Arkansas’s Crystal Bridges Museum Just Opened a Sprawling Show About the State of American Art Today. Here’s What It Looks Like

Plus, take a first look inside the Momentary, Crystal Bridges's new outpost for cutting-edge contemporary art.

George Sanchez-Calderon's Americana at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Image: Ben Davis.
George Sanchez-Calderon's Americana at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Image: Ben Davis.

Over the weekend, the nation got a new contemporary art museum: The Momentary in Bentonville, Arkansas. Situated in a repurposed Kraft cheese factory, the new space is the latest outpost of the nearby Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The Momentary’s industrial-strength embrace of emerging art is intended to augment that nine-year-old institution’s focus on art-historical classics, which has made an unexpected cultural tourism destination of Bentonville, previously best known as the home of Walmart (heiress Alice Walton is the prime mover behind Crystal Bridges).

The Momentary kicks open its doors with “State of the Art,” the second edition of what is promised to be a once-every-five-years exhibition of American art focused on spotlighting contemporary art practice outside of traditional art centers such as New York and Los Angeles. Curated by Lauren Haynes—a transplant from the Studio Museum in Harlem—with Alejo Benedetti and Allison Glenn, the result is a 61-artist survey, shared between the cheese-factory chic of the Momentary’s new galleries and the bucolic luxury of Crystal Bridges. At the latter, curators have supplemented galleries dedicated to “State of the Art” with a few targeted interventions into the permanent collection, including a video projected within the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Bachman-Wilson House, which Crystal Bridges purchased and had rebuild on its grounds back in 2015.

There’s plenty to say, both about show and about the new space. While I’m figuring out what exactly that is, here is a taste of what “State of the Art” looks like.

 

The Momentary

The Momentary, Bentonville's newest museum.

The Momentary, Bentonville’s newest museum. Image: Ben Davis.

The first gallery of "State of the Art" at the Momentary. Image: Ben Davis.

The first gallery of “State of the Art” at the Momentary. Image: Ben Davis.

Works by Alex Chitty. Image: Ben Davis.

Works by Alex Chitty. Image: Ben Davis.

Jena Thomas's <em>Beautiful Dirty</em> and </em>In Search of Fun</em>. Image: Ben Davis.

Jena Thomas’s Beautiful Dirty and In Search of Fun. Image: Ben Davis.

Chele Isaac's video <em>Facilities Fully Functional</em>. Image: Ben Davis.

Visitors watch Chele Isaac’s video Facilities Fully Functional. Image: Ben Davis.

Enrico Riley's <em>Untitled: Resistance, Carrier of Music</em> (2019) and <em>Untitled: Midnight Our Dreams Move Forward</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Enrico Riley’s Untitled: Resistance, Carrier of Music (2019) and Untitled: Midnight Our Dreams Move Forward (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Diego Rodriguez-Warner, <em>The Fountain</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Diego Rodriguez-Warner, The Fountain (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Paul Stephen Benjamin, <em>Summer Breeze</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Paul Stephen Benjamin, Summer Breeze (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Jill Downen, <em>Three Dimensional Sketchbook</em> (2013-present). Image: Ben Davis.

A guide shows guests how to interact with Jill Downen, Three Dimensional Sketchbook (2013-present). Image: Ben Davis.

Kellie Romany, <em>In an Effort to Be Held</em> (2016-2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Visitors interact with Kellie Romany, In an Effort to Be Held (2016-2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Jody Kuehner, <em>DITCH</em> (2019-2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Jody Kuehner, DITCH (2019-2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Eddie R. Aparicio, <em>De Colon a Dolor</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Eddie R. Aparicio, De Colon a Dolor (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Peter Everett, <em>Vermillion Screen</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Peter Everett, Vermillion Screen (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Kris Pierce, <em>Free Food</em>. Image: Ben Davis.

Kris Pierce, Free Food (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Karen Seapker, <em>Tent Mama</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Karen Seapker, Tent Mama (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Works by Anthony Sonnenberg. Image: Ben Davis.

Works by Anthony Sonnenberg. Image: Ben Davis.

Anthony Romero, Matthew Joynt, and Josh Rios, <em>Not Peaceable and Quiet (Piñata Sound System)</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Anthony Romero, Matthew Joynt, and Josh Rios, Not Peaceable and Quiet (Piñata Sound System) (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Hong Hong, <em>Composition for Gravity in the Void</em> (2015-present). Image: Ben Davis.

Hong Hong, Composition for Gravity in the Void (2015-present). Image: Ben Davis.

Suchirta Mattai, <em>Exodus</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Suchirta Mattai, Exodus (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Didier William, <em>Ou ap tonbe, men m ap kanbe ou</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Didier William, Ou ap tonbe, men m ap kanbe ou (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Jordan Seaberry, <em> Blueberry (The Right to Self)</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Jordan Seaberry, Blueberry (The Right to Self) (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Frances Bagley, <em>Shangri-La</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Frances Bagley, Shangri-La (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Edra Soto, <em>Open 24 Hours</em> (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Edra Soto, Open 24 Hours (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Nicolas Lobo, <em>Silhouette of a Friend</em> (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Nicolas Lobo, Silhouette of a Friend (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Alice Pixley Young, <em>Geist, Lighthouse and Transmissions</em> (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Alice Pixley Young, Geist, Lighthouse and Transmissions (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Joanna Keane Lopez, <em>A dance of us (un baile de nosotros)</em> (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Joanna Keane Lopez, A dance of us (un baile de nosotros) (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

 

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Image: Ben Davis.

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art. Image: Ben Davis.

Mari Hernandez, <em>Colonizer</em> (2017) inserted into the main collection of Crystal Bridges. Image: Ben Davis.

Mari Hernandez, Colonizer (2017) inserted into the main collection of Crystal Bridges. Image: Ben Davis.

