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This month’s Friday road trip took Greg, Ferni and me to NW Arkansas. An advantage to living in Joplin, Missouri is that Oklahoma and Kansas are literally minutes away and Arkansas lies 30 minutes to the south.
Thus far, my road trips include jaunts into Oklahoma and Arkansas plus a road trip in Missouri and a weekend getaway in Joplin. I’m looking at you now, Kansas! Next road trip I’ll find something to explore there.
Bentonville, Arkansas offers many fun attractions. A new contemporary art museum/gathering place, The Momentary, drew our interest and curiosity this trip.
Come explore The Momentary with me and tour the fascinating Nick Cave exhibit, Until.
The Momentary Museum
A former cheese factory, The Momentary repurposed the existing 63,000 square foot space to create a contemporary museum and social gathering place. The multidisciplinary building houses space for visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, festivals, artists in residence and more.
Architects left most of the building intact, minimizing the carbon footprint and the use of new materials while preserving a piece of Bentonville history.
Founded by the Walton Family, The Momentary’s mission is to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life.
Admission is free. The Momentary is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 7:00, closed Monday. During this time, masks that cover the nose and mouth are required at all times, while inside the building and on the grounds. Social distancing and the limitation of guests is in effect as well.
The building offers distinctive spaces.
The large, open galleries and attached smaller rooms feature art and exhibits that change throughout the year. The current exhibit, Nick Cave’s Until, remains at The Momentary through January 3, 2021.
The 70 foot tall Tower contains multiple mezzanines for visual arts, performances and social events. It’s capped by Tower Bar, a social space offering drinks, bar-type food and spectacular views.
Seating is currently limited to 40 guests and parties limited to 10 people.
Tower Bar hours are Tuesday – Thursday, 5:00 – 10:00, Friday – Saturday 5:00 – midnight, closed Sunday – Monday.
In Rode House enjoy films, performances and gatherings in a customizable space with an adjustable floor system. The Rode Bar, located off of Rode House, offers patio seating for drinks and snacks.
Rode House hours, Wednesday – Thursday 5:00 – 9:00, Friday 4:00 – 11:00, Saturday 11:00 – 11:00, closed Sunday – Tuesday.
Located in the original breakroom of the cheese factory, The Breakroom offers lunch and dinner in a space overlooking the galleries. Due to following COVID guidelines, The Breakroom is temporarily closed.
Onyx Coffee Lab
Located to the right of the main entrance, on the lower level, Onyx Coffee Lab provides a fun place to rest and grab a coffee and a snack. Sit inside or on the outdoor patio.
Hours, Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 7:00. Closed Monday.
The Momentary Shop offers prints and books by featured artists and wonderfully unique gifts.
Outdoors Momentary Green provides room for activities, picnics, gatherings, music, art exhibits and special events.
Artist Nick Cave: Until
For Nick Cave, a dancer, fabric sculptor and performance artist based out of Chicago, Until is his largest, most ambitious project yet. The exhibit occupies 24,000 square feet of gallery space at The Momentary.
The title Until comes from the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty”. For some in the US, black men in particular, Nick explains that the words “guilty until proven innocent” ring more true. Until is the word that changes everything, the hinge into the unknown.
Nick’s new exhibit is, partly, a response to the killing of black men across the US.
He hopes that the immersive nature of his art invites the viewer to “step in”. Because once you step in, you are no longer an outside observer, you are implicated, involved.
Step into the different elements of the exhibit with me.
Wind Ornament Forest
Walking into the Until Exhibit, the first large room features thousands of colorful spinners and pinwheels. Strung from ceiling to floor, the initial effect is dizzying, joyful and playful. A path winds through the forest of spinners that do indeed rotate, reflecting flashes light.
On closer inspection, I realize many of the spinners contain silhouettes of guns, bullets and targets. Those silhouettes powerfully change the whole feel of the room. The images within the twirling spinners brought to mind the words “moving targets”. It unsettled me and made me reflective, which is Nick’s intention I believe.
