An Incantation to Time’s Disintegration of Memory: The Art of Gwyn Henry


Sudie by Gwyn Henry

I often feature artistists whose work seems to exemplify the perspectives on  art and spirtiual practices that I have developed over the years on this site.  As I have pointed out in previous posts, art practice can often be meditative in nature but it also seems to inevitable bring up “issues” which, if faced fully, can be transformitive.  A good example of this, I think, can be found in the work of Gwyn Henry of Excondido CA.  This post consists of a video, a series of images and a short statement  by Gwyn.  My suggestion is that you watch her short video first and then scroll down to see the still images and her account of how her work has evolved.



 Click on link to see Video by Gwyn Henry:


“An Incantation to Time’s Disintegration of Memory”

                         by Gwyn Henry

When I acquired software that allowed my computer to communicate with an old-school VCR player, I was eager to put my parents’ vintage home movie footage into my film editing application for viewing. The footage was in VHS cassette format, and had been stored for over half a century. Once the frames began to move in front of me, I suddenly became aware of, and shocked by, the way those cherished images of my childhood, were decomposing. They had become a chaos of fragments, like shards from a broken mirror…. a disembodied head here, an arm there, torsos flitting briefly across the sceene. What images were still discernable held striations, static, their colors fading fast, and large sections were already and simply gone.

This disintegration struck me as a profound metaphor for what happens to human memories. In the same way one might discover, years after a loved one dies, calling their face to mind has become strangely impossible; or we have forgotten the ending of one of our life’s important narratives; or have confused one long-ago friend with another…


Watching my childhood flicker and sputter before me, it was as if the most fundamental connections to other humans… my parents, grandparents, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins… were literally, before my eyes, saying good by, breaking up & vanishing. More than a few times I reached to touch the screen, as if to stay them, as if I could hold them in my hand to keep them from leaving.


Yet even as I experienced this human aversion to the way Nature imposes a time limit on the stuff of this world, I must admit to finding Beauty within that disintegration and vanishment. The nascent Images of my life, preserved by this outmoded technology, reveal an eloquence that speaks to many things: the fading of the history of our lives as it exists in memory, the temporary nature of our lives, the physical decay of the tapes themselves, and just as much, the conceptual worlds of technologies that come and go with the quickness of ephemera: Today’s high-cachet iphone is tomorrow’s rubbish.

Immersed in making video art at the time, I created and produced a “video poem” from the home movie footage, presenting the images as art as well as artifact. The video poem was intended to be an abstraction, or embodiment, of the essential qualities of my discovery of the connection between the loss of memory, and the loss of the vintage tapes. An attempt to show the way I experienced it. It is titled, AN INCANTATION TO



A few years later, I revisited the video poem, which resulted in me excising single frames, “stills”, from it (perhaps, unknowingly, another attempt to keep the images from disappearing!). After adding more digital effects, then printing and framing them, to my surprise they became icon-like in their stillness, images frozen for contemplation. Like icons, they offer entry to the world of the subject (my family and my childhood).. a world where discovery and revelation can be found and explored.

I have determined that not only traditional religious icons can lead to revelation. A single human life also encompasses its own world of personal iconic images which, if entered, offers a path to deeper knowledge and understanding of that individual world. Those images can allow us to see and feel even more keenly what we have lived.



Some of the images carry a visual conversation between my inked traces, and the landscape of the image. I found this process to be meditative, and evocative of feelings and impressions that were often beyond words. Each ended with a sense of a completed entirety….something had been brought full circle. –g,

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1) “wow, I felt it as a dissolution of the Self…
thank you for this Steve”  A.


Thanks for that Steve… I don’t often take the time to ponder and reflect regarding where I have been and where I am going as a result of where I have been… Yet, when I do, very much like Gwyn, I am apt to walk through doors which have been closed for years or perhaps doors that I never even stood in front of before – Deep stuff, my man!!! again, thanks for sharing.  S.

I know Gwyn.



Today’s post consists of the last of the segments from my Shuso Hossen Ceremony.  It was lead by Alessandra and William and was a beautiful and fitting closing segment to the Ceremony and my year-long examination of the place of Zen ritual in contemporary society. You can see this segment of the Ceremony at:

You can see other segments of the Ceremony (which took place in March 2016) and a series of talks on Ritual that led up to the Ceremony at the following link:



Over the past few months I have been using my Digital Audio Workstation to put my personal signature on some of my favorite dance tunes.  In one, ” Money (That’s What I Want)”, I used selections from some Trump speeches to create a “Trump Rap” section. Probably because the Republican Convention began today, I remembered this revamped tune and decided it might be interesting to post it on Youtube.  So I quickly downloaded a bunch of photos and videos that I thought might go with the music.

