Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Tibetan art, culture festival takes Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh residents won’t have to travel 7,204 miles to experience sights, sounds and smells of the Tibetan culture.

The month-long celebration of “Festival of Tibetan Arts & Culture of the Adirondack Coast 2015,” kicked off Thursday.

Visitors can see art demonstrations, a display featuring photos of the Dalai Lama, the construction of a mandala, which is a spiritual and ritual symbol representing the universe, in the Burke Gallery and listen to book discussions.

Techung & the Wind Horses, who will be performing at the opening reception for the festival, features singer/songwriter Jhola Techung, guitarist Rinzing Wangyal, drummer and percussionist Michel Tyabji and Kito Rodriquez on the Bass Guitar. The band created a unique, international sound rooted in Tibetan folk culture with echoes of Indian, African and American musical traditions.

“We have multiple partners in this particular festival,” Plattsburgh State associate professor for the department of anthropology Amy Mountcastle said.

Along with the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, other contributors include Tenzin and Yangchen Dorjee, owners of the Himalayan restaurant downtown. Tenzin Dorjee said she is very excited for this year’s festival.

“It’s going to be a good year,” she said. “There are many different members of the community involved.”

“The Dorjee’s provide connections to the Tibetan community. I have the connection to campus, and then all of the help from Cecilia,” Mountcastle said. “That’s how it’s come to be.”

She said the amount of community involvement this year is at an all-time high. Planning this festival has been more extensive than usual because of the large number of contributors.

“This year the collaboration has extended to the community,” she said.

Mountain Lake PBS played a huge role in this year’s festival, from making a documentary film to working to provide funding.

Janine Scherline, director of fundraising and business development at Mountain Lake PBS, is responsible for writing a grant proposal to the New York State Counsel for the Arts. The festival received the funding from this grant.

“That funding is what makes it possible for us to put on this huge festival that includes the community,” Mountcastle said.

A big part of this year’s festival is the 10 feet by 10 feet vibrant tile mandala mural, which is located on a wall of a building downtown. The creator, Sue Young, has a studio located in Wilmington, and her signature work is recognized internationally.

According to an article in the Press-Republican, Sue Young found inspiration in the artwork of Amy Cheng, an artist who is especially known for her mandalas. The colorful mandala features a variety of textures, and each piece of the mural was handmade, fired, glazed and mounted at 15 Bridge St. on the City Hall Place side of the building.

Mountcastle said the artist, along with help from the Plattsburgh Downtown Renewal Project organized sessions throughout the Plattsburgh area, inviting people to make the tiles.

The Strand Center for the Arts is another partner for the festival. The center provided space for the tiles to be stored, as well as glazed and fired.

On Sept. 27, Tibetan musician Techung will be performing at PSUC. He and his band members will share the stage with the Adirondack Youth Orchestra.

According to, the Adirondack Youth Orchestra Association was founded in 1985 to establish a forum for talented young musicians to perform symphonic music from a variety of historical periods. Musicians come from all sectors of the North Country and share their talents with the area.
While on tour performing a show in New York City last year, the band received an invititation to Plattsburgh from the Dorjee and family.

At the time, Techung and his band lived in California, but he relocated to the Lake Placid area after visiting Plattsburgh. Techung is distantly related to Yangchen Dorjee.

“We made very strong connections, and because of that, we moved to the area,” Techung said.

California and Plattsburgh are two very different places, but Techung has only positive things to say about his new home.

“Plattsburgh is such a beautiful location,” he said. “The Adirondack Mountains and all the nature, it’s almost heavenly.”

Techung said the Plattsburgh community has been very welcoming to him.

“It’s a good example of a small town where people are open-hearted and accepting,” he said. “The people are really interested in other culture.”

Many of the events during the festival are free. All are open to the public and are being held in city venues. For a full listing of events and ticket information, visit

Email Madison Winters at

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