Essays by –––
David Ostwald Darlene Miller-L anning
This project was supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency, through its regional arts funding partnership, Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA). State government funding comes through an annual appropriation by Pennsylvaniaâ€™s General Assembly and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. PPA is administered in this region by the Scranton Area Foundation.
A rt i s t s â€™ R e t r e at The Second Decade
David Ostwald Darlene Miller-Lanning
The Hope Horn Gallery
The University of Scranton February 5
March 21, 2021
Darlene Miller-Lanning. Spring Roses and House. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
Cover: Darlene Miller-Lanning. Soaring Gardens Grounds and Pond. Laceyville. Pennsylvania. Digital photograph. 2013. Front Inset: Darlene Miller-Lanning. Solar Panels on Ora Lerman Studio. Digital photograph. 2020. Back inset: Ora Lerman. Photograph. Undated. Ora Lerman Papers. Special Collections and University Archives. Rutgers University. New Brunswick, New Jersey. ÂŠcopyright 2021 David Ostwald and Darlene Miller-Lanning
5 Acknowledgements 7 Introduction
12 Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: The Second Decade
16 Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: Benefactors
Ora Lerman Cornelis Ruhtenberg Kirschenbaum
18 Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: Residencies in Visual Art Erin Treacy Wynn Yarrow Nathan Tersteeg Brian Cohen Kirstin Lamb Dariana Dervis Lori Spencer Jaynie Crimmins Michele Godwin Sarah Fuhrman
Everest Pipkin Matthew Colaizzo Lesley Wamsley Christin Farina Debbie Quick Ben Cowan Suzanne Stroebe Bethany Johnson Yuliya Lanina Megan Mosholder
38 Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat:
Residencies in Musical Composition Miggy Torres Jonathan Graybill Jessica Pavone
44 Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: Residencies in Writing
Will Cordeiro M.S. Coe A. Kendra Greene
Darlene Miller-Lanning. Spring Columbine. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
ra Lerman (1938-1998) was an American painter, teacher, and advocate for women in the arts who worked in New York
during the late twentieth century. In 1973, she bought a four-bedroom farmhouse, adjoining workshop, and twenty-three acres of land near rural Laceyville, Pennsylvania, where she established a summer studio known as Soaring Gardens. Following her death, the property came under the management of the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust, which in accordance with her wishes maintains it as an artists’ retreat offering summer residencies. In 2001, the Trust was also gifted a small church in nearby Bunnell Hill, thereby adding a second retreat site and increasing the number of residents the program can accommodate. Over the past twenty years, the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat has offered nearly two hundred residencies to visual artists, musicians, and writers at these facilities. It has been the privilege of the Hope Horn Gallery at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to celebrate these achievements in 2013 and 2021 with the juried group shows Soaring Gardens: The First Ten Years and Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat: The Second Decade, both accompanied by catalogs.
The exhibition Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat: The Second Decade and its related programming have been made possible
through the support and cooperation of many individuals. We thank the trustees and board members of the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust, including Margaret Mathews-Berenson, independent curator, critic, and arts manager, New York City, New York; Ann Sutherland Harris, Ph.D, Professor of Art History, Frick Fine Art Department, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; David Ostwald, Ph.D, freelance stage director and author, San Francisco, California; Ilene Sunshine, artist, New York City, New York; Rachel Sekelman, artist, Brooklyn, New York; Gail Shaw-Clemons, artist, Washington, D.C.; William Tersteeg, artist, Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Robert Zakanitch, artist, New York City, New York; for their consistent work in providing residency opportunities for talented artists over the past twelve years.
We appreciate the thoughtful assistance of our exhibition jurors, including Enrico Gomez, Renee Lynch, Joan Marter,
and Lina Puerta, reviewing Visual Arts; Howard Hersch and Birgitte Moyer-Vinding, reviewing Composers and Instrumentalists; and Jurgen Fauth and Claire Heintzelman, reviewing Writers. We acknowledge the efforts of our exhibiting artists, who, in addition to lending pieces for the show, have shared images of their work and statements about their residencies for publication in the exhibition catalog. It has been a pleasure to know this diverse group of creative people.
We are grateful, as well, to David Ostwald for contributing his essay to the exhibition catalog, and recognize the
enthusiasm and generosity of Birgitte Moyer-Vinding, who suggested the composition of the rose garden photograph which appears adjacent to our catalog contents page. We also thank Joan Daniels for permission to reproduce the Cornelis Ruhtenberg Kirschenbaum painting from her collection.
At The University of Scranton, we thank Josephine Dunn, Ph.D, Professor of Art History and Director, Art and Music
Program, History Department, for first bringing the work of Ora Lerman to the Hope Horn Gallery in 2002, and for her subsequent help in organizing this exhibition and catalog. We are also indebted to Valarie Clark, Director, Printing and Mailing Services; Jason Thorne, Senior Graphic Designer; and Vicki Lawhon, Graphic Designer; for their expertise in designing and publishing the catalog.
The Hope Horn Gallery at The University of Scranton receives state arts funding support through a grant from the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. 9
—Darlene Miller-Lanning, Ph.D. Director, Hope Horn Gallery 5
Darlene Miller-Lanning. The Ora Lerman House. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
Introduction David Ostwald
he year 2020 marks the twentieth anniversary of Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. We honored our tenth anniversary
with a well-received exhibition and an elegant catalogue. Now it is time to celebrate again. Much has changed. Soaring Gardens and the residency program have, themselves, undergone change — although gradually. We have extended the period during which we offer residencies, and in keeping with the times, our application process is now done online. The facilities themselves have been continually upgraded — often based on our residents’ suggestions. Among other improvements, the Church now has a separate bedroom area, and its upstairs studios have extensive new lighting. Recently, the downstairs studio at the House was remodeled with a new floor and a large glass door opening onto the gardens allowing in a flood of light. And as part of our commitment to be conscious world citizens, we have installed solar panels at both the House and the Church. In response to the Corona virus, many artist residency programs shuttered their facilities for 2020. We felt that we could safely continue, if on a limited basis. To guarantee safe distancing, we hosted only nine residents — fewer than half our usual number. And much has stayed the same. The extensive art library, which has served as a vital resource for the residents, is of course still there, but expanded (yes, changed) by donations from generous friends. Originally it consisted of Ora’s many books. It now fills shelves in both the House and the Church. The collection includes large picture books of the works of European artists, miniature medieval “books of hours,” and books of Mexican, Indian, Chinese and Japanese art — including a series on sumi-ye painting, which Ora brought back from her two-year stay in Japan on a Fulbright grant. There are artists’ biographies and also books on architecture, art history, aesthetics, ceramics, psychology, philosophy and a fair offering of literary works as well. Unchanged are the requirements that applicants for residencies must be working artists and that they submit samples of their work, a proposal of what they would like to do — either individually or with fellow residents, a biography, and two letters of recommendation. Visual artists, writers and musicians are evaluated by separate committees and each applicant is adjudicated individually. As has been the case since the beginning, residents do their own shopping and cooking to give them the freedom to shape their days as suits them best. And the residents and Soaring Gardens itself continue to be supported by the energies of wonderful, dedicated friends and a hard-working group of off-site staff: a maintenance person, a gardener and a house keeper. The essence of our residency program is our unchanging desire to fulfill the needs of artists for unencumbered time and space to practice and expand their skills and imaginations. Underpinning this commitment is our dedication to supporting the unique perceptions, thoughtful interpretations, and beauty, so crucial to our well-being, that art can provide. And, thanks to Ora’s vision, Soaring Gardens continues to offer a serene and beautiful refuge where artists can do this essential work.
