Saturday, April 25, 2020

Extraneous, Vital: In Between the Main Abstract/Surreal Streams of My Work, These Odd Segways:

Here are presented duality within a duality:  First I compare my Nepsis Foundation art, 1973-2019 with my NEW WORLD works 2013 ff. Then, within the first catagory 1973-2019, I compare more mainstream Abstract Expressionist/Surrealist work with a stream of in-between, segway pieces situated between the 20th Century styles.

Some say these 'in-between,' 'segway' works are my best contribution- See bottom of the page:

 Entrance to Frost Studio- April, 2020- Sprung Rhythms

165. [94],
”Who Told You You Were Naked?”             
165A. Genius Mundi Appears

These seven 'Landscape' 
/nature images- and the human nude above- are examples of the mainstream of my work consistent with the schools of Art History wherein I was trained as a visual artist:




the main series/families of my paintings and sculptures characterized by the Abstract Expressionist/Surreal methods of my training as an artist,
I also made a stream of sprung-rhythm paintings and sculptures as below.

Some say these 'in-between,' 'segway' works are my most unique and best contribution.

Some of these works were generated by my exposure to academic and religious institutions and traditions.  Others, just my own eccentric interests.





Let's begin with the first odd surprise of idea and image.


Nightscape 1.jpgNightscape 2.jpgMISALANEOUS- MID 1970'S
Theotokos, after 8 months with Trappist monks in Utah, 1977.


The Spell 1988




c. 2010

c. 2005 Alexander at Siwa

c. 1977

  c. 1988  



'Followers of the Sun,' Plains Indians.  
On America's Central Plains a flood of snow and sun.  Torn canvas- ...even the rifts that reveal another world become encrusted with traditions, economies. 

c. 2017

c. 2018

c. 1973- 2017


The comments of three critics prompted the considerations of this blog. :  

Melinda Wortz- Director, Art Gallery, University of California, Irvine 1977, 

Robert Hartman- Art Professor,  University of California, Berkeley. 1995- official review of my art submission as a required appendix/catalog for Ph.D. Dissertation.

Rev. Fr. John Monastero.  Diocese of Orange, California.  2020- His recent comments about my art and religion presentations started this NEW WORLD consideration!

While it is my opinion that the composition of the Nepsis Foundation site is my biggest artistic accomplishment- That design is meant to be so justifiably byzantine in its complexity as to challenge even the most mentally hardy in post-graduate research.

It is also meant to be as simple for anyone as a table of contents any part of which might adequately occupy an interested party.  I used such simple constructs of style as 'tables of contents,' archival systems of data organization (libraries, museums, gospels...)  and the basic vocabularies of grammar, literary style, and aesthetic creativity to carry my explorations of the experience of reality in both this world and the 'other,' to compose this work.

Here, marked by a health pandemic of global proportions and economic crash of 2020, I notice that I have begun a new age, era, epoch in my art.  This began with the following works made while I was living in the rectory of a Catholic Church in Dana Point, California.

While that shy beginning commenced in 2013, I was occupied with two other aesthetic projects:  One started in 2006 when I procured a house in Oklahoma City in order, among other reasons, to have the space to sort through all my art that I had been creating and hauling around with me as I survived my first 40 adult years in various modern systems of human regulation.  That is, as an artist/poet there was little interest in my comings and goings among the mercantile/military powers that dominate modern human organization.  

(Church and Academic influences are excellent, moderating, even salvific in this tale.  But that is a tale best told elsewhere.)

The second project of recent memory is the realization that my art falls into two categories.  

includes the realization that the Old World- my art from 1960 to 2013, heavily influenced by ecclesial and academic institutions- is finished.


Thursday, March 29, 2012





On The Road (Holy Lander) NARRATIVES-
NOTES and Captions


-5000 pages, 300 art works, ... 100 poems-
As the FALL SERIES blog reflects upon a methodology for the Art from these Nepsis projects- as a necessary function of religious consciousness, not decoration or propaganda-

Here, essential elements of religious consciousness from the 

are distilled.


Before we start, this links to the 
that speculates about aesthetic/religious theory proposed in the NEPSIS FOUNDATION that this current presentation distills and introduces.

Art Numbers are from the UCB Art Catalog

.   .   .


Nature, mostly landscapes, and the human body/person in terms of more generic 'identity' patterns are the first fascination in my art that continues as an underlying theme for everything that follows...






This little oil pastel, made on the way to Bolivia, summer 1973, marks the transition from student work above to independent agency- traveling the roads of the world and feeling to have accomplished my under graduate goals by becoming a competent poet and artist.  

