It isn’t everyday that a world class art museum opens up in your backyard and it happens to be even closer to my brother’s backyard. I set up a couple of meetings with museum staff and they were nice enough to arrange a press tour especially for me. The day before my story about Crystal Bridges, they contacted me to ask if I could come a bit early for a press event highlighting children’s programming. Kismet!
I left early and managed to stop at Pea Ridge Battlefield on the way, a scene made even more peaceful by encountering a herd of deer. The day at Crystal Bridges went great. I met up with my brother at the end of the day, who took the exterior photos that are posted along with my article. Afterwards we drove to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where we met with Zeke Taylor, semi-official Ambassador of the thriving local arts community. My hunch that Eureka Springs would make a fantastic sidebar was right on the money. No question that colorful Eureka Springs (a town where “the misfits, fit”) is THE place to stay if you plan to visit Crystal Bridges. This was all going my way. I wrote up the article and enlisted the help of anyone I could think of to edit it.
My tour was only a month behind the big national media splash of the Crystal Bridges opening. It was going to be a piece of cake to sell the review, maybe even to a major overseas paper — the Irish Times or the Guardian would surely be interested but couldn’t afford to send someone. I would even stoop to sell it to a Canadian paper. No word. OK, OK what about travel magazines; what about art websites? No word. No problem, what about the big regional papers, St. Louis, KC, Louisville, Omaha, Des Moines. Let’s not get too picky, what about the free newsweeklies, what about city websites that focus specifically on culture. Nothing.
At long last I have decided to make the best of it. I have devoted my website almost exclusively to my experience at Crystal Bridges. My mostly unread, totally unpublished review is the top story, all of the pictures and paintings featured are from that trip.
So many people supported me on this, from colleagues editing my article and helping me with the pitch letter, to the art and museum people who took time so that I could share their insights. To all of you, thank you!
My big surprise at Crystal Bridges feels familiar, like having a front row seat to American History. I would unreservedly recommend going to Crystal Bridges. The collection is strong enough to impress the connoisseur, but the programming is really aimed at making regional visitors feel comfortable with what they are seeing. So do check their website before you go, they are always up to something interesting.
As for me, I am really disappointed that my article didn’t get the notice I hoped for, but I am really thankful that I made the trip to the museum and I even got to spend some time with my brother and his family. All in all, I am going to chalk the experience up as a win. If you go to Crystal Bridges drop me a line — I would be interested in your impressions, and I can’t wait to go back myself.