Sunday, July 16, 2017

zen mind, beginner's mind and art

I had been studying with Antonio Salemme for about 2 years when I had this tremendous breakthrough.  A shift in consciousness.  It was a moment in which i went from being conceptually oriented to seeing without those conceptual filters.  For 2 years I had been looking at his work and trying to 'figure out' what they meant.  In an instant, because of the time spent looking and contemplating his work, I burned through those conceptual walls and was able to understand the value and meaning of his work with immediate awareness.  It was a total shift in values as well as I realized that it was the very originality of Antonio's that I had been struggling with all that time.  His work didn't fit any pigeon holes there in my sub conscious mind.
     We all have this zen mind, beginner's mind as part of our intrinsic nature.  This self sufficient natural state is there underneath all the conditioning that has been built up through our education and experience.  Somethng I began to understand was this, "Simplicity demands our deepest attention in order to be appreciated."  This 'deep' attention and the ability to appreciate simplicity is zen mind, beginner's mind.  It is not a conceptual place but one of direct experience.
     My work as an artist is all about expressing the beauty of the medium as beginner's mind.  I call what I have been expressing and practicing 'the aesthetics of spontaneity'. I have been doing this for over 35 years now. My paintings are contemplative doorways.  In other words you can put your attention on them and they carry you within'. It is visual music.  You have to be receptive in order to hear the music.  Antonio would often say to me as I wrestled with his work to glean the 'meaning' from an intellectual viewpoint,  "Look at the brushstrokes."