Ginny Kaczmarek

In July, my family and I were honored to participate in the inaugural Parent Residency month at Elsewhere Studios. An interdisciplinary residency, Elsewhere is tucked in the tiny Colorado town of Paonia, overflowing with artistic inspiration and support.

Silver Man welcomes visitors to Elsewhere

Silver Man welcomes visitors to Elsewhere

I was at a point in my writing where I needed to step outside of my work–and myself–to re-envision it. Not easy to do at home! Elsewhere offered the opportunity to explore new vistas, literally and creatively, with my family in tow.

When we first arrived, I experienced some pretty intense impostor syndrome. The space is beautiful, full of creative woodworking, mosaics, hanging textiles, funky paintings, and photography. What on Earth was I doing there?!

Side door, backyard, and the Gingerbread House

Side door, backyard, and the Gingerbread House

But Carolina Porras, the director, was welcoming and supportive, and everywhere we went, people were excited to meet the new “Artist at Elsewhere”: me! Neighbors and former residents even stopped by to say hello and pet the cats (Tomatoes and Potatoes, who recently had kittens).

Pretty soon I realized I didn’t have time (or energy) to fret. While I wrote upstairs overlooking treetops, my family picked cherries, rafted a river, visited the swimming hole, and explored local parks. Halfway through our stay, another artist, Maria Velasco, and her son Alex, took up residency, and we spent happy hours in the evening talking about the joys and challenges of being parent-artists while the kids rode bikes and visited the kittens.

My desk and view at Elsewhere

My desk and view at Elsewhere

At the end of our week, we hosted a potluck and artists’ presentation. Over Maria’s gazpacho, Ian’s cherry muffins, a jug of lemonade, a box of wine, and a variety of great food from visitors, I read poetry and the first chapter of my novel, Maria showcased her gorgeous collaborations with her son, and the kids presented a movie trailer they wrote, filmed, and edited. The local audience filled the room and was incredibly supportive. What a gift!


I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the space and time–those precious resources–Elsewhere offered to parent artists, with the support of the Sustainable Arts Foundation. I made connections I hope to foster, completed a lot of work in a short time, and stepped into the role of Parent Artist in the eyes of my kids, my spouse, and myself. My thanks to the Elsewhere jury for selecting me, Carolina for friendly welcome and ongoing support, Maria and Alex for bringing our visit to the next level, and the wonderful Paonia residents and Elsewhere supporters who made us feel like part of the community.

Friends at Elsewhere

Friends at Elsewhere

And extra thanks to Tomatoes, for purrs, cuddles, and inspiration:

The Muse of Elsewhere
The muse with sharp feet tears holes
in your diaphanous expectations.
Hungry and wanton, eating and loving
on his own time, he means no harm,
greedy thing. Fickle, too. He rubs against
all who bring gifts, stroke him just right,
there, behind the ears. Accept what he offers,
bloody or raw. He will move on,
flickering tail daring you to follow
deeper into the garden.


Katleen Cle

The three mounts I spend at Elsewhere Studios I have been developing a body of work capturing the rawness between pets and their owners that simultaneously reveals this very sacred and ancestral relationship.

I dismiss through the lens the hierarchal realms. I find that this work is very special because it allows me to connect with people as an outsider to Paonia. I see warmth and beauty in these relationships that I am capturing. It inspires and furthers my engagement within my own creative practice. I also find humor with people who look like their animals.

Bonnie Auslander

Baseball, Baklava and Wildflowers 

For part of the residency I worked on my poetry-for-kids collaboration with Fort Collins photojournalist Tanya Fabian. This particular series takes place in the periphery of baseball games; here are a few of her photos:

Aside from writing and reading, I spent a fair amount of time at Elsewhere hiking the Ditch Trail and cooking with Sahar, my fellow resident. Sahar lives in Lubbock, Texas, but grew up in Iran. I had always wanted to learn how to make Iranian rice and baklava, and got first-hand lessons in both. But perhaps most exciting of all was the day Sahar made chicken stew with rhubarb. She was surprised we liked it because no one American she had served it to likes sour flavors as much as Maddie and I did. I was very clear: Come cook sour foods for me any time. Those other people don’t deserve you.

Wildflowers from June along the Ditch Trail. Sahar and I are both married to men who disapprove of picking flowers, so we revelled in gathering this huge bunch.

Sahar showing off her baklava in the Elsewhere Kitchen.

Sahar, Maddie, and I spent a wonderful day exploring Telluride, which might be the prettiest town in the US. It’s about 2.5 hours away from Paonia but well worth the time it takes to get there.. We did see this amazing waterfall but I did not take this photo:

Photo Credit: Brad McGinley Photography

Photo Credit: Brad McGinley Photography


Derek Martin

The works express an influence by place. They reflect the departure from my past series while simultaneously serving as their extension. Without this opportunity from Elsewhere Studios I would have never explored the realms of performance in fluidity - of

motion in time and space both independently and collaboratively. I greeted failure through experimentation; stirring play into an old recipe. With subtle gestures of the body I create marks as impressions in the medium I choose re-forms the environment. They are sculptures but I feel paintings, and yet they are also studies to better inform my next work.

Derek Glenn Martin

Martin is a site-specific artist based out of: New York (Montauk & NYC) as well as Braddock, PA working in: performance, sculpture, installation, photography, sound and video. He has amassed solo, two-person and group shows nationally and internationally, taking his practice abroad to: Poland, Germany, London, Egypt, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and throughout the U.S. His current work investigates the phenomena of human creativity drawing from ancient practices to modern techniques to inspire and help re-cultivate our relationship to the environment. As he states: “How we treat our planet is how we face our future.”


