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The Art of Mindfulness

Sheryl Nonnenberg | July 3, 2017 | Lifestyle Story Galleries and Performance Culture

If the summer has proven to be more hectic than planned, consider taking time out for art and meditation at the San Jose Museum of Art. Your Mind, This Moment: art and the practice of attention—on view through Aug. 27—is a small exhibition that addresses the importance of slowing down and being mindful. “We were inspired to offer this show after observing how many Silicon Valley companies are now installing yoga and meditation rooms in their facilities,” explains assistant curator Jessica Yee.

The gallery has been arranged to resemble a yoga studio, with the works installed around the perimeter of the room. Chairs placed in front of the art provide a place to sit, interact and contemplate. If sitting in lotus pose is more your thing, colorful carpets adorn the floors. There are 11 pieces in the show, all chosen from the museum’s permanent collection. “Rose Breathing” by Andrea Ackerman consists of a computer animation, shown on the wall, of a very large red rose that opens and closes with the sound of a slow, measured intake of breath. Within moments, the visitor finds their own breathing in sync with the movement; it is both hypnotic and very calming. “West I,” an oil and wax painting by Anne Appleby, is similarly transfixing. While it appears a monochromatic blue at first glance, closer inspection reveals subtle gradations of color. Sam Tchakalian’s “Hole in One” also employs blue hues, but the sweeping gestures of paint create a more dynamic composition, reminiscent of the eternal movement of the sea. Not all the works are abstract: Eric Fischl’s untitled watercolor of a nude man carrying the limp body of a woman is beautiful, if perplexing.

Still not relaxed? Sit down and listen to one of the meditation tapes, specially commissioned for the exhibition, that are provided in stations around the gallery. An investment of just four minutes can result, as the wall text promises, in a heightened awareness of “the interplay between mind, subject and insight.”

Originally published in the July/August issue of Silicon Valley

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