What's New

I'm weeks away from the end my last semester of full time teaching at Naropa University. I'm department chair of Visual Arts. I did receive word that my application for full professorship has been approved. I'm a full professor now that I'm on my way out the door. I was interested to see how rigidly my colleagues would adhere to the trend toward inflated academic credentials; it seems anyone with less than a Ph.D. need not apply these days. I have a BFA! I am in fact very much looking forward to spending a lot more time in the studio.

If the opportunity presents itself I would like to continue teaching in some reduced capacity at Naropa, but I have one more big fish to fry in this life: getting a building built at the Mountain Water artists' refuge in southern Colorado. (Visit the website to sign up for news. Do it now, I'll wait till you get back!) We're building the main studio and hosting area this spring and summer; if all goes well we'll be ready to throw open the doors by late fall or early winter. I have other things to report but right this minute they seem like hollow boasting.

I just took down a large exhibition of paintings at Naropa University's Nalanda Gallery in Boulder, Colorado. The show, called Bombers, Books, and Bugs, was close to a retrospective – some of the work goes back fifteen years or more – but it also included work completed in recent weeks. There are some very large pieces that have been out of view for many years. The show was something of a swan song for me as I finish up my twenty-five years of teaching at Naropa. Read more about the show here.

The printed announcement accompanying Robert Spellman's art exhibition at Naropa University.

Well wait a minute. Just arrived in the mail this afternoon: a new edition of Milarepa: Lessons from the Life & Songs of Tibet's Great Yogi by Chögyam Trungpa. I did the Milarepa watercolor image for the occasion of the book's publishing. It's from Shambhala Publications.

Yesterday's News

Maybe last year's news. Looking back over 2017 I realize that I've not kept up with the housekeeping of my website. I'm not making any impulsive promises, but I do intend to get back into it. Part of my 'problem' is a secret passion for music. The development of digital music programs and devices in recent decades opens up so many possibilities and I've been pulled into the endlessly exciting current of it. I'm working on a series of arrangements for the song St. James Infirmary, an old jazz standard. All of this could ruin my life in the finest way! I may even post some of the music for listening here, but not just yet.

But I'm back! I did have a show at the Art + Soul gallery in October; it was a celebration of the gallery's 15th birthday. And I'm just winding up a show at Virginia Tech. So I'll be painting more in the coming months. In December I did another so-called talk back at the Boedecker Theatre in Boulder. It followed a screening of Laurie Anderson's recent film Heart of a Dog, which I recommend highly. I love Laurie Anderson. She is at heart a story teller; this film could have gone on for eight hours and I wouldn't have been bored.

If you haven't visited here in a while, have a look at this new edition of my website. While I've kept the general look of the previous version, there are some important changes: I've rearranged content and added a lot of previously unseen work, some of it new, some going back into the last century. All of the pages in the site have been re-formatted to show the work at a larger size. I also replaced the Portfolio drop down menu with a Portfolio page, which you can reach from anywhere in the site using the top toolbar. As before, the website is designed to show my work as a one–thing–at–a–time experience in spite of the web's promotion of attention deficit disorder. I hope you don't mind! All the links at the right are to new sections. (They're all on the Portfolio page, too.)

What follows is old news, really; but it gives the impression that I've been up to something in life. On July 1st I gave another talk, the fifth annual, to Naropa University's Summer Writing Program. This one is called Tsunami or Tuna Sammie?. It's another one of the Summer Writing Program's Dharma Arts Master Series. Here's a full size version of the poster below. Have a look; I think you'll like it! Some of these talks are going to be posted on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. When that happens you'll be able to see them right here.

a poster advertising the talk mentioned above. photo of Naropa University graduation 2015

That's me at the podium giving the faculty address at Naropa University's 2015 commencement ceremony. Gee, that was a year ago. I guess it isn't exactly news. Anyway, As my mother liked to say, “The names of fools and their faces are often seen in public places.” Somehow I managed to get through it. I'm not sure it makes any sense out of its context. You can watch it right here! (The still picture looks as though I'm blowing on some kind of ritual horn; in fact, I'm drinking water from a bottle, a plastic one at that.)

In January I gave a “talk-back” at the Boedecker Theatre in Boulder. The film for that evening was called Monk with a Camera. It's about the photographer/Buddhist monk Nicholas Vreeland, grandson of the great Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland. An ordained Buddhist monk, Mr. Vreeland was recently appointed by the Dalai Lama to be abbot of Rato Dratsang Monastery, a 10th century Tibetan Buddhist monastery reestablished in India. He is the first westerner to be made abbot of a Tibetan monastery.

Meanwhile, I have a piece on the homepage of a new publication from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics; it's called Something on Paper. Go have a look.

In June I gave another in a series of talks on art and meditation to the Summer Writing Program at Naropa University. This one was called Chaos & Cosmos. It was the fourth year of my contributing to lectures they are calling the Dharma Art Master Series. My talk last year was cheekily called Willa Cather Goes to Naropa. For that one I attempted the risky move of drawing parallels between writing instructions that a young Willa Cather received from Sarah Orne Jewett and meditation instructions given in the one thousand year old lineage of the great Indian teacher Naropa. I'm scheduled for another in this series on July 1st, 2015; I'm thinking of calling it Tsunami or Tuna Sammy?. I'm transcribing these talks and others and if they make sense, I'll edit them into a book, or at least a series of magazine articles. Or maybe they'll end up right here on this website, something like a burial at sea.

On May 14th I was a panelist at an event sponsored by Boulder Startup Week. They're calling the series ARTology; invited panelists from Boulder's business, tech, and artists' communities gather to discuss themes related to the vitality of our cultural and business environment. More details about the panelists and information about its organizers at ARTology.

I was in Paris at the beginning of April. This was a cultural reconnaissance trip, a keenly needed change of channels, and an opportunity to break out of monolingualism. (Time is short and learning to speak a second language is big on my life list.) There is so much to say about this trip; but not now. It's summer and I'm looking forward to some uninterrupted time in the studio; maybe something will come of it all.