Wabi Sabi at OHCA

“When we can look upon a
seemingly random work of our own
with interest in what happens to be there
(rather than what we wish to be there),
we will encounter the same fulfillment
as that experienced on an unknown wilderness trail.”

– Ann O’Hanlon


Each June, O’Hanlon Center for the Arts celebrates the
“Wabi Sabi” theme with a juried Gallery exhibit. 

O’Hanlon’s 14th Annual Wabi-Sabi Exhibit will be held from June 1 –22, 2017 in the O’Hanlon Gallery, and will be juried by Abby Wasserman & Elaine James.

Art Submissions will be received in person on Friday May 26, from 11am-4pm, and Saturday May 27, from 11am-1pm. Full Details are posted on our Call for Entries page.

This year’s exhibit is dedicated to Joan Sadler (1921-2017). Joan’s obituary can be viewed here

One of the first in spotlighting this concept locally, OHCA was quick to recognize its particular resonance with the core philosophy the Center, with its emphasis on opening our senses to the natural world around us and of noticing and finding beauty in the simplest and least pretentious of its elements. Over these past years our exploration of this theme and its “thousand facets” has brought an increasing appreciation of its significance not only in our arts but in our lives.

We are grateful indeed to those artists who have participated in past exhibits and to those seekers who have shared our interests here, and we look forward to increasing the involvement and exchange.


An Introduction to Wabi-Sabi

To understand Wabi-Sabi, we have to grasp the concept that beauty is not in the object, but rather in the experience of it, – the mood, the atmosphere, the feeling it evokes, – a feeling that even the Japanese refuse to try to define.  Its scope is not limited to art but becomes an overall approach to life, to the magic of everyday living. In essence, it invites us to quiet contemplation, encouraging us to slow down, look closely and be patient.

Some of the elements involved are:

  • A less-is-more mindset, seeking simplicity, naturalness, restraint, appreciating the inconspicuous and unpretentious.
  • Attention not to what we have made or bought, but to what is there, what has been there all along, perhaps, without our notice. And noticing it!
  • An acceptance to turn away from our culture’s “straitjacket of perfection” (which leaves no room for the imagination) and turn instead to the mystery and uniqueness of the imperfect, the flawed, the incomplete.
  • A respect for the inevitability of change, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a special beauty in the impermanence of all things.


Wabi-Sabi Links

For further information and a broader perspective, the following references are suggested:

Leonard Koren’s books:

Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts

Background on Wabi-Sabi concepts http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm

Comprehensive essay on Wabi-Sabi http://www.hermitary.com/solitude/aesthetics.html

Photography http://www.stillinthestream.com/files/index.htm

FLICKR Wabi-Sabi photo groups www.flickr.com

Haiku http://rrpowell.homestead.com/files/blogger.html

For Writers http://www.stillinthestream.com/files/wabisabiforwriters.htm

Designers http://www.nextmaruni.com/e/concept/concept_3.html

Japanese aesthetics, Wabi-Sabi and the tea ceremony http://www.art.unt.edu/ntieva/artcurr/asian/wabisabi.html

Naomi Kubota Lee’s wabi-sabi art website: NaomiLeeGallery.com


Elaine Nehm