About althouseart

I'm a Zen Teacher, an ordained Zen Buddhist Priest, Abbot and Co-founded of the Zen Life and Meditation Center of Chicago. I have practiced in the Zen and Tantric traditions for over 40 years and have been teaching for 20 years. Towards the end of 2012, I took up painting again, after having put down my brush over 20 years ago to begin teaching and running a Zen Center in Hawaii. I am now working with digital media on a computer. I am married to June Tanoue and reside with her in Oak Park, Illinois.

“Well Sees the Donkey” Artist Statement


Well Sees the Donkey #3

Painting titled “Well Sees the Donkey #3”

This series is inspired by case 52 from the Shoyoroko, which reads as follows:

Sozan asked Toku Joza, “Buddha’s true dharmakaya is like the vast sky. It’s conforming to things and manifesting shapes is like the moon in the water. How can this principle of conforming be expressed?”
Toku said, “It’s like the donkey seeing the well.”
Sozan remarked, “Well said, but that’s only 80% of it.”
Toku rejoined, “How about you, Osho?”
Sozan replied, “The well sees the donkey.”

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Dreamtime Artist Statement

Dreamtime Series: Coyote #2

Painting titled: “Dreamtime Series: Coyote #2”

Dreamtime is a term that refers to Australia Aboriginal culture and religion. These paintings express a spiritual vision of the world that appreciates the interdependent ecologies that make up and support the life of all creatures on this planet. This wholeness is beyond definition or reference points. It includes both order and chaos, clarity and confusion.

Eight of these works are in a group show entitled “World Peace Party” at The Outta Space Gallery during month of May 2017. There is an opening on Friday, May 5th from 6 to 8 pm. Gallery is located at 6840 32nd St., Berwyn, IL 60402.

Boundary Waters – Artist Statement

Boundary Waters #19

Painting titled “Boundary Waters #19”

Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters is the name of a place and it isn’t. The horizon often orients these paintings as a boundary that mirrors water, land and sky; a boundary that unifies rather than divides; a boundary that isn’t a boundary.

“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places”
Wendell Berry

Turtle Island Mandala Series

Mandala #9

Painting titled “Mandala #9”

Turtle Island is a term that comes from the American Indian tradition, used to describe North America. For me, the term carries with it a set of values I share about the sacred nature of the world. In this world there is respect for living in harmony with the earth, with the natural world, it’s communities, plants, animals and many beings.

I place these images in the context of mandalas. It’s difficult for me to describe in words what a mandala means. It is not a concept or a symbol, nor is it merely psychological, though it seems to have a healing power that can restore us to wholeness. Mandala arises out of how our experience organizes itself. It’s not about a center. Centers are uncountable. There can’t be a center without a periphery. There can be no enlightenment without delusion, so the mandala includes our confusion, bewilderment, and chaos. The order and chaos include each other. And then, there is the ground of totality beyond any reference point. The mandala is communicating the richness of this human experience, so perhaps it doesn’t need to conform to our visual preconceptions.

Robert Althouse


Mandala #22

Painting titled “Mandala #22”

I find it difficult to put into words, what mandala is about for me. It’s not a concept or a symbol of some kind. It’s not about a center. Centers are uncountable. Mandala arises out of how our experience organizes itself. There can be no enlightenment without delusion. The mandala includes our confusion, bewilderment, fear and chaos. The order and the chaos include each other. And then there is a ground that is larger than this duality as well. And the mandala is communicating the richness of this experience. Perhaps the mandala doesn’t have to conform to our visual preconceptions.

Love Can’t be Divided

Tide #76

Painting titled “Tide #76”

Creating brings me much joy. The surprise and discovery of bringing forth some image in the singularity of this moment of time-being is a mystery to me.  I’m often too close to what I have created to say much about it. But with time, I feel that I might say something that is helpful to someone. I think art proceeds from love, some tenderness for this fragile, changing world we find ourselves residing in. This love can’t be divided. It doesn’t exist in any of the divisions we create between subject and object. It exists before we make the split. It exists in the very fabric of our universe. I’m not certain about much of anything, except this.

Robert Rauschenberg should have the last word here: “I don’t like to take advantage of an object that can’t defend itself.”

Robert Althouse

Tide Show Open Houses

Tide #62

Painting titled “Tide #62”

In November and December 2013, Open Houses will be held for my show of the Tide Series at the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago, at 38 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60302. I’ll be there to discuss my work, and I’ll also hang new works from the Tide Series. The Open Houses will take place on the following Saturdays, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.:

Nov. 2, 9, 16, 23 and Dec. 14.