By Allison Plitt
There is an organic foods store in Forest Hills called “The Organicworld” where customers can purchase natural organic foods, vitamins and supplements, personal skin care products and household cleaning items. When you walk into the store, however, you realize the merchandise is a backdrop to various works of art beautifully displayed among the products.
There are no huge canvases covering the walls. Instead the store has more than 200 framed pictures. Each has the autograph of its creator, Paul Lin. The prices of the pieces range from $30 to $99. Upon request, he also creates special custom-made works.
Although there are no titles to the paintings, many are organized on the shelves with display cards discussing the theme of peace and harmony in nature. For example, one group of pictures encircles a frame saying “You are always there for me.” The subject matter of the paintings deals with the relationships between people and animals.
Everything in these pictures comes from nature. Besides adding materials such as pansies, eggplant leaves, wildflowers, feathers and wild plants to his works of art, Lin never uses any artificial coloring. Since he grew up on a farm as a boy, he is comfortable working with such natural elements.
“The materials are not purchased from anywhere,” explained Lin. “You can pick them up any place – by the roadside or by the mountainside. Usually the materials are all very simple in nature, but it’s so simple in nature.”
Sometimes Lin has difficulty arranging the materials together to create a picture, but he works by adhering to his own philosophy about nature. “At times in the beginning two materials don’t connect. They probably contradict each other,” he said. “You have to put care into it and arrange them peacefully. You have to make them into harmony.”
Lin admits he has been collecting these materials for 30 years – around the time he and his wife Theresa immigrated to this country from Taiwan. They opened The Organicworld in 1988, although Paul only began displaying his art in his store since 2011.
When shoppers enter the store, they are warmly welcomed by the Lins. Theresa sits behind the counter where she brews herbal teas or concocts juices for the customers. Paul has set up his artist’s workshop in the window of the store where there are a multitude of boxes holding his natural materials.
Each picture comes already framed. Some of the frames are glass but most are made from wood to give the pictures a rustic feel.
“Each frame is carefully chosen and matched,” Lin said. “Part of the reason is because it’s naturally arranged.”
Lin also believes his art has a mission to it. Referring to his work as “therapeutic art,” Lin has taught art workshops to people suffering from illness. According to several of the display cards he has placed among his paintings, “natural art is healing.”
“The most important thing in nature and art is healing because there are two elements – peace and harmony,” he said. My painting is not only art, but there is therapeutic power there. Mentally and spiritually people will be empowered by this art and, in turn, physically as well.”
Lin said his small pictures (some of the smallest measure 5” x 7”) are about the concept of “being able to see the whole universe from this small thing.” Lin finds nature to have a simple beauty, which many people can overlook.
“Although the materials are simple, the picture is not just like nothing,” he said. “It’s about the artist and the person who owns the art being able to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.”
The Organicworld is located at 103-37 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills. The phone number is 718-896-1590. Store hours are Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.