Kathleen Alcala

My residency at Elsewhere started with Cherry Days. What could be sweeter? Once upon a time I lived in this town, and I still remember the sweet taste of those cherries. Even better, I remember the cherry pies made by locals to try and use up all the cherries. It was with great, personal interest that I watched the judges taste cherry desserts in the park this summer, and cherries continued to appear on our kitchen counter for a couple of weeks, before they were supplanted by plums. 

As a writer of fiction and nonfiction, I don't usually resort to residencies as a way to get work done. But once in awhile, they are just the thing. When I came across "Elsewhere" and saw that it was in Paonia, I could not resist. I had a fairly limited project that I had set aside to finish a long, nonfiction book, and this seemed the perfect place for it.

This is the first time I have attended a mixed arts residency (sounds like martial arts, right? No kicking involved), and was happy to watch the enthusiasm and progress of my sister residents - a writer/photographer, a painter, and a singer/songwriter. The creative vibes radiated up through the floorboards, and down through the ceiling, and in from the backyard as the others worked. 

My tools consisted of a computer, paper and pencil, and a couple of dictionaries. Working on a translation consists of several stages, from a "thick" (literal) translation to a "thinner" one that aims for the equivalent phrases in English without pulling the reader too far from the original meaning. In this case, I am translating a biography of a Hispano-Arabic poet written in the 1980s by a professor at a university in Spain. The poet himself lived in the 1100s, and was part of an era called "Convivencia," in which Jews and Christians were not only tolerated, but embraced for their talents by the Muslim rulers of southern Spain. The poet himself, al-Mu'tamid Ibn Abbad, was a sort of rock star, along with his wife, I'timad, of his time and place. Think Jay-Z and Beyoncé. 

I made it through a "thick" translation, and will continue with a more nuanced approach to the work as I have time. In one month, I begin promoting my book, "The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island," from the University of Washington Press. Travel and talking about my work over and over again is hard work for a mostly reclusive person, so the time in Paonia was especially precious. 

While there, besides eating a lot of fruit, I

1) Visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Lost Lake

2) Visited Garvin Mesa, where I helped start public radio station KVNF with my husband years ago, and my old house in Montrose

3) Interviewed Felix Belmont about his interesting family background for a magazine article, 

4) Dropped by the offices of one of my favorite publications, High Country News, and

5) Acted as a lounge chair for the resident cat, Tomato(z).

I also heard live music about twice a week, a record number for me. Oh, and took full advantage of the air-conditioned library two blocks away. Did I mention that it was hot in July? 

Karen Good, Willow Wind Good, Spencer Lightfoot, and the adorably pregnant Sharon Bailey made sure we had everything we needed at Elsewhere. Other visitors dropped in out of curiosity, and sometimes their families had to drag them away when they realized that this quirky building just off the main street was a refuge for artists. Elsewhere has served lots of purposes over the years, but the current use as a harbor of creativity seems to suit it. 

With any luck, I will return again with new work, new ideas, and make new friends.

 

 

 

SIRI UNDLIN

 “A Knobby-Kneed Creature Arrives at Elsewhere Studios and Stubs Her Toe”

So, I tend to fall into my favorite places. Bed, freshwater lakes, love. 2 years ago, upon arrival in Edinburgh (which would quickly become a favorite city) I fell down an entire flight of double-decker bus stairs. Needless to say, after completing the hefty drive from Minneapolis to Paonia, emerging from my car a knobby-kneed creature and promptly tripping on my own shoe to tumble down into Elsewhere’s whimsically landscaped lot, I took it to be a very good sign. Alice has fallen down the hole, folks. Welcome to wonderland. 

It’s been a few weeks since my klutzy arrival and every day there’s a new surprise - quick friends, marimba concerts, an orange cat with unnerving 007 stealth-like tendencies. Lightning storms and apricots that hit me in the head (no Newtonian eurekas as of yet), grasshoppers the size of my thumb. Every time I start to form what feels like an accurate “first-impression” of this town, I’m surprised again. There’s a shimmering, kaleidoscopic quality here and the unexpectedness of the days has become reassuring. What an incredible place to make art. What a beautiful place to just be. 

But Elsewhere is not a vacuum. In my hometown, Philando Castile was brutally murdered by city police while his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter sat in the same car. As Minneapolis ripples with shock waves of grief and anger and the videos play over and over on social media, I’ve been honestly wondering if this is where I should be. As an artist, is my role to hermit away for an extended period of time or to join my generation in ferociously demanding progressive reform on both local and federal levels? Can I, in good conscience, experiment with looping compositions while friends, schoolmates and family members are singing and chanting outside the Governor’s house, using their voices until their throats are hoarse, and not even stopping then? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m asking because I am trying to understand. I do not believe that art is a luxury, but essential to survival. That being said, with an increasingly frightening presidential election approaching, is this time well spent? It is overwhelming and scary and if my music becomes nothing more than an “escape” then I have failed. 

