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12.30.13 ~ the journey, iii: the gift of time ~ playa

by | Dec 31, 2013 | artist residency, Oregon Outback, Playa, road trip, Summer Lake Oregon

The creative community of Playa sits at the base of Winter Ridge and the edge of Summer Lake in Lake County, Oregon.

Where I was headed was Playa, a residency program for creative individuals.

And what is a residency program?

A residency program is the priceless gift of quiet, of time. Time away from appointments and commitments and social obligations. Away from the inner-ear ping of devices, of knots of power chords, of the clatter of updates and news streams and text messages and comments and “Likes”; of the foot-stuck-on-the-accelerator of mindless, depth-less interactions.

It’s a place to hear yourself think. 

To breathe.  Again.  And Again.

And do so deeply.

It’s a place to work, to concentrate.

A place to take risks. To challenge yourself and meet those challenges.
A place to dream and to come closer to those dreams…

It’s a place where creative minds — painters, sculptors, film-makers, writers, poets, musicians, and, in the case of Playa, even scientists, can come and focus uninterrupted on their heart’s work.

Founded in 2009, Playa first accepted residents in 2011 and entered my radar in late 2012 when I read Cherly Strayed‘s brilliant Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dearp Sugar. In the acknowledgement section (I always read the acknowledgement section), she thanks Playa for her time spent there.

“Playa? What’s that?” I wondered, but didn’t really give it another thought until my friend Shawn Demarest — an gifted painter in Portland, Oregon — attended a fellowship residency there about the time I was reading Strayed’s book. 

Shawn’s photos on her blog of Playa were beautiful. But desolate.
Too desolate, it seemed to me, to draw me there. Just so FLAT. And maybe even — dare I say it? — a little boring.

 So much horizontality, with hardly a tree to interrupt the long line of FLAT _____________________________________________________________ .

Not the kind of landscape that could excite or inspire me — of that I was sure.

Distant alkali dust clouds draw a white curtain, connecting land to sky on dry mud flats of Summer Lake.

But then.

But then come June, Shawn asked me if I might like to go to Playa. For the 2013 autumn residencies, Playa was interested in inviting people nominated by alumni. She thought I’d be a good candidate, and was willing to nominate me if I was interested.

Despite all the excuses raging through my head telling me not to apply, I did anyway.

And thanks to letters of recommendation from Shawn and Joan Fullerton, I was offered a five-week fellowship residency, beginning November 3rd and ending December 6th.

So for thirty days I lived on the edge of prairie grass and white alkali silt, staring out on the shimmering horizontal line of Summer Lake, and falling in love not only with that incredible horizontality, but with peace and quiet and thinking and writing and painting and breathing — deeply — again.

Looking out across the mud flats to the grey-white line of Summer Lake.