Loren Standlee left his body on March 20, the first day of spring, after a long illness. A long-time resident of Woodstock,. Loren cast a light of joyous enthusiasm, innate wisdom, inclusive love and incomparable humor upon everyone he ever met. It was impossible not to love him.
Loren grew up in Southern California in an artistic family. He learned to surf and ski at an early age, becoming a master of both sports, which he savored all his life. He attended the Webb School in Claremont, Ca, and then the University of Oregon. He left before graduating to go to the San Francisco School of Fine Arts where he studied pottery and created some of his first experimental art. In the mid-sixties, he caught a steamer to Algiers and began an odyssey of travel throughout Europe, the Middle East and the East that would last for over a year and change his life.
In Europe he lived for a time in an ancient Phoenician tower on the Island of Formentera and did psychedelic research for Sandoz laboratories, makers of LSD. He also began experimenting with musical sound by playing his flute into empty wells for the echo effect. He then hitchhiked to India where he spent over a year traveling and meeting the great Indian spiritual masters of the time. When he returned to Paris, he joined his life partner, Ziska, who lived in Paris, and together they began to hand-paint silk, (not tie dye) which was then made into clothing and sold to the rock luminaries of the time… the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and so on. Their silk was sold at the famous Apple Boutique in London and even to the designer for the Queen of England, Hardy Amies. While in London in the late sixties, Loren and Ziska appeared in the film “Dope”, a cult classic, made by filmmaker Sheldon Rochlin.
In Paris Loren and Ziska met Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth when the group “Gong” was founded. Loren played several instruments with “Gong” most notably the alto flute. They performed, wearing their hand-painted silk clothing, at the Museum of Modern Art in Sweden among many other venues, and numerous times in Paris. In 1968, Loren recorded music jams that he later put into the album Dreaming the Magic of Your Maya. It is now a rare collector’s item.
On returning to New York, Loren met the poet/film-maker Ira Cohen and they became founding members of the “Universal Mutants” a very special group of creative free spirits numbering about five members. At that time Loren and Ziska appeared in yet another cult classic film, Ira Cohen’s “The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda” which has had screenings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and around the world. Also during this time, Loren worked with the Pablo Light Show, the company that created the stunning light shows for rock groups then playing in New York. In 1969, Loren and Ziska self published their first book of poetry called The Orphic Egg. Cool Grove Press will publish their second book, The Orphic Egg II in the coming year.
And of course they went to the Woodstock Festival, sat in the rain and mud, used their “Universal Mutants” name badge to get back stage and everyone thought they were mysterious performers. It was the Woodstock Festival that introduced them to the area, which later became their home.
In the early 1970s Loren returned to India, spending almost a year there traveling and meeting the great Tibetan Buddhist masters of the time, including his root Guru, Kangyur Rinpoche. He also met Ven. Kalu Rinpoche, the 16th Karmapa, Dungtse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, HH Khyentse Rinpoche, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, and received teachings from them all. On this journey, he also met the revered Indian saint, Babaji, with whom he spent several days in Northern India, Gangotri Baba, Anandamayi Ma, Muktananda, Neem Karoli Baba, and other Indian Saints. The Tibetan Buddhist teachers he met on this journey, would guide and enrich him for the rest of his life.
In 1972 Loren and Ziska purchased land in Woodstock and later built their house on Byrdcliffe. Loren’s work in cut and paste collage began seriously in 1972, using only black and white images. Soon he began using color and his work evolved, sometimes taking over a year to complete one piece, often working on several at one time. He sold his work to collectors and it was exhibited in New York as well as regional exhibitions, especially at WAAM where his work has been included in numerous group shows including several Far and Wide Regional Exhibitions. His digital collage work was shown at the MoMA PSI and he collaborated in the creation of light shows for the group Living Color among others.
From the time their house was built to the present, Loren and Ziska hosted a number of great Tibetan teachers in their home, where many teachings were given. Loren was one of the first people to encourage bringing the Tibetan Dharma to the West. It was during a visit of the great Kalu Rinpoche to their home in the early 70s, that Loren drove Kalu Rinpoche up Mead Mountain Road to the top of the mountain where the old Mountain House was for sale. Rinpoche got out of the car, looked around, came back to the house, called the 16th Karmapa and after a few calls was told to buy the land. That was the start of KTD.
In 1974 Loren had the idea for the now classic film: Nepal, Land of the Gods. He collaborated with film-maker and friend Sheldon Rochlin and Mike Spera in making the film. He wrote and co-produced it as well as doing sound. Later, he was involved in hours of editing. They traveled to Nepal and spent several months filming.. Magical Blend Magazine wrote: “Perhaps the most educational film to date on the practices of the Hindu and Buddhist religions”. It has been part of Mystic Fire Video’s roster for many years.
In 1980 Loren entered the first three-year retreat of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, held in the Dordogne, France, under the guidance of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, and Tulku Pema Wangyal. When he completed the retreat he returned to New York and Woodstock.
Shortly after his return, he got his first computer and began a thirty- year study of computer technology that opened the doors to digital experiments with collage. Later in the 80s, he worked for Cool Grove Publishing, designing books.
Through out his life, Loren wrote rich, evocative poetry and prose, inspired especially by the French Pataphysicians, and DADA. He wrote mostly when he was traveling in the East. And he played alto flute, Native American Flute, almost any flute, masterfully. He was a man in whom creativity flowed without ceasing and he left us all with a rich legacy.
Although he never referred to himself as such, he was a great teacher and brought countless people into the Dharma through his example. He was a ‘secret’ teacher, a true treasure of knowledge and wisdom.
He is survived by his partner, ZIska, his sister, Crispen Limacher, his nephew Robbie Limacher, and his niece Jennifer Cooper.
Loren fully inhabited himself and generously, spontaneously, non-judgmentally, loved the life he was blessed with.