I don’t know that I’ll ever have answers – for the duration of my stay at Elsewhere and beyond that. I started reading this book, though, called Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The title alone was a very needed reminder that as Paonia continues to shimmer and surprise me, as my hometown struggles to mend and grow, as it rains in Edinburgh and Alice wanders around in wonderland, wherever I go, there I am. You, reading this, are right where you’re at. For whatever reason, this stark and simple truth has been like pulling back a veil– I am right here. And I can say Philando Castile’s name, I can support my friends at home, I can ask impossible questions and I can make art - right here. I don’t have to do it gracefully, in fact, I can embrace the colorful, devastating edges of uncertainty, I can learn to relish the slip, tumble, fall and shattering in order to better contribute to the mosaic of, ya know, life. So, here’s to being a klutz, Elsewhere. Here’s to fantastic failures, slip n’ slides, mud slings, stubbed toes and the beauty of brokenness. I’m so excited to be here for the next 2 months.

 

 

Liz Cantrell

I arrived in Colorado in late April, wide-eyed at this weird and wonderful state. I made my way to the North Fork Valley, where spring had barely sprung. Snow still topped Lamborn, the ever-watchful mountain that looms over Paonia. When I pulled up to the house at 107 3rd Street, I was greeted by a cheerful, brushed-green-exterior and an arched doorway with the name proudly emblazoned: Elsewhere. This kaleidoscope, patchwork home welcomes artists, travelers, and wandering souls. We enter through this door as strangers. One or two or three or six months later, we exit through that threshold as friends and fellow Paonians.

What a joy to spend May and June in this place. My time at Elsewhere allowed me to do some thinking about my life and upcoming plans. I am on the cusp of graduate school and have gone through some significant transitions in the last year of my life. At Elsewhere, I took stock, journaling and working through those changes. I unearthed scenes from my life, my travels, and my relationships that had been tampered down. I found a way to give them voice.

My writing practice also shifted. Typically, I write poetry because I find it difficult to flesh out my feelings or experiences in a longer narrative. When I’m writing for a journalism assignment, I have no problem writing at length and in depth. Having distance from a piece is often a relief.

It is when something is close to home that the writing becomes “work,” becomes charged with meaning. At Elsewhere, it felt safe to finally explore this kind of personal writing. I became brave enough to read pieces at Open Studio that I would ordinarily not have brought to public light.

When I was not writing, days of adventure took me to places sublime and unfathomable to these east-coast eyes. I swam in alpine lakes ringed by aspen groves, scaled down sheer-cliffed canyons plunging to riverbeds, and let my eyes follow wide, flat mesas rising in the distance.

Around town, I absorbed every ounce of creativity that pulses through.  Open Mic nights at Louie’s Pizza became a chance to practice reading my work, to gain courage. Writer gatherings at the Green Cottage offered an intimate environment for feedback on works-in-progress. I was surprised and inspired by workshops that two fellow Elsewherians and I hosted at the town library, and was delighted by the surreal world of the Zeitgeist Circus Fashion Show.

These past two months at Elsewhere have witnessed many changes in the valley, in myself, and in my writing. I’ve watched spring turn to summer, marked the one-year passage of quitting my full-time corporate job to turn to a life of writing, and had the good fortune to see the solstice coincide with the full moon. I’ve pushed myself to dig deeper, to write with boldness and feeling, rather than reservation. These transitions are both ordinary and serendipitous. I think I needed to be here, to be “Elsewhere,” for those changes to come full circle.

It is with a full and happy heart that I leave this little town behind. I've met so many characters in Paonia. This town is rich in quirky people, but it's the cheer and spirit of those people that makes this place sink into your skin. I can say with some certainty that I'll keep in touch with a few of the Elsewhere residents, and some of the townsfolk, in the years to come. And I know I'll return to this valley one day.

Until then, I'll miss so many things. I'll miss all the elements of Elsewhere's bizarre and charming property, from the off-kilter Gingerbread House, to the half-string of Christmas lights that brighten up my little loft room, to the hidden pieces of art carved into floors and walls and ceilings. I'll miss Tomatoes, who is more than a cat. He's a companion, a mouse-hunter, and a heart-stealer. I'll miss conversations with fellow residents, over coffee or beer or both, gathered in the studio or relaxing in the living room. I'll miss the rush of peering into canyons, the awe of eyeing the distant red desert horizon, or the calm of watching rivers cascade past me.

I'll miss quiet things, too. The babble of ditchwater running behind the house; the contrast of scorched days and chilled nights; the cradle of mountains that rise around you like a cupped pair of hands; the ubiquity of fruits and ciders and juices from the valley's orchards, always ripe and ready to delight your tongue. 

Goodbye, Elsewhere. Goodbye, Paonia. Thank you.

Patrice LaVigne

I am penning my first book. Have you heard that writing a book is hard?

