Connect with us


New at Florida CraftArt: Loft artists come downstairs, Tibetan monks paint with sand

Bill DeYoung



Tibetan Buddhist monks from India's Drepung Gomang Monastery are in St. Pete this week. Photo provided.

January is jumping at Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., as 19 of the artists who work upstairs – in the studios known as ArtLofts – display their work in the CraftArt exhibition gallery, downstairs.

They’ll be feted with a meet-the-artists reception Friday (Jan. 10), from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The work, including painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography, mixed media and more – is on view now, and will be up through Jan. 18.

Jan. 11 is, of course, a Saturday, and it’s the second Saturday of the month, which means that many of the ArtLofts artists will be upstairs again for the monthly Second Saturday ArtWalk. Which in turn means a win-win for art aficionados, who can ogle the work in the exhibition gallery, and – should they choose – enter the studios themselves to watch the artists in the process of creating.

There are others milling about Florida CraftArt this week, colorfully dressed and projecting serenity. Eight Tibetan monks, from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India, are in residence, chanting, playing instruments, dancing and – most significantly, perhaps – creating a colorful sand painting of intricate and beautiful design.

It’s called a Sacred Healing Medicine Sand Mandala. This is the monks’ third visit to St. Pete, and to Florida CraftArt.

Why do they do it? The creation and dissolution of a traditional Sand Mandala – an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism – is a lesson of peace and impermanence.

They perform these rituals in communities around the world to raise funds to educate, feed, house and provide healthcare for the 2,000 monks living in exile at the monastery.

Executive Director Katie Diets became familiar with the Drepung Gomang monks, and their mandala ceremonies, during the six years she spent running the Lighthouse Art Center in Tequesta, Florida.

Extending their tour to St. Pete – and to Florida CraftArt – was a no-brainer.

“Creating this mandala can be considered a fine craft,” Diets explains. “Also, they bring fine crafts that are made by Tibetan refugees.

“In addition to that, it’s a wonderful experience. You’re learning about another culture, and the monks bring this wonderful, peaceful environment with them, when you’re around them, when you hear them chant. It’s a great experience. And it’s an artful experience.”

The monks will be present through Sunday; admission is free, except where noted.

Today (Wednesday, Jan. 8):

 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala

5:30-7 p.m. A reception featuring Tibetan Culture, including the Lucky Dance and the Snow Lion Dance. Advance purchase online (FCA members $20; nonmembers $30. Space is limited)


Thursday, Jan. 9:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala


Friday, Jan. 10:

 9 a.m. AARP members-only breakfast with the monks

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala

5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ArtLofts opening in Exhibition Gallery


Saturday, Jan. 11:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala

10:30 a.m. to noon, and 2 to 4 p.m. Rock Painting Workshop: The monks will show you how to paint Tibetan symbols on rocks. Each participant can paint their own rock as a keepsake. Advance purchase online (FCA members $15; nonmembers $25)

5 p.m. Second Saturday ArtWalk—Meet the Monks

6 p.m. Healing minute of meditation around the world, broadcast live


Sunday, Jan. 12:

12 p.m. Finalization of Mandala

1 p.m. Dissolution Ceremony: The mandala is swept up in a ceremony of gratitude and blessings. The community is invited to join the monks in a procession to the bay, where they will pour sand from the mandala with a Buddhist blessing. After the ceremony, the mandala sand will be given away. Free to the public. Reserved seating is available online (FCA members $20; nonmembers $30)



Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Chris Stewart

    January 15, 2020at7:48 am

    Sorry I missed it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us:

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.