Art Deco Movie Theater Shows a New Kind of Slow Art Day

Arlee Theater in Mason City, Illinois, a locally-owned and operated art deco movie theater, which relies on volunteers to stay open, hosted its first Slow Art Day (and the first one we know of in a movie theater – wow!) with great success.

Exterior of the Arlee Theater in Mason City. The photo is from the Arlee website.

Ahead of the event, local residents were invited to submit an artwork to be considered for a slow looking session to be held on the big screen.

Arlee’s volunteer crew selected five artworks (out of the overall twenty that were submitted) to be shown for five minutes each before Saturday night’s movie screening. These replaced the normal pre-show advertisements, and were accompanied by brief contextual information about Slow Art Day to help orient people arriving at different times. You can view the five works below.

Following the event, a timed video of the artworks was uploaded to the Arlee website and Facebook page so people could participate at home as well.

Marcia Maxson Schwartz, who is an Arlee board member and volunteer, reported that they received a lot of positive feedback, including from visitors who rarely go to museums or galleries. In fact, by bringing art into the movie theater, Arlee is showing all of us how to bring art into the lives of *many* more people.

Further, Schwartz and her volunteer team hope to use this year’s success to create a citywide Slow Art Day in Mason next year.

“While we only had a couple of days to get things together, our team considers it a success and is looking forward to next year – we’ve even started the ball rolling with a store owner and the town’s librarian to coordinate events across this little town next year.”

Marcia Maxaon Schwartz

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the pioneering efforts of the Arlee Theater and hope they start a movement of movie theaters around the world showing art slowly.

We also love the mix of kinds of institutions that are now participating in Slow Art Day – major national museums, regional and university museums, galleries, outdoor sculpture parks, avant garde art spaces, and local movie theaters in small towns. Hurray!

Art needs to be slowly seen *everywhere* and we thank the volunteers at Arlee for innovating a new way to reach more people.

We eagerly anticipate what Arlee and the town of Mason, which may host a citywide Slow Art Day in 2024, come up with for next year.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Philosophy and Slow Looking at Gothenburg Museum of Art 

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Gothenburg Museum of Art in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden, designed a slow looking event focused on artwork by the South Korean artist Lee Bul.

Lee Bul, Installation 5. Photo credits: Hossein Sehatlou

Art Educator Jonna Kihlsten chose Lee Bul’s art, in part, because she approaches her work both philosophically and with a focus on the observer’s physical experience. As a result, her work opens space for contemplation, reflection and philosophical conversation (and, obviously is great for slow looking).

For the event, philosophy teacher and consultant Mathias Tistelgren led a slow viewing and discussion on Lee’s work Scale of Tongue.  

Mathias Tistelgren engaging with the audience. Photo credits: Anna-Lena Åsemyr

We at Slow Art Day HQ are fans of Lee Bul’s art – and really love the idea of having a philosopher lead slow looking sessions. We can only guess what the Gothenburg Museum of Art will come up with for their 5th Slow Art Day in 2024.

– Jessica Jane, Johanna, Ashley, and Phyl

P.S. If you want to keep updated with the Gothenburg museum, check out their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

An Ecological Journey of Artistic Discovery at Europos Parkas

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Open-Air Museum Europos Parkas, in Vilinius, Lithuania, organized a plein-air slow looking session with their participants.

Europos Parkas is a 55 hectare (136 acre) open-air museum situated in the center of Europe that began as a relaxing place in the forest where artists, sculptors, and people around the world could meet, and eventually transformed into an open-air museum with modern sculptures and landscape art.

Slow Art Day at Europos Parkas

On the 15th of April, participants where invited to slowly experience three different sculptures:

  • “Gintarė/electricity” by Evaldas Pauza (Lithuania)
  • “Conjuror” by Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland)
  • “Space of Unknown Growth” by Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland)
“Gintarė/electricity” by Evaldas Pauza
“Conjuror” by Magdalena Abakanowicz
“Space of Unknown Growth” by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Participants were encouraged to pay close attention to their breathing, all while taking note of the colors, sounds, and smells surrounding them – and even being blindfolded so they could focus on touch.

After the slow viewing, art facilitator Karen Vanhercke led a discussion encouraging participants to make mindful connections between themselves and the surrounding nature, art, and other participants. To make the event more inclusive, discussions were conducted in English with Lithuanian translation. Tea and biscuits were also served.

