the universe created you to know itself
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!
One week until it's time to go back to Los Angeles, a city I've always considered home and still do. But then, what IS home? Is it where you were born? Where you've lived the majority of your current years of existence? A comfortable place? Somewhere you have not only a past, but a future? Give me an inch (of Colorado) and I'm going to want a foot (of the rest of the Unites States.) This residency has definitely been exactly what I was hoping for and more. The Town of Paonia is great, the residents here are wonderful and my fellow artists are so much fun. It's always warming to meet a crowd you get along with.
I know I've been happy hiding away at Elsewhere. My fellow artists and I have had mini dance parties, streamed 90's music, discussed art and life and even logged into our Myspace accounts just to revisit a part of our childhood. Honestly can't believe I remembered the log in information.
We've had one critique which was insightful and had quite an impact on the project I'm working on now. I've never put together an installation before. It's both intimidating and exciting. Inspiring each other and learning from one another has been fantastic here. Just the type of environment everyone should find within their own disciplines. Elsewhere has definitely provided a nurturing creative experience. I've been able to meet half of the goals I jotted down before making my way down here. That including designing textiles. They'll be ready on the 27th and I'm stoked!
We've explored a bit together, too. Revolution Brewery is quaint and has great beer. The Gunnison river gave us a nice path to walk down. No complaints here---and I mean to the point where I kind of don't miss LA. Okay, I don't miss LA at all.
Alas, I must go back. But I'm definitely looking forward to applying to residencies in the future. My hopes and expectations have definitely risen though...
I posted on Facebook, "One week left in Colorado. Pretty sure I don't want to leave." To which my boss responded: 'I was thinking of you this morning and wondered how you feel about leaving. It's great that you have had such a good time. Someone once said to me, "it's best to leave when you are having a good time, because in your mind it will always be a happy event, and you might even want to go back sometime." '
And that, I cannot argue with.
Can’t say that starting a new year off with an artist residency is a mistake. My initial goal was to mix abstract images with organic shapes and to mix media, that being charcoal, ink and paint. When it was time to sit down and work, all I wanted to do was play with gouache swatches. “The Alternative Polka Dot” is what I’m tentatively calling the series. I’ve taken swatches I've painted, cut them into circles, arranged them into designs which I will digitize and turn into repeat patterns for fabric.
I eventually sat down to paint and churned out black trees. I painted other things beforehand, but currently there are black trees sitting on an easel in the studio. My attempt at adding to the series of geometric paintings I did last year was a terrible one. I couldn’t get into “the groove.” Anyway, the black trees represent life. Your life, my life, you know---a life. I plan to fill the background with dozens of colors---which will represent the chaotic world around us.
I haven’t completely forgotten about using charcoal and ink. It’s in the back of my head. I’ll find the motivation and desire at some point, I’m sure. Maybe that’s just not something to focus on for this Colorado venture. Meanwhile, I’ve been tossing back and forth the similarities and differences between being an artist and a designer. Right now I feel more like a designer than an artist. I’m excited to go to Lasting Impressions, a local screen printing shop to get some swatches made from the “Alternative Polka Dot” series. I’m upset I feel like I have to choose between being an artist and a designer.
I finally figured out how to explain the idea I proposed for this residency in the beginning. ‘To create chaos using tools of order.” I feel like my paintings revolve around chaos and order. I have this need to paint geometry, to control the lines and colors, to use shapes I create. I should have discussed this at the meet and greet with the residents of Paonia, but I couldn’t. This is the type of work I’ve created in the last couple years, and so I probably should've shared it. Instead I decided to wing the presentation. And boy did I wing it or what.
I ended up talking about my desire to design textiles and my desire to paint. “I like painting” is exactly what I said. Woop di doo. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. That explains it. Err, maybe. I’m pretty sure I confused everyone there by getting straight to a point and not discussing the different aspects and concepts of my art or its history or future. It was truly abrupt. I’m going to be working on my presentation skills indefinitely.
