Alice Walton is our Arkansan of the Year 

For bringing Crystal Bridges to her native state.

click to enlarge Alice Walton image
  • Alice Walton

Sam Walton said that his only daughter was the most like him of his children. Her recent activity lends credence to that judgment. Like her father, Alice Walton has assured that she'll be long remembered, and in her own right. She's no longer just "a Wal-Mart heiress." There are lots of heiresses around. Alice Walton is an art patron and philanthropist of spectacular dimension, a benefactor of her native state in unprecedented fashion. And for that, she is, too, the Arkansas Times' Arkansan of the Year.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened Nov. 11 at Bentonville, near the headquarters of Wal-Mart, the giant retail chain founded by Sam Walton. The reviews that appeared afterward, in the most prestigious journals, were, for the most part, glowing:

The New York Times — "By just about any measure, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art ... is off to a running start. The dream-come-true of Alice Walton, an heir to the Walmart fortune, it is characterized by people both inside and outside the museum as a work in progress, with plenty of room for improvement. But there it stands, a big, serious, confident, new installation with more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space and a collection worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a region almost devoid of art museums.

"Much more than just a demonstration of what money can buy or an attempt to burnish a rich family's name, Crystal Bridges is poised to make a genuine cultural contribution, and possibly to become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers from around the world."

The Economist — "The Ozarks are America's least appreciated mountain range. Lacking the majesty of the Rockies, the breadth of the Appalachians or the mournful grandeur of the Cascades, there they sit, somewhere in the middle of the country, south of the Midwest, north of the South, east of the mountainous West. They have long drawn fishermen and hikers; until now, however, art fanciers have had little reason to visit.

"That changes with the opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art ... With 120 acres of forests and gardens and long hiking trails connecting it with downtown Bentonville, Crystal Bridges is not just in but also of the Ozarks. Its patron, Alice Walton, is the scion of the Ozarks' first family: her father, Sam Walton, opened a discount store called Wal-Mart in nearby Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962. Today Walmart (which officially went hyphenless in 2008) is America's largest private employer. The Walton Family Foundation gave the museum a $1.2 billion endowment and Ms. Walton and the museum have been on something of a buying spree for several years.

"The museum is not simply Ms. Walton's own private collection. ... Ms. Walton has long spoken of wanting to bring art to a region that has little of it, and in that ambition she has without question succeeded." (The headline in The Economist, an influential newsweekly based in London, referred to the museum as "a hinterland beauty" and "a rural gem.")

The verdict was not unanimous though. Walmart and the Walton family have their detractors, inside and outside their home state. One of the harshest critics was Jeffrey Goldberg, a columnist writing for Bloomberg.com:

"Crystal Bridges, in many ways, is an aesthetic success. It's also a moral tragedy, very much like the corporation that provided [Alice] Walton with the money to build a billion-dollar art museum during a terrifying recession. The museum is a compelling symbol of the chasm between the richest Americans and everyone else. ... I'm not begrudging Alice Walton her inherited wealth. What I am begrudging are her priorities. Walton has the influence to help Wal-Mart workers, especially women, earn more money and gain access to affordable health care. But her response so far to the needs of the people whose sweat pays for her paintings is a simple one: Let them eat art."

Speaking of Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art

  • Well-Off-Man on 'Van Gogh to Rothko'

    February 26, 2015
    One of the best reasons to go to "Van Gogh to Rothko," the Albright-Knox Art Gallery's traveling exhibition to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is to see the Jackson Pollock drip painting there, curator Manuela Well-Off-Man says in an article about the exhibit in Apollo Magazine. /more/
  • What to see in "Van Gogh to Rothko" at Crystal Bridges

    February 19, 2015
    Van Gogh, Picasso, Kahlo, Rousseau, Modligliani, Dali, Motherwell, Pollock, Lichtenstein, Rothko: Works by these and other masters in the collection of the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, N.Y., will come to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Saturday as part of a national tour. The exhibition includes more than 70 masterworks, including paintings and sculpture. /more/
  • An O'Keeffe (or two?) for Crystal Bridges

