Tea, Biscuits, and Year-Round Slow Looking

This year Galleri Pictor and Munka folkhogskola (a Swedish folk high school and adult education center) hosted Slow Art events several times during the year: once in April for Slow Art Day, and three times during the summer for art students taking summer courses at the center. The slow looking sessions all took place at Galleri Pictor and each session focused on a single artwork – Clara Lundgren’s “Det var här” (“It was here”).

Clara Lundgren (undated). “Det var här” (It was here). Acrylic on canvas. 69×82 cm. This artwork was used for the slow looking sessions at Galleri Pictor.

Arriving participants were welcomed and given a worksheet (in Swedish) containing instructions for eye palming along with slow looking prompts.

These instructions have been translated into English below:

Materials: Artwork, Worksheets and Timer

1) Eye Palming is a technique to relax the muscles around the eyes. Warm your hands by rubbing them together for a few seconds. Close your eyes and press your palms lightly against your cheeks, then cup your fingers over your eyes and eyebrows. Breathe slowly and deeply for three minutes.

2) Open your eyes slowly and look at the artwork with the same focus you had on your breathing.
– What do you notice?
– What colors, compositions, shapes and materials do you see?
– Does the artwork remind you of an event in your life?
– Do you think others notice the same thing as you?

If your mind wanders, try to focus again on the image. Look at the artwork for 10 minutes.

3) Relax again. Take a few deep breaths and notice any further thoughts you have about the artwork.

4) Write down reflections on the worksheet. Do this for 10 minutes.

5) Finally, we reflect together on our experiences of the image and how it felt to do the activity.


During the slow looking session Charlotte Fällman Gleissner, art expert and teacher at Munka Folkhögskola, kept track of the time transitions using a timer.

For the closing group reflection, Galleri Pictor repeated their successful concept from last year of sharing tea and biscuits together while participants discussed their slow looking session. Some of the reflections from this section of the event are included on the Pictor Gallery blog (in Swedish).

We love the focus on a single art work (the original idea for Slow Art Day was to spend one hour with a single artwork).

We can’t wait to see what Galleri Pictor and Munka folkhögskola come up with for Slow Art Day 2024 – and throughout the year. We also hope that future events include tea and biscuits, especially if they save some for us!

– Johanna, Ashley, Phyl and Jessica Jane

Eat, Drink and Merrily Look at Art with Ur Mara Museo

Our favorite Basque museum held its eighth Slow Art Day in 2023 and, like they have done in the past, they arranged a full day of slow looking, cooking, eating, and dancing.

The art came from five artists inspired by the French ecological movement of the 1990s, which sought to oppose the consumerist and speculative art market, and to instead advocate for ecological aesthetic values such as recycling and craftsmanship.

The five artists represented included:

Uxue Lasa (sculpture)
Anton Mendizabal (sculpture)
Myrian Loidi Zulet (textile)
Mari Jose Lacadena (therapeutic art)
Eduardo Arreseigor (various art)

Further, a lecture by Juan Tomas Olazagirre – “La notación musical” – was held before the end-of-day special dinner (the dinner known as “community food”).

Click the above photo to watch a video excerpt.

Below is the promotional flyer they used to spread the word about their Slow Art Day.

Someday the Slow Art Day HQ team will finally make the trek to Ur Mara Museo so we can participate in their amazing daylong celebration of art, food, and community. We look forward to what they come up with for 2024.

Thanks,

– Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane

Going with the Flow at Artspace in Virginia

For their second Slow Art Day, the member-run non-profit gallery Artspace, in Richmond, Virginia, planned a simple approach for their event: start with a 5-minute meditation, followed by 5-minute slow looking at four chosen works currently hanging in the gallery, and a group discussion afterwards.

Slow Art Day at Artspace social media graphic.

The gallery opened at noon, and the hosts provided healthy nibbles, mimosas, and water with cucumber, mint and lemon as they welcomed visitors and explained the history and mission of Slow Art Day. At 2pm, they started to play meditative flute music.

While the organizers had a clear plan for meditation, slow viewing and discussion, the participants decided to make some changes on the fly. For example, the first group of visitors skipped the meditation and jumped right in to looking at a large painting. Next, the participants decided to split up and slow look at one art work that they each chose. This did not quite follow the event plan, the organizers went with the flow of the group, and said it worked out even better than planned. Many Slow Art Day educators and hosts know that sometimes visitors take ideas into their own hands, which after all is the central mission of Slow Art Day.

