Crystal Bridges Offers Sneak Peek, Announces Three Additional Works

by Worth Sparkman  on Wednesday, Sep. 15, 2010 2:32 pm  

Matt Disheroon, left, general manager of the Homewood Suites in Rogers, and Joe Murfin, vice president of marketing for Daisy Outdoor Products, look over the Crystal Bridges site.

(Slideshow: has photos of construction along with a sample of the new art acquired by the museum.)

Employees of the fledgling Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville gave a "sneak peek" tour to media and select members of the northwest Arkansas business community Wednesday. About 160 people attended.

Director Don Bacigalupi made several announcements from an open-air space that will become the museum's library, designed to eventually hold about 50,000 art-related volumes.

Three new works were introduced into the museum's permanent collection: a 1985 Andy Warhol titled "Dolly Parton" is a 42-inch by 42-inch paint and silk screen ink on canvas; a 1966 porcelain enamel on steel sculpture by Roy Lichtenstien called "Standing Explosion (Red)"; and an 1808 oil on canvas painting by Benjamin West titled "Cupid and Psyche".

Bacigalupi said the West painting was recently added to the collection. Christie's auction house reported selling "Cupid and Psyche" for $458,500 in January 2009 to an anonymous buyer.

A local architect will be able to put his mark on the Crystal Bridges project. Marlon Blackwell will design the museum's 3,000-SF retail store. He was awarded the contract in late March after submitting concepts with other Arkansas architects. Blackwell said the interior of the store will be designed with an emphasis on Arkansas native cherry and walnut woods milled within the state.

Bacigalupi also announced the addition of two new team members. Rod Bigelow comes from the Toledo Museum of Art to serve as the Crystal Bridges deputy director of operations and administration. Case Dighero, the former owner of Soul Restaurant in Fayetteville, has been brought on as the museum's food and beverage director.

The museum is likely a year from completion, but most of the foundation work is set and skeletons of main buildings are erected.

Virginian Germann, director of museum relations, said 50,000 cubic yards of architectural concrete has been poured in the construction process of the museum. That's equivalent to more than 5,555 typical concrete trucks.

Contractors are taking care to minimize the impact on the 100-acre site. Concrete is produced on the grounds and the design allows for only six feet of space between the buildings and the natural forestation.

"It's a jewel," said Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin. He speculated the museum would be a boon to tourism in Benton County, but "a different kind of tourism," meaning a new audience.

In terms of economic impact, "It'll be a U of A football game every day for awhile," said Ed Clifford, president and CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce.



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