Then, I landed in a monastery and that opened whole new worlds of meaning and possibility by knowing what our ancestors had accomplished relative to the 'inner world' of the psyche and animating metaphysical exercise.

Before the monastery, but after Bolivia, I made about 100 works of art:
'hard edge and geometric form creates a COUNTERPOINT for amorphous color and space' 





And as I am prepared to shift from a secular altruistic environment to the monastery, this poem:


A day settles down 

cage birds fluff their feathers 
under cover 
one star in sight 
just outside the fading light. 
I have studied my Italian 
eaten my diet dinner  
called the people I should 
written that letter of inquiry 
drawn all I would  
read the same.  
I am waiting 
and writing to disguise the fact that I am waiting 
and writing possibly to terminate the waiting 
and waiting to see if this writing turns into anything. 
(pause, deep breath) 

There is a girl I know, 
who, while I was in South America, 
I would think about at night on those long bus rides. 
Harry was across the aisle with Lucia. 
Luciano had gone off to Brazil 
with that beautiful, red-headed, French, girl's gym teacher. 

I would conjure up images of an unconnected line  
lose my conscious self in the bus like a forgotten sweater 
and wander in the cold-night landscape outside  
where it was almost light, 
pick-up meandering phantoms and hold them between components 
of gray-matter. 

She was an elusive papillion. 
I was tripping over rocks with net in hand. 
She was the only sparkling prod in my lost lobal lumps 
that was able to initiate a welling up from deep electricated  
passages, tripping running fumbling from the tongue, 
unexpectedly to fall on the dinner table, 
the word  
connubial joy, and responsibility 

She was the one who excited me to the point of not being  
boring or bored with the state of males and females 
chasing, checking, tasting one another. 
She works on a help line with people who need it 
She is conversant in French and English. She mimes and acts well 
is generally sympathetic. 

I have fallen off curbs looking at her. 

She is the only one who fits into the above mentioned categories 
and is in love with another man, 
considering me such a very good friend. 

Well, we all need friends.  

And what do I care 
I am waiting to have my resumes received and filed  
and while waiting for the master's program information 
from those possibly green-leaved colleges to arrive 
I'm waiting to make enough money to rent a studio 
and for the Ester Robles Gallery to get over her flu so that I may ask her to look at my drawings. 

It is a serious possibility that I should, while I am  
waiting, forget all this, my family, my friends, and become  
a brother at the monastery. 
Apparently one doesn't need to know Latin anymore, and  
I hear that those Benedictines respect the Arts(!) 

In the mean time I've started another drawing, have plans for a large painting, 

and am in 
air-sucking delight with this year's yellow-gray-black cottonwoods and the almost white- 
yellow of last years wild oats engulfing the southside hill sage and yucca plants. 

I am waiting for spring 
not that winter isn't nice 
I like the cold wind rain, smogless freezing days. 

  Stephen Frost © 1973
 San Francisquito Canyon, California

Following that "FIRST SERIES" are works influenced by monastic values.  Hard edge and geometric forms that embellished the amorphous color and space previously are now exchanged for human and spirit forms to create the counterpoint that is the topic of these early works.

27 28

[31.]  Artificer
Oil on Canvas 5' x 3' 1987
One who creates and recreates... the one who searches between worlds... Such a shaman/artist/priest/poet/(warrior) explored here is a primordial figure(s) whose personality and cultural function attempts mediation of the affairs of this world with the intentions of the divine spirit or non-temporal world. This figure fights the battle for sentient being.


What started in 1970 as a spiritual quest, became 'pilgrimage' as I  explored eastern Christian practices described in such volumes as THE WAY OF THE PILGRIM and the PHILOKALIA.  After several letters between my bishop and myself did not articulate our topics adequately, I wrote a 500 page tome describing my perspectives  about spirituality entitled LETTER TO A BISHOP.  Here is a short but pivotal chapter:

In which:
-The "Grand Affair" of spiritual vocation kicks in.
-The savage, but handsome, young man.
-Pilgrimage to test the effects of pilgrimage.
-Shamanism, Buddhism, Panikkar and the Black Widow are introduced.
-A cocktail party.
-Preparation for India.
-The first Dragon.

