You might think that something called “Slow Art Day” would consist of snail sketches or turtle studies. Um, no. Instead, we had a dozen folks come to The Showroom yesterday to look at art. Really look at some art.
The first event was in 2009, in 16 galleries and museums around North America and Europe, with the idea that even when we do take time to go see art in galleries or museums, it can be tough to slow down enough to engage with a piece long enough to go beyond its surface. From an article in this month’s ARTnews:
After [a slow art experience with Fantasia (1943), by Hans Hoffman at the Jewish Museum in NYC] Phil Terry wanted to share the experience of slowly ingesting artworks with other art-world outsiders, so he started an annual event called Slow Art Day. According to one study published in the journal Empirical Studies of the Arts, museumgoers spend an average of just 17 seconds looking at an individual painting—and that statistic might be generous. “People usually go to a museum, see as much as they can, get exhausted, and don’t return,” Terry says. “Slow Art Day energizes people.”
From SlowArtDay.com: “It’s a very simple process. Volunteer hosts (not necessarily experts) invite people to come to a local museum and view a small number of works of art for 5 to 10 minutes each. Then everyone meets for lunch at a nearby cafe to talk about their experience. And all this happens the same day around the world.”
And for this, the 3rd year, that day was yesterday, April 16: on 6 continents, over 90 museums and galleries hosted more than 2,000 people. See the Slow Art Day Facebook page for more details and testimonials.
So, the work in our gallery was our AiRs Exit show, work they had created while under our noses, so to speak, in their studio apartments above our heads for the last year. (We had two of the artists, Ron and Ian, with us in the room, which was really great, or a tiny bit nerve-wracking, depending on who you asked.)
The work had been up for a few weeks, so we didn’t need a browsing time, most of us, and we dived right into some scrutiny and study with a Five for Five exercise: look at five pieces for five minutes each. Ok, go! Slowly …
One piece that I spent time with, Ron Longsdorf’s Device to call to you, was loud. In case you’ve not seen it, I don’t mean it’s brightly colored–rather, it emits jungle cries, or as Ron says, “human calls.” Our office adjoins the gallery, so I’ve heard it while on the phone, been distracted by it in meetings, and attempted to explain it to a number of visitors. I’ve walked by the front of this piece for a month now, so I spent my five-minute round looking at its back, its innards. And it impressed me, I have to say. The front it presents is flat, tidy, unworrying, but behind the scenes I began to notice how the speakers, flowing wires and trusses created a wilder visual mix than the front that is synonymous with the human mating calls that Ron created as its audio component. He wrote about its creation in an earlier post here.
Another piece I spent some time with was Ian’s large Teapot Study. As simple and uncluttered as it has appeared to me all these days, I hadn’t slowed down enough before to appreciate how the black on black captures the light almost creating a parallel negative-space, if you will. Rather than thinking of this piece in graphic terms now, I’m still thinking on its depth.
So those were two thoughts I had. I won’t attempt to render others’ here (Comments, anyone?) from our conversation over lunch (from the tasty Palmetto Palate), but I have to say that I was very impressed with a few things in general:
- how willing everyone was to jump in and talk about art with some new people, even with two of the artists right there in the room
- how patient they were as we discussed their work in front of them
- and how graciously they responded to each others’ work
So, I invite you to Slow Art Day at the Showroom next year, on April 28, 2012, and I can promise you will experience far more than watching paint dry.