New Pacific Studio Vallejo, September 9-11, 2013
Hi everyone! In Pacific North geese are flying south in formation and gardens piling up with leaves. Brilliant sunsets this past week, pouring gold over the distant hills of Marin County, on the other side of the bay. I’m looking forward as eagerly as my five-year-old granddaughter to my first northern winter in a decade, and to participating year-round in the wonderfully diverse cultural life of the San Francisco Bay Area. Rain usually starts next month.
Right now, we’re sweltering in a heat wave and a wildfire is raging on Mount Diablo, to the southeast. Out in the bay, Oracle and Emirates Team NZ are fighting for the America’s Cup. I learned this week from Ray Wichmann, writing in Bay Crossings, that the race began in 1851, when yachtsmen from the New York Yacht Club sailed their yacht America to the UK to compete in the Round the Isle of Wight Race. It won the race and a cup was named in honor of the first boat to win it.
I began my life at NPS Mt Bruce in 2001 by sitting in the unlined loft, wanting to find its stories. This week I’m going through a similar adventure here, opening up the small loft above my study. A permanent loft stair has been built in, next to my desk. Plywood flooring should go in soon. I think I’m addicted to lofts, as spaces for secret making, in their own magic bubble of time and space.
After stepping down from my 12 years at NPS at the end of April and receiving a poignant send-off, I flew to San Francisco in mid-May, leaving NPS Mt Bruce in the capable hands of NPS board members and the house team of Maelyn Charlton, Heidi Ankers and Jodie Dalgleish. My current book project, Rainbows over Mauriceville. Early Days in a Scandinavian-Kiwi Community, travelled with me, and has now gone to my editor for layout. It contains more than 250 historic images. This has been compiled for Friends of Mauriceville, and we still need to raise funds of around $2,500 for the next stage – publication. Donations and debentures are both welcome. Email FOM Secretary Jean Thompson-Church.
Five artists enlivened the local scene (and Facebook) between June and the end of August: Sam Hill, a jazz guitar musician and photographer from New Plymouth, New Zealand, spent two weeks here writing and sorting before moving on to New Orleans and Burning Man events. Next in was Australian prizewinning poet Nadine Browne from Perth, who enjoyed walking around San Francisco’s North Beach, performing at a poetry slam at the Starry Plough in Berkeley, and meeting Vallejo artists at coffee master Fabrice Moschetti’s generous free coffee sessions on Saturday mornings.
Alyssa Fridgen swapped her curatorship at the Alexandria Museum of Art in Louisiana for two weeks of research at NPS, and also shared her experience directing Art in Action community initiatives in New York in recent years. NPS alumna Terra Fuller, recently returned from four years overseas, two in Morocco and two in Namibia, focused on her own studio practice before taking up a new part-time position working with the Museum Experience team at San Jose Museum of Art. (Terra did an internship for her MA in arts administration at NPS Vallejo in 2006, followed by three months as acting director at NPS Mt Bruce.) Terra’s dream is to continue to work in the artist residency field, as well as to pursue her own art practice.
Last summer artist was Elisabeth Corrales, a recent BFA graduate from New York. Elisabeth spent a day engaging with young and old in Story Spot at the Solano County Fair, took a life drawing class in SF, attended the opening of the Virginia Street revitalization project, and mounted a combined exhibition (with Miro Salazar) of paintings, drawings and animation for her Open Day on August 17. Vallejo’s mixture of creative energy and problems of urban blight kept reminding her of similar areas of Bushwick, her current home in New York.
The residency program resumes next month and we hope to welcome American writer Carol Park, who is working on a topic dealing with Japanese youth culture.
NPS Mt Bruce is already connected to Trondheim through the 2009 residency of Kari-Elise Mobeck and Johannes Sigurjonsson. Now we want to build a triangle to Vallejo.
Arohanui/ Love to you all