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The hunt for Bentonville

The road to Crystal Bridges in
Bentonville, Arkansas

So where the hell is Bentonville, Arkansas, anyway (see post)? We need to know because that’s where our beloved Thomas Eakins‘ The Gross Clinic is headed. We looked up the road to Bentonville on the internet, and learned it is about 1,220 miles from Philadelphia–about 22 hours 34 mins, according to Google maps. At today’s gasoline prices in an average car, it would set you back $134, one way, which is the way we’re afraid our painting is going. One way to oblivion.

Everyone’s still in shock and so are we. So here are some of our shocked responses on how we can raise $68 million in the next 42 days.

PMA, here’s what you can do

We think the Philadelphia Museum of Art should get special dispensation to de-acquisition certain works which we wouldn’t miss so much anyway. We say sell off the baroque period to the Getty, the only museum with a budget to buy.

PAFA, do something

We would advise the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, which owes Eakins something big for their institutiional failure to recognize his genius during his lifetime, to also sell something– except PAFA has already de-acquisitioned its European baroque paintings so we can’t imagine what else they have that might bring in big bucks.

Donald, do this or you’re fired, and Ed, you too

So that leaves Donald Trump and Ed Rendell. Casinos are going to save us. If Steve Wynn can put Picassos in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, we want Donald Trump to suitably house Thomas Eakins’ Gross Clinic in his casino/playpalace in Philadelphia.

And if riverboat gambling ever rises again from the muddy bottom of the Delaware, put the thing on a casino boat. But let it stay in Philadelphia waters–the waters that so often served Eakins and his paintings.

Friends of the Barnes, play a new note

We don’t image the proponents of saving the Barnes in Merion have enough dough to cough up $68 million, but surely they can turn over their well-oiled Friends of the Barnes publicity machine to the effort.

Mayor Street, where aaaare yoooooooou?

In addition, what happened to our mayor, the same guy who killed the Office of Arts and Culture? He’s been silent. Does it mean he isn’t doing anything? We think that saving The Gross Clinic could be the cornerstone of his Neighborhood Initiative, if he can figure out a neighbor who can bankroll a good chunk of change.

Ultimately, we are heartbroken, because no consortiums can put together a competitive offer in less than 45 days. And so we think we’re losing this masterwork, seeing it divorced from its social, political and cultural roots and context. This sets a terrible example for children who are looking at this, seeing a piece of civic and institutional history being sold off cavalierly and secretively for a load of plaster and mortar.

P.S. this just in
from MikeWebkist, one of our flickr friends:

For the amount she’s spending, that Walton could buy everyone in Bentonville a plane ticket to Philly to see it right here! And they’d all get a vacation to boot!