Bloomington Plans *20* Citywide Venues

For the 15th annual Slow Art Day coming up in less than two weeks, Bloomington, Illinois, the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Illinois Route 66 Commission and others (see poster below) have organized under the leadership of gallerist Pamala Eaton and others, more than 20 – that’s right, 20! – participating galleries and museums.

Pamala and her husband Herb launched the first Slow Art Day in Bloomington in the spring of 2020, at the height of the pandemic with a “Window Walk-By.” They placed art in their gallery window and asked people to walk, cycle, or drive slowly by and look. That initial creative effort during Covid has bloomed into what is now the largest citywide Slow Art Day in the world.

When I asked Pamala Eaton why she has put so much energy into spearheading the growth of Slow Art Day, she talked about her passion for art, which has taken root since her retirement from her first career as a teacher and physical education instructor. She now strongly believes that experiencing art, especially slowly, can be very powerful for everyone including the uninitiated. In other words, Eaton shares both the love of art *and* the spirit of radical inclusivity that guides so many of us.

That passion has also driven Eaton to build and extend the artist community in Bloomington as a way to grow Slow Art Day. In the early years of hosting, Eaton connected with artist Janean Baird, who hosted and then brought together the growing Slow Art Day movement with the historic Route 66 commission, which took up the effort and promoted it wider. Then another artist and gallerist, Santino Lamancusa, began to design the terrific posters (see above) and host after-events with artists and others thereby further growing the community.

Bit by bit, brick by brick, show by show, Eaton, Baird, Lamancusa and others grew Slow Art Day in Bloomington from one gallery in 2021, to nine in 2022, to 15 in 2023, and now 20 in 2024.

But there’s more.

Eaton and her colleagues in Bloomington have inspired other cities around the world, including much bigger cities (we were just contacted by one of Europe’s grandest cities about a coordinated citywide – more about that in the next week or so).

We hope you have a wonderful and slow 2024 art day wherever you are in the world – and that you take inspiration from how Eaton and the 20 galleries and museums in Bloomington have turned Slow Art Day into a citywide celebration.

– Phyl

P.S. If you have not yet registered your Slow Art Day with us, then go to this page.

P.P.S. Our Annual Report is out. Read it and get inspired!

Run Your Own Personal Slow Art Day

You can run a personal Slow Art Day any day of the year. All you need is our simple slow looking algorithm (we use that term with a bit of a wink), which we have honed over decades (see below).

To help you understand how this works, I’ll walk you through how I and the Slow Art Day core volunteer team did our own Slow Art Day at MoMA (and other museums) in 2022.

Ashley, Phyl and Jessica Jane on their way to MoMA. Photo taken by Johanna.

Here’s how it works

Pick a museum, gallery, church, sculpture park, street art scene, or other venue.

Then organize your group. We recommend groups of 4 (although you can do it with 2) and if you have more than 4, then break up into smaller groups. (Note: yes, you can do this by yourself.)

Once your groups are formed and you have arrived at your venue, then here are the steps.

  • Assign a “selector” for the first gallery/section/spot
    The ‘selector’ is the person temporarily assigned to select an artwork for everyone to look at slowly.
  • Then everyone looks around for a few minutes
    Ask everyone to look around the spot for a few minutes while the selector chooses a single piece to focus on.
  • Look slowly at the chosen piece
    Once the selector has made their choice, everyone spends 5 to 10 minutes looking together at the chosen artwork.
  • Talk to each other
    Once the slow looking has ended, then the selector begins the conversation about the experience. Simply ask: what did you see? You don’t need experts and you don’t need to moderate. Just listen to each other. People will have a lot to say. Let them say it. In fact, this is a wonderful moment. You will build intimacy and trust as you learn how each other sees and thinks.
  • Choose the next selector, move to the next gallery, and repeat

That’s it. Really simple. Nothing else required. 

If you want to get a sense of this in action, then below are my notes on one of our slow looking session at MoMA.

Thanks!

Phyl
Founder, Slow Art Day


On that day in 2022, the group of us went to MoMA and, as you can see in the photo above, we dressed up. Note: If you dress up like we were – then you’ll likely draw a crowd whenever you slow down to look at a piece of art intensively. That’s certainly what happened to us. No matter what we looked at, it became a temporary “Starry Night” or “Mona Lisa” with big crowds assembling to figure out why everyone is looking (note: this is a great way to get visitors to pay more attention to less well-known art).

Gallery 1: Johanna (selector)

At MoMA, Johanna was the selector for the first gallery we visited. She skipped “Starry Night” and chose Edvard Munch’s “The Storm” (1893). Everyone knows Munch’s “The Scream.” Fewer know “The Storm” and we were glad to bring more attention to this terrific painting.

