Residency review: Elsewhere Studios

In July, my family and I were honored to participate in the inaugural Parent Residency month at Elsewhere Studios. An interdisciplinary residency, Elsewhere is tucked in the tiny Colorado town of Paonia, overflowing with artistic inspiration and support.

Silver Man welcomes visitors to Elsewhere

I was at a point in my writing where I needed to step outside of my work–and myself–to re-envision it. Not easy to do at home! Elsewhere offered the opportunity to explore new vistas, literally and creatively, with my family in tow.

When we first arrived, I experienced some pretty intense impostor syndrome. The space is beautiful, full of creative woodworking, mosaics, hanging textiles, funky paintings, and photography. What on Earth was I doing there?!

Side door, backyard, and the Gingerbread House

But Carolina Porras, the director, was welcoming and supportive, and everywhere we went, people were excited to meet the new “Artist at Elsewhere”: me! Neighbors and former residents even stopped by to say hello and pet the cats (Tomatoes and Potatoes, who recently had kittens).

Pretty soon I realized I didn’t have time (or energy) to fret. While I wrote upstairs overlooking treetops, my family picked cherries, rafted a river, visited the swimming hole, and explored local parks. Halfway through our stay, another artist, Maria Velasco, and her son Alex, took up residency, and we spent happy hours in the evening talking about the joys and challenges of being parent-artists while the kids rode bikes and visited the kittens.

My desk and view at Elsewhere

At the end of our week, we hosted a potluck and artists’ presentation. Over Maria’s gazpacho, Ian’s cherry muffins, a jug of lemonade, a box of wine, and a variety of great food from visitors, I read poetry and the first chapter of my novel, Maria showcased her gorgeous collaborations with her son, and the kids presented a movie trailer they wrote, filmed, and edited. The local audience filled the room and was incredibly supportive. What a gift!

I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the space and time–those precious resources–Elsewhere offered to parent artists, with the support of the Sustainable Arts Foundation. I made connections I hope to foster, completed a lot of work in a short time, and stepped into the role of Parent Artist in the eyes of my kids, my spouse, and myself. My thanks to the Elsewhere jury for selecting me, Carolina for friendly welcome and ongoing support, Maria and Alex for bringing our visit to the next level, and the wonderful Paonia residents and Elsewhere supporters who made us feel like part of the community.

Friends at Elsewhere

And extra thanks to Tomatoes, for purrs, cuddles, and inspiration:

The Muse of Elsewhere
The muse with sharp feet tears holes
in your diaphanous expectations.
Hungry and wanton, eating and loving
on his own time, he means no harm,
greedy thing. Fickle, too. He rubs against
all who bring gifts, stroke him just right,
there, behind the ears. Accept what he offers,
bloody or raw. He will move on,
flickering tail daring you to follow
deeper into the garden.

Tomatoes

UPDATE: Check out this article about the Elsewhere Studios Family Residency on Colorado Public Radio! They visited the week after we left…ah well, still cool!

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