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UPDATED TWICE: My NPR Crystal Bridges Commentary (along with John Wilmerding) Postponed to Tomorrow

A gallery at Crystal Bridges (from the museum’s Facebook page)

UPDATE: When do things ever go as planned? The NPR segment pondering Alice’s palace (in which I participate) has been rescheduled to tomorrow’s Weekend Edition [not Morning Edition, as I previously wrote] at around 9:40 a.m. ET. (We can only hope.) I’ll actually be in another “B” city then—Boston, not Bentonville.

And my warm thanks to CultureGrrl Donors 179 and 180, who have have helped send me on my way to the Bender in Bentonville! (I’ve still got $165 to go towards the $200 goal. Who’ll buy me another round?)

SECOND UPDATE: The broadcast has now occurred, as (re)scheduled. You can hear us here.

Just in time [almost] for today’s 11-11-11 public opening of Alice Walton‘s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Joel Rose of NPR‘s All Things Considered has included me in a group of commentators musing this afternoon [now rescheduled to tomorrow’s Morning Edition] on the accomplishments and controversies related to Alice’s art palace in Bentonville, AR. (I don’t know the precise time this will air, but, depending on your local NPR station’s schedule, “ATC” is usually heard during afternoon drive time, around 4-6 p.m. You can listen live at the above link or listen to the archived show later.)

Also weighing in with Joel, if things go according to plan, are: veteran art historian John Wilmerding, a Crystal Bridges board member, chairman of the board of the National Gallery in Washington, and Walton’s long-time advisor for art acquisitions; Eric Widing, head of American paintings at Christie’s (which brokered the “Gross Clinic” sale); and Steven Conn, who I believe is this Steven Conn, a history professor at the Ohio State University with an interest in museums. (Did no museum director want to opine for this program?)

Headphoned in NPR’s New York studio on Wednesday, I found myself going easy on the Walmart heiress when Rose lobbed questions regarding the fixation of some critics on the connection (or lack thereof) between Walmart’s corporate practices and the use of Walmart-generated wealth to bankroll this glittering art facility in the big-box company’s corporate-headquarters town.

I also noted that Walton’s collecting practices (which had occasioned my infamous “culture vulture” epithet in the Wall Street Journal) have become more circumspect in the years since firestorms erupted over her campaigns to acquire “Kindred Spirits” (which she got), “The Gross Clinic” (which she didn’t) and Fisk’s Stieglitz Collection (still in litigation). Her deployment of unrivaled financial resources to relocate masterpieces with strong connections to their home communities was strongly criticized by some members of those communities and by the artworld at large (including me).

In my NPR ruminations, I expressed support for bringing culture to the hinterlands. But I also listed some aspects of Moshe Safdie‘s arresting architecture for the new facility that seemed to me (during my tour of the facility in May) as possibly problematic for the art. I concluded my conversation with Joel by noting that I needed to see the finished facility firsthand (as I plan to do next week) to determine whether my initial impressions would be confirmed or confounded.

Crystal Spring was looking more like Muddy Spring when this photo (on the museum’s Facebook page) was taken:


I’ve been assured, though, that this unappealing brownness was only temporary.

I have no idea what snippets from my remarks will actually be used on the air. I particularly look forward to hearing what Joel and my co-commentators will have to say.

In the meantime, here’s NPR’s descriptive piece about the new museum, Wal-Mart Heiress Brings Art Museum To The Ozarks, as reported by Elizabeth Blair.

And as a special CultureGrrl treat, here’s a 62-page illustrated checklist (arranged alphabetically by artist’s name) of many of the works that are in the inaugural installation, as well as another checklist of works in “Wonder World,” a contemporary exhibition drawn from the collection. (Athough the latter pages are labeled “Confidential,” I was assured by Crystal Bridges’ marketing coordinator, Alice Murphy, that they are now public information.)

Finally, although my “Send CultureGrrl to Canada” campaign this summer was not a notable success, how about helping to defray CultureGrrl’s “Bender in Bentonville”? I’ll be using my frequent flyer miles to travel there, but two nights hotel will set me back $156. (Rates in Walmartland are quite reasonable!) I’ll also need some cab fare to get me back and forth.

I’ll try for a modest $200 infusion. Would anyone like to be my kickstarter? To give me a kick, just click my “Donate” button in the middle column.

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