Monday, April 10, 2017

Change is Constant

To All My Dear Bodhisattvas in Training,

Well, here’s the big news

I’ve decided not to present a Buddha Abides art exhibition this year.

There are many reasons for this decision. And I know many of you will be disappointed… perhaps are already creating something marvelous and don’t know where to you will be able to show it? Or like an acquaintance I met at the Public Market who just loves to attend every year with her husband, “Because it’s fun.”

Please know that for these last 16 years it has truly been a joy to share the love with all you artists and artistic appreciators and Bodhisattvas in training.

Thousands of people have reveled in the happiness of our opening nights, wandered in unexpectedly from the street and been awed, inspired, uplifted, humored… and none of that would have ever happened with out your participation.

For gallery owners, to artists, buyers, event planners (Thomas et moi), graphic designer (Brian), singers (thanks to Mujiba and her goddesses) it was always my goal that everybody wins: From the magical act of creating art out of nothing, to sharing it with others and bringing joy that way, to making a little money, to studying and learning both the transcendent and practical aspects of Buddhist thought, to applying it to our lives in all directions creating a more loving world.

In our little corner of the world called Santa Barbara, this goal was attained. 
For that I am proud, grateful and amazed.

Keep creating. Keep being wise and kind. Keep a sense of humor. In those lagging moments when you feel terribly less than enlightened, ask yourself, “What would the Dalai Lama do?” Giggle, cry, be brave, ask for help, stand up, act up, speak up and never ever, ever give up.

In conclusion, from the sparkly and glowing center of my divine heart to yours, I say “Thank you.”

We all rise together… Always,


P.S. Our boy, Tenzin Lotay has graduated! I’ve included a letter he sent me in December about his next level of education in the field of hospitality.

I still plan to send money to support another Tibetan child refugee through a year of school at the Tibetan Children’s Village.  If you would like to contribute to that, I am happy to include any donation you make in with mine. I will be sending my donation in June.

If you would like to make your own separate substantial charitable donation and receive TCV’s code for tax purposes, just send your check to:

Tibetan Children’s Village  
Dharamsala Cantt.- 176216
Distt. Kangra, H.P INDIA

Attention: Mrs. Tashi Lungrig

Friday, February 26, 2016

Featured Artist on Poster

Inner Garden by HaZel
A beautiful mandala by HaZel will bless the 2016 Buddha Abides poster. About her, in her own words:

“...For me, creating art is a spiritual and meditative practice. Since childhood I have always thought about and pondered the ways of the universe that has no beginning and no end. When creating I feel connected to the cosmic source of all that is.

I have been blessed to be in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Llama. I have been graced to attend a Green Tara purification ceremony conducted by monks from Tibet. These were wonderful, deep and powerful healing experiences. I treasure the hours I spent at the Maitreya heart shrine relic tour. 

Other influences that resonate through my soul and into daily life are from the many years I spent participating in Native America spiritual ceremonies.  I traveled to Kauai for a week long art retreat facilitated by visionary artist, Paul Huessenstamm. These events in my life are all part of the matrix that influences me as an artist.

Beauty Way work is important. The world is full of pain, suffering and sadness. I like to think that if the reality of the world that we are in is the result of group consciousness then by creating beauty I can be part of healing and changing of the world even as I heal myself. Definitely grass roots work.

Creating art along with teaching  the body mind  fitness practices of Nia and Pilates brings me to the integration of Body, Mind, Emotion and Spirit. Finding balance and integration I step through an open door to healing and transformation. 

In the realm of body, creating art is a sensual and visceral  activity.  Each painting or sculpture  is like giving birth to a constantly blooming flower of life.

I find great satisfaction exercising my mind with the analytical process to problem solve, grappling with issues of composition, design and color. 

Mind is also home to the fields of imagination, a place where there are no boundaries. Creating art is a playful and shape shifting environment where I like to hang and where I find peace. I enjoy dabbling and creating illusion.

When focused on my creative projects, I let go of  all distractions, fear and anxiety. My emotions are calm when I find center and balance.

2016 Exhibition. Juror: Jackie Woods

Speaking of little beauties, I am pleased to announce the 16th Annual Buddha Abides contemporary art exhibition. It will open on Thursday, April 7th at La Casa Magazine Gallery on Canon Perdido Street from 5:00 to 8:00pm. In-gathering of art submissions will be the previous Friday, April 1st.  No joke.

(Download the application form under the headline “guidelines” on the sidebar for details.)

