Over the holidays I had the good fortune of being able to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. If you're not familiar with the town, it's best known as the place where Walmart began and is still headquartered, and Crystal Bridges was founded in 2011 by Alice Walton, one of the heirs to the Walmart fortune.
The Moshe Safdie-designed building is stunning, with light-filled corridors and exhibition spaces that incorporate natural elements of the surrounding Ozark landscape. The museum's permanent collection includes work from American masters like Andrew Wyeth, Alexander Calder and Norman Rockwell ("Rosie the Riveter" has a place of pride in the entryway of one gallery). The exterior is one of my favorite parts of Crystal Bridges, too, with miles of gardens and trails for walking and biking (if you arrive at brunch/lunch time, visit The Hive at the 21C Hotel for a delicious Southern meal, then walk the Art Trail to the museum, through Compton Gardens and past sculptures by artists including Robert Indiana and Dan Ostermiller).
If you haven't visited now's the perfect time to go with the impressive State of the Art exhibition on display through the 19th. Crystal Bridges curators logged more than 100,000 miles crisscrossing the United States to visit over 1,000 contemporary artists to put together a comprehensive snapshot of the current state of American art. During their trip the curators also performed video interviews with the artists in their studios. I enjoyed being able to go back and watch the stories behind the creators of the pieces that stood out to me among the show that ultimately included work from over 100 artists. Check out the video below to find out more about how the exhibit was created.