Two New Shows Debut for the Momentary’s Spring Exhibition Season

By Erica Harmon

Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Across two new art exhibitions, both debuting at the Momentary in downtown Bentonville, landscapes and artworks about land pose larger questions of history, our current moment and our relationship with nature. Esteban Cabeza de Baca: Let Earth Breathe is a solo exhibition inhabiting the contemporary art space alongside a group show called A Divided Landscape.

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↑ Esteban Cabeza de Baca, Besar La Tierra, 2021, acrylic on canvas, 5 x 15 ft. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York. 

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Esteban Cabeza de Baca

Esteban Cabeza de Baca: Let Earth Breathe

Open through Sept. 25

In his solo exhibition Let Earth Breathe, New York-based artist Esteban Cabeza de Baca explores our relationship with the environment, the present climate crisis and our own national history with original works of painting, sculpture and site-specific installations. Conceived as a collaboration with nature, the exhibition is on view in the indoor Lobby Gallery as well as in outdoor spaces at the Momentary, featuring murals, sculpture and a native plant installation.


During the exhibition, ceramic workshops will be held within the gallery to make vessels for a seed bank of vegetables, medicinal plants and pollinator plant species. Seed packets are available and free for the public to pick up throughout the run of the exhibition. As the artist says, “Native plant-based models of care can relinquish our dependence from the industrial models of subsistence.”

A Divided Landscape

Open May 14-Sept. 25

From the founding of the United States to the present day, artists have employed mythic imagery — towering mountains, placid rivers and sunlit plains — to illustrate the vast expanses and striking scenery of the American West. What has been left out — the footprints, fences, military trenches, deeds, handshakes, broken treaties and blood — tells a darker, more accurate story.


In A Divided Landscape, seven contemporary artists — Matthew Barney, Andrea Carlson, Nicholas Galanin, Brian Jungen, Lucy Raven, Xaviera Simmons and Kara Walker — confront the historical and cultural narratives of the American West. Through paintings, drawings, sculpture and mixed-media installations, this sweeping exhibition reclaims space throughout the Momentary galleries and outside around the grounds. Original works are displayed alongside historical paintings from the collection at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that speak to the dominant frontier narrative. 


Together, the artists in this exhibition examine landscape paintings that promoted westward expansion and present a post-colonial version of those landscapes to share the full story of the American West.

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Xaviera Simmons, Composition One for Score A, 2010, color photograph, 40 x 50 in. Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery.


 ↓  Francis Cropsey, The Backwoods of America, 1858, oil on canvas, 42 × 70 1/4 in.Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2006.100. Photography by Edward C. Robison III