Archives for posts with tag: art

All the arts cause us to feel something, anything.  You can love it or hate it, but you do feel something when you hear music, read a poem or passage, or view a performance.  Visual art is all around us, whether in a museum or on the street.  A couple of weeks ago, I was in Bentonville, Arkansas, visiting Crystal Bridges Museum, an always fabulous place. Two of my friends said not to miss seeing 21C, a museum hotel in the old downtown area, so we went there for a late lunch.  We missed the lunch hours, but had a fabulous hamburger in the bar and got to experience what they were talking about.  I hear the rooms are terrific, too.

There are 3 of these hotels out there now, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Bentonville, with new ones planned in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. These hotels boast their own museums within the hotels, basically everywhere you look.  If the restaurants are all as great as the one in Bentonville, they are double winners.  My daughter and I walked around the outside and the lobby, enjoying or discussing everything we saw. Here are some examples, although I didn’t take photos of some of my favorites inside.  Those are for you to discover.

We first saw the basketball tower as we approached the museum.  One of these would keep my grandkids busy for hours.

DSC_0044The footed car outside reminded me of a Flintstones car.  Whatever, it made us laugh.




The bench by the front door was perfect for a hotel.  Loved the creativity of this one.



Inside, there were some incredible pieces to discover.  This one caught our eye, because how could you miss this huge chandelier hanging low in the corner.  Definitely a conversation piece.



These bodies inflated and deflated as you watched, making an eerie statement of some kind.  We interpreted it in different ways, but we didn’t ignore it.

DSC_0049There was an incredibly intricate drawing of a haunted dollhouse with details to keep you looking for more and more weird things while you marveled at the skill of the artist.  There were beautiful beaded items, and paintings and other sculptures scattered around the lobby and beyond. They even give tours each day.

One of the fun things about the hotels is that there are penguins all around, even on the outside of the building.  They use them as stanchions and for overall whimsy.  The hotel in Bentonville has green penguins, the one in Louisville has red penguins, and the one in Cincinnati has yellow penguins.  I love penguins, so this was just a fun bonus.  Who doesn’t love penguins.

DSC_0047If you’re near a 21C Museum Hotel, I suggest you stop in.  It’s worth the trip.  I’m planning to return to Bentonville for a girls’ weekend to see the rooms.  I want the whole 21C experience!

Happy Travels!




This was my second trip to Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. The first was in the fall and I promised myself to come back in the spring. If you are in the area ever, go there for a spectacular collection of American art and for the beautiful 3.5 miles of trails. I don’t need to say much about it…I’ll share some pictures.

First, there’s the art. I fell in love with this glass sculpture as I walked by…


There are so many treasures there. I love this little painting, “Haystacks,” by Martin Johnson Heade…


And this Mary Cassett…


And “Sun at the Wall” by Hans Hoffman…


So much American history through art…

I wanted to be at Crystal Bridges when the dogwoods and redbuds were still blooming. I was afraid I was too late, but it was a perfect day. It was sunny and then cloudy, but a beautiful day.





There were flowers blooming…




My time on the trails was shorter than I wanted, but you can see how refreshing it is to be even a few steps into this calming, ethereal, blessing of nature…





They even let you frame nature for your own work of art…



A beautiful place, a treasure for all America to see. Always free to the public, thanks to Alice Walton and the WalMart Foundation…



Next time, I promise to go back when I have the time to wander through all 3.5 miles of trails. And, visit the art along the way…

When I was growing up, my parents subscribed to lots of magazines, and I read all of them through and through. Many are gone today, but there was Look, Life, Readers Digest, Ladies Home Journal, Newsweek, McCall’s, men’s magazines, women’s magazines, kids’s magazines like Highlights for Children. One of our favorites was the Saturday Evening Post. The Norman Rockwell covers were something to look forward to, knowing they would be something we studied carefully for all the clever details. We were used to his work as an illustrator for ads for Colgate, Kellogg’s, and other companies, instantly recognizable.

