Four Views of a Distant Kingdom 

Paintings by Joe Rohde from the Highlands of Nepal:
A Fundraiser for the Community Arts Workshop

Lhakang
mani wall horns.jpeg
chorten.jpeg
window (1).jpeg

Imagineer Joe Rohde has created this fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop, an effort of the non-profit Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative. All proceeds from the sales will go to the building and sustaining of the Community Arts Workshop. A note from Joe:

For much of my career I’ve used art to foster awareness and inspire action. My paintings have mostly been used to raise money for wildlife conservation. But in this case, the cause is closer to home, the Community Arts Workshop here in Santa Barbara. 

 

On any given day you’ll find a group art show on the walls, kids dangling from the ceiling in an aerial dance class, and the once-garages-now-workshops buzzing with artists creating handmade giant floats for one of Santa Barbara’s signature events, the Solstice Parade. It is more than a place. It’s a kind of perpetual event.

 

CAW's focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration, space for innovation, and community engagement is vital. I know this firsthand as I’ve been welcomed here as a relative newcomer and been able to benefit from CAW both as an artist and as a citizen. Though facilities are not quite finished, CAW exists today because people who had a vision invested their time, their energy, and their creativity. But there’s more to be done and that’s why, as a grateful new member of this community, I wanted to contribute these prints to help fundraising efforts.

They are made from paintings executed in remote places under unrepeatable conditions using only local pigments pulled from the locations where I made the work. Hopefully they will appeal to adventurers, collectors, and fans of my previous work with Walt Disney Imagineering, which some may recognize in these field sketches.

- Joe Rohde

Four Views of a Distant Kingdom

All four prints in this series are made from paintings done on site in the remote Himalayan region of Mustang, using local clay pigments mined out of the earth. They represent the architecture and cultural artifacts of the Kingdom of Mustang. Politically a part of Nepal, Mustang is actually the surviving remnant of the southern Tibetan Kingdom of Lo. Its people, the Loba, practice a blend of Buddhism and ancient pre-Buddhist animistic beliefs. 

 

My personal expeditions to Mustang, along with professional research trips to the same region, were incorporated into design work for Expedition Everest, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida. 

 

These images from a 1999 expedition, form a record of a part of the world which was for a time preserved as it had been for centuries. That is less true today, as there is now a road where I once rode on horseback, electricity where once there was only fire, and of course an awareness of the outside world in a place that was once profoundly insulated.

 

To create the original paintings, I collected chunks of raw pigment from monks in the monasteries, who kept supplies of it on hand. I ground the soft stone using a section of an ammonite whose fossilized spiral shells are everywhere along the river drainages. The ridges along the shell make for an excellent grinder. I then scrubbed the ground bits into fine dust using 80 grit sandpaper, funneled the dry powder into a container, strained it through cheesecloth and mixed it with a water-soluble oil binder. Then I was ready to paint in whatever village, monastery, or valley I found myself. The natural pigment echoed precisely the remarkable and intense colors of the buildings and monuments.

...

Original paintings created onsite in Nepal, using local pigment, 1999

Each painting is reproduced in an edition of 50, hand-signed and numbered by Joe Rohde, and printed at the highest quality. See below for details.

Lhakang

Lhakang 

The original painting was executed just outside the fortified town of Chuksang, along the Kali Gandaki River in 1999. It represents a small temple, or Lhakang, nestled into the ruins of a much larger eroded ruin. All the buildings in this region are made of rammed earth, a kind of adobe that is formed by hammering moist clay until it acquires the consistency of concrete. Such buildings can last for centuries, but once they begin to erode, they are difficult to tell from natural formations. This image also inspired the visual development of the Himalayan area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom where a similar ruin rises out of the realistic but artificial mountain. 

Print information:

Paper: EPSON Hot Press Natural

Signature Worthy Professional

100% Cotton Fiber Base

330 GSM           17mil

 

Printer: Letitia L Haynes, REFLECTIONS

Santa Barbara, CA  August 2022

EPSON Printer

 

Edition of 50, signed and numbered by Joe Rohde

mani wall horns.jpeg

Mani Wall

This is a mani wall, a sacred monument made of piled stone that often supports a series of prayer flags, one of which can be seen rising from above the yak horns. Both the horns and the stones are carved with prayers, with Buddhist images, and sometimes with symbols from older more local traditions. 

Print information:

Paper: EPSON Hot Press Natural

Signature Worthy Professional

100% Cotton Fiber Base

330 GSM           17mil

 

Printer: Letitia L Haynes, REFLECTIONS

Santa Barbara, CA  August 2022

EPSON Printer

 

Edition of 50, signed and numbered by Joe Rohde

chorten.jpeg

Chorten 

This is a Buddhist monument called a chorten. It is a regional variation of the bell-shaped stupas found in Thailand or India. There are many such structures spread throughout the Himalayas, and the stylistic variations between them are nearly infinite. They are made by carefully stacking stones and then covering the entire structure with a thick layer of mud and plaster. The plaster is then carved and painted with symbolic and auspicious symbols. 

 

This particular chorten is perched at the very edge of a steep organ-pipe cliff in the town of Tangbe, along the upper Kali Gandaki river. Painted in 1999, years later it became one of the inspirations for a similar structure which was built into the Himalayan area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Print information:

Paper: EPSON Hot Press Natural

Signature Worthy Professional

100% Cotton Fiber Base

330 GSM           17mil

 

Printer: Letitia L Haynes, REFLECTIONS

Santa Barbara, CA  August 2022

EPSON Printer

 

Edition of 50, signed and numbered by Joe Rohde

window (1).jpeg

Old Window 

I found this carved window, cracked and weathered with age, in the town of Samar, a scenic mud-walled village perched high in the majestic canyons above the Kali Gandaki river. The hardwood for these windows could’ve come from a hundred miles away in India, as this region is mostly desert and the rare trees are mainly willow and juniper. The wealth and trade that supported that kind of imported luxury is long gone, so, despite considerable damage, the window was nearly irreplaceable.

Print information:

Paper: EPSON Hot Press Natural

Signature Worthy Professional

100% Cotton Fiber Base

330 GSM           17mil

 

Printer: Letitia L Haynes, REFLECTIONS

Santa Barbara, CA  August 2022

EPSON Printer

 

Edition of 50, signed and numbered by Joe Rohde

JOE ROHDE recently retired from a 40 year career with Walt Disney Imagineering. During that time he was a pivotal figure in the development of a series of projects that dealt with natural history, culture, and the environment. His work includes Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Aulani: A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii, Villages Nature, an eco-resort adjacent to Disneyland Paris as well as many other projects. He was instrumental in the creation of the Disney Conservation Fund, which has raised over $100 million for missions worldwide. He currently consults for select projects through his company, Joe Rohde Creative, LLC. Virgin Galactic has engaged him as Chief Experience Architect in the development of their space tourism business. Joe regularly lectures on design, art history, and conservation and has spoken at TED, NASA, SIGGRAPH, the Getty Center, and many other venues.  

 

Joe is a member of the Explorer’s Club and has traveled extensively in some of the most remote regions of the world, often creating art along the way. His paintings, created under challenging field conditions, are a record of settings, cultures, and events few may ever see. Joe regularly uses his artwork for various causes as a fundraising and awareness raising tool. He has recently joined the CAW community and offers these prints from his Himalayan expeditions in support of their goals.