Monday, June 17, 2013

Ganesh goes to Chinatown and Anahola


In which we carve a 4’ x 8’ piece of plywood, print Ganesh in Chinatown, then I take Ganesh to Anahola and stay silent for a week.
      The timing for this large Ganesh print was inspired by the beginning of the New Year and the ‘Print Bigger’ event in Honolulu’s Chinatown on the First Friday in March 2013. One of my intentions for the New Year was to do more collaborations. So, I invited Mike Nice, who I knew as a fellow printmaker and yoga practitioner. We carved and printed mostly together while occasionally working alone. It probably took about a month to carve the plate. We made three prints using small rollers and brushes to apply different colored inks to bring out the different details. This process is extremely slow, taking about four hours to ink up the plate and several hours to rub the sub-straight to ensure enough saturation.
the plywood plate
 
3 hand printed Ganeshs
       Ganesh is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles, patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom, the god of transitions and the lord of letters and learning. He personifies the primal sound AUM. It is said that Ganesh resides in the first chakra and thereby holds and supports all the other chakras. Devotion to Ganesh extends beyond India and Hinduism to Jains and Buddhists. His origins go back all the way to the pre Hindu Vedas (source Wikipeda).
On soft bamboo fabric

      These large woodblock prints of Ganesh are part of the ancient tradition in art of combining spiritual practice with creating art that presents or is part of this practice. My first extensive exploration of this tradition was my ‘100 Views of Taiji', 2003, 100 oil paintings of the taiji form inspired by my master’s Grandfather, and continued with the '14 Stations of the Cross' for the Church of the Epiphany in Honolulu. The sun prints also fit into this practice. After several prints and paintings inspired by meditation and yoga, Ganesh is the most recent project in what I like to call, art as spiritual practice or inspirational art. The first describing the process and the latter pointing to the potential viewer.
 
Dieter and Mike with plate/canvas/ ink, ready for the steam roller
       I knew that the available ink for the ‘Print Bigger event was going to be black and the facilities were not conducive for applying several colors of ink. Also, a black Ganesh would just not cut it. We simplified the color scheme, inked the plate at my studio, placed the canvas onto the plate and stapled it down, which prepared us well, so we just needed to let the ‘steamroller’ run over the canvas and plate and give us a print. The event drew a pretty large crowd watching the proceedings and an exhibition followed at the Arts at Marks. Honolulu Star Advertiser, 3/31/13
The crowd on Hotel Street.
      Now, in June, I had the opportunity to cook for another silent yoga and meditation retreat (see the post, sun, sun, sun) in Anahola on Kauai, where my teacher Myra Lewin has started an organic farm and teaches yoga and ayurveda. I quote Mary Lee Wheeler a filmmaker and photographer:
“When the Dalai Lama came to Hawai’i in 1994 he told his (tour guides) the two places he wanted to visit on Kaua’i were Polihale and Anahola,” Mart-Kini2 said, “Because Polihale is the place where souls leave for the next world and Anahola is where souls enter the earth.”
While doing research for the book Marti-Kini learned from her Hawaiian editor, Kumu Ka’e’eonalani, that the original spelling of Anahola was “Anehola” with an “e”.
“Ane’ means ‘the breath of life’,” Marti-Kini pointed out. “’Hola’ means ‘the hour.’ The two words together translate as ‘birth’.”
*Note: It is not confirmed but sources say the Dalai Lama disguised as a monk, returned once again to Polihale, Kaua’i several years prior to 2012, for some special work.

The mountains at Anahola

        Ganesh came with me. The retreat was in a rented house close to the beach. There were 10 of us all together. I cooked all organic ayurvedic food, most of it grown on Myra’s farm. I was the first up at 4:15 AM to get hot water going, tea and breakfast, and then sit down at 5:00 for chanting, pranayama and meditation. Breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 11:00 and dinner at 5:00. 2 hours of asanas, the physical part of yoga that most people know as yoga, breathing sessions and more meditation.
Yoga session under the eyes of Ganesh
Offering digestive ginger appetizer. Notice The Honolulu Printmaker's apron.
 
and a stone Ganesh in the garden.
    I did have time to take a stroll to the beach and go for a swim every day. We went to bed with still some daylight left. This might sound insane for some of you night birds, but it is awesome and lots of sages say that one should be up before sunrise. I have done it for 4 ½ years now and must say that all around as a human being, I have never felt better. I have done the nightlife thing, especially in NY and it is not that attractive to me anymore. If you have read several posts or do know me, than it is clear that my life and this blog is about more than art and music, but primarily about the winding path to self-realization. for me that is the threat of my life and it includes all the pitfalls and detours, and rock'n roll too of course. Here is a video of a rideway down to the beach at Anahola that I walked every day last week, a cool metaphor of the winding path or is it the shining path? You make the call.
A little while ago I started reading the Vedic classic the Bhagavad Gita again. In the preface Eknath Easwaran writes: “When we look at unity through the instruments of the mind, we see diversity; when the mind is transcended, we enter a higher consciousness – in which duality disappears. This does not mean, however, that the phenomenal world is an illusion or unreal. The illusion is the sense of separateness…The world of the senses is real. But it must be known for what it is: unity appearing as multiplicity.”





 





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