Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My personal art collection

i will soon be leaving the apartment where i live and likely leaving Rome completely as well. As i do so i realized i am quite pleased with the art i've accumulated here in this room. It has been an effective source of powerful inspiration and positive influence, so i've decided to share it and some of the meaning behind it with all of you, my dear blog readers:-)

Pantheon painted on terracotta, Italian handicraft

This image of the Pantheon is hand painted on a piece of terracotta. My friends Jenny and Flavio gave these out as gifts to their guests at their wedding a few years ago. It depicts my favorite building in Rome. The Pantheon, i believe, has always been used as a place of religious tolerance and openness. Surely some priests in some periods got in the way of spirituality at times, but it is still one of the most beautiful, important and peaceful buildings i know of and it is wonderfully depicted in this small jewel of Italian art.

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(Unauthorized) poster of Banksy image of protester with flowers
The poster here below is of an image by Banksy, a contemporary artist from Britain. i love the image. This protester is not shown throwing a rock or some other tool of destruction, but some flowers instead. And he's not fahking around, he's really flinging them, David style versus Goliath - an act of apparent civil disobedience which should have no harm. i agree with Time Magazine (who awarded "The Protester" person of the year for 2011) that protesters have served important purposes in recent years, and i think they've still got a lot more work to do. But i don't think breaking stuff often helps anything. And so i love how Banksy modifies our expectation of social change.

Unfortunately, Banksy did not authorize the creation of this poster. He is really good about sharing his images and art with the public but as he writes in his web site, "making your own art or merchandise and passing it off as ‘official’ or authentic Banksy artwork is bad and very wrong." i got had by, and i am sorry, Banksy, if you're out there reading this. But i am not gaining from it financially and in fact i paid a pretty penny for it. So i hope it spreads your message faithfully, and that you don't mind too much.

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Tibetan hand-painted thangka of Buddha

i bought this Tibetan thangka in McCloud Ganj, India, home of the Dalai Lama in exile. It is hand painted and came with the large cloth frame included. i think thangkas are supposed to be/could be used as meditation purposes, though i use it just for decoration. Better detail of the image here below.

Thankga image of Buddha and Tara or Yab-Yum
i have heard this image described in various ways. The Tibetan man who sold it to me said it was of Buddha Shakyamuni with White Tara, who is the embodiment of Compassion, and that their embrace was a symbolic depiction of his enlightenment.

i have also been told that this is Yab-Yum, a mother-father deity for Hindus and that their embrace is a depiction of them putting effort into becoming a mother and a father, and many variations of the two versions.
i don't mind, i like both stories, and think of it as each, depending on the moment.

Poster of Om and Gayatri Mantra
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i found this cloth poster in Rishikesh, India. The big symbol at the middle is "om" (pronounced in meditation as "aum"). It is a symbol of everything, or a symbol of God, which i think of as the same thing.

Beneath that are the Sanskrit words of the Gayatri Mantra, a prayer i was taught at Parmarth Niketan ashram, in Rishikesh, India. My favorite translation of it is from Swami Vivekananda:

"We meditate on the glory 
of that Being who has produced
 this universe; 
may He enlighten our minds."

Hari om!:-)

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Macchu Picchu poster
i bought this little photo of the ruins at Macchu Picchu. i am absolutely fascinated by The Celestine Prophecies and believe that, though a work of fiction, it contains a lot of wisdom, and i think these ruins are connected also to a lot of wisdom. That books plot takes place near these ruins.  i think i should visit them some day. And i'm a believer in Mike Dooley's techniques for visualization, so this hangs next to my bed.

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i found this scroll in the Dalai Lama's temple in McCloud Ganj, India. It contains a quote from the Dalai Lama that suggests we daily remind ourselves, 

Dalai Lama's "A Precious Human Life"

"Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it.I am going to use All of my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others. I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can."
It is one of my favorite prayers.

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Ayahuasca vision art by Maestra Celestina, of the Shipibo tribe of Peru
i got this cloth from Maestra Celestina (hear her sing her ikaro here) during my ayahuasca experience last year. Celestina is a shaman who used to administer at The Temple of the Way of the Light, in Peru, and who (last i heard) was traveling with Traditional Plant Medicine, administering Ayahuasca ceremonies to people in Europe and South America. My experience with her and the other shamans was wonderful, and this cloth brings back fond and helpful memories of my time with them.

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Gopi Krishna decoration from Vrindivan, India
 i found this cloth decoration in Vrindivan, India. It depicts Krishna with Radha, his love, enjoying music, dance and love together. i'm no expert on Hindu theology, but it goes something like this:

Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu of the Hindu trinity, the one that would correspond to Jesus Christ. Here he is a shepherd who spreads joy by the music of his flute and the love in his heart.

