Friday, October 09, 2015


(Above: View to PLAYA, an art residency program located in the "Oregon Outback" at which I have the privilege to be living and creating here until Halloween.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

PLAYA is more than I dared to imagine. Sure, I knew it was in a remote area of Oregon known for its high desert beauty but I had no idea just how gorgeous the sun would rise over the dried lake bed.

(Above:  The sun rising over the dried Summer Lake bed ... the view from my back deck.) 

Sure, I knew my accommodations were called "a cabin" but I had no idea that this meant a stand-alone building with a wrap-around deck, full kitchen, spacious living area, a sleigh bed, a walk-in closet, a bathroom, and a separate area for a jacuzzi tub.  Sure, I knew there's be a studio space but I had no idea that it would be more than twice the size of my space at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios where every wall is a tack-able design wall.  The work table is just my height and on casters too.  It is hard to believe that I've been awarded four weeks in this serenely quiet place where millions of stars twilight in the otherwise pitch black nights and California quail rustle in the grass just a few feet from my back, sliding door.

Before leaving I packed up two large boxes and sent them via FedEx Ground ... despite the fact that this service recently lost my work The Guardian Angel in transit to the International Quilt Festival in Houston for a show called Digital Alchemy.  The boxes (one of which had my Bernina 1008 in it) arrived ahead of schedule.  My flight out of Charlotte was caught in barely enough time to allow Steve to return to Columbia before the city shut down and braced for flooding ... waters which claimed several homes of friends and clients.  Columbia is still on emergency status, boiling drinking water, and trying to come to terms with the devastation in the wake of more than 11 inches of rainfall.

(Above:  Deb Sorem in her Salem, Oregon studio.)

My first night was at Deb Sorem's house in Salem. I found these lovely accommodations via Elizabeth Baumberger, a SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) member in Portland who sent out a request to other members!  Now that's a unique and wonderful feature!  Support as room and board for the evening!  Thank you, Elizabeth and Deb! 

On Monday I drove to Bend, Oregon to stock up on groceries, gas for the rental car, and then headed to highway 31.  PLAYA is between mile marker 81 and 82.  It is remote ... perfectly so. My Verizon cell doesn't often have service. The residency's computer has the speed that I remember from days using dial up ... but "remote" has its advantages.  It is certainly a place for focused creativity where time seems to slow down into a relaxed pace and it is easy to forget what day of the week each morning brings about!  I am already deep into several projects, but this blog post will just feature my setting for the next several weeks ... PLAYA!  I couldn't be happier!

This is the Main Building at PLAYA.  It overlooks Summer Lake ... which currently is the dried lake bed ... but it is starting to fill up.  I look forward to seeing the water overtake the dusty, parched soil.

Inside PLAYA's Main building are shelves of books on regional history, flora and fauna, art, culture, road maps and works by past residents.  By the end of the month, there will likely be a fire sending smoke up the big stone chimney.

Here's the view back to the enormous, well appointed kitchen.

Dinners are prepared for the residents every Monday and Thursday evening ... and we are allowed to have the leftovers on later days!

Today I used a dry eraser board marker and "checked out" for a drive to a high-speed Internet access (aka McDonalds in La Pine which is 83 miles away) in order to blog and to visit the nearby quilting store!

Now ... let's go on a little walk around the property!  There's a large, meandering, spring-fed pond and marsh that perfectly reflects the wide open sky above.

There are well placed benches in many ideal spots for viewing the many species of birds.

It is hard to believe that this beautiful water is only about a hundred yards from an arid, high desert lake bed ...

... where the future lake's bottom currently looks like a mammoth-sized cracked egg shell!

One of my favorite paths to the "playa" is over this boardwalk ...

... across the grasses, reeds, and other vegetation ...

... and down to several artist made formations of stones.  This isn't a series of circles but a spiral.

This diamond shaped feature is extra large.  I will try to find out who made it.  In the meantime, I've placed a few additional stones into the formation.

I've walked on the playa watching dust devils swirling up like miniature tornadoes but I seem to love the plant life even better.

I don't know much about the diversity or types of plants here ... but what's not to like ... especially since the trees are full of ripe apples!

Of course, ripe apples are a favorite for local bears. A couple have visited PLAYA at night despite the great branch fence along the road's edge!  So far ... I haven't seen the bear but others have!  I promise to be careful!  I have, however, seen the great horned owl scoop up a field mouse only twelve feet from where I was sitting on my deck!  Now ... that was incredible!


 I walk along fence to get to MY STUDIO!  Yes, more than half the space of this building has been reserved for me!  Hard to believe! 

The space is gigantic, easily more than twice the square footage of my Gallery 80808/Vista Studio space.  I've never used a design wall ... but might have to try it as every wall includes push tacks!


Even if I wasn't awarded such an outstanding setting in which to work, I'd have more than enough space in my "cabin".  That's it in the photo above ... a stand-alone structure in the middle of nature!

Here's the front of the building.


Inside is a large living area ... and to the other side ...


... a big kitchen/eating area ...


There's everything I could ever imagine wanting for a kitchen!


I get to sleep in this perfect, comfortable bed!  There's also a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a big shower stall.


Yet ... in addition to the shower ... there's another room ... for a jacuzzi tub!  Now, this is the life!  I have two projects going in the cabin and another couple pieces in progress in the studio.  I have no doubt that this will be a productive month! 

Of course, it will also be a relaxing time.  How could it not be with a deck like this!  I plan on blogging once a week ... even if it means an 83 mile, one-way trip into La Pine.  Besides, the drive alone is breath-taking!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art work. 


Margaret said...

I usually say "I live on retreat"...but maybe I need to try one elsewhere too. If I can bring my cat... ;-)

Margaret said...

I usually say "I live on retreat"...but maybe I need to try one elsewhere too. If I can bring my cat... ;-)

Wanda said...

This is a place that I was meant to be. Susan, it is absolutely perfect....perfect in itself, perfect for you, perfect for getting the heart racing and tears in your eyes because of the beauty and peace. Well, at least it gets the tears going in MY eyes. I cannot imagine how much this must inspire you and how your creativity must be going wild. I am so glad it is you there and not me. Why? Because YOU can use your surroundings to inspire you and actually MAKE what comes to you. YOU know how to use the creativity that comes to you. I am living this through you. Don't worry about blogging or internet reception or anything like that. For now, just lose yourself in the Oregon Outback and never ever forget the feelings you have. Share when you can, even if that means after Halloween! I love you!