In 1999, my son and I took a day trip to Mark Twain’s hometown, Hannibal, Missouri. We were fortunate to arrive during an exhibition of the original paintings for Norman Rockwell’s illustrations for Tom Sawyer. I remember they were large paintings and so much richer than the flat pictures we were so familiar with in our day to day life. They were amazing works and their beauty stayed with me.


Yesterday, I went to see the Norman Rockwell exhibition of over 50 of his paintings and 300+ of his Saturday Evening Post covers at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, AR. I’ve not a professional art critic, even though I studied art history in college and worked in an art museum for over 7 years, but I do know that Norman Rockwell is a great artist. As is typical for artists in their own era, his work was scoffed at in art circles as too sentimental, too idealistic, although I don’t see what’s wrong with that myself. There are many great artists who included humor and sentiment in their works throughout the ages. An artist in his own time, alas…

The gallery was packed yesterday, mostly with older people (and I have to include myself in that group, shockingly), but it was a Monday. I watched their faces as they listened to the audio guides, studied the paintings. There were tender smiles, chuckles, pensive thinking. The main thing is that everyone was relating to the paintings. What more can art do?

Here are some of my favorites and the reasons why…

This one just made me laugh. It was Rockwell’s take on the recent idea that small towns should use speed traps to raise revenue…


This one also made me laugh and smile and study the details…the grandmother in the back who never changed expressions, the tired parents, the kids in various stages. Who can’t make up a story with these images?


Saying Grace is so sweet that you are silent with them, you want to bow your head. Then you see the details in the curtains, the clothing, the grandmother’s rear sticking through the chair, the grandfather’s cane on the floor. Another story for us to all fill in the extra lines…


My love of Santa is well known and there were some lovely Santa portraits along with all the Christmas covers of the Post. This is still one of my favorites for all of us who keep believing even knowing the evidence…


A Day in the Life of a Girl is so fun, so sweet, with elements that all females will remember. The boy version wasn’t on display, but it’s just as great…


Rosie the Riveter is part of the museum’s collection and a whimsical look at the women who worked at home during World War II. This was a bonus after the travelling exhibition.


Besides the fun, sweet portraits of America as we were at times and would always like to be, there were powerful portraits of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and two of Rockwell’s most important works during the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibition had preliminary drawings and different drafts of his painting of 3 Civil Rights workers for a powerful, haunting, not-so-pretty picture of a moment in America’s history…


The iconic The Problem We All Live With was so beautiful in person. It was so familiar, such a powerful statement. But, the thing that struck me so strongly was the beauty of the painting, of the work itself. Norman Rockwell was a fabulous painter. His work is so real, so detailed, so skilled. The concrete wall behind the girl felt like real concrete, making me want to reach out and touch it. I didn’t of course – I know my museum manners. But, I’ve been up close to many of the world’s great paintings and these were as good as any I’ve seen. That’s to my untrained eye, but I do know what I’m looking at and it’s honest, thought-provoking, greatness.


Rockwell’s self portrait is so famous that you almost go by it, having seen it reproduced so many times. Looking at the details, I was taken with not only the cleverness, the originality, the self-deprecating humor, but also the skill. On his easel, he has small paintings, homages to some of the greatest painters, all painted beautifully. That’s not easy to do either.


