Claudia Bokulich

Previous to my arrival at Elsewhere, I was developing feelings of stress and uncertainty about my decision to attend the month of July as a resident. This was my first residency, so I was nervous about what to expect, but I could not have chosen one as warm and relaxing as Elsewhere. The house is such a beautiful and unique place to stay, and my lovely studio made it very easy to work every day. The structure is laid back, which I enjoyed. There are weekly meetings, and I managed to have a few informal critiques a week with fellow residents. I was lucky enough to befriend a couple of incredible and talented residents during my stay, and also many people living in town. I was surrounded by good vibes, good people and a plethora of activities to take part in. At times I felt that my immersion in the community and frequent social interaction was a distraction from what I traveled there to do, which was to be alone and focus on my work. But I learned that these people and experiences served as a muse, as my paintings are based on people and social interaction. I was not expecting to fall in love with small town Paonia, but it has an incredibly special place in my heart. 

 

Nature Loves Courage. -Carol Flueckiger

Nature Loves Courage.  This is the sign painted on the community garden building at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, CO.  I passed this sign every day - took several pictures of it during my month long artist residency in June 2017.  Bold red cursive words floating on a strong blue background stripe that stretched across a white painted brick wall.  It’s like two lover’s names carved into a tree.  I kept envisioning what Nature looked like and what Courage’s voice sounded like.  Nature looks like the beautiful North Fork Valley.  Courage sounds like the dynamic engaged community.  I like to think Nature and Courage built Elsewhere Studios so they could grow community.  As you walk past the sign, you see the garden, an old building, piles of compost, bikes for use, stacks of wood, work tables, coils of hose, a large ceramic wall filled with pieces of tile and the big green building that houses the studios.  You hear the funky beat of tunes from the shop and see people working.  The environment dares you to grow.  To pick up something, think about something, look at something.  And grow.    

In this environment, I grew my project Solitude of Selfie a visual revision of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 19th century speech,Solitude of Self.  This poetic musing considers self in relation to family, community, country.  Using a blend of drawing and cyanotype, compositions are a game of quasi feminist paper dolls that have been washed with history at the speed of a spin cycle. 

While conducting Solar Powered Painting Workshops with groups from Solar Energy International, High Country News, Citizens for a Healthy Community, Bike Co-op and Elsewhere Studios, I grew my understanding of the lovely community that was grown by Nature and Courage.

Solar Powered Painting Workshop, Elsewhere Studios, Paonia, CO, June 2017

Elsewhere Studio, Daniel Fonken, Residency Manager

Solar Energy International, Kris Sutton, Director of Operations

Citizens for a Healthy Community, Andrew Forkes-Gudmudson, Associate Program Director

High Country News, Brooke Warren, Associate Designer

Bike Co-op & Elsewhere Studio, Carol Flueckiger, Artist in Residence

Rhombie

When I arrived in Hotchkiss I saw the 9 mile sign to Paonia, then began wondering if I had made the right decision. Coming from Los Angeles there wasn’t much at initial glance, but I quickly realized I was wrong and was greeted by a town that would allow me space to breathe. I spent two months at Elsewhere, where my last month’s focus became centered around setting up the requirements for me to return in August. I photographed my first stranger as I was unpacking my car. He said, “You don’t find Paonia, Paonia finds you.” A statement I found to be true and revealing of what was in store for me. My intended project was to photograph farmers, but I also began to photograph the locals in town with an emphasis on the strong women within the community. 

I am thankful for my time spent at Elsewhere as it introduced me to the next town I will call home. I look forward to returning to Paonia to continue working on my projects.

http://www.rhombie.com/
https://www.instagram.com/rhombie/
 

Robin Grearson

Robin was a writer-in-residence during May & June of 2017, thus a photo blog.

Nishant John

It was in January 2017 that I heard from Daniel & Karen at Elsewhere studios saying that I was offered a residency in May 2017 and I remember immediately being extremely thrilled and nervous at the same time. I still had to apply for my visa, and it would be my first time in the United States. Fast forward 4 months later and here I was, 8000+ miles away from home, surrounded by some of the most beautiful people and landscapes. Coming from Bangalore, a city that has a population of 10 million + people right now, Paonia was such a welcome change and I immediately felt at home at Elsewhere.

I lived in the Suite and shared the house with fellow artists Robin, Other Robin, and Rhombie (all of us got along immediately and had many adventures that month!). My medium is mainly video and Paonia had so much to offer. I spent most of my month shooting a lot of footage that I’m compiling now. The town has so much happening (something none of us expected) and it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the fun things to go see and do. Live music, workshops, open mic, movies, open studios, art walks, yard sales, thrift stores, radio shows, parades, and so much more!

