Not unusually, the art work of the moment reflects the inner work of the moment, and indeed it all is “of the moment”. Given enough presence, my life can be experienced as a series of moments, each one rich with transcending potential. Mostly I am taken up by the great sweeping movements of events and lose the taste of freedom these moments give. I get caught in the particulars of the dance and fail to breathe the dance in the process. Of late the level of my distraction from what is essential was blatantly presented to me, yet again. The beautiful outcome of these kinds of demonstrations is the freshness that follows the storm.
So to translate, economy and circumstances had pulled and pushed me in false directions. One such took the form of attending an audition for the Bravo network show titled “America’s Next Greatest Artist”. An extensive one sided contract I signed just to audition prevents me from giving details, but I will tell you that art had little to do with it. I walked away from my four hour wait in the Santa Monica sun with sunburn and a healthy bit of wisdom.
I returned home wanting to make an artistic statement about what I took in, but soon realized this would be art that expressed what I call “sticky action at a distance”, rather than what I claim to wish to point towards, which is the essential nature. In Zen is said we should be completely consumed in every moment, expressing our Big I Buddha Nature with all of us, so that there is left no trace in our activity. Art that is reactionary might momentarily help in the processing, but it can also leave a trace that contributes to the very habit I want to break of not being here now.
In time, as things settled out, a new longing for freshness emerged. This was expressed in my artistic process by the use of techniques that relinquish control. I am still working with the relationship of representation and abstraction. But it seems I am called to hover closer to the place of origin, the place where nothing begets something, form comes from the formless.
Hollywood and celebrities sparked too keen an interest in me, as I see it in hindsight from this here now. For my real call of duty, partly reflected in my art, such interest is wasteful. So I needed a lesson. In the theater of my life I was graced with a carefully crafted set of circumstances that juxtaposed feelings normally not juxtaposed. Not necessarily pleasant or comfortable, this lesson was expansive. My trip to LA brought moments of great presence alongside of dense and gritty sights and sounds. Hedonism seems to be the present form of mass slavery – glorification of the biological imperative to reproduce or the pursuit of nonstop pleasure seems to limit us while offering the illusion of freedom.
Ladies, if we think we are liberated – or better yet, humans, if we think we are liberated, let us think again. Three billboards I saw while in the City of the Angels showed women spread eagled, presumably being seductive and I cannot remember what they were meant to advertise. This seemed like a statement in and of itself.
But it is all a part of Buddha nature – nothing in existence escapes Buddha nature except by illusion, and even in that there is Buddha nature. In a way for me art production uses the process of making illusion to move away from illusion. When I use techniques to relinquish control there is an experience of flinging myself out into the open wide, as Rumi would put it. From this point the process of “seeing” begins, where a new life emerges from the canvas that I then seem to coax out more.
This time of year speaks to the absence of the apparent, while there is raging activity beneath the surface ready to burst forth into new life come spring. There is a deep wishing that happens, so deep it is invisible – a wish for life, for birth. I celebrate this wish and the place where it happens. I hope this newsletter finds you all at a place of celebration over the birth of new life inherent in every moment.