Published at http://www.samuelallison.com/blog/2016/5/3/impressions-of-a-winter-residency-at-arts-letters-numbers
What are the essential elements that lead to producing art instead of dreaming about getting around to it one fine day? Creation isn’t a solitary endeavor that can happen just anywhere. It takes the right space, the right stretch of time & the right community to support & cajole you into making good on your inspiration. Arts Letters & Numbers has it all.
Juliet Martin at her loom.
Imagine a stretch of lake country in upstate New York, just far enough away from the bustling world. There’s a white, weather-beaten, hilltop mansion that’s lived former incarnations as a brothel & old folks’ home, now repurposed as an international creative factory. You have arrived.
The writing desk beckons
In the common rooms are two pianos, one ready for Carnegie Hall, the other about to disintegrate. Coffee is brewing at all hours of the day & night in the restaurant-scale kitchen. A huge evergreen shades the front porch, where tobacco debris overflows rusty old cans. Squirrels, chipmunks & wild turkeys have the run of a yard that fades into surrounding forest.
Just down the hill, by a river where you might spot a beaver or muskrat, stands The Mill – two massive floors of former industrial glory. The ground level is still packed with machinery, power tools, lumber & gutted engines. The upper level is a vast hall of light, meticulously converted to exhibition space in the front & studio space at the back. The concrete walls & timber roof have a thousand years of life left in them. Breathe in the stillness for a moment & you’ll feel a crackle of all the genius that’s come here before you.
ow find yourself the right patch of sun streaming through the cathedral windows. Set up your desk, loom, easel or typewriter, & get to work. All the elements have coalesced for your vision to bear its fruit. From here on out, it’s up to you & whatever muses you can entice. This is where the magic happens. This is where projects get done.
A clean, well-lighted place.
Much gratitude to David Gersten, Che, Frida & the whole ALN community who made my residency possible. Much love to my fellow artists from Denmark, Nigeria, England & around the States for inspiring me along the way.