The Kasagi from Hachinohe

It’s taken longer than I planned to finish this post, partially due to sickness, and partially due to the emotional nature of the subject. I wanted to write the post with sensitivity and compassion, so I put it off a bit, got sick, wrote some, waited, wrote some more, and finally edited it. Hopefully I met my goal and you readers can share a moment with me about this amazing story. On the 2nd, my partner took me to the viewing of a pair of kasagi at the Portland Japanese Garden. It was a humbling and somewhat surreal visit to the garden, the bustling sale in the main pavilion and vibrantly healthy koi (a welcome sight after the previous koi were lost in the winter of 2009), juxtaposed with the solemn serenity in the viewing area behind the pavilion. Here, overlooking the city and Mt. Hood were two sea-worn kasagi, the lintel of a torii gate, resting peacefully on top of carefully carved wood blocks with small offerings of rice and salt water beneath them. Nearby was a table covered in pens and origami paper for people to write wishes to be folded into cranes – blessings from Portland toContinue readingThe Kasagi from HachinoheContinue readingThe Kasagi from Hachinohe

Artist Appreciation: Harry Clarke

I’ve been laid out with a cold today, and mostly sleeping rather than creating. As fever dreams are rarely coherent, I thought I would share one of my favorite influential artists, Harry Clarke. I first encountered his work while reading and reading about the story of Faust. This image of Mephistopheles and Faust caught my eye, as it was both intricate and beautiful, and emanated a captivating intensity and air of Art Nouveau with a personal twist. When I looked into the image further, I found that Clarke was a book illustrator and stained-glass artist whose work graced the pages of Hans Christian Anderson, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Perault, and Goethe’s Faust, among others. His intricate work was present in his stained glass windows as well, creating rich and detailed pieces, most of which can still be enjoyed where they were installed after commission. I highly encourage anyone to visit a work of his (if they can) or to view the many examples of his illustrations available online if you cannot find a print. They are enjoyable down to the tiniest of details and gave me a new appreciation of what can be done to make even the simplest ofContinue readingArtist Appreciation: Harry ClarkeContinue readingArtist Appreciation: Harry Clarke

Wabi Sabi, a Philosophy in a Teacup

When I first took a course on chado (the way of tea or Japanese tea ceremony) I was introduced to the concept of wabi-sabi (侘寂), a Japanese aesthetic or world view. The core of wabi-sabi are the concepts of imperfection and impermanence, derived from the Buddhist three marks of existence, but it is harder to describe than experience. It is a very beautiful aesthetic, with a great amount of philosophical and spiritual thought and meaning in physical expressions. I say it’s difficult to describe mostly because it is a uniquely Japanese aesthetic with little homologous to it in American culture. While there are certainly items we appreciate with a wabi-sabi element, we tend to describe them as “rustic”, “reclaimed”, or “natural” and they lack a lot of the deeper meaning (or hold a different one altogether). The philosophy of wabi-sabi, in contrast, carries into a way of looking at the world and experiencing life, or at least contemplating or appreciating it, which I have not found in Western thought (although would welcome knowing about, if it exists). This philosophy has had a profound effect for my appreciation of the world as well as my relationship for the things in it.Continue readingWabi Sabi, a Philosophy in a TeacupContinue readingWabi Sabi, a Philosophy in a Teacup