The people in Vrindivan believe that Gopi Krishna still comes to make his music and spread his love, literally, physically, still today there in Vrindivan.

i love the image for its peace and romance.

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Patch Adams "Io sono uno smiler" pin ("I am a smiler")
 i bought this pin at a Patch Adams speaking event here in Rome, Italy. i actually got to meet Patch (the real life guy behind the Hollywood movie) at my university in Washington DC. So i was thrilled when i found out he was going to be in Rome. Like the movie suggests, he really travels around the world in the dual role of clown and volunteer doctor, and he really founded The Gesundheit Institute, a non-profit medical group which gives free medical attention to tens of thousands of people. The doctors are volunteers, and neither Patch nor the Institute pay for malpractice insurance or, as i understand it, any other type of insurance.

In his speeches, Patch talks about when he was young he decided to never again have a bad day, and that he hasn't. i feel very inspired by this, and aspire to emulate it, and therefore love this pin which reads, in Italian, "I am a smiler."

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Tibetan national flag, from McCloud Ganj, India
i am a big fan of the Tibetan people, culture and spirituality. If i had to choose just one spiritual teacher (though i am glad i don't), it would be the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. He was the one in charge when China invaded their country in 1950, and he has now long been in exile in India. i have been there to visit his home town twice now, and am planning another trip for this winter.

Though the country of Tibet exists now only as a subject of Chinese rule, i support the memory of that country and the strong good intentions of its people.

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Poster of The Eternal Idol, by Auguste Rodin, from Rodin Museum, Paris

i bought this little poster at the Rodin Museum in Paris. The Rodin sculpture it is made from is perfectly titled, L'Eternelle Idole, or The Eternal Idol. i love the concept, the image, the woman's expression - a perfect bedroom decoration.

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Papyrus painting of Wedjet of Eye of Horus with "PaxRyan" personalization
i had this hand-painted papyrus decoration customized for me in Giza, Egypt. i had bought a full day guided tour with car and driver services as well for $90. Despite having what i thought was too much to do in one day on the itinerary, the tour guide, who didn't REALLY speak English (consistent to European licensed guide standards) insisted that we go to the papyrus shop. i didn't have to buy anything, she promised. 
So eventually i gave in said i would go. Turned out the presentation on how they make papyrus was actually pretty interesting. And the souvenirs were cheap. This one cost me $10. i chose the Eternal Eye, or Eye of Horus (or Wedjet), a symbol widely used in Egyptian art and other traditions that followed it. Horus is a Christ-like figure in ancient Egyptian tradition.

The personalization are the gold and black characters at the bottom. They have supposedly worked out ancient hieroglyphs to correspond to our modern alphabet, so you can have your name or moniker or whatever written on your art. i chose to have them put "PaxRyan" along the bottom of this Wedjet to make it mine.

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This is a photo me and my goddaughter, Livia, taken 
The light of reading ;-)
by her mother Kathy about 5years ago. i love that the reflection of the book page is lighting up the baby's face. Livia's birth changed my perspective on life, and this photo reminds me of the welding together of Kathy and i in friendship.
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Poster of "The Creation of Adam" frame of the Michelangelo's ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel
This poster of Michelangelo's art in the Sistine Chapel, the work of art that has unwittingly helped me earn a large portion of my living as a tour guide during my time living here in Italy. i have always loved this image and all of the spoofs of it as it shows the moment in which God creates man. Now in reality i think the likelihood that man was created by a bearded man in the sky are equally as likely as us having been created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. 

In fact this is precisely why i like this image: Michelangelo has painted the red cape surrounding God in a way that resembles a cross section of the human brain. i have often had clients with medical backgrounds notice the parts of the anatomical brain visible in this image. i imagine that he has subversively used this 16th century fresco in the Vatican to indicate that in fact Man is God, or Man created Man, or the Brain is God, or perhaps even my personal belief: "We are God is everything." The fact that the painting does resemble the human brain is widely accepted and can be read about in more detail here (including anatomical images for comparison), but the interpretation is my own and is subject of my bedroom, not of my tours.

i am also amused by this poster as i bought it from a Chinese shop and you'll notice that, though the key parts are perfect, it has been altered and relieved of its surrounding context that it has in the actual Sistine Chapel. The actual chapel image, for comparison, can be seen here in this photo i took there myself: 

A photo of Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" scene from the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
That actual image of Michelangelo's art is from my tour, not from my bedroom!:-)

Speaking of my bedroom, here is the only work of art here i actually created myself, a photo of the view of my window from the bed, with a reflection of Saint Peter's Dome in Vatican City!

My window reflection, with Saint Peter's dome in Vatican City.

Living here has had its perks (both the apartment and the city), but also i look forward to leaving like a breath of fresh air.
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