I recommend that you find the closest place to see this exhibition or go to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts to see more. It’s such a treat for those of us who grew up loving him and for those just discovering his incredible legacy. I think that future critics will be kinder and hopefully, recognize his important place in art, American history, and the American heart. I understand his personal life was not always as rosy as his portraits of life, but that’s what being a human is all about. We thank him for the vision of our country that he shared to make us think, feel, smile and laugh, remember, care. There should be more geniuses with a sense of humor, shouldn’t there?…

One of my mother’s great passions was collecting antiques.  Growing up poor in the Great Depression fueled her enjoyment and appreciation of the things the rich people had, which is not to say she was a snob.  She never forgot what her life was like and helped so many people over the years, but she learned to appreciate the beauty, craftsmanship and history of beautiful pieces.  She taught me a lot when I was first married…mainly the fun of getting a bargain.  Or something that “gladdens your heart,” as she said.  Especially if that thing was a bargain to boot.  She loved estate sales, auctions, and antique stores and became friends with many of the owners.  For one thing, she loved the stories about the items, the history of the pieces.  She became quite a sophisticated buyer, bargainer and bidder through the years, ending up with some pretty gorgeous pieces.  I tended more towards English pieces and she liked the more formal French, but we were both pretty eclectic.  For her, getting the piece was part of the game.  Years later, when I had a retail store, she had a keen eye for what would sell and what was a keeper from the new items on the market.

I got my dining table, 6 chairs, and a matching buffet at an auction with her when I was about 22 years old.  I paid a whopping $150, which I had to borrow from her and pay back.  I was newly-wed and still in college and she had to store it at her house, using it for awhile, until I had a house for it.  Over the years, she often commented on how the set got prettier to her every year.  It was that bargain, I’m sure.  I’m not sure I would have even picked these items out, but they have served our family well over the past 40+ years as they served the families before us.  That was another thing she taught me – that antiques appreciate rather than depreciate.  Usually, that is.  It’s also recycling, although she didn’t mention that.



For the past two days, I worked at an estate sale. I spend more than I make, so it’s not a real job, but, it’s fun to see the things in the sale and all the people who come through.  Many observations came to mind.  First is that the majority of the people who come are about my age or older.  I’m guessing that it’s a combination of all the things that made my mother go to them.  It’s getting out of the house, running into friends, looking for bargains, seeing what you already have is worth, adding to a collection and finding a treasure you can’t live without.  There’s such a variety in an estate sale – everything in a house and based on the owner’s taste and what the family hasn’t taken out.  Dealers rush in first to scout for the really unique and see what they can come back to get at bargain prices on the last day…one dealer called himself the Buzzard because he swoops in at the end for the real bargains.

Such a shopping spree…where else are you going to find silver services and fine crystal,


replacement parts for your kitchen items, along with cookbooks that are out of print that you want to give someone,


pressed glass for your friend who collects it,


a miniature scuttle, which we decided was used for cigars, although we didn’t really know and loved it anyway,


lovely oil paintings at bargain prices,


unusual wicker pieces,


an old stamp collection, along with books,


old family photographs (this horrifies me),


and, my favorite, an antique iron.


The iron was a source of constant conversation as we saw how it heated up with flame and then had to be picked up with a cloth or potholder wrapped around the hot, hot handle.  On top of that, I could barely lift it.  Imagine trying to plop that down on a piece of clothing and move it over the area without scorching.  Wow!  We all had a greater appreciation of our light electric steam and spray irons and for the women who had to wrestle these monsters!

The comments I heard over and over were “omigod, my house looks like this.  I need to clean things out,” followed by “I have to have that,” and “my kids don’t want any of my things.”  Having cleaned out my mother’s home, after she had cleaned out a lot of it herself, I learned what she had already taught me when she cleaned out homes for relatives and friends.  You can’t imagine how much is in there until you have to touch every item in every drawer, shelf and closet.  On the other hand, cleaning out her things taught me a lot about her and brought back many memories.  It can be a healing thing.

On the comments about our kids not wanting our things, I have a few suggestions.  My mother left us with a list of the things in her house and where and  she got them, who the artist was, and what she paid for them – the provenance, so to speak.  It was invaluable.  It didn’t mean we had to love it like she did, but it kept us from selling it as a piece of junk in a garage sale.  I was working on a list like that for my kids, but it’s tedious.  My grandson is going to help me videotape everything, with me telling the story of the item so my family will know why it meant anything to me or if it’s valuable or not.  After that, I assume they will also treasure it or send it along to a proper new home, recycling it once again.

