The Garden as Art and Art in the Garden — Love it Slowly

by Linda Wiggen Kraft

There is an intimate connection between sculptures, gardens, landscape and people at the two block long Citygarden in downtown St. Louis. The interplay of nature in woodland area, grassy hills, steep rock walls, grass, water, and sky with the hard surfaces of sky scrapers, red abstract lines of metal, a giant hollow head, a horse with a 3D star on its back, white rabbits, media screens and other totally hands-on sculptures lets us enjoy a unique and internationally acclaimed urban art garden in an expanded way. The art is not limited to the sculptures. The trees, plants and hardscape of the garden are all chosen for their shape, line, colors, and in some cases fragrance. The native plants and landforms are sculptures in themselves and like all parts of Citygarden, worthy of spending some slow time experiencing.

What is “slow time” experiencing? Most of us don’t remember how we took a walk as a toddler. Each step revealed a new wonder that caught our attention. We were filled with delight and curiosity about small treasures found in each step. It took a long long time to walk even a few feet. We looked closely and examined bits of our surroundings close-up and sometimes upside down. But as we grew older speed replaced the toddler’s pace and slow time looking disappeared.

There is one day of the year dedicated to slow time looking at art, like what we did as toddlers, but with the added awareness of adults. Slow Art Day is an international event held in over 200 locations around the world on the same day in April. Groups of people gather at museums, galleries and sculpture parks to experience art in a different way. Participants arrive and are given a list by volunteer hosts of about five pieces of art to spend slow time with. Each piece is experienced for ten minutes or more by looking, touching (at Citygarden sculptures are hands-on), smelling (if appropriate), tasting (maybe not a good idea here), listening to, writing about, sketching, contemplating and maybe even meditating upon. After all the art is slowly observed, participants gather to share lunch and experiences. For many it is like the first time experiencing a slow food feast versus always having fast food, except this is slow art that feeds the soul.

Slow Art Day in St. Louis will be held at Citygarden on Saturday April 27th. To experience the gardens and art of Citygarden slowly, sign up online at www.SlowArtDay.com. All participants must register via the website under St. Louis venue. More info is on the site.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a garden designer and artist. This is her fourth year as co-host of Slow Art Day St. Louis. Her work can be seen at her website and blog at www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. She can be contacted at 314 504-4266.