Slow Art Day Bikeride to Sarehole Mill

To celebrate Slow Art Day 2021 when museums were locked down in England, artist Jo Essen, based in Birmingham, UK, organized a slow looking bike ride to Sarehole Mill.

The historical mill, today a museum and bakery, is well-known for its connection with J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He once lived across the road from the Mill, and it inspired his writings about Middle-earth.

Picture from the surroundings of Birmingham. Photo credits: Jo Essen.
Picture of nature. Photo credits: Jo Essen.

Essen shared an online video from the bike ride, and encouraged others in the pandemic lockdown to get out and do some slow looking. “It was wonderful to be involved in slow looking even when we were not able to visit museums,” said Jo Essen.

So, while the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Norton Simon Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and many other large museums ran virtual (or in-person events), and while a number of smaller museums and galleries also ran Slow Art Day sessions, 2021 also included Jo Essen and her family looking slowly at nature and architecture.

Love that!

This report is a fitting final post for 2021, especially as we and the world struggle through yet another wave of the coronavirus. (Note: you can read all of our 2021 published reports, or wait for our 2021 annual report to be published in February of 2022.)

We hope you have a wonderful new year wherever you are in the world. And perhaps take some inspiration from Essen and go out and do some slow looking at nature, architecture, public art, or in museums and galleries, if they are open in your area.

Stay safe and healthy and get ready for yet another year of building the slow looking movement.

With love,

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

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



Spring in the Air at Frye Art Museum

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Frye Art Museum, in Seattle, Washington, partnered with King County Library System and invited participants to a virtual artwork discussion on the theme of spring.

Visitors at Frye’s museum. Photo credit: Devon Simpson

The session was led by Caroline Byrd, Education Coordinator at the Frye Museum. Visitors joining the event on April 10 were invited to focus on two artworks:

  • An untitled oil painting by Norwegian artist Hans Dahl (1849-1937)
  • Clouds and Windblown Hay by Charles Burchfield (1863-1967).

You can view videos featuring discussion of both artworks on the Museum’s Frye From Home blog:

Hans Dahl. Untitled. 1883-1915. Oil on canvas. 65.41 x 49.53 cm. Photo Credit: Mark Woods. Courtesy of Frye Art Museum
Charles Burchfield. Clouds and Windblown Hay. 1954-64. Watercolor on paper.101.6 x 76.2 cm.
Photo Credit: Jueqian Fang. Courtesy of Frye Art Museum

The theme of spring was highlighted in two senses: through the season itself, portrayed in the paintings, and the concept of fresh beginnings.

Combining prompts for close looking and conversation, the discussion was designed to create a personal connection with the artworks while building a community among participants. Using the prompts, participants uncovered visual clues and provided their own ideas and insights to the discussion. Those that did not feel comfortable joining the group discussion were encouraged to write down or sketch their responses.

Participants were invited to continue exploring the artworks by visiting the Frye’s online collection database or by diving into a reading list provided by the King County Library System.

The event was attended by 25 participants, ranging in age from teens to older adults. Their feedback was positive.

The class was interesting and enriching. It challenged me to look at the art in different ways. Appreciated the opportunity for people to share their thoughts and observations. What a great mental and visual break!! Thank you!” –

Program Participant

Caroline Byrd also found the event rewarding. We include her reflection on the event below.

Even I, as the facilitator, found new perspectives I had never thought about before! Thank you, as always, for allowing the Frye to be part of global Slow Art Day! Especially in these uncertain times, we look forward to the opportunity to slow down, look closely, and spend some time with a work of art.

Caroline Byrd, Education Coordinator, Frye Art Museum

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the enthusiasm for slow looking that shows in every aspect of the event organized by Caroline Byrd. We want to thank Caroline and the Frye for being once again part of our global event and we are already excited about seeing what they come up with for 2022.

-Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Forest Bathing + Mindfulness at MASS MoCA

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the MASS MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), in North Adams, Massachusetts, produced a self-guide leaflet for in-person visitors and organized a virtual event for participants at home.