One of the best parts about Paonia for me was KVNF. I spent a lot of time listening to the station while I was there and I still tune in from India to shows that I follow. They have such a diverse selection of music that’s really well curated. I was lucky enough to do a show with Ali while I was there and we had a fun chat about the music scene here in India and I also got to share music from some of the artists here.

When you live in a city like mine, and you get everything delivered to your doorstep, you kind of forget about what’s really important in life. I love that so many people grow their own food in this town (that’s something I’ve always wanted to do but I live in an apartment on the fourth floor). I definitely plan to come back here and spend more time (one month went by way too quickly). The community here always has your back and I made some really good friends while I was here. People would go out of their way to make sure that we had everything we needed. I still keep in touch with them and dream about living here someday and I feel like that’s not so far away.  

I learnt so much from my time at Elsewhere and I can confidently say that this residency changed me both as an artist and a human being and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. Paonia is truly a magical place and the community of artists and the people who live there make it so. I’m so thankful to everyone at Elsewhere and so glad to be a part of the family.

Lauren Welch

Some things that I learned at Elsewhere that I only could have learned from Elsewhere:

1.     Everything is a dormant volcano.

2.     Sriracha mayo goes with just about any food in the house.

3.     You can cook quesadillas very adequately on the dashboard of Daniel’s car, and it doesn’t even have to be very hot out.

4.     If you let the wooden hot tub in the back soak for a while, the wood will swell and block up all the leaks.

5.     One mountain slope is green and the other is barren because the barren side is south facing and gets the brunt of the sun.

6.     Aspen groves are actually just one giant organism network.

7.     California condors lay their eggs on the ground inside caves.

8.     Always bring tissues.

9.     Magpies work in teams. One will perch on top of your car and keep a look out while the other one raids the inside.

10.  I should probably be composting.

11.  The weeds in the community garden make great salad greens.

12.  Tomatoes will love you more than anyone else if you have a heated blanket.

13.  A cactus cat is a cat with bone claws that lives in the desert and gets drunk on fermented cactus juices.

14.  Dill and eggs go well together.

15.  Ask for anything and ye shall receive.

16.  Transients and wanderers welcome.

17.  Paonia is a microclimate.

18.  Talking and adventuring is just as legitimate to the artistic process as the actual making.

19.  Searching for the Woohoos at City Market is a serious skill (that I don’t have).

20.  Direct and explicit communication saves a lot of trouble.

21.  Why buy anything new when you can just get it from the thrift store?

22.  National parks are free on holiday weekends.

23.  Camping is free if you make up your own space.

24.  Aspen ski slopes are free if you pretend like you know what you’re doing.

25.  Everything should be sold through CSA shares.

26.  Water is a valuable resource, especially in the desert, so save jugs of dirty water while the faucet is running.

27.  Ben is great to have around working if you want a solid studio day.

28.  Elsewhere is made for experiences, so don’t just sit inside all day.

29.  The Blue Sage studios are a gem.

30.  There is no better community to live and learn from than the people of Paonia.

The North Fork Dazzled Me - Alyson Davies

Starting 2017 by dancing with the people of Paonia at the New Year’s steam punk celebration was a glorious way to start a new cycle. Being a returning Elsewherian I knew some of what to expect from Elsewhere and Paonia, but was surprised and humbled by the kindness and openness of the community. I found Paonia a loving host for my artistic projects. My co-residents were fabulous humans, absolute gems and kindred spirits. My friendships with them have been inspiring and are shaping into incredible collaborations. Having the basement space to myself was such a blessing, I’m incredibly grateful of being able to make creative messes and attempt new ventues in self directed ceramic play. I learnt a lot about my practice and held many sauna mediation sessions. The North Fork dazzled me with sights, tastes and its residents. My most humble thank you to all of the beautiful souls who do so much to make magic in the world.

 

Kristina O'Connor

Time works differently at Elsewhere, moving slowly with great generosity. A residency at Elsewhere Studios truly is a choose-your-own-adventure experience.  Arriving into Grand Junction by plane, immediately the landscape drew me into its expansiveness and beauty. I’ve been to Colorado once before, and when talking about Colorado, I always remark how big the sky is…and it’s still true. The colors and textures of the Mesa’s and how open the road appears with rising mountains in the boundless sky- I would have been happy spending the residency looking out the window from the passengers seat in awe. But I did not, only sometimes, on a couple outings with other residents, for which I am grateful.

 

I strapped in for an adventure looking inward, from the driver’s seat of my own internal and artistic healing- oy. There is no express lane to inner peace and balance; it’s not fair, I know. But, there is a place, that offers time and space to explore the routes and possibilities of what life and the life force of art is and can be.

