I went to see more pretty things. You may have noticed in my post about the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, I like art. Well, maybe it was in my posts about art shows that you figured that out, or maybe you just discovered that I lack self-control when it comes to art. I would like to say that I restrained my art buying impulses…but that would be a lie. In the museum shop, I found a beautiful signed and numbered print that made me thing of my grandparents. There was not option. This was a necessary addition to my growing collection. However, that was my sole purchase on this trip. I may be getting better…or just have less money because I keep buying art.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is nestled in a ravine on 120 acres of land in Bentonville, Arkansas. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Ozarks, visitors can explore more than 3 miles of walking trails surrounding the museum. Both the trails and the building are designed to take advantage of the natural flora. This trip, we didn’t have time to walk the trails, but during the building’s construction, I had the chance to walk through the winding trails, filled with dappled sunlight and head to the overlook where you can see the entire facility.
The juxtaposition of natural and man-made beauty is gorgeous. Architect Moshe Safdie’s design looks like it is embraced by the surrounding landscape, and utilizes the natural spring in the area. Crystal Spring, from which the museum gets its name, fills the area around Crystal Bridges with sparkling spring water. With pine beams, poured concrete, and red cedar trim, the building is as much a work of art as the masterpieces it contains. The curved copper roofs of the glass, metal and concrete bridges suggest waves to me, and integrate the spring water wonderfully.
Conceived and founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Crystal Bridges is as moving inside as it is outside. The museum isn’t just a pretty building filled with art, it is also a center of learning. Inside you’ll find a library filled with comfortable chairs and books. The temptation to sit and read near a window with a view out over the water was nearly overwhelming, but I refrained. (see, I don’t follow all my impulses) The museum offers year-round educational opportunities for all ages. Some of their offerings include lectures, workshops, films, gallery talks, and special events. There’s even an app, and great content on their iTunes U site.
Even though this was my third or fourth trip to the museum, Alice Walton’s collection is augmented by visiting collections on a regular basis, and there is always something new to see among the favorites I found last time. The museum contains American Art from colonial to modern art.In the first six months, the museum drew more than 300,000 visitors.
This visit we were there to see the The Artist’s Eye: Georgia O’Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Collection on loan from Fisk University. Georgia O’Keeffe is a long time favorite artist, and I will always jump at the opportunity to see any of her work on display. I’ve even had the opportunity to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fé New Mexico, and prints of her work has graced my walls for…well, let’s not think about how long it’s been there. However, I was not as familiar with her husband, Alfred Steiglitz’s work and collection.
An artist in his own right, Steiglitz’s photographs inspired me. He pioneered new ways of taking photographs as seen in images such as “Steerage”, and brought to mind summer days spent daydreaming with “Equivalent”. Although, I like to take pictures (these days mostly on my smartphone), I really loved learning about the different methods he used, and how they impacted the tone and mood of his photographs.
Stieglitz was also well-known for his galleries and collection of art. The paintings in his collection were just lovely. I discovered new artists and found familiar names next to new paintings. Stanton Macdonald Wright (seen left) and Marsden Hartley were two of my favorites from his collection. Although picking favorites in art (as everywhere else) isn’t something I do well.
I also loved the watercolor collection, At First Sight: Collecting the American Watercolor, that will be on display until April 21st, 2014. My best friend asked me if I could imagine owning all of those paintings. Of course, I can imagine it! What I can’t imagine is how much it would take to accumulate all of those beautiful works of art or how big my house would have to be to display them all.
I made sure that I was able to visit favorites from previous visits too. And I discovered that Crystal Bridges’s restaurant offers dinners from museum members on certain evenings….yes, please and thank you. I would love to see this place lit up at night.
The permanent collection at Crystal Bridges is amazing on its own, and admission is sponsored by Wal-Mart. Although, there is sometimes a cost for the special collections. The visiting exhibits and changing seasons on the trails make it a unique adventure every time.
‘Til next time,