My sister, Lucy with a mural painted on the side of a building in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. The mural celebrates the pioneers who settled in the rocky land in the far north of Arkansas.
Sam Walton’s original store on the town square in Bentonville, Arkansas which now traces the origin and growth of Wal-Mart.
Display case inside the Walton Museum reveals promotional items and slogans used by Wal-Mart. Yes we can was one such slogan. Uh oh, Barack.
Last weekend I was in Bentonville, Arkansas to attend my nephew, Kevin’s baseball tournament. In between games my sister and I took in the sights, shopped a little, found my great great grandparent’s gravesite in the Bentonville Cemetery and went to Crystal Bridges at the Massey, the fore-runner to Crystal Bridges, a museum of American Art which will open in 2010. The museum is the brain child of Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton and will be an amazing and wonderful repository of American art.
Sam and Helen Walton are buried in the same cemetery as were my great great grandparents in a small plot with simple headstones. Sam Walton created massive wealth through his capitalistic endeavors and according to my anecdotal evidence, Wal-Mart doesn’t seem to be suffering from the economic woes of this present day.
My husband and I were at Wal-Mart just last evening to buy a new microwave oven. The store was packed with people. Every cash register was open and there were lines at each one.
Bentonville, Arkansas was once just a little town, the entry to Arkansas from the north but now, it’s the center of the booming northwest area of Arkansas.
All of this growth came from the innovative mind of Sam Walton. Now that his daughter is endeavoring to create a cultural hub in small but wakeful Bentonville, big city art snobs are appalled, calling Alice Walton a hovering culture vulture.
As if great art was only meant to be viewed by urbanites.
I find it appropriate and wonderful news that our little corner of the world will be blessed with an art museum of such significance. My late great Aunt Imy, a wonderful artist, was instrumental along with her husband, my Uncle Eddie in establishing the War Eagle Art Fair and the Bella Vista Art and Crafts Festival as well as the clothesline art fair in Pea Ridge, Arkansas.
Naomi Ruth Ivy Mackey taught art in Rogers, Arkansas and was an inspiration and art mentor to me. The first time I ever had artwork in an exhibition I was fifteen and my art was exhibited in Bella Vista, thanks to my Aunt Imy. I’ve written about my aunt before in this post. If she were with us today she would definitely be involved in the development of Crystal Bridges. Crystal Bridges is named for the small lake that is nearby.
Bentonville and the northwest area of Arkansas have always been a bastion of art and artists. The entire town of Eureka Springs (not far from Bentonville) is on the National Register of Historic Places and is an active artist colony. Yes, there is a lot of country crafts and hillbilly art in Northwest Arkansas but there are also some excellent fine artists. I haven’t yet discovered any artist in Northwest Arkansas who has created a Madonna and Child out of elephant dung however. (Of course, there could be some in Little Rock.)
I will admit there are a lot of great artists in Little Rock. Check out Charlie Palmer.
Come to think of it, the urbanite snobs of New York and Philadelphia might want to get out of the gritty cities and come see the wealth of art that already exists in Northwest Arkansas and Bentonville in particular.
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
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