Catch a ‘Zen Wave’ at exhibit at Cardiff-by-the Sea Library
The start of the Chinese New Year was Feb. 1, and 2022 is the Year of the Water Tiger, said to be a year of changes and a good time for bold undertakings, cultivating your inner wisdom and striving to create harmonious relationships. So it was a perfect time for Rosemary KimBal, a specialist in Asian calligraphy, to bring in a showing of 12 of her contemporary Zen paintings, which emphasize bold brushstrokes, harmony, the acknowledgment of inner wisdom, and a present-day approach to an art form whose history goes back 3,000 years.
This is the first time KimBal has exhibited at the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, in the town where she was born 82 years ago.
“My first six years were lived in a house on the Cardiff beach, built by my paternal grandmother for my parents in 1938, a year after they married,” said the artist, who still lives in her hometown, across the street from the more elaborate family home subsequently designed by her mother, an unschooled but gifted architect. The book KimBal wrote about her, “Dorothea Patricia Smith: The First Ninety Years,” is a fascinating mix of family and Cardiff history available in the library.
For almost 50 years now, KimBal’s artworks have been shown in many places beyond Cardiff, including Taipei and Barcelona. Her journey into Zen painting began in 1971 at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Northern California and continued with a brush-painting class in San Diego that evolved into a Chinese Brush Painting Society, where KimBal eventually became one of the teachers.
The gift of a giant brush from a student and a subsequent meeting with Kazuaki Tanahashi, known as the Master of the Giant Brush, led her into enthusiastic experimentation with larger pieces. In 1995, she created two grand-scale paintings for Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, which are still on view in the lobby there. And in 1999, she was invited to the Ronin Gallery in New York City to represent Zen Painting in America, alongside two renowned artists from Japan.
In all her paintings, KimBal tries to express a sense of energy and serenity with the fewest possible brushstrokes. At her home studio, she described and demonstrated the meditative process that precedes the creation of every piece.
“Each part of the process is an art form in itself,” she said. “Grinding the ink, preparing the brush, opening the rice paper. You take your time, then you take a breath, make your brushstroke, and let the stroke reveal the subject of the painting.”
Her exhibition, sponsored by Friends of the Cardiff Library and curated by Susan Hays, will continue through April 29, with a public reception planned for March 4 from 2-4 p.m., including music by cellist Francisco Vila. But right now, you can view the Zen Paintings during library hours, currently Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For the latest information, contact Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, 2081 Newcastle Avenue, (760) 753-4027. For more about Rosemary KimBal, go to www.dancingbrush.com.
Sign up for the Encinitas Advocate newsletter
Top stories from Encinitas every Friday for free.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Encinitas Advocate.