Slow Art Day Keynote at Tiempo de Arte

The Slow Art Day collective delivered the closing keynote last Friday for Tiempo de Arte‘s conference in Spain. Our two European HQ members, Johanna Bokedal (Sweden) and Jessica Jane Nocella (Italy) traveled to Spain while our U.S.-based founder, Phyl Terry, participated via Zoom from New York.

The conference took place in the Centro Botín: an arts centre designed by Pritzker Prize-winner architect Renzo Piano, in collaboration with Luis Vidal and Architects. It is located between the city centre of Santander and the historic Pereda Garden, and the bay.

Centre Botín, Photo Credits: Johanna Bokedal

The conference was opened by the Organizing Committee of Tiempo de Arte, the Director of Centre Botín, the Mayor of Santander, and by the Tourism Director of Cantabria. Then, Writer Carl Honoré gave a talk on “La Revolución Slow: La Magia de la Lentitud” (lit.: the revolution of slow: the magic of slowness). In his engaging speech, Carl stressed the importance of slowing down in a high-speed world. He also talked about the importance of what he calls “the slow paradoxes” – i.e., how sometimes you can slow down to go fast, or how disconnecting from your phone can reconnect you to the world around you.

Carl’s talk was then followed by different interesting roundtables on various topics, which ranged from sustainable collecting to the role of humanism in the digital world.

Carl Honoré, La Revolución Slow: La Magia de la Lentitud”. Photo credits: Johanna Bokedal

On the second day, the conference opened with a dialogue between the award-winning chef Jesús Sánchez, and the sculpor José Luis Vicario. They talked about how encounters and meetings can be an opportunity to slow down and discover the beauty surrounding us. This was then followed by a roundtable on art, beauty and health where experts in psychology, art, and art therapy talked about the benefits of art in different contexts.

Professor, Psychologist, and Writer Alejandra Vallejo-Nágera engaged with the audience in a slow-listening activity. She invited us to close our eyes, listen to two cellos playing, and then to communicate the music through our hands as if we had to express it to someone who was hearing-impaired. One last roundtable on tourism and art was held by the Mayors of Santander, Malaga, and Madrid.

Roundtable on Art, Beauty, and Health. Photo credits: Johanna Bokedal.

The conference closed with our talk Slow Art Day: Design by Letting Go, which we delivered both in-person (Jessica and Johanna) and remotely (Phyl).

We began with a cross-continent slow looking exercise focused on Hans Hoffman’s Fantasia, the piece of art that kicked off the slow art revolution back in 2008.

Phyl Terry engaging the audience in a slow-looking activity

We then showed highlights from the 2,000+ Slow Art Day events that have been held around the world. Finally, we emphasized the radically decentralized nature of Slow Art Day and our mission to create an environment of radical inclusion.

We really enjoyed giving this multi-language (our talk was simultaneously translated into Spanish), multi-continent, multi-media talk. And Johanna and Jessica, who had been working together for years but had never met, loved spending two days together in real life.

Slow Art Day team engaging with the audience.

Slow Art Day HQ would like to thank Merche Zubiaga, Zaida De Las Heras, and Charo Izquierdo for inviting us to speak at their Tiempo de Arte event. We look forward to continuing to work with them to keep building the slow art movement.

Glen Foerd’s 2nd Slow Art Day

For their second Slow Art Day, Glen Foerd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, selected the following four works from their collection for participants to enjoy in-person over the course of 2 hours.

Manifestation with Wings (1958) by Benton Murdoch Spruance (1904-1967. Oil on canvas. Collection of Glen Foerd.

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Flowers in Gold Vase by (Mary) Elizabeth Price (American, 1875-1960). Oil on panel. Collection of Glen Foerd.

Lady Trimleston by Sir Thomas Lawrence (British 1769 – 1830). Oil on canvas. Collection of Glen Foerd.

An Archive of Desire (2020) by Jennifer Johnson (American). Mixed Media, Porcelain. Archive of Desire Installation, property of Jennifer Johnson.

Participants were provided with a flyer that included images of the pieces, and the following prompts:

  • Look not only at what is pictured, but how it is pictured.
  • What kind of colors has the artist used? Are they bright, muted, or somewhere in between?
  • Can you see how the color has been applied or is the color smooth and blended?
  • Is there a sense of deep, moderate, shallow, or indeterminate space? Is that space consistent throughout the picture?
  • Is space clear and well defined or atmospheric? What about how the picture was painted gives it that quality?
  • Is there the suggestion of a directional light source, of light coming from a one side or the other?
  • Can you see lines anywhere, whether painted lines or strong edges created by color-to-color areas? Where are lines used and how? 
  • What other observations can you make?
  • How is the installation piece different from the paintings?
  • What is the unifying theme of the installation?

Afterwards, Director Ross Mitchell invited participants to the art gallery where he led a discussion on the aesthetic qualities of the pieces. The event was promoted on Glen Foerd’s website and their Instagram page a month in advance.

An Impromptu Slow Looking Session

As we at Slow Art Day HQ started to write this report, we also decided to take few moments to look slowly at all of the works and have our own discussion about them – and we encourage you all to do the same.

Before reading further, scroll back up and look… slowly. Then come back here to read a little about our thoughts.

….

