Last Look


A place to ponder, Buddhist-style, in the Art Gallery sculpture garden.

Jessica Smolinski

Jessica Smolinski

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“In Buddhism, there is the concept of the ‘gateless gate,’” says Paul Discoe, the artist and Zen Buddhist teacher who designed and built this Japanese-style gate for a previously unused space behind the Yale University Art Gallery. It’s not an accident that “gateless gate” is an oxymoron; it was the title of a thirteenth-century compilation of Zen koans. A gateless gate is “not a gate to anywhere,” Discoe explains. “You are entering the stream of self-exploration.”

A fifth-generation Japanese tile maker created the roof tiles, and Discoe, a master builder who trained in Japan, milled the wood (elm from California) and designed all the pieces while he was artist-in-residence at the gallery. The pieces fit together like puzzle pieces—no nails involved. And it’s not really a gate to nowhere. In the springtime, self-service tea will be provided.

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