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

National Gallery of Canada Hosts First Slow Art Day

The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, one of the largest museums in North America, hosted its first Slow Art Day in 2023, with a simple design: participants were invited to look slowly at art in two rooms of the gallery before discussing their experiences together.

Slow Art Day poster. National Gallery of Canada
Slow Art Day participants at the National Gallery of Canada, 2023. Featured artworks: Kazuo Nakamura, Landscape, Spring, 1959. Oil on masonite, 93.6 x 121.5 cm; Kazuo Nakamura, August, Morning Reflections, 1961. Oil on canvas, 93.7 x 121.5 cm. Both paintings are located at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Respectively purchased in 1960 and 1961. Photos: NGC

On April 15, educator Andrea Gumpert and interpreter Valérie Mercier greeted English and French speaking participants in the Great Hall. After a quick grounding exercise and a collective slow looking warm up, participants were taken to two different galleries for their slow looking. They were given a few prompts to keep in mind during each session, including choosing to read or ignore the artwork labels.

Participants were first invited to select a piece in a gallery with only figurative works (Indigenous and Canadian Galleries – A110). They spent 10 minutes looking at their chosen artworks before sharing thoughts.

This was repeated for 15 minutes in a different gallery with a variety of figurative and abstract paintings
and Inuit sculptures (Indigenous and Canadian Galleries – A112). After the second session, participants compared experiences from each gallery.

In the sharing sessions, participants remarked that their impressions of the works grew more nuanced as they spent time with them. Some found themselves asking questions about painting techniques or of the artist’s life. Two participants in the French speaking group requested to spend time with Riopelle’s Pavane, and enjoyed the exchange so much that they decided to lunch together afterwards despite not knowing each other beforehand.

In addition to the public group experience, the Gallery also suggested that participants participate on their own or watch the guided slow look of Rembrandt’s Heroine via a video produced by the museum. Several people on social media commented positively about Slow Art Day, and others wrote to the Gallery asking if the exercise would be repeated. A few staff also suggested the approach be offered on an ongoing basis.

The slow looking event was first tested in staff sessions at the Gallery in March prior to the public event in April. Andrea and Valérie ran the program with staff to 1) offer a team building exercise, and 2) test their approach and work out any kinks ahead of the public program. The staff loved it and later answered a survey, including this note from Dina Groulx, Corporate Relations Officer:


I genuinely enjoyed every minute of the tour […]. What a treat it was for me to have experienced that.
As a remote employee, it felt very impactful. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up, but I
was so glad to have invested time out of my day for myself. I also thought of how lucky I was as an
employee to have had access to the quietness of the space (most of the time) and I realized that as
the pilot took place on Monday, it created a calm retreat experience. It was so nice to go through that
experience with colleagues outside of my regular work and made connections with them and with the
art in a way that I had never experienced before.

Dina Groulx, Corporate Relations Officer

Taking inspiration from the National Gallery of Canada, we strongly recommend that other museums and galleries imitate what they have done and run slow looking sessions with their staff.

Note that the National Gallery of Canada also ran an effective marketing campaign. Their Slow Art Day event was featured in an article by Chelsea Osmond in the National Gallery of Canada Magazine and advertised on local radio stations. The Gallery also promoted the event via social media posts and in their monthly newsletter.

We are so glad the National Gallery of Canada has joined the Slow Art Day movement, and we look forward to the creative design they come up with for 2024.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

P.S. Take a look at these concluding remarks from educator Andrea Gumpert:


“Participation in the Slow Art Day requires little preparation, links the Gallery to a broader global movement and aligns directly with the Strategic Plan. The approach also benefits visitors by reported reduction in stress levels, improved concentration levels and a better ability to foster empathy. As the participants in the Gallery’s Slow Art Day expressed, slow and careful looking helps to unravel complexity, build connections and see things from multiple perspectives. Finally, since slow looking is inclusive: everyone can take part and no prior knowledge is required. For those who want to practice slow looking with art, no art historical knowledge is required giving confidence in one’s own abilities to visit a museum and to understand works of art for oneself. The Gallery is ideally placed to continue the annual Slow Art Day event and might consider further opportunities to host slow looking programs for the public as well as the staff.”

