Making order from chaos

This Saturday is Shambhala Arts Day, free and open to the general public, at Rosendale’s Sky Lake Lodge

by Lynn Woods
April 21, 2011 11:01 AM | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jen Woodin & Deirdre Leber collaborate 
on outdoor object arrangement at Sky Lake
Jen Woodin & Deirdre Leber collaborate on outdoor object arrangement at Sky Lake
Most of us still subscribe to the romantic notion of the artist as an isolated, egocentric creator relying on his or her imagination, skill and smarts to express a novel vision. Shambhala Arts Day, held at Sky Lake Lodge in Rosendale this Saturday, April 23, offers an alternative creative experience that focuses on the collective and universal, using the simplest of means. In a series of exercises, participants will arrange common objects together to express the three fundamental principles of Heaven, Earth and Human, lyrically depicted in ancient Chinese landscape paintings by tall mountains, a stream or cascading waterfall and a tiny human figure, usually a monk, watching it all.

“We’ll start with some simple framing of meditation as a way of settling down, and then practice this object-arranging, which can be profound and humorous,” explained Barbara Bash, a calligrapher, performance artist and illustrator who has been part of the Shambala community for 30 years. Each participant will have an opportunity to arrange an object, be it a bowl, leaf or scarf. After working indoors, everyone will step outside, break into groups of three and arrange natural objects in the woods.

The three-step process focuses on a beginning, follow-through and resolution and is designed to help make people more aware of the inherent beauty of a natural order. And unlike the solitude of the artist’s studio, here the creative process is tied to “the sheer joy of interacting with others,” according to Katy Bray, Sky Lake director.

This event is free and open to everyone, including children; young kids are particularly good at the arranging, according to Bash, who recently presented Shambhala art precepts in elementary schools. The Sky Lake Shambhala Center is dedicated to the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who escaped his native land in the 1950s and, after traveling to India and England, came to the US in 1970. Based in Boulder, followed by a stint in Halifax, he developed his teachings over the next 17 years, which spawned Shambhala Centers all over the world.

The Arts Day will be held this Saturday, April 23 from 2 to 5:30 p.m., with refreshments served afterwards. It will be followed on Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. with an intra-arts evening performance featuring Bash, dancer Arawana Hayashi and actress and comedian Lanny Harrison. Sky Lake Lodge, located on Hillcrest Lane outside the village of Rosendale, offers a program of meditation and other Buddhist contemplative arts. For more information, log on to or call (845) 658-8556.

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