Here at Art and Zen Today, we tend to try to remain bipartisan or at least bi-polar,  so this is not the usual type of video featured here.  However, I just could not help myself and hope that you enjoy it.  Believe me, it’s huge!!  ”Money” is a great dance tune, so if your going to listen to it, you might as well get up and dance as well. To watch the video, click on the link below:


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Beth (Esho) is no stranger to the pages of Art and Zen Today.  Three years ago we published Beth’s article “BETH MOSKAL MILLIGAN ON SUMI-E PAINTING AND ZEN PRACTICES”  where she wrote about her studies with Sumi-e master Takashi Ijichi and Zen practice with Jake Roshi. ( ).  The short talk from the Shuso Hossen , captured in the video below, expands upon this earlier article.  Pay attention to the points that Beth makes in the video; I think they are very consistent with my musical responses to the Shuso Koan as seen in a video posted earlier (

To see Beth’s “Art From the Heart” talk at the Shuso Hossen, please click below:

Scroll Down to see other performances at the Shuso Hossen Ceremony.


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Shuso Hossen Performances by Judy, Sean (Taigu) and Ian


                                                   Bread by Taigu

Today’s post includes another video involving three more of the fantastic contribuitions by members of The Vista Zen Center to my Shuso Hossen Ceremony.  In this video, Judy leads the group in a rousing version of “Enmei Juku Kannon Gyo”.  Next, Sean talks about how his passion for bread-baking has become part of his Zen practice. Then, Ian sings Bob Dylan’s song “It’s all over, baby blue”, which he sees as a song about letting go.  All previous videos from the Shuso Hossen Ceremony can be found on the Art and Zen Today YouTube channel or can be found by using the search options to the right of this page.  Click below to see today’s video:


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Shuso Hossen Ceremony: Eric Kuniholm Reads Short Story “Ziggy”.

Today’s posting is a video of Eric Kuniholm reading a short story called “Ziggy”.  It is a part of a novel that Eric is writing that is about dog detectives.  Eric has been associated with theVistaZenCenterfor 20 years and brings his Zen insights to his writings.  You can see this video  at the link below:


Recent posts on the Art and Zen Today site have involved segments from my Shuso Hossen Ceremony in March of 2016.  The last post was a video of the last of my musical performance during the ceremony. Last I looked, the count of those viewing the video was unusually low. So, if you haven’t already, you may want to view this one as it is really the most straightforward response to the Shuso Koan of all my performances.  (See this video , titled “Art and the Four Vows” at:


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Today’s video captures the last of my musical presentations at the Shuso Hossen in March.  As I see it now, the first three (see previous videos) were really “preambles”; where I amble around aimlessly before getting down to addressing the Koan in a straight forward way.  Below I’ve printed the Shuso Koan which may help you get a better understanding of what I was trying to do in my final rap/singing presentation.

Actually, this was not my final presentation.  As you will see in the video, this rap/song segues into my singing, along with the help of the group, an altered version of Sly Stones “I Want To Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again”.  Shorty after the Ceremony, I crossed paths with blues singer Richard “Stoney” Stone and asked him to do a rendition of that song in my studio.  You can hear this version, along with the visuals that accompanied it the night of the Ceremony, at.(

Today’s video can be viewed by clicking here :


                                                   SHUSO HOSSEN KOAN


A student came to the teacher and said I want to study with you. Fine, you may study with me but, you are an artist and I want to know how you can fulfill your Bodhisattva Vows as a Zen Buddhist while painting at your easel or playing your trumpet.

 Who is your picture freeing? What  delusions are your tunes transforming? What dharma gates are being embodied when you sculpt? How does your art awaken anyone, including yourself??




Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to free them.

 Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to transform them.

 The Dharmas are boundless, I vow to embody them.

 The Buddha Way is unsurpassable, I vow to awaken.

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Lady Gaga, Passion and Creativity

For years I’ve been vaguely aware of  singers Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, but never made an effort to really listen to their music.  Both seemed too “over the top” for my tastes and somehow not worthy of my attention. A year or so ago, I happened upon a concert special featuring Lady Gaga on TV and found myself pulled in, at first,  by the spectacle of it all.  As a result, I came to realize that she could really sing.  More recently I ordered the documentary “Amy” from Netflixs and was equally surprised at the quality of her music.  ( I should mention that everything I am saying here applies to Michael Jackson as well.) 

