We spent the day in Bentonville checking out Crystal Bridges’ new Chihuly installation.
1. This has to be said upfront: Chihuly looks like Mad-Eye Moody. No judgment, but it’s worth mentioning.
2. Austin spent the whole time holding the baby and looking for a painting he claimed resembled Delaney. Since Austin was holding the baby, it meant I was pushing around an empty stroller which both gave me a start every time I looked at it and caused confusion among and lost me the goodwill of passersby. We found the painting and he and Garrett agree it looks like Delaney, but I think it looks more like Rose Byrne.
3. Exhibit attendants constantly took away my water cups (even empty and with a lid, from their restaurant) and bottles, even when I offered to put it in my bag beneath the stroller. Exhibit to exhibit we were divested of the means to stay hydrated on a hot day, and by the time we reached the outdoor Chihuly section we were thirsty and footsore and sought out the restroom, since water fountains are traditionally nearby. Not so! This section is not completed, and the bathroom facility as yet is limited to portapotties. Luckily, bottled water and canned soda were available at $2 each at a sanctioned food truck.
4. Apart from taking our water, the attendants were friendly. One even broke with decorum to yell up and down the exhibit hall that a deer was visible outside on the grounds. The deer was sprinting in jerky movements, not sure which direction to take in a valley beyond our glass walls. It was an odd moment–a woman standing beneath a Chihuly chandelier bellowing in an art gallery, a deer panicking against a serene backdrop, and dozens of visitors, alerted by the attendant, pressed up against the glass taking pictures.
5. The Chihuly exhibit was worth visiting. The tickets were $20 each and we had a time slot but ended up going in twenty minutes early unintentionally. The information presented on Chihuly claims he was hooked on glass-blowing from the time he blew his first bubble. His technique and style differ from other glass artisans in that he doesn’t fight but rather embraces natural influences such as gravity. After he lost an eye in a car accident he gave up actively making glass and instead now directs a team of artists.
6. Chihuly in the Forest was even better, and this exhibit, as I understand it, is available for a longer time this summer than the indoor exhibit. Saturday nights it lights up for added effect. As we strolled paths with hundreds of other people, taking in surprising clusters of bright glass flutes, it seemed just two things were on everyone’s mind: what about if it hails, and what kind of grass is that. The hail is a real concern with the weather we have had lately, and might have again next week. I imagine both the museum and the artist (or whomever now owns the art) have insurance, but also that Chihuly’s own philosophy of art would accept damage dealt by nature rather than rail against it. As for the grass, there were actually two types, one from sod in open stretches and one from seed around trees and against the walking path and installations. Seed mats had been used in places with good results, and Austin broke into an impromptu infomercial for seed mats.
7. Speaking of grass, there was an installation of a weedy yard with mushrooms and dandelions and crabgrass (“Bad Lawn” by Roxy Paine). It was making a point of viewing so-called “weeds” for their own benefit, a viewpoint I’ve heard before and to which I can be sensitive, even though Garrett and I like eradicating weeds. Garrett said it looked like our neighbor’s lawn. He told me the other day a coworker asked him if we drive around our neighborhood spying on the lawns and he told her yes, which sounds like just a joke but then I realized I tell him when our neighbors mow and report on the type of mower and the mow job. We get a kick out of lawn maintenance… in Bentonville near Austin’s apartment, we drove by a guy mowing his small side yard. An hour later when we passed that way again, he was still there mowing the same tiny space! A few houses down a woman was tackling an overgrown yard with a pair of shears. Looked tough.
8. We ate lunch at the on-site dining hall Eleven. I had chicken tenders (easy to eat while holding a baby) and Austin and Garrett had the special, a chili cheese dog. Austin took over holding Nenive (and then didn’t give her back or put her down, the end) and she stared at his plate while he ate, finally losing patience and grabbing a handful of chili cheese dog for herself. It was pretty cute, and also a brilliant moment of clarity that La Leche League, American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Sears all say to look for to indicate when it’s time to introduce foods to the baby.