I am happy I was able to bring something different to the table though---abstract, modern designs with textile aspirations.
My fellow residents and I have decided to have an art show at the end of the month, January 29th to be exact.
The four of us had a critique earlier this week, which was the best I’ve ever experienced. After feeling a little lost and torn between things, they helped me discover how to combine it all. The geometric paintings and contemporary textile designs will be brought to life in an installation. I’ve never created one before so this is exciting. One large installation will be the piece I’ll be showcasing at the end of the month. I’ve inserted some photos below to show you the starting point of this residency and where I am now.
You can officially make fun of us, Paonia, we both suffered from altitude sickness for the first few days while we stayed at Elsewhere. Dizziness, nausea, and disorientation hit us and crippled our motivations to construct work. We spent the first four days thinking and talking things through. By Friday, we had come up with a concept and ordered materials for our collaborative work, which was good since we needed to talk about it at the meet and greet that evening.
I sketched this image to help illustrate our collaborative plans at Elsewhere. We will be making cocoons representing the homes and businesses of Paonia using wet felting techniques, stitching, home-visits, and object collecting. These cocoons will be installed in the upstairs studio and hung from canopy of woven sticks and twigs collected from around Paonia. The result will be an installation-map in which each cocoon will represent the identity of a place in Paonia and explore what is quintessential about each location.
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.
Constraints - is what I worked with during my stay at the Elsewhere, and is what I am grateful for. Constraints push me to experiment and find new directions. It is just like this blog post; I originally planned to edit and post the sound of rain drops hitting a tin sheet in the garden of Elsewhere in the morning of my departure, until I realized that it is not possible to post sound files with this account. So here it is, imagine it in your own way, through three different presentations of sonogram analysis of the sound that the Elsewhere played for me that morning.
With my deepest gratitude to the time I had (with my collaborator and dear friend Sibylle Irma) and people I met at Elsewhere, I look forward to see future endeavors of the Elsewhere and its supportive community.
Reiko Yamada, composer and sound artist
My lessons seem to always come to me in retrospect. I suppose this is the way for most, but for those of you living in the moment, never looking back or forward, I'm open for suggestions. When I arrived in Paonia my life was an uncertainty. I suppose that's always the way as well, but had I stopped to think I may have found myself turning back to those reliable almost-certainties. Instead I was given and took up residency in a building that in some way spoke to me. It said "be here." So with now immediate plans but to go back to what I've known I found myself unloading my car of my life's possessions into a funky little cottage that built on a vision and with the helping hands of a beautiful community. The energy was felt immediately and for the first time of a handful of times I sat on the well worn rug that would offer comfort to many and began to build my little fire. I pulled out my sketchbook that consists of more words than images and I wrote:10/6/14 "Fate has a funny and dominating way of making it's presence known when life seems almost hopeless. Wood stove crackling keeping me warm in the Gingerbread House, I sip on my tea without regrets at this very moment. Listening to Ray Charles, sitting on an oriental rug loved from years of footprints from artists past. The new chapter has begun. The desire to create art for my sanity has returned and grows like a tiny flame whipped to near extinction from life's uncertainty and despair. I look forward to climbing the ladder each night I'm here, this ladder made by some thoughtful hand. It's a sturdy ladder with a lot of character and I guess that's just what I need."
