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story.lead_photo.caption Spencer Finch’s Back to Kansas is keyed to The Wizard of Oz as part of the “Color Field” show at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo by Marcia Schnedler, special to the Democrat-Gazette

BENTONVILLE — Helping Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to stand out among its world-class peers are the outdoor pleasures that complement the indoor treasures.

That's more the case this month with the opening of "Color Field," a summer exhibition of large sculptures mostly scattered along part of the museum's paved and dogwood-shaded North Forest Trail. This art is eye-catching without any background knowledge, but the booklet provided as part of the admission price can enrich appreciation.

Visitors learn that the works are "inspired by a mid-20th-century style called color field painting, as well as Arkansas sunsets, the dynamic color of late fall Ozark leaves, muted soft hues, rich vibrant tones" and other factors. The exhibit "is a testament to the enduring fascination we have with color in our environment."

One work changes appearance each day as sunset approaches. Created in 2015 by Spencer Finch, Back to Kansas is a rectangular grid of 70 squares that the artist colored as a salute to The Wizard of Oz.

The booklet prints a miniature version of Finch's art, with the iconic movie's inspiration for each panel's hue duly labeled — from "Witch's crystal ball" in the upper left to "Swirl on return to Kansas" in the lower right.

As daylight fades in the evening, "the artist welcomes you to watch the colors of the 70 squares on the billboard gradually appear to turn gray. This experience relates to the end of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy returns to her black-and-white home in Kansas from her Technicolor adventure fantasy."

Sam Falls’ Untitled (Wind Chimes) invites visitors to make music in the “Color Field” exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo by Marcia Schnedler, special to the Democrat-Gazette
Sam Falls’ Untitled (Wind Chimes) invites visitors to make music in the “Color Field” exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo by Marcia Schnedler, special to the Democrat-Gazette

Sam Falls' Untitled (Wind Chimes) invites viewers "to make music with this sculpture by gently pushing the enamel-coated aluminum chimes toward the center clapper. Both color — created from various reflections of light — and sound travel by different types of waves and are based on vibrations."

Other outdoor pieces in "Color Field" are by Sarah Braman, Jeffie Brewer, Jessica Stockholder, Odili Donald Odita, Amanda Ross-Ho and TYPOE (a Miami artist's pseudonym).

Braman's Here deals with the interplay of light, shadow and color through circular glass windows. Brewer's half-dozen whimsical works play with shapes as varied as a giraffe and a kitten. Stockholder's Angled Tangle evokes multiple triangles created from found materials.

Odita's Negative Space mingles colors of national flags. Ross-Ho's The Character and Shape of Illuminated Things shows how changes in lighting can alter impressions. TYPOE displays five building blocks in Forms From Life as a stimulus for imagining how to build a personal world.

Visitors disinclined to stroll the moderately sloping North Forest Trail can view works by two other artists in the "Color Trail" exhibition, which continues through Sept. 30. Arranged in the museum's Main Courtyard are four untitled sculptures by Assaf Evron. Mounted in the Contemporary Art Gallery are five works by Claire Helen Ashley described as "soft sculpture."

The North Forest Trail is the longest of Crystal Bridges' seven marked outdoor walking routes, five of them also open to bicycles. Some take visitors past other sculptures, most notably the Art Trail and the North Lawn Trail. A highlight of the Tulip Tree Trail is a scaled-down mock-up of the museum's striking roof structure by architect Moshe Safdie

Nature is the focus of other paths. Rock Ledge Trail, reserved for pedestrians, features large expanses of serviceberry trees and wild hydrangeas. Crystal Spring Trail, also only for walking, leads to a ridge with an overlook for expansive views of the museum and its 120-acre park. Orchard Trail passes through an evergreen forest with several pine-tree species as well as Eastern red cedars.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Monday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday.

Admission to the permanent galleries is free. A combination ticket for "Color Field" and the indoor "Nature's Nation" show of environmentally related art is $16 for visitors 19 and older. Admission to the temporary shows is free to museum members and to visitors 18 or younger.

For more information, visit or call (479) 418-5700.

Style on 06/18/2019

Print Headline: ARKANSAS SIGHTSEEING: Crystal Bridges has several pathways, trails to art


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