Slow Art Day at LACMA with Monika Del Bosque

[Slow Art Day Founder Phil Terry recently interviewed Monika De Bosque, three-time host of Slow Art Day at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.]


Robert Matta – Burn, Baby Burn

Slow Art Day: You’ve been a Slow Art Day host since the beginning. Why?

Monika:  Art has the power to move us, and there is a certain potency in knowing that we’re all participating at the same time (give or take).  There’s something special about that.

Slow Art Day: You have 100 people coming to LACMA on Saturday and 10 moderators. Tell us more about the design of your Slow Art Day.

Monika:  It started out that my co-host and I took students from our respective classes at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA.  Melanie McQuitty teaches Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art in the Sociology/Philosophy Department and I teach Studio Art courses and direct the college Art Gallery.

Slow Art Day: Do professors from different departments there typically team up like that?

Monika: It is actually rather unusual for faculty at our college to do interdisciplinary activities such as this, but we saw the correlation between our classes and really enjoy collaborating together.  Our first year co-hosting it was really a student event with about 60 students.

Slow Art Day: But, now you have an interesting mix of students and the public, right?

Monika: Yes. I really enjoy the fact that there is a mixture of both students and people from all over Los Angeles.

Slow Art Day: What art did you pick for Slow Art Day this year?

Monika:  We have some great art selected! We are looking at Gego’s Column, Squared Reticularia, 1972; Roberto Matta’s Burn, Baby, Burn, 1965-66; Charles Howard’s Double Circle, 1950; Edward Biberman’s The White Firescape, 1956; Marc Chagall’s Violinist on a Bench, 1920; and finally George Segal’s, Old Woman in a Window, 1965.

Slow Art Day: And what about your unique approach to moderators?

Monika: We recruit about eight other moderators besides ourselves because with such a huge turnout, we break into groups of ten or so for our discussion time.  Our moderators are students who have taken our courses and attended past Slow Art Day events, faculty members from other colleges, museum educators, and artists. It helps that we know people within the field of art and art education, but we are actually pretty selective about who we ask because we want the discussions to be engaging and interesting.

Slow Art Day: How do you determine the topics for the moderators?

Monika: Instead of choosing one piece or topic to discuss, we allow our moderators to pick a piece they want to lead a discussion on and then let our attendees to self select their discussion group based upon these discussion topics.  Within reason.  We will move people around if we see that a group has twenty people and another has only three.  Because we allow our moderators this level of autonomy, this is why we are very selective in who we ask to lead a discussion.

Slow Art Day: What do you do during the discussions?

Monika: I generally lead a group on the museum experience as this relates to a particular piece, or a group on the elements and principles of design in a particular work since I teach 2D Design.  In order to keep a sense of continuity with our large group, we stay at our venue for discussion, and we keep our small discussion groups within proximity to each other.  This does prove challenging at a large, busy museum like LACMA!  This year we have begun to work more closely with their staff, and have found a location for our discussion that we think will work really well for this (stay tuned).  It can be hotter than blazes by April in LA (two years ago it was a 100 degree day), so we’re always looking for shade.  Next year we hope to secure an indoor space by working with the museum staff.

Slow Art Day: You yourself are both an artist and a teacher. Tell us more.

Monika:  Well yes, I am one of those people fortunate enough to make a living doing what I love.  I have an MFA in Studio Art, and studied Museum Collections Management—both at John F. Kennedy University.  I actually first heard about Slow Art Day from a colleague at JFKU, Susan Spero, who posted the very first announcement back in 2010 on her Facebook page.  Seems I was destined to be an educator because I love teaching and I love art and I love museums.  So, I am very happy getting to teach art and run a gallery and teach exhibition design.  For me, it’s the perfect combination. When I’m not teaching, my art revolves around exploring identity. I’m a painter and in my paintings I like to push boundaries with my materials. I draw and mix media and incorporate collage and handwritten text into my work.  I have a deep love of color, line, design, and geometric forms and structures.  My students tell me I am a fun instructor and people often mistake me for my students.  When I’m not in my studio, I can often be found mucking about in my garden or kitchen getting inspiration for my art.

