Wednesday, February 21 2018
Tibetan Festival 2015

Festival of Tibetan Arts and Culture

Tibetan Festival 2015
Tibetan Cultural Festival 2015

Creative vibrations from the ‘Roof of the World’

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican | Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 5:16 pm

“This is teak,” Dholak said. “This is a water tree. Before we make furniture or anything we put it inside water. After I get it out then, after it dries, it never bends and it never cracks. After I finish, it never moves. Nothing.”

Tenzin Dechen, assistant to the North American Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama will make comments at the exhibition’s opening reception Thursday at 4:30 p.m., in the Burke Gallery.

The exhibition also features the works of thangka painter Tsering Phuntsok, tattoo artist Tamding Tseten and photographer Sonam Zoksang.


The festival’s theme honors the Dalai Lama, who is celebrating his 80th birthday.

“It’s a really comprehensive festival this year,” said Dr. Amy Mountcastle, a professor of anthropology and Asian Studies at the college. “This festival this year is so much about bringing the campus and Plattsburgh community together on and off campus,” Mountcastle said.


Thangka painter Tsering Phuntsok will be demonstrating his art of using plants and minerals to make the permanent hues in his works. “On the canvas I use natural strong color and rabbit-skin glues,” Phuntsok said. “The red color is from the flower leaves. We cook to make some ink. After the ink is dry, we can use on the canvas. The canvas is cotton.”

Tattoo artist Tamding Tseten was a goat keeper in Tibet, who entertained himself by making statuary from clay and drawing on rocks. In India, he attended thangka school, where a visiting Canadian artist introduced him to modern art via pencil drawing.

“From that one day, I learn everything after,” Tseten said. “I taught myself.” “He will be spending five days here giving lectures, giving demonstrations and working with the children,” Mountcastle said. “He will be downtown to offer tattoo-art services.”

The artists’ works will also be exhibited at 30 City Place and the Strand Center for the Arts.

Plattsburg Community Members
Plattsburg Community Members


The “Mountain Lake Mandala” will be unveiled Friday at 5 p.m. at the corner of Bridge and Durkee streets.

The mandala is the community-art mural designed by Sue Burdick Young.

“It got a great response when we were putting it up,” said Young, who lives in Jay.

“People were really appreciative of it. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.”

The tiles symbolize the mountains and lake. The 10-ft. mandala features intersecting circles representing Tibet and here.

“We did workshops with the community,” Young said. “Three hundred people got involved. We did 14 different workshops. A lot of them we did at Jackie Sabourin’s Clay Studio at the Strand Center for the arts. Getting the paint off that wall was grueling. That building was built in the 1800s. Joe Rotella owns that building. It was like an archaeological dig to get through all the layers of paint. We had to just mortar the tile right to the wall. We had to grout all the spaces in between the tiles and touch up the paint on the wall. It came out great.”

The mandala was sponsored by Mountain Lake PBS. Janine Scherline, director of development at Mountain Lake wrote the $76,000 grant and received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts through the New York State Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application program.

“Essentially, it’s a multi-partner, community project encompassing the important arts, cultural and education institutions and community partners in Plattsburgh,” Scherline said.

“It encompasses the community-made tile project led by Sue Young, the month-long festival hosted by SUNY and followed by a documentary produced by Mountain Lake PBS. I thought the community was for this. It’s encompasses the right partners at the right time. It’s really timely that it’s His Holiness’s 80th birthday.”


On Sunday afternoon, Techung & The Wind Horses present “Tashi Sho: Good Luck, Good Life,” CD release concert with a performance by the Adirondack Youth Orchestra at the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium on campus.

“Techung is collaborating with the Adirondack Youth Orchestra,” Mountcastle said. “They open for him with a couple of Tibetan pieces.”

Dr. Thupten Jinpa, English language translator for the Dali Lama, will discuss his new book, “A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives” on Oct. 2 at the college’s Angell College Center Alumni Conference Room.

“He will be here giving a talk and giving a book signing,” Mountcastle said.

Dr. Tashi Rapten will lecture on traditional Tibetan Medicine Oct. 22 through 24. He will be available by appointment for private health consultations at the Strand Center.

“In Tibetan medicine, we combine the body with the mind as one,” Rapten said.

“We also link the outside world, the environment, water, earth, herbs. Tibetan medicine uniquely combines all this together. We treat all these areas as one.”

Once again a sand mandala will be constructed and deconstructed from Oct. 24 through 27.

“This mandala, with His Holiness the Dali Lama in mind, is the mandala of the ‘Buddha of Boundless Life,’” Mountcastle said.

“Two monks are coming that trained in India at the Gyume Monastery. One lives in New York and the other comes from Connecticut.”

Email Robin Caudell:

Twitter: @RobinCaudell

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