In June we have the extraordinary opportunity to combine reading with the direct experience of scientist Iwasaki Tsuneo’s art.
Little known during his lifetime, the Japanese biologist and artist Iwasaki Tsuneo (1917-2002) created a strikingly original and exquisitely intricate body of modern Buddhist artwork. His paintings depict themes ranging from classical Buddhist iconography to majestic views of our universe as revealed by science--all created with the use of painstakingly rendered miniature calligraphies of the Heart Sutra, one of the most important scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism.
The exhibition “Painting Enlightenment - Experiencing Wisdom and Compassion through Art and Science” is on display at the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach from May 8 through September 19, 2021. We will meet there to view the exhibition and have lunch on Friday, June 11 at 11:00 (entry fee not included).
Our book discussion will be held on Thursday, June 17 at 6:30 pm on Zoom
Friday June 11, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Morikami Museum in Delray Beach (lunch and museum entry not included)
Our book choice “Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra” is a stunningly beautiful, full-color book of Buddhist paintings by twentieth-century Japanese artist Iwasaki Tsuneo, interpreted by Buddhist scholar Paula Arai. In this groundbreaking book, Paula Arai presents over fifty of Iwasaki's paintings, elucidating their Buddhist contexts and meanings as well as their intimate connections to Iwasaki's life as a war survivor, teacher, scientist, and devout Buddhist practitioner.
“Iwasaki’s luminous calligraphies, set in striking paintings both traditional and contemporary, are a remarkable gift to meditators, Buddhists, artists, and scientists of the contemporary age. Paula Arai is uniquely qualified to bring these paintings to a larger audience, given her mastery of Japanese language, culture, and religion, the trust bestowed on her by Iwasaki’s family, and her own Buddhist practice. Given the universal appeal of the Heart Sutra and its calligraphy, this book is destined to become a timeless treasure returned to again and again for its inspiration and sheer beauty.”—Judith Simmer-Brown, author of Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism
Book Discussion Thursday, June 17 at 6:30 pm on Zoom
Friday June 11, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Morikami Museum
Please RSVP by email to SusanConvery.Art@gmail.com if you are interested in joining us on June 11th for lunch & the exhibition at the Morikami. We will sit together and visit the exhibition together, but if you cannot make this date or time please take the opportunity to visit and experience the art on your own. It is well worth the time and effort. (Lunch & Museum entry not included)
Tickets are $10 for the Zoom discussion and available on Eventbrite at this link:
Does something in your life call you into generosity - into a space larger than your own “play small” story? Can you give yourself permission to move slowly and release your artistic fruit when it is ripe and perfect? Can you create beauty without attachment to who receives it? Like me, you were born to create beauty, to give generously, live abundantly, and appreciate the blessings waiting all around you for you to notice their presence. Teaching beauty is what I have to offer and I’m blessed when I share what I know with you.
Every June I am abundantly blessed. Daily I am reminded of what it means to have more than you need, to be presented with an opulent overflow of scent, taste, color, and beauty. My backyard hosts a majestic 40-foot tall mango tree. She is my teacher. She does not ask for my collaboration, for my effort, or even my prayers. She asks only for appreciation from me. In her slow and patient fashion, she transmutes the Florida sun and rain into a gift of a thousand wondrous golden fruits, each one sweeter than honey, each one dressed in the colors of the sunset. From early June to late September I step onto the wet grass each morning to gather my blessings waiting for me like fat red and orange Easter eggs. Each one is a spectacle of color; glazed in red, orange, pink, purple, yellow, and many shades of green. Slice one open and inside is the embodiment of golden sunlight, a smell so sweet it attracts families of birds, lizards, and fish to feed on any bruised or imperfect fruits.
