Who is Aralia Rose, and What is She Doing at Elsewhere?

I am embarking upon a new art series, "The Elementals".   Elementals are understood in multiple traditions as energetic beings who work with Earth, Air, Fire, and Water in our ecosystems.  The call to make a series of art devoted to these beings came from my wanderings and workings in the forests, fields, and mountains, in last year's warmer seasons.  The subject matter seemed particularly in line with my own 'mission', the statement of which I have been honing: 'The art of Aralia Rose reflects Woman as Goddess; Man as God; Humanity as Divine.  Her earthy, rich images help anchor an emerging movement towards embodied awakening and creation of  a conscious spiritual  relationship between humans and nature.  Inclusion of ceremony in her artistic process infuses images with an understanding of oneness with the Divine. Aralia’s archetypal works evoke spiritual connection with elemental, seasonal cycles of nature, the sacredness of the earth, and our own physical being. Her images create energetic portals which communicate deep spiritual truths, resonating with many paths."


Over several years I've developed a specific art process.  I think of it as "ceremonial portraits".  The story of my process with Austin, the model for the first elemental, is illustrative.

Austin wanted to work with Earth or Water.  As a first step I brainstormed concepts.  I came up with lots of ideas on the thinking/mind level, but many of them felt forced.


One day in the midst of this process, walking in a spruce forest at about 10,000 feet near Taos Ski Valley, I veered off trail to explore.  As I climbed a hill in silence,  a young bull elk emerged above me.  Each aware of the other, we stopped, and stood watching one other for some time.

I sat on a large, mossy rock and gazed at the elk.  He sat at the top of the hill and returned my gaze.  It was a magical sight; the late afternoon sunlight was streaming through the tree tops in golden columns, full of dust motes.  The elk emerged from the rays like an otherworldly vision.


I soon connected the experience to the Celtic lord of the hunt, Cernunnos, or "The Horned God."  Cernunnos is also known as "The Green Man" in many parts of the UK.  I contacted Austin with the idea.  He responded enthusiastically, saying that this resonated with his own spiritual path.


Austin and I went to the forest together, where we created ceremonial space before doing a photo shoot.  I asked Austin to listen to his intuition as we proceeded.  He stepped into the archetype and let the energies emerge; I held the space for this to happen.

Arriving at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, Colorado, for a five month artist's residency several weeks ago, my main concern was with the style I had been working in- tight, photo realistic, and illustrative.  Recent paintings are beautiful and magical, but the process had become painstaking and unwieldy.  My first intention was to open up my working style to let in more flow, movement, and elasticity.


The group of artists here immediately began collaborating.  We started with an art critique, and decided to do an "art experimentation day".  I am now playing with watercolor and gouache techniques beyond those I have already been using.  I've ordered some other materials such as chalk and ink to add into the mix.  I'm feeling into a style that contrasts looser techniques and illustrative, realistic work.

I'm  also throwing pottery in the clay studio here, to help me move into a more meditative space.  When I throw, I focus on finding the center of the piece and staying there; closing my eyes and being present with the moving clay.  This is a way to infuse my art with fresh new energy by 'switching gears'.

The art that has started to emerge feels very alive and resonant, and I'm excited to see where the process leads!

Introductions: Collaborations at Elsewhere Studios

Hailing from the Bay Area, Amber Imrie-Situnayake and myself have collaborated artistically since our days at the UC Berkeley Honors Studio, circa 2012. Last year we applied to Elsewhere Studios for a collaborative residency here in the ever lovely Paonia and as luck would have it we got a spot. We will be living and working at the Elsewhere house this January and February. Our goal is to test out new materials and stretch our wings a bit by getting some new experiments going. We will be sharing our journey here and also in the weekly section of Venison Magazine, which we founded last year alongside our fellow artist and friend, Lucy Wonsower. You can find our full portfolios including examples of our collaborative work at our respective websites. Give us a click: Amber Imrie-Situnayake and Adriana Villagran.

My first week at Elsewhere.



I'm all set here in Paonia CO… got my typewriter… got my tea kettle… good to go!

I arrived to Elsewhere Studios after a whirlwind of activity, starting with a Shamanic Journeying retreat in Sedona Arizona for the Spring Equinox, and then a flight home, three days of packing and preparing, and then four days driving to Colorado, (two nights in Moab, of course!) Even with the stop over in Moab and deep connections with all the rock people inhabitants at Arches National Park, arriving to Paonia was not without what I think was altitude acclimation issues. Dizzy, exhausted, not grounded.

