In celebration of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s first ten years, we collaborated with our friends at Crystal Bridges to feature a few of the remarkable people contributing to the well-being of the Northwest Arkansas community.
Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting Rosie the Riveter, which turns attention to the American women who worked in factories during World War II, these profiles feature individuals in our region who contribute in essential ways to the needs of our community. Each person highlighted works tirelessly, and often without fanfare, to spread hope and healing.
The portraits in this series will be on display in the Community Champions section of Crystal Bridges at 10, which will open to the public from July 11, 2021 to September 27, 2021. Crystal Bridges at 10 is an immersive exhibition with 10 distinct art experiences celebrating the museum’s collection and the local community one decade into the museum’s lifetime.
Q&A w/ Nick
Since you’ve been present in Northwest Arkansas, where are the places you have found community? What are some of the local places, past or present, you go to celebrate?
I‘ve found community at my barbershop, my church (St. James Missionary Church) as well as friends and family (My Masonic & Phi Beta Sigma Family). I visit family at a different sibling’s house every year, The Museum of African American History and Culture, and The George Washington Carver Monument. These places are very special because it is family that makes us who we are, and knowledge of who we are and where we came from helps us to build a better future for ourselves and our children.
All of the artwork being featured in this exhibition traveled great distances before landing in Northwest Arkansas as part of the Crystal Bridges collection. What distances did you travel to arrive in Northwest Arkansas? When did you arrive? What about this place keeps you here?
I was born and raised in a small town in southeast Arkansas (The Delta) called Marvell. I came to Fayetteville in 1997 for school, trying to walk-on for the Razorback Basketball team. I left for a few years and moved to Garland, Texas, and then to Atlanta, Georgia, but eventually made my way back to Northwest Arkansas. I’ve been here ever since. I have come to the realization that it is a great place to raise my kids and have a family. Fayetteville’s economic strides, phenomenal growth, and opportunities are what keeps me here.
You are being recognized as part of this celebration, in part, because of the spirit of caring you bring to your interactions with others. To what and/or whom do you attribute the development of this spirit of caring to?
I attribute it to my mother and father (Beatrice James & E.J. Jones Sr.) as well as my fraternal organizations (The Freemasons and Phi Beta Sigma) for my development and continued drive for my spirit of caring. Also, my spiritual walk contributes, and the poem “The Man On The Pole” are intricate things that assist in my spirit of caring―Galatians 6:9 being my favorite verse in the Holy Bible.
There are numerous amount of people and groups that I have affiliated with that inspire me tremendously because all are intricate pieces as to who I am today.
American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Project Vote, Project Seed, Trendsetter Marathon, Fisherman of Men, and Next Level Life Prep.
The birth of my children (Donte, Harmony, and Ezra) and recognition from my claimed son Walter; ownership of my home and business; becoming a 32nd Degree Freemason; becoming a life member of Phi Beta Sigma. Also, the recognition by Crystal Bridges as a social weaver, and the recognition by Celebrate Magazine as the Heart of Arkansas, July issue.
Herman’s Ribhouse, Theo’s, Chick-Fil-A, Chick-N-Headz, and of course a good home-cooked meal.
“Forever More” by R Kelly and “Victory” by Brenda Waters.
Finally, Crystal Bridges at 10 was designed to both mark the museum’s first 10 years and set the precedent for the decade to come. Looking out into the future, what do you hope for our region and community?
A robust effort to support diversity within the NWA community, as well as an influx of Black-owned businesses.
Please list 10 things people should know about or do in Northwest Arkansas:
Trendsetter Barbershop & Salon
The Product Store Next Door
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
NPHC Organizations (Phi Beta Sigma)
St. James Missionary Baptist Church
Lots of great food
The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
The great outdoors