Some days there are more than 40 mangos waiting to be collected in my basket and displayed in my kitchen window. The abundance is so great that I must reach out to others and share with my friends, my colleagues, and even my dog. All year long I collect grocery bags so I can deliver this abundance to everyone I know. Long absent friends just happen to drop by and leave laden with fruit for smoothies, chutney pickles, and fruit salad, and neighbors receive anonymous gifts on their doorsteps, even my accountant has taken to calling me the “Mango Queen”. All winter long, frozen mango supplies drinks for visitors, spicy chutney, and sweet, golden smoothies to light up my blue days. I have a personal core “story” that: “I am not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough” to deserve unearned blessings. Whenever I am down it is connected to the smallness of this feeling. For more than 10 years this tree has been teaching me a different lesson - one of abundance and generosity. Generosity blesses the giver and the receiver. The tree gives generously and asks for nothing in return. She creates because creating is what she was born to do and I imagine her joy in what she produces. She works slowly and patiently, and for many months it appears she is doing nothing, just resting and sleeping. Yet every year she supplies more and more beautiful mangos than the year before. Each mango is delivered in its own time, each one as large and as perfect as mango can be. And she shares just as generously with the iguanas as she does with her most ardent admirers. I am truly grateful for her example and for the way she moves me into the space of grounding and gratitude as I step into her shade each morning.
Reach out if you would like guidance on creating more abundantly.
With Love & Creative Blessings, Susan Convery
What is it about the brown chewy/crispy crust, with little pockets of air, the tangy zest of the tomato sauce or the richness of the stringy cheese that makes pizza so popular? In a recent survey 33 million Americans said that if they could only eat one food for the rest of their lives it would be pizza. Pizza is consumed in 98% of American households and 33% of those surveyed said they would choose it for their last meal.
Something about the combination of pizza ingredients invites artistry. Did you know that in Japan there are masters who dedicate their entire lives to perfecting just the right combination of dough, salt, cheese and sauce in just the right oven to provide the ultimate sensory experience for those lucky enough to be seated in their restaurant.
This past week I got to have the experience of pizza as an art form while my chef son, Jack, created a series of pizzas in 14 variations of dough, and toppings. Watching him toss dough and experiment with a limited palette of ingredients reminded me that art is everywhere and everyone is an artist.
Creating art in a series is a powerful way to build your skills and develop your unique artist voice. Working in a series allows you to think deeply about a subject and to tell your story from a variety of viewpoints. It permits you to experiment with a variety of techniques and ideas so you can decide which to embrace and which to let go. Additionally, knowing that you have a clear end goal: a certain number of works to complete helps you to feel a sense of accomplishment and achievement. Mastery develops through practice and a series is a great way to improve your technique whether working in paint, dance, music or food.
My friend George Herrick healed his cancer creating and photographing years of daily stone cairns and he celebrates the joy of his garden with daily mandalas created from the fallen petals. Josef Albers didn't paint squares; he painted different color combinations which he always portrayed within squares. Claude Monet explored the color of light at different times of day changing canvases as he worked through the day to the one appropriate for that time and that type of light. The coherence of your work is your artist's voice. When you work in a series it is also easier for you and others to write words about your work. Imagine sitting down to write the entry in the catalogue which explains your life’s artistic legacy; which themes, materials, style, subject matter would choose to define your work?
How to go about choosing a theme? Consider what you are passionate about. Look around you and you will find inspiration speaking to you everywhere. When looking for a theme consider varying Subject Matter (place, an object, a motif, a concept, a story), varying Technique (design, color, pattern, media), and/or a single or range of Emotions or even a Business Motivation such as (an exhibition, a book, collectibles or a brand) Your choices can be as simple as my son’s pizza ingredients. Your only question to ask yourself is if your art reflects you, and the way you see the world. I am here if you need my support as you explore your themes and questions through your art.
Jack’s 14 pizzas brought me many gifts this month. I am thankful for all that my son and my students teach me about the importance of experimentation, repetition and play in learning. For the rich and inviting aroma of baking bread and cheese that filled my house this past week and for the opportunity to taste, discuss and compare so much deliciousness. I am even thankful for the extra pounds. What are you thankful for this month? Where can you invite play and variation to your artistry? Reach out if you would like feedback on the art you are currently creating or if you would like to join me for the May events below.
With Love & Blessings
Variations, by definition, begin with a theme and alter it. The wealth of techniques for varying the theme without destroying it creates the beauty of the form. I, too, could create a theme, expand it, turn it upside down, turn it inside out, or flip it front to back. I, too, could do all kinds of imaginable operations to it. - Twyla Tharp