A poem in chalk is a wonderful thing to leave outside an art gallery; that’s what I learnt this weekend. Have you seen it? Our Remembrance Day poem outside the Vancouver Art Gallery? What made it more fun was observing it from a distance, watching people discover it.
I went back to the chalk site about an hour or two after we finished, just to see what was happening there. I stayed a good distance away for about fifteen minutes. In that time, I noticed a few people stopping to read the words. That made me feel great! Some didn’t see it at first, began walking over it, and then did an awkward, apologetic hop away from the text so as to not ruin it. There were others who did not see it at all, engrossed in their own thoughts, or focussed on wherever they were hastily heading to.
This made me curious about how people typically observe things in public spaces. A large chalk piece on the street gets a whole range of reactions from people, which I love. I think I typically spend about thirty seconds to watch or listen to something happening in a public space. That time has increased since I started chalking outdoors, because I realise how encouraging it is to have people stop to observe and/or ask questions. Also, I am beginning to consider public art more genuinely, instead of only expressing polite, fleeting curiosity.
How much time on average do you stop to consider art or other activity occurring in public spaces? It would be interesting to spend just ten seconds more than that, to see what more you can get from and give to the art in progress. This could make a difference to both you and the artists. Please try it, and let me know what you find!