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!

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

15-site Citywide Slow Art Day in Illinois!

As many of you get ready for Slow Art Day 2023, we wanted to share this exciting news: the Bloomington-Normal, Illinois art community currently has *15* locations signed up for their citywide Slow Art Day 2023.

Located on the historic Route 66, these Bloomington artists and galleries are banding together to make Slow Art Day a full citywide celebration of art (and they designed a great poster, as you can see below).

Poster courtesy of Santino Lamancusa

Pamala Eaton of Eaton Studio Gallery started Slow Art Day in Bloomington several years ago.

This year Pamala’s colleagues, photographer Santino Lamancusa, owner of the The Hangar Art Gallery, and Janean Baird from Art Vortex, have met regularly to encourage and include other artists and galleries to join the now 15-site citywide, including:

410 Sculpture Park
Angel Ambrose Fine Art Studio
Art Vortex Studio & Gallery
Three Square Art Studio
Mandy Roeing Fine Art
Inside Out: Accessible Art
Eaton Studio Gallery
Illinois Art Station
The Hangar Art Company
The House on Garling
Joann Goetzinger Studio Gallery
Main Gallery 404
McLean County Museum of History
McLean County Arts Center
BCAI Cultural Center

Wow!

They are so well-organized in Bloomington that they are even discussing plans to coordinate a *statewide* Slow Art Day in future years.

We can’t wait to see what they do this year *and* in the future.

Have a great Slow Art Day, everyone!

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

P.S. If you want to send us advance details about your Slow Art Day 2023 plans, then please do and we may be able to feature you in a post like this.

Stop and Smell the Roses: Slow Art Drive-By at Eaton Gallery

For their second Slow Art Day, The Eaton Gallery in Bloomington, Illinois, organized a “drive-by” exhibit in the Gallery’s window display, inviting the local community to slow down and enjoy floral still-life paintings by local artist Herb Eaton. 

Herb Eaton, Still Life with Grace. 3ft x 4 ft, oil on canvas.
Herb Eaton, Single Petal of a Rose. 24×18 oil on canvas board.

Pamela Eaton, Gallery owner, aims to make art more accessible in a relaxed setting, and provide a space to support local artists.

From the 10th to the 30th of April, the Gallery created a drive-by window exhibit for viewers to pause and look slowly at a selection of artworks. They were then invited to share their thoughts and reflections in a variety of ways: write a note and drop it in the Gallery’s mail slot, send an email, or leave a post on the Gallery’s Facebook page.

The exhibit got great press coverage from local news outlets, both last year and this year. An article by week.com includes a video interview with Pamela Eaton, where she explains that Slow Art Day is an opportunity for people to simultaneously develop an appreciation for art and local artists.

“We are so busy hurrying around. When you slow down and pay attention to your space and place you start to see more value in them. That’s probably one of the values of COVID, it’s slowed us all down.”

Pamela Eaton

Eaton Gallery’s press release

The Eaton Gallery received a lot of great feedback from participants:

Kind of makes you think of the beauty of life and the changes through the years. The petals are beautiful but life happens and the years change us, but the beauty still remains in our memories.

Viewer’s quote

I drove by today, slowly passing by in my car to admire A Single Petal of a Rose which I love more and more each time I see it.

Viewer’s quote

Walked by Saturday to enjoy the paintings in your window… peaceful and full of color.

Viewer’s quote



Looking forward to coming inside and seeing more of the art and the space.

Viewer’s quote



Beautiful work.

Viewer’s quote



Brightened up my walk downtown.

Viewer’s quote



The Eaton Gallery’s creative drive-by solution to sharing art with the local community during Covid19 has helped viewers and participants slow down and feel connected. At Slow Art Day HQ, we agree with Pamala Eaton: “When you slow down and pay attention to your space and place you start to see more value in them.”

We look forward to Eaton Gallery’s Slow Art Day in 2022.



Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl



The Eaton Gallery Hosts Slow Art Day Drive-By Exhibition

For its 1st Slow Art Day, The Eaton Gallery in Bloomington, IL, organized a creative drive-by exhibition of “The Illuminated Pages of Ours.”

Due to Covid19, gallery owner Pamala Eaton moved the scheduled exhibition to the gallery’s window display so that it could be seen by pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone happening to drive by without violating social distancing measures.

Visitor pausing to view the drive-by exhibition at The Eaton Gallery.
Image: Jane Osborn

Featuring contemporary works by 11 local artists, the exhibition was themed around references to the history of manuscript illumination. Strongly inspired by the illuminations in The Book of Kells (c. 800 C.E.), Eaton invited local artists to creatively use medieval manuscripts as inspiration for their own work in the exhibition.

Featured artists: Mary Jo Adam, Angel Ambrose, Janean Baird, Jeannie Breitweiser, Doug DeLong/Veronica Strotzka, Herb Eaton, Joann Goetzinger, Rick Harney, Jane Osborn, Melanie Shellito, and Brian Simpson/Rachel Cofer.

Although originally planned as an in-gallery event, Eaton was delighted that the exhibition was still able to take place through the window-display; which enabled even more people to see it. The gallery also recently hosted another drive-by exhibition due to continued lockdown measures.

The manuscript exhibition was on display between April 1-20 and was widely publicized with mentions in VisitBN and The Pantagraph. The Datebook program at WGLT also hosted an interview with Eaton about the event.

“We have so many talented artists in this community. We need to celebrate what those gifts are and be willing to share them. Even in this time of stress, it’s a good way to take your mind off of something and try to find some hope and faith and move forward.”

PAMALA EATON
INTERVIEW WITH THE DATEBOOK PROGRAM

The Slow Art Day HQ team has loved reading about the Eaton Gallery event. I especially appreciate the strong emphasis on the local artist community. It reminds us how important art can be in fostering connection, perhaps especially during times such as the present.

We look forward to Slow Art Day 2021, when we hope The Eaton Gallery will participate with another wonderful event.

– Johanna

Youth Lead Art Institute of Chicago’s Third Slow Art Day

The Art Institute of Chicago had a stellar third Slow Art Day, with 377 visitors of all ages participating in a three hour event designed and led by *13* teenagers.

Statue of a Young Satyr Wearing a Theater Mask of Silenos, ca. 1st century CE. Anonymous sculptor, with 1628 restorations by Alessandro Algardi

The teen guides selected 6 artworks to feature from across the museum’s broad collection. With support from the museum’s staff, they generated conversation starters with participants, posed open-ended questions, and employed strategies to keep visitors engaged throughout the experience.

 Frans Snyder, Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits, and Vegetables in a Market 1614
Glenn Ligon, Stranger in the Village #13

We often hear that slow looking is not for young people – they don’t have the time or attention. They are digital natives and not interested in real space. But many Slow Art Day museums have successfully run programs with teenagers and kids as young as four or five years old, and with this event, the Art Institute of Chicago proves yet again that art is – and must be – for everyone.

We look forward to seeing what the Art Institute comes up with for Slow Art Day 2020.

– Ashley