After returning from a week and a half India, I wanted to unwind with a little weekend roadtrip to Bentonville, Arkansas to check out a new exhibit, State of the Art, at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. For those who know me, I am not an art museum kind of person, but this particular exhibit showcases 102 contemporary American artists that are relatively unknown, until now. I also like the idea of people around the country working to create beautiful things, even if just for themselves.

We stayed at the 21c Museum Hotel, which is connected to the museum by a series of walking trails. The hotel itself is quite nice and has a large gallery on the first floor that is open to the public 24 hours a day. The best part is that you can get a drink at the bar and walk around while looking at the pieces. I liked the suitcase bench right outside the front door.
We took a quick stroll around downtown (nothing is open on Sunday afternoon besides the Wal*Mart Museum) and got ready for dinner, which was right downstairs from our room. The Hive is a hip but relaxed restaurant with delicious and inventive cocktails (I had a pineapple and espresso concoction). They also place green, plastic penguins around the restaurant as you eat – we had one that shared cocktails and a cheese plate with us. The food was excellent – I had an Autumn salad with gingered beets, the tomato panisse and we shared the apple crumble with bourbon ice cream and caramel sauce. It was topped off with cotton candy that was served with the bill – I was too stuffed to have more than a bite.
After a yummy breakfast the next morning (a latte, fresh berries and an apricot muffin), we hiked over to the museum. The pieces ranged from whimsical pottery (upper left) to giant pinatas (upper right) to a ladder you climbed to view a miniature scene (middle left) to a giant, amazing quilt (middle right) to a floating ladder man symbolizing economic struggle (bottom right). Along the way, we had some lunch at the museum cafe (they always have such great food). I had the sweet potato soup, the kid’s grilled cheese and a frosted sugar cookie. In all, it was a great way to spend a day away from home. If you’re in the area, the State of the Art exhibit is open until January 19th and you should definitely check it out!

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