This post is the first in a series about our upcoming production, A Teaspoon of Water: Contemplative Arts Salon, offered as part of Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival. Performers include Beth Lorio, Dan Reed Miller, Abbey Pleviak, Kristin Gordon George, Elizabeth Russell, and Damaris Webb. The festival begins January 19, but it’s already provided a rich opportunity to delve more deeply into the question of Contemplative Arts and the powerfully elegant format of Salon. Stay tuned for a few more installments, and get your ticket ahead of time as space is limited!
The basic problem in artistic endeavor is the tendency to split the artist from the audience and then try to send a message from one to the other. — from the Dharma Art Letter, by Chogyam Trungpa
We are accustomed to anonymity as viewers of art. But what is true is that art is more alchemy than isolated gesture. Culture and context, the personal and the collective, are every bit a part of the palette – well out of the hands of the artist herself. With performance most basically, there is a viewer and there is a performer; and they are not separate, but in communication – two minds in the room together, creating ‘the third’. The performance experience at its best is this.
On the other hand, you can probably think of a time or two that you’ve felt a performance would be unchanged regardless of who is there to witness it. Trungpa calls this exhibitionism. Certainly it is at its simplest a presentation; and on a lucky day we the anonymous audience are entertained and perhaps something new occurs to us.
In our exhibitionist world the sense of disconnect is strong, and it forms the ground for social injustice, feelings of isolation, an economy based on extraction rather than regeneration. As we seek the antidote to our collective challenges, the general rule is to connect. In Dharma Art, and in the tradition of Salon, we create the conditions that support a mutual co-arising, where the audience and artist create something that would not exist without each of us. The resulting creation helps us to dissolve the illusion of separation and brings a sense of compassionate presence.
A Teaspoon of Water is offered in the spirit of Salon, where we consider together. It is a creative offering that is enhanced precisely by virtue of the quality of awareness & presence each of us brings. Because you are here, we are this.
Art has the privilege and possibility of bringing us together at a time when we are at risk of normalizing separateness. We gather and consider something together – a song, a dance, the present breathing moment. Together we are changed by the third thing that we create together.
In this way, contemplative art becomes a practice for everyday life. We practice arriving, meeting the moment together, receiving what it brings. We find a restful and alert response to our word that is rooted in generosity & appreciation for things as they are. A Teaspoon of Water helps to build the bridge between practice, performance, and everyday world. Your presence is warmly requested.