Spring 2007
“How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I think serenity is not something you just find in the world, like a plum tree, holding up it’s petals.
The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like small dark lanterns.
The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.
How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly, looking at everything and calling out
Yes! No!
The swan, for all it’s pomp, his robes of glass and petals, wants only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
-Mary Oliver ( Yes! No! from White Pine )
“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others. 
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The Question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don't have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don't have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy. 
We can smile, breathe, walk, and eat our meals in a way that allows us to be in touch with the abundance of happiness that is available. We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive at the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. 
Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.” 
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Great Art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world. No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination. One of the weaknesses of much abstract painting is the attempt to substitute the inventions of the intellect for a pristine imaginative conception. The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm and does not concern itself alone with the stimulating arrangements of color, form, and design. The term ‘life’ as used in Art is something not to be held in contempt, for it implies all of existence, and the province of Art is to react to it and not shun it. Painting will have to deal more fully and less obliquely with life and nature’s phenomena before it can again become great.”
Edward Hopper
“Anything can occur. Anything is possible and likely. Duration and space do not exist on the tenuous ground of reality. Imagination spins out and weaves new patterns.”
- Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander
Surely we squander our greatest opportunities. Surely, when we least expect it, some possibility is presented to us and we waiver, we hesitate and the moment is passed and we have missed it. We’ve let it go by. America has been stunned and dazed since 9-11; but it seems to be awakening again. The poison of the terrorist acts against us, on the heels of the botched election of 2000, put most of us into a stupor, from which we are just beginning to awaken. Whether it is a natural seven year cycle or a more deliberate act of consciousness raising on the part of writers, activists and the media, the fact is that we the people are fed up with living under a police state which is being run like a dictatorship. We are tired of giving our rights away in the service of one mans pathology. Democracy will prevail. May we all begin to speak out again without the fear that we will be called traitors. May we all trust that if we follow the dictates of our conscience then we will be able to live according to the morals inherent in any civilized society. Will there be more terrorist bombings in the future, undoubtedly. But, do we have to try to kill every potential radical fanatic to assure that our future is secure. I think not. We can live in a world in which the future is uncertain, without taking pre-emptive strikes against every possible adversary. As an artist, I lead a relatively secluded life. I’ve chosen to separate myself from the hubbub of the city so that I can be in nature: to live and learn what it has to teach. Being surrounded by nature day in and day out, provides the opportunity to watch the sky, the vegetation, the animals, and one is awakened to the obvious fact that we are apart of this whole system. Television and computers distract us from our true position in the natural world. Technology is at odds with our truest nature. By being distracted by technology we lose our connection to reality and nature. In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle describes this exercise… “Chose an object close to you- a pen, a chair, a cup, a plant- explore it visually, that is to say, look at it with great interest, almost curiosity. Avoid any objects with strong personal associations that remind you of the past, such as where you bought it, who gave it to you, and so on. Also avoid anything that has writing on it such as a book, or a bottle. It would stimulate thought. Without straining, relaxed but alert give your complete attention to the object, every detail of it. If thoughts arise don’t get involved with them. It is not the thoughts you are interested in, but the act of perception itself. Can you take the thinking out of the perceiving? Can you look without the voice in your head commenting, drawing conclusions, comparing, or trying to figure something out?” Any artist who has sat for hours looking at a landscape while they paint, realizes the splendor of the ever-changing weather; the sun, as it disappears behind a cloud cover or as it reflects off of the rising tide. Any artist who has sat for days observing an object while they paint, can appreciate the subtle shifts and variations of color and shade and temperature as light falls on a simple still-life. Any artist who has looked into the eyes of a model while they draw, can be amazed at the absolute mystery and fleeting nature of this existence. Tolle writes, “ When you look in this way, you may become aware of a subtle and at first perhaps hardly noticeable sense of calm. Some people feel it as a stillness in the background. Others call it peace. When consciousness is no longer totally absorbed by thinking, some of it remains in its formless, unconditioned, original state. This is inner space,”

As an artist, who has been working for thirty plus years, I find myself sometimes at odds with the currents of the day. I would not have survived the harsh reviews of the critics if it had not been for the encouragement of my friend and mentor Andrew Wyeth. Andrew Wyeth is, I believe, one of the most misunderstood artists in America. He is not the anachronistic nostalgia-ist that many ‘serious’ critics have assumed he is. When he works, he is more in touch with the present moment than any other artist I know. He is like a monk involved in the act of contemplation. No other artist can see light and capture it, and convey it like Andrew Wyeth. He has said that he “disappears” when he paints. Andrew is involved with “being”, and while he is “being”, he happens to be painting. He is present in the moment. When he is painting, he is not “doing”, it is not an act of the ego. Time stops for him as he paints, and that time is captured in the painting. Viewers who are sensitive and aware, who are not in their heads, can sense this capturing of time and they respond to it, they get it, they respond to the mystery that is this life. It is not an idea or a concept that the sensitive viewer is perceiving, it is the essence of the experience of the artist himself. Last summer, Andrew, said to me “I Believe in Objects”. Gerhard Richter, in his notes (1964-65) wrote, “My sole concern is the object.” There have been times over the past few years when, I’ll admit, I’ve had tinges of guilt over the ‘object’ aspect of painting-making. Since reading Suzi Gablik’s ‘The Re-Enchantment of Art’, I’ve been drawn to the notion that the highest forms of art are those which touch the deepest chords of spiritual practice by aiding the process of evolution of the whole system. No objects necessary; Just actions and concepts. Conceptual art has it’s place, but it satisfies an ‘outer’ reality; a reality based on ideas, a reality based on the intellect, the ego. An ‘inner’ reality is of the spirit and is much more difficult to quantify. (This is one of the main reasons Wyeth is misunderstood by the mainstream art critics.) Interestingly, the realist painter who is painting the ‘real’ world, is perhaps more in touch with the inner world than the conceptualist who is addressing issues of the intellect, the outer world. Most days, I waft back and forth between the inner and the outer worlds. I go outside in the mornings and paint a gouache from life. While painting out of doors, I am very much more likely to reach a euphoric state of bliss, as I sit and contemplate realty, as I disappear into the present moment and record it, than if I am indoors and working on a large oil painting. In the afternoons, I am inside, in the studio working on a larger ‘statement’, it is here that I am actually more in my head, dealing with the world of ideas and wondering ‘how’ my painting addresses the larger public. I routinely combine my past experiences with concerns over current events, both public and private, filtering these through symbols and archetypes intending to make the images decipherable through the universal visual language in the hope of the future acceptance of the painting as an object. Continually, losing myself and finding myself. Disappearing and re-appearing. I find my ‘inner’ purpose by going out into the world, and I find my ‘outer’ purpose by going into the studio. We are all involved in the process of discovering and revealing our inner and outer worlds. Our interior lives and our external lives.

My hope is, that with our heads and our hearts we move beyond partisanship and can all continue the process of awakening, of living with a sense of presence. In these troubling times, if we can live not in fear of the future, of terrorism spreading (because of our wrong-headed actions), or of global warming, or of love fading, or of finances waning, or of our stature shifting, if we can instead, live with a sense of ‘being-ness’, “doing” what we do, but staying present in the moment so that each action is about being in the doing. Then we may have a shot at not missing the moment. The ever-present Now. Which is Heaven and which beckons.

“Anything can occur. Anything is possible and likely.”

Peace. Bo