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Can you feel the love? Oma poses alongside some of his singular creations.
Enrique Limón

Oma Goodness!

Anand Naren-Oma is his name, garden phalluses are his game

February 12, 2013, 8:00 pm

Held every Sunday inside the Farmers Market Pavilion, the Railyard Artisan Market is the go-to place for cutesy aprons, rooster-emblazoned prayer flags and peacock feather “medicinal” fans. 

As of recently, the market is also Santa Fe’s premier clay genitalia garden décor destination.

“My inspiration is the feminine,” Swami Anand Naren-Oma, who set up shop at the Market three weeks ago, says, his arms crossed over his chest in a self-embrace. He’s standing in the middle of his one-man gallery, which he’s dubbed “Sacred Garden.”

Along with the racy shapes, several other red terracotta creations celebrate the female form, derived, he says, by his “grand inspiration,” the curvy Venus of Willendorf.

“The goddess and the garden, for me, go together,” Oma says, a palpable serenity emanating from his body. He’s dressed in a long robe and wearing a purple beanie whose brightness contrasts his long, white beard. 

Looking around his space, he pauses and shares the impetus behind his work. “She,” he says, “meaning the [great divine] mother of us all—is basically my love, my mother.”

Oma develops a grin and a certain flourish in his hands when asked about his creative process. “When I’m working on my clay,” he says,  “the clay is my hands and my hands speak. My hands sing; my hands dance; and my head is practically not there,” he shares, with a hearty laugh.

The swami also gains inspiration from the changing of the seasons.

“I myself am in the late autumn/early winter of my life, and I’ve spent it caressing clay, and clay to me is the goddess,” he says. “So I spend my days stroking the goddess—how lucky can a man get?” 

Winter of his life or not, Oma says these are “absolutely” the best times for him, and that, with the years, he’s come into his own. “That’s the good thing about age, that you stop quibbling,” the 70-something says.

The centerpiece of his pop-up “portable garden” is a smiling, winged nymph called “Steve’s Angel,” which Oma created to honor a friend who passed away from leukemia.

“I hope that she helped him just a small, little bit to get out of the body—to make that transition,” he says, taking a serious tone. 

Another standout is a statue named “Pomona.” She’s drenched in pearls and is meant to be an homage to the eponymous Italian deity of fruit trees and gardens.

“She has a certain pathos in her face,” he says. “I like that word, ‘pathos.’”

Behind her is “Fallen Angel”—a mischievous character with rosy cheeks and his tongue sticking out. The idea behind this figure, one of the few male forms, is “that he was having too much fun in Paradise, [so] they kicked him out—I would also be kicked out,” Oma says.

A self-described rebel who doesn’t adhere to “shoulds and should nots,” Oma, who hopes to start instructing dervish dance in the space, applies the same philosophy to his work.

Clear examples of this are his unique shrines.

“I wanted to honor the entrance that we all make onto this blessed planet,” he says, pointing at his “Yoni Shrine,” complete with an indented pearl in the vulvar area. Underneath it, a similar shrine displaying a winged phallus is hung.

It’s nothing to be scandalized about, Oma says. Nothing new. “The Greeks and the Romans were doing this to put beside their doorway to scare away the evil spirits,” he points out. “I suppose it attracts some and repels others.”

Oma says he hasn’t experienced any negative response on the pieces yet, as his approach is a spiritual, tantric one, and his philosophy is “to honor the sacred in everything.”

He admits those are particularly “explicit” examples of his work, and like Charlie Sheen before him, he’d rather focus on his goddesses.

One new variation is in the form of mermaids, or “fish goddesses.”

“She’s a desert mermaid,” he says, holding up a specimen. “She’s got nice buns, as you can see…it must be all the swimming.”

In the deities’ evolution, he has noticed a predominance of wings, which his earlier work lacked.

“That can only mean I too shall soon develop wings and fly,” he says.

Until then, the word “retirement” is not in his vocab.

“I’ve been an artist my whole entire life,” he says. “Artists don’t retire. Can you retire from colors and forms and working with your hands? Oh no.”

Railyard Artisan Market
10 am-4 pm every Sunday at
     The Farmers Market Pavilion
        1607 Paseo de Peralta, 983-4098


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