We were immediately drawn to this work and to its great sense of movement. We debated whether we thought the two winged figures (angels, birds?) were drawn to the light or coming from the light. And we all enjoyed one of the rewards of slow looking at this painting – the eventual realization that there is a third figure. Overall, slowing down with this painting left us with a feeling of hope.

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We debated the flatness of this painting, and whether it’s a painting of a painting. We also were drawn to, and discussed, the richness of the table – the wood is like droplets of water falling into a stream. One of us pointed out that the closely-cropped borders give a sense of tightness. And, in a lighter moment, we all agreed that we wanted to move the lit candlesticks away from the flowers. Ultimately, this work brought us feelings of autumn and a sense of sadness.

This several hundred year old painting brought up the most debate. Some of us do not like portraits of the elite, but the power of slowing down is that everyone gets to go beyond the superficial binary of “like / don’t like” – and discovers a new relationship to the artwork. As we looked and then talked, we noticed and discussed a number of things. Several of us were drawn to her facial expression. Is she smirking? We noticed her white dress, shoes, translucent sleeves, and colorful shawl (is that an LGBTQ flag?) and parasol – and also noticed how her ring is displayed prominently. Is the artist making a proto modern-day statement about gender, sexual orientation, marriage? Unlikely. We don’t know, but we are free to see what we see.

We were all immediately drawn to this piece, yet it took us to very different places. For some, this felt like a city at night, with the reflections in the table like lights in a river. For others, this was a library of mid-century modern shelves – the doors opening to reveal mirrors asking us to look deeply within ourselves. For yet others, each of these tiles represented the infinity of possibilities, including the unlimited number of genders.

….

We at Slow Art Day HQ are happy to see Glen Foerd’s participation for a second year, and look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2023.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. – The Slow Art Day HQ team is getting together this summer in the United States and we are planning to visit Glen Foerd in addition to other NY and Philadelphia museums.

Special Message from Kyiv’s Slow Art Day

Hope you had a wonderful Slow Art Day 2022. We look forward to all of your post-event updates, which we will begin turning into written reports (and publish here throughout the year and then in our annual report at the end of 2022).

But today, on the day after Slow Art Day, I want to share this (lightly edited) message we received from Kyiv and the Khanenko Museum just before this year’s event.

I am Hanna Rudyk, a Deputy Director of Education and Communication at the Khanenko Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The Khanenko Museum (officially: the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko Nationam Museum of Arts), which holds the largest Ukrainian collection of art from around the world, has been a Slow Art Day host for the last three years.

This year we were also planning to host the event in our museum. But Russia’s war against Ukraine prevented us from going forward with these plans. So, we decided instead to switch our Slow Art Day to an online event focused on one artwork. We will show a very rarely exhibited piece of Chinese art and ask our followers to contemplate upon it and share ideas. In the afternoon, we will give time for our curator to add some comments.

I wonder, if our plans could be somehow reflected on the Slow Art Day Official website. We are truly committed to the ideas underlying Slow Art Day and we urgently need now to be more visible and supported.

Below is the artwork they looked at yesterday and the MS Word file they sent last night with the online prompts and some of the comments they received.

Hope you had a wonderful Slow Art Day and wherever you are, you think about our colleagues in Kyiv.

Those of us who love art – and love helping more people learn to look at and love art – we form a global city, and this year one of our neighborhoods is under attack.

Yet, our neighbors still found a way to celebrate Slow Art Day.

They inspire us and have shown us all how to live even in the most difficult moments.

And for that and many other reasons, they deserve *all* of our support and attention.

Phyl

P.S. Here’s the Word file with their prompts and comments.

Happy Slow Art Day 2022

Slow Art Day 2022 is happening now all over the world in more than 175 museums, galleries, hospitals, sculpture parks, and other settings.

Plus, many more people are simply finding ways to slow down today.

Check out Instagram for #slowartday to see photos and videos of what’s happening.

Screenshot of Instagram on Slow Art Day 2022 morning

I founded Slow Art Day as an antidote to the screen-based fast-paced multi-tasking world we were all creating back in the 2000s (Apple and Facebook were both clients when I first came up with the idea).

If you are an educator, curator, or artist leading slow looking sessions today, then know you are part of a global movement – that as you guide your visitors to slow down, so are many of your peers simultaneously doing the same thing all over the world.

And please take pictures and video. Post with the hashtag #slowartday. And send us your report.

Otherwise, whoever you are, go look at art slowly today.

Visit a museum or gallery. Or go online with longtime Slow Art Day leader, the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Look at 5 works for 10 or more minutes each (the courageous might choose one work and look for an hour).

Meditate.

Breathe.

Shift positions. Look away and then look back.

Be open to the profound love you may experience when you slow down and really look at art.

Certainly allow yourself to see beyond what you *expect* to see.

Most of all, have a happy and slow day.

Love,

Phyl

Happy Slow Art Day Eve!

Happy Slow Art Day Eve 2022.

174 museums, galleries, hospitals, sculpture parks and other venues are hosting slow looking sessions all over the world – from South Africa to Slovenia, Singapore to Serra Negra, Melbourne to Manhattan, Oaxaca to Orléans, Verona to Vilnius, and many, many other places.

Check out the Instagram tag, #slowartday to see what these educators, curators, artists, and art-lovers are doing around the world.

And, most of all, have a happy and *slow* day of looking at and loving art.

Phyl and the Slow Art Day team