Slow looking at Artspace

At the end of the session, participants held a long discussion about their experience: why did they choose the art they chose, what did they see, and thoughts on the design of the exhibit.

At Slow Art Day HQ we are pleased to know that the event worked out well and we look forward to seeing what this Richmond gallery comes up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. Check out Artspace on their social media pages Facebook and Instagram.

P.P.S. Note to Slow Art Day museums: please provide water with cucumber, mint and lemon to all your guests 😉

Sweden’s Nationalmuseum Inspires With a Full Day of Programs

Slow Art Day 2023 is but 11 days away!

Meanwhile, more museums continue to register their plans with us including the Swedish Nationalmuseum with its inspiring (and first) full day of slow activities.

Under the direction of Johannes Mayer who coordinates the public events/programming for Nationalmuseum, the museum will start Slow Art Day with a slow yoga class amongst sculptures in the sculpture yard, in the morning at 8:30 am before the museum opens. Participants will be led by yoga teacher Victoria Winderud. The session ends with a fresh smoothie served in the café beneath.

Wow.

Then, once the museum opens young visitors (5-11 years old) will be invited to go on a slow looking tour of a handful of paintings in the collection, led by museum staff, between 10:30 and 11:15 pm. At 2pm, adults will be invited to go on their own slow looking tour.

But that’s not all.

There will also be an art-chill session at the beautiful Strömsalen (a large room with both paintings and sculptures), led by Sara Borgegård, Intendent Pedagogik for the museum (roughly – the “Superintendent of Pedagogy”) who will tell a saga based on one of the sculptures in the room.

Wait. There’s more.

All day long, the Nationalmuseum will offer what they are calling “drop-in art-chill” at the sculpture-hall/yard, where visitors can sit or lay down on a yoga-mat and listen to a pre-recorded art-chill session, slowly observing the beautiful room.

Finally, all visitors can borrow a slow-looking guide to explore and discover our works of art at their own slow pace.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

What a great design.

I hope this inspires other Slow Art Day museums and galleries.

And wherever you are, we hope you have a GOOD and Slow Art Day 2023.

Best,

Phyl and the Slow Art Day team

P.S. Remember to register your Slow Art Day with us so our volunteer team can write-up a report and feature you in our Annual Report, which has become the Bible of the slow looking movement.

P.P.S. If you need any of the host tools – logo for use in your print or digital efforts, and all of the past reports with their many tools, tips, and inspiring approaches – then go to the host tools section of our Slow Art Day website.

Ur Mara Museoa Shows All of Us How to Celebrate Art

Ur Mara Museoa, located in Gipuzkoa, Spain, held its seventh Slow Art Day this year.

This Basque museum has been a real leader in the slow looking movement showing all of us how to celebrate via daylong events that combine art, food, music, and dance (below is a video from 2019 showing one of their events).

This year’s hosts Koldobika Jauregi and Elena Cajaraville featured work from six artists including Aitor Irulegi, Aihnoa Goenaga, Koldobika Juaregi, Juan Chillida, Julia Leigh, and Maria Giró.

During the event, each artist was given a chance to discuss their work with the attendees (see below for photos of the art as well as photos of participants).

Juan Chillida, Constelaciones
Juan Kruz Igerabide and Koldobika Jauregi, Anaforak
Maria Giró and Julia Leight, La memòria dels dits
Aitor Irulegi, Euria
Ainhoa Goenaga, Isilune

Afterwords food was shared at a community table.

We can’t wait to see what this wonderful and creative group comes up with for next year.

– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, Jessica Jane

P.S. Ur Mara Museoa can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo.

GAMA Presents Seven Works, Five Artists, and Food

The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art (GAMA), located at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, held their first Slow Art Day this year, which was hosted by GAMA Administrative Staff Members Madeleine Boyson, Theresa McLaren, and Lynn Boland. They chose seven works by five artists exemplifying a range of styles and media.