IG: derekglennmartin


Erica Tucceri

My time at Elsewhere was really special: waking up to snow-capped mountains every day, living and working in my secluded little cottage in the lush garden, getting to know the very sweet community of Paonia, learning to chop wood for the fire, catching up and cooking weekly dinners with the other artists, and visiting the nearby hot springs and canyons. One of the other artists used the term “dreamy” to describe Paonia, and I think that just about sums it up!

The Gingerbread Cottage where I lived, composed and practiced music

The Gingerbread Cottage where I lived, composed and practiced music

The view on a day trip to Black Canyon (with one of the other artists and a lovely local)

The view on a day trip to Black Canyon (with one of the other artists and a lovely local)

I didn’t have a car, but found plenty of beautiful and inspiring views on my daily walks

Time and space were the biggest draw cards for me in deciding to take part in my first international Artist Residency, but the welcoming community and gorgeous surroundings are what made my time at Elsewhere so unique and inspiring. Coming all the way from Australia, I was really blown away by how friendly people were, and how welcome I was made to feel. We were invited to house parties, community events, art openings, day trips, you name it!

At heart, I’m a busy, city girl - used to being under the pump and constantly working to immediate deadlines. While it took me a week or two to adjust to the slow life, it was so worth it! Having this kind of open time was a luxury I’ve never had, and I had never realized how much “being busy” has dictated the way that I create. That’s not to say I wasn’t productive - I had time to develop all of the projects I had planned to work on - but, having this kind of time and space forced me to explore and create in entirely new ways. It was the catalyst that led to new musical aesthetics and ideas that I am really excited to continue exploring.

If you need a cuddle, or some “help” with your work, Tomatoes the Elsewhere cat is always obliging.

Paonia has a really interesting mining history - you’ll hear the toot of a single coal train still running through the town most nights. It was fascinating to learn more about the history of the area at the local library, and through meeting a combination of “old-timers” and newly transplanted “creatives.” In particular, Carolina, Yuri and Henry were really helpful - introducing me to locals, and helping me find people to chat to for my artistic research. Paonia is going through a period of change - there are organic farmers, generations of ranchers, musicians and artists, mining families, a super active creative community and, at one point, the highest concentration of churches per capita in the world!

Another afternoon walk, another view up one of the Mesas The single coal train line runs right through the middle of town 

All in all, my time at Elsewhere was everything that I hoped it would be. Paonia is small, but unique and filled with an active and engaged community. It was an entirely relaxed experience, and yet… I managed to complete a number of new projects, develop entirely new ideas, catch up on admin, practice, research, and make a bunch of beautiful new friends. I feel really lucky to have spent such a beautiful month at Elsewhere, and could have easily extended my stay!

The drive to Grand Junction airport at the end of my Residency

The drive to Grand Junction airport at the end of my Residency


Sylvie Mayer

The morning before I left for Elsewhere, I woke up to 6 inches of snow on my car. It was May 1st. I had been living in Aspen working a ski season for the six months prior. I was yearning for spring to break.  I drove up McClure pass in a storm, straining to see through sheets of white sleet. Suddenly, as I descended into the North Fork Valley, I entered a different climate. 

In Paonia, it was sunny and warm. The trees along my route were budding with flowers in gradations of purple, pink and yellow, and the grass was green. I could see where the climate shifted by looking in the distance toward the West Elks mountain range. Its peaks were shrouded in thick grey storm clouds, and sharply, below around 6000’, the clouds cleared, revealing the bases of the mountains. 

In Aspen, I lived in a tiny shared room in an employee housing complex. Without space to paint, I spent the winter making a series of size-constrained paintings. With a hectic work schedule, I often painted frantically and late at night, using a desk lamp in the corner to avoid disturbing my roommate. The paintings I made were all 8’’x10’’, and fit neatly in a box that I stored in my car. 

I arrived at Elsewhere and settled into my studio with anticipation, excited to have the time and space to make for a month. I got there with plans to spend the month in relative solitude, making the paintings that I’d been hoping to create during my stint without a studio. Soon, Paonia set me on a different path.

When I think of Elsewhere, I think of community. Paonia is a welcoming place, and my thoughts of solitude were quickly impeded by meeting people around town and spending time with the other three resident artists. Even though I was transplanted for only a month, by the end, I felt as though I had been in Paonia much longer.  

I started taking long walks and bike rides around the town and surrounding mesas. I collected sketches, photographs and snippets of thought. As I worked in the studio, despite my efforts to focus on my prior plans, a new theme started to emerge. I was making work about Paonia - its people, its landscapes, and the sense of community I’d found there as a short term resident. 

It was alarming to me how quickly Paonia provided a sense of familiarity as I settled into my monthlong routine. Time expanded and contracted, passing more quickly than I’d expected. Despite this, I left the residency with work that I never would have made without the specific experience of being at Elsewhere. Despite the vibrant community, and getting to interact with Kat, Derek and Erica (the three other incredible residents) - there is a certain slowness and quietness to being at Elsewhere. By moving through it, a subtle attentiveness emerged, and I was able to approach my work with a sense of calm which was previously unavailable to me.

Abbey Paccia

I arrived in February after driving west on the tails of polar winds that laid flat a cemetery of tractor trailers in their wake.  I returned east in May, as the newly greened earth pumped spring into my lungs and reminded me that this world contains many forms.  Somewhere in-between was Elsewhere.  

