A Tibetan Master at Work in Sebastopol
A Tibetan art gallery may seem like an odd fit at first for Sebastopol’s Barlow district. The Barlow, you see, prides itself on bringing visitors and customers closer to the local producers who grow their food, blend their wine, or brew their coffee.
So how does a gallery featuring the traditional art of a far-flung land fit in?
Quite interestingly, in fact: The Barlow’s Tibetan Gallery & Studio, right here in Sonoma County, is the only place in the United States where you can actually witness a massive Tibetan thanbochi being painted in painstakingly traditional style. Talk about getting closer to the producer and the process.
A thanbochi is a huge, sacred painting that’s used in special prayer ceremonies and is said to bring blessings to those who see it. The gallery’s resident master Tibetan artist, Tashi Dhargyal, “really wants as many people as possible to be able to see the progression of this piece,” so he’s made its creation the centerpiece of his gallery.
Walk in on any given day over the next four years or so and you’ll see him up on scaffolding, making tiny, incision-like strokes on his two-story high canvas.
Tashi has studied Tibetan art for more than 15 years, and creates his pieces using traditional methods: He uses hand-prepared canvases, paints made from hand-ground minerals, and 24k gold. Though he studied in India, Tashi’s mission here in Sebastopol is to preserve Tibetan art and heighten understanding of it in the West.
In addition to housing Tashi’s constantly evolving thanbochi, the Tibetan Studio & Gallery offers a selection of unique and handcrafted Tibetan pieces for sale.
These include prints by Tashi and students of the Institute of Tibetan Thangka Art in India, high-quality custom silk scarves, prayer flags, and singing bowls. Next to each item, you’ll eventually find cards explaining the unique story and cultural significance of the piece in both English and Tibetan.
To get visitors even more involved, Tashi teaches classes in Tibetan thangka painting twice a week, and his gallery will soon begin hosting lecture series.
It all fits in nicely, Tashi says, with the Barlow’s — and his own — vision of bringing together production, process, and community.