As I write this blog entry I am taken back to a conversation I had with a dear friend while I was living here at Elsewhere: 'who really has time to blog?' As life is going on around you, when is it the right time to take a step out and reflect? I suppose the first of March will have to do. This was my first experience of an artist-in-residency program. I came across Paonia with a friend on our way to Telluride. We were meeting up with another friend for lunch at the Back Country Bistro(which is quite the local staple for lattes and conversation), and afterwards she walked us to Elsewhere. I knew then that if & when I could find the time and space in my life to have a month dedicated to creativity that I would want Elsewhere Studios to be my place of refuge.
Naturally I am a very social person, as is the town of Paonia. At first I kept myself from my urges to communicate and socialize with people in town so as to get the ball rolling and to be as productive as possible. In retrospect, I think that this process did me a disservice. I think I would have gotten in touch with my creative sensibilities much faster and more naturally if I had just gone with the flow.
I feel that my time here was very helpful for me in my development as an artist. I found the walls within me that I had to question, inspect, calculate, deconstruct, and re-evaluate. There were days on end where I couldn't create anything that felt worth a damn, and these periods of stagnation were enough to kill a man. Fortunately, I did not die and I did not quite. I really had to do some internal work and process my feelings and experiences in order to get to a comfortable and creative place.
I did my best to stay busy every day. The main studio space here at Elsewhere is bright and open, with tall ceilings and natural light. It is a very encouraging place to work. The first two weeks I was here were cold and grey outside which made it easier for me to stay in and and create. When the weather turned around and the snow started to melt I was able to go out and walk by the river which was very helpful in my process of creation, though a double edged sword. Now that I was feeling truly inspired to stay in and create, all I wanted was to be outside and experience Paonia and the wonderful people spilling from the woodwork. I suppose one month just isn't long enough for a guy like me in a place like this.
I would recommend a stint at Elsewhere for anyone looking to experience themselves in the heart of a vibrant and supportive community. Willow and Karen were very pleasant and helpful as the facilitators of the studio. My fellow residents were very nice to have around for the sake of their support and conversation and shared meals. The people I have met who live here in Paonia have given me the desire to return and create something more. I am happy to know that I have a place here in this community. It is a gem and I am grateful to have been able to call this town my home. Thanks Paonia. See you next time.
Aside from getting plenty of work done, whatever your medium may be, here are some things that you should know about this town. Get some strudel down at Hightower Cafe, go see a show or a movie at the Paradise Theater, get to Chris' tango class(I regret that I didn't go once! Chris is a great guy and I imagine a fantastic teacher), listen to KVNF while you are here, take many a walk down at the Paonia River Park, get involved with some sort of Yoga credit(month long unlimited yoga is what I wish I had gotten for myself), order fresh potatoes, carrots, garlic and onions from Scott Horner from Small Potatoes Farm, and Emily's goat cheese is worth every penny so get some for yourself. And last but certainly not least... Tomato, the house cat, is a great friend to anyone. Bye for now.