One of the more innovative, and unusual initiatives of the southern artworld, Louisville, Kentucky-based museum hotel chain 21c launched its fourth location last weekend, 21c Bentonville, in the home of Walmart corporate headquarters as well as site of Walmart heiress Alice Walton’s Moshdie Safdie-designed museum Crystal Bridges. A range of artist events and a late-night artworld pajama party celebrated the opening and the launch of its inaugural exhibition, “Hybridity,” which features the work of Alexandre Arrechea, Joana Vasconcelos, Pieter Hugo, Marcus Coates, and other notable contemporary artists exploring the states of flux or ambivalence across realms ranging from environment, class, urban reconstruction, and empire, as well as various investigations into literal cross-species hybridization.
21c — which is its own unique hybrid — offers traditional luxury hotel amenities and a downstairs restaurant and lounge in combination with a full ground-floor exhibition space that plays host to both permanent installations and shows curated from the (massive) collection of its owners, Louisville-based philanthropists Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown, by chief curator and director of arts programming Alice Gray Stites. Among the events on tap for the weekend were panel discussions by featured permanent-installation artists including Brooklyn-based Chris Doyle, showcasing his digital animation work on industrial decay and natural regeneration Waste_Land as well as selected watercolors, along with Serkan Ozkaya, Anne Peabody, and Sam Van Aken, whose site contribution to 21c, Tree of 40 Fruit, is botanically grafted to yield 40 different kinds of fruit.
Saturday featured an afternoon screening of Shadow, a collaboration between artist Slater Bradley and cinematographer Ed Lachman as part of Bradley’s series Dead Ringer, which, in extension of Bradley’s long-term Doppelgangers series, retraces the steps of River Phoenix within his final film, Dark Blood, as an investigation into the intangible connections that exist across time and space. Saturday night’s festivities went into full gear with performances from artists including aerialist Tatyana Petruk, stunt bicyclist Kenny Belaey, parkour artist Travis Graves, a DJ set by Brooklyn artist Derrick Adams, and a long, long night of dancing, southern-style.