 

Elsewhere is the most whimsical place I’ve lived, with ornate décor and stylish oddities, natural beauties, and a vibrant community, events, and happenings to be inspired by. The residence itself is private, right on the way in from one side of town, a walking distance to everything. There is a backyard to explore with a small irrigation creek and an awesome Art Wall. I spent my residency in the basement studio apartment- an absolutely perfect and wonderful safe haven and incubator for personal growth and artistic exploration.

 

Fair warning, in the basement, there are spiders. They are calm spiders and easy to capture and release, but there are spiders none-the-less. There is an amazing sauna, which is really the highlight of the space. And a cat-door! So Tomatoes the cat can come visit! We had a rough start, but Tomatoes and I became great friends by the end.

 

Upon arriving, I knew there was a lot of crap inside me to work out. With a huge emphasis on letting go, getting started was challenging. It’s fascinating how, in life, you can become familiar with certain obligations or dysfunction so much so that you develop a type of Stockholm Syndrome for the things that bind you.

 

Elsewhere challenged that, simply by offering the time and the space, support and encouragement, flexibility, and understanding truly of the diversity of individual artistic processes and personal functioning.  When you yourself start to do the same, the world reveals much more magic, possibility, and serendipity, as you trust in yourself, others, and the process.

 

It is the perfect place to be curious…to explore things, infinite passions, and human limitations. It is the perfect place to be brave. Everyone around you is supportive, encouraging of your art practice, and completely encouraging of doing what you need to do to take care of yourself.

 

As the residency came to an end (a slow and generous end), I had the freedom to create my own presentation- taking selected works and incorporating an installation display, to create an experience, reflective of my residency experience, and also a new and curious one for others to enjoy.  The beauty of a shared human experience is how we can relate on an emotional and empathetic level, despite the specifics our own individual journeys.

 

The chair from my studio space was made available to get comfortable in and view the work from. The display intended visitors to have an experience. Due to heightened social anxiety, I could not be present for the open house. It was an opportunity to really honor my feelings and self. I made the collection of journals and sketchbooks from my residency available, which took a lot of courage to be vulnerable and expose what I think are my secrets and personal workings, confusions, memories, poems, doodles, hopes, dreams, desires, and humorous run-downs of my anxiety experiences.

 

As time passes, the perilous parts of the adventure will fade…. or time will at least distance me enough that I can laugh about it.  The opportunity to do this and expose my vulnerabilities is an exceptional realization, that really, you can let it all go. You don’t have to hold on to the things you tell yourself about how you are, the past can be the past, you can own your own being, and so what…so what if you’re afraid or sad or anxious…so what. You can still take action, you can be honest, you can get away from the things that hurt you, you can honor your need for solitude, you can be kind, you can be anonymous, you can matter just as much or as little as you want to. You can be however you wish to be, life is cliché-ly really what you make it, and it is truly a process to be alive. I extend my deepest gratitude to Elsewhere Studios for the experience and opportunity.

 

Macayli Hausmann

When I applied for Elsewhere my main priorities were to change my everyday environment and change the studio practice I had grown comfortable with. Prior to my arrival I had no idea what form my studio practice would take on but I quickly learned that Paonia would offer me all the direction I needed. Paonia provides. There was a number of times where I had said out loud or even simply thought about something I was in need of and it always showed up, whether that be me mentally summoning tomatoes to come sleep with me or wanting new cassettes to listen to and then finding not one but four boxes of cassettes in the basement. Paonia truly does provide. I made work at Elsewhere that I feel could only be made in that time and place. Paonia and Elsewhere specifically is different than anyplace I have ever been before and I feel grateful to have experienced it.

Since My Time At Elsewhere - Liz Cantrell

It’s been about five months since I left Elsewhere Studios, but the time I spent there is never far from my mind. I cherished my two month residency in creative writing and felt very productive in terms of my writing practice and habits.

As far as life after Elsewhere, much has changed. When I arrived, I was in limbo. I had a strange year before my residency. I quit a job, moved home, and felt in flux. I came to Elsewhere seeking to fill a gap in my summer plans before graduate school, and to have space and freedom to write creatively before turning to more academic writing. When I left Elsewhere two months later, I went on a five week hiking and camping road trip, and then quickly moved to New York City to begin graduate school (as had been my plan.) I’m still on track, am enjoying school, and excited for this phase of my education.

However, swamped as I am by grad school commitments, I hate to admit that I haven’t kept up with personal writing as much as I would like. I do journal regularly, but I have put aside deeper creative writing projects, as I primarily write for school now.

