I knew he’d be there, waiting. I’d seen his photo and heard a story or two, so I wasn’t fearful of missing him. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Still, when I turned and saw him at the end of the gallery, I was taken aback, both by his air of patient weariness and by his obvious disregard for the people who’d clustered around him. Edging closer, I listened to their conversation.
“What’s his name?”
“Don’t think he’s got a name.”
“He sure enough looks real. I was about ready to ask him the time.”
“Yeh, and if he’d answered, you’d have been right surprised.”
At Crystal Bridges, it doesn’t take long to become comfortable enough to join in.
“He reminds me of my dad,” I said. “That’s how he’d look when Mom made him go shopping with her.”
After the laughter subsided, one of the women looked at a man I took to be her husband and said,
“That’s right. I’ve seen that look. But the artist ought to have put a woman on that bench, too – for all the times we’ve been dragged off to hardware stores and farm sales.”
“My favorite work of art changes regularly, but today… it’s a Duane Hanson sculpture titled “Man on a Bench”. It’s literally a depiction of an older gentleman sitting on a bench. I like it because of the way our visitors interact with the sculpture – they’re surprised by it, intrigued, sometimes taken aback in that they think it’s real. It elicits great response, from all ages.”
There’s a lot to interact with at Crystal Bridges, beginning with WalMart heiress Alice Walton. Once she put her energies – and her considerable money – behind her vision of accessible, quality art for the people of Arkansas and surrounding states, the reactions were swift and often predictable.