About five years ago Alice Walton decided to build a museum. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that much money at your disposal that you can start a museum? As the daughter of Sam Walton, she can do just about anything she wants that merely requires millions of dollars.
The good news for the rest of us is that museum is free. Sure, you can spend money at the restaurant or in the gift shop or toss in a donation, but all they ask is for your zip code. Sweet!
Anyway, Crystal Bridges is architecturally interesting, built as it is over Crystal Springs in Bentonville, Arkansas (north of Fayetteville). Its collection is American art from colonial times to the present. So a lot of North American history is left out, but it is not completely ignored. It’s a small enough collection that one day is sufficient for exploration. We spent 4-5 hours there; some people get in and out in an hour, though that seems mighty limited.
The guided tour we joined pointed out 10 different paintings (or sets of paintings) and sculpture depicting strong women. Some of these women were the subjects and some were the artists. It was interesting to notice the change in style over various periods. The iconic Rosie the Riveter, brawny and tough, contrasted with another propaganda painting of a smaller woman who was doing lathe work at a steel mill during the same period. The message was that even ordinary women could do this kind of patriotic work while so many men were at war.
After the Civil War, women artists became more visible and we haven’t looked back!
The museum is on beautiful parkland on which sculptures invite perusal along with lovely flora and fauna. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon or a day!
Back from a month of travel and books!
My last blogs placed me in Brevard and Asheville, NC, visiting friends. Beautiful people, beautiful forests, waterfalls, and cool air. On Sunday morning of our visit, Jon and I walked about 4 blocks to the Unitarian Universalist church in Brevard. It’s called Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County, a very descriptive name (trans + sylvania = through a wooded land).
In May of 1999 Jon and I made a more distant journey to Transylvania, formerly part of Hungary and now part of Romania. Many of the people are historically Unitarian. They experienced a great deal of persecution for their religion and language. The irony is that the Unitarian King John Sigismund issued an Edict of Religious Toleration in 1568 – “The Edict of Torda (or Turda), also known as the Patent of Toleration (Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience), was an attempt by King John II Sigismund of Hungary to guarantee religious freedom in his realm. Specifically, it broadened previous grants (to Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists) to include the Unitarian Church, and allowed toleration (not legal guarantees) for other faiths” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Toleration)
Public schools do not teach Hungarian and no Hungarian is allowed in the public square on signs or in speech. Therefore the Unitarian churches keep Hungarian culture and language alive. Their motto, counter to Trinitarianism, is very simple: “God Is One.” In Hungarian it’s spelled Egy Az Isten and pronounced Edge Oz Eeshten. That simple yet profound declaration is posted over every church gate and in the sanctuary.
Our host in the city of Brassó (“Brasov” in Romanian) was the Rev. Sándor Máthé and his wife Sindike. They live next door to the magnificent church in a parsonage from which we could go directly down to the church in a driving rainstorm. Twelve children participated in catechism and Confirmation that day (11 boys and 1 girl!) and received as adult members in the faith. [Fun fact: they used Jon's pen to sign the Membership Book.] The Unitarian Church in Eastern Europe is far different from this country’s. Its depths of history and tradition are inspirational.
A memory trip indeed! I’ll get back to my intended topic by and by . . . Happy Independence Day, wherever you live!
On the road from Brevard, NC, Jon and I drove about 30 miles and stopped again for a visit. Our friend Janelle moved to Asheville about a year ago and has been busily remodeling a lovely home in a historic district.
The city is much bigger than Brevard and has some bigger city problems like a lot of intersecting highways with signage that works perfectly if you already know which lane you should occupy!
Janelle lives within walking distance of downtown, but since it was raining we drove up the hill several blocks and walked from there. Lots of beautiful churches along with new development–restaurants, bars, an art museum. It was a Tuesday when the historic one-screen theater has movies at half price! After a quick snack of white asparagus we bought tickets to see Monsieur Lazhar. I had seen it at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin and was glad to have a chance to see it again!
This old theater still uses reels of film. Near the end, snap!
We waited for a while until the technician admitted defeat. The film was damaged beyond simple splicing. Too much of it would have been lost. After folks got passes for a free flick (and we gave ours to Janelle) a bunch of us went back in so I could give them a summary of the ending and answer questions! It’s a good movie, so see it if you can.
We spent the night, had some homemade granola and fruit for breakfast, and went on our way a little further toward home. Thanks, Janelle, for your gracious hospitality!
Here are some pictures, mostly of the house, but a few from downtown Asheville. In the store window you can see that not all North Carolinians voted to ban same sex marriage. In her front yard she has special plant protectors that are filled with water to keep the temperature stable as plants are taking root and to keep pests out–they crawl up the side and fall into the bladders filled with water. I had never seen them before.