Lenny Campallo of DC Art News posted his praise for a Wal-Mart heir who is buying some very expensive art. After reading this Newsweek article and knowing someone from Bentonville, I sent him a reply:
I had to chime in about your praise for Walton & Bentonville. I read the Newsweek article (which you didn’t cite in your blog entry!) and as a geographer, as well as someone from Saint Louis, Missouri, which you mentioned in your blog entry (and has an amazing & free art museum). I can tell you the number one reason why Bentonville will never, EVER become a first rate city or even close to it:
Bentonville is located in DRY COUNTY– that means you cannot purchase alcohol anywhere near the area that the art museum will be, rather you have to drive over 10 miles across the state line to Caverna, Missouri to purchase liquor. No where in Benton County (named after Missouri State Senator Thomas Benton) will there ever be an After Hours like we are able to enjoy at the Hirshhorn. Not unless she is serves free liquor.
This is the sole reason why Bentonville, Fayetteville, and the largest city of Benton County, Rogers (population 42,000) will never become first rate, second rate, or even third rate cities. Being from the vast cultural wasteland known as “flyover country,” I speak with a certain degree of understanding of how life is like in the inner regions of America. Places that move slow, places that have strong traditional values, places where people think temperance is simply okay, but also places where a lot of folks will not live because of restrictions on what will bring them to the region- like live entertainment, restaurants, bars, and dance clubs. Destinations that a creative class tends to frequent, but not in Bentonville, because they are illegal!
Essentially, she might have billions of dirty, ill-gotten money to buy art with, but it will not bring artists or new citizens to Bentonville. Maybe a few tourists driving in from Branson or Tulsa, but thats it.
I feel sorry for Philadelphia. I truly do. In a way, her purchases mirror the exact means in which Wal-Mart is able to exploit the one inherent flaw of capitalism- when too much money is in the hands of too few companies everyone suffers, and so will the art world.
By the way, she can purchase a map of mine for 50 million dollars and I will give $49,999,999 to the former female employees who have allegedly been underpaid compared to their male counterparts at Wal-Mart.
Moreover, I hope she has a wing of her museum dedicated to women in the arts. I really do. This artisan mea culpa would be an honest, but passive apology to the millions of women who have suffered and inadvertently gave her the extreme wealth she is using to build the art museum.
500 Years of Women in the Arts –
Start buying Walton….