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Posts Tagged ‘sam davol’

Photo: Cassandra Giraldo / Wall Street Journal
Slow Art Day host Phil Terry, center, points to El Anatsui’s installation ‘Gli (Wall).’

Thank you, Anna, for pointing out reporter Rebecca Bratburd’s cool story in the Wall Street Journal.

“If art-museum crowds appeared to be moving at snail speed on Saturday,” writes Bratburd, “it’s because they were celebrating Slow Art Day, during which participants in 274 museums around the world got a new, slower perspective on enjoying art.

“Inspired by the experience of gazing at Hans Hofmann’s ‘Fantasia’ and Jackson Pollock’s ‘Convergence’ for hours, Phil Terry launched the art appreciation day in 2010. …

“Mr. Terry, CEO of the New York City-based consulting firm Creative Good, noticed that no one had planned to host an event at Brooklyn Museum this year, so he did the honors. On Saturday, he handed instruction sheets to each of the 35 or so participants. They included straightforward tips, including but not limited to: “Look closely. Back up. There is no wrong way.’ …

“The group then set off at a turtle’s pace to meditate on five of the museum’s roughly 1.5 million works: El Anatsui’s ‘Gli (Wall),’ ‘Waste Paper Bags’ and ‘Peak’; Valerie Hegarty’s ‘Fallen Bierstadt’; and an untitled work by Richard Pousette-Dart. …

“Part of the point is to counteract the rapid pace of modern life, as much as the often overwhelming museum routine, said another participant, Sam Davol, a musician in the band the Magnetic Fields. ‘I felt like I was in slow motion and everyone was whizzing by,’ he said. ‘I began to become self-conscious about it, like a guard would think it was weird that I was standing there for so long.’ …

“Elizabeth Ferguson … said her smartphone complicated matters. ‘I wanted to focus on the piece of art in front of me, but in the midst of it I was getting texts, I wanted to Instagram it, check in on Foursquare and tag #SlowArtDay,’ she said.”

Read more — and try moving slower in your next museum, too.

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Do you ever look at ArtsJournal? It has the best links!

Today there’s a fun link to the Post-Standard in Syracuse about a library in a phone booth.

Writes Maureen Nolan: “The Little Free Library credo is ‘take a book, leave a book.’ That’s pretty much the only rule. Every Little Free Library is supposed to have a volunteer community steward, and Mother Earth, whose given name is Taywana James, is a natural. She lives barely a block from the library. She is a mother, poet and artist involved in a number of projects to better the Near West Side, and she loves books.  …

“Rick Brooks, co-founder of the Little Free Library movement, estimates there are 300 to 400 little libraries in 33 states and 17 countries. He doesn’t know if most people bring books back. In the Little Free Library movement, the return rate doesn’t seem to be a critical data point.” More here on Little Free Libraries.

I am reminded of the Uni Project, which I blogged about here. It’s a portable reading room, first deployed in New York City last September.

One of the founders of the effort, Sam Davol (also a cellist in the band the Magnetic Fields), writes about the Uni Project here: “On Sunday, Sep. 11, the Uni was put into service for the first time. Lower Manhattan residents joined us to inaugurate the Uni by gathering to browse and read our small collection on a difficult morning. While most of the surrounding blocks were locked down and public libraries in Manhattan were closed, the Uni began its journey among good people who came out to visit a public market and meet the Uni.”

(That was the same day Suzanne and Erik startled the guardians of the people by renting a small boat and going sailing in New York harbor.)

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The other day on an American Public Media radio broadcast, I heard a story about Better Block Houston and its approach to urban revitalization. “The Better Block is a national movement which originated in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. Better Block projects have improved neighborhoods in Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Portland, and Memphis.”

Concerned residents focus on a vision for one block and throw a daylong event showing the potential.  The idea is that visitors might come to see the event and its special one-day amenities and would then notice cool things about the area and decide to return. New businesses might decide to move in. Sounds like wishful thinking, but the Better Block folks claim the approach is attracting more foot traffic and business.

“The ‘Better Block’ project provides a one-day living workshop of how a ‘Complete Street’ works, by actively engaging the community, helping them to visualize better outcomes for the future, and empowering them to provide feedback in real time. Better Block is a fun and interactive demonstration of a ‘Complete Street’ — and what it can do for a neighborhood. Complete Streets …  are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities must be able to safely move along and across a complete street. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They allow buses to run on time and make it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.”

In Boston, a young couple I know, Sam and Leslie Davol, had an idea to set up a temporary library in Chinatown, which had not had a branch library in decades. Their project made use of a storefront that had been vacant during the economic downturn.

Leslie just sent out an e-mail about what they’re working on next: The Uni Project.

“Many of you know the Storefront Library, which Sam and I undertook in a vacant storefront in Boston’s Chinatown last year. That project had a big impact on us, just as it did on the Chinatown community. Since then, we’ve helped several local groups take over the books and Chinatown’s library advocacy, and we’ve spent time exploring a broader need for places like libraries in urban neighborhoods and cities generally. …

“The Uni is a portable infrastructure that will allow us to quickly deploy and create staffed, open-air reading rooms in almost any available urban space. The Uni is based on a system of cubes, and the books inside those cubes are just the start. Like libraries, we plan to use the Uni to provide a compelling venue for readings, talks, workshops, and screenings, through partnerships with local organizations and institutions. And the best part, once we fabricate this lightweight infrastructure, we can keep it running, serve multiple locations, and even replicate it.” Read about The Uni Project here.

8/11/12 update on Uni Project here. Now it’s even in Kazakhstan.

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