June 15, 2021

ART IN THE OZARKS

It’s always fun to find art in unexpected places!  The 21c Hotels combine contemporary art and hospitality beautifully.  The founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson opened the first one in 2006 as part of a plan to revitalize downtown Louisville.  On a summer trip to Kentucky, I spent several happy hours strolling through the always open to the public art on display inside and outside the hotel. By 2017, downtown Nashville added its own 21c Hotel—and I enjoyed several art exhibits and events there as well as meals at its Gray and Dudley restaurant.

This photo is Betsy with one of the trademark penguins at the 21c Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas.  We took a four-day road trip in July, 2018, stopping by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock and then making our way to Crystal Bridges.  This is the home turf of the Sam Walton family and where Walmart began.  Although I’m not a Walmart fan generally, I greatly appreciate what Sam’s daughter Alice Walton has done for art and for Arkansas by creating Crystal Bridges.  The museum, permanent collections galleries all have free admission for visitors.  

When we went, the temporary exhibit was art by Georgia O’Keefe!  When Fisk University in Nashville was in serious financial straits, Crystal Bridges worked out a complicated arrangement in which they paid Fisk $30 million for 50-50 ownership of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art.  These works are on exhibit at Crystal Bridges for two years, then back to Fisk for two years.  We enjoyed seeing them in Arkansas along with the O’Keefe paintings.

Nestled in the Ozark woods near Eureka Springs was this gorgeous Thorncrown chapel—with over 6,000 square feet of glass. A similar one in the area was the Mildred B. Cooper chapel. The architectural features, the openness and the magnificent trees were impressive—truly art.

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