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OPINION | Carin Schoppmeyer: Crystal Bridges debuts ‘Diego Rivera’s America’; J.B. Hunt president lauded

Patrons preview ‘Rivera’s America’ by Carin Schoppmeyer | April 16, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Shelley Simpson, J.B. Hunt Transport Services president and Economics Arkansas Excellence in Free Enterprise Award honoree (second from left); John Roberts, J.B. Hunt CEO (from left); Kathleen Lawson, Economics Arkansas executive director; Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders; and Robyn Breshears, of Arvests Bank, Economics Arkansas board chairwoman gather for a photo at the nonprofit organization's luncheon March 15 at the Rogers Convention Center. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)

"Diego Rivera's America" sponsors enjoyed a private preview and informal tour of the temporary exhibition March 11 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. James Oles, guest curator, and Jen Padgett, the museum's acting Windgate curator of craft, teamed up to lead guests through the exhibition, which provided "an opportunity to talk about the paintings in front of them," Padgett said.

"The show is organized thematically," Oles told the exhibition's underwriters. "You see these big, bold labels that give a sense of the different units as you move through, roughly go through chronology from the early '20s all the way to the end of the show to the late '40s, but the show is really about themes -- places that Rivera worked, issues that he was very concerned with and subjects that he explored in his work.

"One of the things that's innovative is that it's one of the first shows to bring together paintings and the related sketch" -- in some cases for the first time since the works left Rivera's studio.

"Diego Rivera's America" is co-organized by Crystal Bridges and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is curated by Oles, with Maria Castro, assistant curator at SFMOMA, and coordinated at Crystal Bridges by Padgett.

"Diego Rivera's America" sponsors include Goldman Sachs; Christie's; Coca-Cola; Avocados from Peru; Shelby and Frederick Gans; Blakeman's Fine Jewelry; Esther Silver-Parker; Halperin Foundation; Jim and Susan von Gremp; and the Cardinal Four Foundation.

Economics Arkansas

Economics Arkansas leaders and supporters lauded Shelley Simpson, J.B. Hunt president, as the 2023 Excellence in Free Enterprise Award honoree at the nonprofit organization's annual awards luncheon March 15 at the Rogers Convention Center.

The Excellence in Free Enterprise Award honors those who promote success in the free market. "Shelley's long tenure with J.B. Hunt, starting from an hourly customer service representative to now president of the company, demonstrates one's own ability to leverage the free enterprise system to transform their own success,"says Kathleen Lawson, Economics Arkansas executive director.

In presenting the award to Simpson, John Roberts, J.B. Hunt CEO, said she's "an innovator, mentor, go-getter, an incredible leader who embodies our company foundation of a person you can trust."

Simpson told those gathered: "This award to me represents the innovation and mentorship of the important people at J.B. Hunt -- the vision of the people starting from our front-line entry level all the way to the CEO and chairman of the board."

Now in its 60th year, Economics Arkansas offers nearly 200 teacher development workshops annually to train pre-K to 12th, reaching 86 percent of Arkansas' schools, making it "the leading provider of economic, financial literacy and entrepreneurship training," Lawson says.

Award luncheon backers included Crossland Construction; Walmart|Sam's Club; Tyson Foods; Arvest; Hunt Ventures; J.B. Hunt Transport Services; Mitchell Williams; Nabholz and the Sells Agency.


Northwest Arkansas lost an ardent arts and education advocate and philanthropist with the passing of Billie Jo Starr on April 9. A true patron of the arts, she had a hand in most of what we consider the backbone of our arts offerings -- the Walton Arts Center, the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and so many more.

The culture of Northwest Arkansas is richer for her, and her loss will be greatly felt.

For more event photos --

Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]

  photo  Jen Padgett, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art acting Windgate curator of craft (from left); James Oles, guest curator; Esther Silver-Parker, "Diego Rivera's America" sponsor; Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges founder, chairwoman emeritus and board member; and Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer; gather at the sponsor preview for the temporary exhibition March 11 at the museum in Bentonville. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Amy Mileham, Grace Hill Elementary master economics teacher, stands with students in the Young Entrepreneurs Club — Memphis Booker (from left), Chadley Cruse, Evelyn Jensen, Koby Austin and Saxon Libey at the Economics Arkansas luncheon March 11 at the Rogers Convention Center. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Johnelle Hunt and Martin Tinnin enjoy the Economics Arkansas luncheon on March 15 in Rogers. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Patricia Cruz (from left), Diana Gonzales Worthen; Eddie and Lety Vega; Araceli and Luis Lopez, Crystal Bridges community advisory group members, gather at the "Diego Rivera's America" preview on March 11. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Jen Padgett, (from left); James Olesn; Alice Walton; Jim and Susan von Gremp, "Diego Rivera's America" sponsors; Megan Morgan; David Bogle; and Rod Bigelow gathered the exhibition sponsors preview. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Anna and David Garcia, of Coca-Cola, view a portrait of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, painted by Kahlo, at a sponsor preview of "Diego Rivera's America" at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Charlie and Tram Colwin stand for a photo by Diego Rivera's "Woman with Calla Lillies" at the sponsor preview March 11 at Crystal Bridges. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
  photo  Xavier Equihua, Avocados from Peru president and CEO (from left); Silvia Perez; and John Paty, Geostrategic CEO stand for a photo with "Study for 'Man at the Crossroads'" at the "Diego Rivera's Amierica" sponsor preview March 11 at Crystal Bridges. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Carin Schoppmeyer)
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