Monday, December 12, 2011

Where to start... at the beginning

Well, I'm back - and what a whirlwind tour.
We packed a lot into two days, so sit back because I have pictures!

Actually, it will probably take me longer than two days to 'show and tell' - so if 'art' isn't your thing...come back later! (Although I'll bet I can get you to change your mind!)

A friend and I headed to Bentonville, Arkansas - a small town in the Northwest part of a neighboring state ... better known as the home of Wal-Mart.

(I'm not going to get bogged down here by the politics or practices of that corporation and its impact on its employees and many rural, small town stores around our country. I will simply state that I try to avoid shopping at all 'big box' stores, including Big W, preferring to shop independently and locally.)

Here's where it all started...

the original store, which is now part museum about the founder, Sam Walton, and part 'old 5 & 10' is a total delight.

For those of us 'of a certain age', it also brought back many memories!

How differently things could have turned out if the whole 'bigger is better concept' wasn't so deeply rooted in the American psyche.

I appreciate though that without Sam Walton's success through supplying inexpensive goods to vast numbers of people and the subsequent family legacy of wealth married to his daughters love of both art and this small part of the country, this latest art museum would never have come into existence.

This very unpretentious edifice, deceptively simple, is almost dwarfed by a silver sculpture in a turnaround at the front of the building.

Also deceptively simple and, especially this time of year, blending almost imperceptibly into the surrounding environment.

Then the surprise...

counterintuitively, you descend three levels to the entrance.

The museum is a series of connected buildings, designed by architect, Moshe Safdie, beautifully set into the 'holler' of a typical Ozark mountainside.

The museum site is actually the backyard of the former Walton estate; forest and creeks in which his children explored and played when they were growing up. They used to cut through this area on their way to public school.

This 120+ acre site now houses not only spectacular paintings and interior installations but has been enhanced with pedestrian/bicycle trails and outdoor sculptures running along spring fed creeks occurring
naturally in this area.

You could spend as much time walking the trails as you do inside - and, while this is the bleakest time of year, the foliage in the fall and spring would be amazing!
If you've never experienced an Ozark spring you should; the beauty can take your breath away.

Sorry I don't have more outside pictures, the only thing taking our breath away outside on the day we were there was the winter wind! We did our looking from the inside out!

Work was still being done on the drainage system (the museum only officially opened on 11-11-11). Spring waters are an integral part of the site/building design and will actually flow under them...with the cooper and glass buildings being the 'bridges' going over the Crystal Spring...hence the museum name "Crystal Bridges".

(where you now see white rock will all be under water)

The creek will be allowed to flow again next week - and, while I'm sorry to have missed the whole visual integration of the design concept, it's the perfect excuse for a return visit in a few months!

"Access to, and stewardship of, our natural environment is a key element of Crystal Bridges mission and informs the institutions overall philosophy - that art and nature are both vital to our human spirit and should be accessible to all."
Museum brochure.
Who can argue with that?

Before moving on (tomorrow) to the actual art itself, let me just say that people watching in a museum is always an amusing component of the experience -

and how is it that some of the best food is found in museums??

NOT that I'm complaining... just stating the obvious...

Did I mention the gift shop?

Purchases were made.

Trust me... we spent WAAYY more than this!

Funny thing is, while I did get a few gifts for other folks, the only thing I bought myself that day was a Christmas Tree ornament (like I need one more of those!!)... but it seemed to sum things up.

OK, so I let a little politics slip in here... that's just how I roll!

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