Earlier this year, DH and I took a brief break to Bentonville, AR. I had been hankering to see the modern and contemporary collection at Crystal Bridges museum. And DH and I really needed a break together.
The trip was fun, educational, and expensive. I wish we could make this a more regular thing, but maybe not in the cards.
The Crystal Bridges museum is free and fantastic. It has American Art. And some really impressive pieces. It doesn’t hold a candle to my beloved Nelson-Atkins collection, with European, African, Asian, and Ancient treasures; however, the modern and contemporary is really, really impressive.
21c hotel is far from free, but decidedly fantastic. The rooms are stylish, the hotel has a fun, funky vibe and is full of contemporary art. But the best part is that is at the end of the Crystal Bridges art trail – making it a forested and short walk to the museum. After experiencing the convenience and fun of that, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else if we travel to visit the museum. But affording staying at 21c more than once a year is not feasible. Ergh.
Bentonville is beautiful – and creepily like a town from a romantic comedy. It is the headquarters of Walmart. Remember when Walmart and other big box stores ruined small town downtowns by being cheaper and more convenient than mom-and-pop stores? Well Bentonville seems to be a perfect memoriam to what was destroyed. Which makes it more than a little creepy / surreal.
But we decided to whitewash that from our brains and just enjoy the perfect little downtown.
I could go on and on and on and on about all the art we saw. But that would be a bit boring, so I am going to highlight my three favorite pieces (in order of their awesomeness).
1. James Turrell’s Skyspace. A squat, stone building has seating in-the-round and a circle in the ceiling open to the sky. During the day it was a cool and serene place. But twice daily, sunrise and sunset, there is a light show around the done and circle in the ceiling. It is transformative. The colors and the experience were life-changing. I still don’t exactly understand how he made the center in the circle seem solid – but I do know that the experience will ever be in my memory. I think of sitting there in the very early hours of the morning and start to crave the experience. We went the last morning on our little trip and I am kicking myself that we didn’t go every time we could. GO SEE THE SKYSPACE!
2. White, Pink, Yellow, and Red Roses by George Cochran Lambdin. I came for the modern and contemporary, but this painting from 1877 captured my heart. I love paintings of flowers – and the roses on this painting are reality enhanced. The colors against the dark green are a mastery of color theory, and roses always make me feel nostalgic. I don’t know anything about this artist or his work. But learning about him and his work will be high on my list.
3. Reflections of the Woolworth Building by Richard Estes. Crystal Bridges has many opportunities for one to feel patriotic – full of American art, there are lots of chances to experience the joy of a diverse experience – full of unforgivable cruelty and mistakes but always striving to be more and better. This painting feels so “American” to me. And stirs pride in me – first, the skill is almost too much to take in (although one could argue that KC’s Richard Estes is superior). But the subject of the reflection of the Woolworth building in the car evoked a lot of what I was experiencing on this trip – the contradiction of enjoying the ease and commercialism of American Life for some of us that is built on the pain and sacrifice of most of us. Beauty, skill and guilt.
There were so. many. other. beautiful. things to be seen at Crystal Bridges. More pictures included without comment. I would love to comment, but I don’t want posts so long that you stop reading.