Friday, June 17, 2011

High art for the heartland (even if the venue isn't technically "rural")

I wrote about six weeks ago of an LA Times piece that characterized Bentonville, Arkansas, soon to be home to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, as "rural." Indeed, I fairly ridiculed the unidentified LA Times writer for that characterization , explaining how Bentonville can hardly be rural when it sits amidst a major metropolitan area.

Now the New York Times is writing about Crystal Bridges and Alice Walton, its benefactor. Here's an excerpt, heavy on quotes from Ms. Walton. The quotes take up the issue of "place," with some emphasis on the "heartland" versus the coasts, but with no mention of the "r" word.

“I never would have thought of collecting anything but American, truly,” she said. “This is the heartland of the country. It’s what should be here.”

Ms. Walton acknowledged that in the beginning it was not always easy dealing with members of the East Coast art establishment. “A lot of people there don’t really know this part of the world, really don’t know the people here and the desire and the need for art,” she said. “But once they come and see what’s here and what we have, their attitudes will change.”

Still, she is realistic enough to know that a world-class museum can’t be created overnight, or even over a decade. “We want to share; we want to borrow; we want to loan; we want to have really active partnerships with museums worldwide.”
Elsewhere in the story Ms. Walton, age 61 and the youngest child of the late Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, is quoted:
For years I’ve been thinking about what we could do as a family that could really make a difference in this part of the world .... I thought this is something we desperately need, and what a difference it would have made were it here when I was growing up.

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