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Displaying items by tag: Crystal Bridges Museum

Sometime next fall, the Alfred Stieglitz collection, Fisk University’s renowned art exhibit, will be packed up into crates and trundled off to Arkansas.

It will stay there for two years as part of a sharing agreement that, until recently, was caught up in what appeared to be an unyielding battle between ownership rights and financial distress.

The university, which has long run a $2 million annual deficit, agreed to sell half ownership rights of its $74 million Alfred Stieglitz collection for $30 million to a museum opened last fall in Bentonville, Ark., controlled by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, according to an agreement filed in Davidson County Chancery Court.

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The art world isn't the only community greeting Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton's new Crystal Bridges Museum with skepticism. A group of Wal-Mart employees are planning workshops and educational events in half a dozen cities across the country on Friday to coincide with the opening of the multimillion-dollar, Moshe Safdie-designed institution in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Members of the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (OUR Wal-Mart), an activist group dedicated to improving working conditions for the company's employees, will team up with branches of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Saint Louis, Miami, Oakland, and San Francisco to distribute information about the Walton family's labor practices and policies. "If there's ever a case of the one percent, it's the Walton family," OUR Wal-Mart spokesman Ben Waxman told ARTINFO.

The current and former Wal-Mart associates participating in the demonstrations take issue with the fact that Walton has spent millions of dollars on a museum while her family's organization, Wal-Mart, recently raised health care premiums and has capped salaries for many of its employees. "I have a problem with my pay being capped, but somehow there's money to do something of this nature," said Mary Pat Tifft, who has worked at a Wal-Mart branch in Wisconsin for 23 years and says her pay has been capped for six.

In addition to speaking about the recent cutbacks in health care, participating Wal-Mart associates will share their own personal experiences working for the retail giant. "It's very difficult to feed your family on poverty wages," said Waxman. "Many people at the Occupy Wall Street encampments don't have direct experience with this kind of hardship, so I think it should be pretty powerful." (This isn't the first time OWS has linked up with an art-related cause. For the past several weeks, OWS protesters have lent their support to Sotheby's locked-out union art handlers, first by infiltrating the auction house and then by protesting outside.)  

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