Slow Art Day Founder Phil Terry Interviewed for “Artsy Editorial”

Thomas Struth Art Institute of Chicago II, Chicago, 1990 Phillips: Photographs

Thomas Struth
Art Institute of Chicago II, Chicago, 1990
Phillips: Photographs

Slow Art Day founder Phil Terry was recently interviewed by Isaac Kaplan for Artsy EditorialThe editorial delves into the experience of looking at art, the length of time required to look at a work of art in order to “get” it, and how museums both help and hinder the practice of slow looking.

Phil says in the editorial, ““People in the art world generally know how powerful it can be to look at a work of art for more than seven seconds.” […] “I started Slow Art Day because everyone else doesn’t know this.”

Read the full article here, and let us know your thoughts below!

“Curating in an attention deficit”

Todd Smith, Executive Director at the Tampa Museum of Art, recently filmed a video for the Tampa Bay Business Journal on what he’s observed as the change in how people view art. He compares the anachronistic way of focusing intently on one subject that is characteristic of his generation (“vertical” thinking) with the new wave of technologically-centred “horizontal” thinking. This brings to the fore a new challenge for art museums, like the Tampa Museum of Art, in how they educate visitors who are not accustomed to “vertical” or deep thinking. Smith poses the question “what does a museum experience look like, now and going forward for both my generation and older… and the younger generation?”

Smith sees this new way of thinking revolutionizing how museums curate their exhibitions, based on their observations of whether visitors take their time and look at works slowly or if they jump around and “make their own stories”. Smith foresees this adding another dimension to curating, in that “we’ll put the work up and tell our story, but we are interested in what the visitor is making of their own stories about the work,” essentially thinking of the visitor as the curator.

At Slow Art Day we, of course, advocate for a slow looking that fosters the “vertical” or deep thinking cited by Smith. Postulating the visitor as curator has the potential to foster a freer way of thinking that might lead to this kind of deeper, or “vertical”, way, vs. the merely “horizontal”. What do you think?

Slow Art Day with Robert Fahey and the Oakland Museum of California

[In this series, we interview hosts for Slow Art Day and get their thoughts on hosting, the art of looking, and the slow art community. Today we interview Robert Fahey, who is hosting a Slow Art Day event at the Oakland Museum of California in Oakland, CA.]

Mathews Furniture Shop (1860-1945), Franc Pierce Hammon Memorial Windows, 1925, glass. One of the works that will be featured in the Oakland Museum of California's Slow Art Day event.

Mathews Furniture Shop (1860-1945), Franc Pierce Hammon Memorial Windows, 1925, glass.
One of the works that will be featured in the Oakland Museum of California’s Slow Art Day event.

Slow Art Day: First, introduce yourself to us – what do you do at the Oakland Museum of California?

Robert: I’m Robert Fahey, OMCA’s Social Media Coordinator! I live in the Marketing Department in our Audience and Civic Engagement Center but you’ll rarely find me at my desk since I am always collaborating with staffers all over the Museum to make sure the OMCA experience is fully represented in the social sphere.

Slow Art Day: Tell us a little bit about the OMCA and its collection.

Robert: The Oakland Museum of California is in the heart of Oakland, next to the beautiful Lake Merritt. We are a multidisciplinary museum that exhibits the art, history, and natural sciences of California. Our collections – comprising more than 1.8 million objects including seminal art works, historical artifacts, ethnographic objects, natural specimens, and photographs – and our programs explore and reveal the factors that shape California character and identity, from its extraordinary natural landscapes, to successive waves of migration, to its unique culture of creativity and innovation.

Slow Art Day: How did you initially hear about Slow Art Day? What made you interested in getting the Oakland Museum involved with the movement?

Robert: I heard about Slow Art Day from the Bay Area Museum SuperFriends! It’s all the folks that are involved with some aspect of social media in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. What made me want to have OMCA get in on the action was the thought that I could take this event and make sure everyone knew about it and talked about it over social media, but also that the event itself would still let people engage and connect on a deeper level with art within our museum walls.

Slow Art Day: Tell us about the works you’ve chosen for your Slow Art Day event. What made you choose those specific works?

Robert: We chose works from our Gallery of California that would allow the viewer to find a narrative of California character that they could all relate to. All of the works give the viewer the chance to experience something unique and fun!

Slow Art Day: And lastly, feel free to add any other information about your event that you think is important.

Robert: Please come with California on the mind! And afterwards, feel free to take the conversation of slow art to the online social world and talk to OMCA on Facebook and Twitter!

Slow Art Day: Thank you so much Robert! Best of luck in your Slow Art Day event.

[If you’re in the area, make sure to check out the Oakland Museum of California’s Slow Art Day event. You can sign up to attend here, and get a sneak peek of the works that will be featured in the event both on our Tumblr and on OMCA’s website.]