How wonderful to show up in a town that did not exist to me previously and leave feeling as if it is a home filled with people and places that I have always known.  Three months was the perfect amount of time to feel like I lived in Paonia.  I was able to meet so many great and influential people.  Witnessing and interacting with the change of season allowed me to connect with the place on multiple levels.  Excursions to nearby areas were also extremely rewarding.  

I did so many things during my time at Elsewhere that I find it hard to sum it all up.  Some few highlights of my residency experience include: traveling with other residents through Colorado National Monument, doing yoga and soaking in the hot springs at Anderson Ranch, many potlucks (I think the letter “P” at the top of the hill in town stands for “potluck”), capturing and releasing a Northern Flicker that somehow found it’s way into the studio, feeling Tomatoes’ claws sinking in to my leg as he purred on my lap, Snowshoeing with fellow Paonians on the Grand Mesa to create Snow Drawings (Did you know that one can get sunburn inside their nostrils?  Thanks Colorado!), Singing Karaoke, sharing meals at the Trading Post on Sundays,  Skiing (and falling in love with Aspen trees), teaching an animation workshop to the teens from PELA, painting at the Senior Center, turning the studio into a movie theater, camping along Green River with new-old friends, seeing real-actual-honest-to-god dinosaur tracks, filling my pockets with rocks in Utah, hiking through Arches National Park, giving artist talks and frantically preparing the walls for open studios, feeding baby goats, and sharing art and life with the new friends I made.

The work that I was able to produce while in residence feels like just the tip of the iceberg.  I will be feeding creatively off of the hundreds of photos I took for years to come.  So much was gained by living in a landscape that was foreign to me.  Other artists rubbed off on me just by working in the same space.  Without even trying, my ideas shifted into new territories.  The inspirational soup from which I drew was thicker and I started to create things I couldn’t have planned in isolation.  

As we were both in transition before moving to a new destination, my partner decided to stay in Paonia for the second part of my residency time.  I was so happy that the community welcomed him to the town as they had for me. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it ended up being a great time for the two of us to work together on artwork in a way that we hadn’t before.  I’m so grateful for that unexpected turn of events.

If we pick ourselves up and plant the hub of our life’s wheel in a different place for a time, we can turn in ways that we couldn’t even see from the previous point.  My time at Elsewhere affirmed my belief in the power of new perspectives and the value of trusting in the not-yet-known.  

Thank you Elsewhere.  Thank you Paonia.  Thank you time and space and the world turning round. 

Ja Min Yie

Last summer, I had been in Korea, visiting some temples in the southern regions. A common feature of these temples is that getting there often requires a gentle trek, and the sounds that accompany the walk are often of water—the trickling of water pooling in a stone cavern, the pitter patter of a steady sweet drizzle, or most memorably for me, the bubbling of a rippling stream, both wild and tame at the same time. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find this piece of home in Paonia’s River Park. During the early spring days of March, the river’s water level was low enough that currents were mild and underlying stone formations were visible. The river sang songs that were humble, balanced and unimposing, nourishing the ear and tuning the mind to harmonious, effortless rhythms. Almost always without fail, I would return from the park energized and uplifted by the sound of water. 

Lidia Guerrero

It’s always sunny in Paonia 

I can’t help but smile when I think about how many times people asked me about how I ended up in Paonia, during my stay at Elsewhere. There are approximately 8500km between the city I was born in and that small house in the middle of nowhere. I have always believed in the idea of life having its own way of guiding us to the right path, the thought of that maybe if we are smart enough to listen we can get to the place in where we need to be in the present moment. 

I had been trying to find my motivation for a whole year. It felt like standing up in the middle of a crowded street looking for the keys to your apartment while you have to be careful to not drop another two bags of groceries: Hard and at the same time embarrassing. 

I felt like everything I wanted to express through art wasn’t important enough or worth saying in a society that already has its own problems. I kept searching for a topic to paint about that would be interesting and that could also make me excited to work on. 

At the end of august I received an e-mail from Carolina telling me I was chosen to spend February on Elsewhere Studios and suddenly a door opened. As you can guess from what I was explaining before, at that time I was completely lost. I had arrived home after spending six months in a foreign country, my future plans were ruined by unexpected and awful events, the topic I was searching for never appeared and I couldn’t remember the last time I created something. Even without motivation to work at all, I kept applying to residencies. I longed for space and time to think about where my art and my life were heading to. 

When I received the news, I started searching for a job so I could save money and travel to the United States from Spain for the first time. I worked as an entertainer in a hotel and later as a saleswoman in a jewellery store. When the end of January arrived I just couldn’t believe what I was about to do. At that moment I didn’t know how many things I would achieve and how that month would be so important for my personal developing. 

My first week was a mess. Even though I had studied English during most part of my life and was used to the language, I felt the most awkward person in the whole world each time I tried to start a conversation, my surprise was that everyone understood instead of laughing at me. I had my oil paints, paper and ideas of working on Spanish culture and myths. I have been interested in this topic for a couple years now and for some reason, I always felt like everything that has been coming out is not good enough and too “typical” of a woman who grew in southern Spain. I felt embarrassed each time I showed my work and I was afraid what people I went to college with would think of me focusing on gipsies in colourful dresses instead of trying to burn down the world with each brushstroke. 

