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Crystal Bridges’ Poetics of Winter

Danelle's "Wicked Witch" tower

Danelle's "Wicked Witch" tower

Jervis McEntee (1828-1891) Winter in the Country 1890 Oil on canvas

Jervis McEntee (1828-1891)
Winter in the Country
1890
Oil on canvas

To modern viewers, Jervis McEntee’s Winter in the Country is a traditional image of a landscape, but to his Hudson River School teachers Thomas Cole and Frederick Church, the artist’s regular focus on winter was a progressive theme.  In 1874, McEntee wrote: “Perhaps what would mark my work among that of my brother artists is a preference for the soberer phases of Nature, the gray days of November and its leafless trees as well as the Winter landscape.”

Crystal Bridges offers a place of retreat during winter’s time of hibernation, while still allowing for the experience of McEntee’s “soberer phases of Nature.” The architectural design of water, windows, and light can connect us to the outdoors within the warmth of indoors. After the Museum opened, the architect, Moshe Safdie, anxiously awaited news of the building’s first snow covering.  Museum staff member, Dannelle Tomarchio, remembers when this happened, and says that she was simply enchanted by the beauty of the white landscape and architecture. She grabbed her camera and began capturing the winter wonderland, which she then posted on her Facebook page.  Safdie’s architecture firm noticed the photos, and asked that she send her images to them at once!

The Museum's "Wicked Witch" tower, as viewed from the Twentieth-Century Art Gallery bridge. Image by Danelle

The “Wicked Witch” tower, as viewed from Crystal Bridges’ Twentieth-Century Art Gallery bridge. Image by Danelle Tomarchio

Tomarchio says that only during the wintertime does what she calls the “castle of the Wicked Witch” appear to her in the form of the tall elevator towers as viewed from the Twentieth-Century Gallery bridge. Tomarchio, who is unafraid of winter weather, often goes canoeing in the wintertime, and says that it’s good to go through life exposing yourself to the elements.  She encourages guests to get past the cold weather and push yourselves out the door and into the winter landscape!

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The Tulip Tree Trail in snow.

Cody George, the Museum’s horticulturist, says that winters in Arkansas are about getting intimate with nature, and that you get to see the parts of plants that are normally hidden by summer foliage. Being outdoors in the Ozarks offers a quieter time for him, but it’s not dreary or drab.  From his observations, winter offers a completely different face of the Museum. “You can see different parts of the Museum, as there’s less interference from the leaves of trees to view the big picture—the Museum’s massive size. It’s also a nice time to take a hike and get to see the structures of the trees—nature’s backbone, and how it’s assembled.”

Crystal Bridges’ Director of Facilities and Grounds, Scott Eccleston, also has a deep appreciation for winter—a time during which visitors can view the upright “architecture of the forest.”  It was in winter that he first came to appreciate the Ozark forest as a canvas on which he could practice his art as a landscape architect.

We hope you get inspired during the cold months ahead to come out of hibernation and visit Crystal Bridges to find your own personal connection with winter.

Image by Dannelle Tomarchino

Image by Dannelle Tomarchio, (submitted to flickr.com)

Share Your Winter Photos! Submit your photos of Crystal Bridges’ winter landscape by uploading them to Flickr, with the hashtag #cbpoeticsofwinter, to participate in a lively percussion performance and photo display on the Poetics of Winter! On Saturday, December 7, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., join us for a concert by the University of Arkansas Percussion Ensemble, along with visitors’ contributed photos of Crystal Bridges in winter.  Photos will be projected against the backdrop of the Museum’s majestic Great Hall, where audience members can imagine themselves in an enormous snow globe! Admission is free, but reservations are required, as space is limited. Click here to reserve your tickets today!

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