...I continued to work on pilgrimage. One such journey, the summer just before entering the seminary, was an event of frightening interest. I had been out for a couple of weeks of, up to that moment, beautiful experiences. I was in the back of a pick-up with several other hitchhikers, one demented. At dusk we were all left at Pescadero Beach south of San Francisco. We all split up. I walked up the beach to find a place to spend the night. Unlike the coast north of San Francisco, this place seemed angry. The waves moody and violent. As I lay on the beach, the water seemed higher than the beach. Threatening. I slept. I dreamed. In the dream, I am on the same beach. It is lit by a sourceless light. Very, very, clear, crystalline light. I am standing at the water's edge with my back to the sea. On the beach a friend of mine is being attacked by some kind of supernatural beast. I go to his defense. I hit the beast with a yew-wood club (which I did actually have in my pack). I wasn't able to hit it with enough force, except to draw its attention to me. As it turned on me I could see that it had the form of a savagely handsome young man. It came for me. I escaped by waking up. As I opened my eyes to the same but now foggy beach scene, suspended before me was a huge mask of the beast. I said, "you cannot hurt me because I am in Jesus Christ." I made an offensive, if immature, gesture towards the monster, turned over and went to sleep.

What was this figure? Some frustrated aspect of my psyche, a wrathful deity ala Tibetan Buddhism? (Which I did not know anything about at the time.) Or something else?

I woke the next morning. Continued my way south. However, I never saw the Yew-wood club again that I had been carving and carrying in my pack. A couple of years later, while on a vacation with a friend, I drove past that beach. There were a lot of surfers parked along the highway there. As we passed, two were dressing next to their car the way surfers do. Because of the traffic we were going slowly. As we passed these two, both looked at me, then dropped their towels and leered, completely naked. It seemed that they both looked just like the savage young man in the dream. I've returned to that place since at night and have done rituals of placation and liberation. That would not be the end of this character in my life.

My first year at the seminary went well enough. Four years of monastic 'interest' had prepared me well for seminary. But by the following summer I was once again ready for pilgrimage. The seminary is an academic, affluent environment. It is a remarkable combination of university and monastery. There is much potential there. But I'm just not an academic and I was still very serious about asceticism. So I sought the purification of the road.

This pilgrimage was specifically an experiment. I was carefully testing the effect of certain ascetic practices. I will not tell the whole of this adventure now, since all its details are included in the "fiction" section later in Part II of this letter. Suffice it to say now in the process of testing these practices and because of an encounter with a beautiful young woman and her baby, I came to an expanded understanding of Eucharist. I came to an understanding of such spiritual largess that it reduced me to tears.

That same evening I walked through a town and out into the countryside. No rides were offered. No food. No where to rest since this part of the country was very wet. Around midnight, I’d had it. "Asceticism is fine, but I feel like shit." [Sic] At that point of giving up, something in me opened, a curtain was pulled back, another world or dimension was revealed. This was for the briefest moment but it was enough. It was enough for me to continue through the night refreshed and re energized!

When I should have been worn out from the trip, tired of pilgrimage, asceticism and suffering, I had an experience of the "other world" that energized me in an amazing way, so that instead of being defeated by fatigue and disappointment, I ascended to a state that carried me buoyantly through the night to a fiery dragon dawn.
That same summer I also made two backpacking trips into the High Sierras in California. 100 miles altogether. It was on this trip that I read for the first time, the infamous Carlos Casteneda. From Casteneda's perspective (Don Juan's apparently), Being is likened to a rapacious black eagle, but there is a way, a path, to escape its otherwise inexorable appetite. [Is God non-being?] To follow that "impeccable" path is the warrior's task and most beneficial to all concerned. Casteneda's explanation of his shamanistic topic tolled in me with such deep resonance that huge inner doors slowly swung open with the invitation for the exploration, activation of sacred mysteries.

Bishop, this opens the whole topic of Shamanism hinted at earlier. You might ask what need a Christian has of such things; spirit animals, sacred plants, rocks and places; rituals and other practices that communicate with the "other-world" through such media. I would like to suggest that God speaks through exactly such agents as these, since they represent how the Creator Spirit has fashioned the world- certainly the human psyche. They are part of the whole religious complex that connects us intimately to the natural structures of the world. That is their significance to me. Our humanistic religion, our culture is often indifferent, even hostile to this intimacy and therefore the spiritual dimension of the non-human world. It is a cruel and ignorant vilification to blithely dismiss this profoundly mystical insight of our ancestors about the structure and function of our psyche in relationship with that of the world, as solely the territory of the black arts where a Christian dare not trespass. I would dare to say that such communication is not only valid but completely appropriate. Why would the Creator not use creation and creatures to communicate the mysteries of the world? Such an understanding is neither against revealed religion, nor science for that matter, if both are really interested in true things. How we use this knowledge seems to me to be the question that should interest us. And that is what I am exploring.