Also, it gives me great pleasure to let you know that the former owner and curator of The Frameworks Gallery, where Buddha Abides first presented its show way back in 1999, Jackie Woods, will be the juror of all of the art this year.

I know Jackie to be a person with an enormous heart for art and an extraordinary artist in her own right and in many mediums. Although currently focused on photography, she has an exceptional appreciation of beauty in all its forms.

“… After selling The Frameworks and Caruso/Woods Fine Art in 2002 with my business partner Mick Caruso, I moved to Ojai and maintained a home with my twin sister and family while pursuing photography. In 2009 I was selected for residency to the WAV, Working Artist's Ventura; a state of the art mixed used development for artists with live/work lofts where I continue to pursue photography. My work, both solo and collaborative, is in several museums including The Getty Museum, The Bates Museum of Art and The Santa Barbara Museum of Art.  Presently I am creating the Universe with the raw materials of traditional photography, chemistry and light…”

'Little Beauties’

Every morning, a little stuffy in the dusky dawn, I make myself a cup of tea and then return to bed and look outside my bedroom window at the shabby little garden and rickety, grey fence that mark the back of this dear old house where I live in downtown Santa Barbara. There is a hum of freeway in the distance, crows swoop and caw, and slowly my mind begins to awaken to the day. I await with pleasure the rising of the sun that will illuminate the bushes and trees just on the other side of the fence, making the leaves sparkle green and gold, green and gold. I think of it as my very own little, glittering light show from God. And I am happy.

I have a lot of friends that assure me that if I smoked pot, it would be EVEN BETTER. But I have to admit, that I am completely and totally content with my apparently mediocre happiness.

Once I dated a guy with whom I went hiking up Rattlesnake canyon. At one point I sat on a rock and gazed out at the ocean: an enormous, blue-grey swath of color, with darker, rumpled islands softly crowning its glory away in the distance. I exclaimed, “Isn’t this beautiful?” And he said, “Wait until we get higher up on the trail. It’s even better.” He didn’t even stop to look at what I saw. I found this really strange and sad, because he was missing out on the little beauty, holding out for the BIG beauty up and around the corner. What if there was a rattlesnake hidden around that corner not expecting to be stepped upon? Then my date would’ve missed out on everything as he screamed and screeched in terrified pain!

No, I think I’ll hold out for the unenhanced, little beauties that give me joy along the way.

As John Lennon used to say, “Imagine there’s no heaven…”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Buddha Abides Awards

I am not calling the awards 'Best in Show', ‘Runner up’ and so forth, because as you well know, beauty is so subjective. Of course each of these pieces is well made. The choices comes from asking myself, “Which moves me the most, touches my heart, makes me think, or brings up some kind of bubbling joy from deep within?”

Here they are:
Awakening Buddha award:  $100 goes to: Buddha's Blessing by Marlene Roberts Blossoming
Bodhisattva award: $50 goes to: Center of Any Road by Perry Hoffman
Teardrop of Tara award: $25 goes to: Inner Garden by Hazel

As an entity in its entirety the 2015 show was gloriously uplifting!
With Appreciation,

Buddha's Blessing by Marlene Roberts Blossoming

Center of Any Road by Perry Hoffman

Inner Garden by Hazel

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Buddha Abides - Opening 2015

On First Thursday, so many wonderful Buddhist-themed artworks filled the Casa Gallery, along with hundreds of people enjoying the view, the joyous ambiance, and of course, the mystical music provided by Mujiba and her troupe called BlesSing! The six goddesses wore bright silk saris, glittering floral headdresses and to add magic to the mystery, puffy golden wings.

After I pranced thru the space yelling, “The Goddesses are coming! The Goddesses are coming!” They serenely snaked through the throng, brass, begging-bowls held aloft, inviting anyone and everyone to make a donation. All that was collected ($150.83) goes to the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India. This contribution along with the 25 % from the sale of art will support our little boy, Tenzin Lotay, through yet another school year.

Several pieces have already been sold, so if you were unable to get there last Thursday, be sure to visit soon. The show is only up until June 26th.

I also recommend to those that were at the opening to go back and take the time to really look and allow the beauty and power of the works to sink into your hearts and minds.

Big thanks to Kerry Methner and Mark Whitehurst for hosting this 15th Annual show in their spacious, downtown Casa Gallery; and to Thomas Tarleton, who has been by my side all these years, laughing with me, and holding me up when I’m fumbling and bumbling, trying to figure out what’s next. He also created the beautiful poster!