S Ora was a committed world traveler, but her favorite port of call was her country home in Pennsylvania. The house was built and the fields first cultivated in the early 1850s by the two Gay brothers who made enough money in the California gold rush to buy an entire section of land. For a residence sited on a hill in dairy country, half a day’s oxcart ride from the village of Laceyville, the house makes some odd claims to grandeur. The narrow clapboard exterior is plain enough. But inside, it boasts two front parlors divided by a formal arch with unexpectedly elaborate moldings milled from the local hickory trees. The six tall windows that flood the rooms with light also sport elaborate surrounds, and are further distinguished by their oddly low placement. One can only wonder whether this was the latest fashion, or whether the Gay brothers were just very short. 7
Ora bought the place in 1973. At the time it felt financially daring, but it was the fulfillment of a dream. From the moment she finished her graduate degree in painting at the Pratt Institute in 1968, she had longed for a place in the country where she could explore her interest in landscape painting. At first it was out of the question. She was barely eking out a living working several part-time teaching jobs in New York. Then in 1971 she got a faculty position at Suffolk Community College. With her improved financial prospects she began searching for a place in New England, but was quickly discouraged by how far beyond her means was even the smallest bit of Vermont. On a weekend visit to a painter friend in Pennsylvania, they decided to go property hunting. When they discovered a rambling old five-bedroom house with an adjacent two-story machine shop sitting on twenty-three acres of untended farm land, her friend was sure they had hit paydirt. How could you beat the $20,000 price? Ora hesitated. Could she really come up with $151.61 each month? Fortunately for us all, her friend insisted. Ora began to spend her summers there painting the beautiful surroundings. She sort of camped out in the big house, but she converted the upstairs of the machine shop into a most satisfactory studio with a bank of windows looking out over the nearby rolling hills. On the far horizon her view included the silhouette of the “Endless Mountains,” as the locals call the northern end of the Appalachians. There may be a touch of irony in the fact that, only a few years after she purchased her place, Ora’s interest shifted away from landscapes to figurative paintings. For these she set up still-life scenes, first with antique dolls, and later with wooden figures and animals that she began to collect on her 1989 visit to India — a passion which she continued on her frequent trips to Mexico. Curiously, the event that brought about the biggest change to her Pennsylvania country retreat occurred in France. In 1988, Ora received a grant from the Readers Digest Foundation to spend six months as an artist-in-residence at Monet’s estate at Giverny. The gardens there reignited her love of flowers, and she began to wish for a garden of her own. It was then she realized that she could create a “Giverny” in Pennsylvania. And so she began creating “Soaring Gardens.” By the spring of 1992, when I met Ora, the allée with its five green arches was already in place and many of the old stone walls had been rebuilt. She had also created flowerbeds and erected curious trellises. Once a gardening novice, Ora soon became an expert on the plants that interested her most. Inevitably they sported extravagant flowers: wisteria, lilacs, clematis, peonies, lilies and tulips. By the time we were married in 1994, Soaring Gardens was no longer just a summer retreat, but the refuge where we also spent most of our spring and fall weekends. Ora remodeled her studio with a dramatic slanted ceiling designed to catch the northern light; we created a small lake, and the house itself began to get the loving attention that it so badly needed. Unfortunately, Ora’s joy in the new spaces and gardens was to be short-lived. In April of 1998 she died quite suddenly from complications of her cancer. Already before the appearance of the ampullary tumor in 1997, she was clear that whenever the time should come when we could no longer enjoy Soaring Gardens, she would like it to become a retreat for artists. And so, in the Fall of 1999, Soaring Gardens was included in the Trust, which Ora had included in her will. Thanks to a small inheritance from her much beloved father and to some very canny investing during the robust economy of the 1990s, Ora was able to provide the Trust with a modest endowment at its birth. When the five Trustees whom Ora had selected met for the first time in the fall of 1999, we agreed that, in accordance with her wishes, the Trust would administer artists’ retreats at Soaring Gardens. Since the old House had plank walls and could not be insulated it was decided to offer residencies between mid-May and mid-September. The Trust was also invested with a more expansive authority. It was empowered to engage in charitable, scientific, artistic, literary and educational activities. Under this generous umbrella, the Trust has maintained, exhibited and sold Ora’s works. It has produced an elegant catalogue and two exhibitions of her art — a large retrospective and a show of her smaller paintings. Between 2007 and 2012, in collaboration with Hebrew Union College Museum in New York, the Trustees sponsored a series of panel discussions on artists’ legacy issues. Subsequently, they have organized a panel about challenges and opportunities for mid-career artists and one titled “New Paradigms for Artists in Changing Times,” both of which were held at the Elizabeth Foundation in midtown Manhattan.
Darlene Miller-Lanning. The Ora Lerman Studio. Studio at Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
As the Trustees drew up the parameters for the retreats, we were sensitive to the fact that Ora had an intense interest in young talent, as evidenced in her many years of teaching at Suffolk Community College. We also knew that she was concerned about the particular challenges that confront women artists. This consciousness was manifested in her paintings. It also motivated her active participation in the New York chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art of which she was president for several years in the early 1970s. These considerations led us to include as one of the guidelines for potential residents that “we particularly encourage applications from emerging women artists.” Since the House has four bedrooms and an upstairs study, and the converted machine shop has two large studios, we were in the fortunate position to be able to accommodate as many as three or four artists at a time. This allowed us to encourage applicants to apply in groups, hopefully assuring productive and enriching artistic interactions. In the Summer of 2000, we made our tentative beginnings with only four artists. By the second year, we had twenty residents, and to our complete surprise, a second space in which to accommodate some of them. About a ten-minute drive from Soaring Gardens is a charming church built in 1903 by the Ladies’ Aid Society of Bunnell Hill. It was purchased in the early 1960s by two painters who converted it into their home and studio. Cornelis Ruthenberg and her husband, Jules Kirschenbaum, lived and painted there for a number of years. After Jules got a teaching position in Iowa, it became their summer retreat. Jules died in 2000, and Cornelis did not see herself spending time in the church alone. Through a close mutual friend, Cornelis heard about our artists’ retreat and decided to gift the church to the Trust. We were astonished and to this day remain grateful. For the next several summers we offered mostly two-week residencies. However, gradually, it became evident that the artists would be better served by longer visits, and so, although it meant we wouldn’t be able to accommodate as many residents, we began to encourage three and four week stays. At the same time, we narrowed our applicant pool by requiring that applicants have at least two years of professional experience. In 2009, we were presented with a totally unexpected dilemma by the rapid expansion of drilling for the natural gas in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale. Several companies began vying for the opportunity to buy “our” gas. The Board members all agreed that gas wells were incompatible with the serenity that is such an essential part of the Soaring Gardens experience. And yet, we also had a fiduciary responsibility to manage the Trust responsibly. The dilemma was compounded by the fact that all around us the landowners, primarily dairy farmers, were signing leases. Since they were barely scraping by, the choice was completely understandable. The up-front money alone could be enough to keep them afloat, perhaps even for them to have money for retirement. Once our neighbors had signed, there was no way to keep the oil companies from extracting the gas from under our land. And so, holding our noses, we signed a “non-surface lease.” It allows the gas company to extract the gas, but they may not set foot on our land. We received a generous signing fee, and have subsequently been receiving royalties. Although they are not sufficient, they do help in covering our ongoing expenses.
