Art Works Blog

#2TweetorNot2Tweet: Tobin Eckholt, Tacoma Art Museum

by Tobin Eckholt, Manager of Development Services, Tacoma Art Museum

Tobin Eckholt. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum

Turn the mobile off.

Do not get me wrong, I am not a Luddite and I am more than happy to broadcast my art experience in 140 characters or less. Tweets and retweets can be a fantastic way to help artists, organizations, and institutions to hopefully generate the buzz that fills auditoriums and galleries, brings in new audiences, and possibly connects with new patrons. But there is a time and a place to tweet.

No one I know reads their Twitter feed and thinks, “Wow! Tobin is really in the moment tweeting from the theater. That play is must-see!”

The actual implication of any tweet I send during a performance is: “I’m at the theater. I thought you should know this performance isn’t engaging enough to hold my attention. #whyamIhere.”

This may seem a bit harsh and judgmental of a plugged-in society all too eager to share their random thoughts and unique observations, one that I am very much guilty of being a part of---and it is.

Stay in the moment.

The moment the light from my mobile phone floods my space, I have disrespected the performers, distracted those sitting around me, and ultimately, I have disengaged from the art experience all together. Of course, not every performance I have seen is mind-blowing or even interesting. But I keep it to myself until after the show. And that is more than OK to those enjoying themselves and the performance we are all there to view.

From a museum perspective, disrespect to the non-present artist and distraction to other museum goers is less likely to be an issue. However, consider how little time is spent actually looking at a work of art. The next time you visit a museum, before you tweet, I challenge you to spend 140 seconds of your Warhol 15-Minutes-of-Fame in front of one artwork. Look at it. Really look at it. I think you will quickly appreciate two things: the level of detail (or lack thereof) in an artist’s work and how much stimulation you actually need in this plugged-in world.

Respect the art. Social media can wait (and it’s why we have cafés!).

Tobin Eckholt has his BA in Art and Art History from the University of Iowa. He is the Manager of Development Services at Tacoma Art Museum where his main focus is data integrity, prospect research, reporting, and donor services. His own artistic endeavors include paintings, site-specific installations, and film making. He lives with his lovely wife Jean, and cat Orwell, in Tacoma, Washington.

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