Rōshi

Roshi 30 X 30 Mixed Media Acrylic

Roshi 30 X 30 Mixed Media Acrylic

The recent abrupt end to the Cubs baseball season made me think of this painting, which is a tribute to my grandfather, Stanley Traczyk. He came to the USA from Poland via Ellis Island in 1910. He was a skilled machinist, and he put his skills to work helping build his adopted country. He was widowed at a very young age, and he lived with my family from the time my parents were married until he passed away when I was 16.

My grandfather was not very chatty, possibly because his English was a bit limited, but we never had any problems communicating. We would spend many summer afternoons quietly playing checkers and watching the Cubs on Chanel 9 (Jack Brickhouse doing the play-by-play, Santo, Kessinger, Beckert and Banks the infield third to first…).

As the game would draw to a close with the Cubs usually behind by several runs, he would try to reassure me in broken English by saying, “Gim not over ’till last batter out” (the game is not over until the last batter is out). After the game, which they would inevitably lose, he would angrily click around the TV dial in search of a cowboy-themed show while, in an angry mumble of broken English he would say, “Cups, e stink!” (Cubs, they stink!). Then, in Polish, “Psia krew! Cholera!!!” (pronounced: sha creff! Holetta!). Meaning roughly, “Dog’s blood! Cholera!” (as in cholera, the disease that causes explosive diarrhea… which, you know, is never a good thing).

We never had any real deep discussions.  It was just something to do. Many years later I came to realize the true value of our time together.

The title of this painting is “Rōshi”. Rōshi is a Japanese honorific title used in Zen Buddhism that literally means “old teacher” or “elder master”.
Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

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Groovy Grazing

"Groovy Grazing":       20 X 30 mixed media acrylic

“Groovy Grazing” Mixed Media/Acrylic 20 X 30

This is a painting of a 1960 Cadillac that was literally “put out to pasture” in an overgrown field east of Urbana many years ago. I would drive past it frequently when patrolling the “56” zone.

Whenever I saw it I would wonder how it came to be there, what adventures were had while cruising in this beast, and about how it went from being an object of envy and desire to being abandoned and alone.

It made me think about time, and how time always reveals the truth of things.

I concluded that the value of this Caddy was never in the flash of its chrome. Its real value was that it facilitated the experiences that took place within it, and because of it, in the places it traveled. I decided that it had value still, rusting away while resting slightly askew in a field of tall grass… teaching me about life.

I call this painting “Groovy Grazing”.

Image and text © 2015 James Golaszewski

Don’t Box Me In

Dont Box Me In 16 X 40

Don’t Box Me In (Mixed Media/Acrylic 16″ X 40″)

As an artist, I have been a lifelong student of the physical world. In order to concoct a believable representation of the physical world, you have to be familiar with the nuances of light and the appearance of things that surround us. You also have to learn the value of composition and balance.

To keep my life in balance, in counterpoint to my study of the physical world, I have also been a lifelong student of spiritual things. Like many, my first exposure to religious learning was in church, and the study of the bible. Then we had the “Pop Psychology Revolution” of the 60’s and 70’s, and books like “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, poems like “Desiderata”, and novels like “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” opened my mind to the possibility of other spiritual paths. This was followed by my exposure in college to eastern religions and meditation.

To my young (adult?) mind, somehow the message seemed more legitimate if it was spoken by a portly shirtless bald prophet sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop, rather than being spoken by a bearded fisherman. Over time, I learned that all of these sources had something to teach me if I was willing to open my mind and heart.

As with any journey, you have to be careful when taking a spiritual journey. There are many ways to get lost. As with a journey in the physical world, when on a spiritual journey you have to stop from time to time to take your bearings. You have to take an honest look at where you have been (what have I learned so far), where you are (an honest assessment of your progress), and where you are going (spiritual goals).
Over the course of my lifetime spiritual journey, I have learned two things.

First, we are not alone. There is an intangible presence in our world, in our everyday lives. This intangible presence goes by many names. One thing is clear, – this presence, by whatever name, is benevolent. It is there to lead us to happiness and enlightenment.

Second, I have learned that if you quiet the chaos of the world and listen closely, you will receive guidance. Whether it is the voice of God, your guardian angel, your own inner voice, Dr. Phil, or from some cosmic source… I do not know. The guidance is easily overlooked until you actually start looking for it, and then the guidance is readily apparent. I have come to call this guidance the “little voice” or “quiet voice”.

The purpose of this essay is to explain why I painted, “Don’t Box Me In”. I wrote it with a great deal of apprehension. Talking about spiritual matters (religion) can expose a minefield of raw nerves and it is very easy to offend or enrage people when the topic is discussed. Clearly, that is not my intention. Over time, I have learned that you have to go with what works for your particular learning style and personality type, and learning about spiritual things is no different. Being suspicious by nature, I tend to distrust things I am told until I am able to verify them for myself. I especially distrust things that are presented as being absolutely true and beyond question. I am especially wary when a “spiritual leader” of any stripe tells me “The Lord” says I should hate. Consequently, I have taken a rather meandering path towards spiritual enlightenment.

I have learned a lot from going to church and studying what is being taught by the mainstream organized religions, but I find that I don’t really “get it” until I spend some time with my thoughts and let the “quiet voice” have a chance to whisper in my ear. For me, I am best able to hear the “quiet voice” when I spend some time outdoors, where all of the blaring voices and sounds of mankind are muted by the beauty and solitude of nature.

In “Don’t Box Me In” I attempted to illustrate my belief that, for those of us on a quest for spiritual enlightenment, from time to time you have to leave the church that man built and spend some time in the church that God built. It is a beautiful church. Lets take care of it.
Image and Text © 2015 Jim Golaszewski