Crystal Bridges American Museum of Art November 9-10, 2012 - The Lauemeier docent crew, lead by Maureen Jennings, orchestrated a trip to Chrystal Bridges. I was delighted to be among the forty or so people on the overnight bus trip to Arkansas to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded by the only daughter of Sam Walton (Alice) and designed by internationally renowned architect (Moshe Safdie).
Our trip to the museum unfolded as first anniversary celebration rapidly approached that weekend (11-11-11/11-11-12). Our trip included viewing the premiere of a documentary film directed/produced by Larry Foley; touring the collection of more than 400 works (which are well organized into colonial, 19th century, modern and contemporary gallery spaces); a special extra-curricular experience of James Turrell’s The Way of Color - Turrell is primarily concerned with light and space. He was once quoted as saying: “I saw the Mona Lisa when it was in L.A., saw it for 13 seconds and had to move on. But, you know, there's this slow-food movement right now. Maybe we could also have a slow-art movement, and take an hour.” I love that idea!); a morning hike covering miles of beautifully landscaped trails; a bonus visit to the quaint downtown area of Bentonville (featuring Sam Walton’s original retail store location).
Alice Walton likes to challenge visitors to recall three things. Indeed, with the sensory overload that begins with the magnificent architecture of Moshe Softe and continues with the art, the sculpture, and the trails it is pretty hard to settle on just three. So I won’t. Here’s a list of some of things I remember seeing (and hope to revisit):
George Washington (portrait by Charles Wilson Peale, 1780-82); Winter Scene in Brooklyn (by Francis Guy, 1819); Kindred Spirits (Hudson River School painting by Asher Brown Durand, 1849); The Reader (by Mary Cassatt, 1877), Jeanne (by Alfred Henry Mauer, 1904), Hall of Mountain King (by Marsden Hartley, 1908-1909). Rosie the Rivetter (by Norman Rockwell, 1943); Jackie Ferrara (1980); Jenny Holtzer (1990); Lowell’s Ocean (by Mark DiSuvero); Yield (by Roxy Paine); LOVE (by Robert Indiana)… Add works by Thomas Hart Benton, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Alexander Calder and clearly it is the sort of place of which you might like to return.
All in the peaceful and unassuming Ozark regional setting, in year one, the museum has already attracted over 600,000 visitors and has an 800 million dollar endowment. In case you are tempted to think of Art in Arkansas as an oxymoron – think again. Thank you Alice Walton – for your courage and your leadership! Wow.