2 years ago

February 2020 Issue

  • Text
  • Paintings
  • Continued
  • Artists
  • Biltmore
  • Contemporary
  • Awareness
  • Rapid
  • Asheville
  • Arts
  • February
Works of art defining the contemporary age in WNC. Cover: ‘Downtown,’ 24x24, by Mark Bettis


ASK THE ARTIST The Secret of Abstract Art Many define abstract art as having nothing to do with observable realities in the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, or any conceptual aspect of what this life is all about. I agree with that! That definition explains what abstract art is not. The mind views abstract differently. If it’s not one of the above, then what’s left? It is art created by one’s uneducated intuition, gut feeling, some inner voice from your soul. It’s the same kind of method that young child creates from, with no developed ‘consciousness,’ no duality. The child has no judgment, so they are free to create from whatever comes through them. Their actions are pure and innocent, and innately divine. This is what abstract art is! Now that we have learned so much in our lives, has anyone taught us how to unlearn “Romancing The Now #2,” 36x72 acrylic on canvas, by Jonas Gerard BY JONAS GERARD • RIVER ARTS DISTRICT, ASHEVILLE that knowledge? Picasso did it, de Kooning did it, and many other painters have. If somehow, we can get to that point, where we feel comfortable with uncertainty, where we can control the mind and temporarily shut it down, then duality disappears. This is where intuition kicks in — allowing that gut feeling mentioned Jonas Gerard above, which includes having fun and playing. It takes practice to trust that voice, which the child does so perfectly. It is all about allowing the process of making the art, not about the result. Again, the child paints 100% as a process. They are actually in a state of pure bliss and divine ecstasy — really. In The Painting Experience Workshop (, I once took with Stewart Cubley, he stated: 22 |RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | VOL. 23, NO. 6 — FEBRUARY 2020 ‘Joy & Delight #14,’ 24x36 acrylic on wood, by Jonas Gerard “In art, to look within is an act of courage.” “To be present requires letting go of judgment.” “The artist’s task is to be released from the pressure of performance, interpretation, comparison, and judgment.” “True painting is very simple yet, at the same time, radical. By nature, it’s unpredictable, because we don’t plan our destination ahead of time.” “Allowing whatever needs to happen to happen, meaningful, and satisfying images emerge. You don’t have to be trained to experience this; it’s your birthright.” ‘Jonas’ continued on page 29

‘Cecil’s’ continued from page 19 CONTINUED elegant subdivisions. In the last 20 years, the Cecils have established Biltmore Lake, The Ramble, Fox Run, and Southwood — and even created an entire spec city in Biltmore Park. They’ve built an amazing 3,100 sumptuous housing units according to their various web sites. Compared to many developments around Asheville that involve clear-cutting huge swaths of forest and jamming together as many identical houses and apartments as Lord Robert Cecil, Winner of the 1938 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the League of Nations possible, the Cecil’s developments are models of verdant variety whose bottom line is gracious living — not profit maximization. Though their houses generally start in the high 0’s and can cost up to .2 million, many of the developments retain almost 50% of the land as green spaces. A Cecil would be the obvious best choice to chair Asheville’s soon-to-be rewritten Uniform Development Ordinance — as well as our Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustment. George V.’s grandson William did just that as chairman of Asheville’s Metropolitan Planning Commission in the late 1960’s, according to Lady on the Hill. And given the apparent fact that the Asheville five-county metro area will continue to have dramatic increases in population, think how pastoral it would be, even with a half-million more people, if the Cecils were made Czars of Zoning for the entire metro. Bill Branyon is one of the founding members of the Western NC weekly, Mountain Xpress. Now a free-lance historian, his books include Asheville NC, Circa 2000 AD. Chapters of this and other books and journalism can be found at, or contact at INFO ‘Walz’ continued from page 21 expand the field of awareness to deliberately include what is NOT about our virtual-self and our distressing situation, thus preserving context and perspective. It teaches us to give full awareness and attention to what is NOT our emotional quagmire, our self-imposed exile from Life. Rather, Buddhism teaches that we must direct attention into the sublime everyday with such presence that the miracle and wonder, the interconnectedness of who and what we are with everything, begins to be increasingly apparent. Here, we re-enter the flow of Life, and the emotions associated with our perceived isolation then fall into the background, realized as either illusory, or now, much more manageable. Very importantly, when a human is in this flow of Life, there is very little of the preoccupation with the ego or virtual-self. Awareness blends like a surfer riding a wave with the present moment. These are the moments of our greatest adaptivity, balance and skill. In a very real sense, the egoself disappears, leaving behind what is a genuine and intelligent human organism that IS the moment in flowing consciousness. There is no isolated “self” struggling with “out there.” There is only the blending of self and the moment, of meeting the challenge. With training in Buddhist meditation we begin to transfer our sense of self from the activity of the mind reacting to the world “out there” into the awareness that witnesses the activity of the mind. We move our sense of who we are from the virtual-self to the authentic-self, a unity with what is happening. Once this state of being as witnessing discerning awareness begins to actualize as our operational self, we increasingly can engage the world in a manner that Buddhism refers to as “mindful,” and we can begin to live more and more in a sane and adaptive manner. We will continue to have negative emotional states, but now rather than being helpless in their grip, we know them for what they are and what they are not. Most importantly, they are not who we are. We know ourselves as awareness, and this awareness is trans-personal. In a very real way we become what Zen refers to as “nobody,” not identified with the virtual-self. And where there is no virtual-self, there is, as Buddha said, no suffering. Yes, there will be pain. Pain is a natural part of Life, but there will not be as much suffering over our experience of physical and emotional pain. Nor will there be this self telling itself over and over of the unfairness of having to endure pain. Pain translated into suffering will not blot out all the beauty and miracle of Life, but rather the painful takes its appropriate place in the dance of everything that is real Life, and we can manage the emotional pain with much greater skill and acceptance. Bill Walz has taught meditation and mindfulness in university and public forums and is a private-practice meditation teacher and guide for individuals in mindfulness, personal growth and consciousness. Information on classes, talks, personal growth and healing instruction, or phone consultations at (828)258-3241, e-mail at healing@ Learn more, see past columns, video and audio programs at VOL. 23, NO. 6 — FEBRUARY 2020 | RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | 23