On September 13, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will open an exhibition entitled State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, dubbed by the New York Times as “a kind of heartland response to the Whitney Biennial.” In order to select the 102 artists for the show, the museum’s president, Don Bacigalupi, and an assistant curator, Chad Alligood, logged more than 100,000 miles and spent several months visiting the studios and homes of almost 1,000 artists.
Crystal Bridges, often referred to as the Walmart Museum in the Ozarks (it’s actually not directly affiliated with Walmart, but was spearheaded by Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton) officially opened in November 2011. Bacigalupi was appointed director of the museum in August 2009 and was promoted to president and board member last year. He is best known to Texans for his tenure as director and chief curator of UH’s Blaffer Gallery from 1995-1999 and the Brown Curator of Contemporary Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art from 1993-1995. In an article for the Huffington Post, Bacigalupi stated that they started out with a list of 10,000 artists’ names. “I started with people I knew in Texas and Ohio, because that’s where I had spent the majority of my career,” Bacigalupi said.
According to Crystal Bridges’ blog, they have finalized the checklist but will not release the list of artists’ names until shortly before the opening “in order to respect each artist’s preferences regarding publicity.” But they have lifted the official “gag order” on the selected artists, so names are beginning to leak out. The San Antonio Express-News recently announced three area artists (Michael Menchaca, Chris Sauter, and Vincent Valdez) to be included in the exhibition. The only specific information from Crystal Bridges is that show will include “25 from Texas and the South.”
If you’re on that list, let us know so that we can give you the congratulations you deserve!