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Home / Slow Art Day set at Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Saturday
The image of an elderly woman holding a potted plant is one of Grant Wood's iconic paintings.
But what else is in this tender portrait of the artist's mother? What is she wearing? Where is she standing? What frills adorn her simple attire? What color are her eyes? What other plants and structures are in the background?
The public is invited to spend some quality time studying this and four other specified works Saturday morning during Slow Art Day at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. It's part of a global movement of contemplation and discussion being staged at more than 210 galleries around the world, from London, Paris and Rome to Phoenix, Dubai, Belfast and Sydney.
'We're sort of slow to it,” Sean Ulmer, the museum's executive director, said with a laugh. The global movement was founded in 2008 and launched in 16 museums and galleries across Europe and North America in October 2009, but this is the first time the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has joined in.
'The idea behind Slow Art Day is that you take time out and concentrate very intensely on just five works of art,” Ulmer said. 'The request is that you spend 10 minutes with each work, looking very carefully at it, and then you gather at a specified time and place and discuss what you saw through your intense looking.
'Ten minutes is an incredibly long period of time,” he said. 'If you just sit and look at the clock for a minute, you realize how long that one minute is, and 10 minutes is 10 times that long,” he said.
Most museum visitors try to see everything in one trip. That's impossible at a large gallery like the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, he said, and is challenging at the Cedar Rapids museum, which has 16 galleries.
'Even when you spend decent time, you miss things,” he said. 'The artist has filled each of these works with a wide variety of details that reveal themselves over time. For many people, this will be the first opportunity to really, seriously look a long time at a single work of art.”
Visitors can pick up a guide to the five pieces at the museum's front desk. Joining 'Woman with Plants” are a Dan Eldon photograph, Marvin Cone's 'Lafayette Farm,” Conger Metcalf's 'Queenie” and Malvina Hoffman's frieze in the museum's Carnegie Library wing.
The process will take about 50 minutes, and is free with regular gallery admission. Participants can stroll at their leisure any time between 10 a.m. and noon, make notes and sketches with pencil on paper (pens are not allowed in the galleries), then meet at noon in the Cedar Rapids Public Library's Unconference Room to discuss their observations. Lunch can be purchased at the library's Press Cafe.
'Everyone has what they need to make this a wonderful experience,” Ulmer said. 'They just need to look and to think. The only tools you need are a pair of open eyes and an open mind.”
IF YOU GO
What: Slow Art Day
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday (4/12)
Where: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE
Admission: Free with gallery admission, $5 adults, $4 college students and ages 62 and older; free ages 18 and under
Program: Pick up viewing list at museum's front desk; noon discussion moves to Cedar Rapids Public Library's second floor Unconference Room; lunch may be purchased at the library