I am not new to being a writer ... I have a fancy college degree to show for it and have spent the last 15 years as a paid writer (to pay off that fancy degree). I am really good at researching and writing 500-2,000-word assignments on short deadlines.

However, writing a book is a whole different beast.

I've always wanted to write a book and I finally decided 2016 would be the year to pursue my goal. My husband and I walked the entire length of New Zealand (2,000 miles) on a trail called Te Araroa and our adventure (and misadventure) seemed to be the perfect subject for a travel memoir.

I started the book-writing process by attending a writer's retreat in February. When we went around the room to introduce ourselves, nearly everyone said "I'm so excited to be here; it's the only time I get any writing done."

Yikes. My idea was that the retreat would kick start my book, but then I would be on a roll the rest of the winter. I romanticized this idea of sitting down with my laptop with a fire roaring, snow falling outside and endless hours of writing my book.

The 2-week retreat was awesome. I returned with 10,000 words written. And then my book collected dust. I didn't make time for book writing when I returned. I did write every day ... just not the book. Life got in the way and I made a million excuses. It seemed what other writers predicted was coming true. Writing a book is a test of stamina and self-compassion, exploring new practices and challenges along the way.

I knew I needed something more to get the job done. Elsewhere’s Residency Program was a gift to myself. I spent the month of May living in the Gingerbread House and I am extremely pleased with my book progress.

Typically, I wrote 1,000 words a day, working for about 5 hours give or take. When all was said and done, I added 24,505 words to my book, which translates to 72 pages. This brings my grand total to 33,620 words, or 106 pages. I believe I am 70% done with the "writing" portion of my book. I am hoping to do a little more writing this fall and winter to finish it off, but let's not talk about the revision process yet. Baby steps.

Beside quantifying my progress, I realize my time at Elsewhere and Paonia was an opportunity to break out of my shell a little more. It wouldn’t be wise to just hibernate because the town is vibrating with opportunities. Two of the 3 other residents were writers, so we really capitalized on our skills. We participated in the open mic night, a writer's group, a radio reading and a workshop teaching others about writing. It was really the best way to make the most of my time in Paonia.

Overall, Elsewhere was an awesome experience. I am in love with residencies, Paonia and Tomatoes the cat. 

Life Propaganda by Elyse Krista AnnaMarie Mische

I departed from Paonia a little over a week ago and I have been day dreaming about the magic ever since. I am eternally grateful for being selected by Elsewhere Studios and the Unicorn Arts Collective to receive the National Endowment for the Arts funded residency in Fashion Design. Thinking back to my experience my mind is continuously blow away.  In 2015 if you would have asked me, “where do you see yourself in 2016”, I never would have guessed Elsewhere Studios in Paonia Colorado. Have confidence in the wind, you’ll most always land exactly where you are meant to be.

I have this amazing (and slightly crazy) habit of signing up for tasks that are a few notches above my expertise because I always have faith that I am capable of rising to the occasion.  The idea of creating my first fashion line was initially daunting but Paonia has the ability to make an ant feel like Hulk Hogan…..and I body slammed the heck out of the task. Elsewhere Studios is not only an incubator for creativity and unhindered expression but also the perfect place to unearth buried talents and unleash success. The combination of high quality people, invigorating energy, and breathtaking mountain views creates an elixir that can surely launch any artist into a brighter future.

During my residency I took themes and symbolism from my 2D drawings and translated them into a series of 3D Live Drawings™, which ultimately became my fashion line, Life Propaganda. I used my love for mixed media to create 8 (literally) head to toe costumes and props that embodied ideas of time, life, death, wealth, the fine line between reality and unreality, and whimsy.  Each of my fabulous models bravely wore a handmade papier-mâché mask and garments made from repurposed teabags (over 1500 all collected by the Paonia community!), cut pleather and paper, and linoleum-block hand printed fabrics. I collaborated with fellow artists in Appleton Wisconsin to create original music (Joanna Dane and Tad Neuhaus) and projection designs (Len Eb). During the Saturday night show I ran around to the theater to catch a glimpse of my line; and let me tell you, seeing your own drawings hand dance to funky music in front of 200 people is a surreal and out of this world experience.  If you have never attended The Paonia Fashion Show, be sure to mark your calendars for next year, let’s hope things get weird.  

You can find images and video of my fashion line and view more of my creations at www.lifepropaganda.com

I am back in Appleton Wisconsin for the summer, then off to Holden Village in Chelan WA for a mini residency, and to the Charles Adams Studio Project in Lubbock TX for a residency September 1st – January 1st. I will return to Paonia one day soon, be ready!

An enormous THANK YOU to: Sharon Bailey, Karen and Willow, The Unicorn Arts Collective, the National Endowment for the Arts, Sharon Bailey, Joyce Schrieber, Paonia and all the Paonians, my fearless models, and Sharon Bailey. This gold star, life enhancing experience would not have been possible without any of you, Namaste! 

photos by Desdemona Dallas Photos

The Elsewhere Experience by Kelsey Courage

It was my absolute pleasure to spend the far too short month of April here at Elsewhere Studios.   Coming from a lifetime spent on the east coast the mountains were a beautiful and refreshing change of pace.

