Day 5: Artkansas

I know from family legend that I lived in Arkansas when I was a baby. My young father got involved with a uranium mining outfit that never really amounted to much. They lasted 6 months before the south drove them home. (See this post for more about that.) So technically this is not my first visit to the state.

But in effect, it is. We started yesterday, rolling across the eastern part of the state which looked like endless muddy, flooded fields. I learned today, dining with a southeastern Arkansas rice farmer named Elmer that they build up the field edges and flood them on purpose, and so when the rivers spill their banks its all good. Yep, there are alligators, Elmer told me.

We rose up in elevation at around Little Rock and climbed into the foothills of Aux Arcs, more commonly spelled Ozarks. the landscape is reminiscent of northern Penn/southern tier New York state, and is indeed a deeply eroded plain as opposed to a proper mountain range. The flora is quite wonderful. swaths of wildflowers cultivated and volunteer line the highways, one favorite being this long deep red clover.

Up we climbed through valleys and vistas to the far NW corner of the state, where a chain of small cities run together into a substantial metro area. We drove through Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and finally Bentonville. Home of Walmart and the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.visitor-center-front-2011_129826467430169589

We rolled into town and satisfied our need to visit a Super Center. (see vid below) Then, sweatshop clothing in hand, we went in search of the fabled Museum. Be sure to go to the Flickr (right) and look at all the amazing photos of that place. The architecture is AMAZING, the buildings nestle into the landscape like they’ve always been there, despite how original and contemporary they are. trails and gardens surround the place and we, and Tango, enjoyed those as much as the collection.

Josephine offers a Museum Review :

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville Arkansas

My biggest takeaway from our visit to this astonishing museum complex is the building itself. Designed by Israeli/Canadian/American architect Moshe Safdie , the museum opened in 2011 with a lot of fanfare, especially focusing on the museum’s patron, Alice Walton, daughter of Sam, and heiress to a multi-billion dollar Walmart fortune.

The building has everything that warms my heart and satisfies my soul. An intelligent and balanced relationship with the natural surroundings of water and wooded hills. Outwardly slanted glass walls bringing the natural setting into the interior spaces. Dramatic verticals that counterpoint the bowed and curved roofs of the several pavilions. A beautifully choreographed dance! This museum is designed to be seen! From many perspectives — inside and out, above and below — there are new delights. And yet the gallery spaces are quietly straightforward, not trying to grab attention away from the paintings and sculpture. A different philosophy than the two Franks: Wright and Gehry.

We took a break somewhere between the 19th and 20th centuries to walk with my dog Tango through the beautifully designed woodland trails that circle the museum. Tango, by the way, is a most excellent travel companion, zoned out in the back seat when we’re on the road, or patiently waiting our return when we’re out and about.

Josephine’s First Walmart Experience:

3 thoughts on “Day 5: Artkansas”

  1. Wow, Patrise….it’s so much fun traveling with you vicariously…. we will be leaving for England soon, and I am hoping to get at LEAST a few photos on fb….May2-15…techy that I am!

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