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c. Karuna Karam

c. Karuna Karam

Artist Karuna Karam with some of his brilliant meditation and energy paintings
Photo credit: Oli Robbins

Signpost Featured Artist

Flowing from the divine: the paintings of Karuna Karam

—Oli Robbins

Karuna Karam dedicated himself to painting less than twenty years ago, and for the past 46 years he has been devoted to the practice of meditation, which directly inspires and inspirits his art. Growing up in Northern Michigan, Karuna feels a connection to nature, its light and subtleties. Though a handful of his paintings represent Lake Michigan and the harmonious interaction between its water and blanketing sky, Karuna is a self-professed abstract artist, usually painting experiences or emotions that are pre-verbal and nonrepresentational. His work is highly textured and three-dimensional, incorporating sand, powdered clay, mica powder, quartz powder, and a variety of other mediums.

Rather than painting on an upright canvas supported by an easel, Karuna lays his canvases horizontally, and often begins by applying an acrylic base. He’ll then add several thin layers and spread the paint around by spraying water on the canvas. Karuna enjoys using interference paints, which reflect light and assume different colors depending on the viewing angle. The micas and other powders are poured onto the wet paint, then he utilizes brushes, palette knives, and sponges to achieve different textures.

“I’ll often start with one basic color, that’s the foundation. Then I start building. I interact with the painting and let it tell me what it’s doing next. It’s a very organic process, allowing the painting and myself to evolve into something.” He began employing the micas and powders after a destructive house fire in 2010 in which 108 paintings were lost. While rebuilding his material supply post-fire, he discovered an assortment of art-specific minerals and began experimenting with them.

Many of Karuna’s works are “meditation paintings,” growing directly out of a meditation that takes place before painting. Karuna allows whatever “flowed out” of him “to come through” in the resultant work, sometimes swelling forth “right from the divine.” He explains, “Sometimes, both during meditation and afterwards, I receive visual imagery and sometimes it’s very colorful. Sometimes I’ll get vague images and sometimes a clear image. I go to the studio and start working. A lot of times, the image just changes, but that’s part of the joy of painting: allowing that process to happen.”

Although Karuna doesn’t consider every work a “meditation painting,” he does begin each day with meditation, so all of his works are indelibly connected to his practice. Karuna experiences calm and tranquility while painting, and he hopes his works offer a similarly peaceful viewing experience.

Says Karuna, “most of my paintings have a very transcendent quality—beyond the realm of thought, harder to express in words. Sometimes a lot of energy comes up and the energy wants to express itself in different colorations.” His oeuvre offers a bevy of different color schemes. Those dominated by whites are typically meditation paintings. Others—like those saturated in deep reds and earth tones—may have been created on the heels of having spent time surrounded by stunning and powerful natural beauty, like the red rocks of Sedona. One series of paintings, entitled Maya Piercing the Vale of Illusion, includes paintings that don between five and ten coats of paint and possess a more rhythmic energy than his other works. Karuna explains that the many layers of paint correspond to our layered existences. “We have multilayered lives, and sometimes we lose track of what is reality and the essential nature of life.” These works raise the question: “can you see through the veil and into the essential reality?”

Karuna holds six educational degrees: a B.F.A in Painting, a Ph.D. in Education, an Ed.S in Special Education Administration, an M.A. in Special Education, an M.A. in Counseling, a B.A. in Psychology, and a B.A. in Sociology. He taught art to special education students for 24 years (prior to committing himself to his own artistic pursuit) and taught Transcendental Meditation for 25 years. Most of his life was spent in Michigan before moving to Placitas, a decision prompted by his many vacations to New Mexico. Michigan’s water still calls to him, but he enjoys the abundant sunshine and art community proffered by Placitas.

Karuna can be contacted at 505-401-4595 or by email (robertkarunakaram@gmail.com). His paintings are viewable at karunakaram.com and in person at Factory on 5th Art Space in Albuquerque. This month his works are featured at the Placitas Community Library as well; meet the artist during the opening reception on April 8, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Karuna will also be participating in the Placitas Studio Tour on Mother’s Day weekend, May 7 and 8.


Albuquerque Baroque Players

The Albuquerque Baroque Players (Baroque oboe and recorders, viola da gamba, harpsichord) conclude their 2015-2016 “Season of Song” with a concert, featuring soprano Kathryn Mueller, an ABP audience favorite. The program will include vocal works of Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Claudio Monteverdi, and Alessandro Scarlatti; and instrumental works by Jacob van Eyck and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Concerts are on April 16, at 7:30 p.m., at the Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, 4800 Indian School Road NE, and  again on April 17, at 3:00 p.m., at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales. For more information, or to reserve tickets, call 400-9385 or visit  www.albuquerquebaroqueplayers.com.


Guitarist Jason Vieaux

c. Judith Roderick

Quilted fine art, by Judith Roderick

Placitas Artists Series features music and art

The Placitas Artists Series brings back Grammy-winning classical guitarist Jason Vieaux for the eighth concert of the 2015-16 season. The solo guitar performance, which takes place at 3:00 p.m. on April 10, will include works by a wide range of composers from Bach, Giuliani, and Albéniz to Ellington, Jobim, and Metheny.

Described by NPR as “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation,” Vieaux won the 2015 Grammy for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for his latest solo album, Play.