    To best illustrate the amazing and rejuvenating experience I have had here in the charming town of Paonia; I am going to break my post up into a few sections so I don’t completely ramble and bore you all. 

Part 1: The Process & The Product

Knowing that I only had one month to produce a body of work, and being that I had to fly instead of driving I was unable to bring torches and materials I would generally use to create metal work or jewelry, in the week or so before leaving for Colorado I began to plan and pattern the installation I intended to create.

    I am currently in the process of pursuing a masters degree in Art Therapy, so I have been reading and researching a lot about the techniques and theories associated with becoming an Art Therapist. In doing so I stumbled upon Robert Plutchik’s theory of the emotional wheel, which is similar in appearance to a traditional color wheel accept each color is assigned an emotion.  I thought this concept would lend itself well to creating a series of hand bound leather journals & masks dyed and arranged to imitate the emotion wheel.

    I began by patterning the leather journal covers and then through a process called Pyrography I burned the name of the emotion, its definition, and synonyms into the surface of the leather. Once all the text was seared into the covers they were each hand dyed with Fiebings leather dyes.  The masks were also patterned, cut, burned, baked to create shape, and dyed to match the corresponding Journals. The journals were then lined, stitched, and the hand cut watercolor papers were carefully bound with black wax thread.

Once all the books were bound I began to arrange them and couldn’t decided if I liked the masks laid on top of its corresponding journal or to invert the masks for conceptual reasons.

Artist Statement: In art therapy, journaling is a tool commonly used to help patients to further express their emotions. This series of hand bound leather journals and corresponding masks are arranged as a wall installation inspired by Plutchik’s theory of the emotion wheel. The emotion wheel was developed to help therapists identify how someone’s use of color relates to their feelings toward the subject they are creating.  

    Using the technique of Pyrography, text has been burned into the surface of the leather covers and masks. The leather is then hand dyed and utilized to represent the different emotions of the psychology-based wheel.  In the installation the masks are inverted and sit on top of the journal that conveys the opposite emotion, thus highlighting the duality of emotion and how the feeling we portray on our face is often not the emotion we are experiencing.  

Final Installation:

Part 2: The People of Paonia & The Foundry!

    First let me say how welcoming and incredible the people in this town are. The place is bursting with talent and it is such a beautiful thing to be surrounded by creative individuals it is simply inspiring. Also did I mention the view! I swear every picture I take of the scenery looks like a post card, and I am not a good photographer.

My first week I was lucky enough to meet Liz from the Remedy Café and when I described my tale of woe about not getting to bring my metalworking supplies along on my journey, she mentioned that her father and brother owned the local FOUNDRY!!!!!  I couldn’t contain my excitement and I called her sister –in-law, Nancy, the next day and she very graciously picked my up and gave me a little tour of the facilities.

    I then returned a few days each week to hang out in the wax room with Julie and see all the beautiful art they were helping to bring to life.  Here is a little look at behind the scenes at the Lands End Foundry:

I even turned in some of my own wax carvings to be cast in bronze. A little purple finch (inspired by a bird I saw on my trip to the hot springs) who will be half bronze and half carved purpleheart wood, and a flower with a blue beetle. I also carved a series of branch like dresser pulls as a gift for my sister (for her furniture up-cycling business) ! Here is a little preview:

Part 3: The Fantastic Four

I have to throw out a blurb about the beautiful ladies who were my roommates and partners in creative crime. I could fill another ten paragraphs with quirky anecdotes and tales of debauchery, but instead I will just say thank you and hope they know what a gift it was to spend a month laughing and creating with them! Another big thank you to Sharon & everyone who have made Elsewhere the truly magical place that it is! Keep up the good work!

 

                    

 

Clay Hamilton

I spent my final morning sweeping the downstairs floor nostalgically, watching dust motes float and murmuring, “I love you’s” to Tomato the cat, the sole permanent resident of the magical realistic realm that is Elsewhere Studios. I drove away in bright Colorado light with a feeling of strength. I had done what I had come to do; I worked hard, wrote 8 new songs, practiced a helluvalot of piano, explored new mediums, danced, and engaged with the community. The question churning in me before my arrival was “Can I honor my desire to produce a certain amount of work while whilst letting go of that expectation in order to reinvigorate and re-authenticate the journey and process of art?” I had been intensely focused on the professional side of “making it” as a musician but felt I had forgotten the magic that making art for its own sake was. My first few days were dedicated to finding a real piano to play. The organic vibration of a piano is an incomparable conduit for magic. Following a lead from a friend, I investigated a building behind the Trading Post, the local co-op, which as it turned out, housed the most beautiful piano in town. Through a labor of love, I transformed the room into a beautiful practice space, dance studio, and, eventually, into a concert hall.  

