I want to show you a short video we shot in our new Amri Studio headquarters in Portland, OR – snippets of a spontaneous evening of art, dance, song, and philanthropy that I created with my staff, my neighbors, and Kathy Kingston, a world-class philanthropic auctioneer.
We were auctioning time to work with us at the studio to create a small piece of art glass. The proceeds went to support p:ear, a Portland nonprofit that uses art, education and recreation to mentor homeless young people, and has a gallery to display their art. Auction attendees were bidding for time in our studio to work with us and create their own piece of art glass.
Stas Afanisiev, a young professional photographer/videographer in the Portland Area, caught some choice fleeting moments of the evening on video.
A confluence of blessings and motivations resulted in this marvelous evening. I wanted to celebrate:
- My happiness at moving to the beautiful community-minded city of Portland.
- My desire to honor my talented new staff and their youthful, receptive, creative, playful spirits.
- My wonderful neighborhood and awesome neighbors here in the Pearl/ABC/Slabtown area of northwest Portland.
- The joy of creation: The giant LCD screens you see in the video happened to be in our studio because we were testing them. They are state-of-the-art, commercial 4K LCD screens that will be used in our first digital Donor Recognition project. This will be installed shortly at Boston Children’s Hospital and has animation featuring charming art by children’s book illustrator and artist Elly McKay from Canada.
On the LCD screens we showed with random movies, including a dazzling abstract art Vimeo film that showed ice cubes melting with cool music in the background – and we thought, someone needs to dance in front of this! One of our collaborative artists, David, and a young new dancer, Amanda Ingleheart of the Northwest Dance Project, did the honors. Then our staff member Zak Austin played guitar and sang his own compositions.
Our studio neighbors at Barefoot Sound, which does zero-distortion speakers for rock stars worldwide, loaned us two top of the line engineered speakers that filled our entire 5,000 sq. ft. studio with glorious sound.
Singer and voice teacher Daniel Buchanan of re:sound:NW, which he founded, sang Hallelujah, and the amazing Kathy Kingston, who does strategic planning and consulting and award-winning philanthropic fundraising auctioneering, donated her talents to auction off some of our time and attention at the studio for two people to come in and make something in art glass. P.S. Kathy just published an acclaimed new book on fundraising,A Higher Bid, an Amazon-bestseller in its category.
The serendipity of having world-class speakers and screens, a world-class auctioneer, our own prize-winning art glass on display, the huge talents of our internal team and so many Portland locals, and the excitement about coming together as a community to have some fun and do some good for p:ear… it reminded me of the image of Indra's Net.
A story from both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions tells of the abode of the great god Indra, king of heaven, where hangs a wondrous vast net, much like a spider's web in intricacy and loveliness. It stretches out indefinitely in all directions. At each node, or crossing point, of the net hangs a single glittering jewel. Since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number.
The polished surface of each gem reflects all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number, just as two mirrors placed opposite each other reflect an image ad infinitum. Each jewel reflected in the one gem also reflects all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is itself infinite.
Each of us is a sparkling jewel in Indra's Net, as is every person around you. Every jewel is connected with all the other jewels in the net; every person is intimately connected with all the other persons in the universe. Each has an independent place within the net and we all reflect and influence each other.
May we all hold this image in mind and remember that we are deeply connected to each other, for good or ill, and have a huge capacity for sharing our creativity and love and hope for infinite possibilities.