The spirit animal that takes on the greatest power in this story is soon to be introduced, though it will be a while before it reveals its real potency and danger. You, I suspect, will be quite surprised, perhaps horrified, as I was at first, by the significance of this animal in my story.

"At the end of an intensive meditation retreat under Shinzen's direction I was introduced to a famous Zen Master, Sasakai Roshi. During our interview, he asked me a very interesting question. "Who is it that climbs up on the Cross?" I meditated on that for three years. Then I felt the power of this koan and was inspired to ask: Who are we in Christ? Who is Christ in us? What do the Gospels evoke and conjure in the human heart: What spell is cast to fulfill the human capacity? And who casts it?

It was during another such intensive meditation retreat at the Zendo that a terrible, yet excellent process was begun in me. It happened, I believe, around 10:00 p.m. of the second night of the retreat. I was meditating in the traditional Zen style. Into my mind's eye came the image of a black claw sticking itself into my back. An hour later, I started to become very ill. So ill, that I went home. I was sick the next day. On Monday I went to the doctor. He discovered that I had been bitten by a black widow spider. There were five wounds in my back. I still have the scars. Necratized, mortified flesh? One the size of a quarter. Most of my convalescence was a time of heightened clarity. Then I developed blood poisoning, a thin red line creeping around my side, from the wound toward my heart. I had to be rushed to the hospital. I recovered and found out later that the Aztec priests used to use Black Widow venom to alter consciousness since there is a hallucinogenic agent in it. For a couple of years this just seemed to be a another odd episode in my life. But much will come of it as you will see. Venom must be changed to vision.

It was around the time of the black widow encounter that I met Raimon Panikkar. He is a Catholic priest who is also a world famous scholar, author, activist and contemplative. He was professor of Religious Studies at the local University of California, with doctorates in Chemistry, Philosophy and Theology. He became my spiritual director, and guide for the project that developed into my Master's study of Shamanism, Tantra and the Hesychasm. (See Introduction for definitions.) This Master's thesis and later the Ph.D. became an umbrella to allow for a formal, organized study of these topics that I had been exploring on my own for years; for the whole "Nepsis" project. (I had not planned to do a Master's thesis, or the Ph.D., but perhaps the academic discipline is a good counterpoint to these other more amorphic investigations.)

The general topic of my thesis was spiritual "awakening" in the various religious traditions already noted; Tibetan Buddhist Tantra, Byzantine Hesychasm, and Shamanism. Buddhist Tantra because it is a sophisticated mystical integration developing out of the Yogic traditions of India, themselves the systematic and highly developed practice of what has been discovered from the universal phenomena of primordial Shamanism and Animism. The Hesychasm because it accomplishes something similar in the Abrahamic traditions.

To pursue this, I first decided to go to India, at Panikkar's suggestion, to study with Tibetan Buddhists. But what really happened is this.

When I first announced to my friends at home that I was going to India, one young lady present announced that she had to go as well. Whatever resistance might have been mounted against that idea, she prevailed. Her name is Catherine. I was to hitch hike across country from L.A. to New York. We were to meet in New York at the airport and continue together from there. Which we did. That developed into a great, Platonic friendship-- still is.  (See the account about INDIAN WITCHES in Letter to a Bishop, Chapter Six.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before I left for the east, this traumatic event occurred. On a Tuesday of a certain week in the Spring, I went to the doctor to get shots in preparation for India. On Wednesday, I had a bad sinus headache, so I took a lot of sinus medicine. A migraine developed. On Thursday, I woke up with another blazing migraine. I took a large dosage of prescription migraine medicine. I did not know that this prescription had any barbiturate in it. I was able to function at all only because of this drug in spite of the migraine. I was by then a walking pharmacy. Late that afternoon, after some off campus shopping, I returned to the seminary in time for the big social event of the seminary year that happened to be scheduled for that evening. This was the only time when alcohol is allowed for the seminarians on campus. There is a cocktail hour and wine with dinner. I seldom drink. Don’t like it normally. But, I had one beer at the cocktail hour that happily mixed with the medication and 'I was gone.' With dinner our waiter thought it amusing to watch me get drunker and drunker as he kept filling my glass. No one, including myself, was aware of the building level of combined drug, alcohol impact.  After dinner, my class was on clean-up, so some friends and I volunteered to clean up the cocktail area.  I, with some help, cleaned up the beer keg.  Soon there was a full blown party going.  At certain points, I was the center of entertainment, because in this "altered" state, my normally rather pious reputation was expressing itself in a searingly humorous (I'm told.) critique of seminary personalities. Soon after moving the party to a location safer from faculty detection, I passed out. I was semi-conscious as friends took me back to my room, which involved some slap-stick avoidance of seminary faculty. Having safely made it to my room, they put me to bed. But I got up to vomit in the sink. I did not vomit, but instead I hit the center of my forehead hard on the tap. Then I went into what seemed like convulsions. I remember waking up strapped to a bed in the local hospital emergency room. I was told that it took six men to hold me down when they got me to the hospital; they said that I broke the restraints on my wrists that held me to the bed. Those were replaced with heavy leather restraints lined with fleece. The doctor was professionally rude to me when I woke up. Something about the possibility of suicide. I looked over at my friends and said, "Who is this asshole?" Very uncharacteristic.  I was not dismissed from the seminary because my evaluations to that point (and after!) had been so positive and the label on the bottle of the migraine prescription had such a "mild" warning about the possibility of drowsiness if taken with alcohol.  I had been unconscious of any possible problem.