Still, my time at Elsewhere continues to shape other aspects of my writing, my career, and my life. Elsewhere restored a sense of a creative arts community, which I had been craving. Elsewhere taught me not to apologize for my interests or passions, and to protect my creative/artistic time. I found a certain stillness, a peace, at Elsewhere. Living in the hectic environment of New York City, I frequently reach for this stillness. I also frequently romanticize the beauty of the North Fork Valley and the spirit of Paonia. How I miss that quirky town.

As someone who came to Elsewhere not as a full-time artist pursuing a specific project or series of projects, but as a wanderlust soul in transition, I believe Elsewhere guided me emotionally and mentally. My residency was one of reflection, experimentation, and excitement for what was ahead. I am indescribably grateful for my Elsewhere experience. While brief, it will remain one of the most free, open, and rich times of my life.

When Whiplash Is A Good Thing - Siri Undlin

So, before I write, say or do anything else, I was to extend a massive thank you to Elsewhere Studios, Mountain Harvest Creative, the Colorado Creative Coalition and the National Endowment for the Arts, without which this opportunity and residency would not have been possible. I am eternally grateful and will be reminded of that gratitude as the work created during my stay at Elsewhere studios continues to unfold. Now, some reflections:

For the last 3 years, I’ve been moving. By choice and always driven by a (somewhat fanatical) belief in the power of story and song to connect us to each other and the world in which we live. I’m lucky to do this, no matter the discomfort and loneliness that comes with a life on the road and I’m proud to be yet another in a long line of troubadours, stretching back thousands of years. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

That being said, I didn’t realize how tired I was when I arrived in Paonia back in July. As I unpacked my bags and put my clothes in an actual dresser, cooked dinner in the same kitchen for days in a row, recognized faces and settled into the fruit groves and rocky nooks, I came to understand that I had arrived as a shell of myself - a hollowed-out, knobby-kneed scarecrow creature that sang folk songs out of habit. I was dizzy from movement and unable to define home. Part lost puppy, part lunatic.

Paonia taught me how allowing for space creates room for possibility; how collaboration is enriched by friendship, how seasons actually feel as they move across the valley. I learned how rejuvenating a good nights sleep can be, basked in the healing glory of apricot jam and hot springs. Every person has a story, a craft, a way of being – and the tales are particularly rich in Paonia. I feel lucky to have been a witness and to have experienced the sensation of returning to myself and my craft in the midst of it all.

Summer had seemed like a little infinity, but it was over so so fast. I’m back on tour now, feeling whiplashed into a lifestyle I love, but will take some readjusting – whizzing down roads, entertaining rooms of unfamiliar faces, feeling solitary in a world heavy with information. As I adventure on today, I’m thinking about how sometimes, whiplash is a good thing, that it means I found a small slice of the world where I felt at peace, that I made friends who challenged me to root down and be my best self. I don’t know that I’m any closer to slowing down or settling in, but Paonia is a home I’ll carry on my sleeve and also in tucked-away pockets. I’m better for it.

How Elsewhere Inspired the Piney Wood Atlas

Alicia Toldi (Oakland, CA) and Carolina Porras (Gainesville, FL) met as residents at Elsewhere Studios in 2013. Alicia applied while living in Brooklyn after three of her friends had recommended the space, one of them calling it “paradise”. Carolina found the residency through a database and was accepted with a scholarship. Due to a last-minute cancellation and a scheduling mishap, the two artists spent the summer together, and felt a mutual growing regard for residency programs, artist communities, and road travel. Elsewhere gave them something of the utmost importance to artists: space and time to focus on creating and challenging their artistic practice. This time of personal focus and exploration facilitated necessary changes, shifts, and next steps in their lives.

After living together in the Sunset district of San Francisco for two years (Alicia moved back to California after the residency), Alicia and Carolina talked about visiting more residencies as a kind of research tour. They soon formed Piney Wood Atlas, a project that visits and catalogues small artist residencies in the hopes of broadening the creative community and showing that the residency and the journey there can be a fun, productive, and attainable adventure. Carolina’s move to Florida has helped broaden their scope and made the project a countrywide endeavor. Their first trip in July 2016 covered fourteen residencies in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. More regional trips are in the works, as well as guide book/publications for each region and an interactive website.

website/blog: pineywoodatlas.tumblr.com

Instagram: @pineywoodatlas (or instagram.com/pineywoodatlas)

email: pineywoodatlas@gmail.com

 

 

Hannah Davis

I applied to Elsewhere because I was intrigued by how secluded it was, placed in a valley in the middle of nowhere. I had been trying to break myself of all of the bad habits I picked up during undergrad, but I hadn’t been able to. I thought the isolation would do me some good.

