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.]

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.

Slow Art on the Streets

I loved this interview with Adam Niklewicz, by Two Coats of Paint writer Joe Bun Keo, about Niklewicz’ latest mural on an out-of-the-way wall in Hartford, Connecticut.

I particularly liked the exchange between Joe Bun Keo and Nicklewicz regarding the relatively obscure location of the mural.

Keo notes that without billboard lights “[y]ou’d have to be a little more observant than usual…to notice [Niklewicz’s mural].” And Niklewicz responds that he doesn’t think it’s a problem – that, in fact, “public art is not an advertising campaign.”

Agreed. Public art, or art of any kind, is not advertising. And, unlike advertising, it’s worth spending the time to really see it – rather than quickly look and move on.

I hope some Slow Art Day readers get a chance to go look at some of this new public art in Connecticut. The state has spent $1 million to commission murals in multiple cities.

– Naomi Kuo, Slow Art Day intern; edited by Phil Terry