S “Create in Tranquility,” is the motto of Soaring Gardens and the residents are free to choose how they use their time. We do not ask them to create a body of work or to show us what they have done. We understand that sometimes an artist may simply need to lie in a hammock and gestate. However, in 2010 when we put out a call to see samples of their work for an exhibition, almost half of the artists from our first decade responded. Their submissions were juried by the Trustees, Board members, and by our curator, Darlene Miller-Lanning. Of those who submitted some twenty were chosen. The exhibition opened in February of 2013 at the Hope Horn Gallery at the University of Scranton. In 2019 and early 2020 we again put out a call, and from the many submissions, the jurors have chosen twenty-six artists. Again, we are honored to have our artists’ work shown at the Hope Horn Gallery, and, for the first time, through the sponsorship of the University, also online. As this exhibition attests, our second decade of residencies has been wonderfully fruitful. We look forward to continuing offering Soaring Gardens in the decades to come as a place for artists to reflect, regroup and to create in tranquility. 9 10
Darlene Miller-Lanning. The Bunnell Hill Church. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: The Second Decade Darlene Miller-Lanning
n 2013, the Hope Horn Gallery at the University of Scranton was privileged to present the exhibition Soaring Gardens
Artists Retreat: The First Ten Years, featuring the work of twenty artists awarded summer residencies through the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust between 2000 and 2010. Ten years later, we are honored to host a sequel show, Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: The Second Decade, highlighting the work of twenty-six artists completing residencies through the Trust between 2011 and 2020. While this group exhibition is diverse, works are serendipitously unified by the artists’ use of pattern, texture, repetition, and mixed media. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, residency artists working at the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat have routinely addressed the complex and critical relationships that exist between natural forces, compromised landscapes, social values, and cultural traditions through their visual art, musical compositions, and written words. The power and beauty of natural forces, both physical and spiritual, are celebrated in paintings, prints, and installations by Lesley Wamsley, Brian Cohen, Wynn Yarrow, Erin Treacy, and Megan Mosholder. Wamsley displays her commitment to plein air and observational painting in Wing, an oil on panel from 2019 depicting the dark tracery found on a swallowtail butterfly. The monumental proportions in this modestly-scaled work also reference the “butterfly effect,” a chaos theory concept maintaining that small changes in one place cause large transformations in another. Similarly, Cohen produces a drypoint series of rural scenes, originally drawn on site during his residency and later printed in 2018. In Pennsylvania Field, crosshatching and directional lines convey a sense of the topography and atmosphere found in the rolling farmland of the Endless Mountains region. Working in upstate New York, Yarrow explores mysterious landscapes during times of transition in The Night the Tree Fell, an acrylic gouache produced in 2017. Like Charles Burchfield before her, she employs layered, water-based media to conjure the intersection between the soul of nature and the perception of humankind. Using oil and acrylic paint, charcoal, conte, marker, pencil, and ink on linen, Treacy also responds to environmental cycles of growth and decay in Hiding Behind Trees of 2017. With its abstract and gestural markings of green and gold, this large canvas invokes the expansive yet compressed energy of nature. Other quite different horizons are made manifest by Mosholder in Luí na Gréine (Window of a Sunset), an installation of hand-painted string illuminated with black light from 2016. Represented as a photograph in Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: The Second Decade, this work is permanently placed in the stairwell of the Google office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where timed lighting transforms its colors to suggest changing rhythms of dusk and dawn. The pathos and danger of compromised landscapes, conjured by processes of exploitation and abandonment, inform the content of mixed media drawings and collages by Nathan Tersteeg, Matthew Colaizzo, Lori Spencer, Bethany Johnson, and Everest Pipkin. In the charcoal and soft pastel on paper Dixon City Walmart Torus, dated 2015, Tersteeg contrasts images of a derelict commercial structure near a stark cliff with an inverted rainbow entity in the open air. Exuding negative energy, the site is degraded through irresponsible development practices that exploit rather than enrich regional economies. Colaizzo uses graphite, colored pencil, and acrylic gouache on paper to create the simultaneously subdued and shocking coloration of Mountain Behind a Fence from 2018. Documenting the commodification of the natural environment, the orange and gray image reckons the ultimate cost of extractive processes such as mining and fracking. While these artists work with limited color palettes, Spencer adopts a true monochromatic approach in Greenhouse Effect of 2017, produced with Sumi ink, acrylic, and relief stamps. Fractured shapes, recombined as a white arc above a dark core, emphasize the 12
Darlene Miller-Lanning. Stone Walkway. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
fragility of Earth’s sheltering atmosphere. Johnson continues these meditations in We Live on a Planet: MC 125, a collage on paper from 2019. Recalling geological strata, this layered aggregation is part of a series of specimens generated from science book illustrations, photographic imagery, printer artifacts, office ephemera, and drawn interventions that seem simultaneously alien and familiar. As a software designer and fine artist, Pipkin utilizes sequential mark-making techniques common to traditional pointillism and machine language in Hallucinating the Cloud 9. Developed with pen and ink on paper in 2018, this intimate skyscape of vapors and aerials is one of several small graphics analyzing natural and technological forms. The opportunities and constraints of social values, whether challenged or embraced, are considered in mixed media sculptures, prints, and paintings by Jaynie Crimmins, Michele Godwin, Debbie Quick, Sarah Furman, and Christin Farina. In her paper relief sculpture The Moment Matters, Crimmins critiques the dynamics of waste and conservation in a capitalist economy driven by marketing and obsolescence. Constructed in 2018 from shredded non-profit and political solicitations, health care statements, magazine articles highlighting issues to protect our freedoms, and thread over an armature mounted on wood, this meticulously-crafted hemisphere advocates the creative management of limited resources as an alternative to the throwaway mindset of a consumerist norm. Godwin alludes to never-ending and ever-changing entanglements and transformations in Cat’s Cradle of 2014, a black and white linoleum print on canvas embellished with hand-stitched patterns of pink, turquoise, and magenta yarn. The image depicts a woman, hands upraised, supporting the criss-crossed cords of an intricate and interactive string game that players have struggled for centuries to sustain. Appropriating illustrations from A. B. Baker’s popular book Young Years: Best Loved Stories and Poems for Children, Quick revisits the story of Beauty and the Beast in her sculpture Vicious Cycle, assembled in 2019 from a pair of cast porcelain hands and a netted panel of crystal beads. Emblazoned with the repeated image of a young woman bending over a wild animal, the glass curtain suggests recurring episodes of strife triggered by stereotypes woven into the fabric of time. Emulating the chaos and ecstasy of media culture, Furman addresses the madcap pressures of contemporary life in her painting Big Red of 2019. Rendered in acrylic, collage, and glitter, an eclectic cast of characters cavorts along stone-paved paths near a suburban cottage, demanding that equal attention be allotted to attainment and whimsy. The price paid for such divided aspirations is acknowledged by Farina in i hope the next thing you reflect doesn’t always make you cry, a piece from 2020 combining unfired porcelain, paper, ink, and mixed materials on panel. Front and back views of cars chronicle an inevitable journey of achievement and loss, where one looks always ahead and behind. The patterns and practices of cultural traditions, maintained and adapted in response to change, are reaffirmed in paintings, assemblages, and music boxes by Kirstin Lamb, Dariana Dervis, Suzanne Stroebe, Ben Cowan, and Yuliya Lanina. Lamb mimics the process and appearance of needlepoint in Studio Wall with Moose, a gridded panel of 2018 completed in acrylic and gouache on Duralar. Brushstrokes simulate stitches in painted representations of vintage embroideries and wallpaper designs, linking textile traditions to contemporary painting. In her mixed media assemblage and collage Atonement of 2019, Dervis juxtaposes historical photographs and a wasps’ nest within two sides of a cigar box. Contributing the weight of their prior lives to the sculpture, these found objects articulate a dialogue on memory and community. Using wood, papier mâché, paper clay, cardboard, wire, string, acrylic paint, ink, indigo dye, and charcoal, Stroebe conjures a sense of costume and ritual with Dark Side of a New Moon, a relief sculpture from 2019. Circular panels and linear sticks, adorned with black stripes and pink swirls, induce a trance-like state linked to ancient cycles of change and renewal. Cowan pairs images of promise and denial in Red and Yellow, Black and White, an oil and acrylic on canvas of 2018 based on familiar sights in his Brooklyn neighborhood. Closely cropped and heavily framed by a deep architectural molding, this scene of stained-glass windows, multi-colored hydrangeas, and wrought-iron gates considers the benefits and limits of a constructed space. Lanina reinterprets a Russian folk tale using movement and sound in her mechanical music box Sister Alenushka and Brother Ivanushka, made from wood, metal, acrylic paint, and ceramics in 2016. Though altered by enchantment and deception, the story’s orphaned siblings maintain a family connection that restores their identities and lives. 14