Leaving the spinners, we enter a room divided into distinct areas.
I veer to the right, my attention captivated by the sparkling crystal cloud suspended above me. Thousands of crystals dangle from wires and chandeliers mounted on a cloud shaped structure.
As Nick worked on the spinners project, a question arose.
“Is there racism in heaven?”
The question birthed the crystal cloud. Beneath it, the chandeliers dazzle. Looking up through a large chandelier, I glimpsed a floor above, covered with found objects. Peering up reminds me of the song, “Holes in the Floor of Heaven”. The lyrics tell us that loved ones who pass on watch us and watch over us, through the holes in the floor of heaven.
Four yellow ladders give access to small platforms, which in turn offer views of heaven above the cloud. Nick collects found objects and heaven contains a wild assortment of ceramic birds and animals, gold statues, flowers, fruit, an old phonograph and, disturbing to me initially, those small lawn jockeys that used to be popular years ago. I never liked those statues.
They depict seated black boys holding out a lantern, a fishing pole or a ring through which horse reins could be tied. Nick rescues these statues, from flea markets and yard sales, and places dream catchers in their hands, symbolizing a new life where anything is possible.
We climb stairs to the mezzanine, to view the top of the cloud and other massive works of art better seen from above.
Beaded Wall Art
After studying the top of the cloud, and allowing feelings to surface, I turn to examine the magnificent beaded wall art. Millions of glass and plastic beads, strung on netting, create waterfalls of color. These massive works of art boggle the mind, hanging in a three story space.
How long did it take to create these?
The security guard below told us to look for the hidden messages. They aren’t hard to find. On one wall hanging a peace sign and a happy face peer at us. On the other, the word POWER stands out.
Nick drew inspiration from graffiti marred cliffs he saw, as he traveled on the train from Penn Station in New York City. In that graffiti, words of hate caught his attention. Nick re-framed his experience, creating instead colorful art that offers hope and optimism.
The last room we visit contains a moving, visual work of art titled Flow Blow.
Fans on scaffolding continually blow shiny blue and silver mylar strands into the room, creating a soothing waterfall effect. The hum of the fans and the mesmerizing movement of the mylar strands work their magic.
Nick intends for this room to provide a peaceful environment to process thoughts and emotions. He hopes people walk away, back through the exhibit, changed by their experience.
My Thoughts About Until
This is a unique and moving exhibit, by a talented artist.
I read that in 1992, Nick sat in a Chicago park, stunned by the news of the beating of Rodney King and the LA riots. Feeling vulnerable, as an African American man, and targeted, he gathered sticks off of the ground.
In his studio, he turned the sticks into his first soundsuit, a wearable sculpture with a defensive shell. Nick’s soundsuits effectively mask the entire body, erasing identity. This man’s art continues to provide a platform for civil discourse, debate, change and ultimately, hope.
I felt the contrast between the bright, colorful works of art and the deeper, sometimes darker messages they contain. I love that the exhibit is so large. It allows time to process images and feel the emotions as I slowly wander.
The mental image of Nick sitting on a park bench, wondering what might happen next, troubled me. I’ve never had a gun pointed at me. I’ve never been afraid that I am a target. The closest I can come to knowing that level of vulnerability and fear was when the EF5 tornado ripped through my Joplin neighborhood in 2011. Crouching in a closet, hearing the sounds of destruction around me, I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I didn’t know if I would survive.
That is a tiny fraction of what others feel, especially in the black community. And that hurts my heart.
I deeply appreciate the art of Nick Cave. My heart stirred, I feel inspired to create change. I want to listen and learn and discover how I can be that change.
Momentary is defined as “lasting for a short time”. It’s the perfect name for a place that frequently changes what they offer. My time at The Momentary was brief however the impact is lasting. I look forward to more experiences there. And I look forward to seeing what continues to unfold in my life as a result of my visit.
Learn more about Nick Cave HERE.
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