Intermission, by Ken Stout, Pace Balcony Lobby, Walton Arts Center

"I approach the painting surface as if it were a stage. The plot defines the actors and the setting, although at times the actors seize the stage and write the script. Each picture presents a heightened moment, when an action is poignant although a bit puzzling, precarious yet enigmatic. These paintings are not executions of ideas; they are searches for form and meaning through the act of painting."- Ken Stout


Prior to its opening, Walton Arts Center initiated the Integrated Arts Project to architecturally link the work of artists and crafts persons from the four-state area into the design of the arts center. A national jury selected Intermission, a 9’ x 50’ mural by artist and University of Arkansas professor Ken Stout, from 340 submitted entries to be incorporated as a permanent feature into the building.

The mural links imagery with structure, depicting the initial moment of intermission at a theater. Stout describes the piece as “a cross-section of the entire experience of that time of transition for both the stage and audience, the actors and reactors…from backstage through the curtain in to the audience, up the aisle and out into the lobby itself. The actor’s bow from the slit of the closing curtain acts as a trigger setting into motion the entire work; from the audience to the stage crew as they turn toward their respective ‘theaters’ of intermission.”

Using individuals mostly from Northwest Arkansas as models, the artwork presents familiar images arranged as characters in a unique way. A sense of energy runs through the composition, capturing the activity of intermission, a drama comparable to the action which has stopped on the stage. Expressing the excitement, motion and energy of the moment’s arrival, small mini-dramas take place between members of the audience, the performers, and backstage workers. Children play with toys, audience members clap and talk amongst themselves, people walk about and a prankster shoots a pea from the balcony seats.

The many isolated actions successfully meld together in a composition that flows and becomes representative of one moment in time: Intermission.

Ken Stout is a professor of Art at the University of Arkansas. The Mural can be viewed daily on the second floor of Walton Arts Center.