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.