AND, last but not least, BIG thanks to all the artists who so graciously and generously provided their time, effort, talent, love and skill to create something beautiful, poignant, even irreverent, just to make a point about not taking things too seriously…very Buddhist. Whether they all were accepted or not into the show this year, their art matters and we couldn’t do what we do without them.

I’ll be at the gallery, Saturday the 13th, from 12noon until 5:00pm. So come on by and enjoy the show, say hello, and buy some art, a T-shirt… or just make a donation, all of which I will add to what we send to The Tibetan Children’s Village.

With Infinities of Gratitude,

Lark Batteau Curator

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Buddha Abides 2015 Opening
15th Annual Contemporary Art Exhibition

When:    First Thursday, June 4th at Casa Gallery
Where:   23 E. Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara
Time:     5:00 to 8:00 pm

Celestial BlesSing Singers at 6pm!

What a wonderful opening we are going to have...
Thanks to all the extraordinary artists who submitted their inspiring works just this past Saturday:
Paintings, Drawings, Mixed Media, Original Prints, Sculpture, Ceramics, Photos, & Jewelry...

For many of our artists, the creations they have made were done as meditations, as explorations into the mind of Buddha, as blessings, as offerings to the divine, therefore they are filled with all that love and kindness.

So come to our always uplifting event! Listen and be swept into the stratosphere by the BlesSing singers who blend ancient, powerful chants and mantras with contemporary music; allow the beautiful art to fill your heart and mind; be moved to buy a piece to take home with you so you can benefit from its blessing and share it with friends. Let your generous heart be calm, knowing that 25% of your contribution goes to support a Tibetan child attend school at the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, India.

He says, "Thank you so much for helping my education. You are the great person in this world for me. Without you I would not be able to study in TCV school. I am study good. Love you and hug you. Your son, Tenzin Lotay."



Friday, May 22, 2015

Calling All Buddhas

Photo: "Pali Tipitaka" by Felice Willat 2014

On Saturday, May 30th there will be the IN-GATHERING of art for our 2015 Buddha Abides art exhibition.

Applications can be downloaded right here from the blog.
Fill it out and bring it with you sometime between 9am and 11am to:

Casa Gallery
23 E. Canon Perdido St.
Santa Barbara, CA

Judge selection is from 11am to 1pm
Posting of accepted works or pickup is from 1pm to 3pm

So looking forward to seeing you and your art!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blossoming Bodhisattvas, Buddha Abides 2015

There are times when I just don’t want to do it anymore.
It’s been fourteen years… You know the feeling.
But then I got a letter from my little Tibetan boy:

“…Thank you so much for helping my education. You are the great person in this world for me. Without you I would not be able to study in Tibetan Children’s Village school.
Thank you for many year help me.
Love you and hug you.
Your sponsor boy,
Tenzin Lotay…”

Ahhhhhhhhhhh… my ‘sponsor boy’. Seriously irresistible!

Last July, upon returning from Paris, I sent the TCV school the full 20% of profit from sales = $500 (after rounding it up a bit) which covered all his school expenses for the year. With great thanks to Thomas Tarleton, Bill O’Malley and Art From Scrap for doing such a fantastic job putting on the show!

Of course, none of this would have been at all possible without you magnificent artists participating. It was exciting to see the work when I got home: so varied, powerful, moving and beautiful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your creative minds, expansive hearts and generous spirits!

NOW, once again, after months and months of searching, (imagine me swathed in Bedouin indigo pushing through the windswept desert of venues) I have found a place to host the show: Mark and Karrie of CASA MAGAZINE have opened their hearts and gallery space to us.

Fantastic location! Right downtown on Canon Perdito Street.

AND… because they would rather I handle all the sales and management of the show, they suggested relinquishing their gallery percentage of 30%. After some deliberation, we decided to give the artists 60% (instead of the usual 40%), the charities 25% and 15% to the curator.

Another new thing this year is that there will be three monetary prizes:
The ‘Best in Show’ levels will be as follows:

Awakening Buddha $100

Blossoming Bodhisattva $50

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Buddha Abides Gallery

Photos of the 2014 Buddha Abides exhibit can be viewed by clicking here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It's Time

Well, Buddha is not only abiding but also immanent! In that the 14th annual art show is just around the corner. So, get your gorgeous works down to Art From Scrap Sunday the 22nd! Thomas Tarleton and  Bill O'Malley will be there to receive you. I myself, am still living in Paris, awed by art everyday. Just today wandering around Les Marche aux Puces (Flea Market) was inspiring with many buddhas from around the world, painted, bronzed, happy, fierce, odd...

Also, I  am including here a story I wrote about a month ago that includes a Buddhist perspective I think you'll appreciate:

Paris Stories 7 Mai
Saint Malo & The End of Days

I was surprised when my sculptor friend, Veronique, invited me to visit her at her flat near parc Monceau, a chic neighborhood in the 8th Arrondissement. Happily I took the metro to another unknown part of Paris.

She kept apologizing for the apartment being so full of stuff. But of course I loved it because the stuff was mostly art! Including these great hanging lamps she’d made with just chicken wire and skinny wooden tongue depressors. We babbled away about art and Buddhism while sipping Japanese tea. We even did a little yoga on the confetti rug in the sunshine.

Suddenly she leapt up and exclaimed, “I have to show you something!”
We walked across the street to the musee Cernuchi, where Veronique ran us to an upstairs gallery and said, “Close your eyes.” Taking my hand she led me into a space, then around something. I was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable when she said, “Now, open your eyes”.

Looming before me on a twenty-foot pedestal was this glorious 18th century, fifteen-foot shiny black statue of Amithaba Buddha. Tears of wonder and gratitude percolated up and I stood there in a kind of shock. What I learned so long ago, during the ten years that I focused so thoroughly on the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism, continues to support me through every twist and turn of my life today.  To be shown this great sculpture by my new sculptor friend, to experience the power of an artist’s creation, somehow also assured me that my annual art exposition, Buddha Abides, would take place this year. And hopefully, it too would provide the kind of experience for others that I was just blessed with.

Afterwards, we went for a walk in the park. As we strolled beneath lush trees and beside lawns filled with cavorting children, I told her that I didn’t know if I’d be able to extend my three-month tourist visa, so was doing my best to be a good Buddhist and enjoy every moment to the fullest and not get too attached to my desire to live in Paris for a year.
“However,” I confessed, “there is one dream I must fulfill before leaving: to go to Le Mont Saint Michel off the coast of Brittany.”

She said, “I just happen to be going to Saint Malo this weekend. That’s the town very close to it. I have a car full of friends. But maybe you could take the train out and stay with me at my house?” Wow! At Findhorn we used to call this kind of revelation, ‘Instant manifestation’.

The next morning, Katie, a friend of a friend from The States, who’d said she wanted to get together for coffee weeks and weeks ago called, and said, “Let’s get together next week, when I get back from Saint Malo.” Hmmm…

That afternoon, I got another call.  Danielle, whom I’d written off as never hearing from was apologizing for not getting back to me for so long, and invited me for coffee. We met at the oldest church in Paris, Notre Dame de Pre, and then sat outside at Café Bonaparte sipping coffee and buttered toast (‘un tartine’), chattering away. I said, “Before I leave Paris, I must go to Le Mont Saint Michel. Strangely enough, two people I know are going to Saint Malo this weekend, which is supposedly right near by.”

Danielle said, “ I’m taking the train to Saint Malo on Wednesday. You could come with me and stay in my guest room in my apartment on the seaside.”  Ya’ think???

OK, ‘Divine-Plan-Mobile’, I get it! Sheesh! Knock me on the head already. I’m going!

We left the café, walked to her flat where she ordered our train tickets then and there. Done.

A couple days later, we met at the Montparnasse train station where I hustled along behind her, barely keeping up, as she marched us surprisingly fast in those three-inch boots, to our ‘voiture’ and found our seats.

After a three-hour ride through unremarkable countryside we arrived in an old, windy town, filled with rugged stone houses with lacy turrets.

After being greeted by her yellow lab, a love-hound named Stella with a wiggly butt and an old slipper in her mouth, we went out on the terrace. There before us was an absolutely enormous stretch of beach, lumpy little islands way off in the distance, and a vast, darkening sky. A sliver of silvery light illuminated the horizon to the west. On this stretch of coast, we were facing north, toward Great Britain.

In the morning, Danielle and I hoofed it, AGAIN in those boots, into town where she could go to Mass and the market, and I could catch the bus to Le Mont Saint Michel.

As the Jabba-the-hut-like bus driver regaled us with facts and stories, we rumbled along for an hour through the verdant countryside. Then he said, “Regarde, a gauche, a gauche [Look, to the left to the left]!” There she was, a tiny shadowy pyramid on the horizon.

Centuries ago, thousands of people made pilgrimages, walking for years to reach the mount. It was Jerusalem.  It was terrifyingly far out in the ocean then, too. Many had never seen the likes of a tumultuous, rushing sea. Once the waters receded, they had to run like maniacs across the vast stretch of sand before the tidal bore came roaring back in like “galloping horses”, pushing even the river back upon itself. They prayed desperately as they ran, hoping beyond hope not to get pulled down by the ‘quick-sands of Satan’ that lay hidden all across the way. You can imagine their elation upon reaching their goal. They’d made it.  They were in Jerusalem. They were certainly ‘saved’!

Today there’s a shuttle bus.

Not unlike the Shinto and Buddhist shrines in Japan, the stone stairway up to the cathedral was filled with souvenir and food vendors. But once past all the ‘money-lenders’ it was marvelous to look up at the massive stone monument with its soaring gothic arches. As I climbed up around and around the labyrinthian stairways I occasionally got stuck when they became too narrow and had to double back and try another. After exploring layer upon layer of dark, columned Catholic caverns, it was refreshing to come upon the luscious green cloistered garden filled with purple iris, where I lingered for a long time.

Then I walked out the vast windy terrace, where I looked out on the lunar landscape of sweeping sand as far as the eye could see.

Ok, so much for the scenery.  You get the picture. Now I have to talk about the spiritual aspect of this experience. Here’s why:  I have what Danielle, the almost-a-Catholic-nun calls, “Questionable theology.” Now, not only is she devote, she is also a relentless scholar, a tremendously respected writer and a very educated woman. So, she’s probably right. BUT I’m a Buddhist! And one of the things I know to be true from my non-theistic point of view is that nothing has inherent meaning. We bring, create, and impose meaning to everything. For example, I’m sure she would not well up upon seeing the Buddha statue at the Cernuchi museum. But because of the mindboggling sweetness and wisdom and power of Buddhist teachings and practices that I’ve experienced I brought a whole different paradigm-view to the event.

She, on the other hand, is devoted to the New Testament and all the meaning that book brings to her, especially, the part about The End of Days. She waxes rhapsodic about the coming of the End, and how important it is that I am wearing the medallion from the Cathedral down the block from her where a nun had some apocalyptic vision.  (I bought it at the Ventura flew market for ten dollars.) She was so excited that I wanted to go to Le Mont Saint Michel for the same reason, because he is the leader of all the angles against Satan at The End, which, she is certain, is just around the bend.

Now, I have experienced people worried and excited about The End of Days for decades. And when I read historical fiction (yes, I’m not a scholar) there is always mention of End of Days terrors in people all across Europe, it seems for centuries, dare I say, two thousands years?

What do I glean from all this? Well, one thing is that Christianity is and has always been a very apocalyptic religion. And the orgasmic fervor with which they go on about it is sometimes more frightening than the possibility. My friend David Spangler expresses it perfectly. He calls it “Apocalypse Porn”.

Such a great distraction from the fact that the way our husband brushes his teeth annoys us no end.

So when I was on the terrace and I looked up to see the Neogothic spire with the gilded statue of Saint Michael in full armor, I was really annoyed. What’s with the armor? Aren’t angels immortal? He doesn’t need to wear armor. He’s invincible.

Yes, Duh, I know, it’s metaphor for going into battle and all. But for me, the Buddhist, one of the truly life changing experiences, dare I say epiphanies that I’ve had was a realization that I, I as in the vast-spacious-joyous-everywhere-connected-to-everyone-and-everything I, which isn’t an ‘I’ or a ‘who’ really (All those decades where I was asking the wrong question: Who Am I?) but more of a state of being or ‘true nature’ as they say in Buddhism, (here I am the very embodiment of babble about that which is indefinable) is inviolable.

AND, one the most important Buddhist things that I am dedicated to doing everywhere and always and with everyone is: to dispel fear. Vanquish with disarmament. Ghandi did it. The Dalai Lama does it. I think those guys are pretty damn good role models.

I think Saint Michael’s role is to fill you with so much light and glittering perspective that the darkness of misery, doubt, anger, aggression and division disappears. No battle. No killing of dragons. Just pure, clear illuminating light. The Tibetan word for this is Rigpa.

The truth is, The End of Days is near for all of us all the time, because we are all gunna die eventually. Right? So what can we do? We certainly cannot change that fact. We might be able to delay it by not being an alcoholic, drug addict or Marine. All we can really do in this moment, this present moment, no matter where we are, is look around, take a breath and appreciate the beauty around us and knowing that life is short, from the depths of our beings say, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you."

To quote Walt Whitman’s The Open Road

“…From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women:
You have done such good to me I would do the same to you…”

The End.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Buddha Abides 2014 Is ON!

Well, It’s happening!

Even though I am living in Paris, Buddha Abides 2014 will be opening in Santa Barbara at the Art From Scrap Gallery on June 27th!

It was really important for me to have the continuity of the show, but didn’t know quite how I was going to make it happen. Then one day, Bill O’Malley suggested he run it for me. Wow! Out of the blue. What a gift. What a guy!

He’s spent a lot of time searching for gallery space and after much persistence, conversation and persuasion, Art From Scrap has agreed to host us.

I have been in steady conversation with Bill (who used to have his own gallery), Thomas Tarleton (my long-term Buddha Abides partner), and Jill Cloutier, (who runs Art From Scrap), and they will be co-managing the event.

We are working as fast as we can: Thomas has updated the entry forms and applications forms and I’ve edited them from here. I chose some past artwork to Thomas so he can make the poster.

I know this is pretty darn short notice. Better late than never! But most importantly, I am now hoping that you have some marvelous art you wish to enter into and bless the show with this year?

Intake is June 22nd
Opening reception June 27th
Show will run through Aug 4th

Forms, as always, are downloadable from the blog:

In rapt anticipation!



Monday, April 28, 2014

Buddha Abides 2014

Well, here’s the poop.

Ever since I put up a poster of Jean Paul Belmondo on my bedroom wall when I was sixteen, I’ve fantasized about living in Paris: running around the city of cobbled-stone streets, steep staircases, Art Nouveau buildings and Le Tour Eiffel, speaking French d’argot (slang) fluently, dancing along the Seine, singing in dark cafés, eating baguettes, goat cheese and red wine, waking up in a seriously rumpled bed next to a French man with a beat-up nose…

You know.

So in March, after selling my house in Ventura, multiple garage sales and giveaways, storing what was left of my belongings, selling my car and having a big going away Art party where I performed with my Salsa and Flamenco friends and sang French songs with accordion accompaniment, I flew to Paris.

I have yet to realize all my dreams, but I am determined! And, of course, there are always so many surprises along the way. For example, after months of scrambling to find a place to live, the sister of a friend of a friend of mine in Boston is renting me a room in her ground-floor apartment in the 11th Arrondissment. She moved to Paris from Vietnam when she was just twelve years old, getting out of Saigon just in time. She is a Buddhist, too. If I am still in France in July, we plan to spend a week at Plum Village with Thich Nat Han. Who knew?

So I live with Minh and her two little boys, Raphael and Doryann who call me ‘Meu-lette’ (How the French pronounced Meleth, my actual christened name) and babble away in unintelligible French all the time, sneak into my room at every opportunity, “Je veux regard le Buddha” (There’s a little Buddha statue Minh put on the shelf above my desk) they explain. Ha! I love to sit in the tiny kitchen with them and their Maman, at their tiny children’s table and eat Pho.

Meanwhile, back at the Santa Barbara ranch, what is happening with Buddha Abides 2014?

Well, Bill O’Mally. Thomas Tarleton and I talked before I left and made a plan so that they would put on the show for me this year. Unfortunately, the gallery space in Arlington Plaza is no longer available, and they’ve been unable to find a suitable venue. They are still looking, of course.

As soon as they locate a space and figure out the timing, we do plan to create Buddha Abides 2014. Until then, I hope you carry on creating your beautiful Buddhist creations and cultivate a good heart and clear mind.

I may well be back to put the show on myself, as at this point I only have a tourist visa of three months. I’ll keep you posted.

May my wild and crazy move to realize a dream inspire you to do the same?

We all rise together!

Mille Bisoux,

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Opening 2013

Due a wardrobe malfunction (explosion, actually*) I showed up a few minutes late to find the gallery filled with a happy multitude enjoying the art, the wine and the eerie marvelousness of ‘living statues’ of goddesses here and there about the gallery. Mujiba, the director of the group called BlesSING, had painted her body a bright blue, swathed herself in a purple sari, lay perfectly still, Ananda-like on the table in the middle of the gallery with a sign that read: “Life is but a dream…”

I gave my little speech welcoming all, reminding them that the event is a fund raiser for Santa Barbara Domestic Violence Solutions and the Tibetan Children’s Village in India, to whom we always give 20% of the profits from sales of the art. Last year and this, BlesSING provided ‘singing bowls’ into which everyone was encouraged to put some money, 100% of which was going to our charities. We raised $200 last year and $145 this year. To them we send out a big THANK YOU for their generosity.

One of the things Tibetan Buddhists say, as a means of keeping gratitude in our hearts, and a sense of equanimity amongst all, is that over the eons of our past lives, we have all been each other’s mothers one time or another. So I wished everyone a Happy Mother’s Day, a particularly poignant moment for me as my Mom died on Saint Patrick’s Day just a few months before, so I didn’t have her anymore to send a card to with that wish. She was an elegant lady who loved to dress up. She would have loved the gorgeous goddesses. (Apple did not land far from the tree in those respects!)

There are almost 70 works of American Buddhist art up on the walls now.

If you missed the opening, get yourself to the gallery, enjoy the show, find a piece that you love, buy it and know that it will inspire you for a lifetime, support local artists, and uplift those less fortunate than ourselves… all those who have been our mothers.  Be generous. We all rise together.


*With the best-laid plans, I’d arranged the flowers, food, prayer flags and such at the gallery early in the afternoon, so that I could go to my friend Cynthia’s house with plenty of time to put on the vintage Thai-like outfit that had belonged to my mother. Once dressed, I went out to the car, got in, put my hands on the steering wheel and all hell broke loose: Buttons popped off the back of my top, the wrap around tie undid itself to the point that my entire leg was sticking out the side, and my bra was showing out from under the little crop top… Not good. Ran back into Cynthia’s house and borrowed a dress (I knew her wardrobe intimately from weeks of assisting her find the perfect outfits for all her on-line dates). Where would be without our girlfriends who mother us as needed? Thanks, Cynthia!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bodhissatva in Mantilla

When senseless acts of violence are brought upon innocents, as they were in my hometown of Boston this week, it's understandable that we become so terribly distraught, angry and helpless that we draw ourselves out of this world into some cave of our own making, physical or mental, that protect us from these unbearable feelings.

Yet, as we have been taught by our patient lamas, gurus and yogis, we must be braver than this. We must be brave enough to consciously carry these awful feelings in our hearts, and yes of course, grieve and rail, but ultimately turn them into a compelling compassion, from where we can look out and say, 'What must I do?"

I am not a politician, therapist, social worker or city manager. I cannot make new laws, counsel the disturbed and poor or make new city protocol. I am an artist and a promoter of the arts, believing that the creation of things beautiful or the witnessing of things beautiful can uplift spirits, calm the mind and open the heart in profound ways.

When this happens, we are incapable of wishing harm on others, realizing that we are inexorably linked, because someone else's images somehow tell our story, evidently that others feel the pain we feel, that others feel the happiness we feel. When we share the pain of others, it lessens for them. When we share the happiness of others, it grows and becomes a light that ignites joy in all around.

Just a few short weeks ago I was is Boston, because my mother was dying. My family from all over the world flew in. Fourteen to twenty of us crowded together in her hospital room for three days, telling stories, singing songs, playing instruments, weeping uncontrollable and laughing uproariously over and over and over again as we awaited her time, her last breaths on this earth. A little after ten in the evening, when her last breaths were evident, they were incredibly tender. Then she began to softly exhale with a low tone. One, two, three times and then there was a pause… then another inhale and one more long, low, gentle tone and she was gone.

At the base of her bed I was singing a song I had just recently learned from my 'BlesSing' hospice sisters:

Rest, rest, rest Peacefully rest, rest, rest. 'Til we meet again Bodhisattva 'Til we meet again... Rest.

My Mom was an enormously bright light in this world. I feel so blessed to have had the great luck to be her daughter. I feel so blessed to have been able to be there for her at the end. I feel incredibly awakened to the inexorable fact that our life is truly precious and brief, that we are filled with light and breath and warmth, that at any moment we have such an opportunity to be a blessings to others, and to never deny that we have the power to choose to be just that.

As my Mom's brother, Uncle Woody, used to say,

"Choose Joy."


Monday, April 01, 2013

2013 Buddha Abides

After looking for a gallery venue for three months to no avail, Dave at Santa Barbara Frame Shop and Gallery called me to say it was available again. What a relief! So for the third year we will be right downtown in that marvelous corner of Arlington Court just opposite the Arlington Theater. Once again we will be raising money both for local and international charities: Santa Barbara Domestic Violence Solutions and the Tibetan Children's Village in Dharamsala, India.

Opening date is May 11th. That means that art needs to be submitted the previous Saturday, May 4th. Just download the application with all the details from this blog.

The art I chose for the poster this year is by Penny Arntz. Not only is it beautifully rendered with that Tuscan yellow background, but I just love the crazy image of the Buddha sitting atop a lotus flower atop a double cheese burger.

I was curious as to how she came up with the image. So a few weeks ago we met for lunch in her beautiful, art filled home. Penny said, “… the art I did for previous exhibits were more controlled, polite and decorative. I did a lot of research for this one. Dragged my husband down to McDonalds so could get a really good look at a burger, to find out what is the actual construction of a Big Mac. I asked myself, 'should there be sesame seeds on the bun, does it need to be two patties so that is it high enough? How do I make the cheese look good? What kind of cheese? Should I toast the bun? How do I paint a greasy burger and make it look really greasy?

My husband said, “This doesn’t work with my blood pressure. You are out of your mind.”

But for some reason this creation actually felt mindful. It didn’t seem irreverent. It was somehow transcendent. I even felt it wasn’t just me creating it. It had it’s own life, so much so that I asked myself, “Who did this?”

Who indeed?

After I described a similar experience creating a dance-theater production to a friend. She recited a quote from a poet, ‘What gives rise to the poem, gives way to the poem.’. In my experience the creation of all art has this element of influence beyond one's own mind. How marvelous for us that, as Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”

Penny's piece also reflects perfectly the deepest Buddhist theme that is written on the T-shirt this year, which is, ‘Samsara is Nirvana’.

Think about it.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Buddha Abides 2012 Reviews

Buddha Abides 2012 was a hugh success. The artwork on display was remarkable, diverse and enlightening. The opening events were truly inspiring. Take a moment to read the reviews from Casa Magazine and The Santa Barbara News Press, Scene Magazine and revisit the show. We will soon be posting a gallery of images to accompany the reviews.

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012 Buddha Abides Opening Event

The day after I decided to include Performance Art in the 2012 Buddha Abides art exhibit, not having any idea how that would work out, synchronistically Mujiba sent an e-mail out to all her women friends to see who would be interested in bringing in the divine feminine to bless the planet.

I immediately e-mailed back and said, “I’m in!”

We have been practicing every Monday afternoon for weeks and weeks, learning her brilliant arrangements of all the chants and songs she chose. (The insuppressible Jules and I improvised a few harmonies here and there…) She lead us with a drum on shamanistic journeys to connect with these beings of light, to get a sense of their spirit and how we can manifest that in our voices and costumes, and to find the qualities we want to cultivate. (I got ‘lots of pearls’ for White Tara and Wisdom and Equanimity.)

Several years ago my family had a grand reunion in Northern Spain. We flew into Barcelona and wandered down the Ramblas, witnessing all those “Living Statues”. I saw them outside The Uffizi in Florence, Italy as well later on during that same trip. My sister created some modern style statues with a grant from South Station in Boston, Massachusetts: bronzed people dressed in business clothes with cell phones and violins stood still on top of a large box, while commuters rushed by.

I thought it would be great to have Living Statues of Tara at Buddha Abides.

Mujiba and I merged our visions. Her friend donated the use of spectacular gem colored saris. Evergreen in Ojai made the glorious headdresses that seemed to magically enhance the Taras’ presence. Marvelous women gave of their hearts to make it all happen: Mujiba, Kris, Oceanna, Jules, Stephanie, River, Beverley, Cathy, and Suna.

Then, at the Opening there were all of YOU. Wow! We could barely keep our tears back when everyone (over 200?) starting singing Let It Be with us, then We Have All Been Here Before and finally that great OM that hit us like a great wave of love-joy.

Afterward, the calm and humorous Buddha inspired poetry presented by Santa Barbara's first Poet Laureate, Mr. Barry Spacks, and the sweet and tender Sonia Lindstrom provided the perfect counterpoint to deepen our hearts and hold lightly our excitement.

If you missed the Opening, go view the wonderful art that will be up until June 2nd. It is varied and fabulous. Go buy some. Get a 5 X 5. They are only $75! And remember, 20% of our profits go to our charities Santa Barbara Domestic Violence Solutions and the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India.

Thank you for your participation no matter where or when or how, and for making this truly the best Buddha Abides ever.

I am still slightly off the ground.

With love and appreciation,