When I arrived at the quirky establishment I would call my home for the whole month of June, I immediately felt that I had made a right decision in applying there. I soon found out how Paonia worked-everything seemed to move a little bit slower. No one here was in a hurry. At the house, the only sounds were the quiet noise of the other residents working or talking to the occasional visitor and the ditch water running. Tomatoes would sometimes interrupt by howling, if he happened to catch a mouse in the garden.

I think the slow nature of Paonia helped me rethink my studio practice and what I wanted out of my life in general. Before, I would always pressure myself to make work. While at Elsewhere, I drew when I wanted to, and when I didn’t, I didn’t. I spent time with the other residents, talking about work and life, saw a lot of live music... It felt good not to pressure myself into making work all the time. Something about Paonia makes you slow down and take your time.

My work changed in a way I couldn’t imagine. When I loosened up, so did my work. I lost the harsh outline that all of my drawings had before, allowing edges to blur into one another. I am still working on pushing my work to be a little bit more ambiguous and creepy, but I think I took a step in the right direction while here.

I am back to a place where things move quickly again, but I know now that it is important to slow down, and to have all types of experiences. I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken me to come to that conclusion without my stay at Elsewhere; Paonia is a place that really encourages enjoyment of art and life, and I am so grateful for my time there.

Elsewhere as a bookend by nina semczuk


What would your life look like pieced into volumes on a bookshelf, each life change a new edition? Would you have a slew of paperback disposable books, or slim magazines tipped onto a shelf? Is your life more solid and stable, lending itself to a number of hefty, leather-bound, first editions, standing neatly in a row? 

My life's collection would be framed by two raw agate bookends, crystals pointing upward and outward. Within the brilliant blue bookends would be a collection of books, olive drab and uniform, my life in the Army, embodied by books.

My month at Elsewhere, after almost eight years involved with the military, about five years active Army and three years as a Reserve Officer Training Cadet, is the bookend on the right. The left is my summer after high school at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.

Both experiences led to an illumination of the arts, community, and an open heart. I'm extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to jump so fully into a different world. Lifestyle and culture whiplash is a theme in my life. To go from a world where there's a prescribed way to do almost everything (see Army Regulations and Field Manuals and Training guidance...), to a world of having the freedom to explore different realms of creativity, create my own schedule, and dive into personal writings, is unique and amazing. The juxtaposition of having both experiences back-to-back makes the contrast that much more distinctive, and also more appreciated by me.

As I drove from Colorado to New York after leaving Elsewhere, I listened to a number of podcasts. During one of Tim Ferriss's episodes, he interviewed Sebastian Junger, author of "Tribe", "The Perfect Storm," and director of Restrepo, among many other works. Ferriss asks Junger what he would do to help integrate veterans back into American society. Junger says he advocates that every town opens up a platform, once a year, where any veteran in the community can speak for fifteen minutes and let their story out.

While I'm not originally from Paonia I had this opportunity, thanks to Elsewhere, to share one of my pieces with the Paonia community. My month has been spent trying to wrestle out all the stories I want and need to share about my time in service. While most of my stories lack the sensationalist twist that many people associate with the military, I still feel compelled to open the window on the day-to-day life of an Army regular. While my project is not nearly finished, I established a firm foothold on what comes next and wrote more than fifteen short pieces.

Paonia and Elsewhere community, thank you so much for the support, open-hearted conversations, and warmth. Walking around Paonia and recognizing one out of three people on the street is a special feeling. I've been swallowed by large institutions most of my life, mainly by choice, but the experience of a close community is one that I have never felt until this August, at my 26th year of life. I feel fortunate to know for certain that there are people out in the world who still enjoy a vibrant arts community, closeness of a small town, and the open creative minds that create such things as Elsewhere.

Now I'm off to Brooklyn! Another place I've never visited, but will now inhabit. Hopefully I'll bring a little bit of the Elsewhere spirit with me. Please don't hesitate to reach out and say hi! Email me at ninakeithcreative@gmail.com.

 

Kathleen Alcala

My residency at Elsewhere started with Cherry Days. What could be sweeter? Once upon a time I lived in this town, and I still remember the sweet taste of those cherries. Even better, I remember the cherry pies made by locals to try and use up all the cherries. It was with great, personal interest that I watched the judges taste cherry desserts in the park this summer, and cherries continued to appear on our kitchen counter for a couple of weeks, before they were supplanted by plums. 

As a writer of fiction and nonfiction, I don't usually resort to residencies as a way to get work done. But once in awhile, they are just the thing. When I came across "Elsewhere" and saw that it was in Paonia, I could not resist. I had a fairly limited project that I had set aside to finish a long, nonfiction book, and this seemed the perfect place for it.

