The Middle Way

Zen Spot #32 -- Mindfulness, meditation and dozens of worn-out couches inside a true arthouse February 25, 2018 00:05

Sofas and chairs

Every artist’s studio needs a comfortable place to sit that allows one to recline and contemplate the most recent creative actions. A well-worn sofa or an overstuffed armchair, perhaps. Furniture picked from the trash or donated from a doting grandparent can be especially charming. I have an affinity for French Provincial sofas with a plasticky texture or broken sofas discarded from man-caves. Burn marks, dried spilled paint and cushion tears add a character of comfort. 

Given the womb-like nature of most artist’s studios, privacy makes it hard to find and try these gems in their studios. Be assured that, when one is lucky enough to find a comfortable place in an artist’s second home, with a little curiosity and trust, one can begin to understand what makes another human being tick — and how each of us is interdependent  with each other and with humanity.

Portrait of the artist as a young person

It's easy for me to walk the halls of my art school, thirty years after leaving. The school has been boarded up for years, but the energy and life that occupied its hallways and studios are alive and well in my mind’s eye. Talent, opinion, curiosity, competition, anxiety, community, rhetoric and action came together to create a wonderful goo that can never quite be pumiced off. A dozen sofas , each with its own culture and discourse , could be found throughout the building. Never in plain site. Never invisible.

One must be welcomed into a womb.

Another Quaker connection

The mural shown above is painted on the exterior wall of an arthouse on the campus of Haverford College, just outside Philadelphia. The campus is a sublime sanctuary. Both quiet and supremely alive, the Quaker undercurrent is palpable. 


Never explain your artwork

I don’t understand the story being told by the imagery and I’m not going to try to translate the language. Like all great art, it shouldn’t be translated, even by its author. It should be visited. Time should be spent. 

A sofa on the lawn, facing the mural, would be great.

I’m not sure exactly what kind of studio or classrooms are inside the arthouse but, in my mind’s eye, the entire third floor of my art school was living on the other side of the mural — including all of the sofas.

Breaking down a locked door

The sun was warm. A portico protected the mural. Just enough shade was offered that, when I sat on the concrete and leaned against the paint, my eyes were protected and my body began to bronze from the shoulders down.

I closed my eyes, walked through the locked door, found my favorite sofa, sunk deeply and took a cleansing breathe.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit

Invented by DharmaMechanic