Kara Walker, Boo Hoo, 2000, linoleum cut on paper, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Polly & Mark Addison, 2009.2.21. [A black and white silhouette linoleum cut by Kara Walker titled “Boo Hoo,” illustrating a crying woman holding a snake in her left hand and a whip in her right].
Anna Bogatin Ott, Juliet, 2017, acrylic on canvas, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of the artist in memory of Gregory Belim, 2018.15. [A square, pink painting by Anna Bogatin Ott with small hatch marks against a white wall, underneath a sign that reads “Scott Family Lobby.”]
After Claude Lorrain, Le Sacrifice au Temple d’Apollon dans I’lle de Delos (View of Delphi with a Procession), ca. 1648-1650, oil on canvas, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Larry Hartford & Torleif Tandstad, 2016.1.16. [A view of a large, gold-framed painting against a green wall, featuring a large tree in the center, many small figures in the foreground, and a temple in the background.]
Unidentified Tibetan Artist, Vestment Cabinet, ca. 1840 (Qing Dynasty), paint on pine, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Larry Hartford & Torleif Tandstad, 2016.1.126. [An ornate, multicolored vestment cabinet by an unidentified Tibetan artist from the 19th century, traditionally used to store liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion.]
Enrique Chagoya, Linda maestra!, Ni mas ni menos, and Se repulen from The Return to Goya’s Caprichos, 1999, etching and aquatint on paper, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Colorado State University, gift of Polly & Mark Addison, 2005.144.8, 2005.144.3 and 2005.144.7 [A view of three framed works from Enrique Chagoya’s series “A Return to Goya’s Caprichos” against a red wall.]

Museum staff approached visitors with a short handout (see below) detailing instructions on how to find the works, prompts for slow looking, and an invitation to discuss amongst themselves, with a staff member, or in larger, more “formal” discussions at 11:30am & 3pm.

Note: Educators or curators might want to copy this simple flyer for their own slow looking events.

After participants finished their slow looking sessions, the museum provided bottled water and light refreshments in the lobby (nice touch!).

We look forward to seeing what they come up with for next year.

– Robin, Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, and Jessica Jane

P.S. The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and Vimeo.

First Slow Art Day in Gard, France

On April 2, 2022, artist Christine Cougoule held her first Slow Art Day at Showroom Chris & Co. in Gard, France.

Installation in the showroom.

Christine led three one-hour four-step slow-looking sessions:

  • Welcome with a quick mindfulness session
  • Look slowly at 3 works for 10 minutes each
  • End with a quick mindfulness session
  • Discuss words that come to mind while sharing tea

We like this approachable design, which integrates mindfulness (and tea), and encourage the global community to consider copying what she’s done.

Below is some of the art she featured.

Canvas mixed media on paper.

Canvas mixed media: acrylic, ink, charcoal, hand made paper.

Christine publicized her event on both Facebook and Instagram in advance with the below flyer: 

She plans to lead more Slow Art Day sessions throughout the year. Keep a lookout for these on her Facebook and Instagram.

We are thrilled to welcome Christine to the Slow Art Day community, and look forward to her participation in 2023.

Ashley, Phyl, Johanna, Jessica Jane

Reflections on the Life and Death of Artist Wayne Thiebaud

Host Essay by Hedy Buzan

Wayne Thiebaud died on Christmas Day 2021 at the age of 101.

Thiebaud was one of the most important American artists of our generation. Mis-described as a “Pop Artist”, Thiebaud’s work was simultaneously accessible and deep, rooted in art history and slyly funny, idiosyncratic yet universal. His work, accessible in print and online but always best seen in person, was thick with glorious impasto and color nuance.

American in his subject matter – he famously painted still lifes of cakes and pies, but also archetypal figures and landscapes of the vertiginous hills of San Francisco and the rolling Sacramento Delta. Thiebaud was eclectic in his influences: there is as much Matisse, Daumier and Cezanne in his works as there is the influence of Hopper and Disney. Moreover, Thiebaud had a brilliant mind, as evidenced in this 1981 essay A Fellow Painter’s View of Georgio Morandi.

Thiebaud was always looking, looking, looking, and open to the new. This brief video by the Morgan Library gives some insight to his constant evolution as an artist (as well as a look at some of his great work).

At the end of his life he did a series of paintings of the most hackneyed subject in American art – clown paintings – and made them into a transcendental experience.

An exhibition of his work was shown last year at Laguna Art Museum. While Covid restrictions prevented a Slow Art Day there, my review for the local paper can be read here.

Moreover, Thiebaud the man was humble, approachable and kind.

You can see that in this video below where he takes a slow look at Rosa Bonheur’s “outstanding” painting, The Horse Fair.

Thiebaud had a second home in Laguna Beach and loaned and gave works to the local museum, as well as mentoring artists up to the final year of his life. He liked to work in the mornings, play tennis, take a nap and work again in the afternoons. He drew daily. He loved to teach and each of the three times I’ve heard him lecture he repeated the same anecdote:

“I love to ask students, especially beginning students one question: ‘Who is painting the painting – you or the painting?’ They invariably answer ‘I am painting the painting’ To which I say ‘Wrong answer! You need to follow the painting and see where it takes you.”

