Your Mind, This Moment: art and the practice of attention

  • Image

    Chris Fraser
    Emmanuelle, 2013
    Glass microspheres, plate glass, alu2minum disc, and LED light
    24 × 1 ¼ inches
    Museum purchase with funds contributed by the Council of 100

  • Image

    Andrea Ackerman
    Rose Breathing, 2003
    3D Computer animation, stereo sound, projector, 34-second continuous loop
    Dimensions variable
    Museum purchase with funds contributed by the Museum’s Collection Committee

  • Image

    Jamie Brunson
    Sura, 2002
    Oil and alkyd on panel
    66 × 66 inches
    Gift of William and Barbara Hyland

  • Image

    Sam Tchakalian
    Hole in One, c. 1990
    Oil on canvas 84 x 84 inches
    Gift of LaVona J. and George Y. Blair


…A space where thought is
suspended and personal
beauty is achieved.

—Tam van Tran


Guided Meditations

Fifteen seconds. That’s the length of time the average museum visitor spends in front of a work of art—much of it reading the wall label. Even the Mona Lisa commands only fifteen seconds of attention. That’s half the time we wait for an iPad or smartphone to power on.

We bring a host of assumptions, neurological shortcuts, and snap judgments to the act of seeing. What can we really see in just fifteen seconds? What might happen if instead we tried to see beyond our own expectations; to abide calmly with a work of art; to observe the very process of looking with patient awareness, feeling, and curiosity? What insights might we have about both the art and the workings of our own minds?

This exhibition is an experiment. Your Mind, This Moment: art and the practice of attention presents works of art as objects of meditation. With input from an advisory group of artists who are also meditators, the gallery will be designed as an intimate space that encourages quietude. Short guided audio meditations, created for this occasion by Bay Area mindfulness teachers, will be available for visitors. Related public programs will offer an array of opportunities to explore the intersection between the practice of looking and the increasingly widespread practice of mindfulness meditation.

We invite you to take time out from the hectic pace of your life for quiet contemplation—the benefits of which have been embraced widely by Silicon Valley’s tech corporations; covered in mainstream media from Wired to Forbes as an antidote to the reactivity, stress, and overstimulation of today’s hyperactive times; and even promoted as a health benefit by hundreds of mobile apps.

Your Mind, This Moment will open with works by Andrea Ackerman, Anne Appleby, Jamie Brunson, Lesley Dill, Eric Fischl, Chris Fraser, Mineko Grimmer, Ranu Mukherjee, Sam Tchakalian, Tam Van Tran, and Gail Wight.

Sponsored by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Doris and Alan Burgess, Evelyn and Rick Neely, and an anonymous donor.

Gallery Guide