After receiving his MFA, Kalmowitz taught at the Otis Art institute, but felt that a need to deepen his life experience beyond the rarified world of fine arts. He made two decisions which strongly impacted the rest of his life and art: the first, was to pursue a masters degree in clinical art therapy; the second decision, was to learn about meditation.
After graduation, Kalmowitz worked as a therapist in a Methadone Clinic, a clinic which treated highly dependent heroin addicts. Seeking further involvement, and to expand therapeutic modalities, Kalmowitz dug deeper and starting working with a residential treatment center for adolescent substance abusers. It was here that Kalmowitz experienced the human condition first-hand, which in turn laid the base to a life-long pursuit of harmony, meditation, and art.
Soon after Kalmowitz joined the adolescent center, he was promoted to a team of physicians who specialized in treating chronically ill and dying adolescents, and focused their research on pain control, using self hypnosis. Joseph was trained as medical hypnotist and was a lead trainer on numerous research studies. As per medical research protocol, he had to endure spending an equal amount of time with the control groups (which were sans hypnosis), but provided them with emotional support. The totality of this research lead Kalmowitz to publish several papers about the diagnostic implications of the drawings done by the patients. Accompanying these children and teens throughout their ordeals, further exposed Kalmowitz to the depths of human suffering and the possibility of mending by artistic means. After several years, Joseph left to pursue art and new ways of healing.
Exploring new methods to heal and live life, lead Kalmowitz to his second major life decision: to learn about meditation. He plunged into the practice by attending a 10-day silent Vipassana Meditation retreat. This new Buddhist vantage changed everything. It was an alternative way of understanding people and the world we live in. Buddhism has served as his ballast during his clinical work and everything else in life. The focus gained by meditation informs his technique and paintings. While often consulted, Joseph humbly states that he is simply applying the Dharma (teaching) to a given situation. He has attended innumerable retreats and maintains his practice, while participating with several local meditation groups.
As human beings, we feel safer trying to understand and be in control of an irrational world. To this end, we create various models of reality and and categorize everything to fit those arbitrary models. This process, of course, colors everything we think we know.
A desired mind state in Buddhism can be called “beginners mind”, “not knowing mind”, “empty mind”, and other variations. This state is about understanding and overcoming our preconceived ideas and judgements. The new paradyne created leaves only what is. Meditation practice is, in part, about realizing the extent of our conditioning, and getting past it to understand what just is.
In my painting practice, every element is is carefully considered both before and after it is created. Utilizing the airbrush as my major tool for painting also requires careful planing. Complete spontaneity is reserved until the compositional elements are resolved.
The images themselves can arise from personal symbols , visual memories and impressions, meditative states , previous paintings and every other painting I have ever viewed. All of the paintings are created within self- imposed limitations, the goal of the image being only about itself. This is my attempt at to invite the viewer into a “beginners mind” emotional experience with the painting.