[Make sure to check out Slow Art Day at the LACMA in Los Angeles.]

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 David Faux at the University Museums at Iowa State University

[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 David Faux, who is hosting a Slow Art Day event at the University Museums at Iowa State University.]

Slow Art Day: Tell us a little about yourself.

David: I am a recent graduate of Iowa State University with a B.S. in history and a minor in Native American studies. I’m a new interpretation specialist here and I am responsible for working with my colleagues to develop programing that will interest the fickle and ever-changing pool of 18-24 year old students that we have on campus.

Slow Art Day: And tell us about the distinctive history and collection of the University Museums at Iowa State University.

David: Iowa State University was the very first land grant college in the nation and today Iowa State has the largest collection of public works of art on any campus in the nation. This unparalleled collection of over 2,000 works includes two grand scaled murals by Grant Wood, 12 major sculpture installations by Christian Petersen during his 21 year residency, and nearly 600 other major works of art by nationally and internationally known artists.

Slow Art Day: Why did you choose to host Slow Art Day there?

David: Far too many students  walk to and from class with their heads down oblivious to their surroundings. Programs like Slow Art Day fit right in with our other programming efforts to get people to stop, look around, and engage with all of the wonderful objects that inhabit their learning environment.

Slow Art Day: What works are you going to be viewing?

David: We are going to be looking at some of our N.C. Wyeth painting from the artist’s America in the Making series. We are fortunate to have the complete set and we are going to be loaning the works out soon, so I am giving as many ‘last chance’ exposures to the work as possible. The works are are part of the New Deal era regional works, one of our most extensive collections.

Slow Art Day: Tell us about a work of art you like.

David: The other day I represented the University Museums in rededicating The History of Dairying mural located in the courtyard of our Food Sciences department. That mural was the very first that Christian Petersen painted/sculpted for the college (as part of the PWPA) and the fountain attached to the mural has been out of service for over 20 years.  That fountain plays a crucial role in the history of our art on campus legacy, but more importantly was an important part of a lot of past Iowa Staters’ lives and memories. To share in those memories and be a part of a new and exciting chapter of that sculpture’s role on campus was an extremely humbling moment for me.

Slow Art Day: Thank you, David. Good luck with Slow Art Day!

[Make sure to check out David’s Slow Art Day event at the University Museums at Iowa State University.]

Slow Art Day with Elizabeth Markevitch at ikonoTV, Berlin

[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 Elizabeth Markevitch, who is a global sponsor of Slow Art Day through her interesting company, ikonoTV, Berlin.]

Slow Art Day: Let’s start with a bit of background about yourself and ikonoTV. You are the founder, right?

Elizabeth: Yes, I founded ikono in 2006.

Slow Art Day: What was your founding vision?

ElizabethDuring my long-time experience in the art world, I became more and more aware of the necessity for exploring new ways of displaying art and opening it up to a broader audience. Art needs to be seen, and the joy of seeing and experiencing art should not be restricted to a small group of art professionals or collectors.

Slow Art Day: As you know, of course, we share that vision with you. How did you get from that vision to starting ikono?

ElizabethI explored different paths.  I cofounded in 1998 as the first online gallery at that time selling international contemporary art on a global scale. Then, some years later, the fundamental idea of making art internationally accessible found its final and strongest realization through ikono.

Slow Art Day: So why bring art to TV in this new way?

Elizabeth: I thought why not achieve for the arts with TV as radio has been achieving for music? Why not use this mass medium for bringing the entire world of arts into the homes of an international public? Over the past few years, we have established a wonderful collaboration between art historians, curators, and cameramen in working with artists and international art institutions. We are producing video clips about artworks from all time periods, movements and disciplines, highlighting single exhibitions as well as the most stunning collections and treasures of our cultural heritage.

