Students create art for ‘The Buddhas of Bird Rock’ display

By Will Bowen

Sip a hot cup of tantalizingly rich medium roast coffee; savor the sea breeze wafting through the large lift-up windows and contemplate some deep art. It’s an enlightening experience, which can be found only at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, 5627 La Jolla Blvd., where art meets business.

“We here at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters think local arts and local business should go together,” said Chris O’Brien, a manager at the coffee shop. “That’s why we have rotating art shows featuring the work of area artists hanging here on the walls for our customers to enjoy.”

Currently, there are two shows on display at the café, which will be up at least until the end of April. Both come from art teachers and their students.

For those who like cartoons, storyboards and meaningful life stories, Robin Williams, a teacher at High Tech High (Liberty Station in Point Loma), has installed a series called “The New Path of the Buddha.” This exhibition features 11 stories composed on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, which are based on the theme of the Buddha’s life path, as depicted in Herman Hesse’s classic book, “Siddhartha.”

The twist is that these stories are from different time periods and regions of the world, and are stories about both the spiritual development of both men and women.

For those who enjoy contemplating children’s art, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is also showcasing an exhibit curated by Alyson Blum, who hung a collection of art from her second grade class at Bird Rock Elementary School titled, “Robots, Aliens and Spaceships (Oh My)!” This is a very amusing and heartwarming series of fancy-frilly children’s depictions and imaginings.

The Stories

It’s a real challenge to read all 11 of the storyboards from Williams’ high school class all in one sitting, but they are all very intriguing, quirky kinds of stories that might be read over the course of a couple of visits to the cafe. All the protagonists in the stories usually start out in rich or powerful family situations but seek something more and so move through a process that involves a physical settings move, radical change, disillusionment, love, the birth of a child, thoughts of suicide and another changes, which end in some kind of enlightenment.

■ “Buscando Nirvana” is the story of a Spanish Conguistador’s son who decides he wants to study the ways of the local South American shaman as a path of personal growth. “Cal Nevada Buddha” tells the tale of two brothers from a Nevada ranch who go to live with the Shoshone Indians and learn farming. One becomes an outlaw to pay for the costs of raising a daughter.

■ “Enlightenment Through Equality” is the story of a woman who finds love in a lesbian relationship and goes on to find fulfillment as a gay rights activist.

■ “The Real Fresh Prince” is an African- American story wherein a wealthy young black man goes back to the troubled inner city and ends up as a taxi driver. “When Horses Cry” tells the tale of a retired WWII war horse that joins a circus and ends up finding fulfillment after running away with another horse to share a oneness with nature in the wild.

■ “The Many Kimonos of Korkora Katoshi” is about a little Japanese girl who goes to live in a temple then leaves to follow the path of a Geisha girl. “The Big Fat Greek Nirvana” tells of a Greek boy who becomes a soldier and ends up studying with a philosopher in the forest.

■ “The Enlightenment of Odett Brindamar” is the story of a young woman who goes from the farm to the city where she becomes a prosti- tute and then later a nun.

■ “Reaching the Crossover in Chicago” is an urban story from the 1970s. “Neferate, the Daughter of Alchrater” is an Egyptian tale about the life path of a girl from the Pharaoh’s family. “The Peacemaker” concerns a cowboy whose karma is to become a bounty hunter and shoot up a bunch of bad guys.

If you reach your capacity to integrate traumatic life events that lead to enlightenment, then the exhibit of the second- graders can provide some relief. Here you can contemplate children’s budding ability to conceptualize and work with mixed media, in regard to the subjects of robots, rockets and alien life forms.