Darlene Miller-Lanning. Grand AlleeÂ´. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
Beyond the visual arts, themes of nature, society, and culture are also broadly addressed by other exhibition participants working in the disciplines of musical composition and writing, including Jonathan Graybill, Jessica Pavone, Miggy Torres, M.S. Coe, A. Kendra Greene, and Will Cordeiro. Among the composers, Graybill infuses his project The Ancient Language of Birds, including Tsigiliâ€™i: Black-Capped Chickadee of 2016, a piece for piano and tape, with inspiration from field recordings of native species and enduring legends of indigenous peoples. Composing for a string octet and featured soloists, Pavone produces Lull, a four-part work including the movements Indolent, Holt, Ingot, and Midmost from 2019-2020. In contrast, Torres confronts the broken promises of late twentieth-century capitalism in his work for eight amplified voices, On the Fractured Identity of the Millennial and the New Hierophanies Therein, produced in 2017. Among the writers, Coe examines the causes and consequences of miserliness and presupposition in her short story Frito Pie, published in the Nashville Review in 2019. Greene delineates the process by which we make sense of ourselves through aged objects and places past in Arrival, an excerpt from the nonfiction book The Museum of Whales You Will Never See, released by Penguin Books in 2020. Finally, Cordeiro returns to nature with the river poem Rindle, published in the Free State Review in 2014. In his Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke explained that an artist must ripen and grow like a tree, confident even during spring storms that a fruitful summer will come. Art matures slowly, and its pace cannot be forced. Seeds can be nurtured, however, during a temperate season on fertile ground, and a cultivated garden can flourish. In statements about their residencies, artists participating in Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat: The Second Decade consistently express their gratitude to the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust for providing them with essential time and space to creatively work and thrive. The Hope Horn Gallery is pleased to celebrate the achievements of these visual artists, composers, and writers, and to commemorate two decades of productivity at the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. We also pay tribute to Ora Lerman, who with wisdom and generosity shared her faith in summers to come. 9 15
Ora Lerman (1938-1998)
Benefactor of the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust
Born in Campbellsville, Kentucky, Ora Lerman was the daughter of Eastern European immigrants. She received her BA in Fine Art from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and her M.F.A. in Painting from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Recognized for her realistic still life paintings which often incorporated folkloric elements, Lerman exhibited at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, the Prince Street Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, the Jewish Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, New York. From 1971 through 1998, she served as Professor of Art at Suffolk Community College, Brentwood, New York. Under the Percent for Art/New York program, she completed the mural Inside the Ark at P.S. 176 in New York City, New York. Lerman lived and traveled throughout the world, visiting Japan, India, and France as the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship, an International Exchange of Scholars Indo-American Fellowship, and a Reader’s Digest Artist’s Residency at Giverny. These experiences inspired her to designate Soaring Gardens, her rural studio near Laceyville, Pennsylvania, as an artists’ retreat. Lerman died in New York City, New York, in 1998.
Cornelis Ruhtenberg Kirschenbaum (1923-2008) Donor of the Church
Cornelis Ruhtenberg was born in Riga, Latvia. She studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin, Germany, and exhibited at the Berlin Museum. Following World War II, she immigrated to the United States, where she joined her father, modernist architect Jan Ruhtenberg, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Known for her figurative paintings, Ruhtenberg later began exhibiting her work at venues including the Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado; the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa. In 1956, she married painter Jules Kirschenbaum, and the couple traveled for several years in Italy. Following their return to the United States, they purchased the former Bunnell Hill Church near Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, which they remodeled for use as a studio. In the 1960s, the couple accepted teaching positions at Drake University and relocated to Des Moines, Iowa. Following her husband’s death in 2000, Cornelis Ruhtenberg Kirschenbaum gifted the church to the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust. She died in Issaquah, Washington, in 2008.
Ora Lerman. Art Not Food/Freedom Not Food: I Gave You My Song. Hand-ground oil on canvas. 1996-1997. Collection of Dr. Josephine Dunn. Waverly, Pennsylvania.
Cornelis Ruhtenberg Kirschenbaum. Seated Woman. Oil on canvas. n.d. Collection of Mrs. Joan Daniels. Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. 17
V i s ua l Arts
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Erin Treacy explores abstraction and the use of line through drawing, painting, and sculptural assemblages. Her interest lies in the environment’s depiction of time through layers of growth and decay, and how this can serve as a visual metaphor for our own internal worlds. Selected solo and two person exhibitions include the NAVA Contemporary; Long Island Arts Council; Blue Table Post; Sunny’s; Reservoir Art Space; and Boxheart Gallery. Selected group exhibitions include the Eubie Blake Cultural Center; Spaceworks Gowanus; BRIC; Pratt Institute; and more. Treacy’s work has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, New York 1, Artnet News, and the Huffington Post. Treacy has earned numerous residency and grant opportunities. Some of the most influential were the Maryland Institute College of Art Faculty Grant; Windy Mowing Residency; Queens Council on the Arts, Arthotel Residency and Grant; Wassaic Project; 2 Rooms Contemporary Art Project; and the Sam and Adele Golden Foundation. She was a Fulbright Fellow in painting to Ireland. She earned her BFA at Pratt Institute and her MFA at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Soaring Gardens Statement Soaring Gardens was an insanely productive and yet relaxing time for me. A group of five of us applied together. Our goal was to focus on our individual studio practices, but also convene for dinner every night to discuss our practice and all things art and life related. In addition to the beautiful conversations that blossomed, there were collaborations that sprouted as well. I created several paintings, and collaborated with others on a performance piece and a cookbook documenting our favorite meals together. On a side note, while we were there, we also explored our surroundings. In the immediate area we went for walks and drives in the nearby farmland. Every weekend we cast our net wider traveling to a festival, carnival or fair for the day. It was an amazing time to learn and play in the greater community, and very different from all of our New York City day to day grind. Thank you!
Wynn Yarrow’s poetic response to the land creates quiet, intricate worlds that beckon you to slow your pace and enter the mystery. Through natural curiosity and captivating use of color, Yarrow draws on memory, imagination and intuition to paint landscapes that resonate with the spirit of place. Yarrow lives in Elmira, New York. She is the ongoing artist in residence at the Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate. Her work is displayed in healthcare institutions, including the Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Mayo Clinic. She has received creative artist grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts/Pennsylvania Humanities Council and from the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes in New York. She has been involved with three projects funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Soaring Gardens Statement I attended the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat twice. The first residency was five weeks, with another artist sharing the house ten days of that time. The second time I was alone. The time for solitude, the comfortable setting, and the beautiful natural surroundings were nurturing in a deep way. I believe the creative mind works best with times of quiet and the freedom to explore. Soaring Gardens provided both of these. I believe the power of this retreat is in the quiet, the distance from human pressures, and the shift into natural rhythms. There is an opportunity for focus, and a chance to create freely without pressure, judgment or interference. Both times I returned from Soaring Gardens with a renewed excitement for my work and an important shift in direction. In creative practice, change is part of development. My landscapes are slow to paint and slow to view. Not surprisingly, the process of growth and change is also usually slow. Yet Soaring Gardens facilitated a more sudden shift in my work, a quickstep into a new vision. For time spent in this gracious space, I am grateful. 18
Erin Treacy. Hiding Behind Trees. Oil and acrylic paint, charcoal, conte, marker, pencil, and ink on linen. 2017.
Wynn Yarrow. The Night the Tree Fell. Acrylic gouache. 2017. 19
The child of two art educators, Nathan Tersteeg grew up in rural Factoryville, Pennsylvania, not far from Laceyville, surrounded by farmland, horses, and crayfish creeks. After attending Keystone College, he received his BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Printmaking from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and his MFA in Two-Dimensional Design from the University of Cincinnati. He currently resides in Richmond, Virginia. Tersteeg’s art appears in galleries, private, and corporate collections, and he contributes illustrations in support of a variety of regional and national arts and music events. Over the course of his career, Tersteeg’s drawing and painting work has utilized architecture and animals in a metaphorical exploration of how we exist in spaces, how they join and isolate us, and the invisible histories that shape them and us.