As I was expecting, that fear came back to me the day we were having our official presentation to the community of Paonia. I remember myself shaking. Minutes before my turn arrived, I decided that I wasn’t going to pretend to be someone I am not and that I was only going to explain my journey in the arts and show everything I had done since I started creating. I wanted to try and make everyone understand how I ended up in that small town in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t do any efforts to look interesting, smart or capable of changing the world. I found myself being only me in front of lots of strangers and after explaining my journey without trying to satisfy anyone’s expectations I felt free. 

In that moment I understood that my art is special because it is mine. 

And all the weight in my chest disappeared. 

And I felt safe. 

That night I decided to give myself a chance. My motivation came back in the moment I realized that I am showing a part of my culture through my paintings therefore I am also communicating a part of who I am through it. Suddenly everything made sense. 

It’s exhausting to be constantly doubting every step you take and Elsewhere provided me a supportive space to be myself and just let go. That freedom made it able for me to think about who I am, what I truly enjoy doing and to which path I am heading to, and I can’t even begin to explain how much I needed that. 

I’m proud to say this residency gave me everything I needed at this point of my life and helped me met wonderful people who I plan to see and hug again when time decides to reunite us again. Now it is time for me to keep working on art and self-development until the next adventure comes up, now without any fears, just pride of being the person I am and lots of love. 

So thank you Elsewhere and Paonia, it was very nice to be a part of you for a while. 

William Chappell

Elsewhere was my first artist residency. It was the first time I had ever gone somewhere and feel able to introduce myself as an artist. Now that I'm away, I miss it. I am back in my regular life. I kind of screwed myself financially. Other people, who are similar to me should be smart about this. As artists it is one of the toughest things we have to face, how to justify our art in the world, how to balance our finances. One of the most common things a creative person will hear from friends, family and the media is that it is difficult to make a living on your art and creativity alone. That you need a job to make money, to pay bills, etc. As a diabetic this is even more of a difficult situation for me, having to pay medical bills and maintain health insurance. Living in a country that doesn't provide this as a right for its citizens makes this even more difficult.

I could only afford to stay at Elsewhere for a month, but I was immediately happier there. I felt lucky to be accepted. Being surrounded by artists and art appreciators and like minded people was inspirational. And I will never forget the mountains. Being surrounded by mountains every direction you face is truly awesome. I have never used that word in this context before, but there is no other way to describe it. Looking back on it now, I wish I could have stayed longer. In a way I am sad I ever had to leave.

Leaving Elsewhere, after a two day train ride to Boston and being picked up by my friend there, I have struggled to maintain the routines I fell into. My work feels rejuvenated. I wonder how much time will pass before I need an experience like that again, after having exposed myself to it for the first time.

Besides just rejuvenating my ambition to succeed through creative work I underwent a number of changes to my perspectives and views on life. I discovered more about myself and the things I want. I established goals and figured out ways to achieve them. I thought about things I wouldn't have normally thought of, and discovered a way of living that was entirely my own, and that was helpful to my development and understanding of life and independence. I read a lot. Elsewhere was the perfect place for this. The area was beautiful. The people were friendly. As an emerging artist, it enabled me to place myself within the dream I have long been fantasizing. I feel like Elsewhere is the ideal place for people who have never done this sort of thing before, that they can get a sense of what it is like and what it requires. I had long dreamed of being able to live as an artist, and focus on my work, but Elsewhere was able to turn that into a reality, even if just for a moment, in a way I could never have imagined. My only regret is not being able to stay there for a longer period of time, not immersing myself deeper into the culture of Paonia. I don't know where you will come from, but here, you will make new friends, you will laugh, you will love, you will live, and you will have support by people who will care and appreciate and understand.

Jason Livingston

From the moment I first heard of Elsewhere, I was intrigued.  How do you pronounce Paonia? How does Elsewhere figure into the community?  What is the community? Or rather, who are the communities?  The more I read about Paonia and its fascinating histories (mining, microcultures, a host to High Country News, and a front porch seat on the mountains), the more I knew I had to apply.

And how wonderful to be accepted, and enter into correspondence with Carolina Porras, who became Executive Director by the time I arrived in January, 2019.  Carolina was from the beginning so helpful and excited for me to join my fellow Elsewhere artists for a month.

My time in Paonia was instrumental in reconnecting with my filmmaking practice.  After several trips to the Mountain West, Northern Plains and Utah to shoot extractive communities, my project had stalled.  Somehow living in Iowa City was blocking my ability to reconnect with the material I had shot. I was determined to make headway on my project, Ancient Sunshine, while holed up in The Gingerbread House (the tiny house out back).
And headway I made!  Elsewhere offered a wonderful balance of isolation and camaraderie, creative practice and excursions, time to reflect and time to connect with the public.  By the end of the month, I had assembled a 20-minute cut of my video. It’s not done, but that was never the idea. And not only did I reconnect with older film and video on my external drive, I managed to figure out a way of incorporating footage I shot during a trip to the local foundry, Lands End Sculpture Center.  

Speaking of trips, we fit in two notable ones during our time.  Our visit to cross-country ski on the Grand Mesa was unforgettable.  Perfect blue skies, beautiful deep base, powder on top, everything you always hear about and want for a beautiful afternoon.  And I was able to email my father, a lifelong Nordic lover, bragging that I was sliding and skating at over 10k feet. Our next trip came at the end of our stay, after our big show.  Leah Aegerter, CB Bryan, Kelly Ciesla and I drove to the Colorado National Monument, where, even though Trump’s hateful government shutdown resulted in the Rim Drive’s closure, we were able to access a trailhead and put in a short day-hike to a magical waterfall.  