For the first two weeks, I drew, painted, or collaged a self -portrait every day. Chelsea Rowe (www.chelseamrowe.com), a fellow resident, gave me a helpful figure drawing lesson and I stood before my reflection in the window of my studio at night, accomplishing the first accurate drawing of my torso. Karen Good introduced me to throwing clay and making bowls on the potter’s wheel. I am thrilled to have finally connected with my namesake medium. I discovered wheel- throwing to be an embodied, meditative art form, and perhaps more than that, a practice. I wrote a poem called “Child of the Times” which when I returned home, I found out was published in Gonzo Today. Here’s the link:

http://gonzotoday.com/2016/04/06/child-of-the-times/  

I wrote and recorded these eight songs:

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/ghost-3

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/apocaplypse

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/lillith

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/early-spring-3-16-16-739-pm-2

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/penguin-and-swan-3-5-16-331-pm

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/apocaplypse

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/i-will-wade-out-elsewhere-demo-2

https://soundcloud.com/bornofclayandlight/black-star-3-18-16-407-pm


This painting is the result of three-quarters meditative absorption and on quarter crazy/fun mania:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 11.23.42 AM.png

This painting arrived as an almost complete image from my psyche. It is a collage of my fascination with funeral pyres, the imagined journey of death, transformation and reflection on a close friend who took his life. Today, while looking at it hanging in my hall, I see emptiness. I see my own battle with death wishes and mental suffering being honored and moved through. The kindness and talent of the Paonia community and the vortex of Northfork Valley cannot go unmentioned. The list of generous, interesting and inspiring people is too long to list. Let it suffice to say that although this visitor suspects she witnessed only a glimmer of its bejeweled nature, she has unshakeable confidence that Paonia is a rare gem. I give thanks to have been held in the graces of the Elsewhere muses. Winter turned to spring and the doors of my creative psyche were blown open, letting light into a dark room. To stay up-to- date with my music and creations, and to watch video clips of my final performance, please go to my website www.clayhamilton.org

Elsewhere on my mind - By Tara Gilchrist

The truth is, Elsewhere has been on my mind every day since our departure over a month ago.  I’ve told anyone who will listen about Elsewhere’s huge impact on the inspiring community of Paonia and, in turn, on both my life and art.

On September 13th, the morning after I married Caitlin, I received a message that there was a last minute opening at Elsewhere for October.  The timing of the invitation could not have been more perfect.  We had already decided to road trip to Colorado as part of our honeymoon and visit a close friend in Paonia. However, we hadn’t figured out where we would stay or for how long.  Having access to a kiln and wheel meant we could afford a longer stay as I could make pieces for upcoming shows back at home in Canada. Within our first week of arrival, it was an easy decision to stay not just for the month of October, but November as well!  Our upstairs room with a cosy bedroom nook, claw foot bathtub and beautiful open space was the perfect lovers/artist quarters. The people and shared kitchen were warm, inviting and eclectic. Here was a space to make pots, do yoga, eat local healthy foods, explore new landscapes and connect with open hearted people.  Here was a place rich in everything most important to both of us in our new life together.

The lines are blurred between my art practice and every day life as I’ve always felt like my life is an ever evolving art work in progress.   I have built a studio and gallery over the past 8 years that centres itself around my pottery, yet there always seems to be a million things pulling me away from creative experimentation. At home surrounded by lakes and trees in the hamlet of Dorset, Ontario it often feels like there’s little time to just play with clay.  My experience of being a working artist is that very little time is actually spent with my hands in the clay and much more time is spent running the business.  As life becomes richer and fuller…I must make a greater effort in finding the time for creative experimentation.  Clay is my primary medium of choice and I know to continue to work with it and feel satisfied…I must never settle.  My approach to clay, as in life, is that enjoyment of the process takes top priority. Trusting that the more joy I can find in the process of making, the more satisfaction I find in the final product.  For this reason, I love to combine my passion for travel, connecting with loved ones and great food with my creating. Being surrounded by the unique style of the Elsewhere’s grounds, fellow artists and the local community was a perfect fit.

Living and working at Elsewhere gave me the opportunity to isolate some aspects of clay work that I’d been wanting to experiment with but haven’t felt I had the time. I purchased a new red clay body and a beautiful peacock blue glaze from just outside of Boulder and combined that with hand carved wooden stamps I’ve collected from travels to India.  I’d been wanting to experiment with new approaches to decoration by using the stamps and coloured glaze for several years but always felt like I didn’t want to risk the time in my production schedule. Here, I was able to produce a body of work that I loved making as much as the final product.  Bringing all this work home to my customers in time for holiday shopping has made it possible to fund the next adventure of living in Guatemala for the winter months. My only regret from this experience is not having spent more time getting to know local clay artists.

