Crystal Bridges mixes things up in 10th year

Exhibit features local, iconic pieces

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is shown in this April 7, 2021, file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is shown in this April 7, 2021, file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Opportunities for area residents to contribute to and even participate in a new exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art cast iconic works in a new and often unexpected light, its curators said in a virtual media preview Friday.

"Crystal Bridges at 10," which opens Sunday, celebrates the museum's 10th anniversary by featuring audience favorites such as Andy Warhol's portrait of Dolly Parton and Norman Rockwell's famous "Rosie the Riveter."

But these pieces from the museum's permanent collection are juxtaposed with works by Northwest Arkansas residents, curators Mindy Besaw and Lauren Haynes said.

Besaw is the museum's curator of American art and director of fellowships and research. Haynes, formerly director of artist initiatives and curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges and its ancillary site, the Momentary, was recently appointed senior curator of contemporary art at Duke University's Nasher Museum.

Crystal Bridges has added 2,200 square feet to its Temporary Exhibition Gallery for a total of 10,000 square feet. Besaw said "Crystal Bridges at 10" uses the entire space for the first time.

Haynes said she and Besaw used both the popular works as well as lesser-known pieces to anchor 10 smaller themed exhibitions that include contributions by local artists and community members.

Some of these exhibitions even let visitors interact with the art in ways that give it a unique and dynamic dimension.

One uses gaming technology and virtual reality software to transform Francis Guy's 1820 painting "Winter Scene in Brooklyn" into a digital environment that visitors can "step into."

The University of Arkansas' Tesseract Center for Immersive Environments and Game Design worked with Crystal Bridges on that exhibition.

Another is based on Maxfield Parrish's 1908 painting "The Lantern Bearers," which portrays people in black and white clown costumes on a staircase and holding lighted Japanese-style lanterns.

Besides the painting itself, the display features a life-size stage set with lighted orbs. Visitors can strike a pose on the stage, creating a tableau vivant, or living picture, that is projected onto a large screen. Information about the painting and the history of tableaux vivants will be posted nearby.

Northwest Arkansas schoolchildren got involved in an exhibition called Seeing Oneself, in which self-portraits from the museum's collection are accompanied by 24 self-portraits made by K-12 students.

In addition, a monitor digitally displays more than 500 self-portraits submitted by students from across the country.

"We hope visitors will be excited to interact with the artworks and artists," Haynes said, "whether 'stepping into' 'Winter Scene in Brooklyn,' seeing Dyani White Hawk's curated gallery of works or stopping to watch artist Ziba Rajabi create a new work of art."

"Crystal Bridges at 10" will be on view through Sept. 27.

Timed tickets to the exhibition cost $12. However, admission is free for museum members, participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, veterans and visitors 18 and younger.

Lectures, workshops and other events will complement the exhibition. The full calendar of programs is posted at

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