Crystal Bridges debuts The Momentary, Part I: Political Themes Anew

By Glenda Rice Collins       (Updated February 28, 2020)

Bentonville, Arkansas, USA — While a continuing celebration of community and diversity Lauren with artswirled around Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (CB) last weekend, as The Momentary, a new satellite museum venue for contemporary art debuted, –political themes loomed large within State of the Art 2020, the new venue’s inaugural exhibition, currently housed within both CB museum locations.  Time Being named the theme for diverse performances at the newly re-purposed Kraft cheese factory, located near the popular 8th Street Market food hub, hangout destination. The synergy now expands!

Bertels & news media

The Momentary director, Lieven Bertels, at back left, is shown welcoming the news media to the lobby of The Momentary, a contemporary visual and performing arts venue, at Grand Opening preview events last week. Photo by Glenda Rice Collins.

Political Themes Loom Large

Jighgtound by Amy Casey

Amy Casey, Highground  2019. Acrylic on clayboard panel. Courtesy: Private Collection, Dallas, TX and Zg Gallery, Chicago, IL Photo by Glenda Rice Collins.

Amy Casey‘s State of the Art 2020 Highground painting depicts detailed and whimsical city superstructures adrift at sea, with altered tree trunks intermingled, with no sense of direction, thereby expressing her own feelings in response to the 2016 US presidential election–“lost and confused.”

“My cities are shaped by: everyday observations; cause and effect; a non-linear narrative; composition, movement and color; sleep deprivation; and at times, a desire to see large groups work together towards a common goal– making something bigger than themselves individually,” explains Casey in her own words at amycaseypainting.com, though her Highground conjures the dis-ease of drifting, or sinking, into the unknown while being trapped.

All art is political,” proclaims a sign within the ongoing All Things Being Equal exhibition of impressively diverse works by Hank Willis Thomas, (continuing through  April 20, 2020) at Crystal Bridges museum, while therein, I’m reminded of Oklahoma City artist-photographer Eyakem Gulilat’s remarks during the innovative and massive CB 2015 State of the Art exhibition: “We cannot deny the politics in the clothing we wear… Can you imagine a politician without a suit and tie?” (See a related  January 4, 2015 article on this website at: https://glendaricecollins.com/2015/08/17/oklahoman-eyakem-gulilats-photography-featured-in-state-of-the-art-exhibition/.

2020: Tweet, tweet…Look Who’s Here Now

ITweet Tweet Look Who's Here... by Larry WalkerMG_2592

Larry Walker; Tweet, Tweet…Look Who’s Here…or Aliens, Wall Spirits and Other Manifestations; 2017; Acrylic and various materials on panels (diptych); 62 x 98 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Mason Fine Art Gallery. Photo by Glenda Rice Collins.

The distinguished Larry Walker (b. 1935), referred to in blackartinamerica.com as “one of Atlanta’s most treasured creative talents.” often works with mixed media collages representing existentialism and social injustice. His 2017 Tweet, Tweet… diptych raises questions about current US immigration policy, and who is allowed, or not, to enter the United States.

In conjunction with the 2015 State of the Art exhibition, Crystal Bridges set the bar high, during that time period, hosting “The Summit: Insights From a Changing America.” Speakers and panelists included President Bill Clinton, author Deepak Chopra and artist Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., whose site-specific work now graces an expansive, Crystal Bridges interior walkway wall. (See a related December 21, 2014 article on this website, at https://glendaricecollins.com/2015/08/16/exhibitions-in-oklahoma-arkansas-offer-glimpses-into-global-state-of-the-arts/. Evolution continues!

In his 2015 State of the Art related remarks, President Clinton emphasized, in CB video posted on its website, details about power in the arts to overcome the “negative sense of identity” that drives evil, globally, by “the ability to democratize the arts … making it available to more people …to develop their own talents (and) … find a way to celebrate diversity.”

You Belong Here neon

You Belong Here, a, site-specific neon sculpture by native Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan, crowns a Momentary wall.  Photo by Glenda Rice Collins.

 With its winning ongoing CB slogan made ever more visible in the recently-installed neon message by artist Tavares Strachan, that celebration of cultural diversity goals now continues with expanded space for manifestation at The Momentary:You Belong Here.”  

State of the Art 2020 continues through May 24, 2020

State of the ARt 2020 staff

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art staff members, executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer Rod Bigelow; deputy director Sandy Edwards; and curator Lauren Haynes welcome visitors to explore State of the Art 2020. Haynes is curator, contemporary art at Crystal Bridges museum and curator of visual arts at the Momentary.  Photo by Glenda Rice Collins

Themes of Diversity and Inclusion Prevail

The Fountain wallsized

Diego Rodriguez-Warner, The Fountain, 2019 (Detail). Latex paint, acrylic paint, spray paint, graphite, and hand-carved relief on panel. Courtesy of the artist. Image by Glenda Rice Collins.

By utilizing an amalgam of disparate images, pushing and pulling against each other, in his 2019 The Fountain, Colorado-based artist Diego Rodriguez-Warner has captured broad essences of diversity, by his techniques of “pushing at the edge of what should work,” and by exploring “the freedom of collage.” He incorporates references to works by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, Frenchman Henri Matisse, and 16th century engravings of witch burnings, to produce both beautiful and ominous historical references, which take on new life in emitting brilliant, layered energy to ponder.

Born in Managua, Nicaragua in 1986, Rodriguez-Warner had later opportunity to address “non-political” art in Cuba. His 2018 MCA Denver solo, museum exhibition title, Honestly Lying, would however suggest something in common with ongoing political “fake news” themes and outright, bold-faced lies about political issues.

According to Rodriguez-Warner’s YouTube video remarks, he likes to focus on “People, and how they interact” and “…the mental exercise of structuring…the disparate.”

State of the Art 2020 Video Highlight: Western Fronts and the Environment

Western Fronts cropped video image

Above and below images from: Rick Silva, Western Fronts, 2018, 4K Video. Duration 18:31, Courtesy of Rick Silva. Still images by Glenda Rice Collins.

Western Fronts video words

According to Rick Silva’s video details: “In 2017, President Donald Trump announced a massive reduction in the size of two previously protected national monuments in Utah,…home to many sacred indigenous sites…to oil, gas and uranium mining activities. This event prompted Silva to create a nature documentary exploring the fragility of the environment.”

Momentary News & Reviews

To read more about upcoming events at The Momentary, visit https://themomentary.org/calendar/.

And follow this blog for more detailed reviews about the Momentary Grand Opening, in Crystal Bridges debuts The Momentary: Part II, coming soon at https://glendaricecollins.com!

Credits: Banner photo, Diego Rodriguez-Warner. The Fountain, 2019 (Detail). Image by Glenda Rice Collins.

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