Bentonville contemporary arts and entertainment space the Momentary announces first round of performers

Courtney Barnett / Photo: Mia Mala McDonald

The moment is nearly here. The Momentary has announced several of the performance artists, musical acts and art events that will take to one of the venue’s many stages and performance spaces during its opening weekend and the months to follow. The Momentary officially opens Feb. 22 in Bentonville in what was an abandoned cheese factory. The contemporary art space, which is a sister project for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, has been under construction for several years and will take over the 63,000-square-foot factory space and surrounding grounds and feature contemporary art galleries and performance spaces.

Some of the visual arts elements that will debut when the Momentary opens were unveiled during an on-site preview in October The visual arts elements will include the return of “State of the Art,” which first came to Crystal Bridges in 2014. It returns to that museum, and simultaneously to yhe Momentary, with “State of the Art 2020,” which features the same cross-country examination of contemporary art in America. “State of the Art 2020” debuts when the Momentary opens.

But the performance and musical artists promised for the opening weekend festival, called “Time Being,” had yet to be announced. Among those included in today’s announcement were folk pop songwriter Courtney Barnett, Icelandic dance rockers FM Belfast and performance artists such as Kristin Worrall, a pastry chef/artist who will put on live cooking show/performance piece.

The Momentary


What: A new space for contemporary performing and visual arts
When: Debuts Feb. 21 to members and Feb. 22 to the general public
Hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; closed Monday
Admission: Free except for special events (see note below)
Where: 507 SE E St, Bentonville
Information: 479-367-7500 or themomentary.org

Ticket Information: Event tickets, including those for “Time Being,” were made available to Momentary members at 10 a.m. today. Tickets for the general public go on sale Dec. 19. There are no authorized resellers of Momentary tickets, meaning the shared the Momentary/Crystal Bridges ticketing site is the only outlet for tickets.

The “Time Being” festival takes place over three days. The first day, Feb. 21, is reserved for Momentary members. The second day repeats many of the same acts for the general public on Feb. 22. A third day, Feb. 23, offers another chance to catch artists.

Pia Agrawal, curator of performing arts for the Momentary, said the lineup for the opening weekend is in many ways reflective of the kind of programming to come.

“We wanted to show people a bit of the vision behind the Momentary,” said Agrawal in a recent phone interview.

That means bringing in a blend of performers that are well known and some that are less so.

“We’re encouraging people to take a chance on something new,” Agrawal said.

One of the keys of the Momentary’s philosophy, Agrawal said, is matching a performer to the available space. Staff members communicate with the incoming acts to determine the best configuration of seating and viewing opportunities. Many of the spaces have flexible seating arrangements, such as the RØDE House, which can accommodate between 375 and 600 guests, depending on the need. Other spaces allow for more intimacy, such as the Fermentation Hall, with a cap of about 140 patrons. The largest available space, the outdoor main lawn, will comfortably fit 4,000 to 5,000.

Just as the Momentary converses with presenting artists prior to their arrival, Agrawal says that the Momentary wants to foster conversations between artists and the public. As examples, she points to several events taking place during “Time Being.” In particular, the program “First Things First” is emblematic of programming for The Momentary. The company putting on the program visited Northwest Arkansas in October to gather stories from local residents about first-time experiences and will return in January to continue building the storyline. The one-of-a-kind work will debut in February and remind the audiences of the power of many of their firsts.

Following the full weekend of “Time Being” activities to open the venue, the Momentary will settle into a more regular cadence of events between other upcoming festivals. Agrawal said the venue will host about two performances per week.

Among the highlights are performance art events such as {the empty set}, which promises to use explosions as performance art, and a live soundtrack experience of the Andy Warhol film “Kiss.” The latter event features Kim Gordon, formerly of the noise rock band Sonic Youth.

These acts are sandwiched in between the Momentary’s second festival, FreshGrass. This contemporary-minded bluegrass festival is the result of a partnership between the Momentary and MassMoca, a contemporary arts museum located in northwestern Massachusetts. Several FreshGrass acts, including Alison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sarah Jarosz and Steep Canyon Rangers, were announced as guests for the first southern edition of FreshGrass, which takes place April 24-25. More artists will be announced soon.

Agrawal said Momentary staff will use the successes and learning opportunities from the first few months of programming to understand what the community is responding to and adjust booking accordingly.

Until then, she said the Momentary, now several years in the making, is ready to show off what it can do and what it will become.

“We’re really excited to celebrate,” Agrawal said.


FreshGrass Festival

Alison Krauss / Courtesy photo

The FreshGrass Festival’s arrival in Bentonville is made possible through a partnership with the Mass Moca museum in Massachusetts, which has produced the festival for several years. The expanded festival will visit Northwest Arkansas this spring from April 24-25. Several artists were revealed today with the opening slate of artist announcements. Coming to Bentonville in April will be Alison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sarah Jarosz, Steep Canyon Rangers, Alison Brown, Ruthie Foster, Flor de Toloache, Smokey and the Mirror and Leyla McCalla.

More artists will be announced soon. On Thursday, the general admission price for a two-day adult ticket for FreshGrass will increase.

Two-day festival tickets:
$70 members
$80 general public
$25 for kids 7-16
Free for kids six and under

Single-day tickets will be offered closer to the event, as space allows.


The Momentary Schedule Highlights

Kristen Worrall / Photo by Seymour Templer

The Momentary, a contemporary arts and entertainment venue and a sister organization to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, will officially open on Feb. 22. Here are highlights from the venue’s first few months of operation. For a more complete schedule, please visit themomentary.org.

Feb. 21
(Member Preview Day)
6:45 p.m. – Bandaloop
7 p.m. – Courtney Barnett (solo)
9:30 p.m. – FM Belfast

Feb. 22
All Day – Debut of the “State of the Art II” exhibit of contemporary art (runs through May 24)
11 a.m. & 3 p.m. – “First Things First”
2 p.m. – Kristin Worrall’s “The Recipe: Milk, Cheese, Velveeta, Love, Hope & Transformation”
6:45 p.m. – Bandaloop
7 p.m. – Hermigervall
8 p.m. – Courtney Barnett (solo)
10 p.m. – FM Belfast

Other performances:
March 10 – Lila Downs
March 14 – Anna Meredith
March 21 – Al Bell Presents: A Soul Music Experience
March 27 – Shabaka and the Ancestors
March 29 – Soundtrack to Andy Warhol’s ‘Kiss’
April 3 – “We Live in Explosive Times” {the empty set}
April 10-11 – Arkansas New Play Festival
April 16 – Jenny Hval
April 24-25 – FreshGrass Festival


This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit onlyinark.com.
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