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Check Out Nicholas Kirsten Honshin’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicholas Kirsten Honshin.

Hi Nicholas Kirsten. We’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
Born in Seattle, Washington, and have been living in Sedona, Arizona, since 2007. I started painting when I was 7 in my father’s studio. My dad set up a small studio for me next t his. I learned how to handle brushes and paints and the basics of composition and color all before I was 10. I also framed his work. My father’s art library was immense and well-rounded, containing all classical and modern art classifications. I realized that my artwork was liked and admired by my peers. It created a pathway of acceptance and inclusion into the social groups of my childhood and has carried on through my adult life as a child. I would spend my time becoming familiar with all the amazing attributes of the masters and being immersed in the Seattle art scene and the Northwest Mystic School of painters. They were defined by the conscious use of universal symbols that convey the interconnectedness and unity of all life. When I was 10 my father left for Japan on a nine-month grant to study Japanese art and culture. When he returned, he was very different, which changed my worldview to being very Eastern-directed. This was the beginning of my journey into the Eastern way of looking at art, creativity, and nature as an inspirational spiritual forces. At 17, enrolling for classes at the University of Washington, I changed my curriculum from Chemical Engineering to Art, consciously devoted myself to art and the energies of creativity, and began seriously studying philosophy, art, and languages. I traveled for more than a decade often living in isolation and seclusion in the wilderness areas of Washington, California, and New Mexico. I am an autodidact, and my life is a continuous study and practice experience. I started university in 1966. I sold my first two paintings to a professor of literature and philosophy at my first exhibition in the art schools’ hallways at the University of Washington. This crystallized the idea that I could make a living selling my art. 1 image is included here. The other I can describe is that there are no photos. I left the university and immersed myself in painting and the culture of the time. I traveled the west coast and lived in nature. Inspired by the beauty of the natural world, I lived off the grid in the wilderness areas of Washington, California, and New Mexico for many years. During this time I developed a sacred geometry series and infused my work with ancient symbols in a contemporary way.

I sold my artwork to the Marin County and San Francisco social elites and found an off-the-grid refuge in Santa Fe. During this time, I was also a guest speaker at the University of Marin for the Frontiers of Science Fellowship. In 1985 I was awarded an artist’s spiritual name (Gago) for this artwork. The name HONSHIN was bestowed by two Zen Masters who had witnessed my evolution as an artist for 27 years. They observed that I had developed my own individuated style. Honshin translates to “the original mind is the heart.” This name was awarded through mutual agreement between Zen master Ochita Toyomichi of the Zui Zenji Temple in Kamakura, Japan, and master Yamai of the Amidain Temple, Ogi Machi, Sado Island, Japan.

1998 I was a presenter for the King County Arts Commission to the City of Seattle concerning art and community development. In 2001 my Path of Discovery Series won two COVR Visionary Awards for Product of the Year and Best Artisan Product. This same year, Paul Ray, author of the book The Cultural Creatives’ introduced me to Mark Lesser and Brush Dance publishing company. This is where my 22-year-long association with the words and philosophy of Thich Nhat Hanh began – My artwork combined with the words and teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn continues to the present moment. 2007 I moved from Seattle to Sedona through the portal of Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Celebration of Fine Arts and opened Honshin Fine Art Galleries. 2010 to the present day, the Zen Cat calendars my paintings and poetry. My idea. In 2012 the eminent film director Dastan Khalili, most recently known for the award-winning movie The Way produced the movie The Original Mind based on my story and art. I am a symbolist painter and poet; I create jewelry, ceramics, and original lino block prints. Symbolic art tells a story through symbols. I believe that our experience in nature inspires all art. Symbolic art tells a story about our experiences using color, light, and form. My art and poetry reflect my experience with and continual study of Nature and Science as well as the Eastern spiritual philosophies, Buddhism and the perennial philosophies of Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, the ancient Meso-American cultures of the Olmec, Maya, Toltec Anasazi, Hohokam, and Hopi.

“The purpose of my artwork is to demonstrate symbolically through color, light, and form the consciousness of all things, the unity of all life, and the beauty of the universe. My prayer is that my art and poetry will help ease he suffering and pain of our world with a moment of beauty and peace.” ~ Honshin Painter, Poet, Ceramicist, Jeweler, Printer.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Yes, Once I embarked on this path, I did not look back – the smoothness comes from hard work for (57 )years. When you have the joy of doing what your heart chooses, and your heart knows that this choice will bring you back to the oneness again is worth every sacrifice anyone could ever make.

Here’s the road map:

  • From 1979 – 2007 I continuously exhibited my work in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Montana, Hawaii, Nevada, and New York.
  • In 1979 I was the founding director of the Kirsten Gallery. I was the director of 3 galleries representing 60 artists. I was in charge of exhibitions, marketing, and promotions for all artists and curated the shows. I started and curated the largest international marine art show on the west coast and ran it for 35 years, second only to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. I developed a Zen Garden behind the gallery in Seattle. I filed the plans with the city of Seattle, which was written up twice in Sunset magazine and Seattle Home and Garden Magazine. I was awarded a listing for my artwork and the gallery in America’s Gallery and Artists Guide. I created a monument in stone in front of the gallery dedicated to all artists everywhere. I was a member of the Seattle Executives Club and the curator for all the shows at the galleries in Seattle; for two years, I was on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Artist Coalition.
  • In 2007 I moved to Sedona and opened our gallery Honshin Fine Art with two locations in Tlaquepaque.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
The branding of my art is:
~ When it comes to art, trust your heart.
~ You have never seen anything like this before
~ Art of connectivity
~ The Healing Power of art : Art Heals

Contact Info:

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