Monday, April 15, 2013

Days 8-9, Bentonville and then back to E-ville

Day 8:  Bentonville, April 13

FOTD: The Fayetteville Swampdogs are a collegiate summer baseball team playing in the Coastal Plain League (Bentonville appears to be professional team-less).

Pics:  THB’s fave; FitCtr figure and equipment; CB bike; 21C art on the wall; original Walmart; co-leaders and friend on the bus; chapel by E. Fay Jones; a guy boosting a car in the chapel parking lot; the never-sighted AK state bird; Doug Stowe boxes; lunch spot; George Stemos sculpture; Prom

Weather:  Glorious, with just a hint of rain

FitCtr, granola and yogurt for DB, eggs, grits, sausage and scone for THB (half of grits and sausage left on the plate). Joining the group are two locals, one of whom is the daughter of the man who sold Sam Walton the 40 acres that eventually became Crystal Bridges and initiated a nursery in the 50s to try and save native plants that has become the Compton Gardens, adjacent to CB.

Our first stop is a well-known chapel, Thorncrown, about 30 minutes from Bentonville (see pics). Well worth a detour, it is stunning: much glass in a pretty setting on the side of a hill with trees surrounding the property.

From there, we visit several local artists in around the extremely touristy town of Eureka Springs, with lunch in between visits at Local Flavors Café: fish tacos, iced tea and a small slice of chocolate decadence for THB.

The last visit of the day is at another local artist, George Dombek, who has both a water color and a sculpture on display at CB.

Tonight is the going away dinner at Hive, the restaurant in 21C Museum Hotel. THB has pea soup, ribeye with crunchy potatoes and salty kale, parsnip cake with cream cheese ice cream (cake unfinished, ice cream just tasted), Malbec and a specialty drink. The tradition at these meals is to pick one piece seen on the trip to “take home” and normally THB jumps for some well-known and expensive artist that will never end up in E-ville. Tonight he makes one obvious choice (the statue of George Brett in deep centerfield at Kauffman Park…JUST KIDDING, DB!) and goes for an obscure work by Allison Shulnik, seen in the JCCC (make up your own acronym here) Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art that nobody in the group even remembers seeing: skeletons chasing each other through lush and a broadly pastiche meadow.

 Day 9:  Bentonville to E-ville, April 13

FOTD:  The Oakland Oaks were a minor league baseball team. After the 1912 season, the Oaks opened their new stadium, named Oakland Ball Park (or simply Oaks Park) though it was located in the neighboring city of Emeryville at San Pablo and Park Avenues. In their first season at Oaks Park the Acorns finished last, and were mired in the second division for more than a decade.

Pics:  None?

Weather:  Of course, since we’re heading home, this is the best day of the trip! Clear, low 60s, light breeze.

THB and DB get up early, dress warm, and head off to walk the art path around CB. Damn, it is lovely out, take off those sweaters. Very pleasant 45 minute up and down walk. Breakfast of yogurt and granola for both of us, coffee and biscuit for DB, toast for THB (saved to go with leftover ribeye donated by fellow diners last night for lunch on airplane).

Easy shuttle to the Northwest AK Regional Airport, two hours do Denver, reasonable layover, a bit of a delay caused by SFO runway maintenance, 3 hours to SFO, and a sort taxi ride to the loft.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Days 7: KC to Bentonville, Bentonville

Day 7:  Kansas City to Bentonville, April 12

FOTD: The "Royals" name originates from the American Royal, a livestock show, horse show, and rodeo held annually in Kansas City since 1899.

Pics:  Crystal Bridges including shots of our co-leaders, Evans and DB, the 21C Museum Hotel and art collection; Turrell skyscape

Weather:  NO Rain! Clear! Sun! in the high 50s

Short FitCtr, long wait for cereal, 3.5 hrs in the bus to Bentonville and arrival at Crystal Bridges Museum, designed by Moshe Safdie (he also did the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, which we just visited).

The museum is notable for its architecture, primarily four interlocking buildings surrounding a small lake with the dining area forming one side of the square over a dam that allows water to flow from one portion of the lake down to another. The museum focuses on American art, and flows from one end of the dining area through the three other buildings to the other end of the dining room. It opened on 11/11/11 and has been a huge success, bringing well over a million people to a relatively obscure part of Arkansas (well, not obscure if you know that Bentonville is the headquarters of Walmart and the museum’s benefactor is Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton.

Lunch in Eleven, the museum restaurant (see opening date) and THB has shrimp and grits (very good), iced tea and cookie, then a tour of the museum, where art is arranged in oldest to most recent. The featured exhibition is Norman Rockwell, almost everybody is using the guide (i-touches) except THB, who, not enamored at all by Rockwell, speed walks the exhibit and rests up outside on a patio beside the lake in the interior of the main buildings (see pic of our co-leaders also resting up).

We’re staying at the 21C Museum Hotel, a few minutes walk from the museum (though a 10 minute drive to circle around to downtown Bentonville). It’s full of contemporary art from the last decade, and fascinating. We get a mini-tour, the current exhibition is “hybrid” so there are many mash-ups and things that look like one thing and are made of another; excellent!

We are going to see another James Turrell skyscape around sunset; it is a short walk to the piece (a small stone building), set between the hotel and the main part of Crystal Bridges, so we have an early dinner in the bar of the hotel: burger and fries for DB and Evans, “butcher” plate for DB (very good), wine and beer, $90.

The Turrell is his standard hole in the ceiling and led light show with one significant improvement: the “bench” is heated!! Time to retrofit all those other installations worldwide. THB and DB have seen quite a few, including sleeping in a Turrell house in Japan.