Sunday, March 11, 2012

Yielding to Crystal Bridges Art Museum . . .

Yield (2011)

Last January 8th (2012), I posted an entry on the new art museum that opened in Northwestern Arkansas, Crystal Bridges, which lies nestled in a valley of the Ozarks and offers a "re-imagining of the broader story of American art that is especially impressive," according to Kelly Klaasmeyer, whose words I didn't cite in that previous entry because I hadn't read them yet since they were only recently published, on March 5 (2012). Those words of praise come as the concluding sentence of an early paragraph in Klaasmeyer's article, "Crystal Bridges, Part II: American Stories" (Glasstire, March 5th, 2012):
I assumed I'd like Crystal Bridges, but I wasn't prepared to be so impressed or to feel so enthusiastic about it. With all the hype about Wal-Mart as the source of founder Alice Walton's wealth, I think some people initially expected some sort of "red state" patriotic museum of American art. And with its location in the Arkansas Ozarks, I think they also feared a certain conservative agenda might run through the collection. (It had crossed my mind as well.) That is far from the case, however. The museum's setting is gorgeous and it's acquired some impressive works, but it is Crystal Bridges' re-imagining of the broader story of American art that is especially impressive.

A political agenda, whether rightwing or left, would inevitably have distorted that story, so the avoidance of either danger is a good omen, and I'm delighted to hear that the museum is so fine. Interestingly, though, Klaasmeyer had initially disliked "Roxy Paine's stainless steel tree, Yield, [which] is out front, bending against an imaginary wind," or more precisely, she "hadn't been that taken with it in photos," but when she saw it "in person [she realized that] its stark, shimmering drama works surprisingly well against the surrounding woods." Perhaps she saw the wrong photos initially, for I liked it immediately upon seeing the photo above, supplied by Klaasmeyer herself (I assume).

The writer has a series of articles on the museum, though only the first two have been published as of now (March 10, 2012). Part I can be read online here: "Crystal Bridges: Don Bacigalupi, Art, Arkansas, Populism and Wal Mart." Klaasmeyer is rather hard on Arkansas culture and politics, so be forewarned, but since she's native, I reckon it's allowable. She also subjects Wal-Mart to harsh criticism, in case anyone is interested in knowing that point before reading her articles. She makes some indisputable points, I have to admit, even though I'm not hostile to Wal-Mart.

Anyway, for those intrigued by the concept of a great art museum situated in the Arkansas Ozarks, Klaasmeyer supplies some excellent photographs enabling one to see the realization of that concept.

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At 5:01 PM, Blogger dhr said...

Roxy Paine's stainless steel tree

fascinating, and - in a time of crisis - less expensive than the Golden Bough.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I bow before your silver-tongued wit.

More prosaically . . . the stainless steel tree reminds me of photos from the Ozark ice storm of three years ago.

Jeffery Hodges

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