I’m so grateful to Carolina and Henry and everyone else in Paonia who welcomed me, and to my new artist friends.  Thank you.

Leah Aegerter

On many days my arms are tired and my lower back craves a hard surface to stretch out on. The repetitive tasks I find myself performing in the studio infiltrate my dreams: I sand a block of wood or chip away at it with a chisel and mallet, but it remains the same as when I started. My subconscious is incapable of wilder imaginations and I’m frustrated at the pressure I put on myself to get complete an object to perfection. This happens far too often in my artistic practice, and sometimes the only happiness I extract from this monotony is in the finished product. 

I’ve had many of these days this month, but today is calm because I’m able to remind myself that stress and anxiety are temporary. I’ve been sanding resin all day and a coat of gray dust fills the weave of my jeans. Around 4pm I take off my respirator and know the imprint it leaves on my nose will stay put for the next hour. I walk into the quiet of a winter in Paonia and am overcome with a swell of gratitude. On the other end of 3rdstreet, past the train tracks, apple trees are bare and the sky stays overcast until sunset. As soon as the sun dips below the cloud cover, the winter scene fills with warmth, and this beauty eliminates any negativity that’s inside of me. I am grateful in this moment because I am reminded of how small I am, of how the world keeps churning even though I am so focused on making one single sculpture, and that humility gives me the power to keep churning on my own scale. I am whole because the seemingly mundane task of sanding that has consumed my day carries me one step closer to bringing my heart and my thought into fruition. 

My time at Elsewhere was a balance between peace and frustration with my studio practice, and myself, but I am grateful to have had the time to feel it all. Creating sculpture is one of the most intimate things I know, and it often takes me a long time to feel that my work belongs to the environment in which I am creating. It is a weird thing to go to sleep in a new house and make art in front of a curious community, but Elsewhere provided many of these essential moments that filled me with context both in my new surrounding and my greater place in the world. 

Emma Gilfix

I went into my residency with at least one concrete focus—how social activism ties into creating art. I overwhelmed myself on the first day of work with the many aspects of Paonia I wanted to focus on exactly. The fracking conflict intrigued me, particularly because of the way it appeared to divide the town. There were signs everywhere outside of residents’ homes and on sidewalks addressing where the money would go and who would be paying for the consequences. At first I wondered if the pro-fracking team was led by those who worked in the coal mines that were still operating. Only after the end of my opening presentation, was I corrected by a town resident. He made the claim that coal miners in Paonia today have created a sustainable way to extract resources from the mines without destroying the mountain long-term, reconstructing my impression on both today's miners and the fracking project. As my understanding of Paonia’s current political and environmental challenges developed, so did my plan for how I would approach the next month I would be there. 

After the first week, I decided to concentrate on two subjects--art and social transformation. I started exploring the fracking debate and the history of the coal mines that contributed to the identity of this town. I approached my research directly through the people I met each day. Just by raising the conversation with local residents throughout the month, I got something different than the information I was looking for alone. For example, standing at the cash register of the Harvest Market a block away from Elsewhere, I learned about Bill Koch’s pursuit to invest in land that included parts of Paonia. The woman behind the counter explained that his intentions were for the sake of creating and preserving a romanticized rendition of the old west. I also found out that parts of the land he wanted to buy out were major fishing locations alongside scenic and frequently used routes through the North Fork Valley. The employee sharing this information with me spoke in a tone of distaste for Koch’s plan, but pride for her town in the fight to stop him. She went on to explain that immediately upon this information leaking out to the public, the town of Paonia came together to fight against this plan from following through. 

While I spent a lot of time researching the information that would guide my work, I did not anticipate the content in the work I would create exactly. I wanted to create as I went. Whatever I found myself most absorbed by in the moment each day--that’s what I wanted to paint. So naturally, it makes sense that I spent a lot of time working with landscapes. 
I approached my residency with high expectations, but had absolutely no idea of what to expect exactly. My goal was to create a large body of work, focusing on drawing and painting specifically. While I completed this to a degree, I did not produce as much as I had hoped because I took advantage of other aspects Elsewhere studios and Paonia had to offer. I learned how to throw a pot on the wheel, hiked and explored parts of the land that I couldn’t see from my studio window, tried cross-country skiing for the first time and marinated in a hot spring for an afternoon. 

As a part of routine during the week I spent working at the ceramic studio, one of the other residents and I frequently took walks towards Minnesota creek to a run-off that dried up from the winter. I believe that if you choose to focus on studying landscapes, it’s important to get to know a place in it’s varying forms. The first day we visited this spot, it was layered in a few inches deep of snow. After a few days, the snow began to melt, exposing the ground underneath.

While I wish I could have produced all the work I wanted to in the month I was at Elsewhere, it turns out one month was only just enough to coverage the surface. A lot of my experience became about gathering data to continue working with upon my return home. My expectations for the quantity of work I’d like to come away from Elsewhere hasn’t changed. I plan to continue referencing what research, work, and photographs I’ve gathered from my experience in this quaint little town that rests alongside a national forest. I plan on continuing to build on it until I feel satisfied. If and when this day comes, I plan to refer to this body of work as I take on a new project, continuously shaping the way I approach every new piece going forward--old perspectives building the new ones.

