The Art Scene: Bentonville
BY ASHIA SHELTON
“Bentonville is sophisticated, fun, and innovative.- Kalene Griffith, President and CEO of Visit Bentonville
At Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas, the architectural steel structure immediately catches the attention of a person walking by. The elevator leads to the first floor where the gallery resides. As of June 2019 the art museum holds renowned artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Kara Walker, and Alfredo Ramos Martínez.
Kerry James Marshall
Kerry James Marshall’s “Our Town” emmerses the walls from left to right at Crystal Bridges. This piece was created in 1995 with acrylic and collage on canvas; “Our Town” stretches eight feet high and eleven feet long. In this piece Marshall depicts black children along a street road who are surrounded by greenery and houses. He establishes a strong sense of identity of black people, this is what he calls “Blackness in its extreme.” Also, he challenges the viewer to see in more than one perspective. From one perspective the establishment of black life and black ownership can be seen. When digging deeper, an element of suppression scratches the surface, giving a view of the black experience.
When seeing Kara Walker’s wool of tapestry, a silhouette of a hanging black woman appears in the foreground. Kara Walker establishes the present day of racism and then provides an outlook of racism from the past. In the piece, "A Warm Summer Night in 1863" Kara Walker represents the recent deaths of African Americans. Walker draws the disturbing history of lynching in relation to imagery of rioters burning an orphan asylum.
Alfredo Ramos Martínez
The Colors of Alfredo Ramos Martínez's, Florida Mexicana bounces off the canvas. Martínez depicts a Mexican woman holding a bowl of fruit. Florida Mexicana was painted in 1936, after Martínez immigrated to California. Also, this piece was created in the midst of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Martínez brings a sense of peace, allowing the painting to speak for itself.
For Kalene Griffith, CEO of Visit Bentonville, the experience at Crystal Bridges is “entertaining, diverse, and has a warm welcoming environment.”
The tour of the museum was lead by Raven Cook, an educator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Cook lead great conversations about representation in art, and how artists of color can create an impact. Also, she lead an insight on racism and suppression and the inequality among America's people.
MURALS IN BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS
Bold and colorful murals grace the walls of Bentonville. When arriving at 8th Street Market, you find artistic gems in hidden corners. Griffith describes the city as an “opportunity for all ages.
”Anyone who sees Bentonville's murals are attracted like a magnet; art leads a discussion for all ages,” she said.