Soaring Gardens Statement In 2015, I spent a five-week period at the Bunnell Hill Church. Soaring Gardens’ generosity was a welcome respite and an important opportunity to coalesce ideas that I’d been nurturing related to my roots in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Having grown up in Factoryville, I was quite familiar with the rural area around Soaring Gardens, but for everything that was the same in the Endless Mountain region, so much had changed since my childhood. I spent a great deal of that time researching the region, exploring and documenting the farmland, the fracking operations, and the nearby cities that had seen the years pass, in some cases quite unkindly. At the conclusion of that period, I had created the torus language of an inverted rainbow circle that exists in the work I made thereafter. Detailed drawings of the abandoned Scranton Lace and Walmart structures near Scranton were rendered in specific detail alongside tender drawings of the goats on the farm that neighbored the Church in Bunnell Hill. Two summers later, in 2017, I found myself fortunate enough to return to the Church for another three-week stay, and dove directly into the drawing process, expanding the work I had made during my last stay and approaching some of the local scenery and livestock as subject matter. I love the land around Soaring Gardens, for reasons both nostalgic and not, as the sprawling mountaintops are beautiful without question. But through my work, and because of my time at Soaring Gardens, I was able to manifest a depiction of both the things I adored about those places and the invisible forces that threaten their continuance. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity that Soaring Gardens provided me to view these spaces and places with thoughtful eyes, and make the work that spoke to their magic, history and fragility.
A resident of Westmoreland, New Hampshire, Brian Cohen has shown artist’s books and prints in forty individual exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Fresno Art Museum, and has participated in over 150 group shows. Cohen’s books and etchings are held by major private and public collections throughout the country, including the Yale, Harvard, Brown, and Stanford Universities; Middlebury, Smith, Wellesley, Swarthmore, and Dartmouth Colleges; University of Vermont; New York Public Library; Library of Congress; and Philadelphia and Portland Museums of Art; as well as the United States Ambassador’s residence in Egypt. He was firstplace winner of major international print competitions in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He has written essays and reviews for the Huffington Post, International Journal of Art and Art History, Art in Print, and other print and online venues.
Soaring Gardens Statement My residency at Soaring Gardens allowed me solitude and uninterrupted focus within an unfamiliar and beguiling landscape. I explored the surrounding countryside, often ending up completely lost, looking for a variety of terrain, in various locations and at different times of day, working in watercolor, ink, and drypoint directly on site. I intended to focus on painting in watercolor, but ended up doing twenty-three drypoint plates and a number of drawings during the residency. Following my stay, I returned to my print studio to proof the plates and to develop and extend each image through etching and aquatint, burnishing, and scraping. As is often the case, several of the first proofs possessed an immediacy and assertiveness lost in successive proofs, and I am unlikely to edition them, so these early unique state proofs remain the most vivid record of my residency.
Nathan Tersteeg. Dixon City Walmart Torus. Charcoal and soft pastel on paper. 2015.
Brian Cohen. Pennsylvania Field. Drypoint. 2018. 21
Kirstin Lamb is a painter living in Providence and working in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating with an MFA. Lamb’s work has been shown in venues across the country and abroad, including group shows at the Wassaic Project; Co-Worker Gallery; Nahcotta Gallery; Fruitlands Museum; and Providence College Galleries; among others. She has attended residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts; Vermont Studio Center; Bunker Projects; Wassaic Project; Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts; and Sam and Adele Golden Foundation. Lamb recently received a Rhode Island State Council on the Arts fellowship in painting and will be showing work from that grant at the South County Art Association as soon as is possible. She completed a two-year contract curator position at The Yard, Williamsburg, a coworking space in Brooklyn that hosts solo and group shows quarterly, and has begun planning online and new curatorial projects in Rhode Island.
Soaring Gardens Statement Painting in the Church with my dear friend Kate Bae was a wonderful experience. I was thrilled to walk in farmland daily, work on the porch of the Church with its beautiful vista, and spend time wandering the dirt roads looking at and photographing barns and flora. I paint slowly from photographs, so that work may not be reflected in pieces chosen for this show, but I have images I will work on years from now. One of the things that struck me most about staying in the Church was the collapsing barn next door. We had the luck that a passing truck took out a deer right as our stay began and we got this beautiful and haunted country tableau unfolding in front of the distant horse farm and corn field. Folks would wave us by in our car as they slowly drove tractors down the street. As city dwellers, Kate and I were fully immersed in a place we knew nothing about, and we were grateful to meet new people, to change our pace and see new things. There was certainly the delightful quiet and beauty of the autumn garden over at the main house, but we found that sitting in the pews at the small country Church looking at paintings suited us. We made things and sipped tea and coffee, and slowly watched the day go by. Thank you for the opportunity to make work in such an unusual and visually rich setting.
Deeply inspired by nature, Dariana Dervis delights in mining beauty from the ordinary to create the extraordinary. Papers, found objects, ephemera and thread are given new life and meaning as they are incorporated into mixed media collages. A visual dialogue and juxtaposition of past and present elements creates a piece greater than the sum of its individual parts. Her artwork explores the ways we are connected to the landscapes in which we live and also to one another. “Nature is restorative and full of wonder. There is magic in a moth pollinating flowers by moonlight, the filigree pattern of a decaying leaf, and a spider weaving its delicate web.” With a BFA from the University of Montevallo, Dervis currently works as both fine artist and graphic designer in Birmingham, Alabama.
Soaring Gardens Statement My experience as a resident artist at Soaring Gardens was a true gift of space and time. My friend, Jonathan Woolley, and I were given the opportunity to live and work in the 100-year-old Church for two weeks in August 2019. I was aware of the value of stepping away from the demands of daily life to fully immerse myself in creative endeavors, but the experience exceeded my expectations. The studio was spacious and accommodating, and our living space quiet and inviting. I found I had the freedom and time to entertain new ideas and develop those that had already taken hold. The days stretched out before me as I fell into a comfortable rhythm of working in this inspiring environment. With several pieces in progress, I allowed myself to gravitate to those that spoke to me each day. I completed shadowboxes for a themed collection I was envisioning and began new assemblages. A collage book emerged from a beautiful weathered wallet I’d brought as well as an idea for a new series. I experimented with encaustic wax techniques and sketched in the sunshine on the porch. Sometimes I lay in the grass under the apple and willow trees and let my mind wander. After making dinner each night, Jon and I pulled our chairs into the pasture behind the house to discuss the days’ creative discoveries. As we ate, the resident wildlife appeared in the field as the sun set on the Pennsylvania mountains. Jon and I were sounding boards for each other and critiqued work upon request. Since returning home, I’ve thought about this time often and with great appreciation. The opportunity to reset and enjoy creative freedom for an extended time without interruption was invaluable. Ideas and inspiration born from time spent at Soaring Gardens continue to grow and evolve. Art created at this residency has been entered and shown in group exhibitions and galleries.
Kirstin Lamb. Studio Wall with Moose. Acrylic and gouache on Duralar on panel. 2018.
Dariana Dervis. Atonement. Mixed media assemblage and collage. 2019.
Lori Spencer is an artist/printmaker based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Much of her studio practice lies in the generation of mark and then the reinterpretation, reproduction and re-contextualization of it through various media and formats. Her mark-making tools are varied and range from the haptic, to the mechanical, to the digital, to the textual. Solo exhibitions include From Venice to Vietnam, Printmaking Gallery, University of the Arts; In Response: Works on Paper, North River Gallery; The Meandering, Word and Image Gallery, Bright Hill Literary Center; and Vignettes and Silhouettes, Lewis Art Gallery, Millsaps College. Two-person exhibitions include Elemental Iterations, a collaboration with Rebecca Gilbert, President’s Gallery, University of the Arts; and Fair Ophelia, a collaboration with Julianna Foster, Vox Populi Gallery. Her work is in a number of public collections such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cleveland Institute of Art, Walker Art Center, and the Library of Congress.