Kelly Ciesla

My time at Elsewhere Studios was a life changing experience. I am so blessed for the opportunity. I was a free-spirited hippie child living in New Jersey where I felt my creative energy stifled by the monotonous daily grind. Since my abstract art is a spiritual, psychological and emotional process, I couldn’t dedicate the energy needed to focus on my art. I fell victim to the comforts of home, career and day-to-day schedule and realized I didn’t resonate with how I was living my life. It was time for a clean slate. Elsewhere Studios was the beacon of light that I needed! Recognizing the need to invest myself full-time in my art, I picked up two extra part-time jobs and worked for three months saving up as much money as I could. I finally left my career of three and a half years, and my two part time jobs and came out to Elsewhere Studios to begin this new life adventure.

When I first arrived at Elsewhere Studios, I wasn’t sure what to expect being that it was my first artist residency. I felt welcomed and at home by the handcrafted wooden and rustic features (and the adorable cat Tomatoes!). The environment was full of creative energy; vanishing my fears of wasting time and lacking inspiration. Though the winters in Paonia are known to be quiet, I found it was impossible to be bored. When I wasn’t dedicating my time to my oil and acrylic paintings, I found a variety of ways to explore the town. I enjoyed strolls out on the town, meeting friends within the community, hanging out at Breadworks drawing and enjoying a delicious mason jar of iced mocha. During the evenings, activities consisted of hanging out playing pool at Waldo’s and spending Saturday nights singing Karaoke at Louie’s. As a group, we took outdoor trips including: cross country skiing on grand mesa, a visit to the local hot springs, and natural parks around the area. The winters in Colorado may get crazy, but seeing the vast land and huge mountains covered in snow is absolutely stunning and humbling.

My time at the residency also taught me some new experiences. I learned how to cook, care for a cast iron skillet, and how much I enjoy taking meditative baths in a claw-foot tub. I also learned that Tomatoes is super cuddly, to the point where I felt guilty painting because I had to pay attention to him. It was also important to always hydrate; otherwise my body exhibited flu-like symptoms. I challenged myself to morph my work with nature by using different mediums and materials.

Elsewhere Studios provided the opportunity to meet amazing artists and friends and to reconnect with my creative spiritual freedom. This allowed my artistic rebirth, leading to my series ‘Awakening.’

Tiffany Lange

With any great adventure, taking opportunities as they emerge is essential. Following graduation, I found myself transitioning from one full-time job to the next, neglecting my chosen career path as a visual artist and the satisfaction that creating provided for me. With Menomonie giving me everything I needed to succeed in my career, it felt like I was living the same day-to-day lifestyle and I wanted to submerged myself in a new art scene. After making the decision to move to Minneapolis, Minnesota, I decided it was time to apply for an artist residency. I had been searching for a studio space for a few months with no luck, while working on smaller studies in my living room, the idea of going on a residency seemed right. Moments after sending the application to Elsewhere, I began questioning if the opportunity would ever become a reality due to funding. I am a recent graduate with thousands in debt, who just relocated to a new city with her husband, and working in the restaurant industry to cover the bills. As the snow began to melt away and spring approached in Minnesota, I received an email that I had been accepted into the program. As rational thoughts loomed over my head, my heart was screaming to take the opportunity. So, I chose to accept. I communicated with my employers, created a budget, and immediately started a new sketchbook for a fresh start. Knowing the challenges ahead, the organizer in me, made a general proposal of what I wanted to accomplish upon arrival. After a few months of bartending and working overtime at my job downtown, I was ready to go. Filled with different emotions on what the month would bring, I boarded a plane with my PFAFF sewing machine and flew into Denver. This was not only an artist residency for me, but also a trip that I could find personal growth in traveling by myself. The first night in Colorado, I set out to find some delicious pasta at a local Italian restaurant. I sat at the bar, drank my pinot grigio, and ended up getting into a three-hour conversation with a woman who was originally from Wisconsin. With uncertainty in a new city and state, I strangely found comfort quickly in accepting that this was my home for the next month. Little did I know, it was only a preview of what the rest of my journey in Colorado would hold. The next afternoon, I took a much delayed train ride through the Rockies only to see the canyons and mountains in the perfect painter’s paradise, the golden hour. One dip in the hot springs and a short car ride later, I had arrived in Paonia and the infamous pale green building with the ornate window sills appeared through the trees. I quickly met the other residents, got acquainted with “the gingerbread house,” and received a tour of downtown Paonia with the final stop at the tiny taco truck at the end of Grand Avenue. Then I stepped in the studio…An immediate doubt rolled over my head. I left my jobs for a month, my husband and friends back home, and I was in an unfamiliar place with people I did not know. I have had a residency in the past, but never away from where I was living. The pressure of creating was my only job for the month and I was anxious that I was going to disappoint all the people watching from home. About an hour after arrival, I decided to grab fresh canvas, stretch it on the wall, and apply some gesso to remind myself that this was my reward for all the long shifts and nights of bartending. After a few days in Paonia, it felt like everything fell into place. We had completed our interviews with local high school students, did our community artist talks, taken a hip hop class, and got comfortable in our studios. The town felt like it was where I had to be at this particular moment in my life. Maybe it was the vortex, but who knew this small community in the North Fork Valley of Colorado would be so vibrant and welcoming to the artist’s that reside at Elsewhere. The more I was in the studio throughout the day, the more I felt comfortable and accepting of the fact that this was my only job for the next thirty days. I began exploring the idea of being a 90s baby and how that has motivated my current color palette. Influenced by gender roles of the 90s, I have been looking at fashion, toys, and overall being a young girl of the 90s era. Utilizing materials like bias tape, snaps, and Velcro, I realized they would begin to play an important role in what I was making. I was able to update the professional aspects of my practice (i.e. My website, CV, artist statement, and marketing through social media platforms) and confront doubts I had with past work. The days began to pass faster, even in a town where I felt time had slowed down compared to the city life I had been living. As the routine of making became an everyday practice, I was learning the importance of taking breaks from what I was making and giving myself the opportunity to connect with my fellow residents. Right away, our group planned to have weekly family dinners that consisted of showcasing our love of cooking to one another. We out dressed the town of Paonia for Cowboy Goth night at the local watering hole, Linda’s, where the margs are cheaper than the Pinnacle vodka. We drank mimosas while plein air painting for the local Paint Paonia competition. We shared our in-progress work to each other and formed a very supportive community with one another. The memories from my first residency family are something truly special. Reflecting on this experience, I am happy to have found Paonia. Not only did I gain clarity with what I was making, but also with my personal values and the way I think about sustainability in my life. Elsewhere was carefully planned out with the artist in mind. The studio space, the gingerbread house, the people, and the separation from the city in this scenic town helped me find peace again. I found freedom in traveling by myself, comfort in unlikely of places, gained a residency family, and started to rebuild my practice. Paonia had healed the time that was lost the last few years within my artist practice and the residency at Elsewhere was the key. I am grateful to be a part of its history and I hope other artists will discover the beauty that I found this September.

