Chelsea Rowe – A Stupid Floridian Learns What Snow Is

As my time here moved into February, I began to think back to the way that I worked before I came here. With this more organic feeling of family ties and family through friendship, I moved toward larger drawings and toward more dramatic and theatrical pieces. I made a faux fur coat and dyed it multiple times (and almost ruined the bathtub) … it’s end purpose will be revealed later…. hopefully. 
Now I’ve reached the midpoint of my stay here at Elsewhere, and I’m writing this while sitting next to the wonderfully warm wood stove in the living room. Many times while writing this Kitty Tomatoes has jumped into my lap demanding hugs, something extremely hard to ignore. I’m so excited at how much my work has evolved in only two months here, and I can’t wait to see what happens in another two. Thanks to Elsewhere, and thanks to Paonia one million times over.

I flew into Denver just a few days after the New Year from my beach town of St. Petersburg in Florida, where a cold day is around sixty degrees. I got off the plane and was AMAZED at the tiny dirty piles of snow on the sidewalks, picking up handfuls and examining the snow as if it were some unknown specimen. So, as you can imagine, my train ride through the mountains and into Glenwood Springs was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever experienced – there’s probably a permanent Chelsea print on the window of my train seat. Sharon picked me up from the station and drove me the rest of the way to Paonia over McClure Pass – I was convinced I was about to die. 8,800 feet is pretty intense for someone used to zero feet above sea level….

As soon as we drove into Paonia I knew that this was a special place. There’s something so wonderfully relaxed about this town that makes it feel so welcoming and truly good at its core. My second night here we opened up to the town for an informal meet and greet to get to know each other and to be introduced into the community, one of some of the kindest and welcoming people you could meet.

Coming to Elsewhere I was a little trapped into a cycle of making that was incredibly process-oriented… One thing couldn’t happen until another thing happened and after a series of sculptural masks I could do photos and videos and then EVENTUALLY I would get to a painting or a drawing. After a bit of a Caesar-Milan-reaches-a-breaking-point-with-a-troubled-dog moment I realized that what I was making wasn’t necessarily about the entire process but about its underlying themes of family and the idea of family as something that you can create for yourself. So, after realizing this, I decided to move back toward more traditional two-dimensional figure pieces that documented a chapter in my life that was full of extreme memories, both hilarious and strange, that has now drawn to a close. I felt that documenting these figural pieces was much more organic and my feelings toward the people in the images were my strongest emotions at that time.