Participants engaging with sculptures and nature on Slow Art Day

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the creativity of the Europos Parkas team and look forward to seeing what they come up with in 2024.

– Jessica Jane, Johanna, Ashley and Phyl

P.S. Here you can find their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Something Old, Something New at Angel Ambrose

For their second Slow Art Day, Angel Ambrose Fine Art Studio in Bloomington, Illinois invited visitors to consider the well known wedding rhyme “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” as part of the city-wide Slow Art Day in this famous Route 66 town.

Angel invited visitors to her studio to look slowly at a selection of works that corresponded with the rhyme:

Something Old: an “old” painting from Angel’s BFA show at Illinois State University

Something New: a selection of new artworks by Angel

Something Borrowed: an Ansel Adams photo on loan from a private collection

Something Blue: a painting titled “Magnificent Blues,” on loan from the private collection of Wendy Knight Ives (pictured below).

Something Blue: “Magnificent Blues,” on loan from the collection of Wendy Knight Ives.
Something New: Artwork by Angel Ambrose

Angel also shared a slow looking activity on Facebook for online participants.

Give yourself 3-5 minutes of silence to focus on one piece of art. Think about these prompts as you view the selected art, (and answer them for yourself afterwards if you wish):

For your head (objective thought/intellect) you can consider any of the following:

  • What did you see? What decisions did you notice that Angel made in her painting—line, color, texture, form, repetition, contrast, etc? Was there a color scheme/theme apparent? Notice the paint—can you see individual brushstrokes, or a smooth surface, or perhaps another tool was used to apply the paint? How was movement used in the artwork? Was the piece representational, abstracted, or somewhere between? Why do you think Angel chose this format?

For your heart (feelings/emotions), consider the following:

  • How did you feel when you looked at the work? Did the colors evoke any emotions? What did these feelings make you think about? Did your mood change after looking at the artwork? Did you experience any personal significance to the piece?”

Angel reported that the event was a success, with many new visitors and lots of great conversations.

At Slow Art Day HQ we love how this and the other galleries in Bloomington have been pioneering citywide events. (Note: rumors are that a state-wide Slow Art Day is now being considered in Illinois!)

Best,

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Slow Art and Slow Food Come Together in Italy

For their third Slow Art Day, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto (MART), Italy organized a two-stage event in collaboration with a local Slow Food collective, which specializes in cheese, jam, wine and bread.

For the first-stage, MART invited the Slow Food producers to a private event in order to experience slow looking with the works of art shown below.

  • “Spiralando sull’Arena di Verona”, by Renato Di Bosso, 1935 (from the permanent collection)
  • “L’incantesimo dell’amore e la primavera della vita” by Galileo Chini, 1914 (from the temporary exhibition on Klimt and Italian Art)

“Spiralando sull’Arena di Verona”, by Renato Di Bosso. 1935.
Left panel detail from “L’incantesimo dell’amore e la primavera della vita” by Galileo Chini. 1914.
Right panel detail from “L’incantesimo dell’amore e la primavera della vita” by Galileo Chini. 1914.
Visitors looking at “L’incantesimo dell’amore e la primavera della vita” by Galileo Chini (1914) for Slow Art Day at MART 2023

For the second stage held about a week later, MART invited the public to the same slow looking experience with the same works of art.

This time, however, the Slow Food producers held a food tasting afterwards that featured foods they chose to pair with the art based on things like color and emotion. During the tasting, the Slow Food collective talked about their choices in the pairings.

Wow! What a great design for Slow Art Day.

We encourage museums around the world to do something similar: partner with a local Slow Food organization.

Slow Art collaboration with Slow Food at MART 2023
Slow Food tasting as part of MART’s Slow Art Day 2023

Not surprisingly, the MART hosts (Monica Sperandio, Social Media Representative, and Denise Bernabe, Membership Coordinator), reported that the event was a success on all fronts:

We were very satisfied with the experience and the collaboration as Slow Art and Slow Food have very similar ethics and visions, and we were able to combine two different but similar pleasures of life such as art and quality food.

Monica Sperandio

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the partnership with Slow Food.

We (one of us is based in Italy) hope to visit MART in the future, and get a chance to see and taste the art and food ourselves.

