Friday, May 25, 2012


."One Hour/One Painting" proved its worth again yesterday evening, this time at the studio of my friend Gregg Chadwick.  The studio is located in a  former airplane hanger at the Santa Monica Airport, so we had a good deal of aviation noises to contend with--planes flying low overhead, landing and taking off.  And the sight lines were not as good for some as I would have wished: we had a full house, and the two rows were necessarily stretched rather widely across the studio, leaving some participants viewing the picture at too steep an angle.  Still, to judge by the response cards and the conversation afterwards, most people managed to compensate for this and were fully engaged.

Gregg is not only a painter but also a big reader--his bookshelves in the studio crammed with a great diversity of interesting books--and a fellow-blogger at Speed of Life.  If you have not visited there, I hope you will.  He brings an artist's vision to everything he writes about.  For the occasion, he had used the biggest studio wall to hang this picture...

... "Balance of Shadows."  (Great title, by the way!)  It's a fine, large painting, ideally suited to the purposes of "One Hour/One Painting" in its rich combination of color and light, surface texture and underpainting, image and abstraction.  The central figure, balancing on a slack rope that loops across the canvas, seems to levitate, dancing on pure light.  The color of his robes suggest a Southeast Asian monk.  Closely observed, the brushwork to left and right reveals subtle landscape elements--rocks and trees--suggesting a blend between the spiritual traditions of the far east and the aesthetic traditions of the West as far back as the Renaissance.  Buried in the picture, some of them barely discernible, are other figures, marching soldiers, Gregg told us later--a reminder of one of those disastrous and eventually futile US military misadventures in Asia.  The painting's title reminds us that light, indeed, proceeds from darkness, and that the search for the middle path is always a balancing act.

An enthusiastic response, then, to an hour of guided meditation and contemplation.  It's a great way to come to know a painting.  The discussion that followed the silent sit was lively and profound.  The experience went deep.  The talk could have gone on much longer, I think, but I chose to bring it to a close, fearing that the memory of the event might become too wordy.  It is not often, when I do these sessions, that the artist joins us.  In this case, Gregg was clearly gratified by the response to his work--and I was grateful to him for providing not only the great painting for us to look at, but also for the studio space and, afterwards, generously, a supply of snacks and beverages.  By the time I left for the drive home, there were still a good number of participants left, deep in conversation.

This session marked the first time "One Hour/One Painting" has been videotaped.  I had submitted an article about the experience to Tricycle magazine and, while they declined the article itself, they inquired about a video for possible inclusion on their online meditation site.  Gregg's cousin, David, a professional in the field, kindly volunteered to do the job, so I'll be interested to see how it turned out.  I suggested that he tape my introduction first--I stand at the front to explain something of the history and the process of the event--and then follow my guidance through the painting for the remainder of the hour.  If nothing else, it should be a great exploration of "Balance of Shadows."  I'll let you know if and when it appears on Tricycle.

Thanks to Gregg, thanks to David, and thanks to a great group of participants.  I have the feeling that I'll be seeing some of them again at future sessions.  The next one, by the way, is on Tuesday, June 5 in the William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Station.  The artist is Ned Evans.  I'll be putting out more information shortly.

1 comment:

Doctor Noe said...

This just in ...
… a Doctor Noe's Gadgets blog post here:

Doctor Noe's Gadget: Mick Taylor – Return of the Boo-Ga-Wee