Slow Art Day: Sharing Impressions

Arthur G. Dove. Red Sun, 1935. Oil on canvas; 20 1/4 x 28 in. The Phillips Collection

Last weekend, a group celebrated Slow Art Day at The Phillips Collection. It was a new experience for all of us, and it led to fun questions and insights, sometimes about pieces many of us had breezed by before.

Here’s how it worked: Alex Pergament and I were the hosts, so we chose nine artworks and marked them on a map. Participants visited each piece in small groups or on our own, in whatever order we felt like. The only rule was that we were to spend five to ten minutes with each piece.

I thought that would feel too long, but once I settled in and started looking at a piece and talking it over, the time flew by. We spent ten minutes with The Road Menders by Van Gogh before we knew it. And we had to hurry away from As Time Goes By by Hodgkin to be on time for lunch.

Over lunch, everyone was curious about how Alex and I chose the artworks. We had a great time with this process. We wanted a variety of pieces that would represent the museum well. We wanted simple and complex, big and small, well-known and not. Alex wanted to include works in the old building. And we wanted pieces that would reward time spent. For example, I love The Artist’s Studio by Raoul Dufy, but it just didn’t engage us over several minutes the way others did.

It was also fascinating to hear people’s reactions. It was like a book group for art — we came away with questions, reactions, and observations and got to talk it all over with other people who had intently studied the same pieces. Everything was fresh in our minds so we could compare impressions. For example, one person like Red Hills by Georgia O’Keeffe best from several feet away, where you couldn’t see the brush strokes, just smoothness. But another person liked the roughness that was visible only from up close.

If you’d like to have your own slow art experience, here’s the map of our selections. Feel free to print it out, and enjoy the pieces slowly. Allow at least an hour and a half so you won’t feel rushed, and please tell us here how it went.

You can also host your own Slow Art Day event next year — all hosts are volunteers, and I’d love to see what you choose to focus on during another Slow Art Day at The Phillips Collection!

Kira Marchenese, Guest blogger and co-host of Slow Art day at The Phillips Collection

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