Andrea Gumpert, educator at the National Gallery of Canada

Small Town Embraces Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, Ellie Harold Studio and Gallery in Frankfort, Michigan, a small town of 1,500, hosted a slow looking event from 12 – 4 pm in her home-based venue. One of the things we love about Slow Art Day is that it happens in national museums, regional museums, movie theaters, and even local home-based galleries.

On April 15, Ellie Harold displayed a variety of paintings from her private collection, one large painting of her own, and a sculpture.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

Photo courtesy of Carol Lautenbach.

The whole town embraced this first Slow Art Day in Frankfort. Not only did a large group of people come out to view the Slow Art Day, but the local paper, Benzie County Record Patriot, also ran a substantial article.

For the event itself, the gallery handed each participant a sheet with suggestions for slow looking and a blank space and pen for writing down notes:

SUGGESTIONS FOR SLOW LOOKING

  • Gaze at a spot and let it reveal itself to you.
  • How do the colors make you feel?
  • Look at details.
  • Follow a path through the painting with your eyes.
  • Find different textures in the painting.
  • What comes forward and what recedes?
  • Does the painting take you up, down, or all around?
  • Look for rhythm or pattern.
  • Where in the painting do your eyes want to rest?
  • Does the painting have a message for you?
  • What else do you notice?

Most participants took 45 minutes to 1 hour to look at the pieces. Since the event took place in Ellie’s home, there was more artwork on display than what was selected specifically for the event, and some visitors chose to look slowly at those as well. During the event, Ellie walked around and discussed the experience with participants. She also later published a blog post: “Slow Art Day: Taking Time to Gaze.”

“Everyone reported having a positive experience and said that the exercise would change how they view art in museums going forward.”

Ellie Harold, Gallery and Studio owner

As we noted, we are always happy to see Slow Art Day being embraced by towns and institutions of all sizes and scale around the world. We welcome Ellie Harold Studio and Gallery to the Slow Art Day community, and look forward to their event next year, which will expand to include several artists.

-Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Phyl

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 Down, Live Long, and Live Well at the Sociedade Das Artes in Serra Negra, Brazil

For their third year, the Sociedade Das Artes in Serra Negra, Brazil held a hybrid Slow Art Week, hosted by artist Henrique Vieira Filho. The Sociedade Das Artes features works by contemporary artists, along with artistic services and products.

Exploring the theme of “Slow Down, Live Long, and Live Well,” the gallery allowed for four visitors at a time and each visitor chose which works of art they wanted to appreciate slowly (note: the gallery asked that visitors RSVP ahead of their visit to secure a time to attend).

Visitors in the gallery space.

Henrique Vieira Filho wrote, as part of the day, “Living at a fast pace certainly has a certain charm (“live fast, die young”), however, I think the alternative is much more interesting: slow down, live a lot, and live well! The Slow Art Movement advocates the experience of time with greater QUALITY for everything and everyone.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Online advertisement
Henrique Vieira Filho holding a copy of O Serrano with an article about Slow Art.

The event was advertised online (see above) and there was also an article written in the local press (also see above).

Visit Google Drive or Facebook to view a video that was created to allow people to explore the exhibit virtually.

We love their focus for 2022 and look forward to seeing what they come up with for next year.

Best,

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

P.S. The Sociedade Das Artes can be found on Instagram and Facebook.

A Focus on Beauty at Northern Lights Gallery

For their second Slow Art Day, Northern Lights Gallery, based in Melfort, Canada and hosted by Sandra Dancy, focused on beauty as a temporary escape. Seven artists from Melfort – a city of about 6,000 in central Saskatchewan – offered one piece of their work for slow looking.

Write Down to my Soul, Jen Kjelshus, Mixed media on paper
Untitled, Linsey Levendall, Acrylic on Cradleboard

The seven artists participating were Randi Lalonde, Jen Kjelsus, Linsey Levendall, Darwin McLeod, Julie Schmale and Kylie Severight.

