Saturday, April 28, 2018

Encounter: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges
As seen through Frederick Eversley's Big Red Lens

Remember those college textbooks you had to buy for English Lit 101?  They had titles like The Norton Anthology of American Literature.  In a small space, they packed a representative piece from each of the key figures in literature.  That's what the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is like—a little something from everyone.  Here you can find Thomas Sully, Edward Hopper, Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent, Charles Wilson Peale, Andy Warhol, Thomas Moran, Dale Chihuly, Thomas Eakins, Benjamin West, Gilbert Stuart, Jean-Michel Basquiat...well, the list goes on.

Thomas Moran's "Valley of the Catawissa in Autumn"

Artist's palette portraits by Joseph Decker

George Segal

More George Segal
Not my favorite Wayne Thiebaud.  I prefer his cakes.
Thiebaud's "Supine Woman"

Frank Lloyd Wright's Bachman-Wilson house
Frank Benson's "Summer Day"

Norman Rockwell's 'Rosie the Riveter"

As part of our springtime migration back east, Trina and I stopped in Bentonville, Arkansas—home of Sam Walton and Walmart—to see Alice Walton's museum.  Nestled in a beautifully-landscaped Ozark hillside and built atop a creek, it's smaller than I thought it would be.  But strangely, it seems to expand as you spend more time in it.  We took a full day and a half to wander its galleries, enjoying the fact that the guards would let us get as close as we wanted to view the art.  When I mentioned to one of them that I, as a painter, like to get close, he said:  “Alice says you can't appreciate art from six feet away.  When one of us asked how close to let people get, she said, 'If they touch the painting, that's too close.'”

The paintings, sculptures and installations aren't necessarily the most famous works by the artists.  In most cases, they are lesser-known pieces.  This, however, allowed us to discover something new about artists we thought we knew well.  We particularly enjoyed an early painting (1928) from Edward Hopper called “Blackwell's Island.”  It's not a stunning piece, but for some reason, we found in it a lot to talk about.

Edward Hopper and Me

Besides the art, there are miles of woodland trails to walk.  Dogwoods, redbud trees and wildflowers were popping out everywhere.  We had two days of hard-blue skies and cool temperatures to enjoy them.  We agreed that springtime is the best time to visit for the trails—but the museum itself is good anytime.

Now we are on our way to Indiana for our Brown County painting retreat.

Crystal Bridges, not through the Big Red Lens
Wise words from Buckminster Fuller

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