It took me a few days to ground myself to my new community. Luckily my vision started to clarify and I could see the community physically. Streets. Buildings. Doors. Windows. Signs. I started to see each of the individual businesses and restaurants, I started to see the beautiful people with their souls shining as they smiled and greeted me on the street, and I started to see the fruitful landscape around me.

Paonia is beautifully a small town. I was immediately taken back to my days as a child, growing up in a town with a population of 2,500, attending school with only 170 other kids and graduating high school with a class of 23. Everyone knew each other and we used to joke that “whether you like it or not, people know the color of your shit.” At the time it was probably somewhat facetious... I mean really, how could anyone/everyone possibly be able to know about the status of my bowel movements. But now I see it from a different perspective. Living in a small town enables you to make connections, even if you don’t think you want them. People SEE you. They CARE about you. And even if you don’t know yourself, they KNOW YOU.

Experiences I’ve had in Paonia have already brought beautiful gifts. One of the first nights we went to eat at Louie’s Pizza and got to know Louie, a bicyclist and an avid road bicycle race enthusiast. Pictures on the wall, jerseys, medals, and a Belgium race on the television. Of course the pizza and beer more than hit the spot. (I highly recommend the eggplant appetizer by the way.) Hanging out, sitting at the bar, we met Rex, a beautiful soul with a seriously impressive rendition of Christopher Walken. Turns out Rex was in the movie business in his former life, that special effects guy making monsters and blowing stuff up. These days, Rex works at the Lands End Sculpture Center here in Paonia and he invited us up for a tour.

The very next day, all of the Elsewhere residents jumped into my car and we drove up to the center. Ok ok... it was like three minutes away. This is something you should absolutely do if you are interested in art, sculpture, bronze and metallurgy, the process of positive and negative forms to make a final result, foundry operations in general or if you are just curious and want to meet some awesome people. I had been to other foundries before, but not a custom shop casting art. All their work is one time only, meaning no patterns for manufacturing multiple parts month after month. Each job is unique and a work of art. I saw everything from small four-inch bronze bolo medallions to a jaw dropping 10+ foot wildcat. And that isn’t even the biggest they’ve done. It was so interesting to see and learn, meet the people who make it all happen and watch them in action. You can count on Paonia oozing with creativity, art and friendliness pretty much everywhere.

A late breakfast at Nell’s turned out to be another unforgettable experience. Nell’s is a small little spot with a walk up counter and Mark cooking up your order. It actually felt like I walked right into his kitchen, and he asks what I would like to eat and he makes it for me right there in his own kitchen. Less of a restaurant-feel, more of an everyone-hanging-out-in-the-kitchen-at-home-feel. To be honest, it was around lunch time (slept in a bit), so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary that the UPS man stops in for lunch. But Bill is not an ‘ordinary’ UPS man, (who is really ordinary anyway?) Bill pulls out his guitar and proceeds to play and sing for us three of the most beautiful original songs. A loving voice that is a blend of folk, country and pure love. Fingers strumming and flowing with energy. Songs about love, lost love, and then the song he is most proud (for good reason), a song for his daughters. Well, I know he is proud of the song, but that energy also comes from how proud he is of his daughters. Beautiful. I am SO in the right place.

Only one trip to the Trading Post on Old River Road and I was hooked. Ok, I want to live here. Fresh and local everything! Fresh raw almond milk. Homemade peach butter. Local happy eggs. Bulk foods galore. Produce grown from right around the corner. Organic everything. A bring-your-own-bags and return-the-jars kind of place. All the prices are wholesale because of the type of foods they offer, so you need to pay a membership for a week, month, year, or get free membership if you... “volunteer your time by making value added products, cleaning, restocking, weeding, harvesting or processing farm food.  Suggested time 2-3 hours a week.  Bring your homegrown products to sell, or accept "PostNotes" at your local business.” I love Paonia.

With the opening of Spring and the excitement of the approaching Summer, the town is starting to buzz and everything seems ready to pop. Business hours seem to be shifting to more-open-than-not, organic farms and wineries are soon opening for tours and tastings. Festivals, music, gallery openings and theatre productions. And speaking of theatre, we took the time to go to Marty Durlin’s “Back In the Dreamtime” production at the local Paradise Theatre. I went to the production with an open mind... albeit realizing I am a 40-something going to a musical production about 60-somethings attending their 47-year high school reunion. I was really excited when one of the reunioners (yeah I know it isn’t a word) passed out pot-laced brownies... I thought to myself... oh yeah baby, this is gonna get GOOD! And yes, the next scene fulfilled my desires with strobe lights, secret sex and live groovin’ guitar. But it quickly shifted to discussions of Alzheimer's, lost love, the fate of the world and death. These are all issues I invite discussions, but I felt myself fighting back concern with lines like, “We’re screwed,” and “Hope is a whore, we’ve been here before, she shows you the door, you come back for more.” Art is art, and this production was definitely worth seeing. Connection with the characters is inevitable as they warm your heart, stir up memories and encourage contemplation. The live music accompaniment was VERY impressive, it seemed all the seats in the house were awesome (we sat up in the balcony) and last but not least... you have to try the organic popcorn cooked in coconut oil served with real butter and my favorite, brewer’s yeast. Oh yeah baby... Paonia rocks.

