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Subud Finds Spirituality In Art, Culture

The 10th Subud World Congress is in town through Aug. 16, and Spokane can enjoy some outstanding cultural side benefits.

Subud is an international spiritual organization with over 10,000 members. It is not a religion or a sect with any dogma of its own, and no teachers or priests. It’s a way to intensify personal beliefs.

As near as I can figure, Subud is like a furnace which can be fueled by coal, wood, gas, oil or electricity. Whatever faith you bring with you, Subud is just a mechanism to help it burn hotter.

The founder of Subud, M.S. Sumohadiwidjoyo of Indonesia, has said, “Every person will find for himself or herself the right way toward God, and what may be the right way for one may be completely wrong for another. You must not follow or imitate anyone else.”

So how does this benefit Spokane’s culture? Art and culture are very important to Subud. The organization has four wings (or branchess) that address humanitarian issues, youth, business development and culture. The cultural wing, Subud International Cultural Association (SICA) is coordinating art, theater and musical events throughout the congress. The events are open to the public.

Subud attracts artists of all disciplines and boasts many with world-class status among its ranks. The result for Spokane is a wealth of international art on exhibit and a plethora of other cultural activities.

Here is a schedule of Subud cultural events:


SICA’s mission revolves around demonstrating humanness through works. The expression of spirit through humanity is the overall unifying theme of the many diverse Subud artists.

The Chase Gallery in Spokane City Hall will feature works of nearly 40 artists from all over the globe in an exhibit called “Art/Spirit ‘97 - The Soul in Transformation.” Media include watercolors, oils, acrylic, charcoal, cast paper, computer-enhanced photographs, and sculptures in bronze and cedar. Works are as diverse as the personal artists, but brought together by the spirit theme.

Norwegian artist Inger Lavinia Bjerknes, who is submitting “Tornado” with dyes on fabric, says, “For me, there is no division between expressing myself artistically and spiritual life.”

But “Perusing the Map,” a charcoal drawing by American Rachael Amos, comes with the disclaimer, “The relationship between my spiritual life and my art is not really comprehensible to me … it’s hard to say how this relates to my spiritual life, but I’ll probably find out some day.”

The spiritual inspiration Subud has provided is quite clear in some of the participants. Brigida Godoy of Colombia, whose painting “Toques de Girasol” is included in the exhibit, says, “Five years ago, before joining Subud, my painting was tense, empty, monotonous. (Then) God was accompanying me, showing me the perfection with which He had painted the world. I began to take delight in flowers, leaves, colors, sounds; nature is re-created through the painting and I feel free.”

Finding the spiritual in the everyday is the point to which all of these artists seem to return. Australian Gregory Thomas, whose untitled cedar sculpture will be on display, offers, “My spiritual life, I believe, is indivisible and inseparable from my work. It is me! The way I work and the pieces I create are being made by someone who has a spiritual dimension in his life, as have all humans to a greater or lesser extent. Just relax and enjoy it!”

“Art/Spirit” at the Chase Gallery opens today and continues through Aug. 15. More art by Subud artists will be located throughout the Spokane Convention Center, and several local galleries will be presenting more comprehensive exhibitions of individual artists.

Colburns Gallery, 203 W. Riverside, will feature acrylic paintings by Helene Higgins Chapman and sculpture and reliefs by Janice Lillian through Aug. 16.

2MT Gallery, 1131 W. First, will show paintings by Anna Finley and ceramics by Omson Schroeder through Aug. 31.

Lorinda Knight Gallery, 523 W. Sprague, will feature paper cast relief work by Rusdi Genest, ceramic sculpture by Spokane’s Lee Ayers, and paintings and drawings by Joseph McFarlane.

DaDa Gallery, 110 S. Monroe, will have paintings by Daniel Dick.

The Met Theater will present computer art by Lukas Van der Walde of Spokane.

There is an opening reception this afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Chase Gallery, and the other galleries have coordinated their openings to occur from 3 to 6 or from 4 to 7 p.m. today, so a walking tour could encompass all of the exhibitions.

