The Momentary, a new contemporary art space for visual, performing, and culinary arts, has opened in the US Heartland. The Momentary champions contemporary art’s role in everyday life, serving as a satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Occupying a decommissioned 63,000 square-foot cheese factory, the new space offers the art and music of our times, with galleries for exhibitions, performance spaces, artist-in-residence studios, culinary experiences, a festival field, and more. General admission is free.
The Momentary was founded by the Walton family, based on the vision of Tom, Olivia and Steuart Walton, with Olivia serving as founding chairperson. The Walton Family Foundation is supporting this project as a way to enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas. Its commitment to cultivating arts and cultural experiences provides more opportunities for education, engagement, and enjoyment in our region.
“Our family shares a passion for the arts and for this region of the country. The idea for this new contemporary art space came together through an ambitious vision of cultural expansion and economic opportunity for Northwest Arkansas, and of course, inspiration from Crystal Bridges and our aunt, Alice Walton,” said Olivia Walton. “By witnessing how Crystal Bridges became an arts destination, bringing tourism and new audiences, new ideas and new perspectives to Bentonville, it was clear that there was more room to expand access to the arts in Northwest Arkansas. The Momentary will allow people across the community, and from across the country, to engage in cultural experiences together, in a space that welcomes all to come try something new.”
The adaptive reuse design of the Momentary, led by Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects and lead project architect Calli Verkamp, maintains the integrity of the former cheese factory with added elements to support the new purpose of the space. The new additions use contemporary materials and construction methods to differentiate themselves from the existing building.
The Momentary opens to the public on February 22, 2020, with the debut of State of the Art 2020, an exhibition that spotlights 61 individuals representing a cross-section of artists working today, plus a festival of performance titled TIME BEING, featuring artists from around the world, providing a look at what’s to come in its inaugural year.
The Momentary also features a site-specific neon sculpture by artist Tavares Strachan titled You Belong Here, stretching 78 feet across and 25 feet high, on the east side of the building. “I wanted to make a work that everyone can own—one that everyone can have. . . . Because as soon as you read it, you say, ‘I belong here,’ and you do belong,” said Strachan.
A pattern titled Sway, featured on the exterior glass of the Momentary’s Tower, the main entryway, and other spaces was created by Oklahoma-based artist Addie Roanhorse. A member of the Osage Nation, Roanhorse took inspiration from Osage attire to create the pattern, paying homage to the history of the land around the Momentary. This pattern also helps filter light through the building.
“After years of careful planning and consideration, we are thrilled to welcome all to engage with art in a whole new way,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary. “Artists are at the center of everything you see here. They create the work, they influence our design, they make the Momentary what it is. We are delighted to have this opportunity to spotlight today’s artists, the work they are producing, and the role they play in our everyday lives.”
State of the Art 2020
The Momentary debuts the exhibition, State of the Art 2020, which is also on view at Crystal Bridges, from February 22 to May 24, 2020. General admission is free for all at both locations.
State of the Art 2020 spotlights the work of 61 artists from around the country, and is a continuation of an exploration into contemporary art that began in 2014, when Crystal Bridges presented State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now.
More than 100 artworks are featured in State of the Art 2020—most created within the last three years and several created specifically for the exhibition. At both the Momentary and Crystal Bridges, artwork will include paintings, sculpture, photography, video, performance, and mixed media. Lauren Haynes, curator of visual arts at the Momentary and curator, contemporary art at Crystal Bridges, co-curated the exhibition with Allison Glenn and Alejo Benedetti, Crystal Bridges associate curators, contemporary art.
“This exhibition is an opportunity to answer the question, what does art in America look like at this moment in time?” said Haynes. “Over the course of a year, our curatorial team met with artists and collectives and conducted studio visits to learn about artists who’ve been working for years, as well as artists at the beginning of their careers. We wanted themes and ideas to develop organically. The conversations and the artwork led us to create the exhibition’s four interconnected themes: Sense of Place, Mapping, World Building, and Temporality.”
At the Momentary, artwork can be found throughout the 24,000 square feet of gallery space. At Crystal Bridges, the exhibition features artworks throughout the permanent collection galleries, as well as an artwork near Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome on the North Lawn and an installation inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House on the south side of the grounds.
Site-Specific Works Featured in Exhibition
Several artists are making site-specific works for the exhibition, several of which are in response to the histories of the region.
Kansas City-based artist Cory Imig’s site-specific installation, Linear Spaces (2020), explores the relationship between two-dimensional forms and three-dimensional spaces. Visitors are welcome to walk through the intersecting triangles made of cascading ribbons of satin fabric sewn to a ratchet strap that slices the space. The artist asks the viewer to “imagine space differently, including how it interacts with their body, how they move through it, and the objects within it.” This work is on view at Crystal Bridges.
Throughout his work, Atlanta-based artist Paul Stephen Benjamin explores the depth of meaning and breadth of possibilities contained in the color black, asking questions such as “If the color black had a sound, what would it sound like?” In his site-specific work Daily Meditations (2020), on view at Crystal Bridges, Benjamin draws from his daily ritual of manually typing out his thoughts about black, printing phrases in black vinyl that are placed on a black-painted wall. Another one of his works, a video installation called Summer Breeze (2018), is on view at the Momentary.
In his new work titled Silhouette of a Friend (2020), Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo created an enlarged Bouloum chaise lounge chair, similar to the ones seen at the Northwest Arkansas National Airport. In 1968, designer Olivier Mourgue created a Bouloum chaise, contouring it to the shape of a human form. By enlarging it, Lobo raises questions of inclusivity in design, since the installation does not fit any body. This work is on view at the Momentary.