This is the first time I have attended a mixed arts residency (sounds like martial arts, right? No kicking involved), and was happy to watch the enthusiasm and progress of my sister residents - a writer/photographer, a painter, and a singer/songwriter. The creative vibes radiated up through the floorboards, and down through the ceiling, and in from the backyard as the others worked. 

My tools consisted of a computer, paper and pencil, and a couple of dictionaries. Working on a translation consists of several stages, from a "thick" (literal) translation to a "thinner" one that aims for the equivalent phrases in English without pulling the reader too far from the original meaning. In this case, I am translating a biography of a Hispano-Arabic poet written in the 1980s by a professor at a university in Spain. The poet himself lived in the 1100s, and was part of an era called "Convivencia," in which Jews and Christians were not only tolerated, but embraced for their talents by the Muslim rulers of southern Spain. The poet himself, al-Mu'tamid Ibn Abbad, was a sort of rock star, along with his wife, I'timad, of his time and place. Think Jay-Z and Beyoncé. 

I made it through a "thick" translation, and will continue with a more nuanced approach to the work as I have time. In one month, I begin promoting my book, "The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island," from the University of Washington Press. Travel and talking about my work over and over again is hard work for a mostly reclusive person, so the time in Paonia was especially precious. 

While there, besides eating a lot of fruit, I

1) Visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Lost Lake

2) Visited Garvin Mesa, where I helped start public radio station KVNF with my husband years ago, and my old house in Montrose

3) Interviewed Felix Belmont about his interesting family background for a magazine article, 

4) Dropped by the offices of one of my favorite publications, High Country News, and

5) Acted as a lounge chair for the resident cat, Tomato(z).

I also heard live music about twice a week, a record number for me. Oh, and took full advantage of the air-conditioned library two blocks away. Did I mention that it was hot in July? 

Karen Good, Willow Wind Good, Spencer Lightfoot, and the adorably pregnant Sharon Bailey made sure we had everything we needed at Elsewhere. Other visitors dropped in out of curiosity, and sometimes their families had to drag them away when they realized that this quirky building just off the main street was a refuge for artists. Elsewhere has served lots of purposes over the years, but the current use as a harbor of creativity seems to suit it. 

With any luck, I will return again with new work, new ideas, and make new friends.

 

 

 

SIRI UNDLIN

 “A Knobby-Kneed Creature Arrives at Elsewhere Studios and Stubs Her Toe”

So, I tend to fall into my favorite places. Bed, freshwater lakes, love. 2 years ago, upon arrival in Edinburgh (which would quickly become a favorite city) I fell down an entire flight of double-decker bus stairs. Needless to say, after completing the hefty drive from Minneapolis to Paonia, emerging from my car a knobby-kneed creature and promptly tripping on my own shoe to tumble down into Elsewhere’s whimsically landscaped lot, I took it to be a very good sign. Alice has fallen down the hole, folks. Welcome to wonderland. 

It’s been a few weeks since my klutzy arrival and every day there’s a new surprise - quick friends, marimba concerts, an orange cat with unnerving 007 stealth-like tendencies. Lightning storms and apricots that hit me in the head (no Newtonian eurekas as of yet), grasshoppers the size of my thumb. Every time I start to form what feels like an accurate “first-impression” of this town, I’m surprised again. There’s a shimmering, kaleidoscopic quality here and the unexpectedness of the days has become reassuring. What an incredible place to make art. What a beautiful place to just be. 

But Elsewhere is not a vacuum. In my hometown, Philando Castile was brutally murdered by city police while his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter sat in the same car. As Minneapolis ripples with shock waves of grief and anger and the videos play over and over on social media, I’ve been honestly wondering if this is where I should be. As an artist, is my role to hermit away for an extended period of time or to join my generation in ferociously demanding progressive reform on both local and federal levels? Can I, in good conscience, experiment with looping compositions while friends, schoolmates and family members are singing and chanting outside the Governor’s house, using their voices until their throats are hoarse, and not even stopping then? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m asking because I am trying to understand. I do not believe that art is a luxury, but essential to survival. That being said, with an increasingly frightening presidential election approaching, is this time well spent? It is overwhelming and scary and if my music becomes nothing more than an “escape” then I have failed. 