And, of course, we are eager to see what unique design MART comes up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane and Phyl

P.S. Stay up to date with upcoming events at MART via their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Third Slow Art Day at Glen Foerd in Philadelphia’s Citywide Event

Executive Director Ross Mitchell at Glen Foerd in Philadelphia, PA reported that they had a very successful third Slow Art Day, featuring four works of art for an hour and a half of slow looking, followed by a group discussion.

“An Archive of Desire” by Jenifer Johnson (2020, Mixed Media, Porcelain. American)
“The Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist” by Girolamo da Santa Croce (1480-1556, Tempera on wood. Venetian)
“The Letter” by Hobson Pitman, (1899-1972, Oil on Canvas. American)

“Lady Russell” by Sir Peter Lely, (1617 – 1680, Oil on Panel. Dutch, Active in England)

The following prompts were printed out and provided to partcipants to consider during their slow looking:

  • 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?

Glen Foerd participated in a Philadelphia-wide Slow Art Day along with these other museums:

The Barnes Foundation
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Corridor Contemporary

We at Slow Art Day HQ are excited to see how Philadelphia has joined in the citywide Slow Looking movement.

We look forward to what Glen Foerd comes up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

– Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Third Slow Art Day at Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey

For their third Slow Art Day, educators and docents at Grounds for Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton, New Jersey, invited visitors to slow down and look at any four different sculptures.

Torqueri XIII. Grounds for Sculpture.
Staff in front of Arch II. Grounds for Sculpture.
Participants in front of Eolith. Grounds for Sculpture.
Participants engaging with Dorian. Grounds for Sculptures.

While looking slowly, participants were asked to consider the following prompts:

  • Observe:
    Take a deep breath, walk around the sculpture and let your eyes move slowly around the artwork – from where it touches the ground all the way up to the sky. What do you notice? Make three observations based on what you noticed.
  • Share:
    Think of a story or experience this sculpture reminds you of – anything that comes to mind. Think of a friend that you want to share this sculpture with; why does this person come to mind?
  • Reflect:
    What do you notice about the sculpture now that you did not see at first glance? How does this change your impression of the sculpture? If you’re with others, share your responses. Did they have similar or different thoughts on the sculpture?
  • Repeat:
    If you are up for the Slow Art Day challenge, then repeat this excercise with three other sculptures. What new question might you pose for slow looking? Add it to your next slow look.

Here are a few of the visitor observations while slow looking at the sculpture Dorian, which proved to be one of the most popular pieces for Slow Art Day according to GFS docent Adria Sherman:

A child noticed the triangles, diamonds and octagons. Another thought it was a spaceship. A
young woman visiting from California saw a hummingbird sipping water and appreciated the
effect of clouds on the reflections. The most touching and personal interaction I had was with a couple holding hands. They viewed the sculpture as a living person and its reflection on the surrounding water as the memory of the deceased individual that lives on in the mind of loved ones.

Adria Sherman

Sherman also mentioned that Slow Art Day 2023 created one of the best visitor experiences she has witnessed in her long tenure at Grounds For Sculpture.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we always love reading about what the team at GFS designs for their annual event, and we look forward to seeing what they come up with for their fourth Slow Art Day in 2024.

– Jessica Jane, Ashley, Johanna, and Phyl

P.S. Stay up to date with events at GFS via their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Engaging the Senses in Frederiksberg, Denmark

For their second Slow Art Day, the Frederiksberg Museums in Frederiksberg, Denmark, held two guided slow looking events at Cisternerne (The Cisterns), an underground water reservoir that now hosts contemporary art exhibitions.

Slow looking participant. Slow Art Day 2023 at Cisterne. Photo: Jacob Hansen.

For their Slow Art Day event, Cecilie Monrad, Curator and Health Manager, and Thomas Riis Jensen, Coordinator of Exhibitions and Events, invited participants to engage their senses in a new way by experiencing South Korean artist Kimsooja’s Weaving the Light exhibition at the Cisternerne.

The Cisternerne Exhibition Space featuring Kimsooja’s Weaving the Light installation. Photo: Torben Eskerod.

Before we describe what they did for Slow Art Day, we need to first explain the unique environment of the Cisternerne. It is a 4,400 square meter underground space that never sees daylight, where the humidity is close to 100%, and the temperature fluctuates between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4 and 16 degrees Celsius). Sounds vibrate and echo throughout, and a slow surface drip of water creates stalactites on the walls and vaults.

