Chuushin exhibition July 29 — August 14, 2022

Detail of “Seimei” by John S. Couch. Japanese polymer on canvas, 6'x4'

In my book, The Art of Creative Rebellion, I write about doing something beyond your day job — engaging with a pursuit that is strictly for yourself, not for monetary gain or fame. It’s an uncomfortable place for many of us to be as we feel that any time that is not spent “productively,” that is either in the pursuit of money or given to others (family or friends,) is somehow indulgent. Even selfish. But in reality, we can only experience who we are in these moments of play, when we dance, write, act, paint, draw or go for an aimless walk.

The past two years were difficult for us all. The pandemic took three of our family members, including my father and my mother-in-law. We also lost our two dogs.

It is the impermanence of things that really struck home for me. But the feeling wasn’t existential as much as it was life-affirming. Life is now. The world may appear to be falling apart with the continued pandemic, political strife, looming recession and, in my neck of the woods, the ever-present threat of wildfires consuming everything.

But creative pursuits have allowed me to alchemize suffering of “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” into something, hopefully, beautiful.

I am having an art show, “Chuushin,” at the Topanga Canyon Gallery, July 29th — August 14th. The opening reception is Saturday, July 30th from 4:00pm — 8:00pm PST.

137 S Topanga Canyon Blvd
Topanga, CA 90290

There will be a special musical performance by my good friend, the brilliant Taylor McFerrin.


For this essay, I thought I’d include my artist’s statement (below).


Chuushin is composed of two kanji characters: middle and heart.

In Japanese, chuushin is utilized in a very matter-of-fact way as a descriptor of location. But, for me, the poetry of the characters evolved from the sense of being in the middle of a maelstrom during the pandemic. To my surprise, my palette didn’t darken but actually became an explosion of color — the paintings transformed into talismans against the ever-escalating stresses of climate change, political strife, and COVID-19. But the color black remained as a memento mori of the impermanence of life.

The initial center of the heart theme was designated by the square in the middle of many of the canvases but evolved over time into circles, towards a Taoist flow; of being truly in the moment, which is, ultimately, what reality is.

The Zen concept of ichi go ichi eone time, one meeting — imbued itself into the work. The paintings began to make themselves and I became the conduit for their creation.

The concept of wabi-sabi is also woven into these paintings: the surfaces are distressed, even cracked in areas, and are reflective of these tumultuous times.

And within the vortex, I remembered Dylan Thomas’ admonition:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The alchemy of East meets West. Silence and bombast. Calm and rebellion.

The yin and yang of contemporary life.


Please visit my website to sign up for my blog/newsletter as well as downloading the first chapter from my book, The Art of Creative Rebellion.

If you like what you are reading, please order The Art of Creative Rebellion, in stores. On Audiobook and Kindle.

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Twitter: @titaniumsky





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