Caroline Cooper

The road to Elsewhere Studios started, for me, with a 4 am wait for the M116 bus in upper Manhattan, proceeded through two plane rides, a connection to a Denver Greyhound, and finally the joyful grin of a fellow Elsewhere artist who would be behind the wheel for the last hundred miles or so to Paonia. I climbed up to my studio space with relief and no small amount of exhaustion, but was soon revived by the abundant creative energy coursing through the space. It was a home that immediately welcomed, comforted, and rejuvenated me.

I spread my papers across the giant desk in my space, where I worked from early in the morning to midday, breaking for coffee or some local goodies from Paonia Bread Works. I had a number of writing projects to tackle—poems, a children’s book, a digital narrative, a short story—but it was the novella at the heart of my application that received the bulk of my creative attention.

My subject is deeply personal, so I allowed myself breaks as I needed them. I loved being able to just walk out the front door and soon be on a beautiful walk with views of the valley, or down the road for a snow cone in the shade of the driving Colorado sun. The bright, arid environment afforded me a perfect kind of reset. I could see my work, and what I needed to do, in a new light. There is something really refreshing, and reassuring, about what being in residence offers to an artist in the midst of some really challenging work.

At the end of my four weeks in residence, we gathered in the common space studio of the main house. What a pleasure it was to witness the words, wit, and work of my fellow artists in residence, and to be able to share my own progress. We spun words in the air, and images on screens, to express and discuss work close to our hearts—work we had created across our time at Elsewhere.

Here is one poem that I wrote down by the bubbling water of the Paonia River:

“Once they hatch from eggs, mayfly nymphs cling to rocks on the bottom of the river with specially adapted legs. They eat algae. They live in the nymph stage for up to three years. When conditions are right, they shed their old body (molt) and emerge from the water with wings. They change once more that same day from a ‘dun’ to a true adult, called a ‘spinner’. Adults have no functional mouth parts, so they only have a few days to find a partner and reproduce. Once they have fulfilled this life mission, they die. Their bodies, sometimes thousands at once, provide food and organic matter for the river system”

– Paonia River National Park Information Board

The Mayfly Series


Yes, I have been born.

It is a confluence of things,

A myriad, a mystic.

This world this time, this shape and size, this vessel.

So many things had to be possible—all these other possibles, all of them,

In sequential order

For this to be possible.

Joy is gangly and unbridled.

As I am unbidden to see this,

This me-sized me

This thing that I am.

Glorious, unimpeached

Even as billions have come before me

As they will appear after I am gone,


I am new.

Look! Look here—these legs, they are special

I use them to cling to this thing, this rock.

Let me stay here a while

On this rock

In this life

Here, I will live here, newly born.

Legs build just for clinging,


To the lamp of my rock.

Mouth just for this

Eyes, I see you.


The flow



I will use these things, here, now.

I will live to survive

I am rock steady.


Years now, but I’m ready.

I float to the surface

An astonishment

An abasement

But I’m ready

Breach the membrane of the surface

Eyes glancing, gleaning

My years steady and my rock-life

Have prepared me well.

I will shed my old body

And emerge from the water,


I know how I will use these.

I am imbued with that knowledge

That light,

Take flight

So ready.

And the rock, that water,

All that was essential to me

Essentially me

Falls away

Beneath me

A dun, tentative to the last.

The light, this world

Newly in it and in the presence of firsts.

I bid it and it comes to me

The light, these wings,

Dun, they call me.

The new one, newly risen

Dun to spinner,

In the single day of the eternity of my life.

I rise.


I am looking, ever searching


I feel my need and I know

To produce,

To reproduce

And to sustain myself only—if only—to sustain that

A spinner-spinster

The rocks my stars

And the night a time of glowing magic.

I am unmouthed, yet agape.

The stars my rocks

The others, too, rise from the water.

They are beside me.

Rise as one, our purpose—shared.

Our mission—common.

And again I fall into the lamplight of my twilight

A spinner in full, heady rise and my once-dormant wings

They beat one million times

Furious to kiss the wind.


First, I find

Waste no time in finding

The first.

The only

Upon whom I will imbue

My lamplight

This love lust

And emerge, untrammeled

And alight

In the secure knowledge of the thing, secured

To rock, to water vine

To the next,

And the next

And again—the next.

