For the last two months, we have been hosting the Tibetan artist, Karma Thupten and his son, Tsering Topgyal, who exhibited their work and visited with well-wishers at the Steynberg Gallery in March, and at a month-long show that just concluded at ARTS Space Obispo in the Creamery. We were moved and inspired by the way San Luis Obispo County residents opened their arms, their hearts, and purses to support the treasure of Tibetan art and the artists. For us and for Karma, the events of were nothing short of many dreams come true.
Karma painted our first thanka (sacred painting) in 1984. We remained pen pals for more than 24 years and in 2004 our daughter, Christina, went to Kathmandu to study with him. During that time, the situation for Tibetan refugees in Nepal deteriorated dramatically. Karma began sending us some of his art to get it out of the country, as it became increasingly difficult to sell it in Kathmandu.
Karma’s art had been shown earlier in San Luis Obispo. The first showing of his work was about five years ago when Linnaea Phillips offered an informal venue at her café. They were displayed later for about 18 months at Tridosha Yoga Center.
With a month-long exhibit planned by ARTS Obispo, Karma decided to make his first-ever trip to America. From then on, the doors have opened wide as many people have embraced Karma, Topgyal, and their art by supporting events and buying pictures in numbers none of us could have imagined.
To all of you who attended events, bought paintings, and contributed your skills in so many ways, including good wishes, thank you so much. When Karma left to visit his relatives in Santa Fe and New York City, we sent him with pictures and a movie of his stay here. Rest assured, all of your kindness will be remembered by him and his whole extended family for many years. And by us.
You should also know that this experience changed Karma’s life. He came here feeling he was getting too old to work and was going to retire. He is returning in better health, with “new eyes,” orders, and inspiration to keep painting and teaching.