Over Easter weekend, we took Jonah on his very first road-trip. We drove up to Northwest Arkansas to visit some family, and included a stop at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The museum in Bentonville has now been open nearly five years, and it is a great place to visit. There was even a photography show going on: "The Open Road," which has pictures from 19 photographers that were taken on road trips across the US from the 1950s to today. I assume that they didn't have time to notice any of my shots from our road trip to Arizona last year, and that's why none of them were included (sorry about that, guys!). Crystal Bridges has also recently acquired and reconstructed a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but all of the tour times were already booked for that day so we couldn't see it.
It was Jonah's first visit to an art museum, although he slept through most of it.
This next shot actually shows a sculpture, and just wasn't me being creepy and taking pictures of an old man on a bench. The piece is actually called "Man on Bench," and was made in 1977 by Duane Hanson.
This next shot is of a piece of art that I admit that I don't really get (granted, I'm not a huge fan of most "conceptual" art). This is Untitled, by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. It is about 50 pounds of cellophane wrapped green candy, laid out on the floor of the gallery. Crystal Bridges purchased this for the cool price of $7.6 million dollars.
The story behind the piece, according to Crystal Bridges, is that the artist sought to "address critical issues in the United States during the 1980s and ‘90s, such as the AIDS crisis, individual social responsibility, and the divide between the public and private spheres. The artist asked the public to take responsibility, to become a part of the work: this is art you can touch, take, and taste. Like many of Gonzalez-Torres’s works, its open-endedness incorporates the viewer’s interaction, both physical and conceptual, to make meaning. In its spirit of generosity, this acquisition particularly dovetails with Crystal Bridges’ mission to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit. And, because “Untitled” (L.A.) is a major work by one of the most important and influential Latino artists of the 20th century, it helps us tell an expanded story of American art."
I'm sure the reason for the purchase may have been more about getting a comical and whimsical addition to the museum, something that people will talk about and share with friends. Which has mostly worked, although most of the reactions I've seen are just people saying "can you believe they spent $7 million on a pile of candy?" I'm not one to tell people how to spend their money, but those funds could have been spent purchasing many more pieces of art from all sorts of artists. Or at least, maybe get some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups instead.