There was a freedom behind those walls of Elsewhere that reminded me everything is going to be ok and on the days with no worries I was restored by the energy there to hope for greatness and appreciation. As the days went on as they do I learned from my mates. Different perspectives and acts of kindness and thoughtfulness were daily lessons that I had somehow been immune to for some time. My studio, Filled with light and positivity, was a sanctuary where I could move freely without self consciousness. I could get weird whenever I wanted and I did. The time flew quickly and with each curtain drawn to the evolution and community involvement of that sanctuary I fell more deeply in love with my life. I suppose had I been more presently aware I would have understood that then in addition to now, but time moves quicker than the mind and I find myself working on a way to slow time down so I can live appreciating each moment until I move on. Heidl Hasenauer
Elsewhere & Paonia both abound with new friendships, connections as well as sweet summertime fruit
thrift stores, free stuff and give-away garden produce are three excellent realities of the lovely North Fork Valley
my original project proposal has blossomed into four separate-yet-linked series
from the fifth of July (during the "Paonia Cherry Days" festival) an abundance of photographs have filled many days since
mid-autumn now, looking back... these five things I revisit, these five things hold true, these five things remind me of the gift of this residency
daniel fonken, elsewhere resident july - december, 2014
With this residency, I sought out to explore through video and mixed media what it meant to find home home. Having never left home before in 24 years, I wanted to explore new context and investigate the character and heart of this home of others. Paonia has answered my questions in a remarkable, unexpected way. There is so much diversity in such few residents and blocks of streets. From miners to old-schoolers; farmers, artists, musicians, story-tellers, "hippies", solar engineers, doctors, scientists, families. It is a community in every sense of the word. There's an awareness and concern for one-another's well-being and there is a humble intelligence to the simplicity here. The pace is slow, but there is always work being done and creativity flowing free. They are open, warm, and everyone is celebrated for their individuality. At the same time, there is a real seriousness about preserving the landscape and sustaining this way of life.
It was quite apparent early on that this is how people should be living.
I intend to further develop my video series upon returning to Sault Ste. Marie, ON. In revisiting these captured moments carefully and deliberately I'll assemble the videos experimentally through self-derived processes. The videos will be the first installment of my current research project "A Progressive Understanding of Home and The Journey"
Find the first finished videos here: http://vimeo.com/katyhuck
Friends who had been to Paonia told me, "You'll like it." I wasn't convinced. I am now. The city, really a town, is only 1500 people with one main streets and no stop lights. The drivers are courteous. Surrounded by mountains there are streams that run through this piece of paradise. There is a great irrigation canal about 22 steps from the back door, covered by trees and shaded. It was my office to write at. Paonia is very friendly and diverse---from hippies (old and young) to coal miners who still think Obama is a Kenyon, socialist and the anti Christ. However, to be honest there is not a lot of brown and black faces. There are also, count'em 17 churches. Finally there is....OMG....marijuana abound. Presently the city is voting on to have the sale of pot in the city legal, like a retail store. Not that I used any....
Paonia and Elsewhere are a special place and I guarantee you will be captivated. Paonia is what a small town should be---friendly, welcoming, neighbor knowing neighbor, a smile at every corner. I might add this is where they grow fruits and vegetables and do come there in late summer and fall. The best peaches in the world.
Elsewhere is a fine older remodel abode. They have a sauna in the basement. The interior is unique but functional and Karen is Johnny on the spot---or is that Joanny on the spot. The back door is left open and in days your creativity will burst forth. Freedom does that to artists.
Come, stay and enjoy.
A beautiful valley surrounded by lovely mountains, orchards, wonderful fruits and vegetables, quaint homes and a surprisingly vibrant communities is what I found in Paonia. My month spent at Elsewhere afforded me the time to work on my art, but also opened me to a truly unique American community. My time flew by, days painting and evenings listening to music and dancing. It was never boring with too many opportunities to do more than my time allowed. I would recommend Elsewhere as a delightful place to spend a month and be creative.
One week in. One week of new sights and the big mountains and a new place with new birds and new bugs and all new people, and I'm already well settled enough to think about "getting out of town". I came from California up over the Sierras and across empty dry Nevada and Utah that wasn't much different until you reach the Eastern edge and huge red rocks come bursting up and like a fool I listened to the end of a podcast and didn't get the full feel of the rocks, thinking like I was the whole trip that I'll be back some day with time to stop and sit and feel, but for now I've got to get through and get there so just keep on driving. Then Colorado and suddenly there was green and rolling hills that looked like you could walk through barefoot and water running through in great roiling brown rivers and real live streams that probably had fish and then I saw horses brown and shining with green all around them and the big mountains booming behind them. I cheered and called to the horses and felt the excitement of seeing them and imagining them running and how beautiful they were—more beautiful and elegant than they need to be—extra beauty and elegance and their flowing hair just to remind you of higher things. Reds and blues popping out from the green making me think of pictures and all around the big open air and clear light and a clean feeling.