Soaring Gardens Statement Recollections from my Soaring Gardens residencies that are embedded in my memory: Blackbirds flying out of the corn fields as I passed them on my morning run. Elderberry in bloom as I took a walk at dusk. On the other side of the field, many yards between them, communing. Sandra, who I didn’t know before we shared residencies at the Church the first time. Sandra, who I shared a residency at the Church with for a second time by design. The goats next door to the Church. The large bluestone front church step where, using the texture of the bluestone, I created a sumi ink wash technique. Spending uninterrupted days focused on my artwork was the meat and potatoes of the residency. The above recollections were the icing on the cake. All of these experiences have factored into my work since the residency in one way or another. The time given to push my artmaking practice, in an environment that held such natural beauty was/is truly a gift.
Jaynie Crimmins, an artist based in New York City, New York, creates alternative narratives from quotidian materials. Her work has been shown at Art on Paper, the Spring/Break Art Show, and Governor’s Island Art Fair; the Sharjah Museum of Art during the Islamic Arts Festival, United Arab Emirates; and the National Museum of Romanian Literature. It is featured in museums throughout the United States including the Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary; Hunterdon Art Museum; and the Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw State University. Crimmins has a long history of community work, currently volunteering in the Guggenheim Museum’s Learning Through Art Program. She holds a BS and an MA in Art Education with a minor in Art Therapy from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and the College of New Rochelle, respectively. She is represented by K. Imperial Fine Art in San Francisco, and shows with Thomas Deans Fine Art in Atlanta.
Soaring Gardens Statement Soaring Gardens was transformational and inspirational. The house and studio have an energy that transcends words and is completely experiential. Ora Lerman’s art and the handmade objects in the house have a spirit communicating creativity, while sustaining the memory of an original, well-traveled individual. The studio with its creative history and ongoing life, has the power to spark one’s imagination and passion. The beauty of Soaring Gardens is that in one glorious month, so much happened. The rhythms of birds, other wildlife and the serenity and beauty that nature provides were revealed to me. My work had taken a new turn. I was privy to the working process of two incredible artists — Elise P. Church and Christina Massey. Christina, Elise and I formed our own little artists’ community where our respect for and understanding of each other flourished and deepened. We met some wonderful people — particularly Lois and Marty who supported our work and felt like old friends. Frank Holdren allowed us to use his empty Laceyville storefront as the space for our pop-up show. We met Carmen, the owner of EB’s market, who came to our exhibit. We were introduced to Jan Henning, a local watercolorist, who invited us to visit her studio and meet her plein air painting group. Soaring Gardens is a gift that I will always treasure. I hope my gratitude will be extended to the Board of the Ora Lerman Charitable Trust. Please know that all of your hard work in keeping this retreat available for artists is so appreciated.
Lori Spencer. Greenhouse Effect. Sumi ink, acrylic, and relief stamps. 2017.
Jaynie Crimmins. The Moment Matters. Shredded non-profit and political solicitations, health care statements, magazine articles highlighting issues to protect our freedoms, thread over armature mounted on wood. 2018.
I am an artist who lives and works in New York City, New York. I grew up in Harlem and East Harlem. I received my BFA from the School of Visual Arts and my MFA in Printmaking from City College. I am always around trees and concrete, which creates a duality in the art I make. It reflects the people, objects, and natural forms I encounter. I take these images and develop a story through the use of a print or ceramic piece that a person would use every day.
Soaring Gardens Statement During my residency at Soaring Gardens I was most impressed with being surrounded by nature. It was inspiring and reinforced the imagery within my work, as nature has been a recurring aspect of it. Living in the house in such close proximity to the studio gave me time to reflect and think about new ideas while being able to act almost immediately on those ideas, without putting them off until later. During the residency I was also impressed with the women in our group who were like-minded people, to whom I didn’t have to explain myself. While there, I was able to surpass my goals and expectations by producing three linoleum prints. Completing the more physical and messy work there set up a great opportunity to have new pieces that I could continue to embellish once I got home within a more controlled or confined environment. Being selected for this residency at Soaring Gardens affirmed that I am not just working in a vacuum, which also makes me feel like I’m heading in the right direction.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Sarah Fuhrman received her MFA in Painting from the State University of New York, Purchase. Fuhrman has had solo and two-person exhibitions at Slag Contemporary, and has exhibited in group shows at Onderdonk Gallery, Brooklyn Fireproof, and September Gallery, among others. She has been granted multiple residencies including but not limited to the Elizabeth Murray Residency, Azule, and Arts, Letters and Numbers.
Soaring Gardens Statement Soaring Gardens has, over the years, helped me in so many ways. Beyond allowing me a stable, gorgeous interjection of fulfilling, meaningful solitude and peace, it has given me shelter in turbulent times, and has granted generous space and artistic nourishment in times of need. Since I met my partner, another creative, it has also given us both a creative retreat and a space to grow and understand one another outside of the hustle and bustle of New York. I am forever indebted to Ora Lerman and her family and to David Ostwald and the Trust for their continued support. I am humbled and honored to have been asked to join the Trust, and I look forward to working with them to help fulfill Ora’s vision, and to help other artists accomplish their goals and fulfill their creative endeavors.
Michele Godwin. Catâ€™s Cradle. Linoleum print with stitches. 2014.
Sarah Fuhrman. Big Red. Acrylic, collage and glitter on canvas. 2019.
Everest Pipkin is a drawing and software artist from Bee Caves, Texas, who produces intimate work with large data sets. Through the use of online archives, big data repositories, and other resources for digital information, they aim to reclaim the corporate internet as a space that can be gentle, ecological, and personal. They hold a BFA from University of Texas, Austin; an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University; and have shown nationally and internationally at the Design Museum of London, the Texas Biennial, the XXI Triennale of Milan, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design, among others. They are currently based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Soaring Gardens Statement I had a lovely and productive period at Soaring Gardens, splitting my time between lecture and syllabus prep for my classes in the coming semester, and drawing both in the office and outside. I particularly enjoyed the fields and grounds: as a hobbyist forager, I was so delighted with the abundance of late summer, and the resplendent wild edible plants on the property. Every meal my time there was based on or augmented by something from the forest or fields — blackberries, raspberries, sumac, nettle, Asiatic dayflower, yarrow and mint were all within a few minutes’ walk. This points to the care spent on the grounds and home and the peacefulness of the area. I think back to my time there with great fondness.
Matthew Colaizzo is an artist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whose work ranges from printmaking and drawing to photography. He received his BFA from the Tyler School of Art and his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Exhibitions of his work include Anderson Ranch Art Center, the International Print Center of New York, and the Arlington Art Center. Colaizzo currently teaches in the foundations program at Tyler School of Art.
Soaring Gardens Statement My residency at Soaring Gardens took place in the summer of 2019 at the farmhouse and studio. The duration was three weeks. I shared the house with one other person and made the downstairs studio my workspace. While there, I continued to work on a series of drawings that investigate how we interact with the landscape. I currently live and work in the city of Philadelphia, a very dense urban area, thus Soaring Gardens was a big contrast for me. Being in a rural area gave me time to reflect on the landscape in a very different way. I took many solitary walks down roads, passing by farms, fields, woods, and the occasional house. The amount of land versus the amount of people was a stark difference from what I was used to. But I began to notice all the signs along the road, one after another: POSTED – No Trespassing – Private Property. This made me think about land ownership and land management, as well as fences and borders. I also saw many fracking pads in my travels, small squares of land which are sites where earth becomes commodity, proof that economy is more important than environment. I was thinking about all this while watching the incredible colors of a sunset, which only can reinforce the feeling of being so small in this immense world. Living in Ora Lerman’s house nurtured my reflections, giving me the time and headspace to explore my work and expand my relationship with the landscape.
