Restructured Rhythm

Momentary forges new path with exhibitions


Bentonville’s groundbreaking new arts venue the Momentary may not have had the debut year its staff was anticipating, but in spite of the effects of a global pandemic, the Momentary was still able to host the two significant temporary exhibitions planned for 2020. In 2021, curatorial focus will shift to a roster that offers more variety by exploring the capabilities of the space, as staff continue to look to the future of the venue.

Upon its opening in February, the Momentary hosted “State of the Art: 2020” across the venue’s entire footprint — an exhibition it shared with its big sister space, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. From showcasing more than 60 artists to one single revolutionary vision, “Nick Cave: Until” next occupied the venue as the artist’s monumental pieces were given the room to breathe and speak on their own.

(Courtesy Photo/Christopher Garcia Valle)

In February of 2021, three new artists will fill smaller plots of the Momentary’s multiple gallery spaces as the curatorial programming offers visitors a different way to interact with art.

“It’s exciting because we’re now getting into what we’re hoping and thinking will be the rhythm for how exhibitions happen at the Momentary,” reveals Lauren Haynes, director of artist initiatives and curator, contemporary art, at the Momentary and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “We want people to really be able to experience art at the Momentary in a range.”

Opening Feb. 13, the first of the new exhibitions will see site-specific works from an artist who has been considering how her work will respond to the space since the construction phase. “Sarah Cain: In Nature” will include works on canvas, functional floor paintings, sculpture, a stained-glass window and even a chain she saw during her initial visit that was left over from the Momentary’s factory days.

“The works that she’s making, they’re abstract and beautiful and brightly colored, and really thinking also about the impact that nature has had on her in this moment — this moment of when we’re all sheltering in place and sheltering at home, and isolated, but also being able to go outside and spend time outside,” Haynes explains.

“At the Momentary, we’re really wanting to make it a space where people can come and see great and engaging art, but also art that isn’t afraid to make you think or maybe make you uncomfortable in a way that then pushes you to want to know more — to want to learn more about something or an artist or an artwork or a topic,” Haynes shares.
“Keep Your Head Down and Your eyes Open” by Derrick Adams
(Photo/Jenna Bascom; courtesy of the Museum of Art and Design)

“Derrick Adams: Sanctuary” opens Feb. 20 in Gallery 1 and Gallery 3 and uses art to examine a difficult piece of America’s past that is still lamentably relevant today. The Green Book, or “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” was a guidebook published from 1936 to 1967 to identify welcoming businesses, towns and even whole regions, as well as unsafe establishments for Black Americans during the Jim Crow era.

Through mixed-media collage and sculpture, Adams uses The Green Book as reference material to reflect on the concept of freedom of mobility — who has it and who doesn’t, even today.

“For some people, this is a historical document, and, yes, but the situation and the reason it was created and these circumstances we have now are still very much tied to this,” Haynes offers. “What Derrick is talking about and making commentary on is [that] this is still a radical act for a Black person to think about, ‘What does it mean to be able to go wherever you want?’ And how can we talk about this now?”

On Feb. 27, the third winter exhibition will open in Gallery 2 with “Diana Al-Hadid: Ash in the Trade Winds.” In using wall panels and sculptures created to look very delicate — but constructed of sturdy, strong materials — Al-Hadid explores dualities in gender, memory, globalism and progress. The mixing of materials also reflects Al-Hadid’s cross-cultural identity, being a Syrian immigrant raised in Ohio.

“These shows are all thinking about this idea of works created recently responding to the current moment and the times that we’re in. I think that’s going to be something that we effuse as much as possible in the Momentary,” Haynes says. “Particularly when we have trying moments or difficult moments that we’re all trying to understand, looking to these artists and looking to the work that they’re making to really help us gain a little context and to gain perspective, and maybe a perspective that we wouldn’t have thought about or understood without their works.”
“Ash in the Trade Winds” by Diana Al-Hadid
(Courtesy Photo/Timothy Doyon)

“She also develops these processes,” Haynes shares. “She experiments, she tries things. So she’s not doing something that someone else has done before. She’s innovating and creating her own style. And she’s very much bringing in references that are both Eastern and Western art historical references.

“That’s also something that all three of these artists have in common,” Haynes goes on, “they’re very much interested in history and art history and things that came before them, and how it all impacts and plays on their work, but again, in very different ways.”

Opening three new exhibitions across various spaces in the Momentary that will overlap visually — as guests move from one gallery to the next — but also temporally will offer a change of perspective on what feels right for the guests, artists and curatorial team.

“We’re really thinking about how can we, very early on in the Momentary’s trajectory, try new things and try new rhythms and see what makes sense?” Haynes muses. “Because we’re learning the space. I think we will continue to learn the space even past our first few years as every artist that we work with is allowing us to see the space in a different way, and even understanding different limits and different parameters and how we can bring it all together.”

(Courtesy Photo/Lisa DeLong)



Exhibition Schedule

‘Sarah Cain: In Nature’

WHEN — Feb. 13-May 30

‘Derrick Adams: Sanctuary’

WHEN — Feb. 20-June 6

‘Diana Al-Hadid: Ash in the Trade Winds’

WHEN — Feb. 27-June 13

WHERE — The Momentary, 507 S.E. E St. in Bentonville

“If someone wants to come and try to sort of escape what’s happening and not really think about it, hopefully they’ll find some refuge in the art that we’re showing,” says Lauren Haynes, director of artist initiatives and curator, contemporary art, at the Momentary and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, of the Momentary’s upcoming temporary exhibition schedule.
“Or if people actually want to think about it in a different way and really think about what perspectives these artists are offering about this contemporary moment and where we are as a country and where we’re going, they’ll also be able to find space for that as well.”
“Self Portrait” by Sarah Cain
(Courtesy Photo/Jeff McLane)

COST — Free

INFO — 367-7500,

Categories: In The News