Visitors to the Oakland Museum of California view Paul Kos' found-object mixed media installation, Just a Matter of Time
Ellisis's Series No. 3, by Chen Qiulin, from the Collection of Dale and Doug Anderson, is one of the pieces selected for San Jose Museum of Art's Slow Art Day
Participants at the Oakland Museum of California's Slow Art Day will be able to view both the front and back of Yun Gee's abstract piece San Francisco Chinatown
What started as a personal experiment—founder Phil Terry, studying Hans Hofmann’s Fantasia and Jackson Pollock’s Convergence at the Jewish Museum in NYC for hours on end—has become a worldwide movement. In essence, the challenge that Slow Art Day (Saturday, April 27) presents to its participants seems simple: study a work of art for at least 10 minutes, and then discuss the experience in a group. But those of us who buzzed through the entirety of the de Young Museum’s Girl with a Pearl Earring exhibition in under 15 minutes (no finger pointing here) understand that it’s harder than it sounds.
Since its official launch in 2010, Slow Art Day has spread to over 270 museums and galleries around the world, many of them in the Bay Area. Though each venue hosts the event differently, here’s a sneak peak of what to expect from three local museums:
Ponder power plant photography with the San Jose Museum of Art
Artist and museum docent Alayne Yellum believes that the goals of Slow Art Day dovetail with the San Jose Museum of Art’s mission to actively engage visitors. “[Slow Art Day] really fits in with our museum’s philosophy of spending quality time with art,” she says. Throughout her tour of three galleries, Yellum will use interactive touring techniques including object-oriented touring, which asks participants to consider the artwork, its cultural context, and their own initial reaction before passing judgment on a piece. Among the lineup, which includes work from Eric Fischl, Hans Sieverding, and Tian Taiquan, is a film still by Chinese photographer Chen Qiulin called Ellisis's Series No. 3, which depicts an artistic performance in front of a power plant in China. “People really come away with an understanding of the piece, she says, “getting messages and symbolism out of it that they would never get with a quick look.” 11 AM to 2 PM, 110 South Market Street, sjmusart.org
Go Cuckoo at the Oakland Museum of California
The Oakland Museum of California plans to guide Slow Art Day guests through selected pieces from its Gallery of California Art. Social Media Coordinator Robert Fahey has chosen works that are multidimensional, steeped in historical significance, and sometimes a little zany. For instance, Paul Kos’ Just a Matter of Time is a found-object mixed media installation of cuckoo clocks, each set to chime at a different time. To Fahey, it evokes childhood memories at his grandparents’ cabin, as well as Cold War associations from the clocks’ most curious feature, its hammer and sickle counterweights.
All of the pieces here are displayed in a manner that fosters contemplative thought. The piece San Francisco Chinatown, by Yun Gee, for example, allows visitors to view the back of the painting, a perspective only registrars and conservationists are typically privy to.
Lightweight gallery seats outfitted with handles will allow visitors to plop down in front of any work they choose. 11 AM to 1 PM, 1000 Oak Street, museumca.org
Twitter Hacks and Dystopian Models at the SFMOMA
The SFMOMA has not only asked frequent contributors to its Open Space blog to act as hosts for Slow Art Day, but it has also allowed artists to hack into its Twitter account, which has over 390,000 followers, to help advertise the event. Tess Thackara is one of three hosts who will lead groups in contemplative study, emphasizing contrasts between similar styles of art. For example, “How does spending ten minutes in front of a Rothko compare to the experience in front of a Philip Guston?” she asks. Her selected pieces include New Work, a two-room installation of video, sound and photography by Trisha Donnelly, as well a “dystopian looking” Lebbeus Woods model.
In particular, there is one common practice among art viewers that Thackara will encourage participants to avoid: “I think most have a very instinctual inclination to look for information on a museum wall… before exploring [the art] with your own eyes,” she says. “I want to encourage members of the group to have confidence in their own responses.” 1 PM to 5 PM, 151 Third St., sfmoma.org
Slow Art Day is Saturday, April 27. Visit slowartday.com to register and find out more information on these and other Slow Art Day events located throughout the Bay Area.