I once had an art teacher who informed the class that the average person spends less than 10 seconds looking at a piece of art before moving on to the next one - and that's for the paintings they actually like. A good artist, he said, was someone that could stop you in their tracks for a few a seconds; a great artist might hold you for a minute.
Since I could only stand to look at my own art for about a second before turning away I decided then that it was best to apply myself to other subjects where I had a little more talent.
But this idea that people only spend seconds devouring pieces of art that took artists weeks, months and sometimes years to complete, has stayed with me. I recently searched the web to find out whether this was true or not and found a half dozen references ranging from 5 seconds to 20 seconds, dating back as far as 1979. None of the sources pinpointed any particular study - but like me they all heard it from various art teachers and art professors, who presumably heard it from somewhere else.
So is it true or an urban legend? I have a feeling that it's subjective, like all things about art. Some art pieces will literally freeze you on the spot for minutes at a time while others will only capture your attention for a few seconds.
And then there's ArtWalk. This year there are 52 artists displaying work at 44 host galleries - mostly in the village and upper village, although the Function Junction component is bigger than ever with 14 artists on display. With the participation of every gallery in town, that adds up to thousands of pieces of art on display that you can take in over a single afternoon. How long you spend looking at all of this creativity is up to you, but it's a lot to absorb in a single stroll.
ArtWalk runs from July 1 to Aug. 31. You can pick up brochures around town that will guide your journey from stop to stop. Some stops are working galleries, others are restaurants and stores - and all are welcoming, having had a hand themselves in selecting the artist on display at their location.
Ali Richmond, manager of communications and marketing for the Whistler Arts Council, says the appeal of ArtWalk is big, and growing every year.
"We printed about 7,000 (brochures) last year and went through all of them," she said. "The village info centre and village hosts were constantly asking for more brochures, as were many of the hotels."
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