Paonia has left such a mark on our hearts that we are already scheming on when we can return.  My head is spinning with ideas of connecting with locals for group collaborations and firings. Until then, the open minded spirit of Paonia has a strong hold on us and we’re working on ways to infuse our northern hometown with all of our Elsewhere inspiration.

Thank you Elsewhere for dreaming so big in all you strive to create. I look forward to seeing how things have evolved when we return.

Big love to you all,                                                                                

Tara

Click here to follow Caitlin & Tara on Instagram   

and visit www.opencait.com & www.chetolah.ca

All photos taken by Tara & Caitlin

Lo Williams

Oh lovely Paonia.  I arrived in mid-February at the beginning of what turned out to be a long warming trend that carried me through my two (too-short) weeks at Elsewhere.  I drove into a valley thick with darkness but awoke to views of Mount Lamborn and the West Elks, Jumbo, and high mesas rising all around.  Outside my windows, snow banks glowed bright in the sunlight.  In fact, those feet-deep piles of snow, long melted by the end of my stay, might serve as a metaphor for my Paonia experience: with each passing day, the town shrugged off another layer and revealed itself a little more.

I came to Paonia to work on a book manuscript, but I often found myself so distracted by the town, the valley, and the people that some days I didn’t write a word on that project.  Instead, I was inspired to capture the scenes around me—this place is simply too rich for a writer to ignore.  There are the characters: farmers, business owners, geologists, mountain bikers, miners, free spirits, painters, cowboys, drunkards, musicians, fruit growers, athletes, and young families.  There are the places: mountains, valleys, and rivers, yes—but also a community garden, junkyard museums, a movie theater with bar(!), a brewery, a major magazine office, historic buildings galore, and a number of other finds you wouldn’t expect in such a small town.  And then there are the events: beat night, live music, gallery openings, and political rallies.  Always something to see, to do, to write about.

So while I could quantify my time at Elsewhere Studios and Paonia in days (15), word count (13,000), miles run (49.5), books read (1), or Rev beers consumed (too many), I think it makes more sense to qualify the experience this way: I’ll be back soon.

Thank you for the inspiration!

www.lorena-williams.com

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.

Amy Katz

Grateful am I to be here, over a month in to this four month residency which began in early January. Once I entered into this valley, I felt a quite lyrical energy. Listening to ‘Dulcimer Moon’ by Heidi Muller may have enhanced this fairy tale-esque, mythical mood as I stopped for a moment by three sturdy deer at the base of McClure pass, before finding myself prayerfully and methodically changing gears to get my one tiny bar of gas over the mountain. (While for other travelers I advise keeping a closer to full tank,) it worked, thank G!d,  and hours later was walking in to the 'gingerbread house' casita, my new home for a while, where, again, three great big deer ran and played out front and in back of the house.

Here’s a picture of this little house from the art studio I am working in.

studio-house.jpg

 

After a few days here, the four artists, along with a good turn out of maybe 20 folks from the community gathered for a ‘meet and greet’. We showed slides of past work and shared plans for what we’d be up to. It was a great event. I felt really understood and loved up by the crowd who asked great questions and seemed to truly care about arts for a fulfilled soul.  It was really beautiful.

We hosted an end of month show in January where again, I appreciated the quality of attention of those who came; watching folks take the time to sit with the work, stemming conversations from what was present and alive. Super great. I heard yesterday there had been up around 50 folks cycling in throughout the night.

I presented a group of found nature material/crafted collages embedded with these ceramic characters I was making that were certainly inspired by Caroline Douglas’ awesome work I got to connect with several times in Boulder.

 

I also had up a series of 18 small paintings that I had begun to sketch out during my yoga training. They were all some variation of a Sanskrit symbol called the 'muladhara yantra' that’s associated with the ‘root’ center. I liked having 18 as it's a sacred number in both Hindu and Hebrew languages. Here are photos of some of those:

It has been largely nourishing to chop wood and sleep by wood heat in this little house. Chelsea has reminded me a few times that being warmed by the heat of a wood stove is like getting a hug. I do feel a giant embrace in my life right now in getting to live and work in this fertile place. I have also said several times that this experience has been a perfect way to get someone who thinks they don't like winter to fall madly in love with it.

Inside house. Gotta love crooked windows..

found a phoenix in the fire..

Right now I'm working on oil paintings and ceramics, gleaning images from Jewish learnings, the feminine heart, a personal mythology, and of course the deer. Starting at the last new moon, about a week ago began the joyous month of Adar in the Jewish calendar, which this year lasts two months in this 'pregnant' or leap year in the cycle. Looking forward to infusing joy into the this work over the coming months.

With warmth, joy and roots,

Amy


Betsy Foster

Living and working at Elsewhere for the months of October and November was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Beginning my trek from Rochester, NY to Paonia, I did a little road trip across the country: making stops at the Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone National Park- then south to Colorado. This experience of driving across the country, seeing mountains for the first time, and then living in the valley really inspired the work I made during my residency.

