One of the great things about Walmart being based in Bentonville, Arkansas is that the Walton family has contributed so much to the culture of the city. Perhaps the crowning jewel is Crystal Bridges Art Museum, which (thanks to Walmart) is absolutely free to visit (although special exhibits may charge an entrance fee).
Read on to see my three favorite things at this museum.
Plexus No. 27 (1973)
This beautiful piece by Gabriel Dawe floats overhead as you take a stairwell up or down to the next level. Unless you look up, you’d completely miss it. And that would be a damn shame because it turned out to be my favorite piece in the whole museum. I want a house someday where I can display something like this, or an Alexander Calder mobile.
Even with the lights shining through it, it’s still a beautiful piece of art. Amazing what this artist did with just colored thread and steel hooks and imagination. I would guess he produced some fairly interesting early attempts trying to realize his vision. In the end, he got it so right.
The explanation for this piece says “Dawe’s approach reminds us that each viewpoint derives from a unique set of circumstances and our shared challenge is to be open to multiple points of view.”
Never a better time to thing about that than the world in 2022.
Dress Impression with Wrinkled Cowl, 2007
This glass sculpture by Karen LaMonte is simply breathtaking. I saw two of her pieces several years ago at the Corning Museum of Glass and was captivated by her work. To find another piece here as I moved between galleries was such a wonderful surprise. That’s kind of what I like about museums, you just never know what you’ll find and what moments of delight you’ll experience when you step through their doors.
This piece is outside a gallery, in a sitting area that has big windows and natural light. Even on the overcast and sometimes rainy day of my visit, the glass still glowed as if lit by an interior fire.
Holy Grail, 2016
The most unexpected find, and one that was just gorgeous in its natural state, was this massive quartz cluster, found in 2016 in Blue Springs, Arkansas. The display notes that this may be the “single greatest quartz cluster found in America.”
So there you have it, my three favorite things from my visit to Crystal Bridges. When was the last time you went to a museum? Maybe it’s time…
Museums are wormholes to other worlds. They are ecstasy machines. Follow your eyes to wherever they lead you…and the world should begin to change for you.