Slow Art with Willa Koerner and SFMOMAslow

[Slow Art Day Social Media Manager Alie Cline recently interviewed Willa Koerner from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to chat about the museum’s new Slow Art Day inspired project, SFMOMAslow.]

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 11.40.56 PM

Slow Art Day: First, introduce yourself for us – what do you do at SFMOMA?

Willa: I’m Willa Koerner, SFMOMA’s Digital Engagement Associate. I manage SFMOMA’s social media accounts, from planning, writing, and editing posts, to documenting the goings-on of the museum, to collaborating with co-workers on digital projects and online engagement initiatives.

Slow Art Day: How did you initially hear of Slow Art Day? What sparked your interest in the project?

Willa: I heard about Slow Art Day through the social media grapevine. My interest was sparked right from the get-go, as the idea of looking/thinking slowly is fascinating when contextualized within the incredibly manic pace of the Internet.

Slow Art Day: How did the idea for SFMOMAslow initially develop, and how have you expanded on “Slow Art Day” and turned it into a larger project?

Willa: In collaboration with Suzanne Stein, SFMOMA’s Head of Community Engagement (and manager of SFMOMA’s blog, Open Space), I’ve been working on ways to get people talking with the museum in exciting, interesting ways through crowd-sourced projects hosted on a special Tumblr (SFMOMAcrowd). Hosting successful user-generated projects can be a bit difficult, and we’ve seen firsthand how challenging it can be to generate interest/response to a project prompt, no matter how interesting that prompt may seem to us within the museum. In my opinion, this is due to a simple truth: people don’t want to spend their valuable time creating something unless there is an explicit reason to participate, or a reward. Knowing this, we wanted to pursue a prompt that would ultimately lead to a rewarding and satisfying experience for all types of participants. The Slow Art Day concept fit this desire perfectly, so we decided to create a whole slew of programming, tweaking the idea so that it would be interesting to those who can visit the gallery in person as well as those who may prefer to participate remotely.

Slow Art Day: What has the response been like?

Willa: People have seemed genuinely excited about (and possibly thankful for) the idea of #SFMOMAslow/Slow Art Day. It is an invitation to relax and appreciate life, isn’t it? In terms of participation with the crowd-sourced project more people prefer to watch than to join in, I think, but those folks who have taken the leap and participated seem to have truly valued the experience. One person ended her post with, “ I feel as if [looking slowly] sharpens perception because there is a very deep meditative quality to it! Thank you!” That made me smile.

Slow Art Day: How do you think “slow” art fits into our fast-paced, modern world?

Willa: I see Slow Art Day and the challenge to truly look slowly as a bit of an intervention. People move so quickly and rush through experiences that would be much more magical when taken in at a slower, more contemplative pace. I wish I didn’t, but I too am guilty of senselessly rushing through all sorts of experiences — it’s the curse of having endless access to information and ideas, and seemingly thing after thing to rush off to. We joke about “FOMO” [Editor’s note: “fear of missing out”] but it’s a real and problematic plague for our generation! We want to see it all, do it all, and share it all. Slow looking is a way that we can re-learn how to think critically and be patient with ourselves and our minds.

Slow Art Day: We couldn’t agree more! Finally, what are you most looking forward to on Slow Art Day itself?

Willa: I’m closing my eyes and imagining Slow Art Day at SFMOMA… in my mind, I see myself smiling a lot and enjoying a rewarding day filled with compelling art, perceptive people, and intriguing conversation. Stay tuned for my tweets on that Saturday — I’ll be using the #SFMOMAslow hash tag!

And, before I sign off, I want to extend huge thanks to Alie, my interviewer, and everyone who volunteers to help spread the ideas of Slow Art Day to people around the world! You guys are doing a terrific job.

Slow Art Day: Thanks, Willa! We very much appreciate all the hard work you are putting in to spreading the idea of slow art as well.

[If you’re in the San Francisco area, make sure to check out SFMOMA’s Slow Art Day event and learn more about SFMOMAslow through their tumblr, SFMOMAcrowd]

Slow Art Day with Natalie Iturbe at the Melrose Trading Post

[In this series, we interview hosts for Slow Art Day and get their thoughts on hosting, the art of looking, and the slow art community. Today we interview Natalie Iturbe, who is hosting a Slow Art Day event at the Melrose Trading Post in Los Angeles.]

Slow Art Day: Tell us about yourself and your passion, Natalie.

Natalie: My passion is art! I am a visual artist and somewhat of a curator. I express my passion through my job and through my artwork. At my job I bring in various local vendors to sell in our weekly community market. It is a particular selection process, and I aim to keep a good balance of original artwork, vintage and antique items, fun collectibles and fashion-related items. Through my art I am able to release my inner thought processes and energies onto a canvas or a piece of paper. It is absolutely necessary for me to create art in order to maintain a balanced and happy life.