Everest Pipkin. Hallucinating the Cloud 9. Pen and ink on paper. 2018.
Matthew Colaizzo. Mountain Behind a Fence. Graphite, color pencil, and acrylic gouache on paper. 2018.
Lesley Wamsley is a plein air painter living in Brooklyn, New York. Her observational landscape paintings reflect the personal and historical consciousness of place and time. In 2012 she earned an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the State University of New York, New Paltz. Awarded residencies include the Wassaic Project and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, among others. Recent shows include SPF 32, curated by Madeleine Mermall, William Ulmer Arts; Watch it Burn, curated by Carmen Hermo, Trestle Gallery; and Women’s Work, curated by Prisilla Dobbler, New York Art Residencies and Studios Foundation. Her work is held by the Museum of Modern Art Artists’ Books Collection. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Fine Art Department at Fordham University, where she teaches observational drawing.
Soaring Gardens Statement I was a resident at Soaring Gardens in 2015. It was my first residency and I remember being very excited about the opportunity. After settling into the house, I noticed Ora’s collection of objects; she filled her home with things that reflected a life of travel and curiosity. I began making observational drawings of these objects and creating a library-like index of various things in the house. The imagery includes woven pillows, brass hand bells, figurines, and a Mexican wall hanging. The drawings document Ora’s collection and my experience looking at it. Through observing the objects and making the drawings, I felt a connection to Ora and her life. I really enjoyed my time at Soaring Gardens. It was creatively productive and I am confident it helped me as an artist. Thank you for the time and space to grow.
Christin Farina is an emerging visual artist working in painting in the New York Metro Area. Farina obtained her BFA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and completed an MBA the following year. She can be found in her studio drawing, writing, painting, and reading most of the time.
Soaring Gardens Statement There is a harmony which plays in my head; I can still remember hearing it for the first time, calling out to me constantly since then. It performs like a nervous melody, one that tries to understand things as they happen, happened, and may become in the future. Sensitivity overtook my youth and ate me inside; I found myself unable to be put back together by “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.” Each day, I awake to find all the egg shells on the ground, and I’m trying to pick them up. This unsettled curiosity leads me down an emotional tight-rope, sticking my fingers and arms out straight as my feet move unsteadily across the line. I have visions of balance and stability meeting me on the other side.
Lesley Wamsley. Wing. Oil on panel. 2019.
Christin Farina. i hope the next thing you reflect doesnâ€™t always make you cry. Unfired porcelain, paper, ink, and mixed materials on panel. 2020. 31
Debbie Quick received her BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and her MFA from the School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University. She was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Service Award from VCUarts; an Artist in Residency from the Virginia Museum of Fine Art; a Residency at the Studios at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; a Monson Arts Residency; a Fiskars Residency; the inaugural Faculty Research Fellow in the Arts Research Institute at VCUarts; and was an F. Lammot Belin Arts Scholarship finalist three times. Her work has been shown regionally and internationally, including Tasmeem as part of the Tasmeem conference in Doha, Qatar. Recently, she had two solo exhibitions, Remnant Accumulation at Sediment Gallery, and Errant in the Up Front Gallery at ArtSpace.
Soaring Gardens Statement Over the past four years, the two Soaring Gardens residencies I have received helped nurture a healthier balance between my creative practice, work, and life. Having grown up in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains, spending time in mountains feels like coming home. My creative practice has developed from researching identity, much of which is tethered to the deep valley communities surrounded by mountains. The Soaring Gardens residency provided unencumbered time within a rural location to delve into this research. Having worked in similar residencies at the Studios of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and Monson Arts, I know the sense of being surrounded by familiar geography fuels the connection to the material I am researching. The other aspect of this residency which generated a lot of studio work was the intimate community that is cultivated by sharing precious time with fellow artists across disciplines. The conversations and impromptu critiques have helped my practice evolve.
Ben Cowan was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from Indiana University. Cowan held a residency in Umbria, Italy, that deeply influenced his paintings. Since then, the landscape and character of his surroundings have remained the energizing force in his work. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work captures the familiar sights of his neighborhood using cropped, collaged and simplified vistas to create a concentrated experience that refers to both the interpersonal and the supernatural. Cowan’s work has been shown in solo and group shows throughout the United States including New York City’s W83 Gallery. He has been featured in Manifest Gallery’s International Painting Annual, Fresh Paint Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and was mentioned in Vice Magazine’s Creators Project. Cowan’s work is in private and public collections including the Ann Arbor District Library; the Chicago Racquet Club; and the Renwick Hotel and Moxy Downtown Hotel in New York City.
Soaring Gardens Statement In the summer of 2017 Soaring Gardens provided me with a welcomed respite from the pressures of New York City and personal life. Surrounded by beautiful landscape, with no people or distractions, and perfect landscape painting weather I binged plein air painting. In a short week I was able to produce over 30 paintings in various locations around the area of Soaring Gardens. I returned to New York with a renewed mental clarity, an energy and focus to tackle my studio work, and a sense of great accomplishment.
Debbie Quick. Vicious Cycle. Glass seed beads and porcelain. 2019.
Ben Cowan. Red and Yellow, Black and White. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 2018.
Suzanne Stroebe was born in San Francisco, California and raised in the coastal forests just north of the city. Finding inspiration in medieval armor and ritual objects from around the world, she investigates fashion, fiction, and feminist pop-culture heroines in her mixed-media sculptures, drawings, and installations. Suzanne received an MFA in Fine Arts from Parsons, the New School, and a BA in Drawing and Painting from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work has been exhibited in galleries, museums, and alternative spaces in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Canada, Europe, and Turkey. She has attended artist residencies in Pennsylvania, Martha’s Vineyard, New York, California, and Mexico. She is the recipient of the Ellen Hoffman Memorial Fund, a Puffin Foundation Artist Grant, Artist Scholarships from Urban Glass and the Openings Collective, and was named a Distinguished Alumni by the UC Santa Cruz Fine Arts Department.
Soaring Gardens Statement I spent a month at the Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat in the Summer of 2014 with four other artists. I was surprised and delighted by the beauty of the grounds of the residency, and the landscape surrounding it. My time there was both extremely productive and intensely peaceful. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to curate our own residency. We did not all know each other very closely, but became like family by the end of the month and remain so. The living spaces as well as the beautiful studio gave us each enough room to spread out, create, find quiet corners to read, meditate, exercise, play, and explore, while still feeling very much a part of the little community we had created. Collaborations and casual check-ins and studio visits naturally occurred, helping me to deepen and focus my practice. I am very thankful for my time in Laceyville.
Bethany Johnson is an artist currently living in Austin, Texas. Johnson received her BA in Studio Art from Kalamazoo College and an MFA in Painting from the University of Texas, Austin. Her work is represented by Moody Gallery in Houston, and has been featured in New American Paintings, Hyperallergic, and the Huffington Post, among others. Johnson has held residencies at the Vermont Studio Center; Denkmalschmiede Höfgen in Grimma, Germany; and the Institut für Alles Mögliche in Berlin. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design at Texas State University, San Marcos.
Soaring Gardens Statement It’s hard to believe it’s been over six years since I spent a lovely September working in the gorgeous studio at Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. It’s interesting to discover how time and memory can expand and collapse. Years of routine life at home can, when remembered later, feel like an instant; repetitious days can easily fall into a concentrated memory of a single day. Conversely, one of the most precious qualities that I’ve found about artist residencies is how full, broad, and expansive the time feels, and how the memories of the time spent there are correspondingly abundant. My time at Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat was no exception. Not only did I come away from my time spent there with a great deal of artwork complete, but with a rich set of creatively inspiring and personally warming memories. The memories include those of taking meditative walks through the nearby forests and through the fields of the twenty-three acre property; drinking coffee on the back porch, still enveloped in the cool morning fog; making inspiring discoveries in the home library; and enjoying visits by deer, groundhogs, and various birds who offered welcome punctuation to my work in the studio. My work and life are dramatically enriched and improved by my several experiences at artist residencies, and my experience at Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat was one of the most serene, reflective, and grounding I’ve ever experienced, not to mention productive. I’m immensely thankful that Soaring Gardens exists, and for the opportunity to be one of the many artists to enjoy the magical space.