David Harper, <em>She Drank the Water that was Meant for the Orchids</em> (2019), inserted into the Crystal Bridges collection. Image: Ben Davis.

David Harper, She Drank the Water that was Meant for the Orchids (2019), inserted into the Crystal Bridges collection. Image: Ben Davis.

George Sanchez-Calderon's <em>Americana</em>, as viewed from inside Crystal Bridges. Image: Ben Davis.

George Sanchez-Calderon’s Americana, as viewed from inside Crystal Bridges. Image: Ben Davis.

JooYoung Choi, <em>Time for You and Joy to Get Acquainted</em> (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

JooYoung Choi, Time for You and Joy to Get Acquainted (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Carla Edwards, <em>Bonfire</em> (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Carla Edwards, Bonfire (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Damien Stamer, <em>Horry County 6</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Damien Stamer, Horry County 6 (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

 

Jiha Moon, <em>Yellowave</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Jiha Moon, Yellowave (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Tim Portlock, <em>Escape</em> (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Tim Portlock, Escape (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Janelle Esparza, <em>Dancer In An Unconscious Rhythm I</em> (2018) and multiple works by Kate Marie Budd. Image: Ben Davis.

Janelle Esparza, Dancer In An Unconscious Rhythm I (2018) and multiple works by Kate Marie Budd. Image: Ben Davis.

Works by Kate Marie Budd. Image: Ben Davis.

Works by Kate Marie Budd. Image: Ben Davis.

Mae Arthur, <em>The Guardeners</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Mae Arthur, The Guardeners (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Rick Silva, <em>Western Fronts</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Rick Silva, Western Fronts (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Cory Imig, <em>Linear Spaces</em> (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Cory Imig, Linear Spaces (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Joey Fauerso, <em>Devotion Story</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Joey Fauerso, Devotion Story (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Sama Alshaibi, <em>The Cessation</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Sama Alshaibi, The Cessation (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Stacy Lynn Wadell, <em>Untitled (Two Girls and Love)</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Stacy Lynn Waddell, Untitled (Two Girls and Love) (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Stacy Lynn Waddell, <em>Untitled (Dot and Leon 1972)</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Stacy Lynn Waddell, Untitled (Dot and Leon 1972) (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Elisa Harkins, <em>Wampum</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Elisa Harkins, Wampum (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Marcela Pardo Ariza, <em>Linda Lee and Dorsey Louis (1988, 2018)</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Marcela Pardo Ariza, Linda Lee and Dorsey Louis (1988, 2018) (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Hannah McBloom, <em> Woodpile</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Hannah McBloom, Woodpile (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Photos by L. Kasimu Harris. Image: Ben Davis.

Photos by L. Kasimu Harris. Image: Ben Davis.

Photos by Frank Blazquez. Image: Ben Davis.

Photos by Frank Blazquez. Image: Ben Davis.

Ronald Jackson, <em>In a Day She Became The Master of Her House</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Ronald Jackson, In a Day She Became The Master of Her House (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Cristina Molina, <em>Matrilineal Portrait: From the Matriarchs Series</em> (2016-2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Cristina Molina, Matrilineal Portrait: From the Matriarchs Series (2016-2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Mari Hernandez, <em>Los Hermanos</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Mari Hernandez, Los Hermanos (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Alex Bradley Cohen, <em>Keon and Kamau</em>. Image: Ben Davis.

Alex Bradley Cohen, Keon and Kamau. Image: Ben Davis.

Scott Hocking, <em>Arkansas Traveler</em> (2019-2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Scott Hocking, Arkansas Traveler (2019-2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Installation view of "State of the Art" at Crystal Bridges.

Installation view of one of the galleries of “State of the Art” at Crystal Bridges.

Jova Lynne, <em>Beautiful Sun, Sea, Beaches, Flowers and Hotels from Visions of Paradise</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Jova Lynne, Beautiful Sun, Sea, Beaches, Flowers and Hotels from Visions of Paradise (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Su Su, <em>Darwin</em> (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Su Su, Darwin (2018). Image: Ben Davis.

Lori Kella, <em>Slip into the Fog and Vanish (Painter Turtle)</em> (2019) and <em>Euclid's Mirror</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Lori Kella, Slip into the Fog and Vanish (Painter Turtle) (2019) and Euclid’s Mirror (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Francisco Souto, <em>Long Food Line</em> (2016). Image: Ben Davis.

Francisco Souto, Long Food Line (2016). Image: Ben Davis.

Art Miller, <em>AT&T Cellular Tower First Church of the Nazarene Springdale, Arkansas</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Art Miller, AT&T Cellular Tower First Church of the Nazarene Springdale, Arkansas (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Amy Casey, <em>Highground</em> (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Amy Casey, Highground (2019). Image: Ben Davis.

Various works by Letitia Huckaby (all 2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Various works by Letitia Huckaby (all 2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Larry Walker, <em>Tweet, Tweet... Look Who's Here... or Aliens, Wall Spirits and Other Manifestations</em> (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Larry Walker, Tweet, Tweet… Look Who’s Here… or Aliens, Wall Spirits and Other Manifestations (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Tabitha Nikolai, <em>Ineffable Glossolalia</em> (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

The terminal for Tabitha Nikolai’s videogame Ineffable Glossolalia (2017). Image: Ben Davis.

Paul Stephen Benjamin, <em>Daily Meditations</em> (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Paul Stephen Benjamin, Daily Meditations (2020). Image: Ben Davis.

Domingo Castillo, <em>Tropical Malaise: Prologue</em> (2016), as installed in Frank Lloyd Wright's Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges. Image: Ben Davis.

Domingo Castillo, Tropical Malaise: Prologue (2016), as installed in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges. Image: Ben Davis.


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