This event secured my direction toward "unconventional" spiritual explorations, since it destroyed my reputation as a mild, mystical, pious son of the Church in favor of something that I came to view as more vigorous- and true. All quite by "accident." It also seemed to release some force--physical strength in me that surprised all of us. The archetype of the hero/warrior is beginning to have a surprising influence in my life. (This includes a puerile egotism as well- an issue of transitory immaturity, not a life commitment to vanity.) Perhaps, this is a necessary aspect of the overall task to be accomplished: Formless energies of youth called up to effect a specific, if yet to be named, intention.

Believe me, Bishop, I do not aspire to be a "New Age Dragon and Crystal" dilettante! But, this experiential identification of the vital life-force in nature would continue to repeat itself with increasing power and effect as we continued to make pilgrimage to such "sacred" locations around the world. 

One such was on our way to India.  We had a lay-over in Rome, so we went to Assisi to pay our respects to the great saint.  To do so we found a meadow in a canyon above the ancient town. There, my companion and I made a vigil over night- a night of sitting and walking meditations.  We’d been fasting, but had water and some cherries we'd bought in a roadside stand as we explored for the place to make our vigil.  It was a moon lit night and sometime after mid-night, a voice in my mind said,
“If you turn around you will see them.”
I turned and only saw the moon-lit meadow.  Then, to the left on the bank of a stream, in a sycamore tree, on a specific branch, one could 'see,' rather sense, a kind of alteration is space.  It was like heat waves rising from a summer pavement on a sunny afternoon.  Unquestionably, it was a ‘presence’ we both witnessed.  We offered it our cherries.

When morning came, we hiked out.  Spent some time in the famous old town and noticed an inordinate number of cast iron dragons around town.  Playfully at first, we identified this 'presence' with the 'psyche of nature' as we identified our experience the night before.  But I am also a catholic priest.  And for us, it is the Holy Spirit that animates the world.  None-the-less, we always talk about the Dragon of Assisi in a completely positive way.

On the morning that we left Assisi, we walked down to the train station on the plain below that mountain town.   Once down, we turned to see the town encircled by a dragon-like, sunrise cloud of roiling dark reds, gold and umber coils.  Though the full account of this experience is told elsewhere, this was our first conscious encounter with what I would come to identify as the

Dragon Lord-- The Holy Spirit, God's Will in Creation.

Greater paranormal events, and hopefully insights about such things, 'out' themselves later in this series of pilgrimages, but this was the 

Given the nature of the Christ as the personification of Truth- I, in my young enthusiasm, didn't see why sexuality should be taboo- rather, a topic to be investigated and understood like any other physical fact of the universe.  This included the powerful issues of Sex Magic and Tantra and the world-views they inhabit.  I didn't see why a sincere priest should not be considered at least as detached as an any other honest therapist, medical doctor, or research personnel. I came to a greater appreciation and discretion about this topic years later in painting #94-  Then, more years later, some greater depth, in painting #158 and its captions. (See below.)

But that is only part of the whole.  It is the whole that I feel called to address- and the redemptive role of the religion, (the Sanga, the Body of Christ, et al), in this.


[94.]  “Who Told You You Were Naked?”


