Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tiananmen Square

In unpacking and sorting out the jumble of papers I discovered this wonderful, most thoughtful commentary that had not been entered and bears no signature. I'm hoping that the writer will let me know so that I can properly credit it to them. Nan

Tiananmen Square
by Jeanne Gehle

As our group left for the Forbidden City, one could not help but reflect on its vast scale and the opulence of the life of the emperor's in contrast to the poverty of the Chinese people under their rule.
As I walked thru the main gate and saw Tiananmen Square for the first time, I was unprepared. It is the existential reflection of the Forbidden City. It's size matches that of the Forbidden City. I was told that by creating Tiananmen Square, Mao attempted to erase the crushing weight of oppression that had held the Chinese masses down.
However, in direct contrast to the Forbidden City; it's endlessness is intermittantly interrupted by the presence of a few, large grey sterile buildings crowned with traditional Chinese motiff roofs.
At one end of the Square is Mao's mausoleum open to the public for viewing. To either side of the Square are civil buildings - the Soviet era "Hall of the People", the National Museum of Chinese History, and the National Museum of the Chinese Revolution.
It was late afternoon and Chinese citizens and tourists were sitting on the Square in a line across one end waiting for the Flag Lowering Ceremony. Four Chinese Military Guards in full press stood at attention on eith side of the Flag. There was an aura of pride eminating from the spectators. What a contrast to my memory of Red Guards, Tanks & Troops storming the Square and the killing of so many Chinese students and bystanders as they protested against Mao for democracy.
Today as I watched, vendors peddaled their wares, tour guides held their flags high leading their groups proudly around the Square, familied picniced, children ran and played and kites flew high as the portrait of MAO looked on.

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.