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 doing this.


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 lost.

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 -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 see."

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