During my volunteer shift at the Art Institute of Chicago, I have time to watch the people watch the art. There are some characteristic commonalities nowadays. With the ubiquitous camera (either cell or digital) in hand, the visitor looks at the world through the lens. Rarely do they put the camera down long enough to look, really look at what they think they are seeing eyeball to visual.
“You see, but do not observe”, said Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson. Good advice by an imaginary man to the real people today. Put down the camera. Look at the art, stop before those pieces that catch your eye. Be like the cow, ruminate slowly digesting whatever comes to mind. Think about what you see, digest the work visually. Take home a memory that can never be printed out as a photo, printed on your soul.
Another evening as I took my volunteer post, I heard a kerfuffle among the staff only to learn that, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was in a gallery. Sidling down the hall to watch him watch the art, I noticed how he didn’t rush but took his time to silently study one particular piece of art.
Would that more people would take their time—limited as it is—rather than rush past a check list of important art caged from a book. It isn’t important if it doesn’t sing to you. So take down the wall that the camera becomes before art that hits a high C—to you.