Having the great fortune to live and work in this amazing place for October & November 2015 gave me a lot to say.
The truth is, Elsewhere has been on my mind every day since our departure over a month ago. I’ve told anyone who will listen about Elsewhere’s huge impact on the inspiring community of Paonia and, in turn, on both my life and art.
On September 13th, the morning after I married Caitlin, I received a message that there was a last minute opening at Elsewhere for October. The timing of the invitation could not have been more perfect. We had already decided to road trip to Colorado as part of our honeymoon and visit a close friend in Paonia. However, we hadn’t figured out where we would stay or for how long. Having access to a kiln and wheel meant we could afford a longer stay as I could make pieces for upcoming shows back at home in Canada. Within our first week of arrival, if was an easy decision to stay not just for the month of October, but November as well! Our upstairs room with a cosy bedroom nook, claw foot bathtub and beautiful open space was the perfect lovers/artist quarters. The people and shared kitchen were warm, inviting and eclectic. Here was a space to make pots, do yoga, eat local healthy foods, explore new landscapes and connect with open hearted people. Here was a place rich in everything most important to both of us in our new life together.
The lines are blurred between my art practice and every day life as I’ve always felt like my life is an ever evolving art work in progress. I have built a studio and gallery over the past 8 years that centres itself around my pottery, yet there always seems to be a million things pulling me away from creative experimentation. At home surrounded by lakes and trees in the hamlet of Dorset, Ontario it often feels like there’s little time to just play with clay. My experience of being a working artist is that very little time is actually spent with my hands in the clay and much more time is spent running the business. As life becomes richer and fuller…I must make a greater effort in finding the time for creative experimentation. Clay is my primary medium of choice and I know to continue to work with it and feel satisfied…I must never settle. My approach to clay, as in life, is that enjoyment of the process takes top priority. Trusting that the more joy I can find in the process of making, the more satisfaction I find in the final product. For this reason, I love to combine my passion for travel, connecting with loved ones and great food with my creating. Being surrounded by the unique style of the Elsewhere’s grounds, fellow artists and the local community was a perfect fit.
Living and working at Elsewhere gave me the opportunity to isolate some aspects of clay work that I’d been wanting to experiment with but haven’t felt I had the time. I purchased a new red clay body and a beautiful peacock blue glaze from just outside of Boulder and combined that with hand carved wooden stamps I’ve collected from travels to India. I’d been wanting to experiment with new approaches to decoration by using the stamps and coloured glaze for several years but always felt like I didn’t want to risk the time in my production schedule. Here, I was able to produce a body of work that I loved making as much as the final product. Bringing all this work home to my customers in time for holiday shopping has made it possible to fund the next adventure of living in Guatemala for the winter months. My only regret from this experience is not having spent more time getting to know local clay artists.
Paonia has left such a mark on our hearts that we are already scheming on when we can return. My head is spinning with ideas of connecting with locals for group collaborations and firings. Until then, the open minded spirit of Paonia has a strong hold on us and we’re working on ways to infuse our northern hometown with all of our Elsewhere inspiration.
Thank you Elsewhere for dreaming so big in all you strive to create. I look forward to seeing how things have evolved when we return. Big love to you all, Tara
Visiting this place was a little slice of heaven. A pottery supply store, huge community studio with a zillion classes offered and an inspiring gallery space all in one! I could have stayed here all day and would love to return to do a workshop at some point.
I've had to pleasure of visiting this community studio twice in the past few years and have been blow away with all the goodness that has come from it. It's inspired ideas of a better teaching space I would love to create one day myself. On my first visit, I was able to make some honey pots and play with a few of their incredible glazes. This past trip in fall 2015 didn't allow me to create in the space but they were generous enough to let me fire a few kiln loads. Many thanks to David Strong and all the friendly people I came into contact there.
After deciding to stay in Colorado for another month, I needed to find a clay source and was directed to Wayne Petefish in Grand Junction. I had no idea what to expect but was blown away with his dream kiln building project and all his incredible pots. I was able to snag several boxes of clay and get a tour around the studio and the soon-to-be-complete kiln project. I really hope to be able to visit and possibly fire some stuff with him on my next visit to this part of the world.
Just outside of Denver and only few hours from our destination of Paonia, the car couldn't help but stop here to pick up some supplies to keep me creating for the many weeks working in Colorado. A basic warehouse style with friendly staff, a sweet selection of supplies and great community studio.
We stumbled upon this place by accident but it was by far the coolest, most authentic pottery experience I have had in the western world. Although Felipe himself wasn't available to chat, one of his students was and he gave us a tour around the property. Here, spirituality and creating with clay go hand in hand. I purchased one of the pots and treasure it to this day. They also gifted me a small bit of the micaceous clay that I am still holding onto for some special creation.