There, two walls of Buddhas, painted by Amanda, filled me with wonder. Like visions, they warmed the room.
I first discovered Point Reyes’ Amanda Giacomini and her heart-stirring Buddha art at La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, an historic, five star haven in the Coachella Valley. I’d stumbled across the immense grounds at dawn, leaving my warm bed and commodious casita behind. Walking to the retreat’s vast fitness enclave across a carpet-like lawn, I passed ornamental statuary, orange trees and palms, the entire landscape an oasis still lit by the moon. In that illumination, I could see the regal profile of the Santa Rosa Mountains in the distance, gleaming in pink and lilac hues. Sleepy but content, I felt awed by the sunrise walk. Frankly, I didn’t imagine things could get more blissful and soul-centering. But, when I walked into the yoga room, part of the resort’s massive fitness complex, I stopped in my tracks. There, two walls of Buddhas, painted by Amanda, filled me with wonder. Like visions, they warmed the room. Executed in reverent gild and glittery hues, they transformed an ordinary exercise space into a sacred sanctum for self-reflection and inner overhaul.
Giacomini, an artist and yogi, best known for her Buddha paintings, has created Buddha-themed artwork all over the world—from Germany to Japan, Panama to Asheville (North Carolina), and Miami to Seattle. Locally, she currently has murals in Woodacre, inside the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, a mural on a barn on the Point Reyes Petaluma Road, one in a private residence in Sacramento, and a couple of murals around the exterior of Toby’s Feed Barn in Point Reyes, among others. She’s completed work across California, including in Napa. Her astonishing undertaking, 10,000 Buddhas, a global installation project completed three years ago, saw her painting Buddhas in a variety of worldwide locations, such as that mural I encountered at La Quinta in the yoga room. With a goal to link worlds, bring light, and awaken mindfulness, Amanda continues to paint Buddhas in this vein. They manifest as large scale murals, diminutive portraits, screen prints on paper, graffiti and more. Keeping the imagery consistent, she experiments with scale, color and materials. Larger paintings combine spray paint and oil. She does screen printing and monotype printing on paper, and works deftly with metal and 22 karat gold leaf, as well.
Giacomini, an artist and yogi, best known for her Buddha paintings, has created Buddha-themed artwork all over the world—from Germany to Japan, Panama to Asheville (North Carolina), and Miami to Seattle.
For Amanda, a yogi for 25 years, painting is a devotional practice. “When I paint Buddhas I refocus my mind again and again on something uplifting. It never fails to center me, soothe me, and leave me more peaceful than I was before,” she says. Founder of a yoga studio with her husband, Nicholas (aka MC Yogi) in Point Reyes Station, Amanda says yoga taught her discipline, focus, and patience. “All of these lessons were applicable when I took on the mission of painting 10,000 Buddhas. It took me more than 8 years to get to 10,000. Like my yoga practice, it was a process that required slow and steady effort over a long period of time.”
She’s just finished a solo exhibit at Toby’s Feed Barn, a popular community center, gallery and shop in Point Reyes. Called “Waking in the Dream,” the show displayed a collection of 33 new paintings and works on paper, completed during the lockdown. “During shelter in place, I moved my studio to my garage, working with the door open to look out to the field behind our house, to be more immersed in nature,” she says. “Normally, I travel all the time, and so being home, I was still, and I observed the shifts of season, the changing colors and light throughout the day.” She notes that despite it being a very stressful time, the work that came through was infused with “the irrepressible hopefulness of Springtime.”
Videos and photos of Amanda’s work around the world can be seen on her website at 10000buddhas.com. Sign up for Zoom yoga classes with her and husband, MC Yogi at Point Reyes Yoga, where classes have been taken online due to the pandemic.
From Amanda in Her Own Words
You’ve always been an artist, but a trip to India inspired the 10000 Buddhas project. Tell us about how it started and what it is all about?
In 2007, I was in India studying yoga and went on a pilgrimage to visit the Ajanta Caves. The caves were constructed between 600 BC and 200 AD. They were carved by hand into the side of a cliff, and then filled with magnificent sculpture and paintings, which depict the stories of the life and past lives of The Buddha. Seeing the caves in person had a profound effect on me. For one, the caves were the result of a massive collective effort over many generations. The scale is truly EPIC. This inspired me to start the 10,000 Buddhas Project, something that when I started I didn’t know if I would be able to finish in my lifetime.
Tell us about a favorite project?
I was painting a Buddha mural on a four story building in the heart of Washington DC (14th and P Street). On the last day of painting, three Tibetan monks came to bless the mural and “wake up” the image of the Buddha, so that everyone who passed by or saw it in a photo or video that their suffering would be diminished. The monks’ visit was not something I had planned. A woman who met me at a yoga festival had heard me say that I was painting a mural in DC invited the monks, who drove all the way from New Jersey. They set up an altar and chanted and prayed while I painted. It was the most incredible experience, and one of the highlights of my whole life.
How do you think art helps to awaken us?
Art reaches us on a level that goes beyond our rational mind. It can touch our hearts and plant seeds of awakening in the deepest part of our soul. I learned that this was the intention behind the artists who created the Ajanta Caves: to create art that would not only communicate the teaching of the Buddha, but to bring the viewer to a state of bliss and communion with the Divine.