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Crescent Hotel

Overnight on the Trail
The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, a Historic Hotel of America in Eureka Springs.


Fayetteville Artosphere

Walton Arts Center
Arkansas Premier Center for Arts & Entertainment.

Crystal Bridges Art Museum Crystal Bridges Museum
of American Art

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Sacred Earth GalleryPhotographs of trail views were captured by Edward Robison III.

Arkansas Things To Do – 5 Cultural Activities That Will Broaden Your Horizons

If you are looking for things to do that will inspire you then Northwest Arkansas may be just the place to visit. If you are not familiar with the state you may think that you have to go to Little Rock, Arkansas to find cultural attractions but that is not true. In fact there are many tourist places in Arkansas that encourage tourists to discover unique ways of life through interesting and engaging cultural activities. Cultural activities keep American heritage alive. Consider participating in one of these five cultural activities with roots in Ozark living:

1. Foreign Interests

foreign film arkansas
Carnegie Library in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Who thought you could travel the world from a small town. In the quirky little town of Eureka Springs, they enjoy experiencing different cultures through foreign film. From Jordan to Demark to France and beyond, foreign films touch on subjects that are important to all people, regardless of where we call home. Don’t speak Dutch? Don’t worry, the films are subtitled. You might be surprised how much you will understand just paying attention to body language. Sometimes, words get in the way. Films are screened in the Eureka Springs Carnegie Library. The library is a beautiful building located in the heart of a quaint little mountain town. Nestled next to the Crescent Spring, one of the many natural springs this town was named for, the library sits at the original entry to the famous Crescent Hotel which sits high on the mountain overlooking the town.

Speaking of films, the 1929 Lyric Theater in Harrison was built to screen the “talkies.” Find the Lyric Theater on the Arkansas Art Trail.

2. Music Traditions

Northwest Arkansas is a mountainous region with a strong music tradition. Today, music is still an important part of everyday life. From classical to old-time music, intimate gatherings enjoy each other as they play acoustic instruments to sonatas, ballads, and folk songs. The Cello Choir is a group of cellists who meet every Saturday at 11am in the beautiful Gavioli Chapel on the historic loop in Eureka Springs. Under diffused light streaming through stained glass, nine or so cellos played by people of all ages play four or more parts. People stroll in and out to listen just a few minutes or the entire hour.

Just outside of Eureka Springs, a hootenanny meets on the historic Berryville town square. A hootenanny, also called a wingding, is an informal group of folks of all ages playing banjos, guitars, fiddles and what have you. Mostly folk music, the hootenanny meets every Friday 7-9pm at the old Grand View Hotel.

Discover endearing American life visiting several small town squares like Eureka Springs, Bentonville, and Harrison on the Arkansas Art Trail. A hootenanny is a great way to get to know one of Arkansas’ small towns.

3. Master Artists

The world’s newest art museum just opened in Northwest Arkansas. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art houses an amazing collection of American art ranging from the colonial period through today. With a focus on education, Crystal Bridges offers guests a chance to Draw in the Galleries. Study elements of art while looking at masterworks. Class subjects include Landscape, Portraiture, and Figure Drawing. They are offered every month and registration is required.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is Day One of the Arkansas Art Trail.

4. Native American Vessels

Basketmaking or basket weaving is an ancient craft. The Cherokee people of native America have long been respected for their basketmaking skills and best known for their complex “double weave” baskets. Often made from white oak, baskets were valuable articles of commerce throughout history. Today, their value ranges from utilitarian to works of art. Learn to make your own authentic Cherokee “double weave” basket at Fire Om Earth studios and become a link in the chain that keeps American heritage alive.

Two Arkansas Art Trail sites in particular have Native American significance. Native Americans passed through Pea Ridge National Military Park following the Trail of Tears. Blue Spring Heritage Center near Inspiration Point was site to numerous Native American settlements. See artifacts and hear some of their stories at Blue Spring.

5. Love of the Land

Stewardship and environmentally conscious thinking is part of today’s culture. Recycling is essential to reducing physical and financial waste and preserves the beautiful natural resources of the Ozark Mountains for future generations. In that spirit, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art teaches art using recycled materials. Bring Your Own Art and make a collage using found objects.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is just one stop along the Arkansas Art Trail where nature and art intersect. Crystal Bridges also maintains trails. Discover the Arkansas Art Trail and Crystal Bridges Art Trails.