I don’t know that I’ll ever have answers – for the duration of my stay at Elsewhere and beyond that. I started reading this book, though, called Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The title alone was a very needed reminder that as Paonia continues to shimmer and surprise me, as my hometown struggles to mend and grow, as it rains in Edinburgh and Alice wanders around in wonderland, wherever I go, there I am. You, reading this, are right where you’re at. For whatever reason, this stark and simple truth has been like pulling back a veil– I am right here. And I can say Philando Castile’s name, I can support my friends at home, I can ask impossible questions and I can make art - right here. I don’t have to do it gracefully, in fact, I can embrace the colorful, devastating edges of uncertainty, I can learn to relish the slip, tumble, fall and shattering in order to better contribute to the mosaic of, ya know, life. So, here’s to being a klutz, Elsewhere. Here’s to fantastic failures, slip n’ slides, mud slings, stubbed toes and the beauty of brokenness. I’m so excited to be here for the next 2 months.

 

 

Liz Cantrell

I arrived in Colorado in late April, wide-eyed at this weird and wonderful state. I made my way to the North Fork Valley, where spring had barely sprung. Snow still topped Lamborn, the ever-watchful mountain that looms over Paonia. When I pulled up to the house at 107 3rd Street, I was greeted by a cheerful, brushed-green-exterior and an arched doorway with the name proudly emblazoned: Elsewhere. This kaleidoscope, patchwork home welcomes artists, travelers, and wandering souls. We enter through this door as strangers. One or two or three or six months later, we exit through that threshold as friends and fellow Paonians.

What a joy to spend May and June in this place. My time at Elsewhere allowed me to do some thinking about my life and upcoming plans. I am on the cusp of graduate school and have gone through some significant transitions in the last year of my life. At Elsewhere, I took stock, journaling and working through those changes. I unearthed scenes from my life, my travels, and my relationships that had been tampered down. I found a way to give them voice.

My writing practice also shifted. Typically, I write poetry because I find it difficult to flesh out my feelings or experiences in a longer narrative. When I’m writing for a journalism assignment, I have no problem writing at length and in depth. Having distance from a piece is often a relief.

It is when something is close to home that the writing becomes “work,” becomes charged with meaning. At Elsewhere, it felt safe to finally explore this kind of personal writing. I became brave enough to read pieces at Open Studio that I would ordinarily not have brought to public light.

When I was not writing, days of adventure took me to places sublime and unfathomable to these east-coast eyes. I swam in alpine lakes ringed by aspen groves, scaled down sheer-cliffed canyons plunging to riverbeds, and let my eyes follow wide, flat mesas rising in the distance.

Around town, I absorbed every ounce of creativity that pulses through.  Open Mic nights at Louie’s Pizza became a chance to practice reading my work, to gain courage. Writer gatherings at the Green Cottage offered an intimate environment for feedback on works-in-progress. I was surprised and inspired by workshops that two fellow Elsewherians and I hosted at the town library, and was delighted by the surreal world of the Zeitgeist Circus Fashion Show.

These past two months at Elsewhere have witnessed many changes in the valley, in myself, and in my writing. I’ve watched spring turn to summer, marked the one-year passage of quitting my full-time corporate job to turn to a life of writing, and had the good fortune to see the solstice coincide with the full moon. I’ve pushed myself to dig deeper, to write with boldness and feeling, rather than reservation. These transitions are both ordinary and serendipitous. I think I needed to be here, to be “Elsewhere,” for those changes to come full circle.

It is with a full and happy heart that I leave this little town behind. I've met so many characters in Paonia. This town is rich in quirky people, but it's the cheer and spirit of those people that makes this place sink into your skin. I can say with some certainty that I'll keep in touch with a few of the Elsewhere residents, and some of the townsfolk, in the years to come. And I know I'll return to this valley one day.

Until then, I'll miss so many things. I'll miss all the elements of Elsewhere's bizarre and charming property, from the off-kilter Gingerbread House, to the half-string of Christmas lights that brighten up my little loft room, to the hidden pieces of art carved into floors and walls and ceilings. I'll miss Tomatoes, who is more than a cat. He's a companion, a mouse-hunter, and a heart-stealer. I'll miss conversations with fellow residents, over coffee or beer or both, gathered in the studio or relaxing in the living room. I'll miss the rush of peering into canyons, the awe of eyeing the distant red desert horizon, or the calm of watching rivers cascade past me.

I'll miss quiet things, too. The babble of ditchwater running behind the house; the contrast of scorched days and chilled nights; the cradle of mountains that rise around you like a cupped pair of hands; the ubiquity of fruits and ciders and juices from the valley's orchards, always ripe and ready to delight your tongue. 

Goodbye, Elsewhere. Goodbye, Paonia. Thank you.

Patrice LaVigne

I am penning my first book. Have you heard that writing a book is hard?

I am not new to being a writer ... I have a fancy college degree to show for it and have spent the last 15 years as a paid writer (to pay off that fancy degree). I am really good at researching and writing 500-2,000-word assignments on short deadlines.

However, writing a book is a whole different beast.