I found Elsewhere just as easily as I thought I might, green house standing like a picture on the side of the main road I drove up slowly and parked right in front and got out and took my time moving in to the quiet open and cool house and finding my little Gingerbread House behind, just as big as it needed to be with windows in all the right spots and my stuff fit in just fine.
I walked in search of a spot to swim carrying a little towel and following the ditch thinking it was a creek, and finally realizing it wouldn't turn into a swimming hole I decided dipping my toes and getting the silty mud on my feet was enough and I walked out of town barefoot a ways looking at the houses and the orchards and listening to the quiet and feeling my whole body relax and already checking my thoughts and trying to let things come as they would and when I got a tour of the town I had to reel them in a dozen times as I fluttered along the various threads that stretched out from each business and event and spun together with my ego to create important successful endeavors and how much could I create in a month?
I began Monday morning on the ditch road walking East towards Jumbo and crossing the ditch and walking up towards the big mountain and checking the light and worrying at how much time I was taking to find a spot, knowing any spot was better than anything I'd had in years and trying to relax and accept the walking as part of the art and trust that the painting would eventually begin and then I'd be painting but right now I was walking and could I enjoy this slice of the trail and all the bees and grasshoppers and little white butterflies and the yellow flowers that built up into great big curving soft pillows beside the brown fast-moving water in the ditch. I went back to the car with some idea of a spot to start and sat down inside the car to eat the rest of my toasted PB&J and thought self-consciously about my parking spot and me sitting in there eating and drinking tea and after getting out once I got back in and moved the car back closer to the entrance and then carefully packed my napsack standing outside the passenger door and then took out the art cart for its maiden voyage. I leaned it up against the rear bumper and began bungeeing the painting board with the pink gessoed papers to the top of the cart and standing the cart up all the way I awkwardly mounted the old cardboard box of paints and wrapped the big bungee around it and then started down the gravel to cross the road, fretting over how the bungee rubbed noisily between the box and the tires, thinking what a big flustered bumbling mess I was and who did I think I was building this contraption and trying to make paintings right away here not knowing anybody and not knowing the country at all, but I paused and switched the orientation of the bungee so it didn't rub and made my way across the road and down the track and stopped at the strange spot I'd chosen for the way a road started up and across the valley from behind a light-blue roof, and doubting my spot the whole time and fussing and struggling to get the cart situated and steadied in its open position I sat down to mix colors and painted.
Six days in a row I've done the same thing every morning, doubting completely the spot and what I am doing each morning except for yesterday when I decided I'd put everything I could into the little painting and think of it as a real painting and not a study and I was so content up there without listening to the radio or a podcast, just looking out and laying down four big pink-orange shapes of the fields below the mountains and building the picture around them and finding four surprise blue shapes to fit into each corner that I couldn't have planned even if I'd tried.
A week now that includes some dips into deep despair and excitement and emptiness and all the things that make up real life as a human that feels things and has space to allow everything in and although sure it's been quick and how can there already be only 21 days left I feel full up on Paonia and CO and sure enough about what I'm doing to enjoy it and appreciating the point on which I'm perched where all around me are swirling possibilities and the real challenge and great opportunity is to sink down into this moment and not tumble off chasing something but stand here and trust the universe to do the organizing and figuring and be grateful for this life and truly believe in every bit of my being that this is my life and this is not some fantasy that must end but the true product of all the work I've done and the start of something new.
Last week as I was rafting in the river, I saw a little ferret standing on one of the cliffs next to the water. 'What a brave and curious little ferret', I thought. It isn’t easy for such a small animal to come out of the safety of its little underground nest, and then stand on his two feet to look at the rafters go by. But a ferret may not see rafters going by very often. It may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the ferret.