If you haven’t seen the movie “Amy”, I would suggest that you do so.  It not only provides some insights into her creativity but also explores what I call the “thin line between creativity, spirituality and crazy” (see article “SUN RA, THE ALIEN: THE THIN LINE BETWEEN GENIUS, SPIRITUALITY AND CRAZY” at

Why some artists end up like Amy and others like Lady Gaga is a fascinating question that I don’t think  can be answered fully.  However, my friend and Zen teacher Jake Roshi recently brought my attention to an article that may provide some insight on the matter. The article was written by  David Brooks, a New York Times correspondent and is titled  “Lady Gaga and the Life of Passion”.  The link below leads to a video based on Roshi’s reading and commentary on the article at the Vista Zen Center.






Hello,  Welcome to another edition of Art and Zen Today.  The video below is Segment #3 of my Shuso Hossen Ceremony held in March of 2016 at The Vista Zen Center.  This installment contains an alternative chanting of “The Four Vows” and “Thinkaholic” one of my rap responses to my Shuso Koan.  Below that is a copy of the Program for the Ceremony.



Entrance and Opening Ceremony

    Manoj                    In Trance and Settling


 Manoj                    PRESENTATION  #1 


                         A Roshi named Jake gave me a snake.                     Or was it a stick?  You choose or Pick.”


    Eyal                         “The Primordial Light”

                                    (A Jewish Chassidic Tale)                

    Jo Smith                  Tai Chi Demonstration

    Elenah  (Kyojo)      ”Loving Kindness Chant”



May (I, you, we) be filled with loving Kindness,

May (I, you, we) be well,

May (I, you, we) be filled with loving Kindness,

May (I, you, we) be well,

May (I, you, we)I be peaceful and at ease

May (I, you, we) be whole.

    David (Kaishin)          Poems

Manoj              PRESENTATION #2   Chorus

                                      Males   “Master Bodhidharma,                                            Bodhisattva   Bodhidharma”

                                     Females   “Wu Wu Master                                                                           Bodhidharma”


     Jon  ( Jon )               Poems

     Axel                         ”Four Vows

     Eyal                          “Longing For” (Kabir)

     Video                       Little Kwan Yin

     Judy                          ”Enmei Juku Kannon Gyo”

                                        (Lyrics in the Video)

     Eric (Tetsuei )           Short Story



     Manoj                        PRESENTATION #3

     Ian                              ”It’s all over now, Baby Blue”

     Beth (Esho)               “Art From the Heart”

     Jane (Chandra)         “Gate of Sweet Nectar”

     Sean   (Taigu)            “Practicing the Doughma”

     Eyal                            ”The Guest House” (Rumi)

Manoj                         FINAL PRESENTATION   

                                    Chorus      “I wanna thank you

                                     for letting me            be myself  again”

     Ritual Play

    Alessandra/ William

                     Questions From the Sangha

                     Closing Ceremony



 Thanks to Roshi and all the Sangha members who helped

in making this event a reality.  A special shout-out to

Howard (Kakusho) for coordinating the food  preparation and other “behind the scene” tasks and to my wife, Cherie for

help with the program.




Hi and welcome to another edition of Art and Zen Today.  Today’s post consists of more video from my Shuso Hossen Ceremony.  We start off with Eyal Raz reading Rumi’s “The House Guest.  This is one of three short stories read by Eyal during the Ceremony.  All of them come from a tradition other than Zen but all convey the same depth of wisdom found in the most profound Zen texts.  The texts of the other two stories read by Eyal are printed below.  Following that is the second of my performance raps, which were intended as responses to  the Koan I was given.  It’s called “Master Bodhidharma, Bodhisattva Bodhidharma”.   For more on the Shuso Hossen Ceremony and other topics related to Zen and art use the SEARCH option or click on relevant CATEGORY at the right.

To see Video, click on link below:

The Primordial Light ( A Jewish chassidic tale)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

In the first day - God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

In the fourth day – God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven… to give light upon the earth.

Question : What did happen to the first, primordial light after the light in the firmament of the heaven was created?

Answer : God hid it

Question : For whom did he hide it?

Answer : For the enlightened ones

Question : How can we observe it?

Answer : It is reflected in their daily activities.

Longing for (Kabir)

Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.

Jump into experience while you are alive!

Think… and think… while you are alive.

What you call ‘salvation’ belongs to the time before death.

If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,

do you think ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic just because the body is rotten that is all fantasy.

What is found now is found then.

If you find nothing now, you will simply end up with an apartment in the City ofDeath.

If you make love with the divine now, in the next life you will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is, believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the Guest is being search for, it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the work.

Look at me, and you will see a slave of that in 

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