Catherine Wallack, architectural records archivist for University Libraries, will host a gallery conversation titled Benton and the Buffalo River at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This event is free and open to the public, and no registration is required.
“There could hardly be more appropriate place to talk about Thomas Hart Benton and the Buffalo River than at Crystal Bridges,” said Wallack. “Capturing specific American expressions of art and conceptions of nature are certainly shared themes with the artist and museum, but there is a consanguinity that runs deeper. This particular place is the convergence of so many things, literally and symbolically, that tie to both Benton and the Buffalo.”
Thomas Hart Benton is known for using the Buffalo River as a frequent subject of his work. Less frequently talked about aspects of the artist’s life include the longevity of his relationship with this distinctive Arkansas river and his role as a conservationist working to protect the waterway. Long before celebrity activism was a widespread phenomenon, Benton was using his visibility to call attention to the cause of the Buffalo.
“Thomas Hart Benton and the Buffalo River is a compelling topic because it is simultaneously so connected with the characters and places that are familiar to me and yet at odds with Thomas Hart Benton as he has been presented to me,” said Wallack.
The Arkansas Architectural Archives preserves the records of significant projects and noted design professionals in the state.
Wallack earned a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Art/Art History from Rice University and a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University. She practiced in the design field and taught design before pursuing a career in archival work.