And it made me think that the ferret and I were like-minded souls. As even though our fears were great, our curiosities were even greater.
I came to Elsewhere three weeks ago from a land far away. Leaving my wonderful husband, my cute little cat, and my warm cozy home for two months was not an easy thing to do. I felt like a small animal forced to come out of her little cave, crawl on top of the ground, and run in the darkness of the night– not really knowing where.
But now I’m here in Paonia and it is not dark here at all! The people are smiling, the sun is shining and the bagels are flying! There are no hawks waiting around the corner to eat me!
And the two months that I am here are not like the two months I’ve experienced before and will experience in the future. They are the sort of two months that don’t pass by very often.
After my stay here, I know I can crawl back into the safety of my nest, but I’m going back with a bag full of souvenirs: nuts, mushrooms and perhaps some berries as well. I will hide the nuts into the little crevices of my nest. I will dry the mushrooms in the sun and the berries I will make into jam. And so I know I will be able to cherish and share all the treasures collected from this journey for a long time to come!
Elsewhere House web log: well I have been putting off/avoiding - writing something under the blog title for some time-well-since last January and it's not that I don't have a slew of examples as to what an Elsewhere "blog" may appear like - in effect an anything goes paragraph or two or three well composed paragraphs and accompanying photos of storied green house and local scenic setting Paonia-would do justice. As divergent in styles and mirroring personalities I recognize each author of the last three or is it four months. -As the current reigning veteran I am in the sans Frau position of remembering the dynamics of the winter session residents and with the force of personalities that each possessed I feel compelled -despite president -to recall the first month evolving scene-- on people and not so much work.
I was slow in joining the upstairs tribe of raucous laughter that would drift down into the Hobbit arched basement apartment with accompanying new installed Shauna -okay ..laughter -..raucous laughter indeed -I would be reading the pre sleep hours away and then from above a chorus of howls would gain momentum-a pause - a slur of vowels in lower case and then decidedly uppercase - a howl. There was a rhythm to the sound box ceiling muffled instrument that I don't have the talent to translate phonically- but regardless I would catch the rhythm--and then wait for the beat -still waiting -finger touching last read book line -in pause position - waiting for the kick back exclamation-!!!----waiting--- " don't stop now" l-wait -wait -(them)-"HAaaAHAhhhee-ahh!!!--"-(me) "ah there it is" -I could then resume reading some serious biography of Woodrow Wilson or Nine men in a Boat until another bolt of laughter and me -pausing - straining unattainable powers to reconstruct the filtered voices for a translation clue - but for naught - giving up I would answer -" American Youth" but then realize - Roya - a painter and late night or is it early morning owl / and In her downstairs social hours on a quest for the perfect cocktail -which she came to perfect was from - Iran. -The rest -American and youthful - but in their thirties -Carrie-a writer- was the -in the moment social director guide -a wit -inclusively disarmingly critical yet full of fun - a western slope nomad roaming the Tuscan -Jackson hole corridor territory -Macon- music man and man about town- looking for a break from years of band touring from Denver -Natalie disciplined studio painter extraordinaire Ct. by way of Oakland -
-well this form(blogging)is a learning curve enterprise and I'm splintering away for now- need to get back to work - fortunately the blog allows for this come and go allowance-love the form.
-My next attempt at blogging I will address my foray to the upstairs world re-con cause for merriment -and a traceable cause- 1and2)-Bloody Mary-ville 3)-what artistic aims -I thought the residency would serve and 4) true or falsehoods of- as master of the Elsewhere House domain -the siesta king -Tomato. -signing off -HH
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
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.
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 To view more of my work or to contact me visit http://www.judeharzer.com
Elsewhere Studios is an artists in residency program located in the beautiful town of Paonia Colorado. The program strives to create a supportive and stimulating environment for artists to develop new ideas, grow and experiment.
Elsewhere Studios | 107 3rd St, Paonia, CO, 81428, United States