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May 13, 2005



It might as well be in a private collection. I grew up in Arkansas. Who is going to go see this painting in Bentonville, Arkansas? This is a state with its public education system under court supervision. It has no connection to Arkansas whatsoever. If the Waltons have $35 million to spend, they could spend it on providing healthcare, and an average salary above $19,000, for their employees.


Of course they could. And Henry Clay Frick could have spent his money on paying union wages instead of hiring strikebreakers and buying Ingres paintings. I find it depressing that we in a new Gilded Age as well. But I'm not surprised that, given the world as it is, rich people buy paintings and build museums to gain status.

I don't find your other points especially compelling. No, it has no connection to Arkansas. As my remark about The Oxbow indicates, I like the idea of works staying where they belong. But we don't complain about all those European paintings in our museums, do we?

As for who will see it, who sees Marfa? Bentonville seems accessible compared to that. And I gather from the report that the effort is to make it something of a destination - the Safdie building, and so on. Perhaps misguided, but that seems to be the idea. And there are plenty of fine collections in out-of-the-way locations. Should Manchester send all of its paintings to New York? Who visits the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska? OK, I know one person who does, but aside from him? Since one persumes that funding will not be a problem for the museum, the location should not be an impediment to its operations. After that, it may very well get attendance figures comparable to other small, regional institutions.

I'm not saying this is an unqualifed good thing. I am worried that the museum will be a tacky, inappropriate mess, and I would have preferred a different outcome. I'm sure the MET and the NG put together a good offer, for instance, and I think the Library should have taken it instead of holding out for the highest offer. But its trustees seem to have felt otherwise, and in some ways it was their job to do so. I don't cry so much for Kindred Spirits, nor do I think this is worst possible result.


Well, it's nice for the Eastern-bred faculty at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (where I took my PhD) just down the road from Bentonville. They already have a Walton Art Center, built long before WalMart became an NPR supporter--I know how hard that is for some to swallow.

As a former member of the working class, I can only hope that art in all the wrong places means art for eveyone.


As a former member of the working class, I can only hope that art in all the wrong places means art for eveyone.

In the words of Big Bill Haywood, nothing is too good for the proletariat. I had meant to mention nearby Fayetteville, so thank you.


Sour grapes and a lot of New York attitude. Wait, an innappropriate and tacky mess is the way I describe New York.


The point I enjoyed the most was that the selling of this painting to Walmart defeats the purpose it held in the first place. Thomas Cole and William Bryant were against industrial movements and the movements westward aka Manifest Destiny. This painting was meant to look at their efforts as men who believed in the preservation of nature and its importance to all our lives. It's rather ironic that Walmart has bought this painting.

Nothing that went on here was illegal, let's keep that in mind. And it is anyone's right, with the proper bank account, to buy whatever they want. However, which is more important here? Public good or private rights? Sure the painting will be apart of a gallery, and open for the public to go see. If I wanted to see the Mona Lisa I'm not going to cry over the fact that I have to travel to France in order to do so. So why should it be a huge deal that this painting was moved from "cultured" New York that deserves to have everything that is anything of importance in the art world to a smaller area that is not as populated? This all seems fine, and justified. However I can't help but feel that even though it is a fine idea it is morally wrong.

Another smaller point. What will happen to the sharing of works of art within the museum structure? If a piece is privately owned, then what is stopping the owner from jacking up the price in order to have it go on tour? Now art is becoming even more expensive and less of a public enjoyment and more of a issue on money. And this is all defeating the purpose of why we all enjoy art in the first place. I don't go to see things because I heard it sold for millions of dollars, I go because it's something that I enjoy doing, and this is all taking away from the enjoyment of art and making it into a big corporate mess. But such is America in the year 2005, gladly ruining anything they can put a price tag on.

We are back to that question or public or private good. And in a culture where the arts are slowly being taken out of schools across America, one would think that making it easier for things to be accessable for educational reasons would be more important than a higher bid. Soon enough every major corporation in America is going to jump on this "if you want to be important you have to own a famous painting" bandwagon and all of our art will be taken out of museums and put in privately owned ones in small towns in the midwest. I honestly can't wait for the day that I have to travel to Idaho to see a Van Gogh.

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