Dancy’s vision for the Slow Art Day was simple: slow people down to enjoy beauty and use art as therapy in a difficult world.

She said:

Slow Art Day is the perfect way to focus on the artistic beauty that is everywhere and to briefly escape the many things going wrong in the world. It reinforces how therapeutic art is for the artists and the viewers.

Found and Free, Kylie Severight, Acrylic on Canvas
Interactive art with artist Linsey Levendall

The gallery’s event on Slow Art Day was a featured article in Northeast Now.

Northern Lights Gallery also produces slow looking events throughout the year including their mid-summer “Back Alley Tour,” which encourages participants to look slowly at the work-in-progress of local artists (as well as attend workshops and interactive art making experiences).

You can find Northern Lights Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

We can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year!

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

Inside Out Accessible Art’s First Slow Art Day

In what we hope is the beginning of a global trend, Bloomington, Illinois was home this year to the first planned citywide Slow Art Day event.

Nine galleries across this town, including the non-profit art collective Inside Out Accessible Art, Inc (IOAA), participated in what they called their Route 66 Slow Art Day initiative (Eaton, Illinois is situated on the historic Route 66 highway in the U.S.).

In addition to what IOAA and each of the other galleries did, the big win here of course is the way longtime host Pamala Eaton organized the first citywide Slow Art Day (see this earlier post and this local media coverage for more information).

The IOAA’s design for Slow Art Day was simple.

Visitors were invited to slowly look at the art of six local artists and then talk with each of the artists, who were invited to spend the day with slow lookers.

The six artists who participated were the following:

  • Peggy Dunlap (mixed media)

Photo credits: Shelley Schultz
Slow Art Day 2022 at IOAA. Photo credits: Shelley Schultz

At Slow Art Day HQ we look forward to publishing the reports from the other eight galleries, and to writing a wrap-up analysis of Bloomington’s citywide event, including what other cities might learn about doing something similar.

Of course, we also hope that the IOAA will host another Slow Art Day in 2023, and that next year’s event will be part of yet another citywide experience.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

Ps. The IOAA is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit that has a physical gallery space for artists, provides art classes and events and works cooperatively with others in the community to provide art experiences. Check them out online or Facebook.

Slow Looking & Mindfulness in Singapore

Singaporean gallery ARTualize participated in their 2nd Slow Art Day by offering their year-long Mindfulness with Paintings class for free on the day of the event, and throughout April. Sok Leng, museum instructor, guided participants to look mindfully and slowly at the painting “By the River Seine” by established Singapore artist Low Hai Hong. They then had a discussion about the feelings the painting conjured up.

“By the River Seine” by artist Low Hai Hong. Medium: Oil on Canvas. Year: 2001.

Photo credit: ARTualize.

“Looking at paintings slowly gave me a deeper appreciation of the painting and a better understanding of myself through the art.”

Michelle, Slow Art Day Participant

ARTualize’s Slow Art Day event was also featured on Singapore’s main news broadcast channel Chinese Mediacorp Channel 8 News a few weeks after the event, and was the first time Slow Art has been featured on Singapore TV.

You can watch the TV segment below.

Educators and curators may want to copy the simple design of their weekly 1.5 hour Mindfulness with Paintings sessions, which are held every Saturday throughout the year:

1 – Concept – Introduce mindfulness and basic mindfulness techniques. 

2 – Practice – Look at selected paintings slowly and mindfully (at least 1 minute for each painting). 

3 – Discussion – Reflect upon the experience and realize how different paintings (and for that matter, life in general) feel, when we are mindful and when we take our time to slowly savour.

When we originally launched Slow Art Day in 2010, we wanted, in part, to inspire museums to produce year-round slow looking programming – and that has happened. In fact, slow looking programming has become so mainstream that ARTualize began slow looking sessions *before* they later joined Slow Art Day. We love this development!

Check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

We also encourage you to look more at the work of artist Low Hai Hong, and read about his journey, including pioneering the painting of oil on Chinese rice paper.

Ashley and Phyl