What wonderful words of advice, as regards painting and life. 

Hedy Buźan
Founding Host, Slow Art Day

Hedy Buzan is an artist and founding host of Slow Art Day. She also helped launch the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival, an annual arts festival in Southern California. 

Slow Art Day is committed to publishing posts like this from our hosts around the world. Here are some tips.

Slow Art Infusion at the Three Sisters Tearoom

The Three Sisters Tearoom, in ​Campbellsville, Tennessee, hosted their first official Slow Art Day – and due to popular demand, they decided to hold slow looking sessions throughout the whole month of April.

The Stowe family, who run the tearoom, designed their Slow Art Month around selected paintings that featured tea as a centerpiece.

Artworks included:

  • One of the Family. Fredrick George Cotman
  • Beauty and the Beast. Jessi Wilcox Smith.
One of the Family. Fredrick George Cotman
Beauty and the Beast. Jessi Wilcox Smith.

During the sessions, visitors looked slowly at the selected works while sipping tea and listening to live music. This was followed by an engaging discussion where participants shared their observations.

The paintings selected, along with many others, are included in two slow-art-inspired books: Infused: Tea Time in Fine Art, and The Hide and Seek Gallery: A Child’s I Spy in Fine Art. Both books are written by Jennifer Stowe, slow art author, tearoom owner, and mother to the three sisters that the tearoom is named after.

Participants engaging with art.
Participants engaging with fine art while sipping tea.

The events were well received by participants of all ages. Julia Stowe said that she and her sisters are excited to continue hosting multi-generational slow art sessions throughout the year.

“Guests of all ages enjoyed this set-apart time to consider art, and the unique and intriguing observations from art-observers of various generations were especially delightful.”

Julia Stowe

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Stowe family have adopted multi-generational slow looking sessions throughout the year.

We have been thinking about creating an annual tour to visit Slow Art Day museums and galleries all over the world. Assuming we make that happen, we hope to visit Campbell, TN and try their tea and slow art infusions.

In the meantime, we look forward to what the Three Sisters Tearoom comes up with for Slow Art Month in 2022.

Johanna, Ashley, Jessica, and Phyl

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about their approach, read the Summer 2021 newsletter below.

Slow Art Good Enough to Eat

In April of 2020, Slow Art Day veteran Hedy Buzan co-ordinated an event inspired by Wayne Thiebaud’s edible-looking paintings of food.

Sent out as a ‘Super Challenge’ via Mailchimp, Hedy asked participants to make their own sketch of Thiebaud’s ‘Jolly Cones’ with colored or standard pencils. She also provided hints and step-by-step pictures of her own process, which we include below following Thiebaud’s original:

Wayne Thiebaud, ‘Jolly Cones‘, Oil on panel, c. 2002.
Gift from the Wayne Thiebaud Foundation to the Laguna Art Museum, 2013, Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
Hedy Buzan, Slow Art Day drawing of Thiebaud’s ‘Jolly Cones’ #1
Hedy Buzan, Slow Art Day drawing of Thiebaud’s ‘Jolly Cones’ #2
Hedy Buzan, Slow Art Day drawing of Thiebaud’s ‘Jolly Cones’ #3

After they completed the challenge, participants were invited by Hedy to send images of their work alongside three observations from the exercise. Following the instructions, Hedy also included this helpful reminder:

Remember, we are not trying to make a perfect drawing but are using sketching to S L O W down and learn to look.

Hedy Buzan

The event had several asynchronous participants. One of them, Ellen Brundige, even captured a time-lapse video of her digital drawing, viewable here, the final result of which can be seen below:

Ellen Brundige, ‘Jolly Cones’ after Thiebaud, Slow Art Day challenge, 2020.
Source: Ellen Brundige Tumblr.

Hedy, who helped launch Slow Art Day in 2010, has previously collaborated with the Laguna Art Museum, where the original ‘Jolly Cones’ is exhibited. The Laguna Art Museum had to close this year due to the pandemic but Hedy hopes for further slow looking collaborations.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we have been impressed with the resourcefulness of all the hosts this year as they have found ways to connect people through art across virtual platforms. We love the fun spirit of Hedy Buzan’s challenge and look forward to more innovative Slow Art Day events from this pioneering artist in the future.

– Johanna and Ashley