Slow Art Day: Tell us more about how you ‘see’ art.

Elizabeth: The first encounter with art is a visual one – you just need your eyes for discovering and experiencing its richness and plurality. A certain knowledge or expertise is what comes in a second or even third step. ikono offers this very first meeting: we are building a visual bridge to the arts, encouraging you to trust your eyes, and to rely on what you see and feel.

Slow Art Day: How does this connect with your notion of time?

Elizabeth: We take the notion of time seriously by inviting you to dive into the artwork contemplatively and to become fascinated by its details. You will always discover things you have never seen or noticed before! We allow art to speak for itself, which is why we never add any sounds or narrative elements and why we avoid any interruptions from commentary or advertisement. However, in case you would like to know more, you can of course find all additional information and further links on our homepage.

Slow Art Day: You guys are planning something special for Slow Art Day – five video clips, each dedicated to a single artwork. Say more.

Elizabeth: We decided to dedicate the entire program for April 27th, 2013 to Slow Art Day. Our curators have selected some of our most beautiful video clips to be presented throughout the day: we will showcase Hans Holbein the Younger’s double portrait of The Ambassadors and the unexcelled depiction of The Tower of Babel, painted by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. We will present artworks of Caspar David Friedrich, the wonderful Eugene Delacroix, Vincent van Gogh, and the universal genius Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Viewers will also find contemporary examples, including the fascinating light installation of Kite & Laslett, our current Artists of the Month, and the Spatial Reflections series, a selection of artistic positions from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, curated by Charlotte Bank. I do not want to reveal too much before its presentation, so please feel cordially invited to tune in for discovering more!

Slow Art Day: Can people watch ikonoTV if they are not currently in your cable footprint?

Elizabeth: At the moment you must meet certain technical requirements to watch our HDTV program. While ikonoMENASA is broadcasted in the countries of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Southern Asia via satellite (ArabSat) or IPTV (du, Etisalat or Solidere IPTV Broadband Network), ikonoTV is on view in Germany and Italy via Telekom Entertain and Cubovision.

But we have very good news: In 2013 we will increase our international presence by also being on view in new countries throughout Europe. Furthermore, we have already started preparing our live web stream, which is to be launched within the upcoming months. From that very moment on, everyone around the world will be able to enjoy art and to contemplate it wherever they are-an amazing perspective! In June we will announce further details, so stop by our website or join our newsletter to stay posted. Also begin checking our blog right away, where you will find all further information about ikono’s support of Slow Art Day 2013!

Slow Art Day: Great – thanks for sponsoring Slow Art Day again this year.

[Make sure to tune into ikonoTV, Berlin, if you can!]

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:  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.]

Slow Art Day Interviews Sarah Bluvas of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Slow Art Day, recently spoke with Slow Art Day host Sarah Bluvas who works in the education department at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. The Nelson-Atkins has been a participating Slow Art Day venue for three years now, though this is Sarah’s first time as a host.

Slow Art Day: What are your thoughts about Slow Art Day?

Sarah Bluvas (SB): I think Slow Art Day is a phenomenal idea. I love the concept of just stopping and looking. One thing I’m curious about is the conversation aspect after the viewing time. I think it’s one thing to encourage people to come and look at a piece of artwork, but it’s a whole other challenge to get them to sit down and talk about it.

Slow Art Day: That’s a good question. We find that once people look at art slowly that they are bursting with enthusiasm to talk. We always tell hosts that they just need to be prepared to get out of the way because attendees – especially first-time museum goers and other novices – are very excited to talk.

SB: I’m glad to hear it. Not only do we want people to come to our programs, we also want them to be more active participants and encourage conversation. So for the discussion after the Slow looking event, I am really hoping that people will be willing to share their experience. Even if it’s as simple as them saying, “I liked that work” or “I didn’t like that work”, and why—I think it further achieves the purpose of art.

