Hi. My name is Hill, and I'm a museum junkie.
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Let's face it. These are very, very weird times. Sure, I could give you some long, drawn-out tale of "how COVID has affected my life", but honestly, I think it has basically impacted all of us in a very similar way. At the end of the day, life is different, and we are learning how to adapt, and to focus on what is most important to us.
Letting go of museums, at least temporarily, was probably one of my most challenging adjustments, as an artist. Browsing galleries is my fuel. It keeps me jazzed, both personally, and professionally. I was in the last eight-months of preparing an art show, and I was without one of my greatest sources of inspiration, because I chose to stay home as much as possible. It made gaining any momentum with the show feel like walking with concrete blocks strapped to my legs. I could do it-- it just wasn't easy or graceful.
When the COVID numbers seemed to slow down in our neck of the woods, we finally chose to go visit the Oklahoma City Musuem of Art in August, which if you have never been, is magnificent every single time I go. The Chihuly hallway alone is worth the trip. It's like a tiny, narrow church of quiet and color, and it is literally one of my favorite places to be. I'm sure I'll blog about OKC-MOA at some point, but not today. Although I will say that their COVID safety procedures are top-notch, and my family and I felt very comfortable and safe during our visit.
But beyond our trip to OKC, I have gone without museums until this past weekend, when we jumped over to Bentonville, Arkansas, for what seems to be our semi-annual visit to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Again, if you have never been, it's an absolute treasure, and I often fantasize about moving to Bentonville, just so that I can work there. We began going to Crystal Bridges several years ago, and what we have learned is that Bentonville really celebrates art, and that their love for the arts just keeps expanding. In addition to Crystal Bridges, Bentonville is now home to The Momentary. There aren't really words to describe it, but I'm writing a blog, so I guess I better try.
At the "moment" (get it?) The Momentary is home to artist Nick Cave's Until, which explores race, gender, and gun violence in America. The astounding installations span several rooms of an already massive, refurbished cheese factory. The widely varied installations reportedly took five years to come together. It is nothing short of a visual treat, and during these times of isolation and restriction, I can honestly say that it was good for the soul to simply look at it, not to mention sit and contemplate the collection and assembly of the many pieces it took to create something so magical. It's hard to believe, when you look at all of it, in its whimsy, that it is meant to pose the heavy and important question of, "Is there racism in heaven?" but perhaps we need something shiny to draw our much-needed attention to such an important topic.
(Click through for highlights from my visit to The Momentary. For more photos and videos of The Momentary, visit my Instagram @hilltaylorart).
The Momentary, like Crystal Bridges, enforces COVID safety protocols, and again, we felt very comfortable during our visit. The space itself is enormous, which allows you to distance yourself from other art lovers. We went on a Sunday, and I'm sure if you were to visit either museum during the week, you would experience even less traffic, if COVID is a concern. Visit www.themomentary.org for further details.
Crystal Bridges is currently showcasing Ansel Adams in Our Time. In recent years, I have visited two of his exhibits-- one at the Gilcrease Museum of Art in Tulsa, and at OKC-MOA. I have to say that Crystal Bridges really outdid themselves with this collection, as it is the most thorough collection I have seen so far. Over 100 pieces of his work. If you have a fascination with his work, or with landscape or black and white photography, I would highly recommend visiting soon (show closes January 3, 2021). While Crystal Bridges is free to visit, this special exhibition requires paid, timed tickets. Visit www.crystalbridges.org for more information.
Another outstanding exhibition is Devorah Sperber's pieces, especially After The Last Supper. Guys, this piece is made up of 20,736 spools of thread, which, when assembled, recreates a pixelated version of The Last Supper. And of course, there was Mona, which I loved. Her pieces are all incredibly innovative and a real delight to experience. My mind was blown. They will be on view until March 28, 2021.
(Click through to see images of Devorah Sperber's masterpiece).
In addition to these special exhibitions, the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges is this ever-evolving journey through American Art. I swear I see something new every single time I go. Sure, I have my favorites, but I always love it when I am surprised by a piece I haven't seen before. Among my favorites are, of course, the Rothko No.210/No.211 (Orange), the smattering of Chihuly pieces (both indoors and outdoors), Arthur Dove's Moon and Sea No. II, Amy Sherald's Precious Jewels By The Sea, Warhol's Dolly Parton, and Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Room - My Heart is Dancing Into The Universe (currently closed due to COVID safety protocols).
(Click through for highlights from my visit to Crystal Bridges. For more photos from Crystal Bridges, visit my Instagram @hilltaylorart).
I write all of this to remind you that art is still out there for you to see and experience. It is also helpful to know that many museums are offering virtual programs, as a way to tour and experience art from home. Sure, it's a little different these days, but if your desire is to "get out of your house", skip the restaurant or the bar, or crowded shopping, and relax with some art. You will be amazed at how good it can be for you, mentally and physically.