Annual Bliss, the Making of the Ojai Day Mandala

Posted on April 10 2016

                                          We just completed our annual Ojai Day Mandala and our teamwork was truly epic,  I am so happy right now I could just melt with bliss.  I just love working on art projects with others. I have come to realize that working in groups is a big part of my life path and brings me great joy and satisfaction. That joy is amplified thorough the people working cooperatively, being creative together and then getting the reward of ending up with a truly amazing product. 


                                       For twenty-three years I have been involved in making a a fifty-foot diameter Mandala in the middle of the main intersection in my hometown of Ojai, California, leading the project for most of those years. Mandala means "sacred circle" in Sanskrit and as such is a symbol of unity, wholeness and connection. The whole community is invited to participate and we usually have between one and two hundred people who join in during the six hours it takes us from start to completion. In recent years I have had an amazing team of accomplished women working beside me, each bringing her own special brand of magic and skill to strategizing the creation of this community art piece.

                        The 2015 Ojai Day Mandala

Ojai Day mandala 2015 overhead shot


                                  My team and I plan a basic form that includes areas for both "artists" and "non-artists" to paint. Those titles are what people give themselves, I feel that everyone is an artist if they want to be. If you long to be an artist that means you put your intention there and keep making art because you love to and your skills will most surely develop.   

                                                      The basic sketch with designated artist's areas


                                  This year we planned something much different and worked with a Steam Punk theme.  We  designed a meshing of three gears, inspired by clockworks in this neo-Victorian, retro-futuristic theme. This multi-circle mandala shows how gears/circles of different sizes, with divergent centers can all mesh together to create a mechanism that works as a whole, a visual metaphor for how community works together.                                      

                                 At about 9 pm on the third Friday of October every year we start scribing the basic outlines of the mandala on the asphalt as soon as the street is closed to traffic. While we’re doing that we have dozens of children who want to paint right away so we create areas for them to start as soon as possible. This is an inclusive community art piece and we do our best to make participation available to everyone who shows up to join in.                                      

                                       Every year we have anywhere around 100 to 200 people who show up to be a part of this painting magic. We usually are finished between 3 to 4am, just enough time for the paint to dry before Ojai Day starts at 10am.

                                      The Mandala is a must see for the attendees and there are various events that take place on the Mandala during the day. Our special day day is concluded with Aztec dancers performing their ceremonial dance on the mandala.  A couple of hours later on Saturday night the Mandala is washed off the street, an example of the ephemeral nature of life.

                                       At night the wet paint shines in the low light, the mandala glistens and has a magical life-like quality that can only be experienced in the dark of night. There is magic in every part of this process and I'm thankful for this tradition that has been kept alive in our town for the past 23 years.

You can follow us at "Ojai Day Mandala Artists" on Facebook.


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