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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Sam, Alice, and Bill

We sent the May/June 2013 issue of Evansville Living to print last week before I left on a press trip to Arkansas. This week, I returned to Evansville and was met by the new issue, hot off the press. It’s always exciting when the new issue arrives. Yours should be in your mailbox this week; it’s on newsstands now.

“Why are you going to Arkansas?” That’s what I was asked before I left on a five-day tour of Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas. (Our lack of information about Arkansas was met by their unfamiliarity with us. Even journalists on this trip had little knowledge of Evansville. Those who did know of our city were surprised to realize it was on the Ohio River.)

The State of Arkansas and the convention and visitor’s bureaus of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith are working hard, together, to promote the assets of the capital city and Northwest Arkansas — which now include the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The state promotes its many Clinton destinations as a “Billgrimage,” and certainly the privately-funded presidential library is the first stop.

Up the highway in Bentonville, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton bristles when asked the cost of her investment in Crystal Bridges. “You don’t ask what a gift costs,” is her stock reply, according to the guides we met. The museum, opened on Nov. 11, 2011, attracted 600,000 visitors its first year — more than doubling projections. What also is known is that in 2005 Walton purchased Kindred Spirits, by Asher B. Durand as the museum’s centerpiece for reportedly $36 million from the New York Public Library.

I’ll write more about Little Rock, Ark., and Bentonville, Ark., in our July/August issue.

Photo by Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.

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