BENTONVILLE, ARK.- Crystal Bridges
celebrates the natural beauty and abundant local talent of Northwest Arkansas in Looking at Our Landscape, a juried community photography exhibition. More than 100 community members, from children aged 12 to adults over 80, submitted photographs that range from a close-up view of a hummingbird sipping nectar from the rare Royal Catchfly flower to an inspiring rural landscape shot on the way home from a slumber party, entitled Arkansas Will Lead Me Places.
Beginning April 1 all 305 submissions will be presented in an online gallery and the jury-selected 50 featured works will be on view in the Massey, Crystal Bridges' temporary gallery located at 125 W. Central Ave. in downtown Bentonville. The public is invited to an opening celebration of the exhibition from 5 - 7 p.m. Friday, April 2. A number of featured artists and jurors will be present at the opening, which is part of Bentonville's First Friday celebration.
The exhibition's photographs capture the sparkling waters of the Kings and Buffalo Rivers, the faceted rock formations at Tanyard Creek and the barns and pastures of back roads Arkansas, among many other regional treasures.
"We were pleased with the variety and quality of work submitted," said Manuela Well-Off-Man, assistant curator and jury member. "People from all walks of life participated and the selections we made reflect their interests, from beautiful natural settings to historical sites that they wanted to share with others."
Documentation of culturally significant sites includes Ron Lutz' photograph of the "Signal Tree" in downtown Eureka Springs, its trunk tied down long ago to signal the presence of a freshwater spring, and Paul Clark Lawrence's image of a traditional grave shelter in Kilgore Cemetery.
Many participants responded to changes in the landscape. Elizabeth and Quin Withey photographed a graffittied remnant of the 1907 Oklahoma Row hotel, part of the Monte Ne resort submerged after Beaver Lake was created in the 1960s, while Richard Wells' Suite View of the Past documents the dialog between a dilapidated barn and the Embassy Suites hotel in Rogers, Ark.
Juror Don House, a professional photographer whose work has been published nationally and featured in exhibitions around the country, said: "There were more than 300 entries and there wasn't a single one that shouldn't be in the mix. We have a community full of very talented people, and this exhibition allowed them to express what it is about this area that they love. I think that's really important."
Other community members who served on the jury were RuAnn Ewing, an artist and educator from Hindsville, Ark. who helped to establish the Ozark Natural Science Center; Terry Russell, an artist and owner of Blue Moon Studio in Eureka Springs who recently retired from teaching art at Eureka Springs High School; and Dr. Gerald Klingaman, an emeritus professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas who currently serves as director of operations at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. In addition to Manuela Well-Off-Man, other Crystal Bridges staff members who served on the jury include Chris Crosman, chief curator; Scott Eccleston, manager of parks and grounds; Ben Edwards, exhibitions coordinator; Kate Loague, head of communities programs; and Janelle Redlaczyk, youth and families program coordinator.
Looking at Our Landscape was organized as a regional response to Heroes of Horticulture, an exhibition featuring photographs of threatened heritage landscapes located throughout the United States. On display at the Massey through March 21, Heroes of Horticulture was organized by the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in collaboration with The Cultural Landscape Foundation of Washington, D.C.
"We're very pleased by the community response," said Chris Crosman. "We hope many people will drop by to enjoy the local landscapes, and local talent, on view at the Massey."