The wall mural below is of Reflection Lake at Mt. Rainier. Frank painted this 72″ x 41″ scene in acrylic on a rough textured surface in 2012. This scene reminds us that the more peaceful the water, the more clear the reflected image. Just as the more peaceful our minds, the more clearly we can see what is in front of us.
At ArtAndZen.com, we usually stay away from politics and religion, too often intertwined. Today, we make an exception to recognize the reality of a very important human desire: Liberty, as a prime element in finding Enlightenment, and to recognize a special event.
The founders of the United States of America, wanted Liberty above all else, and many fought and died to allow others this basic human right. The people of France recognized this in their gift of a statue “Liberty Enlightening the World” (in French: La Liberté éclairant le monde). Today’s world is in chaos, in part because governments and politicians are driven by self-interest at the expense of human rights. Enlightenment has taken a severe beating.
In Frank’s 30” x 30” acrylic on wood painting from 2001, “Liberty Enlightening the World”, he projects Enlightenment standing strong, through the suffering and confusion we find around us today. There is a guiding light. (The statue performed as a navigational lighthouse from 1886 until 1901.)
All of this takes on special meaning today as Frank recognizes his grandson’s decision to become a warrior in defense of Liberty around the world. Bless this young man for his bravery and courage. May he help protect a world that rediscovers Enlightenment and Liberty as primary human rights.
When you visit a museum or gallery, you are expected to not touch the art. Frank enjoys the fact that his art is not only touched, but walked on:
Abbot Master Jian Hu walks on the Dharma Wheel
First Community Gathering at the Dharma Wheel Peace Pole
Dharma Wheel Peace Pole completed
It was Frank’s great honor to be hired as a consultant to assist in the property purchase, development and construction of a new Zen monastery in Seattle, where Master Jian Hu served as the first abbot. This was a dream fulfillment for Frank.
This new monastery replaced a dilapidated facility, once a church that degenerated into the living space of drug users and prostitutes. The local community received a great blessing with a new Zen spirit in their neighborhood upon completion of the monastery… a true sanctuary for those seeking truth and peace.
Through Frank’s experience in managing the work of government agencies, contractors, architects, and engineers, he was able to save the Zen monastery well over one million dollars in the acquisition and build-out process.
After completion, It was then Frank’s greater honor to envision, build and gift an outdoor public art installation, a Peace Pole and Dharma Wheel combination, seen in the pictures above, for the enjoyment of all at the monastery , including Master Jian Hu. Frank was also commissioned to paint an outdoor welcome sign at the entrance to the monastery.
Keeping this original beacon saving lives was a disciplined task. Some Keepers could not deal with the solitude, and the demands of the light, while others found a great chance to meditate in a pure natural setting and experience.
Meditative enlightenment is a solitary experience, even if joined by others.
Zen thinking on attachment seems pretty harsh and cold to most people, as it is linked directly to suffering. Just think of the grief experienced when someone close to you becomes ill or dies. Our attachment to members of other species, while bringing great joy, can quickly turn to sorrow when loss occurs.
That is not to say that attachment is good or bad, or that it is something that should be avoided. Zen thinking does not work that way. Zen teaches it is important to see things for what they are. A good friend once advised, “It is what it is” (not what we want it to be). Seems simple, but not always so.
Just understanding why we feel the way we do, helps. Then we can make better decisions and learn to cope with the realities of life. Survive to find joy another day, in another way.
The painting above (approx. 20” diam. Acrylic on wood) was created and gifted in 2009 by Frank to Terry Welch, the world-renowned Zen landscape artist, and art collector. The name of the painting is “Reflection Lake” and presents Terry’s favorite view from within the wildlife refuge he developed.
Reflection is key element within Zen practice. Like the stillness of the water improves the clarity of the reflected image, the stillness of our minds improves the image we reflect within our minds of the reality around us.