Sculptor Uribe, explains Santa Rosa memorial

My love of landscape and Asian art was seeded during my childhood in Mexico – growing up in a home filled with Japanese art which my parents had collected while living in Japan in the 1930's. The very first color drawing that I remember doing and signing my name to, was a landscape with Mt. Fuji in the background; I was five years old then, and little has changed about the things that inspire me as an artist – childhood illusions have unfolded into adult realities.

After decades of conflict between a very formal Western art education and an even more formal immersion into traditional Japanese art, I have managed to reconcile the two. These traditions have influenced not only the art I create but my entire life in the most literal sense.

My studies at The Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts in Japan and in particular the work of Onisaburo Deguchi, whose life, body of work, and philosophy, were a great influence, and made a profound impression on me. That encounter awakened in me a need to experience the process of creating my own work in a more spiritual way. Correspondingly, as an artist and human being, my work and I were transformed and acquired characteristics, such as mindfulness, compassion and acceptance – all of which were learned from creating art from such a perspective.

This evolution was not a reductive process at all; the transition from the emotionally graphic and figurative work I was doing before, to the serene spontaneity and seemingly abstraction of a Zen circle or Chinese character hovering above a Sonoma County landscape is only visually drastic. The essence and spirit of creation remain the same. The physical, direct, and passionate components are still present; but in addition, there are also elements of joyous surprise, patience, fullfilment, healing, spirituality, acceptance, humility, simplicity, sharing, unbridled energy, spontaneity, surrender, and the promise that something unseen will make itself present. This invisible expectation turns an ordinary work of art into a prayer. The process is one of growth and understanding – of deeper awareness and harmony. The results are manifest in my work, but more importantly, in my life.

Working within the lure of two very diverse ways of expression and a continuously evolving body of work, I have found joy, harmony and tranquility in bringing these two worlds together in a way that makes sense to me. It is my spiritual practice. The result delights me, and kindles a sense of surprise at how well they fuse together, and how much they reveal about me.

Mario Uribe



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