by Jan Maslow
about Gene's passing in
Auroville Today paid
homage to his life as an Aurovilian but, understandably, did not address his life as an artist. And Gene Maslow was quintessentially artist. The Mother once said to him, "I have always seen you painting and doing other artistic things." I knew him as a font of creative force -- burgeoning with inventive ideas, and making of life an aesthetic work-in-progress.
To the delight of many an artistic spirit (and the chagrin of some not so inclined), Gene could rapturize at great length about the particular play of light and shadow around an object or grove of trees, making palpable the subtle presences housed therein. An aesthetic sensibility was so at the fore of his being that even transient stays in the likes of a roadside motel would see him rearranging furniture to allow Beauty her fullest possible reign.
In our little loft on East 21st Street in Manhattan, four times a year the space would be revisioned and reconfigured to greet and graciously accommodate the spirit of each new season. And one spring, I feared for his life as he hung out the window rigging up an elaborate branch he'd found, determined to create an aesthetic and vibrational hedge between the sanctuary of home and the streets of the city.
For better than 20 years, art was Gene's yoga. He walked away from a promising career with MCA, a major talent agency, to pursue it. And later, when Mother appeared to him in the subtle physical during a meditation, he left a nascent career on the New York art scene to head for the Ashram. Although he had previously been accustomed to working on a large scale, while in the Ashram he created bookmarks -- little hand-painted gems of birds and natural things -- the fineness and delicacy of which stunned those Ashramites who knew him by his large Western vital.
n 1967, Mother sent him to Auroville to help pioneer a new city. While in the throes of building some of Auroville's first dwellings, his good friend Amal (K.D. Sethna), who had previously published some of Gene's poetry in Mother India, asked why he wasn't writing lately. Gene responded with this letter, which Amal published in Mother India under the title "A Poet's Letter from Auroville":
That was where I first encountered Gene in 1975, and mine was one of the lives he touched and changed. Those talks were spontaneous offerings which invited one to partake in an act of creation, as his intuitive nature painted a multidimensional tableau of subtle realms of truth and beauty.
It was as if being completely absorbed in the texture and intensity of pigment as it sought and found its inevitable place upon a canvas, not knowing what picture was taking form, but not caring because the process itself was so engaging. And then, at the end of an hour or two, by dint of some magic inaccessible to the intellect, the painting was complete, and an indelible experience of some new possibility had been had.
Lest I sound overly laudatory, let me acknowledge that Gene also had his hefty share of human nonsense. And when that large force that made his positive presence so compelling aligned itself behind his frailties, he could be one very difficult human being.
That said, I choose to celebrate the gifts of beauty and delight that he brought us and has left us, along with the spirit of enchantment by whose power he believed we would be transformed, whose instrument he aspired to be, and which at his heights, he embodied. Thank you Gene -- and may Mother hold you ever tenderly.