Friday, November 12, 2021

forgive me this is long.

Last night I went to a 10th anniversary celebration and talk at Crystal Bridges Museum held by Alice Walton, museum founder, Rod Bigelow, museum director and Moshe Safdie, architect. Only original members of the museum were invited. The event reminded me of having met Alice Walton and the original museum director Bob Workman years ago just as construction of the museum had been launched. 

I was exhibiting my work at a craft show in downtown Bentonville. I was set up with my work in a building owned by friends Tom and Becky McCoy and Alice came by to see my work. Tom and Becky being neighbors and friends with Alice made a point of introducing us. I asked her whether she planned to have crafts in her museum of fine American art, and I suggested the work of John Townsend, Newport, RI cabinet maker that renown art critic Robert Hughes had called the very finest American Art ever produced.

Alice, having witnessed the chain sawing and bulldozing required in the preparation of the museum site asked me, noting that I was a woodworker, what they should do with the trees that had been cut. Her museum director and I were left to exchange contact information and we met in the following weeks. I connected them with a sawyer to begin milling the logs and gave instructions as to how they should be sawn to be of use to the museum and to be treasured in their use.

Being of some small use to the project gave me the opportunity to tour the site during construction. Later I received a delivery of walnut lumber to use in building a bench for the museum commemorating the roles of Sam Walton and Dr. Neal Compton in preserving the Buffalo River as a national park. Much of the land upon which the museum was built had belonged to Dr. Compton before his death. That bench is shown in the image attached.

When the museum was preparing to celebrate its first anniversary, I was asked to use some of the wood harvested from the site to make boxes for each of the museum’s original staff members. When Alice Walton saw the boxes I’d made for first year staff she asked that I also make boxes for each of their first year’s volunteers. That was one of the larger commissions of my career as a woodworker, the making of 870 wooden boxes, each from wood harvested on the Crystal Bridges museum site.

Last night was a very special night in which Alice Walton described plans for the museum’s future, as it involves crafts. With the generosity of Robyn and John Horn, the Hutchinson family and the Windgate Foundation, a major expansion of the museum is planned with a focus on crafts. Alice described crafts as the art of the people and told how she was strongly influenced in her own collecting by Eureka Springs and a small pottery here, which is of course the Spring St. Pottery in downtown Eureka Springs, founded by Gary Eagan, who was also a long-time supporter of the Clear Spring School.

All in all, it was a very pleasant night.

Make, fix and create…

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