June 2 – July 3, 2017
A BEGINNER’S BULL
Friday, June 2, 2017
Byrne Klay is a traveling musician by choice and a visual artist out of necessity. Born color blind in Mexico City to a home in which creativity was ignored, he was reared in White Plains, New York and educated by an assortment of bohemians and beatniks in New York City. Klay studied double bass at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and New School University. He toured for several years with the punk band ‘Dynamite Club’, visiting Japan, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and the United States. Klay says he has no artistic qualifications, save his humanity.
Despite this humble statement, Klay is best known as one-half of the musical group Megan Jean and the KFB, a transient married duo that has been relentlessly performing and building a dedicated following up and down the East Coast for the last decade. “I can tell you I’ve driven a million miles in ten years,” says Klay.
For the past 22 years, Klay has been studying and practicing Buddhism, which can now be seen for the first time in a visual diary of his experience with the daily practice. He creates this visual art on the road and in between gigs. Now, his first publically available collection of works, entitled ‘A Beginner’s Bull’, will be on display at 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center in Bethlehem from June 2nd to July 3rd. Each piece in this collection is a variation on traditional Buddhist motifs which originated in India and China.
The diary begins with a ‘Bahavacackra’, or ‘Wheel of Becoming’, which is a visual representation of the Buddhist concept of Samsara or “works of suffering.” The next ten images are based on a series of pictographs from the Chinese Chan tradition known as the Ten Ox Herding Pictures, and is a highly abstract representation of an individual’s study and practice of the Buddhadharma, ending with the substance, essence, and purpose of Nirvana.
One image in Klay’s collection, titled ‘Ordinary Life’, is based on a parable attributed to Buddha and told within the Joto Shinshu tradition. This parable is used to illustrate the discontentment and suffering of ordinary life.
Yet another image in this body of work, ‘Baptism’, is a deeply personal expression of Klay’s experience, the only image in the entire collection to be presented in color, and is a collaboration with his wife, Megan. “This collection is not meant to proselytize or convert, but rather to be enjoyed on whatever level that exists for the viewer in that moment, with or without the spiritual context,” says Klay.
An additional collection of woodblock prints will also be on display at 42 Maple, According to Klay, it “…reminds many people of Jesus Christ or some saint. But really it could be anyone.”
The opening reception for “A Beginner’s Bull” will be Friday, June 2, 2017, from 7 pm to 9 pm and will include the world premiere of Megan Jean and the KFB’s latest album. Artwork will be on display until Monday, July 3rd. If you are interested in learning more about this or other events at 42 Maple, please call 603-575-9077 or visit www.42maple.org.