Cathy Wycliff (Luvswool) shares her experience of her recent artist residency in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Just about one year ago, I started thinking about artist residencies and how much I would like to be granted one.
I had lots of ideas in mind about where I wanted to go, and all of the ideas had to do with nature in all its beauty.
That could mean the ocean, the mountains or anyplace naturally beautiful. I started thinking about the National Parks in America and how much I have enjoyed visiting them over the years, beginning when I was just a child and the family packed up in the station wagon to begin the journey from Chicago to Colorado. We sometimes went to Wyoming and Montana as well, but we always started in Colorado.
There are many artist residencies available around the world, but I had my sights set close to home–that is, the USA. Although I have enjoyed foreign travel over the years, I decided local would be a good start. I applied to three different organizations, and two of them came through for me (huge surprise!) and offered 2 weeks to one month artist residencies.
I completed my two weeks in the Arkansas Ozarks during April (you can see my previous post about natural dyeing on the Studio blog here http://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2015/05/09/dyeing-with-plants/ ). I was thrilled when I received the Breckenridge, CO artist residency offer for the full month of June, but because of obligations at home, I accepted a two-week residency.
I flew into Denver from Chicago, and then shared a Colorado Mountain van with several other passengers, arriving in Breckenridge late afternoon. The mountains greeted me in all their splendor, and after meeting the director of the Arts Council, I tucked into my studio/living space at the old Tin Shop. Yes, you may notice from the photos that the shop looks old, and it is–from the mid-1800’s when this was a mining town. Many of the “downtown” buildings have been saved, preserved and restored–and many of them have been turned into artist studios and classrooms for the arts.
The first thing I did besides unpacking was to begin decorating the downstairs studio portion of my little house. But that would have to wait until morning, as I was struck with altitude sickness. Breckenridge is 10,000 feet and most well-known today for skiing, so that’s pretty high in the sky. I had read about this before leaving Chicago, so I was prepared with Advil, and I knew there was an Oxygen Bar in town. Some of the symptoms of A.S. include headache, fatigue, nausea, bloody nose, shortness of breath; and yes, I experienced all of them most of the time I was there.
So my art decor was not perhaps as good as it should or could have been (and neither were the photos taken with my I-phone), but I managed to spruce the place up a bit. My main goal was to have a comfortable felting table table set-up facing the door so I could view folks as they walked in during “studio time.”
I would have loved to have brought my framed landscapes with me, but it was physically impossible; however, I did have business cards with my portfolio weblink available to all studio visitors. I brought as many “soft” and light, unstructured items as I could stuff into a box which I previously shipped ahead of my arrival. Since I would be teaching a class, I also stuffed in as much fiber as I could in my carry-on duffel!
The terms of the residency were very generous, with open studio time a requirement, as well as teaching one class. The rest of the time was my own.
Some of the wet-felted items I made while in Colorado include a mountain landscape, a vessel I named, “The Colors of Breckenridge,” and a large panel inspired by the Nebraska crop circles we flew over enroute to Denver.
I thoroughly enjoyed my artist residency in Breckenridge! People seemed genuinely interested in hearing about the process of wet-felting. The town of Breckenridge has done an amazing job of making the arts visible and accessible to all residents, including children. There is a full calendar of art classes, open studios, music and fun events throughout the summer. The downside was the altitude sickness which prevailed even with the help of Advil, the Oxygen Bar, and liters and liters of water. But the scenery, fresh mountain air, and the many friendly visitors I met made it all worthwhile.
Thanks Cathy for sharing this wonderful experience with us!