About Bali Arts

This web site offers a view of the Bali I’ve inhabited for 45 years, as well as links to people and projects I work with there, plus a few I simply admire and respect.

I first arrived in Peliatan, Bali in January 1973 and stayed for a year. Working with a local foundation focused on preservation of traditional Balinese culture, I found friendships and fascinations that continue today. I also collected new and old Balinese paintings and antique keris, most of which I'm now returning to Bali and Indonesia.

In the summer of 1974, I curated “Legendary Paintings of Bali,” my first exhibition of the island’s remarkable wayang art at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, supplementing pieces I had collected with related materials from the Fogg and other New England museums. 

Surya, god of the son, with the young Hanuman who has mistaken the rising sun for a ripe fruit; Surya reprimands him gently. The painting is also the cover image for  Ketut Madra and 100 Years of Balinese Wayang Painting .

Surya, god of the son, with the young Hanuman who has mistaken the rising sun for a ripe fruit; Surya reprimands him gently. The painting is also the cover image for Ketut Madra and 100 Years of Balinese Wayang Painting.

Ketut Madra at the 2013 opening of the retrospective exhibition of 40 years of his work, together with traditional Balinese  wayang  temple paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries at Ubud’s Museum Puri Lukisan.

Ketut Madra at the 2013 opening of the retrospective exhibition of 40 years of his work, together with traditional Balinese wayang temple paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries at Ubud’s Museum Puri Lukisan.

Despite a yearning to figure out how to make a living through work in and with Balinese art and culture, I soon found myself working on political and strategic communications for research universities and the nonprofit sector. By the late 1980s I began returning to Indonesia and to Bali more often, especially in the 1990s while working at UC Berkeley.  

More frequent visits began in 2009 and the following year I agreed to return my collection of paintings to Bali for an exhibition in Ubud. With the 2013 opening of “Ketut Madra and 100 Years of Balinese Wayang Painting” at Ubud's Museum Puri Lukisan and publication of the catalog of the same title, I found I could do at 68 what I could not figure out at 28.

I'm now working with five collaborators in Bali, including Anggara Mahendra who shot the photo below, on a second book, Keris in Bali Today.

Balinese youth climb temple steps in 2015 during  tumpek landep , the day honoring all tools made of metal from cars to motorcycles and even computers and household appliances – and also the  keris , which continues to have spiritual and symbolic importance in Bali’s ceremonial life. This photo by Anggara Mahendra is one of a series he has taken for  Keris in Bali Today , to be published in 2019.

Balinese youth climb temple steps in 2015 during tumpek landep, the day honoring all tools made of metal from cars to motorcycles and even computers and household appliances – and also the keris, which continues to have spiritual and symbolic importance in Bali’s ceremonial life. This photo by Anggara Mahendra is one of a series he has taken for Keris in Bali Today, to be published in 2019.