-A New Innocence-

Oil on Canvas 12' x 8' 1996-99

When Adam and Eve are found hiding from God in the Garden of Eden, God replies to Adam’s complaint about being naked with the above query. "Who told you you were naked?" Before the Resurrection and after the creation of Adam and Eve, this question might be the most important moment described in the Bible. How do we lose our innocence, i.e. our natural relationship with the divine spirit… and everything else? This painting in combination with #93, #43, (and #84-88), comment upon the ‘answer’ to the problem of the Fall in Genesis--The Christos, or our christic identity—or as Panikkar would have it, a "New Innocence." The old innocence is lost. It cannot be reclaimed by modernity. But there is the possibility of a "new" state that comes from the influence in the "wisdom traditions" of the past and the altruistic intentions of our own secular age. In relationship to the "New Innocence" is the ancient Church teaching about, Theopoeisis- the Rhythm of God- or the movement of the divine spirit in creation. This refers to an early, predominant teaching, or spiritual method, in the Church concerning how such original innocence is rediscovered in one’s life. To live life according to the Rhythm of God, is to discover one’s true identity, and holiness as the completion of nature.

We must discover a 'New Innocence.' The old innocence is lost, (perhaps repressed with extreme prejudice by the advent of civilization over the past 10,000 years...).  

This painting above is the seventh in a series of nudes at first overtly sexual in the practice of sex magic—the most powerful and dangerous of magics. Working through issues of sexual identity, one comes to a NEW INNOCENCE, with sexuality a discreet mystery—even abstinent, certainly chaste. See also: #s[48, 49. 71, 93, 93c, 158… ] 


Between Worlds
Before an embryo differentiates into male or female, the sex organs look the same. This painting reflects upon the capacity for coitus and the ecstatic drives that propagate species, the foundation of the biosphere.
Also, many Christian icons depict the Holy One issuing from such a vertical ovoid shape- unconsciously perhaps.  Though some might find this image and topic inappropriate for a priest to research, but, why should a serious priest not speculate about something so essential with at least the detachment of, say, a gynecologist.

The Church exercises its privilege in progressing a divine mission. Only humility of the most sincere order will accomplish the Gospel- (much less,  progress the Enlightenment,  and the
 Bill of Rights-  Even that is not yet enough, is it?)

Institutions serve themselves first- however hard altruistic members try for something better- as necessary and even good as some institutions are, there is more, of seminal importance, that cannot be thus contained.
The Spirit flows where it will.  It’s best for us to learn how to swim in that current.



[14.]  Zen Mountain- Oil on Canvas 40" x 30" 1991
The holy mountain: Sumeru, Sinai, Zion, Kailash are precedents. This might be Kundalini yoga, Buddhist or Catholic reference for spiritual ascent. 'Move beyond dark and light forces to the "lamb whose light casts no shadow."' These seven paintings are spiritually 'friendly' to the famous "Elephant or Buffalo Taming Pictures" of Buddhism. The "Taming" pictures depict progress in meditation in the form of taming a wild beast... until the beast disappears. These paintings also contain a "battle" theme as microcosm projects itself into the macrocosm. The "battle" is always a battle of the "self."

See also caption #1 and #6 above and #99...

My understanding about paintings #1-22 takes some of its inspiration from the formal set of Tai Chi wherein the martial artist begins in the "void", Wu Chi, moves through a prescribed sequence of precise movements, then returns to the "void" at the end. Each position and movement engages an 'energy', Chi, generated from "nothingness" or perhaps Spirit, Shin. Intense preparation precedes such distilled image, the famous Zen painting of “Persimmons” for example.


[18.] "There Is No Funeral For There Is No One To Bury," T.S.Eliot, Four Quartets-- 
Oil on Canvas 40" x 30" 1991
Intense preparation precedes such distilled images, the famous Zen painting of persimmons for example.
...These paintings also contain a "battle" theme as microcosm projects itself into the macrocosm. The "battle" is always a battle of the "self." (Conversation with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, 1989.)
Painting #14-22 were painted in 1991, but should be compared stylistically with #1-13 painted from the early 1970's.

[19/20.] Rorate Caeli I & II

Gregorian Hymn, "Rain down your blessing, o ye heavens." Actually, the Latin is more beautifully poetic than my ‘loose translation,’ but this is what I remembered when I painted and titled this painting. Here's a translation from the 1924 Daily Missal (Benedictine Abbey of Saint Andre Press) for this the principal hymn used in Vespers for Advent that goes back to the Sixth Century and is sung in the fourth tone. 'Rorate Caeli' is a response verse to the hymn. Following the hymn, the Versicle is "Rorate Coeli de super, et nubes pluant justum." "Ye heavens, drop down dew from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One." And the responsorial is "Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorum” and "Let the earth open and bud forth the Savior."
 This sensibility that allows nature to play such a productive role in salvation become an important touchstone for much of the Nepsis Foundation's conversation...

