Playa Residency - Part 1

I opened my eyes and looked at the space between the curtain and window. Was the sun up yet? No. Did I want to get up and watch the sun rise? Yes. Getting out of bed, I went to the glass doors and pulled the curtains aside. I could still see the night sky with stars, but on the distance horizon a line of light outlined the hills. The grasses by the pond were silhouetted against the faint reflection on the pond.

I waited and watched as the line grew bigger and the sky colors changed from yellow, pink, peach to light blue, as the deep night navy faded away.


Sunrise on the playa

Then, it was time to decide what to do the rest of the day, work in the studio or go exploring. Those were the two main choices I had everyday at my artist residency at Playa near Summer Lake in Oregon. It was a wonderful gift, this gift of time, space and disconnection.

From Sept. 25th – Oct. 6th, I lived in a small cabin on the Playa complex, right next to that pond above. (Playa is the name of the artist residency and playa has the definition of a seasonal lake, which Summer Lake is.)


My cabin (#9)

The cabin has a small deck all the way around and a larger section on the back. Since the back is Eastward facing, I could watch the sunrises. There was another small cabin next to mine and a larger duplex cabin next to that. That larger cabin also had a studio attached to it, which is the one that I used. It had a separate entrance. Since there were two other gals staying in the cabin, I was sure to be quiet if I was working early in the morning or very late at night.


The large cabin with studio protruding out the front, with studio door by chair.

The studio is bigger than my space at home. The slanted ceiling also made it feel larger. There are track lights and several windows. I didn’t have to worry about getting paint on the floor and they had walls to pin into. Below you can see the large piece of felt I brought with me and tacked to the wall to use as my design wall.


Inside of studio looking toward door

There are two tables and the big one is on wheels so I could move it around, which I did to set up the space how I thought it would work best. I also brought those small plastic drawers you see near the chair above. Inside there are machine threads, embroidery threads, paints and inks, staple gun, tape and some other misc. items.


Studio looking from corner windows

On the large table, you can see the fabric I brought with me. Not very much and mostly small scraps. On the bottom shelf is some yardage of un-dyed fabric. I had some small canvases and cradled boards to wrap pieces around, as well.

Behind the sewing machine, you can see a dark space. That is a small area that has a utility sink and some empty shelving. It was nice to have a sink, since I had also brought some fabric paints and inks in case I needed to paint a color I did not have.

There are eight buildings for residents to live in (with the large cabin being a duplex and able to house two people). A couple of the buildings have the studio in the living space. There are several other separate studios, as well as houses for the resident manager and the executive director on the complex. There is also the Commons building where we went for group meals, could do laundry, research, use their computer, play ping-pong or hang out.

The Commons building is below on the left. My cabin is at the other end of the pond beyond the right edge of the picture.


The Commons building and pond

Inside the commons is also a grand piano and area for performances. Playa is a residency for all types of people. They have writers, musicians, visual arts, performing artists and even scientists doing research.


Inside the Commons building

Even though we had small kitchens in our cabins, we were told that we could come use the big kitchen in the Commons, if we wanted (as long as we cleaned up after ourselves). I did not use it, but one of the other residents make some apple pies to share with apples picked from the grounds. Yum!

The number of residents fluctuated from 7-9 during my time there (9 is the max.). Some people were there for a month and other two weeks.

I will be doing a series of posts on this experience since there is so much to share. So stay tuned!



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