Butterfly Blessings



Richard Wheeler

I grew up with scientific and technical interests next to Stanford University in Los Altos, California, while it was becoming known as "Silicon Valley".  Following my sister Sharon’s lead, I lived at the Esalen Institute, in Big Sur,

California, where we both met Dr. Ida Rolf and became Structural Integration and Movement Education (“Rolfing®”) practitioners.   Later Sharon and I participated in the founding of the Rolf Institute.  I now have 43 years experience in private practice and giving public presentations, professional seminars, lectures, and workshops. 

Growing up in Silicon Valley had its perks... 

In early high school I worked as a laboratory assistant in the surgical research department of the heart transplant pioneer, Dr. Norman Shumway, where I learned and practiced all the surgical procedures. 

Just after this, my friends and I incorporated as the Amateur Research Center, a non-profit educational corporation and were able to solicit used and  surplus scientific equipment donated from many silicon valley and Southern California resources. 

We built a three million electron volt linear accelerator (an “atom smasher”) that filled a two-car garage. 

My professional work in Rolfing led me to a deep study of anatomy, paleontology and functional morphology for 18 years at Los Angeles’ Page Museum (aka the “La Brea Tar Pits”) where I studied many thousands of ice-age fossil bones,  learned scientific illustration, published original research on saber-toothed cat skulls,  served as a volunteer and Senior Staff Excavator.

I’ve traveled to 18 countries, lived in France for 6 months and was fortunate to be able to circumnavigate the globe as a scholarship student in the oceanography lab with the University of the Seven Seas (now known as Semester at Sea).  I attended Reed College (Portland, Oregon) and studied choreography for modern dance at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, California. 

Norie and I spend part of the year in Ecuador and part of the year in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  At The Garden of Paradise in Ecuador I function as a website designer, photographer, structural integration  practitioner, workshop leader, general artist, resource person & teacher.

Click on this butterfly to learn more about the origins of our Butterfly Blessings:

As a visually-oriented artist, I use my training in calligraphy and scientific illustration to depict ideas that revolve around the fields of synthetic biology, artificial life, exobiology and creative organic morphology. 

I use acrylics, airbrush, drawing, photography and computer to create images, paintings and drawings, many of which are on my personal website

I have recorded one CD of original music playing baroque arch-lutes & harmonica.  I also play guitar, djembe (African drum) and the shakuhachi (traditional Japanese bamboo flute).

I built a home laboratory where I measured bioelectric potentials in protozoa.  This work won national-level science fair awards and was published in the Amateur Scientist column of Scientific American.

I also had the honor of being the first person invited by the Page Museum to exhibit

art photography from inside the tar pits.