a crystal bridge too far

a trip to crystal bridges – 3 of 3
bentonville, arkansas

who buys books of suburban decay? no one. but everyone looks at photo galleries of dead malls. people stopped going to malls because everything’s online including those galleries of the photos of dead malls. people still go to walmart.

in the eighties the nearest wal-mart entered the area. it was dirtier than the target and had a lesser toy section; that’s what I remember anyway. in the nineties it relocated down the street to a new shopping center sprung out of wooded lot that once housed schoolbook manufacturer. in the aughts when that lease was up, it moved to newer development down the street that was whatever it was before. the first center dwindled. it’s now home to a cigarette shop, a rub n tug, and not much else. the nineties location is hanging on with a rotation of tenants at about 60% occupancy, though the quality of stores and customer traffic has dwindled significantly. America: newer boxes further away from the older boxes.

alice used her money from the boxes to buy art. and why wouldn’t she? she’s a walton. she can spend her money on whatever she wants and if alice walton wants to open a world class art museum she will, and she’ll make it with more love and wonder than any of the stores that bare her name

in the woods of bentonville, arkansas (home of walmart) stands crystal bridges museum of american art. a 217,000 square feet complex designed by moshe safdie. it opened on 11/november2011. buckminster fuller’s personal effects are in a room decorated with scribbles from his journals. a frank lloyd wright usonian house was moved here from new jersey. james turrell built a skyspace on a hill. the courtyard keeps a louise bourgeois maman on permanent desplay. the visitors sweet with a bit of well-even-i-could-paint-that-ers

other major art museums have old names on their donor wall. at crystal bridges, coca-cola is a major sponsor, think about that. on the tier below coke, you’ll find del-monte. the little informational stands along the wooded trails? sponsored by coleman. this may be our path and one day widespread commercial sponsorship of art will the thing. just imagine: “The Persistence of Memory, 1931. Brought to you by Timex and The Dali Corporation, a Unilever Company”

there’s so much criticism of walmart: predatory pricing, worker conditions, worker wages, union busting, censorship, dirty and poorly run stores, but the old mom and pop shops walmart ran out never opened art museums with james turrels… so yeah. 

listening to frida’s i know there’s something going on (1982)

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the ye olde five and dime

a trip to crystal bridges – 2 of 3
downtown bentonville

if you find yourself in the ozarks, and you may, pay a visit to bentonville, arkansas. the original walmart (walton’s) has been turned into a museum. it’s like graceland for people who love low prices. tho at graceland a collection of elvis fan-art is on display and at the walmart museum there is no walmart fan-art on display nor at nearby crystal bridges which is a fn art museum!

downtown bentonville is picture perfect mainstreet, usa; not even six flags has pulled it off this well. as i walk past the cute shoppes, ristorantes, and yoga studios i become convinced that walmart bought the square and surrounding buildings to manufacture bliss – and it’s nice. if only walmart had a plans to juice up all the small towns they turned out

a tour bus had just dropped a group of asians into the little park in front of the first walmart. there is a ton of cars out front and a gentlemen in a bowtie helps keep the traffic going. the group is taking pictures of the facade and sam’s old truck as children with ice cream and paper hats head into the store, followed by retirees on a day trip from the home. all of us appear as players in a simulation’s take on capitalist propaganda

oh the places you’ll go

listening to the sisters of mercy’s more (1990)

got fiveee in it

a trip to crystal bridges – 1 of 3
springfield, mo


before reaching crystal bridges museum of american art, i spend the night in springfield and visit a strip club near the motel

the club’s set off a massive food desert. the sahara of food deserts. it’s run down and the sign up top is cracked. two cars are in the parking lot. a couple in camouflage is getting into one of them when i pull up. i ask how it is and he mutters, “you know…”

inside the bartender yells, “it’s five dallars!” which must be how they say hello here. i smile and say it’s five dallars back. the only things she’ll say my whole time here are “it’s five dallars” and “well”. four words. i am the only patron.

there is one bar. in the room to the left of it, a pool table; opening out to the right, an empty stage illuminated by low-hanging chrismas lights. the walls are done up with halloween decor from coors light. the L shaped bar runs parallel the entrance and the stage. at one end a thick stripper is on her phone. at the other end another thick stripper is on her phone. both are in sweatshirts. neither look up. the bartender goes, “well?”

i pay the five and order a drink. it’s as if we’re suspended in jello. neither girl get on stage or even say hello: jello. i wonder if by strip they’re referring to the main-drag outside. i consider that maybe they don’t know what a strip club is and for some reason think that this is it.

this said,  a slow club can be fun. less serious. less hustle – more a canvas of adventure. i strike up a conversation with the nearer girl. a few minutes later she’s telling me everything and flashing me photos of her art: neon acrylic paintings that’d look at home on a hula-hoopers shirt. the local galleries won’t look at her stuff and don’t take her seriously but she says she sells works to her regulars, who must have been somewhere else looking at tits.

i ordered another drink and may have been the only one who climbed on the stage that night

listening to neil young’s when you dance i can really love (1970)