Artist’s Work Adds Local Touch to Crystal Bridges
Local artist George Dombek’s work has been displayed in 600 museum collections and more than 100 art exhibits throughout the world. Now, the Arkansas native can add the renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art to his impressive repertoire.
Dombek’s style of art, which is reflective of the nature around him, falls in accordance with Crystal Bridges’ emphasis on the nature of Northwest Arkansas, which is highlighted by the trails on the museum grounds. Dombek is known for his use of color and isolating aspects of nature, focusing on the detail.
Dombek will showcase a watercolor painting that was hand-picked by the museum’s founder, Alice Walton, and a sculpture that she commissioned him to create.
Walton visited Dombek’s studio in Fayetteville, fittingly named “The Studio,” and purchased a painting called “A Few Waterdrops” for the museum. The painting is a detailed close-up of blades of grass covered in water drops.
Dombek is both a painter and an architect by craft. He was a student at the UA and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1974. After graduating, he immediately got his master’s degree in painting.
Dombek has taught architecture at universities throughout the country including at the UA, where he taught as a graduate assistant from 1974 to 1977.
After leaving Arkansas, he moved to San Francisco but returned briefly to the natural state to visit his sick father. While in Arkansas, he was offered a visiting professor position at the UA to teach art and architecture classes before returning back to San Francisco.
Dombek has travelled extensively, teaching classes in both Saudi Arabia and Italy. In Saudi Arabia he taught architecture and adult art classes.
After teaching in Saudi Arabia, Dombek relocated to Florence where he taught art classes.
“Being in Florence, Italy, for a year certainly had a big influence on my art,” Dombek said. “It would on anyone, unless you were blind. It is the center of Renaissance art. It was a wonderful experience.”
Dombek currently lives a couple miles outside of Fayetteville in a house he designed himself, where he can focus on his artwork at his nearby studio.
A few months after Walton first visited the studio and purchased his painting, the museum commissioned him to make a bronze sculpture for the art trail on the museum grounds.
The sculpture is called “Tour de Apple Tree” and is a bronze cast of an apple tree with what appears to be a bicycle made of twigs, hidden in the leaves of the tree. The sculpture is based on a series of Dombek’s water color paintings called “Tour de Tree.”
“I originally started painting bicycles in Italy,” he said, “When I came back to the state I started creating bicycles out of sticks, then I started painting the bicycles.”
The Smithsonian Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portaiture saw a bicycle Dombek made out of sticks and commissioned him to do one cast out of bronze for their own project about a decade ago, Dombek said.
However, because of budget issues the project was cut. Dombek said that Crystal Bridges thencommissioned him to do the very same sculpture of the bicycle in the tree, to which he agreed.
“From the time we signed the contract to the date of completion, it was about a year before it was installed,” Dombek said. “It did take a long time. I supervised the work. I’m not a sculptor but I created the bicycle.”
Dombek said that people will have to really look for it in order to find the bicycle in the leaves.
“The way the tree was cast it looks like a petrified tree from the outside,” Dombek explained. “It has every mark of the actual apple tree”
Sandy Edwards, director of museum relations for Crystal Bridges, said that Dombek’s work is reflective of the northwest Arkansas community.
“We see this [museum] to be a part of a vibrant region” Edwards said.
To learn more about Geoge Dombek’s work visit georgedombek.com. Dombek will open his studio on Nov. 12 and 13.