Edvard Munch, The Storm, 1893
Slow looking at Munch’s “The Storm” at MoMA. Photo by Johanna.

In our discussion after the slow look, we of course learned more about this artwork and more about each other. Johanna and Jessica Jane were the best at noticing detail. Meanwhile, Phyl showed their sensitivity to color, while Ashley’s eye for design picked up composition and texture. 

We finished this first session feeling more connected to each other, and to the art. It was beautiful.

Gallery 2: Jessica Jane (selector)

We then moved to the next gallery, where Jessica Jane was the selector. And so it went as we slowly looked our way through MoMA, the Met, the Whitney, The Barnes Foundation (in Philadelphia), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.  

From top left – Phyl, Jessica Jane, Ashley and Johanna at MoMA; all of us with Linnea West and Greg Stuart at The Philadelphia Museum of Art; all of us with Lisa Dombrow at the Whitney Museum; and all of us with Bill Perthes at The Barnes Foundation.

Special thanks to the educators who hosted us along the way, including:

  • Bill Perthes, Director of Adult Education at The Barnes Foundation
  • Linnea West, Manager of Adult Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Greg Stuart, Coordinator of Adult Public Programs, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Lisa Dombrow, play activist, educator, and volunteer at MoMA and AMNH (and original ‘slow looker’)

If you do a slow looking session, then post about it and tag SlowArtDay!

– Phyl, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Johanna

2023 Slow Art Day Annual Report – Get Inspired!

We are proud to publish our 2023 Annual Report, representing hundreds of hours of work by volunteers to research, compile, and write-up the thousands of hours of creative work of educators and curators around the world.

More than 193 museums and galleries participated in 2023 (plus many more that ran Slow Art Day sessions but did not register with us).

And we researched, wrote, and published reports from 41 of these museums and galleries, which is what you will find in this report.

So, read this and get inspired by what a wide range of museums and galleries did last year including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Sweden’s Nationalmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Europe’s largest museum complex), The Frederiksberg Museum in Copenhagen, the 15-site citywide Slow Art Day in Bloomington, Illinois, to name just a few.

And please join me in thanking the volunteer team who worked tirelessly all year long to produce this report: Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Johanna. This global team deserve much thanks (please comment or write to me so I can share with them your appreciation ;-).

Thanks!

Phyl

P.S. Read earlier annual reports including: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019 (we only started producing these in 2019, nine years after the official launch of Slow Art Day).

Corridor Contemporary’s First Slow Art Day in Philadelphia, PA

On April 15, Corridor Contemporary, located in the vibrant Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA, hosted their first Slow Art Day in conjunction with the debut of their exhibition Printed Perspectives.

The location in Philadelphia is a sister gallery to owner Erez Zemach’s main gallery in Tel Aviv, both of which exhibit emerging and established Israeli and international artists. They showcase a range of contemporary art from figurative and photorealism to fresh contributions of graffiti and the wider street art vibe.

They kept the design of their Slow Art Day event simple, and recommended that participants choose at least 3 artworks and view them slowly for 5 minutes (perhaps even using a timer). They prompted viewers to consider what other areas of their life might benefit from intentionally slowing down.

Flyer for the event.

Main gallery at Corridor Contemporary.
Participants slowly viewing a work in the main gallery.

The gallery reported that they had quite a successful event with about 100 visitors attending throughout the day. I had the pleasure of being one of those participants, and was particularly drawn to the work of West Philadelphia artist King Saladeen in his solo exhibition: No Middle Cla$$. I found myself taking in his works for much longer than 5 minutes, and I wasn’t alone. They drew quite an audience.

Ashley Moran with work by King Saladeen.
Artwork by King Saladeen.
Staircase gallery at Corridor Contemporary.

Corridor Contemporary has three floors of galleries, and I found the small, winding staircase to be a perfect intimate spot to look slowly at skateboards adorned with art by Keith Haring from The Skateroom.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love to see the breadth of institutions that participate in Slow Art Day, from local galleries such as this to the larger museums. It proves that Slow Art is truly accessible to all. I am particularly delighted to have discovered Corridor Contemporary’s gallery in my own neighborhood, and can’t wait for their event in 2024.

– Ashley, with Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. – You can visit their social media here: Instagram | Facebook | X | Pinterest

First Turkish Slow Art Day at Ayzeradant Art Gallery

Ayzeradant Gallery in the city of Izmir hosted Slow Art Day in April of 2023 bringing the slow art movement to Turkey for the first time.

Performance artist and medical doctor Pınar Derin Gençer, based in Istanbul and Stockholm, was invited to perform her work “Watching the Waves”.

