Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slow Art Day April 28 at MAG in Rochester, NY


Over 94 locations all around the globe are joining together this Saturday, April 28 to participate in Slow Art Day with one goal: slow down and take more time to really look at art. I admit it, I’m guilty, I rush through  many art exhibitions, overstimulated and overwhelmed in trying to take it all in.

The founder of Slow Art Day observed the same and decided to create an event that would encourage all of us to approach art with a slower, more contemplative mindset. A simple idea with incredibly rewarding results!

In Rochester, the Arena Art Group and Memorial Art Gallery are partnering to host the first Slow Art Day event in our area. Two of our Arena Art Group member artists, Liz Durand and Sid Roepke, will be on hand to facilitate observation and appreciation of five works in the gallery’s collection.

Three of us did a slow walk-through yesterday to chat about the works we had selected for viewing and the more we looked, the more we began to see in each painting. From the formal aspects of composition to questions of narrative and emotional tenor, the more time we spent looking and discussing, the greater our appreciation and connection grew to each work.

Alone, I might have spent two minutes with each of these works, but as the three of us discussed and shared our observations, I gathered more and more information and insight into each one.

We’re starting with more representational works and then moving to abstract:


Night Before the Battle, 1865 by John Henry Beard. This representational painting has a strong narrative. A cloaked skeletal form sits quietly gazing out over the rampart, his hands resting on the cannon while the first hints of dawn appear over the far horizon and a small group of soldiers lie sleeping, waiting for the battle to begin.


Jonas Lie, Morning on the River, circa 1911-12. Moody, atmospheric, the raw chill of a winter morning is palpable in this artist’s perspective of the Brooklyn Bridge on a cold, wintry morning.


John Koch, Interlude, 1963. This painting hangs next to the Hans Hofmann piece, below, and although the subject matter and degree of abstraction are certainly at opposite ends of the spectrum, the same careful thought has gone into the compositional choices each artist has made.


Hans Hofmann, Ruby Gold, 1959. I confess to breezing by this particular painting for years. Yesterday, the more time I spent with it, the more I recognized how the colors orchestrated a variety of emotional,non-verbal responses in me. I began to fully appreciate the intentionality of the impasto palette knife marks and the interactions of the color fields and shapes. So if you are one of those people who says,“my five year old could paint that”, you would reconsider that opinion if you spent careful time observing this painting.


This feast for the senses art experience will ends with discussing a work by Louise Nevelson, Dawn’s Landscape XL, 1975. This is a complex and intriguing work that rewards the slow viewer with intricate compositions within compositions. The urban influence is apparent in this work, along with intriguing compositional details that can suggest a myriad of interpretations.

These images just don’t do the works justice. Join us this Saturday at Memorial Art Gallery, 11-AM – 1 PM. Program free with paid museum admission.

If you live elsewhere, check out the Slow Art Day site and see if there is an event happening in your area!

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