Portrait of an Artist
I know a local man who lives near me. He's very...weatherbeaten, ruddy complexion and is in an overcoat for most of the year. He worked for a guy who sells Stuff, Junk, "Americana", what-have you for the last several years. Recently, the business closed up , leaving him without a job, and I became-I guess concerned would cover it & went to visit him in his house about 1/2 a mile away from mine.
I knew he was down on his luck (I Might imply there are Reasons for this, but it's neither my or indeed your business & really not the point of this post) but I was Unprepared for what I found. If you would like to Visualize this, you need only to recall what a standard High Ranch type house & you're Spot on.There were/are no locked doors, the Garage & back doors are open as is the garage door into the house. I know they haven't been for a long time. There are many items outside, but Almost no items inside. His bed is a mattress on the floor in front of an opening in the house that used to have a Bay window. No Heat, No Hot Water, no Refridgeration, a hole in the floor where the stove used to be. (it's in the Garage)
After talking for a while, he invited me in to see some of his artwork. He has talent, and apparantly an entire family of artists, all of whom have talent! His latest endevour is carefully, but randomly applying small dots & drips of Nail Polish to panes of glass from small size frames, then over & over again, in different colors, creating works that remind me very much of Jasper Johns & Jackson Pollock. his several examples have that kind of Style.
Today, I dropped off a few things he needed & as we were sitting at the entrance to the Garage, a starling flew in behind a crate. "She made her nest behind the door." he said. Sure enough, after hopping onto the door track & watching us for several minutes, she was satisfied that we weren't any danger & put herself into her nest!
I feed the birds outside my house every day & I have yet to have any bird build a nest close enough for me to touch!
The Japanese have a Philosophy behind the Tea Ceremony embodied in 4 Concepts: Wabi, Sabi, Shibui & Fura
D.T. Suzuki says:
Wabi in the narrow sense indicates a life of poverty and avoidance of luxury, remote from falsity and intrigue. Whoever lives according to wabi is content with simple things, has understood the wisdom of rocks and grasshoppers, serenely accepts poverty as an enrichment of the spirit of life.
Sabi has a not dissimilar meaning but refers rather to things and places; it brings to mind a certain 'unpretentious rusticity, an archaic imperfection' which put people and matter into a relationship of loving intimacy. This implies somewhere in the background a solitary, a hermit, actively putting all this into practice.
Shibui literally means astringent, broadly means good taste. It implies sobriety, absence of ostentation, simplicity, impeccable taste.
Fura indicates a way of life prescribed by Zen principles. It is a chaste enjoyment of life...identification of the self with the creative spirit, the spirit of the beauty of nature. Men and women of fura find their friends among flowers and animals, in rocks and water, in showers and the moon.
This man IS Wabi! Perhaps even Sabi! I don't believe he embodies the other two but 2 out of 4 ain't Bad!