I don’t know what the newest generations will like or want, but I love the history of my old and new things.  I’m hoping that I live long enough to pass some down to my grandkids as they launch into their adult lives, as my mother did for my children.  The history of some of these items has passed through other families and is now part of my family’s history.  Except for those many things that will end up in my estate/garage sale one of these days.  Hope someone enjoys plowing through my treasures looking for a treasure of their own.  One of these days.  I’m not ready to part with my stuff yet…

Sometimes I feel like getting out of the city and driving around the countryside.  I get that from my mother.  And my father.  And my husband.

Yesterday was one of those days that I couldn’t sit inside and I’d already walked and it was probably the last day of fall color with the windy & rainy weekend predicted.  All the beautiful leaves will be in piles on the ground in a few days.  So, I took off looking for the hills of color.  I sat a a stop light deciding which way to go and headed east, towards Arkansas, navigating the horrible construction on I-244 to get to Hwy 412, one of the nicest drives anywhere.  At first I thought I’d missed the color, but then I hit the hills and all the colors shining in the glorious sunshine.  Looking at the map, I realized it wasn’t that much further to Bentonville and Crystal Bridges, so I headed that way.  I’d been wanting to do this anyway.

There is something about driving on a beautiful day that clears everything out of your head and floods your brain with fresh thoughts.  That’s easier now that I’m retired and don’t have to push all the work responsibilities aside in order to enjoy what I’m seeing.  Hwy 412 meanders around hills in a leisurely way, even on the turnpike route.

I had seen the pictures of Crystal Bridges, but it still doesn’t prepare you for the first view.  It’s in a neighborhood, a lovely neighborhood built up by the WalMart influence on the community.  It doesn’t have a big entrance and you could miss it if you weren’t looking for it.  You’re in town and in the woods at the same time on this 140 acre gift to the people.  On another note, after doing fundraising for a museum for the past 7 years, it’s a dream to start out with an $800 million endowment.  Admission is free, thanks to WalMart.

I’ll summarize my views quickly with photos, but you can get details at

Coming up to the main entrance, I was stunned by the silver tree, “Yield,” shining in the sun.  Incredibly mesmerizing…

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I was on the top level, so my first view of the museum was looking down and I wasn’t prepared for how beautifully it is situated in the location, down in the valley.  The building itself is a work of art that is appreciated from every angle.




Inside museum

The collection is a fabulous selection of American art from Revolutionary times through today.  I found works by many of my favorites and some new ones that I will be glad to revisit at any time.  You’re sure to love many, many pieces and find your own favorites.  Moran, Norman Rockwell, Mary Cassatt, Calder, Warhol, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Hart Benton, Bierstadt, John Singer Sargent, George Innes, Rothko, and so many others.





I loved the little reading rooms sprinkled in the galleries with stacks and shelves of books so you could sit down and read more as your curiosity made you want to learn more now!


The restaurant is lovely and bar area is beautiful and a nice place to take a rest.  The museum shop is a gem…spoken by someone who owned a gift shop and worked around a museum shop.


But, I was there to enjoy the fall day and took to the Rock Ledge Trail that wound above the museum and the lawn.  There are six trails for over 3 miles.  I didn’t get as far as I would have like because I was losing daylight to get home, but it is stunning.  I would walk there every day if I lived in the area.  You could do a different trail and see something new all the time.  I can’t wait to see it in the other seasons.  Lovely…




Cardinal in the woods


My favorite thing was the frame on the trail.  Isn’t this a simple, great idea?  I bet a million people have posed in that frame, but I love the scene itself.  You feel like you are a painter…or a real photographer…beautiful!




I didn’t get enough time for all I wanted to do, but I’ll be back many times for sure.  Thank you, Alice Walton!  What an incredible gift you have given for all to enjoy.