Detroit-based artist Scott Hocking’s site-specific piece, titled Arkansas Traveler (2019-2020), is a boat composed of a series of materials including bone black, an industrial pigment and fertilizer derived from ground bison bones. The work serves to show how the materials artists choose can create meaning and how we carry the weight of history indefinitely. This work is on view at Crystal Bridges in the Contemporary Art Gallery Courtyard.
DITCH, a site-specific performance installation by Seattle-based artist Jody Kuehner (whose drag persona and alter ego is Cherdonna Shinatra), is a space made up of colorful fabrics and patterns that becomes a stage when Cherdonna and her dance company, DONNA, inhabit it. Visitors are welcome to view the space and catch one of the performances in early April at the Momentary. Kuehner will also perform as Cherdonna during Drag Night at Crystal Bridges on Wednesday, April 1 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The event is free with registration.
Interactive Works Featured in Exhibition
Several installations ask viewers to engage with the work. At Crystal Bridges, an interactive first-person video game installation called Ineffable Glossolalia (2017) by Portland, Oregon-based artist Tabitha Nikolai, is available for visitors to play. The artwork is a world unto itself that exists between utopia and dystopia.
At the Momentary, visitors can engage with several works including Three Dimensional Sketchbook (2013-present) by Kansas-City based artist Jill Downen. In this mixed-media work featuring a white-enameled cabinet, visitors are encouraged to open the 24 drawers to get a glimpse into Downen’s aesthetic toolbox. In an Effort to be Held (2016-2019) by Chicago-based artist Kellie Romany takes a look at a chromatic scale of 36 skin color tiles originally created in the nineteenth century that were used to determine a person’s race in Europe and America up until the 1950s. Visitors are welcome to pick up and examine the discs with a pair of gloves.
Bachman-Wilson House Installation
There is also an exhibition installation at the Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges. Tropical Malaise: Prologue (2016) is an 18-minute video installation by Miami-based artist Domingo Castillo. The film, comprised of audio, text, and architectural renderings, is set on an uninhabited Earth 500 million years into the future. With this work, Castillo wants to shift the experience of being in the Bachman-Wilson House through a film made of “images that change reality.” Visitors are welcome to enter the space with a free timed ticket, available at the main lobby or south lobby desk at Crystal Bridges.
Regional Artists Featured in Exhibition
Anthony Sonnenberg is a Fayetteville, Arkansas-based artist featured in the exhibition. Sixteen of his porcelain ceramic sculptures are displayed at the Momentary, all appearing to be in a delicate state of decay. For the artist, the work serves to remind him of the shortness of life, and helps him to forget his fear of death. Sonnenberg will lead an Adult Workshop on wearable ceramics at Crystal Bridges on Sunday, March 15. Tickets are available here. He will also conduct a free gallery conversation at the Momentary on Saturday, March 14.
Elisa Harkins is a Tulsa-based artist featured in the exhibition. For her video installation Wampum (2019), Harkins draws on her Cherokee/Muscogee heritage to blend Indigenous music, dance, and electronic dance together, creating something uniquely her own. This installation is on view at Crystal Bridges.
After its run at the Momentary and Crystal Bridges, State of the Art 2020 will travel to locations to be announced at a later date.
Throughout the duration of the exhibition, the Momentary and Crystal Bridges are offering a roster of programs inspired by State of the Art 2020. The exhibition programs include:
At the Momentary
• State of the Art 2020: Reflecting Communities » Thursday, March 12, 7 pm
• Gallery Conversation: Anthony Sonnenberg » Saturday, March 14, 1 to 2 pm
At Crystal Bridges
• Drop-In Workshop » Edra Soto, Sunday, March 1, 1 to 4 pm
• Drop-In Workshop » Edra Soto at NWACC, Monday, March 2, 10:30 to 11:45 am
• Adult Workshop » Wearable Ceramics with Tony Sonnenberg, Sunday, March 15, 1 to 5 pm
• Gallery Conversation » JooYoung Choi, Friday, March 27, 1 to 2 pm
• Family Workshop » JooYoung Choi, Friday, March 27, 6 to 8 pm
• Drop-In Artmaking » JooYoung Choi at Springdale Public Library, Saturday, March 28, 10 am to 12 pm
• Drag Night » Featuring artist Cherdonna Shinatra, Wednesday, April 1, 5:30 to 8 pm
• Afterschool Art Class » State of the Art 2020 (Ages 5-12), Thursday, April 2, 9, 16, 4 to 5:30 pm
• Homeschool Friday Fun » State of the Art 2020 (Ages 5-12), Friday, April 3, 10, 17, 2 to 3:30 pm
• Art by the Glass » Mixed Media Painting with Jiha Moon, Friday, April 3, 6:30 to 8:30 pm
• Studio Squad » State of the Art 2020 (Ages 11-13), Saturday, April 11, 4 to 5:30 pm
• Spotlight Talk » State of the Art 2020: Historical Fiction, Thursday, April 16, 7 to 8 pm
There will be additional programs in May as well. Please check back to calendars at theMomentary.org and CrystalBridges.org.
State of the Art 2020 is sponsored by Bank of America (Lead Sponsor), Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Christie’s, The Coca-Cola Company, Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Trott Family Foundation, Alturas Foundation, Bracken Darrell, and Fred and Shelby Gans. National tour sponsored by Bank of America.
To learn more about State of the Art 2020, visit the Momentary website. For news updates, follow the Momentary on the Blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and follow Crystal Bridges on the Blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. #theMomentary #CrystalBridges #StateoftheArt2020