Long before I met the artist Robin Gaynes-Bachman, I met her hair.
Seated directly behind her during satang at Siddha Yoga’s ashram in upstate New York, I spent hours staring at her thick, black, waist-long locks. Later, at a 12-Step meeting I’d finally meet the woman.
The friendship immediately took off, hopscotching from meetings to Marianne Williamson lectures to the Russian and Turkish Baths, where we celebrated several birthdays holed up in the landmark’s sauna and steam room sweating and cursing the suffocating heat.
Birthdays have since been reduced to lunch, as I was recently at her studio for a celebration.
“You have the same birthday as my first acid dealer,” she tells me as we sit munching on to-die-for sandwiches. I knew to take it as a compliment.
Now in her 60s, the long hair is short and she’s recovering from a hip transplant, yet still unstoppable when it comes to her work. Her paintings, like her, are fun, dramatic, and declarations of her long spiritual journey.
As I quickly scan the room full of giant oils of shivas, deities, abstracts and Martha Stewart’s bulldog, I am in awe. I see extraordinary talent and endless hours of hard work.
I met Robin purely by coincidence. My then-musician boyfriend, who wanted me to meet Gurimaya, had taken me to the ashram. Our relationship ended mid-chant; whereas, my friendship with Robin has endured 20-plus years.
“We are just here on Earth to work out our karma,” she has more than once advised after yet another ill-fated relationship. “No matter what happens, see it as a blessing and give thanks.”
Me, I rather suffocated in the sauna than practice her sage-old advice, yet it is what makes me value the friendship. She is the one person I can speak about sex, drugs and God with equal candor.
The artist has recently begun displaying paintings in her windows, providing others with a glimpse of what I discovered back in 1991. “Windows on Bond” is not your typical New York gallery, but it’s totally Robin.