Slow Art Day poster for the event. Shared to Instagram.

Derin works mainly on performance art, visual arts, installation, writing and objects. According to Performance Art Weekly, her art “studies the relationship between the physical, psychological, historical field of the life, of the nature, of the city and the human.”

Derin is the founder/creative director of Istanbul Performance Art, Stockholm Performance Art and 24 Hours Art, and chief curator of Open Performance Space.

In “Watching the Waves”, the viewer experiences ways of thinking about the times between self and world, sensitive knowledge, and the space between object and world. 

After the performance, the art director of the gallery, Nihat Özdal, hosted a conversation with the gallery visitors on “Slow Art”, in which participants also got the opportunity to reflect together on the performance.

Below are photos showing some of the stages in the performance by Pınar Derin Gençer. Although seemingly simple, the process of actively following the artist drawing lines on the wall becomes an immersive experience.

Stage in the performance “Watching the Waves” by Pınar Derin Gençer for Slow Art Day 2023
Stage in the performance “Watching the Waves” by Pınar Derin Gençer for Slow Art Day 2023
Stage in the performance “Watching the Waves” by Pınar Derin Gençer for Slow Art Day 2023

The name of the gallery, “Ayzeradant”, comes from the “temple of wisdom” sign that the Armenian poet Tıngır hung at the entrance of his house in Buca in the 1800s. Tıngır was found dead in the grave he dug himself in 1881.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited to see Slow Art Day gaining a foothold in Turkey. We look forward to future events from Ayzeradant Gallery, and hope that they will host a Slow Art Day also in 2024.

-Johanna, Jessica Jane, Phyl and Ashley

PS. Stay updated with events at Ayzeradant Gallery via their Instagram page.

Beauty from Brokenness: Slow Art Day in Ljubljana, Slovenia


For their third Slow Art Day, Galleria l’arte di seta in Ljubljana, Slovenia, partnered with Elnovaspace Education Center to host three events in the period between April 13th – 18th, 2023 on the theme ‘Beauty from Brokenness.’

Artwork by artist Ruth Korthof
Slow Art Day participant, 2023, viewing artwork by artist Ruth Korthof
Slow Art Day participants, 2023, viewing artwork by artist Ruth Korthof

All events took place at the premises of Elnovaspace, Cigaletova 5, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

There were 3 main events:

  • April 13th opening
  • April 14 and 15 slow art looking (in person, individual guests)
  • April 18 conversation with the artist


Each event started with slow looking for 10 -15 minutes. They followed that by asking each participant to share their thoughts and reflections, and then concluded by talking about the ‘beauty of brokenness.’

Gallery founder, Lidija Drobež, said that “the common experience of looking slowly and the intriguing topic of beauty from brokenness jointly led to honest, meaningful and open discussion.”

Artist Ruth Korthof had no active role during slow art looking, but on April 18th she was actively involved as a participant. Later she said the following about the event:

We really like the way Galleria l’arte di seta approached this Slow Art Day and their three-day design with a focus on a single artist could be a good model for how other galleries might want to approach designing their own slow looking events.

Here at Slow Art Day HQ we were ourselves quite taken by the theme, and find Ruth Korthof’s art captivating. Porcelain is fragile, breakable, and beautiful, just like much of our world (and, of course, note the proximity of the Ukraine War and the threats Latvia is itself experiencing).

We look forward to whatever Galleria l’arte di seta and Elnovaspace come up with for their next Slow Art Day.

-Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane

PS. Stay up to date with Ruth Korthof and Galleria l’arte di seta through their Instagram.

PKULTRA’s Binary Encoded Slow Art Day

For their second Slow Art Day, the art gallery PKULTRA, in Seattle, WA, invited visitors to look slowly at the art of gallery owner, Paul Kuniholm – a public artist who works in sculpture, video, mural art, time-based work, as well as digital and, for this exhibit, binary art.

Binary encoding artwork by Paul Kuniholm.

The binary-encoded art series for Slow Art Day consisted of wayfinding and fine art paintings using binary encoding of various light-hearted narratives from emojis, positive affirmations, cognitive behavioral therapy maxims and cheerful quips.

In addition, Kuniholm hosted a live hour-long audio ‘slow’ podcast with lots of silence, random conversation with passerbys, and others during the gallery’s Slow Art Day.

At one point during the podcast, Kuniholm reports that during his training at the Seattle Art Museum he was told the typical visitor spends 7 seconds looking at any individual artwork (a statistic we’ve seen and reported on before). He also muses about the ‘equation’ for slow looking.

