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Crystal Bridges…“Here We Come”

We headed from the Clarksdale, MS area to the next state on the Tour: Arkansas. The drive there was really serene BUT sometimes when they say that “There’s no there, there”, they ain’t kidding. Notice all the attractions and amenities listed on that highway exit sign.

We motored on to the next stop of Bella Vista (BV) Arkansas. Before checking into our Airbnb digs, where we would be staying for two nights, we stopped for a “healthy snack” at the nearby historic BV Golf Course Pub. We justified our choice of Bloody Marys and a boatload of fried pickles by telling ourselves we were getting our daily recommended allowance of fruit (tomato juice) and vegetables (pickles). Worked for us!

Our accommodations for the next few days were right around the corner, and what a terrific place it was. With a scenic lake view from the deck, the condo offered a beautiful, peaceful setting (even had a friendly red fox or two) and was outfitted with every amenity a tired traveler could possibly want. Here’s a link to the place in case you go to this area.

After unpacking our bags, we headed out to the famous Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Park. The Museum was founded by Alice Walton (yup - one of the Walmart Waltons) and admission is free. Do you know that expression “A picture is worth a thousand words”? In this case, there aren’t enough words! The buildings, art, and grounds (120 acres in the Ozark woods) are spectacular. We were greeted at the front entrance by this massive polished stainless steel tree called Yield. It reflects the surrounding landscape and is beautiful in its simplicity and starkness.

The Glass Museum consists of a series of pavilions made of glass and wood built around spring-fed ponds and forests. The buildings are made of concrete and their shapes blend in with the bedrock and curved hillside that surround the museum. The arched ceilings with wooden beams and the bowed glass walls create a space that is just as beautiful as the art it displays. The glass “hallways” leading to the various pavilions play up the connection between architecture, art, and nature.

Walking trails lead you to amazing water features, sculptures, and even huge boulders packed with crystals formed over millions of years. Rorie was mesmerized by the sheer volume of these crystals which are among the largest and clearest in the world.

For those museum-goers who are self-absorbed egoists, the Narcissus Garden is the perfect place to admire their own beauty. Made of almost 1800 mirrored spheres floating in a pond, one can gaze at their reflection for hours while pretending to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding them.

Not feeling like being social? Then take a cue from this George Segal sculpture called Three People on Four Benches. The lack of interaction between the figures is the artist's subtle commentary on the loneliness of modern life. It makes you want to sit down and give them a big hug.

Love is in the air and Bart is definitely a man after my own heart!

The Bachman-Wilson house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1954, was completely dismantled and moved from NJ to the museum where it was painstakingly reconstructed.

Although the front of the house has no windows, the back is a huge wall of glass overlooking landscaped grounds and woods. The house looks like it always belonged here.

Now for the amazing (and in some cases, weird) displays inside the museum. As we know, what a person considers to be art, another might consider trashy kitsch. Bet you can’t guess what this sculpture is about. Would you believe it’s a creamsicle with a bite taken out of it? Art connoisseurs that we are…we were sure it was a brain or a colon. What do you think?

The art here is an interesting collection of some very cool contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, and drawings. Bart (look closely) is currently on loan to the museum as a classic example of the “Modern American Male Species”.

This wooden sculpture of Pinocchio was created by the artist as the prototype for a 30-foot-tall bronze sculpture commissioned by the town of Boras, Sweden. No lie!

This beautiful disk called The Big Red Lens looks like it’s made of glass but is actually polyester. Looking through it provides a distorted view of the outside world. Not always a bad thing to look through rose-colored glasses.

Smoker #9 is over seven feet wide and is a famous pop art piece based on the trails of smoke from the lips of anonymous women who modeled for the artist. Kitschy but cute.

We both agreed that this spectacular place reminded us of some of the stellar art galleries in Washington, DC and the lush grounds were reminiscent of the Duke Gardens in Durham, NC. It was without a doubt one of our favorite “discoveries” on this trip.

The iconic small town of Eureka Springs, AR is the Tour’s destination. We hope you’ll be able to join us.

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