For the Weaving the Light exhibition, Kimsooja transformed the darkness of Cisternerne into an installation of light and color by using diffraction grating film mounted on transparent panels. These let light pass through a microscopic surface of horizontal and vertical prisms, creating a spectacular array of light in the darkness.

Artist Kimsooja at her exhibition Weaving the Light at Cisternerne. Photo: Malthe Ivarsson.

The Slow Art Day event started above ground, where participants first got acclimated to the light, temperature and atmosphere outside. Next, they went down into the Cisternerne together, first spending a moment getting used to the darkness, and change in temperature and humidity. They then self-selected areas throughout the exhibition for a 30 minute slow looking session before heading back to the surface, where they shared observations and reflections from the experience.

The Cisternerne, which is actually one of four museums in The Frederiksberg Museum collection, hosts, along with the other museums, slow looking events throughout the year. This year, for example, the museum collective is leading a research program for young psychiatric users who will investigate slow looking as a component in the recovery process for people suffering from dementia, stress, or depression.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are impressed by the many ways the Frederiksberg Museums are creatively using slow looking in a number of different ways. In fact, we all want to go spend some time with them and think you should do the same.

We look forward to whatever they come up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Phyl

P.S. Note that the Cisternerne is actually one of several museums in The Frederiksberg Museum collection, which also includes:
STORM – Museum of Humor and Satire
Bakkehuset – Museum of the Danish Golden Age
Møstings – Danish Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art

Picturing the Divine: Slow Art Day at the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum

For their third Slow Art Day the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum (RPM) in Hildesheim, Germany, featured three statues representing the divine or enlightenment from several permanent exhibitions:

– The Egyptian goddess Isis

– A Bodhisattva (a Buddhist monk that is acknowledged to have achieved enlightenment on Earth through discipline and compassion)

– A Pieta (image of the Virgin Mary in mourning with the dead body of Jesus)

The goddess Isis, seated. Egypt. c. 600 BCE/BC. Photo courtesy of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum.
Bodhisattva of Compassion (Bodhisattva der Barmherzigkeit) Guanyin, China, Ming-dynasty. 1368-1644. Photo courtesy of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum.
Pieta. Mary, mother of God (Mary, Mutter Gottes). Hildesheim. c. 1520-1525. Photo courtesy of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum.

Participants were invited to look slowly at the three featured statues, while museum staff were also available for in-depth discussion.

The theme of divinity was chosen as an interesting way to focus on images of women in diverse religious and cultural traditions: the Egyptian goddess Isis, and – in the Catholic tradition – the Virgin Mary. Interestingly, in Buddhism it is debated whether women can become enlightened and achieve Buddha-status, or if they need to first be reborn as a man. Some paths of Mahayana Buddhism acknowledge both male and female Bodhisattvas, but in the stricter Theravada tradition only men are able to achieve the status of Arhat (a version of enlightenment that is founded on individual wisdom rather than on the principle of compassion). Thus, the Bodhisattva statue is a great example of how visual representation can lead to dialogue and exploration.

In the words of Andrea Nicklisch, ethnologist at the museum:

“Slow Art Day offers a wonderful opportunity to explore representations of women and to deal intensively with deities in different cultures and art in a new way.”

RPM ethnologist Andrea Nicklisch.

We look forward to whatever this archaeological museum comes up with for April 13, 2024.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. Stay updated with the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum via their Facebook and Instagram pages.

P.P.S. Registration is now open for Slow Art Day 2024.

Engaging All Ages at the Art Gallery of St. Albert, Canada

For their 4th Slow Art day, the Art Gallery of St. Albert, Canada had 44 visitors who took part in slow looking while viewing their current exhibitions “Connected Currents” by Kelsey Stephenson, and “LandEscape” by Crystal Lee Clark.

Exhibition view of “Connected Currents” by Kelsey Stephenson.

The gallery also provided a free art activity for all ages where visitors could create a collage bookmark inspired by Connected Currents. Younger guests were encouraged to try an iSpy activity carefully looking around the gallery to find smaller sections of the different art pieces on display.

Image from St. Albert’s Facebook post.

The day was promoted on their events calendar, Facebook and Instagram pages in advance.

We at Slow Art Day HQ love the simplicity of St. Albert’s event, and how they engaged youth to slow down and appreciate art.

We look forward to seeing what they come up for April 13, 2024.

– Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. Registration is now open for Slow Art Day 2024.