For visitors to MASS MoCA on April 10th, the museum offered a Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary that challenged visitors to take an unhurried look at MASS MoCA’s exhibitions.

Slow Art Day Self-Guided Itinerary

Before starting their tour, visitors were invited to try a “forest bath” outside the museum. Below are the guidelines from the leaflet:

“Start your slow experience by putting your phone away; plan on going back through the museum after this tour to take photos. Settle into being at the museum by taking in a few deep breaths. As you do so, observe any tensions in your body and release them. Put on hold any distracting thoughts like ‘I have to see everything!’ or ‘What is this place?’ Next, take a few moments to engage in a forest bath to increase relaxation and awareness.

First, take 3–4 deep breaths in/out.

Stand noticing your feet touching the ground.

Look up to enjoy the sky; feel the light on your face.

Walk around slowly and take notice of the ground.

Notice the trees above, then the trees in the distance.

Notice and feel sunlight streaming through the trees and take in the smell.

If you are feeling ambitious, take a moment to move your body to mimic the
trees above. What would it be like to contort yourself the way these trees have changed to grow upside down? (One option could be to try the yoga tree and mountain poses).”

The leaflet featured five artworks from the museum, each accompanied by slow looking prompts:

1. TREE LOGIC. Natalie Jeremijenko.

2. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Blane De St. Croix.

3. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Glenn Kaino.

4. DISSOLVE James Turrell.

5. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Julianne Swartz.

After completing the tour, participants were encouraged to discuss their observations with friends and family, especially if visiting in a group.

RS28530_PH6A2242-lpr
Natalie Jeremijenko, Tree Logic, 1999. 6 flame maple trees, 8 35 feet telephone poles, stainless steel planters and armature, aircraft table and drip irrigation system, photo: Zoran Orlic. Courtesy of MASS MoCA
Blane De St. Croix. HOW TO MOVE A LANDSCAPE. Building 4, 1st floor. Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Glenn Kaino. IN THE LIGHT OF A SHADOW. Building 5.
Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
James Turrell. DISSOLVE. Building 6, 2nd floor. Courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Julianne Swartz. IN HARMONICITY, THE TONAL WALKWAY. Building 10, 2nd floor.

For the online event, the museum launched virtual material as part of “MASS MoCA From Home.” Resources included two art “how-to” videos, featuring projects that focused on being present with the art-making process. Watch the videos below and try the projects for yourself.

Slow virtual Art-making video: Paper Pulp Clay. This project is inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ Untitled.
Slow virtual Art-making video: Frozen Watercolors. This project is inspired by James Turrell’s Dissolve.

As the final part of the program, MASS MoCA also produced a guided meditation that focused on the painting ‘Indian Summer – Four Seasons‘ by Wendy Red Star. Watch it below.

SLOW LOOKING MEDITATION video with Wendy Red Star’s Indian Summer – Four Seasons

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love the way MASS MoCA incorporated nature and mindfulness in their event for both onsite and offsite participants – giving everyone an opportunity to slow down in different ways.

We are excited for their 5th Slow Art Day in 2022!

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley, and Phyl

Marionettes and More at Ur Mara Museoa

For their 7th annual event, Ur Mara Museoa in Alkiza, Spain — which always creates one of the most innovative Slow Art Day extravaganzas in the world — invited local and international artists and performers to present art on the theme of nature and sustainability.

Ur Mara Museoa. Courtesy of the museum

Their 2021 Slow Art Day featured performances and presentations by:

  • Painters Idoia Iturri, Diana Vasina and Bea Gonzalez Rojo,
  • Maria Giró Coll, a Catalan artist and cultural mediator, presented a sculpture by Jose Perez Ocaña, a Spanish artist who visited Alkiza in 1983
  • Marionette artist Corrado Massaci (watch some of it in the video below)

The artists observed each other’s work, and shared opinions and reflections with the participants.

Below we provide photographs, details and videos about each of the performances, starting with the painter Idoia Iturri.

