that he thought I needed to see.  After one canceled trip due to bad weather, I was determined to go by myself.  But, Hubby wasn't having any of that and said he would take me.  I just love that man!
El Dorado, Arkansas is a small town in the south central part of the state and the county seat with a population of approximately 18,000.
 It could never be described as a "sleepy little town" because although small, there is plenty happening there.

El Dorado is headquarters of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission as well as Murphy Oil Corporation, and the Lion Oil Refinery.

Just off the main square around which the town is centered, is the "Oil and Gas Park" commemorating those who helped build this town around that industry.
 As I said, the center of the town is the courthouse.  It is a lovely, large majestic building with
beautiful architectural details.     
 Architectural details were to be seen on several of the old buildings such as the churches.

Our first stop was at the Black Cat Restaurant for lunch.  We both had the Taco Salad and it was delicious.  The flaky crust bowl was some of the best we have ever had.
The next stop was to the corporate office for Century 21 United.  Hubby has been with this Realty firm since moving to Shreveport in 2002.
The ladies inside were so friendly and gave us a tour of the offices.  Thank you Jan and Marquita for making us feel so welcome.

This visit only set the stage for the rest of the day.

After leaving the realty office, we decided to walk around the square and see what we could see.
Only in a small town would you see High School athletic jackets displayed in a vacant store window.
Let's just say that the south is proud of their winning seasons.
Only in a small town will you find a squirrel feeder hung on a tree that was important enough to build the sidewalk around.
The outside of the Elm Street Bakery caught our eye and we had to see what was inside and we were so glad we did.

We learned that the building was built in 1879 for the US Post Office which remained until the oil boom in 1921.  Then Hall's Pharmacy occupied this idyllic space until 2006.
Recent renovations to the building have preserved the old-time grace of the 114-year-old stamped metal ceiling, the thick white marble soda fountain, and the mahogany apothecary cabinets with etched glass.

The Website describes it like this:  "The atmosphere at Elm Street Bakery combines classic southern charm and hospitality with contemporary elegance and design.
 
We could not agree more.

Another stop was Sidney Murphy Design
There are so many pretty things in this store, from gift items, furniture, china, to the pillow you saw at the beginning of my blog and in the store-front window.  But we most enjoyed our visit with Sidney Murphy herself.  And would you believe she would like to retire to Shreveport one of these days?  How fun is that!

Next door is
 As soon as Hubby walked in the store, the owner took him to the back to try his spicy dip and renowned Turnip Green Soup.  Hubby said they were both delicious!  I couldn't get past the fudge counter in the front of the store where I found the most unusual flavors.
We met this lovely couple on the street and struck up a conversation.  Knox and Judy White are a lovely couple who have lived in this quaint little town for 50 years.   They love to travel and were getting last minute items for a Caribbean cruise they are about to take.
 Are you beginning to get the idea that El Dorado is all about the people who live and work there?

Our final stop was the
which was the real reason for our trip.
As I said, a friend told me I must see the
Bill Garrison is a native of Arkansas and loves everything about the "Natural State" and has painted some amazing landscapes to capture its beauty.  I was in awe!

These are only a few and I hope he won't mind my showing them here.  Friday was the last day of the exhibit and I am so glad I was able to see it.
I featured one of our favorites on last Friday's blog Here.  The deep reds and greens and the way he captures the sun, which draws the eye into the scene, amazes me.

After inhaling every painting, I went to the front desk to thank the nice lady for assisting us, and she offered to give us a tour of the whole place.  How could we refuse this, another example of the friendliness of the folks in this town?

Little did we know that there was a theater, multiple class rooms, piano/voice practice rooms, a ballet studio, an unbelievable maze of wardrobe rooms, not to mention the office space it takes to run such a busy community art center.

We even got to meet and visit with two of the ladies who devote their time to designing and making the sets for all the children's plays.
This was such a delight and a behind-the-scenes look that we could have never expected.
Thank you ladies for your time to share something so special to you and the community.

To learn more about what goes on at this busy, and vital place in the life of El Dorado, Arkansas go here.

There was only one disappointment in our trip.  I was hoping to see the old hotel building where my parents spent their honeymoon night on November 24, 1943.  Alas, like so many other old buildings, it was torn down many years ago to make room for progress.

 We enjoyed seeing the buildings, the realty headquarters, eating a delicious lunch and the beautiful paintings, not to mention the lovely country roads to get there.

But, what we will remember the longest is the time we spent together meeting some of the friendliest  people in the world.
People who will stop on the street to talk to you.
People who take you by the arm and say, "Come try this!"
People who will stop what they are doing to share something that they are proud of with you.

Thank you El Dorado for making our visit a very memorable one.

7 comments:

  1. You've been a wonderful tour guide for this trip! It's a charming town and as you said, the people seem so friendly. I
    I'd love to visit in person! The art you went to see is also great!

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  2. The trip to El Dorado was just the thing to get my Monday morning motor going on this cold, rainy day! Small towns in the South - and most likely elsewhere - are usually so very friendly and welcoming, and you captured the very essence of it! I would love to visit there one day. The art museum brought to mind our visit last Christmas to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR. If you've not toured that museum, it is a must-see for your bucket list!

    Thanks for a great post, as always!

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  3. Good morning! I soo enjoyed visiting this town with you. You were the perfect tour guide! Honestly your photos are just soo good. The paintings were just beautiful. Glad you enjoyed this time, and happy you shared it with us! Enjoy your week!

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  4. It was such a pleasure to give you and your charming husband a tour of the South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado! As you said, we may be a small town, but we have a lot going on! In addition to our galleries (which change exhibits monthly)and theatre where we will present "Twelfth Night this spring, "The Wizard of Oz" this summer, and "Miracle on 34th Street" this winter, here in El Dorado we also have the South Arkansas Symphony, El Dorado Festivals and Events, and Main Street El Dorado hosts Musicfest every October. We have several lovely restaurants (especially downtown), Backwoods Art Gallery, a very nice day spa, Holistic Massage (and I speak from personal experience that Sarah is the best), golf courses, and WE LOVE PEOPLE!!!!

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  5. The Formidible Women took a road trip to El Dorado about 5 years ago and we had a most wonderful time. We did the entire downtown scene and found some great shops.

    A great post about a sweet Southern town.

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  6. Sounds like a perfect little town to visit. I hope I get a chance someday. You had such a great day! I'm going to visit their page.

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  7. My heart is going pitter-patter because I was born and raised in Arkansas! In fact, I would give my right arm to have that pillow! I was born in Wynne and we moved to Hot Springs. My brother lives near Springdale and my grandparents lived outside of Hardy. That pillow is full of special places I hold dear. So happy you enjoyed El Dorado and all it has to offer!

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