January 8, 2012
The Crystal Bridges
Museum of American Art is a new museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Bentonville is, of course, the home of Walmart, but the museum is not connected
to that company. The museum explains:
Crystal Bridges is a nonprofit organization focused
solely on creating a world-class museum for the benefit of the public. The
Museum was founded by art-enthusiast and visionary Alice Walton, who
continues to serve as chair of the Board of Directors. Because of its
commitment to the educational and cultural development of Northwest
Arkansas, the Walton Family Foundation has provided significant funding to
help make the dream of Crystal Bridges a reality. In July, 2011, Walmart
announced a grant that will sponsor general public admission to the Museum.
However, Walmart Stores, Inc. is in no way connected to the development,
construction, or planning of the Museum or the development and ownership of
the permanent collection.
The downtown district of Bentonville looks more like an idealized vision of
small-town American than what your more typical Arkansas small town looks like
these days. I did not tour the Walmart museum (which was not open on
Sunday, in any event).
The museum from the entry drive. What you see is actually little more
than the covered walkway. The museum buildings are all below in the
ravine. That stainless steel tree? I
just saw one of those at
the Nelson-Atkins museum in Kansas City.
There were several of these emergency beacons. A good idea. Press
the button to speak to somebody, and the blue light tells people where you are.
There is quite an extensive network of walking and bike-riding trails.
Below (not the woodpecker) is an art-work dedicated to the trail-of-tears,
which passed within a couple of miles of the museum site.
There were a few art works along the trail. Here are some bears.
Many plants and trees were identified. Somebody spent a lot of time
The doors opened before the exhibits opened. I stopped at the dining
area and had a cup of coffee.
The galleries were well organized. You still had to bounce across to
all the walls, but if you continued along, you'd see everything without getting
Of course, there is no point in showing full photographs of the works (they'd
be much too small), so what you see here are excerpts--in some cases fairly
small parts of the overall painting.
I always thought of Rosie as riveting airplanes. Perhaps so; but with
that rivet gun, this
Rosie is probably putting ships together.
Of all the paintings, this one stopped me.
BENTONVILLE, ARK.- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has acquired a
major new work by Walton Ford, an artist winning international acclaim for
his highly detailed, monumental watercolors of exotic birds, reptiles and
mammals. In 'The Island', Ford presents a writhing pyramidal mass of
Tasmanian wolves (thylacines) grappling with each other and a few doomed
lambs. The violent extermination of the thylacines, which were hunted to
extinction in the early 20th century, calls into question who is hunter and
hunted in this savage tableau.
"Thylacines were mysterious
terrifying phantoms in the minds of Tasmanian settlers," Walton Ford said
via email. "I wanted to create a delirious image that suggested the
thylacine's doom. The painting could be interpreted as the hallucination of
either the man or the beast."
Chris Crosman, chief curator for
Crystal Bridges, describes the 8-feet-high by 11 ½-feet-long triptych as a
"tour de force" that is considered to be Ford's largest and most ambitious
work to date.
"The Island works on a number of different levels, from
the sheer technical virtuosity of producing a watercolor at this scale to
the seductive way he composes these things and the psychological and social
content - all are wrapped up together in a way that's completely unique to
his sensibility," Crosman said. "Ford's work is really going to be one of
the sleeper experiences when people come to the museum. When you see his
paintings in the flesh they just blow your mind . . . there's so much to
Much more peaceful. This one is quite nice.
A "painting" of multiple jigsaw puzzles.
Plastic flowers connected together in a tapestry.
Spools of thread...
...that makes sense when viewed through the crystal globe.
A room where everything you see is actually inlay wood.
And, I ended with lunch in the same dining area I started in.
last edit: 1/8/2012