New Exhibit From Artist, Poet Focuses On Mindfulness, Self-Reflection
SARASOTA, FL — Founded early in the pandemic, for the past three years Art in Common Places has paired poets and visual artists to collaborate on works hung in atypical venues — laundromats, doctor’s offices, shops, restaurants, assisted living facilities, public housing complexes.
At the time, one of the group’s co-founders, Teresa Carson, told Patch that their goal was to make art more accessible to the community.
“Art belongs to everybody,” she said. “How can we bring the arts — high-quality art — to everyday people? You know, people who are not necessarily able to afford going to the Ringling Museum for $25 a pop. Not just art, but really good, high-quality art.”
Now, she and visual artist Leslie Butterfield, also a co-founder of Art in Common Places, have collaborated on a project of their own, “Seven Sacred Pauses,” an exhibition of seven paintings and seven poems created over the past three years at The Arts Advocates Gallery at The Crossings at Siesta Key mall.
The gallery is open Saturdays, 2 to 4 p.m., and their exhibition will remain on display through the end of March.
Though not religious, Carson told Patch that she has always been interested in the Canonical Hours.
“You know, those hours where the monastic would stop and pray,” she said. “It was just always part of something that was in my head.”
Then, she discovered the book “Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day” by Macrina Wiederkehr, which offers a modern take on the Canonical Hours.
“She reinterpreted the Canonical Hours for contemporary life and made it somewhat more sectarian,” Carson said. “It’s more accessible. You don’t have to do a lot of prayers. It’s about mindfulness. So, I just about ate my way through this book.”
She suggested the title to Butterfield, who also found inspiration in it. Together, they decided to create a series of paintings and poems.
They were also inspired by the experiences of the teams of artists and author teams working closely together for Art in Common Places.
“We saw that excitement and energy, and we started seeing that the more that work is done in parallel as a collaboration, the better the experience,” Butterfield told Patch. “And we were like, ok, we want to do that. And so, these seven came about and we worked our way through how do we structure it? How do we collaborate? And we changed over time, and in parallel, watching different poets and artists experience it, we learned and tried different things. So, the seven poems have different forms, and the paintings have things that are quite different from one to the next.”
The series breaks the day up into seven timeframes, from those early morning moments before dusk to midnight.
“It breaks up your day, you know, the idea being that we’re so busy with ‘to dos,’” Carson said. “In a monastic order it’s very important for them to remember that God is running through everything, but even in our contemporary life, we get so caught up with that, that we forget to stop and just be for a few minutes.”
As they collaborated, they found that their daily lives are very different from one another and found ways to incorporate the other’s individual experiences into their pieces.
Carson, for instance, is usually awake and working by 4 a.m. — earlier than many people, including Butterfield.
“And then that Blessing Hour, which is 9 a.m., is a weird hour for me, because I’m up so early that 9 a.m. is like mid-day for me, basically,” the poet said. “So, I’m not really doing what she has for that hour. But it’s a very important hour for Leslie, because very often she’s out on the water at that hour. So, I ended up writing a poem from her experience.”
Butterfield said, “We built our friendship during this project, and we are very different from each other. Certainly, we have some things that are in common, the things we care about, but our lives are very different, and so, too, are our personalities. So, to learn to accept and appreciate someone who’s very different from yourself at the level that it takes to open up and share these works in progress, you’re very vulnerable.”
Once their exhibition leaves The Arts, they hope to find other venues to host their work, as well as writing and art workshops inspired by the theme of “Seven Sacred Pauses.”
“We’d love to develop something where we’re doing art and poetry in a workshop, maybe a half-day experience for people, and get them into that (mindset) that we’re always doing, doing, doing and we need to stop every so often,” Carson said.