Slow Art Day:  So in other words, it solidifies the experience?

SB: Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, it’s about getting people to stop and look at art. But then for me, the question of “Why is it important, why do we want people to stop and look” is brought up.

Slow Art Day: Absolutely.

SB: I just think Slow Art Day is a great program to get people to stop and look at art and to think how it fits into their lives. I’m really excited to be a part of this movement!

Slow Art Day: Great. Shifting gears – have you chosen your artwork yet for Slow Art Day? If so, what are you thinking?

SB: We try to choose works from a variety of areas in the museum’s collection. I’m still trying to narrow down my choices for this year’s Slow Art Day, but I know there will be a nice mix of pieces. Some highlights will include Ritual Disc with Dragon Motifs (Bi), from our Chinese collection, and Memento # 5 by Kerry James Marshall, from our Modern + Contemporary collection. We also have the beautiful Kansas City Sculpture Park, so, depending on the weather, I would love to include a sculpture in the park and send people outside to look!

Slow Art Day: And, what is one of your favorite works of art?

SB: In the museum’s collection, I love all of our works by Thomas Hart Benton, a Kansas City-native and one of the three great artists of the Regionalism movement. However, my all-time favorite work of art is Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the reasons I like it so much is because of the idea of prolonged looking, actually! The narrative, or lack of a narrative, in Nighthawks is so complicated and fascinating to me. You can look at it for hours without really knowing what’s going on!

Slow Art Day: Finally, tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do – and why do you do it?

SB: I am the Coordinator for Public Programs at the Nelson-Atkins. I assist with planning, implementing and facilitating more than 120 public programs per year, mostly for adult and family audiences. I think museums are really important resources for the communities they are located in, but I also think museums can be a little intimidating for people. So I plan programs for and with the community to help the public realize that this is their museum and that they can find themselves here, too. It’s nothing to be scared of!

Public Art and Slow Art Day in Orlando

[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 Terry Olson, host of Orlando Public Art Slow Art Day.]

Slow Art Day: Tell us about yourself, Terry.

Terry Olson: I’m the Director of Arts & Cultural Affairs for Orange County Florida – which includes Orlando and a dozen other municipalities, Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, Sea World, etc.  I call myself an “arts instigator.”  I’m out at arts events all the time and oversee funding, public art and our Arts Learning for Life program.  I love bringing people together for new experiences and for building relationships.

Slow Art Day: Tell us a bit more about Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs. It sounds like a government agency that’s doing a great job.

Terry Olson: Twelve years ago Orange County decided to take a pro-active approach to supporting arts and culture befitting our world class community.  Our office administers the County’s investment in the arts through several different review programs (general operating, cultural tourism, facilities).

Slow Art Day: And you seem to be quite passionate about public art. Public art does remove the intimidation that some people feel when entering a museum – something we are trying to counteract with Slow Art Day.

Terry Olson: Although my background was in the theatre, I have concentrated more on the visual arts and especially public art since we formed this office.  I love to be out in various communities and love to be delighted by some art or other aesthetic feature in a public space.  I have become the president of the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals.  I’ve always been a “populist” kind of guy, and Public Art is probably the easiest entry point for appreciation of art for many people.

Slow Art Day: How did you hear about Slow Art Day?

Terry Olson: One of the FAPAP Board members suggested that we all host a Slow Art Day related to public art in our city.

Slow Art Day: You have been promoting Slow Art Day to other public arts professionals. Why?

Terry Olson: I sent a notice to all the public arts professionals in our state because I think it would be very exciting if public art were being looked at this way all over the state.

Slow Art Day: Tell us about the design of your Slow Art Day event there in Orlando.

Terry Olson: There about 10 sculptures, murals, and media installations within a few blocks of the restaurant where our Slow Art Day will take place.  I can provide a map so that people can spend time that morning walking to any/all of those sculptures and taking time to really look at them.  I also have an exercise about “How to Look At Art” that is a series of 5 questions.  It is best to do that while the person is looking at the art, but it might be interesting to explore those questions after people have looked at the art and met at the restaurant, answering from memory.

