Artists off Grid residency artists, photo by Jenya Chernoff
This artist residency gives you time to paint, explore and learn basic survival skills.
High in the mountains of Colorado, surrounded by towering pine trees, massive boulders and alpine wildflowers, five artists shared a journey of creating and camaraderie off the grid and in the wild on thirty-five acres of land, owned by Marilyn Ramming, located ten miles from the village of Red Feather. One hour west of Fort Collins, Red Feather lies 7,890 feet in elevation and boasts two small grocery stores, two gas pumps, a post office, a hardware store and a water pump. Inspiration led Ramming to purchase the aforementioned parcel of land, upon moving to Red Feather, as a refuge and getaway, christening it Serenity and Hutzpah.
Recently the territory has taken on a new identity as the Artists Off Grid art
residency. This enterprising project is the initiative of artist Caitlin Hurd and her husband, Kyle Sosebee (Ramming’s son). Hurd, a graduate of the New York Academy of Art is a wonderfully imaginative painter whose non-linear narratives take place in invented landscapes in which people and animals hang afloat defying gravity and occupying a dreamlike space, often breaking into fragments that both refer to and suspend real life experiences.
Artists Off Grid residency, 2017
The idea behind the residency emerged organically, through the couple’s love of the outdoors and Hurd’s desire to give back to the art community of which she is a part. The property has lain dormant since Ramming, a resident of Red Feather from 2004 to 2011, had a life changing automobile accident, which rendered her wheelchair bound. Though she currently gets around very well with her own customized van, she has been unable to profit from her wilderness getaway, so she enthusiastically supported Hurd’s and Sosebee’s venture as a way to breathe new life into the property.
In July 2017, Artists Off Grid began its maiden voyage. The homestead, which had lain dormant, still had some very basic necessities: containers for water, a fire pit, and a large, secure shed (where we would store our paintings and supplies). The now defunct beginnings of a cabin would remain unusable but with tents and able bodies, as well as food rations bought in town, we had the makings of a stripped down but very viable campsite.
The first day was spent erecting the tents and familiarizing our selves with the area. Before nightfall, water was collected in Red Feather and a shelter protected our picnic table where we would have community meals.
Day two brought the third artist of our group, Kirsten Savage. A Colorado
transplant, Savage spent three summers repairing trails on the Rocky Mountain’s 14,000’ peaks and participating in conservation projects above the tree line. Upon arrival, she had her tent up in minutes and was off scouting and painting all before you could say Jack Robinson. Her soft-focused painted landscapes portrayed a feeling of expanse and majesty of the area and carried a sense of uncluttered peacefulness that mirrored the precise feeling of the residency.
Kirsten Savage, “Red Feather Meadow”, 8x10", oil on panel, 2017
Three days later, Savage departed and Lisa Lebofsky and Jenya Chernoffjoined our crew. Lebofsky’s, poetically reductive representation of nature’s wonders bring attention to the urgent issue of climate change. An adventurous creator, she has followed her muse to Greenland to paint the melting glaciers affected by global warming, Newfoundland and New York State. During the Artists Off Grid residency, Lebofsky used small format pieces of aluminum, upon which she both drew and painted, achieving gem-like studies of trees, broken and bent by the hardship of drought and insect infestation, in her characteristically poignant minimalist style focusing only on the essentials of the landscape.
Lisa Lebofsky, “Ponderosa — Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak” , 6x9", oil on panel, 2017
Chernoff’s original installations took advantage of natural and man-made
formations — piles of broken branches, rocks and lichen — arranging unique still life compositions in the landscape. Milkily-translucent gelatin, cooked directly on a camping stove and formed in vintage molds, was embedded by Chernoff into invented “habitats”. Recorded through the lens of digital macro photography, and manipulated by Chernoff’s own personal cocktail of photo development, each scene became imbued with a sense of cosmic mystery.
Jenya Chernoff, “Jellies”, giclee print on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl, 2017
Seven days later, Lebofsky and Chernoff departed and then there were three,
Hurd, her four-year- old child, Zaida and myself. A child of wonderous
imagination, Zaida brought a feeling of whimsy and delight to our daily meals
and adventures, turning trees into boats on a misty sea and teaching us that the word “s’mores” must be uttered in a reverent whisper.
Zaida, painting, 2017
The last days of the residency, Hurd honed her plein air paintings, created in
snatches of time between collecting water and improving the campsite. Her
colorful representations of a field of wildflowers and an out-cropping of rocks as well as experiments in texture with natural materials, painted on mylar and
homemade panels, conveyed a charmingly sentimental aspect of the landscape.
Caitlin Hurd, “Untitled”, 12x12", oil on mylar, 2017
I, in turn, rushed to finish the last of six canvas panels in which I attempted to capture the sense of survival and resilience of the place through representing its twisted lumbar pines and the remnants of the abandoned homestead — an empty chair, a weathered bench, a cracked and broken doorway.
Kim Power, “Room With a View”, 11x14", oil on canvas panel, 2017
Looking back on those two weeks, I have flashes of something that felt important, getting back to the essentials and elemental experiences. We rationed our food and water and were reminded to appreciate the simple things — being able to see the carpet of stars laid out in the night sky or a thunderstorm that brought more drama and excitement than any Broadway play. We worked as a team when water filled a tent or when dishes needed to be washed. We learned from each other, critiquing one another’s art work at the end of the day and thrived through creative determination to express something more than ourselves on a very basic level, unencumbered by signs of civilization and inspired by the very place of our
own daily existence.
Artists Off Grid residency, 2017
Artists Off Grid art residency is now accepting applications for July 5 th through the 19th , 2018. You can access the application and read further about the residency here: https://www.artistsoffgrid.com/. The final application due date is: February 28th , 2018.
Kim Power is an artist and art writer. Here paintings reflect her deep
commitment to community and the environment. In a series entitled This Land she is assembling a body of large and small plein air and studio paintings that speak to a sense of place and belonging through representation of landscapes that have become iconic to the surrounding population not by designation but by through the daily experiences of the people that live and have lived in symbiotic existence with their environment. Power has written for ARTPULSE magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, ArteFuse and Quantum Art Review and works as a freelance
writer and presenter, helping artists mold their artist statements, press releases,
catalogue essays, exhibition texts and grant applications as well as acting as a
panel moderator and an artist interviewer for art exhibitions.