See Caption #1, #6 and #14 above and #99 following.


Pasture, fields

We were green incisions

breaking rocky sand after huge, hill slipping rains

Then the blue hills on long stalks, and golden orange sweeping to a climbing sky
sweet horse-breath tough muzzles
long hair, pulling lips and yanking teeth, naked and bareback we rode over cliffs into a peaceful ocean…

Wolf purple and Indians brush the slopes with salt skin sweat enough to lubricate the long soccer run across high school into
College, friends forms shapes

Color that keeps to itself to inspire only in love

Love that leaves and comes back and leaves

So that there is only God but God doesn’t want ‘only God’ or he wouldn’t have made us.


Now try this,
sidle up close so your smell can be known
Come up in green stalks so wild and thick they inspire blood
And pour over geography with the defiance of leaves…
Electric runs
And water courses

Green and diamond
Drops glisten and treasure like grease gravy on mashed
lightning in our subtle hearts.

Ride your bike like hell down this side of the hill now that you’ve given up drinking poison and have a smooth voice that would calm the UN

Charm to wed mist-hung climates and my power to change the weather.


I’m not sorry we never got electric
Weren’t meant to I guess,

I can enjoy the memory much more

When the green oats covered any spare place in southern california, in san francisquito canyon…  Or with you in that filthy valley full of fornicating banks and used car lots spangled in prim wrapped banners of red and white strips—barbers gone wiley.  Wouldn’t have mattered-- could have been in that flooded field with water up half way to the wide empty mouth/you squatting on top of that great drain without anything but a leather and fleece aviator’s jacket atleastyourpectorlswerewarm that night with moon slivers sliding down the trunks of oak trees and walking on water like the Lord!

Hmmm… that wasn’t you, but it could have been.


I can see you all umbered up,
Engorged with ochre
Lethargic and green gold-- a great frog’s eye ripe with eggs in sacks of flem and cool streams
fragrant oxygen fumes and freshness/green grey shiny brown moss on treacherous flagstone flickering pond striders and every curious scarred turtle looking for a good time.

We could have whispered and giggled beneath those stubborn trees while brawny brothers and short but powerfully stacked dad carted rocks for our garden and patios.  I was too young, but I was learning the ways of the weak.  How light glints and scatters across the waters and the mud gleams as it rises to temples and pyramids.

You could have helped but some-body-else stepped in
On those bales of alfalfa and horse blankets with that underage banker…


I guess it doesn’t matter that you loved somebody else, (or a whole string of DNAs),

Though, though, though well, well, well… one of the last was a beautiful boy.   Yes, I know he’s like your son...  But I still wonder about love.  Where are the boundaries?  They’ve over lapped like the tap tap tap of that river pump on the frontier stream ‘tween Ecuador and Peru.  Didn’t matter then, I still sunk down knee deep in the river’s bed until I made love to streams and clouds--jet trails across my stream of conversation and still enthuses a jungle burn.  For  c o r n?   With all its deities?  I still worship… but now I think I prefer friendship.


All I see is those long stalks and feel the sticky sap that seeps and weeps when we picked their great blue bells—much more variegated in its person than the name can tell.  Now it’s a knife of a thousand revelations that I was a lucky kid in our hiding place and willing to pay the wind for its bite and the long walk up those rocky hills to know its love, 

Once I lay on its side writhing that migraine out, so that the old school bus driver got out on his way home and climbed up to take care of me, though I was a quarter mile off the road and up the side of our hill that dad built on—all gone now.  More of what I learned to do as they were brawny and bold with those big flags of stone-- More of light glinting across my ball the eye to my soul and sent now to save or kill.


I could still be had by love… there are bigger definitions—though not better, I suspect.  Rather remember those wild flowers so few and far between--would that I could walk-on, once again, to walk out across an electric grid infini-
mally small in its brane, eternally grand in its largess--  Intimate kimono of embroidered grace, gold and midnight etched across the sky.

And you I still love but now still you’re sober in your corner room with a view (and its noise tolerated for past sins) and capable of memories even now…

So now the choirs still –sing

and rock and roll still guides your soul, inscribed your face

but there’s Something still

that will hold us dear

in its star-encrusted black,

and empty space.

