Surrounded by hundreds of art from around the world, I tried to take it all in. I imagined spending hours and hours chatting with the artist Barton Benes about his collections. He’d share stories of each piece of art, where it came from and how he acquired it through a trade with a collector, dealer or artist in another country.
Instead, I sat at his table and chatted with his long time friend, Laurel Reuter, director of the North Dakota Museum of Art. The two had met many years before and had shared many conversations over the same table when it was in Barton’s New York apartment. After Barton’s death in May 2012, the table and the artist’s many collections traveled 1,500 miles to be a part of Barton’s Place, a recreation of the artist’s apartment in the Mezzanine Gallery at North Dakota Museum of Art.
Laurel told me how some of the pieces came to be… the stuffed rooster came from the museum assistant director, Matthew Wallace… the bull’s head came from a bull in the Running of the Bulls in Spain… the African pots and masks were acquired from a dealer… As she looked around the small space full of Barton’s life and memories, Laurel recalled a curious man, who could always make her laugh, even in the darkest of times. She remembered a conversation the two of them had about his belongings and what would happen to them when he passed. He didn’t want them to be picked our by family and friends and thrown out. Laurel suggested giving them to the museum to create the museum’s first period room, a 21st century artist’s studio. Laurel said the suggestion became a dream Barton held on to.
Now, that dream is a reality. The North Dakota Museum of Art opened Barton’s Place early this month. It’ll be on exhibit for an undetermined amount of time, with the hopes of turning it into a permanent exhibit. For more information on the exhibition, read my full article at gfherald.com or visit bartonlidicebenes.org.
Along with Barton’s Place, a collection of African pots and a batik exhibition are also going on at the museum. Be sure to check it all out before it’s too late!
And, James Rosenquist’s beautiful painting, “Through the Eye of the Needle to the Anvil” is STILL up! DO NOT MISS this one! The photo does NOT do it justice! Trust me!