Idoia Iturri presented four art works, all created in 2021. Three of them form a trilogy named Pandemiaren Trilogia (Pandemic Trilogy). Haurtzaroa (Childhood), Maskara (Mask) and Duintasuna (Dignity). The fourth artwork is named Bizipoza (Joy of Life).

Idoia Iturri, (Pandemic Trilogy). Haurtzaroa (Childhood), Maskara (Mask) and Duintasuna (Dignity), 2021.
Participant viewing Idoia Iturri’s Duintasuna (Dignity), 2021.

Diana Vasina presented four artworks created during the pandemic year, 2020-2021:

  • Mirate Ojo (pantalla)
  • MOVIMIENTO INTERMINABLE
  • Densidad
  • BIDEAN DENEAN BIDAIA
Diana Vasina, Mirate Ojo.
Diana Vasina, MOVIMIENTO INTERMINABLE
Diana Vasina, Desidad.

Beatriz González presented three art works from her TFG (final master’s thesis):

  • ‘Abuhero’
  • ‘Ehpurriajas’
  • ‘Lombo’
Beatriz González, Lombo, 2017.

Maria Giró Coll, a Catalan artist and cultural mediator, presented a sculpture by Jose Perez Ocaña, a Spanish artist who visited Alkiza in 1983.

Jose Perez Ocaña, Luna, 1984, presented by Maria Giró Coll during the Slow Art Day event at Ur Mara Museoa.

Following the event, Ur Mara Museoa created a 50-second video showing sequences of art pieces and marionettes, as well as museum curators, artists, performers, and visitors interacting with one another (all at a safe distance and wearing face masks). We love the spirit and warmth that Ur Mara Museoa always brings to their daylong Slow Art Day festival.

Video “Ur Mara Museoa 2021 Slow Art Day” 10 april, 2021.

35 people attended the event, which was promoted both on the museum’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. They received many likes on their IG posts. Read (in Basque) a great article about the event by the local newspaper.

Again, we at Slow Art Day HQ always look forward to what Ur Mara Museoa produces, and we hope to finally visit the museum next year, when we plan a European summer tour of Slow Art Day sites.

And we can’t wait to see what Ur Mara Museoa comes up with for 2022.

Johanna, Jessica, Ashley and Phyl

5-in-1 at Albany Institute’s First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day, the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY, hosted five interconnected virtual events:

  • Social media slow looking activity
  • Word clouds from the virtual activity
  • Slow panning video
  • Wellness workshop
  • A “look & learn” for families

On April 10, the museum started their Slow Art Day by sharing three artworks to Instagram.

Viewers were asked to respond with one-word descriptions of the images, which the museum turned into word clouds to illustrate the feelings evoked. “Breezy”, “depth” and “freedom” were frequent responses.

The museum also produced a slow looking video that features the sculpture “The Fist” by Alice Morgan Wright. Viewers were encouraged to find a quiet space, silence their technology, take a few deep breaths, and observe the sculpture for one minute in silence. The video slowly circles the sculpture, allowing viewers to see it from every angle. At the end of the minute, the video moderator guides participants through thought provoking questions about the sculpture. View the video below and try this slow-looking activity for yourself.

Slow looking video of Alice Morgan Wright, ‘The Fist’, 1921. Video produced by The Albany Insitute of History and Art.

For the Zoom-based wellness workshop ‘Making Meaning: Meditating on Artwork as Wellness’, participants were guided through an hour of exploring, viewing, and discussing works of art with licensed art therapist Chloe Hayward. They were also invited to share an object from their personal space as a vehicle for connecting to the artworks. The session ended with a guided meditation.

People responded positively to the digital events hosted by the Albany Institute, with one participant calling them “invaluable at this time”. Victoria Waldron, Education Assistant at the Albany Institute, said the Albany Institute’s first Slow Art Day program was a success, with 60+ combined participant and social media interactions.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we love that the Albany Institute of History and Art chose to host five connected events for their first Slow Art Day, and are already excited to see what they plan for Slow Art Day 2022.

– Johanna, Jessica, Ashley