American Made, Playing Hookie (Part Two)

On Tuesday, I started telling you about the day I spent in Bentonville, Arkansas, playing hookie to see the “American Made” exhibit at Crystal Bridges. I showed you quilts and several other objects I enjoyed seeing. If you need to get caught up, go ahead and hop back to read about that. I’ll wait for you right here.

You’ve now seen some of the pieces I enjoyed in “American Made,” but I really enjoyed walking through all of the galleries. Today I am sharing a few things from the museum’s permanent collection (including the quilt made by Faith Ringgold for Maya Angelou), and my search for good coffee. Of course I was looking for coffee!

Every time I go to any museum, I find it interesting to see what particularly draws me that day. Sometimes it is the same pieces I’ve seen other days, we all have our favorites, right? But other times it’ll be something entirely different. This last time I visited, I especially enjoyed having time to take in “Anne Page,” but there were several other things too:

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Anne Page, Dennis Miller Bunker, 1887. This painting is always striking but I got to spend quite a bit of time with her this last time I visited.


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Closeup of Anne Page

There is also a plaster head entitled “Annie Page, by Augustus St. Gaudens in the museum’s collection. You can see a photo of it here.

There was a piece that is new to the museum’s collections too, a graphite, pen, and ink drawing by Charles White. I was fortunate to spend several minutes taking it in. I find it very touching.

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Mary, Don’t You Weep, Charles White, 1956. A new acquisiton for the museum.


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Such emotion


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I find it so interesting to get up close to work like this and try to understand what the artist did.

Another piece I hadn’t seen before was Dorothea Tanning’s work, “The Truth About Comets.” I was not familiar with her name at all, but there is some interesting stuff here. Although it is not listed on her site, Ms. Tanning died in 2012.

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The Truth About Comets, Dorothea Tanning, 1945 (first time on view!)

The painting below fascinated me. It is so very precise and depicts a lonely winter landscape. I heard several people saying they found it sad, but I don’t necessarily agree.

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Daylight at Russell’s Corners, George Copeland Ault, 1944


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Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of the whole thing because I was focusing on Audubon’s technique here. The colors glowed. You can see a photo of the whole thing here


Since my phone battery then died, as phone batteries do, you will have to take my word for it that I finally got to see Faith Ringgold’s quilt, “Maya’s Quilt of Life,” made for Maya Angelou. It was commissioned by Oprah Winfrey and hung in Angelou’s home from 1989 until her death in 2014. The museum purchased it last summer for $461,000. The photo below is courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

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Maya’s Quilt of Life, by Faith Ringgold, 1989. Acrylic on canvas and painted, dyed and pieced fabrics, 73×73 inches. Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

While the items I’m showing you today are not part of “American Made,” they are no less American-made art. Crystal Bridges houses 500 years of art that celebrates the American spirit. It is a much-needed museum in this part of the world.

It was wonderful to get to wander with no constraints on my time and nobody to keep up with. It’s not that I’m antisocial, mind you, but sometimes it’s good just to be able to stop and look without distractions. There were quite a few people there, but I only came across one or two who were loud. That’s pretty good, don’t you think?

Since it’s been so hot out, I did not take time to walk any of the trails around the museum, that’s for another day. Crystal Bridges sits on 120 acres and boasts eight trails, from short and easy (1/4 mile, moderate slope) to short and moderate (1-1/2 miles, moderate slope). Yes, all short and easy but lovely just the same. But since the heat index was over 100 degrees F, I was definitely grateful for the air conditioning inside.

When I left the museum, I headed for downtown Bentonville, around the old town square. This is a fun part of town with lots of shops and restaurants. It’s also the home of The WalMart Museum and the five-and-dime store Sam Walton opened in 1951 which was, of course, the beginning of the WalMart empire. Speaking of American-made! While I don’t believe today’s WalMart is really much like what it started out as, I do believe that Sam Walton represented the American success story.

But I digress. I was in search of coffee. Yes, as always. I went to Onyx Coffee Lab #3, and from the moment I walked in the door, I knew it wasn’t a typical coffee shop. The decor is tough to describe, it’s sort of an edgy-retro vibe, with coffee as the obvious focus. This article by Zac Cadwalader gives a good feel for what it’s like. I just wanted coffee, iced, in a hurry. What I ended up with was a Nitro cold brew. “Nitro,” really? Yes, really. And cold, but no ice.

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Hot weather, great art, air-conditioning, and iced coffee. It made for a perfect day! Want to come along the next time I play hookie?

American Made, Playing Hookie (Part One)

Last week I played hookie from my life for a day to go see “American Made: Treasures from the American Folk Art,” an exhibit that will run until 19 September at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas. I’ve written before about Crystal Bridges and what a treasure it is for us in the Midwest. Bentonville is only about an hour’s drive for me, so it’s easily doable.

It was such a treat to see quilts that I have seen for years only in print or on the Internet. I also happened on a fun new coffee shop, but first, I have pictures to show you. I’ll come back on Thursday with some more photos. There were just too many for one day! As you look through, click on any of the photos to enlarge. They are camera phone pics, so some are not quite as clear as could be, but I think you’ll be able to get a good look nonetheless.

“American Made” as an exhibit provides some good representative pieces in a variety of media. The promotional materials describe it as follows: “America has always been a nation of makers. The things we make tell the story of who we are. American Made: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum features 115+ objects—including quilts, carvings, signs, samplers, weathervanes, whirligigs and more—hand made by Americans when our nation was young.”



Lest you think I’m not capable of appreciating other types of needlework or even other art forms, here are some other objects from the exhibit that I especially enjoyed:


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Come back on Thursday for more about my day spent goofing off. I’ll give you a hint: it includes the Maya Angelou quilt and great coffee.

See you then!