In addition, some of the artists will be presenting lectures at the Chase Gallery. Rashid Carre Midelti, a French citizen living in Indonesia, will present “Look! Look Again, and See! - Developing Visual Criticism in Our Lives and in Education” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. “Transformative Art - Return to the Source” is the title of a talk by Ramon Kubicek of Canada on Aug. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Both talks will include slides.


Three world premieres for orchestra and chorus by Subud composers will be performed by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and Subud musicians. Lucas Richman will conduct “A World of Music” on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 8:30 p.m. at the Spokane Opera House.

Richman is a Californian who has appeared as guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and L.A. Chamber Orchestra and has shared the podium with Leonard Bernstein in concerts in London and Moscow. His compositions include an oratorio, “Generations,” and a Hanukkah Festival Overture, which was performed by six U.S. orchestras last year.

One of the concert’s premieres will be by Richman. It is a cantata with narration titled “Seven Circles of Life,” which musically describes the seven levels of life force as written down in the form of a poem by Subud’s founder titled “Susila Budhi Dharma.”

“Fanfare Spokane” by Simon Lesley will also be heard for the first time, as will Ramon Roper’s “Fanfare #2.” Both were written expressly for this event. Also on the program will be Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme,” with cellist Hamilton Cheifetz; Ravel’s “Tzigane,” with violin soloist Ian Mardon; and pianist Felipe Aguirre performing the first movement of Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.” The chorus will also be heard on movements from Haydn’s “Creation” and Brahms’ “Requiem.”

Tickets for this concert are available at the door and by calling Rifka Bullen at 328-9703. The $15 suggested donation will benefit the Spokane Symphony Education Programs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center and the American Indian Community Center.

Thursday, Aug. 14, is International Entertainment Night, and will features Canada’s group creation, “Soul Stories,” with music by Veda Hille; the American Chorus, and “Innerscape 1: Land of Fire,” a multimedia presentation from Australia. The program’s at 8 p.m. at the Convention Center.

The Congress’ closing ceremony and good-bye party on Saturday, Aug. 16, will feature Canadian singer Veda Hille, recently returned from German and Canadian tours. This concert begins at 9:30 p.m. at the floating stage in Riverfront Park and is free.


A mini film festival featuring animation, documentary, short and feature-length films by Subud members will be at The Met on Sunday, Aug. 10, at 1:30 p.m. Works by David Anderson, Raup McGee, M. Lassalle, Rolf Gibbs and others will be included. Admission is free will donation.


All theater events take place Wednesday, Aug. 13, at The Met. Admission is a $5 donation at the door.

“The Adventures of Practically Everybody and Other Cheap Thrills” is an improvisational revue which features past members of companies like Story Theatre, Chicago’s Second City and San Francisco’s The Committee. This will be staged at 2 p.m.

At 8 p.m., Peter Mark Richman will star in his own “4 Faces,” a presentation of four vivid monologues in a one-man show. He is in turn Pastor Harlan Gregory sidestepping a scandal, an Italian-American blue-collared Carlo who talks about his son and drugs, Gerhardt recounting his youth as a Nazi SS officer, and Jewish death-camp survivor Daniel who is waiting for a bus.

In the late evening, Lucas Foss will present the provocative (and unsuitable for children) play, “The Fever” by Wallace Shawn.

Poetry & storytelling

A celebration of the spoken arts features poets and storytellers from around the world. Participants include Linda Slegel, Frederik Lloyd, Mutahar Williams, Soraya Newell, Runti Rand, Ras Uran Leatz, Hendrich Petty and others. This event will take place Friday, Aug. 15, at 2:30 p.m. in the Convention Center theater.

Well, there it is. The Subud World Congress happens only once every four years, and hasn’t been held in the United States since the ‘60s, when it came to New York. With such a rare infusion of talent from all over the world as a biproduct, Spokane should feel fortunate and show some appreciation by tasting some of the international flavors.

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