Steve Frost 2.22.’08




P.S.  Stray, but pivotal musings:

-The contents of this blog and any of its references are personal 'speculation' and do not presume to amend the Dogma or Magisterium of the Church.  Rather, these present the intuitions of a sympathetic, spiritual seeker favoring the 'Critical Method' and the 'Really Real.'

-Also consider "Letter to a Bishop, 1987" (see Introduction notes therein for the original letter- An actual, sincere and short document once archived in the Vatican...)-  'As magnificent as the Latin systems of organization might be, they are more prone to corruption by the very virtue of such wide latitude for interpretation provided in a 'Legislation by Ideals.'  The improvements suggested by English Law, the Enlightenment, and the Reformation should not be set aside as some of high influence are doing now in the Church, and elsewhere'--  one of four issues treated in the original letter.

-The patriarchal system of reference, starting with the "Our Father" should still be addressed and eventually changed.  Obviously, the Godhead is not male, only, and the word 'father' is insufficient metaphor.  Jesus broke with his Tradition- to fulfill it, no doubt- but, his followers made adjustments for their own reasons.  Attitudes about marriage, gender and 'authority' generally were as much about property values and control as Love and Truth.  There are now other issues of even greater concern...

-Sacraments:  Art in Sanskrit, Ars, means 'to bridge' opposite realities- the worlds of Matter and Spirit in particular.  Symbolon in ancient Greek, also referenced such a 'bridge.'  (Lt.= Pontiff)  Many early Church leaders were erudite-  These ancient ideas/experiences were co-opted by the Church, then, to fashion its world-view in a system of seven Sacraments-  For better or worse, depends upon one's point of view and knowledge.  Is the 'art world'  up to the task?

-Sexual identity is of central importance in any biosphere.  The heterosexual relationship might well be the norm as regards a biological imperative. But, psychologically, spiritually, socially and ritually,  the figure of the 'Berdasche,' and related identities, also need serious reconsideration- (beyond any current burlesque associations, or 'closeted' Religious)- for the salvation of humankind and thus the world.  Why?  This 'Why' is perhaps the central question of the biological world.  It's beyond self-reference in issues of justice or mercy.  It's even beyond the historical fact that certain members of this universal archetype have proved themselves to be of enormous and salvific importance...  

Given the power and 'naturalness' of heterosexual identity in a biosphere, the options are remarkable.  That one can exchange symbolic roles so totally, male for female, female for male, is evident.  In terms of mystical energy systems in individuals and groups, this capacity is of first order of magnitude.  See MEMO TO A BISHOP, 1995.

Art and Narratives from the Nepsis Foundation 


Whatever might be said about this composition of art and critical narratives-5000 pages, 300 art works, including 100 poems-can only be answered by the impact of the full, multi-disciplinary installation
of its core.  

The Art of the NEPSIS FOUNDATION is strong enough singly, but the metaphysical exercise represented in art, stories, essay abstracts and poems composes a resonance that can be presented as follows:

‘… rather than labyrinth, let’s create an approach to Sanctuary (Place of Shadowless Light/Clear Light Origin), 
ICONOSTASIS-Veil of Epiphany
Kiva (place of evolution, realization, identity and emergence); Crypt descent into an exploration of both right- and left-handed paths- the world!  Then a return to, or discovery of, the Place of the ‘Lamb whose Light casts no Shadow’ or ‘Clear Light Realization’—The Foundation of Return, NEPSIS--but powerfully changed through Peregrination, et al.-


Also consider the 
as well as this concluding painting to the NEPSIS FOUNDATION:


Ecstasis II
Acrylic on Canvas 8' X 5' 2010
...The great Winter Solstice celebrations that used to mark that date were in part fertility celebrations, but as well about warmth and light at the darkest moments of the year. We still celebrate warmth in the darkness. Hope at the coldest moments. 
...The barren or virginal womb is the great symbol in the Scriptures of the impossible Void that is the source of all things-- I.e. God, Godhead, or the ineffable ground of being. 
Life as a celibate is also the opportunity for -the magic of- impossible goodness to erupt from 'barren lives- ('barren' in terms of the biological imperative).' My interest explores and acknowledges the whole body of such observance.

All images and text are copyright 1970-2013, Stephen W. Frost, all rights reserved.

Father Stephen Frost PhD

Chicago Site: 

University of California, Berkeley Site:NEPSIS FOUNDATION


FALL SERIES 2011:  Aesthetic Method in the NEPSIS FOUNDATION