Zen Calligraphic Koans: An Evening With Alok Hsu Kwang-Han and Raylene Abbott
This past winter, while spending a few days with Jika Lauren and Walter Melnikow in their Scottsdale, AZ, home, Shinge Roshi arranged to meet with Sedona artists Alok Hsu Kwang-Han and Raylene Abbot, who had contacted her about their upcoming trip to the East Coast.
Alok is a Chinese painter and Zen practitioner who specializes in calligraphic paintings based on such koans as “Joshu’s MU” and “Hyakujo and the Fox.” Raylene, also a painter, combines dance and storytelling with her brushwork, and does Zen Art and Tea ceremonies.
“We were very impressed not only by their creativity, but by their sensitive, intuitive presence,” Shinge Roshi said. “Learning that they would be presenting a workshop, ‘Zen Calligraphy: the Creativity of Non-doing,’ and showing their paintings at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, this June, I invited them to come to Hoen-ji. They enthusiastically agreed, and will spend several days with us, during which their work will be on display.”
On Tuesday June 25, beginning at 7 p.m., Alok will give a talk on “Zen Calligraphuic Koans” and share stories about how his calligraphic responses to koans emerge from “wuwei,” non-doing—Rinzai’s “buji.” Raylene will offer a dance piece based on a koan that Shinge Roshi gave her.
During the second half of the evening, Alok will create a Zen calligraphic energy portrait of Shinge Roshi, surrounded by the Hoen-ji Sangha, for her 70th birthday (Oct. 2). “We will look at it together and see what it reveals about her being in our midst,” Alok said. The painting will then be sent to Shanghai, mounted on a Chinese silk scroll, and will be ready to be presented to her as a birthday gift from the Sangha in October.
The Sedona filmmaker Jerry Hartleben, who worked as a director and cinematographer in Hollywood for some 30 years, and his wife, Shaeri Richards, are creating a film of Alok’s life and art. They will be shooting at Omega Institute, and have arranged to film the Hoen-ji evening event, as well as a few moments of that morning’s zazen gathering, which will be attended by Alok and Raylene. To see some raw footage of Hartleben’s at an art retreat Alok was teaching on May 13, play the following video:
“I find them to be very respectful, not at all intrusive, and of course they would get permission to film Sangha members, and would not include those who do not want to be in the film,” Alok said.