The concert is generously sponsored by Wendy Wilkins, Jay Rodman, and Jadvyga Biskis.

Prior to the concert, at 2:00 p.m., a visual artists reception will feature the art of Dorothy Bunny Bowen, wax resist on silk; Preston Photography, archival prints; Judith Roderick, hand-painted silk fiber art quilts; and Dianna Shomaker, encaustic, oil, and acrylic. Their works, which are for sale, will be on display through April 29.

Bowen says about her work, “Using dyes and wax on cloth, I draw upon the high desert as an inspiration, and am concerned with how this is being altered by climate change.”

Preston Photography is the combined work of Roger Preston and Roxanne Bebee Blatz. Their portfolio includes images captured on film, as well as digital, in color and black and white. All images are printed as giclées with archival ink sets and papers.

Roderick says about her work, “I paint the beauty and diversity of the natural world. I love the brilliance, flow, and spontaneity of silk painting, and the more complex, multi-layered, meditative quality of making art quilts.”

Shomaker says about her work, “I believe a painting should have layers of development, movement, depth, and surprises that cause the viewer to look for the message in the work.”

The concert and visual artist reception take place at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the village of Placitas, located six miles east of I-25 on NM 165 (Exit 242). The facility is completely accessible.

Tickets for the concert will be available at the door one hour before the concert or may be purchased for twenty dollars in advance at The Merc Grocery Store in Homestead Village Shopping Center, Placitas; Under Charlie’s Covers Fine Used Book Store, now located at 160 S. Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo; or online at www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org. Tickets at the door are twenty dollars for general admission and $15 for students with ID. Music students through high school are admitted free with paying adults.

Placitas Artists Series projects are made possible in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information call 867-8080 or visit www.PlacitasArtistsSeries.org.


Placitas Studio Tour pathway

Nineteenth annual Placitas Studio Tour coming Mother’s Day weekend in May

The annual Placitas Studio Tour will return on Mother’s Day Weekend, May 7 and 8, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Forty-nine Placitas artists will open their studios to the public to show fifty-eight artists’ work—an opportunity to view the creative process and the creative environment in which artists work.

A wide range of artistic styles and media will be available for enjoyment and acquisition, including contemporary and traditional painting, glass art, fine craft, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, and photography.

Artists welcome visitors into their studios and share their creative insights, some offering complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages. The Annual Studio Tour is a self-guided activity and an opportunity to explore Placitas.

For more information, visit www.PlacitasStudioTour.com for a map of studio locations and to preview the artwork. Detailed color brochures with maps will be available at all studios. Numbered signs along Highway 165 in Placitas will provide further directions to individual studios.


Karuna Karam, artist at Placitas Library

The Placitas Community Library is pleased to feature Karuna Karam as the artist of the month. His paintings will be on display in the Collin Meeting Room of the Placitas Community Library, from April 2 through April 28, with a reception on April 8, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. He works from his studio in Placitas. You can also see his work at karunakaram.com.

Karam says about his work, “My poetic vision began in childhood on Lake Michigan with a strong love of nature. I have nurtured this love with more than 46 years of meditations, yogic practices, and silence retreats. My art works emanate from this inner journey of discovery and reflect my love of nature and my devotion to meditation. Some of these experiences are subtly reflected on the canvas in faint glimmers. Other works combine inner space and outer place and have a sense of landscape, while remaining abstract… My hope is that the viewer will connect with the meditative state I experience during the process and enjoy a few moments of peace, joy, and bliss.”


Georgia O’Keeffe

“Weekends with O’Keeffe”

—Elaine Sullivan

In 1972, a young poet Carol Merrill sent a letter to Georgia O’Keeffe asking to meet her. This was the beginning of seven years of weekends as librarian, secretary, cook, caregiver, reader, confidante, and personal assistant. During these seven years, 1983-1979, Ms. Merrill kept detailed journals recording the daily life of a genius in her later years.

Carol Merrill is an acclaimed writer, poet, and playwright. She has wonderful stories about a number of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings, and about Abiquiu, Ghost Ranch, and the surrounding areas. Ms. Merrill met many fascinating people during her time with Georgia O’Keeffe, including Allen Ginsberg, Laura Gilpin, and Eliot Porter, and she will share these experiences with lively and interesting antidotes at the Placitas Community Library in April. Join us on April 16, at 2:00 p.m., at the Placitas Community Library, for what promises to be a fun and fascinating afternoon.


Bookmaking workshop at Placitas Library

On April 2, at 2:00 p.m., at Placitas Community Library, there will be a workshop on making small, handcrafted books. Each participant will make a “stab” book with an origami-style folded cover using handmade paper. Glo Cantwell, who has been constructing handmade books for over twenty years, will teach the class. Glo owned the independent bookstore, Cantwell’s Books and Fine Papers. There is a class limit of 15 so register early at 867-3355.


The Magdalena Stock Driveway—a historical presentation

The Corrales Historical Society “Speaker Series” will present “Magdalena Stock Driveway, The Trail to the Rail,” a talk by B.L.M. Archaeologist Brenda Wilkinson on Sunday, April 10, at 2:00 p.m. This talk will be presented at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales, across from Casa San Ysidro. Rich in images, it will explore the history of the Magdalena Stock Driveway, beginning in 1885, and stretching from Magdalena, New Mexico to Springerville, Arizona.

The presentation is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Corrales Historical Society.
 
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