Column: 17 seconds | local entertainment

As daylight hours lengthen, my awareness of time shrinks and stretches with changes in activity. Who else would be amazed at how much one could accomplish when a microwave oven takes 60 seconds to chill a fresh cup of coffee?

I recently read on the Internet, the great authority filled with fact and fiction, that people spend an average of 17 seconds looking at a piece of art in a museum. Hmmm? That’s not quite four master paints in a java warmup.

Last week I had an experience that reminded me of what happens when I spend more than 17 seconds with a piece of art, when I pause to do more than just identify the subject and move on thing. When I observe shapes, colors or lines that move my attention around the painting. When I look for familiar images. When I look for connections that can reveal a story.

Last week I took 600 seconds with a guide to review 10 pieces of art. After more months of Zoom than I could bear, I was back for Jentel Presents on the first Tuesday of the month at SAGE Community Art LIVE. Yes. I was excited.

An imaginary exhibition of contemporary works emerged, as each visual artist introduced themselves prior to the gathering and shared approximately 10 minutes of insight into their creative process while showing images of their work.

A series of massive shapes bounded by strips of yellowed grass deprived of light and water were visible only to a drone. Delicate clay sculptures precariously balanced on stacked wooden and plastic forms. Drawings using outlines made from plant forms directly on canvas were then manipulated with Photoshop. Intimate views in private rooms recorded in lushly textured oils and an accompanying piece in pastels used deep perspective to draw the viewer into the space.

Two writers supplemented the presentations with readings of works in progress. The opening passage of a novel focused on the regrets of taking someone dear to them for granted and missing the opportunity to spend time with them before it was too late. The transformative ability of the arts to tap into the essence of human experience and make us realize that we are not alone or the only ones affected by grief moved audiences.

Likewise, a passage ably written and read by a second writer from his novel touched familiarity for listeners that evening. The struggle of a young, inexperienced and vulnerable person against the power and position of a coach and his courage and determination to survive. The questions engaged the presenters in a deeper discussion of their process and their work. The conversation provided insight into what may be happening with creative expression from other parts of the country.

Best of all was the realization that we are social creatures and thrive on coming together, sharing, and discovering.

Join us the first Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. as SAGE Community Arts hosts Jentel Presents and features presentations by four visual artists and two writers. I guarantee a remarkable 3,600 seconds.

Marie-Jane Edwards is Executive Director of the Jentel Foundation.


Leave a Comment