Slow Art Day: And what is Melrose Trading Post?

Natalie: The Melrose Trading Post is the weekly nonprofit community market I manage every Sunday. We are located in the heart of Los Angeles at Fairfax and Melrose Avenues in the parking lot of Fairfax High School. We are sandwiched between two of LA’s artistic communities, Fairfax Village and the Street Art District. The vendors that come in range from local artists, craftspeople, entrepreneurs, collectors, antique buffs, historians and more. The money raised through our $2 admission fee and the vendor booth rentals benefit programs for Fairfax High School students. These programs include club fulfillment requests, Greenway Arts Education Programs, teacher supply requests, school beautification projects and more.

Slow Art Day: You have hosted Slow Art Day before. How’d you first hear about it?

Natalie: I saw an article about it online last year. I volunteer at the county museum (LACMA) and I noticed that many people only look at individual pieces of art for a few seconds. The artist may have taken years to create the piece, but it only gets a few seconds of a patron’s time. By bringing Slow Art Day to the Melrose Trading Post, I saw it as a way to slow Angelenos’ hasty life pace down long enough to look at the local artists’ work that we feature.

Slow Art Day: At your Slow Art Day – the artists are there to interact directly with the public, yes?

Natalie: Yes – the Melrose Trading Post is a very interactive experience. We have over 240 artists and vendors who you can talk to, haggle with, and pick their minds about their various topics of expertise. Our Slow Art Day is unique because you can actually speak with the artist. You can ask them questions, make a direct purchase and follow their creative journey. We like Slow Art Day here because it is yet another way to bring patrons and local artists together to engage and inspire each other.

Slow Art Day: What is one of your favorite art works?

Natalie: I love the work of Remedios Varo. Her paintings are so mystical and haunting. I also love Henri Matisse’s artwork, especially his more colorful pieces before World War 1.

[Make sure to check out Natalie’s Slow Art Day event at the Melrose Trading Post in Los Angeles, California.]

‘Fair go’ and Slow Art Day – An Interview with Elle Credlin

[In this series, we interview hosts for Slow Art Day and get their thoughts on hosting, the art of looking, and the slow art community. Today we interview Elle Credlin, the Public Programs officer for Bayside City Council in Sandringham, Victoria, Australia.]

Slow Art Day: Tell us about yourself and about Bayside City Council’s Art and Heritage Collections.

Elle Credlin: I’m Bayside City Council’s Art and Heritage Collections and Public Programs Officer. I have a Bachelor of Arts (History) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Cultural Heritage/Museum Studies. My role is to manage Council’s art and heritage collection and also run public programs for the Gallery @ BACC. Council’s art and heritage collection is comprised of over 2000 items including municipal records, plans, maps, textiles, photographs, mayoral regalia and a range of visual arts.

Slow Art Day: That’s great. Tell us more about your role as Public Programs Officer.

Elle: I develop and manage the range of public programs and outreach services to accompany and enrich the exhibition program. These include things like curator’s talks, workshops, tours, art appreciation evenings and now Slow Art Day! We also run an Art and Dementia program titled Connections. Through discussion based tours of art work, the program provides a unique opportunity for people living with dementia to connect, interpret and express experiences through a work of art.

Slow Art Day: Please tell us more about the Dementia program. Do many other programs like that exist in Australia?

Elle: Connections is based on the National Gallery of Australia’s award winning Art and Alzheimer’s program. In 2012, gallery staff received training from NGA educators in how to deliver the program. Each program runs over a four week period and three works of art are discussed each week amongst the four participants. The program employs specialised forms of communication and strategies to encourage participation and support inclusiveness. These strategies include hand gestures, smiling, leaning forward and allowing for silence. It is run during normal gallery opening hours to prevent the marginalising of participants. We are really proud of Connections because it extends beyond many activities commonly available to people with dementia. Participants are able to engage in meaningful activity in an environment where their intellect is respect and valued. As far as I’m aware, we are the only local municipal gallery that runs this particular type of program in the state of Victoria, but that may have changed.

Slow Art Day: Why are you so passionate about making art more accessible?

Elle: I absolutely hate the idea that people could be intimidated or frightened by visiting a gallery or find themselves plagued by the ‘white box syndrome’. Galleries should be inclusive and welcoming. Every single person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts. More broadly, as we are based within a local government context, we also need to align ourselves with the broader organisational mission of inclusivity, accessibility and facilitating opportunities for people of all abilities to participate in community life.

Slow Art Day: We obviously agree. Switching gears – Slow Art Day has really taken off in Australia. There are 13 venues in Australia making it more than 5% of the total worldwide venues yet Australia has only about .3% of world population.  Why do you think Slow Art Day is such a big hit there?