Slow Art Day: That sounds like a great design. You have been really thoughtful about what people need – including a map.  Tell us in your “How to Look at Art” exercise – what are the five questions you are asking people to consider?

Terry Olson: First, just stand/sit quietly – and I mean without your mind whirring – and let the art make an emotional impression on you. What feeling do you have (not related to intellectual analysis or cognizant of content, but of the more subjective overall feeling)? Second, describe what it actually is – dimensions, materials, i.e. a 4’X4’ canvas with acrylic paint applied in big globs and bits of organic matter stuck into it. Third, now, finally, you can describe what it “depicts”. Even if it is abstract you can talk about what shapes you see and any associations that it brings to mind. Fourthly, describe how your eye moves about the space. Does the composition bring you around in a circle, or are there lines, triangles, divisions, etc. Lastly, how does this relate to you and what you are thinking about or what you are going through in life? Does it bring up a theme or idea that resonates with you or with which you disagree?

Slow Art Day: Anything else we should have asked about?

Terry Olson: We might see if there could be some pop-up performances around the city that morning to add extra surprise to any participants.

If you’re going to be in the Orlando area, join Terry in his exciting Slow Art Day event.

Lisa Jameson on art education, Henri Matisse, and discovering Slow Art Day through google

[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.]

Lisa Jameson, an Associate Professor of Art Education in the Department of Visual Arts at Northern Kentucky University, recently signed up to host a Slow Art Day event at the Cincinnati Art Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. After she sent a great introductory note to the host community, we got in touch to find out more about her thoughts on art, art education and of course, Slow Art Day.

Slow Art Day: First, tell us a little more about what you do – how are you involved in the arts?

Lisa: I teach Art Education at Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati, OH. There I train future art educators and teach classes in art integration to Elementary Education majors who will be general classroom teachers. I am also a visual artist with an MFA in Drawing as well as a Certified Zentangle Teacher.

I taught children’s art classes for many years and continue to do so. It intrigues me that children are naturally curious and eager to delve into art making at least until they reach about 11. At that point they stop, either because their interests turn to other things, or because they become self critical.

Many of my Elementary Education students have not taken art since that age. And it has been through these non-art majors that I have learned how satisfying it is to enable adults who think they “can’t” make art re-discover the joys of the creative process. I hope in turn they will give their students the same opportunities.

Slow Art Day: What is one of your favorite artworks? What do you enjoy about it?

Lisa: One of my all-time favorites works of art is “The Red Studio” by Henri Matisse. There is something so engaging about how he plays with space, line and color-all enveloped in that gorgeous red.

Henri Matisse, The Red Studio, 1911. Oil on canvas, 71 1/4″ x 7′ 2 1/4″ (181 x 219.1 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. © 2013 Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Slow Art Day: How did you first hear of Slow Art Day?

Lisa: I found out about Slow Art Day by chance. I was thinking one day, out of the blue,  that there must be a “slow art” movement akin to the slow food movement. I did a Google search for “slow art” and found Slow Art Day! Very exciting!

Slow Art Day: Why did you decide to become a host?

Lisa: Cincinnati did not have anyone hosting, which surprised me. I signed up immediately. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of an international art event that encourages taking one’s time while viewing works of art and shares my passion for helping adults discover that they can relate to and understand (and make) art.

How often do we really get to be part of something like that?

Slow Art Day: Have you started thinking yet about the design of your Slow Art Day event?

Lisa: I have been thinking about it but have not yet made my choices. They will likely be some of the “hidden gems” vs. the “greatest hits” of the collection.

Slow Art Day: Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us – and for being one of 150+ volunteer hosts around the world.

If you’re in the Cincinnati area, make sure to check out her Slow Art Day event at the Cincinnati Art Museum.