Momentary ready for 2020 launch

Momentary ready for 2020 launch


In February 2020, Bentonville’s performing and visual arts venue The Momentary will finally open its doors, nearly four years after Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art first announced its intention to transform a 63,000-square-foot former Kraft Foods plant in downtown Bentonville into a contemporary arts space.

The years in between have held a great deal of anticipation for the new project, and periodic developments along the way have given the public a better idea of what to expect, such as when the new organization received its official name in 2017. Crystal Bridges Executive Director Rod Bigelow told reporter Robbie Neiswanger that the name “The Momentary” was “about the idea that every time you come, you’ll experience something new and interesting. The exciting ideas of contemporary artists of our time is that they’re always propelling us forward in ways that we may not expect, and I think that’s what we’re looking for in this space and, therefore, the name.”

That same year, another clue to the direction of The Momentary was dropped when Belgian arts administrator Lieven Bertels was chosen to lead the organization. Bertels is a highly respected arts administrator whose resume includes running high-powered, high-profile international arts festivals like Leeuwarden 2018 and the Sydney Festival, the largest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

“I got really excited about this,” Bertels told this reporter in 2018 about his move to Arkansas. “I thought it was remarkable that there would be another opportunity for me to help build another arts center. But also, it’s just such a game changer for a region and a city. It’s a really exciting project to be involved in.

“There are plants that you have to uproot from time to time and give new soil, and I think I’m one of those,” he continued. “But in equal measures, this was both thrilling and scary.”

Now, with only two months until opening day, Bertels sounds enthusiastic — and confident — about the future.

“It’s an exciting time right now,” he notes. “As we inch closer to opening, my days are filled with ensuring we are prepared not only for opening but also for a jam-packed first year where we get to interact with the visitors more on a regular basis and welcome them into the space. Once The Momentary is open, we anticipate to not just be planning and plotting but also engaging with our guests and visiting artists. It’s exciting to be a part of bringing more arts and culture to the Heartland!”

Bertels and The Momentary have released a schedule of events through April 2020, giving audiences the clearest idea yet of what to expect from the new organization. The year kicks off with a festival called “Time Being.”

“We are thrilled to celebrate the opening of the Momentary with ‘Time Being,’ our inaugural festival of performance,” says Bertels. “The festival will take place on Feb. 22 and 23, with a Momentary member preview on Feb. 21. There will be multiple dance, music and theater experiences by artists from around the world including Courtney Barnett, FM Belfast, BANDALOOP, Kristin Worrall and more. I’d strongly encourage those planning to join us that weekend to go online to to view the full list of performances and start customizing their ‘Time Being’ experience. Tickets to all performances are on sale now.”

Meanwhile, the first gallery show will be “State of the Art 2020”; it links back to The Momentary’s sister organization, Crystal Bridges.

“‘State of the Art 2020’ is the inaugural exhibition for The Momentary, continuing the journey launched in ‘State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now’ at Crystal Bridges in 2014,” says Bertels. “Our curators traveled around the country once again, which resulted in a selection of a diverse group of 61 artists, from varied backgrounds and communities and at different points in their careers. More than 100 artworks — including paintings, sculpture, photography, video, performance and mixed media — will be featured in ‘State of the Art 2020,’ most created in the last three years. The exhibition will be on view at The Momentary and Crystal Bridges from Feb. 22 through May 24, 2020, free for all visitors.”

Much about The Momentary sounds revolutionary — like the way it aims at personalizing the audience experience by offering patrons “access to artists.”

“Being able to work with living artists allows us greater opportunity to bring them into the space to share their stories and outlook on art in the world,” says Bertels. “We’re looking to be able to connect visitors with artists through performances, talks, open studio days with the artist-in-residence program, dinners with chefs from around the country and through our own channels like social media, blog and e-newsletters.”



The Momentary

507 SE E St., Bentonville


Spring Lineup

‘Time Being’ Festival

Feb. 22-23

Featuring artists from around the world, “Time Being” offers dance, music and theater experiences. Twelve different artists or groups will perform.

‘State of the Art 2020’

Feb. 22-May 24

This new exhibition continues the journey launched in “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” (2014), and curators traveled once again to find and feature artists working in communities around the country. More than 60 different artists will participate.

Freshgrass Music Festival

April 24-25

With a diverse lineup featuring icons and new discoveries alike punctuated by special commissions, contests and unique collaborations, FreshGrass will bring the Momentary to joyful life with music on outdoor and indoor stages, in the galleries and throughout the campus. Allison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show and local musicians Smokey and the Mirror are among the artists performing.

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