While Kito and I were in Arkansas for Christmas, we paid a visit to the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. It contains numerous works--from the colonial era to the present--acquired by Walmart heiress Alice Walton, who evidently really likes 19th century landscape paintings. Those are nice and all, but I preferred the portraits by John Singleton Copley and Thomas Eakins and a sexy boxer painted by Marsden Hartley and a luminous moon by Arthur Dove and Richard Caton Woodville's 1848 War News from Mexico. And I'm delighted that they're all in northwest Arkansas.
The security guards were a bit overzealous for my taste, though. As in every art museum on earth, they're retirees and members of racial minorities. At Crystal Bridges, they enforce a strict 3-foot perimeter around every piece of art in the building, which presents a challenge for we myopic gallery-goers. I kept getting chided for leaning in too close. One guy even reprimanded me for brushing against a wall that had no discernible art affixed to it--not so much as a single Dan Flavin fluorescent tube. "Please don't touch any wall," he said, "even if it doesn't have art." I got the feeling that the museum's ideal guest would be one wearing a hazmat suit.
Which is not to say the guards aren't helpful and informative. I heard one man stationed near Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter repeatedly tell passersby that Rosie's muscular body was inspired by a painting done by "Michael d'Angelo."
I assume he's a relative of Beverly's.