Elle: I’m not sure, that is a really interesting question. Melbourne, in particular, has a thriving artistic and cultural scene so that could have something to do with it. Maybe the fact that Slow Art Day is an accessible and affordable activity mirrors the ‘fair go’, non-elitist attitude of many aspects of Australian culture and life i.e. that everyone should have access to the same opportunities and experiences.

Slow Art Day: Say more about ‘fair go’ – is that Australian lingo?

Elle:  ‘Fair go’ is a very Australian term.  Although it has many different meanings, I think it is fundamentally a commitment to egalitarianism in all aspects of culture and life; that we are all given every reasonable opportunity to access to the same opportunities and rewards. That is how I see it anyway.

Slow Art Day: What more can you tell us about your event? Have you chosen your art?

Elle: For Slow Art Day, we will be celebrating the works of a number of significant early 20th century Australian artists, including Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Arthur Streeton. We will be having lunch in the municipal chambers. If it’s a nice day, we might sit out in the rose garden.

Slow Art Day: You plan to make Slow Art Day a regular fixture in your public programs. Does that mean you plan to do regular events throughout the year based on slow looking?

Elle: Yes, Slow Art Day will now be a regular feature in our program. Our Art and Dementia program, as mentioned, is very much aligned with the idea of slow looking. We also host ‘soiree’ type evenings with wine and cheese, which are very popular. These evenings are very relaxed and people are encouraged to take their time with the works.

Slow Art Day: Let’s finish by asking what’s one of your favourite pieces of art? And why?

Elle: That is a hard question! I love Ben Quilty’s work. I think he’s amazing.

[Make sure to check out Elle’s Slow Art Day event at The Gallery at BACC in Brighton, Victoria.]

Blogging, Local Art, & Slow Art Day: an Interview with Tori & Chelsey from PrairieSeen

[In this series, we interview hosts for Slow Art Day and get their thoughts on hosting, the art of looking, and the slow art community. Today we interview Tori & Chelsey, the creators of the blog PrairieSeen and hosts of Edmonton Slow Art Day.]

Slow Art Day: This year’s Slow Art Day event will be your inaugural PrairieSeen event. But, before we get to that – tell us a bit about yourselves. You are recent graduates and art advocates, right?

Tori and Chelsey: We both graduated from the University of Alberta this past year. We also worked together at the University of Alberta’s Fine Arts Building Gallery, an on-campus space that displays mainly student work in the undergraduate and graduate Fine Art and Design programs. While working at FAB, we realized that we both have a lot to say about the local art environment in Edmonton, and about art in general. That’s how our shared blog, PrairieSeen, was born.

Slow Art Day: Now, tell us about PrairieSeen.

Tori and Chelsey: PrairieSeen was started as a way to keep our Art History degrees relevant, and also to keep ourselves in the practice of writing after graduation. Since we come from an art-historical background, we feel that we approach art and art criticism from a bit of a different perspective, and wanted to share that with the Edmonton art scene.

Slow Art Day: And it’s exciting that Slow Art Day is your first event. We have a veteran host in Rome who opened her gallery several years ago with Slow Art Day. She said it was very successful and has really shaped her whole approach to all her events. So – why did you choose to make Slow Art Day your first event?

Tori and Chelsey: The fact that it is already an established international event appealed to us, and that it is free – aside from the cost of gallery admission. We really liked that Slow Art Day promotes the idea of slow looking in the gallery, and taking your time with each piece, rather than rushing through and not really seeing the works. The discussion part of the event also appealed to us – we love talking about art exhibitions, whether we liked them or not!

Slow Art Day: You have chosen to hold Slow Art Day at Latitude 53, a local independent gallery in Alberta.  What can you tell us about that gallery?

Tori and Chelsey: Latitude 53 is a not-for-profit, artist run centre here in Edmonton. It focuses on experimental, contemporary works made by artists in Alberta and hosts a lot of fundraising events throughout the year, including a weekly “patio party” series in the summer. You can read more about Latitude 53 and its mandate here: http://www.latitude53.org/  Latitude 53 is moving into a new space this spring, and we are hoping to host the event in the brand new gallery!

Slow Art Day: One final question. We were hoping more college students would sign-up as hosts at galleries and museums all over the world. We have a large college intern team but college student hosting is still in its infancy. Do you have any tips or advice for getting more college students involved? Do you want to help reach out to more students in Canada?

Tori and Chelsey: We’d love to help reach out to more students in Canada – we’re recent University graduates ourselves and we know how hard it can be to find time to be involved in non-school related events. We will reach out to art history departments here in Canada and see if we can generate more student involvement.

Slow Art Day: That’s a wonderful offer and we’d really appreciate your help in reaching more students there in Canada. Thank you!

[Make sure to check out PrairieSeen on Tumblr and Twitter, and if you’re in the Edmonton area, sign up to attend Tori & Chelsey’s Slow Art Day Event at Latitude 53.]