One of the best attractions in Arkansas is the Arkansas Art Trail. Ten stops take you to places where nature and art come together. See breathtaking vistas, mountain views, nationally significant sites and architectural features on the trail.

Architecture on the Arkansas Art Trail

Interested in architecture? Learn more about architecture in Arkansas and plan on visiting the Top Trail Sites for Architecture on the Arkansas Art Trail.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art by Moshe Safdie.

An apprentice of Louis Kahn, Safdie’s works are immediately recognizable. Meaningful spaces created by curving architecture that complement the essence of their setting and culture. Crystal Bridges exemplifies Safdie’s principle of responding to the essence of place even bearing its name for the natural creek it spans. See the layout of Crystal Bridges and read about the challenges of constructing these cable roofed buildings and the hurdles of completing this project while continuing to build responsibly, treading as lightly as possible on the landscape. The Crystal Bridges complex pays deference to the natural setting through organic shapes, fantastic views, and native materials used for its construction and is architecture with a purpose. Visit and discover for yourself how Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s collection echoes themes of American landscape and life. View an interview with Moshe Safdie on the modern issues in architecture and how he is working to shape the public realm and humanize megascale building.

Thorncrown Chapel by E. Fay Jones.

E. Fay Jones was an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff. Jones created organic architecture from simple materials: wood, stone, glass, and steel and much of Jones work can be found throughout northwest Arkansas. It can be said that the touchstone of his architectural accomplishments is Thorncrown Chapel, a place of “gentle beauty and quiet dignity that celebrates the land and embraces the American Spirit.” Jones received the highest honor awarded by the American Institute of Architects, the Gold Medal, for “humble, original, intelligent, and uncompromising [architecture].” (Quotes taken from the AIA Gold Medal citation presented to Fay Jones. Now part of the Special Collections Division of the University of Arkansas Libraries.)

Thorncrown was awarded the American Institute of Architecture’s Design of the Year Award (1981) and the American Institute of Architecture’s Design of the Decade Award (1980). It is #4 of the members of the American Institute of Architects Top Buildings of the Twentieth Century and won the AIA Twenty-five Year Award for a design that has stood the test of time for more than 25 years (2006).

Tour organic architecture on the Arkansas Art Trail. Experience organic architecture for yourself at the Cottages at Crescent Park. The Cottages are designed by David McKee, apprentice of E. Fay Jones. McKee’s design philosophy is rooted in the principles of organic architecture as developed by Frank Lloyd Wright and E. Fay Jones.

1886 Crescent Hotel by Isaac S. Taylor.

The Crescent was one of America’s most luxurious resort hotels boasting eighteen inch thick walls of White River limestone quarried just miles from the site of the hotel.  Surrounded by acres of pristine woodlands, the hotel sat on top of West Mountain overlooking the valley and town below. Read more about the history of the Crescent Hotel.

Isaac S. Taylor was the chief architect of the Largest World’s Fair ever held,  the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. In the process he was charged with finishing one of the largest public parks in America, Forest Park. He was also a member and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Read more about the 1904 Worlds Fair and see photos of structures in the fair.

Victorian Vernacular-Architecture in Eureka Springs

Beginning in the late 1800’s, the machine age triggered the revival of traditional craftsmanship in building and the use of local materials which lead to the Queen Anne and Arts and Crafts style homes. Vernacular buildings inherently weave local traditions, building materials and skills into a recognizable form.

The town of Eureka Springs showcases Victorian vernacular with its many remaining historic structures. In fact, the whole town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Discover Arts and Crafts style elements in the 1905 Basin Park Hotel and Queen Anne residences on both sides of the historic loop. If you are downtown, just look up. Victorian homes are tucked into the mountainsides surrounding downtown Eureka Springs.

Photos that appear on the Arkansas Art Trail website were taken by local Eureka Springs artist Edward C. Robison. See more of his work at Sacred Earth Gallery. For cultural events on the Arkansas Art Trail, find us on Facebook.

FOLLOW THE ARKANSAS ART TRAIL… WHERE NATURE INSPIRES ART.

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