    February 9, 2015
    Arts blogger CultureGrrl (Lee Rosenbaum) has confirmed everyone's suspicion that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's collection now includes Georgia O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed" and Jasper Johns' "Flag" (1983). She has a trusted source, she says. /more/
  • Kehinde Wiley, from Bentonville to New York: UPDATE from the Arts Center

    February 6, 2015
    Back in October, I wrote about an exhibition at 21c Hotel in Bentonville of work by Kehinde Wiley. Delita Martin, in Bentonville to give a talk about her work in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's exhibition "State of the Art," posted about the show on her Facebook page, and I made sure to see it when I visited the museum and the hotel in November with the Arkansas Times' Art Bus. Like Martin, I was really taken with these huge paintings of African American subjects placed against floral backgrounds. /more/
  • Don't get it 'Twisted'

    December 25, 2014
    Also, sympathy for the plight of "The Interview," Alice Walton reportedly paying a lot for a coffee table and by the number, IKEA-style. /more/
  • 'American Encounters' finale coming from Louvre to CBM in May

    December 23, 2014
    The final "American Encounters" collaboration of the Musee du Louvre, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Terra Foundation for American Art comes to Arkansas next year when "The Simple Pleasures of Still Life" opens May 16 at CBM in Bentonville. Its first showing is Feb. 5-April 27 at the Louvre. /more/
  • About that $4.5 million Noguchi table Alice Walton may have bought

    December 19, 2014
    Max Brantley posted on the Arkansas Blog news from BLOUIN ARTINFO while I was out about the auction of an Isamu Noguchi table that sources say Alice Walton was the high bidder on — paying $4,450,500. maybe she also bought the "Managing Committee Table," designed by Balkrishna Doshi and Le Corbusier, 1953-54. The auction house estimated it would sell for $300,000 to $400,000, but the winning bid was $1.8 million. /more/
  • Alice Walton reported as buyer of $4.5 million Noguchi table

    December 19, 2014
    Artinfo quotes sources as saying Alice Walton was the buyer of an Isamu Noguchi table sold at auction this week for $4.5 million. /more/
  • More »

Related Locations

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Bill to regulate dog breeders draws opposition inside chamber from industry rep

    A fight could be brewing over regulation of puppy mills, with legislation planned to better protect dogs and opposition already underway from a state representative who makes a living working with commercial dog breeders.
  • The hart

    It is hard for a straight person, The Observer included, to imagine what it would be like to be born gay — to be shipwrecked here on this space-going clod, where nearly every textbook, novel, film and television show, nearly every blaring screen or billboard or magazine ad, reinforces the idea that "normal" means "heterosexual."
  • Arkansas's new anti-gay law forgets history

    It turns back the clock on civil rights.
  • Hot Springs woman sues; says she was fired for being transgender

    One of the biggest lies of the battle to institutionalize legal discrimination against LGBT people in Arkansas is that protections are unneeded.
  • Presbytery of Arkansas opposes bills aimed at gay discrimination

    The Presbytery of Arkansas, the governing body for Presbyterian churches in the northern two-thirds of Arkansas, met Saturday at Clarksville and adopted a resolution urging Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto SB 202, which is aimed at preventing local government from passing anti-discrimination laws to protect gay people. The Presbytery also expressed its opposition to a pending House bill that, in the name of "conscience," would protect those who discriminate against gay people.

Latest in Cover Stories

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas's new anti-gay law forgets history

    It turns back the clock on civil rights.
  • The hart

    It is hard for a straight person, The Observer included, to imagine what it would be like to be born gay — to be shipwrecked here on this space-going clod, where nearly every textbook, novel, film and television show, nearly every blaring screen or billboard or magazine ad, reinforces the idea that "normal" means "heterosexual."
  • Arts centered where?

    Desire for a new building could uproot Little Rock's longtime cultural gem and send it across the river.
  • Home at last

    Mourners stand over the casket of Corporal C.G. Bolden of Clinton during a Feb. 21 memorial service. Bolden was taken prisoner while fighting in Korea in January 1951 and died in a P.O.W. camp four months later. His remains were returned to the U.S. by the North Korean government in the 1990s, and were identified through DNA testing in December.
  • Walmart wage hike, by the numbers

    Also, fluoride rides again, Hutchinson's plan for prisons, a puppy mill, a safe place for Craigslist transactions, LRSD legal battle and more.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2015 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation