Ok well this Nirvana is actually located at the new renamed Honolulu Museum of Art and is part of the exhibition, A Prayer for the New Birth of Japan. At 3 pm this Friday, Jan 11th 2013, the artist Mayumi Oda will mark the closing of her exhibition with a special ceremony in the Honolulu Museum of Art’s gallery of Buddhist art. Well known Zen Abbot Joan Halifax Roshi of Upaya Zen Center (pictured below with H.H.)and artist Meleanna Meyer will preside over the ceremonies, which will include chanting, but not chairs. I for one intend to be at this standing room only event.
In fact I’m quite excited to be a part of it for a couple of reasons. The first being that a big part of why we shifted our base from the sleepy upcountry idyll of Maui to the big city of Honolulu was to see more art. Especially art that doesn’t include palm tree or tropical fish painted in the kitschy, dayglo style that many of the galleries seem to favor. Colorful and over the sofa ready to hang as it may be, they really don’t do justice to the diversity of art being created here in the Islands. Yes, folks, art with a capital A lives and breathes in Hawaii – especially if you know where to look. I promise to share more of these special spots with you in subsequent posts.
The other being that I have been an admirer of Joan Halifax’s fully engaged style since first meeting her at our mutual friend, poet, Pennywhistle Press Publisher, and impresario, Victor Di Suvero’s home in Teseque, New Mexico oh so many years ago. If you are not familiar with her work, the anthropologist, and author is also Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist monastery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I used to walk up here from my house on Gonzales (Ski Basin) Road. She has worked in the area of death and dying for over thirty years and is Director of the Project on Being with Dying. And for the past twenty-five years, she has been active in environmental work.A Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, her work and practice for more than three decades has focused on engaged Buddhism.
Of recent, Roshi Joan Halifax is a distinguished invited scholar to the Library of Congress and the only woman and buddhist to be on the Advisory Council for the Tony Blair Foundation. She is also Founder and Director of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. She is founder of the Ojai Foundation, was an Honorary Research Fellow at Harvard University, and has taught in many universities, monasteries, and medical centers around the world. Joan’s deep concern and commitment to the environment blends beautifully with the artist’s intentions. Mayumi has been at work for more than a year now, painting her “thoughts and feelings about the difficult situations that we are now facing: the devastation of the earth, violence, and war. (Her) work is intended as a heartfelt letter to a world that has turned down a dangerous path. The Shintö sun goddess Amaterasu that is one of the subjects of this exhibition is a symbol of our continuing life force; and it is (her) hope that we, as the children of Amaterasu, can transform our beloved earth into a land of love and aloha.” For the past 3 weeks the wind here on the island has been fierce, the surf high and rough. So today, as I finish typing this post while listening to a the calm breeze and looking at the picture postcard tropical blue sky, not very different from the one 2 years ago, when the powerful earth quake rocked Japan and put Hawaii on high Tsunami alert, I am reminded again of the power of Beauty and its essential place in the Arts as a medium and means for transformation and healing. I hope to see you there
OM Shanti and Aloha,