I've always wanted to write a book and I finally decided 2016 would be the year to pursue my goal. My husband and I walked the entire length of New Zealand (2,000 miles) on a trail called Te Araroa and our adventure (and misadventure) seemed to be the perfect subject for a travel memoir.

I started the book-writing process by attending a writer's retreat in February. When we went around the room to introduce ourselves, nearly everyone said "I'm so excited to be here; it's the only time I get any writing done."

Yikes. My idea was that the retreat would kick start my book, but then I would be on a roll the rest of the winter. I romanticized this idea of sitting down with my laptop with a fire roaring, snow falling outside and endless hours of writing my book.

The 2-week retreat was awesome. I returned with 10,000 words written. And then my book collected dust. I didn't make time for book writing when I returned. I did write every day ... just not the book. Life got in the way and I made a million excuses. It seemed what other writers predicted was coming true. Writing a book is a test of stamina and self-compassion, exploring new practices and challenges along the way.

I knew I needed something more to get the job done. Elsewhere’s Residency Program was a gift to myself. I spent the month of May living in the Gingerbread House and I am extremely pleased with my book progress.

Typically, I wrote 1,000 words a day, working for about 5 hours give or take. When all was said and done, I added 24,505 words to my book, which translates to 72 pages. This brings my grand total to 33,620 words, or 106 pages. I believe I am 70% done with the "writing" portion of my book. I am hoping to do a little more writing this fall and winter to finish it off, but let's not talk about the revision process yet. Baby steps.

Beside quantifying my progress, I realize my time at Elsewhere and Paonia was an opportunity to break out of my shell a little more. It wouldn’t be wise to just hibernate because the town is vibrating with opportunities. Two of the 3 other residents were writers, so we really capitalized on our skills. We participated in the open mic night, a writer's group, a radio reading and a workshop teaching others about writing. It was really the best way to make the most of my time in Paonia.

Overall, Elsewhere was an awesome experience. I am in love with residencies, Paonia and Tomatoes the cat. 

Life Propaganda by Elyse Krista AnnaMarie Mische

I departed from Paonia a little over a week ago and I have been day dreaming about the magic ever since. I am eternally grateful for being selected by Elsewhere Studios and the Unicorn Arts Collective to receive the National Endowment for the Arts funded residency in Fashion Design. Thinking back to my experience my mind is continuously blow away.  In 2015 if you would have asked me, “where do you see yourself in 2016”, I never would have guessed Elsewhere Studios in Paonia Colorado. Have confidence in the wind, you’ll most always land exactly where you are meant to be.

I have this amazing (and slightly crazy) habit of signing up for tasks that are a few notches above my expertise because I always have faith that I am capable of rising to the occasion.  The idea of creating my first fashion line was initially daunting but Paonia has the ability to make an ant feel like Hulk Hogan…..and I body slammed the heck out of the task. Elsewhere Studios is not only an incubator for creativity and unhindered expression but also the perfect place to unearth buried talents and unleash success. The combination of high quality people, invigorating energy, and breathtaking mountain views creates an elixir that can surely launch any artist into a brighter future.

During my residency I took themes and symbolism from my 2D drawings and translated them into a series of 3D Live Drawings™, which ultimately became my fashion line, Life Propaganda. I used my love for mixed media to create 8 (literally) head to toe costumes and props that embodied ideas of time, life, death, wealth, the fine line between reality and unreality, and whimsy.  Each of my fabulous models bravely wore a handmade papier-mâché mask and garments made from repurposed teabags (over 1500 all collected by the Paonia community!), cut pleather and paper, and linoleum-block hand printed fabrics. I collaborated with fellow artists in Appleton Wisconsin to create original music (Joanna Dane and Tad Neuhaus) and projection designs (Len Eb). During the Saturday night show I ran around to the theater to catch a glimpse of my line; and let me tell you, seeing your own drawings hand dance to funky music in front of 200 people is a surreal and out of this world experience.  If you have never attended The Paonia Fashion Show, be sure to mark your calendars for next year, let’s hope things get weird.  

You can find images and video of my fashion line and view more of my creations at www.lifepropaganda.com

I am back in Appleton Wisconsin for the summer, then off to Holden Village in Chelan WA for a mini residency, and to the Charles Adams Studio Project in Lubbock TX for a residency September 1st – January 1st. I will return to Paonia one day soon, be ready!

An enormous THANK YOU to: Sharon Bailey, Karen and Willow, The Unicorn Arts Collective, the National Endowment for the Arts, Sharon Bailey, Joyce Schrieber, Paonia and all the Paonians, my fearless models, and Sharon Bailey. This gold star, life enhancing experience would not have been possible without any of you, Namaste! 

photos by Desdemona Dallas Photos