With my cell phone service not working here (Verizon), I am gratefully forced to unplug more and more and engage and ground into my new home for the next months. I am nesting, settling, enjoying and inviting the flow, the inspirations and the writing. I am so happy and grateful to be here. Thank you Elsewhere. Thank you Paonia.

P.S. The locals aren’t kidding about the Flying Fork Cafe & Bakery and their awesome bagels only offered on Sundays. Seriously amazing, tasty, soft, warm... makes every corner of your mouth (and stomach) happy. And they’re also not kidding about getting there early. A line forms right before 9am and if you get there too late... you may miss out on bagel-day entirely.

With Gratitude, Dana Fuhrman

Desperately Seeking Jude!

As a visual artist who has fashioned a home studio in my dining room in New Jersey for the past five years, stealing hours between full time teaching , kids and life to paint, I dreamed of going "elsewhere." I envisioned a quiet spacious studio where I could create uninterrupted in a community of like minded individuals that fully support art making and dreaming. So here I am, nearly 1800 miles away from the east coast in the "land of abundance," at an artist's residency called Elsewhere located in Paonia, CO. The town itself, small and charming, offers big time culture and convenience all located just steps away from the Elsewhere residency. The Blue Sage, a cultural hub for art, dancing, music, Tai Chi and more, the Paradise Theatre, a state of the art library, top notch eateries and Revolution brewery are just a few of the establishments that attract locals and visitors alike. Sunday lunches at the Trading Post ,treks along the River Park and daily walks throughout this picturesque valley, hugged by breathtaking mountain ranges have made my stay especially memorable.

So getting back to the reason I ventured "elsewhere" in the first place, to ponder and paint in peace...and so I have. For the past five weeks, (with only 3 more to go... please say it ain't so), I have lived in the Gingerbread House, a cozy living space located behind the main residence. My studio space is in the "big house" complete with ample room, wall space and natural light. Art visionaries Willow, Karen and Maya have created this whimsical wonderland for artists that offers all the comforts of home and more. An excellent reference library of books was an added surprise.

There is much to write about as every nook and cranny of this residency and the people associated with it offer inspiration and each deserve recognition but I am not a writer . It seemed more apt that I share some images with accompanying captions to better illustrate my experience.

Daily walks offer endless glimpses of the beauty in and around the Paonia landscape! I wonder if one ceases to see and appreciate this beauty. I doubt it!

I paint children, primarily strong , passionate , empowered girls! We paint what we know! I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to capture the essence of these two beautiful young women, Ceylon and Riven!

An evolving outdoor space a Elsewhere offers a whimsical place to think, breathe and be.

The entry to my private space, the Gingerbread House! Warm and welcoming!

While walking with fellow resident Nathalie, passing a nearby farm, a flock of sheep seriously galloped to greet us from a few hundred yards away with a chorus of "baaahs."

Resident cat, Tomato is perhaps the most docile, loving feline I have ever encountered. Lover of all and loved by all...(and I am a dog lover), Tomato was a constant presence and companion .

Walks along the river amid beds of rocks were simply beautiful!

In celebration of St. Patrick's  Day, friends, abundance and fun, we were generously invited to plant peas and enjoy a pot luck supper , hosted by Adam and Sara. Kite flying, eating, playing and conversation ensued! I attended with fellow residents and friends, Nathalie Collins, Roya Amigh and Carrie Naughton!

Every Sunday, the Trading Post, a local organic farm, store and eatery generously offers a "by donation" Sunday lunch for the community. It is a spectacular  hot and cold freshly prepared buffet. The music adds to the warmth and richness of the experience.

Works in progress!

Me, Ceylon and Riven...in progress

And finally, here is a link that includes some images from our Artist's Open Studio at Elsewhere. It  allowed us  share our work and experiences with the community and was well attended! I am looking forward to what will transpire during my final few weeks. For anyone considering the worth of a creative residency....it is nothing more than an invaluable gift to yourself and your work. Elsewhere enables the muses and the magic unfold. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203410596213958.1073741836.1483745280&type=1&l=24464e35d9 Elsewhere Open Studio To view more of my work or to contact me visit http://www.judeharzer.com