Art in Arkansas, Crystal Bridges and the Bucky Ball

Posted by Jeremy Mason McGraw on 15 May 2014

When I was 17 I entered an international aviation art competition that I ended up taking first place in the world. It was a momentous occasion for me at the time. I was always creative, but I was not really exposed to art or art history when I was younger. The following year I was asked to judge the same competition at the state level. During a conversation, the state representative asked me if I thought I would win when I submitted my entry the previous year. I actually did not think I had a chance at winning. I had never been out of the country at that time, but I envisioned Europe to be a place where people had art and culture injected into their blood. Walking the streets of Florence or Paris, how could you not absorb some of the magic in the legacy left behind by the masters?

Since then I have been to many of the places that were once only pages in my school books, and I have walked those streets and felt that magic. One of the experiences The awesome energy you find around the European fountains and public squares always draws me in. They have a magnetic attraction to the local culture and visitors alike. Seeing this introduced me to the power of public art. Build it in public and people will gather there, paint it, photograph it and embrace it.

When you are talking about art in Arkansas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR will probably enter the conversation. Recently I made a visit to the Bucky Ball at Crystal Bridges, during the early evening hours and the collection of out of town visitors, locals and teens meeting in their cars reminded me of those moments overseas. These local meeting spaces are being sparked to life by the amazing contributions to the NWA culture and investment in public areas. I classify a great city in part by the energy of it’s public spaces. As I took in the atmosphere and colorful light under the beep blue sky I imagined what inspiration the local youth would take from these places. Bentonville AR seems well on it’s way.

Fire at Night by Electric Light - People arrive to gather by the Bucky Ball at Crystal Bridges like campers to an electric fire in the night.

Fire at Night by Electric Light – People arrive to gather by the Bucky Ball at Crystal Bridges like campers to an electric fire in the night.

Dim blue light whispers against the dim blue sky. A faded reminder of the vivid glory each recently possessed.

Dim blue light whispers against the dim blue sky. A faded reminder of the vivid glory each recently possessed.


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