Kelly Spivey

 Trips we took: (highly recommended)

·      West Elk Loop

·      Hermit’s Trail

·      Eagle Rock Shelter Petroglyphs

·      Black Canyon: 


The community:

Paonia is an interesting, historical town, with some residents who have stayed on here for at least four generations. These families have worked hard producing fruit, mining coal or both. As the “Inspired: Art at Work,” socially engaged artists were in residence while I was at Elsewhere, I had the opportunity to learn more about the community than I would have on my own. As these artists, John K. Melvin and Anna Macleod, met locals, went to town hall meetings, spoke to farmers, and attended local church services, my views were broadened as well. Water and irrigation in a droughted valley, became touchstones for possible community building, across political, social, and religious differences.


My time in Paonia was spent taking a deep dive into an autobiographical work that uses animation and non-narrative filmmaking - woven together in an essay film. This is the first iteration of a project that will become a live performance piece. I used my time to sort through a collection of personal photographs, archival film and documentary footage. The documentary footage was shot several years ago when I re-united with my childhood friend, Kathy. The reunion was illuminating, yet ended in as much psychic pain as I think I’ve ever felt. I spent the last several years trying to make sense of this in terms of the time period we grew up and how the socio-political realities may have caused us take on such different paths in life.

The essay film I’m editing together, calls into question many things, including the nature of photography and its powerful role in shaping memory and even identity. My family took very few photographs, and they lace my memory and perception of myself as “truth” as I have little else to go on. I recognize the faulty mirage. I use the photographs in my work anyway, while I probe to find other ways to define our history.

The opportunity to make work in a new place, with a different climate, culture, relationship to time, and heat, along with the rich learning that can be had when different artists rub elbows while producing their work, can be quite enriching!

Eric Dyer

Fantastic month at Elsewhere. And one month was not enough. I worked on both a visual performance spinning zoetrope-images live and a “motion portrait” of Flora Muybridge, the wife of Eadweard Muybridge, the “grandfather mom motion pictures”. 

Detail from “Flora”, work-in-progress - final will be UV-cured pigment on polycarbonate and will animate when spun by hand, lit by a synchronous strobe.

Detail from “Flora”, work-in-progress - final will be UV-cured pigment on polycarbonate and will animate when spun by hand, lit by a synchronous strobe.

Fellow resident Ren Klein and I took a day trip to Aspen and Maroon Bells.

Fellow resident Ren Klein and I took a day trip to Aspen and Maroon Bells.

My wife and kids joined me for the last two weeks of the residency. We went standup paddle boarding in Black Canyon with fellow resident Caroline Cooper. Thanks Elsewhere for welcoming my family.

My wife and kids joined me for the last two weeks of the residency. We went standup paddle boarding in Black Canyon with fellow resident Caroline Cooper. Thanks Elsewhere for welcoming my family.

Shooting videos of puppies and goats at Jen Sanborn’s place - thanks Jen! Photo by the great Carolina Porras.

Shooting videos of puppies and goats at Jen Sanborn’s place - thanks Jen! Photo by the great Carolina Porras.

My city kids loving the country - at Jen’s.

My city kids loving the country - at Jen’s.

Shot lots of flowers along the ditch trail on Paonia Hill. This is wilting milkweed.

Shot lots of flowers along the ditch trail on Paonia Hill. This is wilting milkweed.

Shot lots of perspective changes on landscape forms in Moab and along the road to Aspen.

Shot lots of perspective changes on landscape forms in Moab and along the road to Aspen.

Ren Klein

Elsewhere Studios sits in its own little park with a wonderful, old elm tree and a stream (okay,

it’s an irrigation channel, but it might as well be a stream!). It’s right around the corner from

Paonia’s main street, and thus very convenient, but you feel like you’re tucked away—indeed,

elsewhere. If you don’t have a car you don’t have to worry about not having access to what you

need, because there is plenty here, but if you’re more ambitious there’s a full-sized super-

market about ten minutes away in the next town, not to mention a Walmart less than forty-five

minutes away, if all else fails.

Paonia sits in a lovely green valley filled with pastures and fruit orchards, the result of irrigation

from the river that snakes through town. (You can hike up the hill behind the town for a great

view of the green bowl tucked between the brownish hills). If you first enter the town from the

South, you don’t realize what a lovely residential neighborhood is tucked away behind the

business district. It’s shaded by tremendous old trees and has a lovely park near its center (just

be sure to walk far enough to find it!)

On all but the hottest days (I was here during the summer), the high-desert air cooled down

after sunset and I was able to go jogging up 3 rd Street and over to the park. There are a lot of

cats in Paonia (and no doubt very few rodents!), and many of them are quite sociable. I had a

favorite little all-black longhair who would usually come off her porch to greet me. Put a little bit

of white paint down her back and she could easily pass for “Penelope,” the cat in Pepe Le Pew,

“la belle femme skunk fatale”—“les mew, les purr” was her favorite (only) thing to say.

Finally, anyone who is a resident at Elsewhere Studios must be sure to visit nearby Gunnison

National Park and especially Black Canyon, which is only about 30 minutes away from Paonia

by car. The canyon is truly in the same league as the Grand Canyon, but has the advantage of

being off the beaten path and thus unspoiled by throngs of tourists. In addition to the canyon,

which is at the far south end of the park, the ”West Elk Loop” takes about four hours (not

including stops) and makes for a wonderful drive around the whole park – highly recommended!