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The Book of Compassion: John Schlimm’s New Art Project

By Keri Cronin — September 09, 2014
Headshot - John Schlimm

John Schlimm

Best known to vegans as the author of The Cheesy Vegan, Grilling Vegan Style, The Tipsy Vegan, and The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour, John Schlimm also spreads compassion through his bold and interactive art. His latest work is The Book of Compassion, a collection of multimedia projects intended to “inspire the viewer to embrace and think about compassion in a new way.”

The biggest component of The Book of Compassion is the 34 COMPASSION Paintings series; large-scale canvases with the word COMPASSION repeatedly stenciled in bright colors. The repetition – heightened when all of the canvases are exhibited together as at the Philip Morton Gallery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware – coupled with the bold, vibrant color scheme is reminiscent of the work of Andy Warhol. Viewing these paintings is an invitation to think about how compassion grows as it is repeatedly shared.

IMG_5653As a boy, John worked for his father, a butcher and meat processing plant owner. One of his jobs was to stamp the wrapped meat with the company name. John has repurposed a portion of that meat processing space by using the original “Schlimm Processing” stamp in his art. The back of each of the COMPASSION paintings bears this name. According to Schlimm, the stamp now serves “as a symbol of my own evolution to a more compassionate lifestyle and as a sign of how we never stop evolving in this life.”

Rehoboth-Beach-VegFest-SMILE-piece-by-John-Schlimm-June-14-2014-7One of the interactive and ever-changing parts of The Book of Compassion, THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours), debuted at Niagara VegFest in June. Viewers were invited to paint smiles on the faces that stretched across the 18-foot canvas. Hundreds took part at the debut, and this painting process will be repeated at other locations. Schlimm’s plan is to combine all of the canvases into one called MILES OF OUR SMILES ACROSS THE WORLD. As Schlimm notes, “the purpose of my SMILE piece is to visually remind the participants and viewers how they each make a difference in this world and how ultimately we are all interconnected.”

34-COMPASSION-Paintings-Debut-Philip-Morton-Gallery-1-June-13-15-2014-6-1024x691The Book of Compassion asks us not only to think about compassion in our contemporary world, but also to play our part in making the world a kinder gentler place. Schlimm hopes to inspire, spread, and encourage “compassion for all living beings across the globe.”

To learn more about John’s Book of Compassion art series and upcoming installations, as well as about his cookbooks, please visit

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