By GUY D’ASTOLFO
The Butler wants you to slow down and really get to know some great art.
For the first time, the museum will participate in Slow Art Day, the annual worldwide event that takes place Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.
Slow Art Day, now in its eighth year, started in New York and has since spread to more than 170 museums in dozens of countries. Its goal is to get more people to fully know the joy of art.
With its extensive collection of great works, the Butler Institute of American Art is definitely a good place to start. Other regional museums participating in Slow Art Day are the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Most museum visitors spend less than 30 seconds looking at each work of art in a museum. That might partially be a necessity if you want to see everything in the museum.
But on Slow Art Day, quantity is secondary to quality time. A handful of pieces will be selected as the focus at each museum, with the hope that guests will spend five to 10 minutes on each one.
At the Butler, six pieces have been chosen.
Of course, one of them is Winslow Homer’s “Snap the Whip” – the museum’s signature work of art.
The others are also among the museum’s most well-known works. They are:
“Ship Starlight,” by Fitz H. Lane.
“In Flanders Field,” by Robert Vonnoh.
“The Little Dancer,” by Robert Henri.
“Lincoln the Railsplitter,” by Norman Rockwell.
“Americans: Youngstown People,” by Alfred Leslie.
After taking in each piece, viewers are encouraged to discuss what they’ve noticed – anything from the genre of the painting to the thoughts of the people depicted are fair game.
All of the paintings at the Butler’s Slow Art Day are located in the first-floor galleries, in their permanent positions.
To get the conversation started, Maggie Kamenitsa, education department assistant and curator of the event at the Butler, has created a background paper that will be handed out to visitors.
It includes the name and gallery of each of the six selected paintings, and questions about it that will spur deeper looks. Kamenitsa also introduces some art terms into the sheet to spur learning. She stressed that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to art appreciation.
Docents will be on hand to serve as guides, but guests also can explore the pieces on their own.
With the shortened attention spans that afflict our screen-laden society, Kamenitsa hopes that children will find Slow Art Day different and rewarding.
“It doesn’t keep changing!,” she said with a laugh. “You can come back and look at it later, and it’s still the same picture.”
The Butler is at 524 Wick Ave. Visitors should be aware that Wick Avenue is closed due to its reconstruction. Parking is available at Youngstown State University’s M30 Wick Parking Deck, accessible via Walnut Street, next to the MVR restaurant.