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Monks coming for sand painting, Asian Festival
Actress Glenn Close will speak at the SCAD commencement May 30.

Like Def Leppard, Bruce Springsteen and “Riverdance,” the Tibetan Monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery tour the country like clockwork every year – and when their act hits Savannah, it’s like a visit from an old friend.

The monks return to the Telfair Museum of Art June 1-7. As always, their week-long residency will start with a program of Tibetan music, chants and traditional dance, before moving on to the main event: The careful construction, over a period of days, of an intricate sand mandala in the Eckberg Atrium.

It’s truly something to behold. Every grain of colored sand is set into the design by hand (it sounds time-consuming, and it is), ultimately creating a large, complex (and quite beautiful) spiritual homage to the female Buddha of health and longevity.

You can watch the monks at their work during the museum’s regular business hours, and on June 4, they’ll give a public lecture on the mandala’s meaning and significance in Tibetan culture and spirituality. On the final day, everyone follows them to the Savannah River where the mandala is ceremoniously scattered on the water.

There’s no admission charge for any of this; see

On June 6, the monks will take a break from their Telfair tasks to perform at the Savannah Asian Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Savannah Civic Center.

Alongside a food court of authentic Asian cuisine, a kids’ art area and a marketplace with art, décor, clothing, jewelry and the like, the event will put the spotlight on performances from all points east, including Japanese taiko drummers, Indonesian performance arts, and dance from India, Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere.

The Savannah Asian Festival is free; check out

Just Close enough

Actress Glenn Close, a three-time Tony winner and multiple Academy Award nominee, will be in town May 30 during SCAD’s commencement ceremonies at the Savannah Civic Center.

Although she’s best known to some for her bunny-boiling antics in the 1987 thriller “Fatal Attraction,” Close is one of Hollywood’s most versatile thespians – she brought silent film star Norma Desmond to creepy life in the Broadway musical Sunset Boulevard, played the Vice President of the United States in Air Force One, and camped it up as Cruella de Ville in the live-action 101 Dalmatians.

Close recently won an Emmy – her career second – for her portrayal of cunning lawyer Patty Hewes in the FX series Damages.

After Close’s 9 a.m. address to the class of 2009, she will travel to Atlanta to speak to the graduates at SCAD-Atlanta’s third commencement ceremony.

Neither event is open to the public – but hey, we thought you’d like to know.



Kind of BLUE

Coming June 10-14: More than 45 world-class marine documentaries, along with panel discussions, workshops and sundry get-togethers with leading ocean filmmakers and conservationists.

The inaugural BLUE Ocean Film Festival is expected to attract representatives from major film studios and television networks.

Along with the screenings, scheduled for the Trustees Theater and Lucas Theatre, the event will also honor oceanographer Sylvia Earle with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, which of course has its own ocean-themed film festival, is a co-sponsor.

Individual screening tickets are $8 for the public, $6 for students and seniors, and there are numerous passes available should you want to build your own itinerary of BLUE events. See

Musical notes

… Drummer Cody Dickinson and bassist Chris Chew, members of the extraordinarily cool North Mississippi All-Stars, bring their offshoot band Hill Country Revue to the Live Wire Music Hall June 3. Kirk Smithart is the guitarist for the band, which plays “gritty, messy, stripped-down Mississippi hill country blues” (those are Dickinson’s words). Garry Burnside (of the legendary Mississippi Burnsides) wrote most of the stuff on the band’s debut, “Make a Move.” Tickets are $8 advance, $10 day of show…

Steve Earle, touring behind his brand-new album of songs by the late, great Townes Van Zandt, will play a solo acoustic show June 13 in AASU’s Fine Arts Auditorium. General admission tickets are $32 advance at, and will be $35 day of show…

… Bassist, singer, composer and respected rock ‘n’ roll eccentric Les Claypool (of Primus, Oysterhead and Fancy Band fame) drops into the Shoreline Ballroom, on Hilton Head Island, May 28. Tickets are $23 advance, $25 day of show …

… PBS favorite Celtic Woman will perform June 1 at the Savannah Civic Center. The breathy Irish vocal quintet, recently seen on “Dancing With the Stars,” has a new digital download and handy ringtone (“Oh America”) coming out June 23. Tickets are $60 and $40 at …