Between the Momentary in Bentonville and its big sister space just up the road, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, music lovers in Northwest Arkansas can enjoy an outdoor concert every day of the weekend through the summer.
Crystal Bridges is in the middle of its summertime Forest Concert Series, with concerts on Saturdays, and the Momentary began hosting Live on the Green on Friday nights and Courtyard Sessions on Sunday nights earlier in the summer.
“One of the things that’s particularly beautiful for me about the Momentary is how many different spaces we have for artists to engage with and activate,” offers Pia Agrawal, curator of performing arts.
The Green, she explains, may feel more like a park setting. Visitors can bring a blanket or lawn chair, the whole family can come out on a Friday night, local and regional names with more members can be accommodated under the canopy.
On Sunday nights, the Courtyard Sessions maintains itself as kind of a social casual atmosphere, she suggests. The intimacy of the smaller space, with the RØDE Bar and a food truck sitting right there, establishes a different vibe, Agrawal says.
“One of the things that tie them together for us is we’re hoping that you discover artists you haven’t heard before, even if it’s one that’s living in your own back yard,” she shares. “Through the series, through the environment that we’re offering, we’re hoping that people are taking the chance to discover something new. In that way, the series are really tied together; they just offer different environments and different vibes for our audiences to engage with the music.”
So far, the Live on the Green series has presented concerts in collaboration with local organizations Al Bell Presents and Anthony Ball of Smoothman Music Productions and Music Moves. The Courtyard Sessions are presented in partnership with local arts services organization CACHE (Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange). The exchange is part of the Northwest Arkansas Council.
“It’s artists all at different stages of their career, but really focusing more on Northwest Arkansas-based artists, with some smaller acts — DJs, trios, work that I think finds itself sounding better in a little bit more intimate setting,” Agrawal says of the Courtyard Sessions series.
“This series with the Momentary is going to be one microcosm of us trying to get a few more types of genres and sub-genres and whatnot in front of other folks who may not experience that on a daily basis,” adds Jesse Elliott, creative ecosystems director with CACHE.
“One thing that I love about this area is this incredible diversity of artists,” he continues. “We don’t always realize how many different artists across all different genres are doing all these interesting new things.”
“We built this space, and the vision and the mission of the Momentary, around really being a community space and a gathering place for community, and now we’re able to achieve that pretty differently than we were in the last year,” Agrawal muses.
And that extends to the artists as well, she asserts. When talking about community, artists are also a part of that. So, when it comes to the needs of artists — having the space to perform, how and when to be creative after coming out of a pandemic, building an audience — these are all the needs the community as well.
“To go back to the sort of core mission, core value for the Momentary, is to build community around that work,” Agrawal says. “And what that looks like, we’re going to be constantly evolving and paying attention to and listening to, because it’s the people — it’s people seeing art, experiencing art — that makes it a community experience.”
Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside.
Live on the Green
WHEN — 7 p.m. Fridays
WHEN — 7 p.m. Sundays
WHERE — The Momentary, 507 S.E. E St. in Bentonville
COST — Both series are free
INFO — 367-7500, themomentary.org