For the month of October I dedicated my studio time to tackling the teapot form. Having the time to just make work and not having to worry about anything else is something so invaluable and I’m very thankful for the opportunity. November was spent making work to round out my body of work for my graduate school applications.

I’ve included in progress shots from the studio and finished photos of my favorite pieces made during my stay at Elsewhere:

I’m so thankful to have had the chance to live and work at Elsewhere and for the artists and friends I’ve met. Paonia really is an amazing little town and it will always be a special place for me.

Betsy Foster

betsyfosterceramics.com

Trent Davis Bailey

For the past six months — from June through November — I have been continuing to work on my long-term project, “The North Fork,” which I began nearly four years ago.

With my interest in the North Fork Valley community and food, and my rekindled connection with my family here, it seems fitting to be posting on Thanksgiving Day about my experience as an artist-in-residence at Elsewhere Studios.

Elsewhere has been a place of support to live and work alongside an international group of artists, writers, poets, and performers. What I have found particularly unique about Elsewhere is its imaginative disposition and ad-hoc spirit. For one, there is the pistachio-green house adorned with Gaudí-esque window frames and hodge-podge woodwork throughout the interior. And then there is the Gingerbread House, a backyard sauna-turned-artist studio with a curved roof and slanted windows, which is where I stayed for the second half of my residency. I view Elsewhere as the result of Paonian artists combining their creative visions to create a place that bolsters the imagination. It has been a pleasure for me to live amid and be inspired by the world they’ve created.

My extended stay at Elsewhere has also given me the opportunity to participate in farming and food production. It has allowed me to engage with the North Fork community and land in a sustainable manner that supports the local way of life. Before arriving at Elsewhere I arranged a work-trade with two farms where I have worked as a farmhand and received food in return. I have also worked at the local food co-op, The Old River Road Trading Post, where I have helped prepare macrobiotic community lunches each week.

My aunt Chrys happens to be one of the chefs in the kitchen at the Trading Post, and her food has always fascinated me. I can think back to a moment when I was seven years old and I looked at the colorful servings of food that she placed on the table, most of which were vegetables grown in her garden. There were so many strangely beautiful foods that I had never seen before—purple potatoes, snow peas, yellow and green heirloom tomatoes, and multicolored kimchi in a glass jar. The only things that I recognized were store-bought rice, corn, and tortillas, which seemed only distantly related to the homegrown food on the table. Memories such as this one — of food and family — continue to influence my work in this valley.

As I leave Elsewhere this week, I am already planning to return to the North Fork this Winter and next Spring to continue my project. During that time I will also be processing all of the color negative film I shot during the residency. (Elsewhere doesn’t yet have the digital equipment and facilities for me to do this.) As my form of thanks to Elsewhere, I am sharing here a selection of my recent iPhone photos from the residency and the valley, which I have posted on my Instagram account, @trentdavisbailey, over the past six months.

Thank you, Elsewhere, and thank you to the 20 remarkable residents I have shared this experience with.

—Trent Davis Bailey

to there then here then back to here again. - By Toby Liebowitz

I came to Elsewhere  to work on the drawings of a short comic I wrote. The comic is about a group of young boys who find a man living in the greenbelt of thick woods that is behind their suburban houses. The boys discover an complex detailed home of an outsider artist and marvel at their terrifying discovery. I find the age of adolescence so compelling because one feels like they know everything in the whole world and yet everything is new and totally scary.

I also got to work on some fun experiments in drawing dealing with a sudden huge development in my life.

Back home now – Looking forward to continuing the projects that began at Elsewhere :)

Its so welcoming and warm at Elsewhere I miss you other residents (Sarah, Trent, Laurie) already! Such good folks.

September in the Land of Elsewhere By Sarah Freeman

 

 


It’s been an interesting month here at Elsewhere.  I’ve had moments of inspiration and moments of frustration, and I’ve learned where I am with my work and what I need to do next. And I’ve managed to meet some really amazing people along the way. Looking back, I wish I’d arrived with fewer expectations of myself, and more of an intention to be open to exploration, but perhaps this experience is what I needed to wake me up from the assumptions I’ve been operating under. Namely, I realized that I’ve been very focused on creating a refined end product, whereas I should be focusing on what I would like to say with my work, and why, and to let it flow from a place of deep calm, insight, and joy. Such realizations are all part of the process, and I’m glad that my month at Elsewhere allowed me to realize I’m right where I need to be.

