ON THE HUNT FOR GREAT ART: Alligood and Bacigalupi, shown here in St. Louis.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art president Don Bacigalupi has the greatest job on earth. So does the Bentonville museum’s assistant curator for special projects, Chad Alligood. Crystal Bridges announced today that the two are traveling all over the United States visiting artists studios to select works by 100-plus working artists to show in an exhibition, “State of the Art,” that will open on Sept. 13 next year. From the press release:

The pair began their research by reaching out to curators, gallerists and thought leaders in each region, who helped identify some 10,000 promising artists across the United States. From that group, Bacigalupi and Alligood developed a priority list of more than a thousand artists to visit, logging hundreds of hours of studio conversations before establishing the final checklist. “We’ve come to recognize that many extraordinary artists may be known in their own locales, but have yet to emerge on the national stage. Their work, however, deserves consideration from a national audience,” said Alligood. 

I’m not sure what a “thought leader” is — a critic? a guru? — but my thoughts are that this is a great idea for an exhibition. Bacigalupi and Alligood have been to 400 studios so far and expect to visit 600 or so more by the end of February. That’s a lot of art to think about. I’m volunteering if they want my help in the selection process!


The works will be hung throughout the museum, so that the contemporary American vision can be viewed next to the historic. The exhibition will run through Jan. 5, 2015. Admission will be free, thanks, the press release says, to a grant by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The exhibit will be available on Crystal Bridges’ iTunes app, which will include artist and curator commentary.