After participants looked slowly, they were asked to take a whimsical exit survey (see below).

  • 1. ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR SLOW ART DAY EXPERIENCE TODAY?   [    ] YES    [     ] NO
  • 2.  HAS ANYONE COMMENTED, YOU SEEM NUMERICAL? A TEN, ETC [    ] YES    [     ] NO
  • 3. DO YOU HAVE A SECRET “MAGIC” NUMBER? [    ] YES    [     ] NO
  • 4.  DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE NUMBER SONG? [    ] YES    [     ] NO
  • 5.  DO YOU USE YOUR FINGERS, DIGITS, FOR MATH?        [    ] YES    [     ] NO
  • 6.  ARE YOU ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE?        [    ] YES    [     ] NO

At Slow Art Day HQ we are glad that PKULTURA has joined the Slow Art Day movement, and hope that other artist-run galleries take inspiration to host their own event in 2024.

-Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane.

P.S. Check out their Instagram for more information about PKULTURA.

The Florence County Museum Leads the Way

For their second Slow Art Day, The Florence County Museum in South Carolina invited visitors to take a slow look at several artworks by local artist William H. Johnson (born 1901), featuring scenes of the everyday life of African Americans during the 1930s and 1940s.

On the day, all visitors were offered a printed slow looking guide (see below) and a Slow Art Day button when entering the museum. Visitors could choose between walking around on their own or taking part in a guided group tour, which were available throughout opening hours 10am-5pm. Refreshments were available in the afternoon (nice touch!).

Here’s the guide:

The Florence County Museum did a great job with their Slow Art Day – a simple effective printed guide, a lovely button, focus on one artist, a choice between a formal tour and self-guided reflection, and, finally, even refreshments.

What an effective holistic approach to the day.

Other museums and galleries may want to consider copying their design (or at least their guide).

The Florence County Museum is leading the way in celebrating Slow Art Day and we look forward to what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2024 (registration is open!)

-Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane

PS. Stay up to date with the Florence County Museum’s news and exhibitions through their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Slow Art Day with Rosé at the Bula Barua Gallery

For their first Slow Art Day, the Bula Barua Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida, hosted an event called “Rosé and Fine Art.”

Arriving guests were welcomed with a glass of wine or water and given a slow tour of The Bula Barua Gallery. Each artwork had a QR code, which revealed the artwork’s story and description. 

Slow looking participant at the Bula Gallery, 2023

The Bula Gallery space

Bula Barua is an artist whose conscientious approach to painting fits in well as a slow making approach. In her own words:

“I take a lot of time to plan out my paintings before I pick up a brush. I first start with a sketch and then graduate to pigments and paints. It often takes hundreds of layers of color to bring my vision to life […] This entire process from start to finish can take weeks or months, depending on the size of my canvas and which materials I use.”

Bula Barua. Statement from the Bula Gallery Website.

At Slow Art Day HQ we hope that more individual artists copy Bula Burua and host Slow Art Day events in their galleries and studios. It’s a great way to deepen their relationship with their followers, fans, and potential buyers.

We look forward to what Bula Burua comes up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

-Johanna, Ashley, Phyl, and Jessica Jane.

Gateway to Himalayan Art Workshop at Lehigh University Art Galleries

For their fourth Slow Art Day the Lehigh University Art Galleries in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, extended gallery hours and presented a free community workshop in partnership with Shanthi Project, that connected with works on display in the Gateway to Himalayan Art Exhibition

Image: Lobsang Drubjam Tsering. Medicine Buddha Palace (Copy of first painting from the set of the Tibetan Medical Paintings from Mentsikhang Lhasa) Rebgong county, Qinghai Province, China; 2012-2013 Pigments on cloth. Rubin Museum of Art. SC2013.6
Slow looking workshop in Lehigh University Galleries with Dr. Kristin Baxter, 2023.

On April 15, participants were first led by teaching artist, Dr. Kristin Baxter in meditation and grounding exercises. They then spent some time looking slowly at a thangka painting of the Medicine Buddha on display as part of the exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art (pictured above). Following their experience in the gallery, everyone was invited to create their own mindfulness journal to take home. 

LUAG also posted short videos on social media to encourage individuals to slow down and take time to view individual works of art, as well as on LUAG@Home – an online listing of resources on their website. 

At Slow Art Day HQ we love that Lehigh partnered with the Shanthi Project to bring meditative practices to their event. Meditation and slow looking are closely intwined as demonstrated by what the Rubin Museum of Art, the Phoenix Museum of Art and others have done since the beginning of our movement.

We look forward to whatever Lehigh University Art Galleries come up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

-Johanna, Ashley, Phyl, and Jessica Jane