Initially, I thought I’d make at least two or three very polished large paintings, in one month, but this isn’t what happened! I brought, and intended to finish, a large painting that I’d been working on for the last few months at home. This piece was based on a drawing from a photograph, and depicts a person standing in the the dappled light caused by the shadow of a tree. The dappled light creates an abstract pattern on the wall behind the figure, as well as across the person’s face, obscuring it. The feeling is that of an open, friendly confrontation, with a person whose face and gender is mysterious. The painting itself depends mostly on a smooth gradation from dark to light. You can always make a gradation smoother, so I spent a lot of time obsessively smoothing it out, more than made sense to. I included a couple detail shots so that you can see the way I work in oils. The texture of the linen is important to me, so the way I work is basically drybrush, in a process similar to drawing, or a highly refined underpainting. I often end up working with a tiny brush to make the areas that are slightly too light a little darker, and then lift out the areas that are too dark with a tiny bit of paper towel, until a smooth tone is achieved. I drove myself almost crazy on these little things, and it wasn’t until the month was almost over that I realized I’d been wrapped up in details, and I wasn’t close to finishing anything!

I resolved to finish the painting quickly, without the fussiness from before. And I ended up finishing in the last few days before the show, more satisfactorily than I thought I’d be able to do in such a short time. (I’ll probably still touch it up a bit once I get home, though not to the obsessive degree as before.) The experience made me realize I’ve reached a point with my work that is part of a familiar pattern for me from past years: I start out a project or technique loosely, then over the course of several months, I get tighter and tighter until the work becomes stiff and so slow to finish that I’m not even enjoying it anymore. And then I have to begin again, loosely and freely to start anew. I imagine many artists go through something similar. It’s been a valuable experience for me, and I know that once I get home, I will immerse myself in sketches and experiments, without concern about a perfect outcome. As my father said to me earlier today over Skype, “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” I’m not sure whether this statement is translated from Latin by some great past thinker, or is something that he just made up (you never know with my dad), but either way, it will be my mantra for the coming weeks.

I also began a new painting that I’d been planning on starting for a while. It’s a portrait of a contemplative young woman, based on a drawing made from life at my figure drawing group back home in Santa Fe. The portrait is within an oval, against a background of infinite ocean. The world outside one’s mind is infinite, and the world inside is infinite too. I wanted to convey the vastness of the nature and imply a comparison to the vastness of the mind, within a classical or timeless framework.  I didn’t finish this piece, so I’ll be finishing it up at home.

A serendipitous moment occurred here at the local bar.  I’d thought of making a companion piece to the aforementioned, of a young man’s portrait within an oval and mountains in the background instead of ocean. I had a specific face in mind for this young man — I wanted to paint someone with classical features, and was disappointed to think that I didn’t know anyone with the appropriate face to model. Then one evening, the other residents and I went out to a local bar (“The Rev”), and as we were sitting and drinking our beers, a young man walked in the door with just the face I’d been imagining earlier! After I worked up the courage to approach him, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I know this is weird, but I’m an artist and I’d love to use you as a model.” He was flattered and only too happy to help me out. I photographed him at the Elsewhere studio that weekend, and I ended up drafting out a basic concept for a future painting.

I feel I’ve grown more in the last month than in the past twelve. I won’t soon forget the people I’ve met here, or this very unique part of the country. The mountains and surrounding landscape have been inspiring territory for hiking and exploring, and I think the photos I’ve taken here will likely serve as a starting point for future artworks. I’ve also appreciated the connection I feel to the earth in this valley, as expressed through the farming and abundant local produce. If you like fresh food, September is the month to come! A local described Paonia to me as “Mayberry meets Woodstock,” and the comparison seems apt. It’s a small, friendly, traditional, isolated town with no traffic lights or chain stores or even cell phone coverage, rooted (as far as I can make out) in farming and coal, yet with a distinctively free thinking population. I wouldn’t have believed it had I not seen it. Most of all, I feel honored to have met the other residents that were here this month: Toby Liebowitz, Laurie Longtin, and Trent Davis Bailey. I’ve learned so much getting to know each of you, and look forward to following your careers.

SarahFreemanArt.com

Dreaming Elsewhere - Caitlyn Tella

My whole residency has been one big dream workshop. Time expands in Paonia and anything seems possible.  I came here to explore dreams (the kind you have when you are asleep) through performance. In addition to doing this with so many wonderful participants, I also made a performance that took place inside of an actor’s nightmare.

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sleep tight tomatoes – Mara & Tyler (Mariah & Tony)

This month of June has been a whirlwind of landscape exploration, meeting plenty of new people, artistic experimentation, and learning how to get into the groove of this valley. From the moment we arrived our intentions were to work with the magical locations surrounding us and it was never disappointing. Because our artwork deals with the relationship between humankind and the natural world we inhabit, the beautiful region around Paonia allowed for deep consideration on this topic without the distractions and obstacles that are normally in your face in a more urban environment.

Our time spent at Elsewhere will no doubt remain vivid in our memory as will the amazing support we got from the people of Paonia and beyond. We are really grateful to have met so many who had a huge impact on the outcome of our work.

Of course we can’t forget our fellow residents; we had such a lovely time with our favorite housemates: Lily, Andrea, and Tremaine (Troy [Travis]). – Mara & Tyler (Mariah & Tony)