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.