Suzanne Stroebe. Dark Side of a New Moon. Wood, papier mĂ˘chĂŠ, paper clay, cardboard, wire, string, acrylic paint, ink, indigo dye, and charcoal. 2019.
Bethany Johnson. We Live on a Planet: MC 125. Collage on paper. 2019.
Yuliya Lanina is a multimedia artist located in Austin, Texas, whose work ranges from paintings and robotic sculptures to video installation and performance. She creates alternate realities in her works based on sexuality, femininity, fetishism, and identity. She has performed and exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including the South by Southwest Conference and Festival; Seoul Art Museum, SIGGRAPH Asia; 798 Beijing Biennial; Cleveland Institute of Art; Museum Ludwig; Creative Tech Week; Blanton Museum of Art; Fusebox Festival; and Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Laninaâ€™s honors include fellowships and scholarships from the Headlands Art Center; Yaddo Colony; Marble House Project; New York Studio Gallery; Puffin Foundation Grant; I-Park, CORE Cultural Funding Program; ArtSprinter; TEMPO; and Award of Excellence in the Manhattan Arts International Competition. She is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies at The University of Texas, Austin.
Soaring Gardens Statement Having the four full weeks entirely devoted to my artistic practice enabled me to focus deeply on my projects and to bring them to fruition. I also had the opportunity to work next to my dear friend and an amazing artist, Karen Marston, whose work I admire and whose opinions I value greatly and I met other amazing artists with whom I still keep in touch. I cherish greatly my time spent at the residency and very much appreciate having this opportunity!
Megan Mosholder is an artist who operates in the real-world setting of the social-political landscape through site-responsive, sculptural installations. With the creation of three-dimensional drawings often enhanced by light, Mosholder emphasizes obscured elements within recognizable objects and correlates the symbolic with lived experience. She is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, and has received numerous awards from institutions such as the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Her diverse exhibition history includes an installation in Sydney, Australia, a body of site-specific work that speaks of the lasting impression a fully immersive, multi-sensory artwork can leave on a viewer. Mosholder currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is a Professor at Kennesaw State University.
Soaring Gardens Statement My time at Soaring Gardens was amazing. It was exactly what I needed at the time. I was preparing for my installation, Haven at the Arts, Letters and Numbers residency in upstate New York and I was overwhelmed with fear. I had a very small amount of time to build a gazebo structure from scratch, something I had never attempted. The solitude of the Soaring Gardens residency allowed me the time and space to build multiple models and figure out a strong plan of action. I am so grateful for my time there, thank you
Yuliya Lanina. Sister Alenushka and Brother Ivanushka. Mechanical music box, wood, metal, acrylic paint, and ceramics. 2016.
Megan Mosholder. LuĂ na GrĂŠine (Window of a Sunset). Hand-painted string illuminated with black light. 2016.
Miggy Torres. On the Fractured Identity of the Millennial and the New Hierophanies Therein. Musical composition. 2017.
Miggy Torres is a composer and interdisciplinary artist. A musical omnivore, he regularly enjoys composing for as many media as possible, and constantly seeks to express himself in new and challenging ways. The result has been an artistic style that often transcends various media, including music, theatre, film, interactive media, and performance art, with the ultimate goal of immersing the audience in parallel realities, florescent mythologies, and transformative aesthetic experiences. Recent interests include augmented reality; sociological explorations of Millennial culture and identity; works generated by specific physical interactions between performer and instrument; rendering electroacoustic processes with non-electronic means; degradation of memory; and contrapuntal relationships between sound, video, and theatre. Originally from South Windsor, Connecticut, Torres holds degrees from Indiana University, Bloomington, and Ithaca College. He completed additional summer studies at IRCAM, Paris. He also loves writing and keeps an active blog on aesthetics and other fun topics.
Soaring Gardens Statement I attended Soaring Gardens in the Summer of 2017 in collaboration with Justine Stephens, Flutist and Improviser. Over the course of two weeks, we worked together to create a new work for solo amplified bass flute. Throughout the residency, not only were Justine and I able to bounce ideas off one another as the piece came into being, but Justine ended up essentially teaching me how to play bass flute (or, perhaps more accurately, how to play sounds on the bass flute). The resulting piece, Nineteen Images of Breath and Space, was informed by this intimate knowledge of specific fingerings and breathing techniques â€” physical interactions between player and instrument. Due to the amount of time and patience necessary to internalize these nuances of physicality, including what they mean for an experienced player such as Justine, our residency at Soaring Gardens was extremely precious and vital to the creation of the work which has now received several public performances in New York City. More than simply enabling the successful production of a new work, Soaring Gardens holds a special place in my heart for how valued it made me feel as an artist. To have been given the time and space to focus and create in the bucolic environs of rural Pennsylvania was, and continues to be, extremely validating of the work I do. It is with a deep sense of peace and gratitude that I look back on those two weeks, within which, in temporal flux of memory, an entire summer seemed to have rushed by. In the words of Dylan Thomas:
And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home, In the sun that is young once only, Time let me play and be Golden in the mercy of his means.
I hope to be able to return to Soaring Gardens when my schedule permits!
Jonathan Graybill. Tsigiliâ€™i: Black-Capped Chickadee. Musical composition. 2016.
Jonathan Graybill garners his influences from nature, field recordings, history, and the legends and stories of the indigenous people of North America in his music. Currently, Graybill is invested in an ongoing project, the Ancient Language of Birds, which consists of a series of works that pair a solo instrument with field recordings of the songs and calls of single avian species from North America. The pieces explore the hidden languages buried deep within these songs. The birds are connected with stories of Native Americans origin, exploring the cultural meanings and early names of these birds. In the past year, Graybill has been increasingly exploring electronic inspired music. His music is recorded on Ablaze and Navona Records.
Soaring Gardens Statement It has been almost two years now since spending a few weeks at Soaring Gardens, and it was a few weeks I wish I could have again. I occupied the Church facility, and beside the family of raccoons living in the steeple, the long free days provided the ample time in quiet solitude that allowed me to invest all my thoughts toward creative endeavors without interruption. I had brought a small music studio along with me, and the ample space upstairs at the Church was just a wonderful place to lay everything out to work. Soaring Gardens was also just great air and silence that this city dweller needed to focus on his work!
Jessica Pavone. Lull: Indolent, Holt, Ingot, Midmost. Musical composition. 2019-2020.
Upon completion of formal study, multi-instrumentalist and composer Jessica Pavone, whose earliest training was primarily in classical music, began exploring other avenues for creative musical expression. As noted by Steve Smith in the National Sawdust Log, “Pavone…has made a career of redefining the possibilities for her instrument.” She received a BA from The Hartt School of Music and an MA in Music Composition from The Brooklyn College Conservatory. As both an instrumentalist and composer, she explores tactile experience in her compositions and performances. This is most notable in her solo viola music, where she performs indeterminate pieces that stem from years of concentrated long tone practice, her interest in repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration. Pavone began composing for and performing with the J. Pavone String Ensemble in 2017. The ensemble has presented new works at ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn, Firehouse12 in New Haven, and the Graham Foundation in Chicago. In 2019, Birdwatcher Records released their debut album, Brick and Mortar, to critical acclaim from publications such as The Wire, The New Yorker, and the San Francisco Classical Voice. Writing for Bandcamp Daily, Peter Margasak hailed Brick and Mortar as “the most assured, bracing work of Pavone’s career.” As an instrumentalist, she has interpreted music by Elliott Sharp, William Parker, Glenn Branca, Henry Threadgill, Matana Roberts, and Tyondai Braxton. From 2005 to 2012, Pavone toured regularly with AnthoNew York, Braxton’s Sextet, and 12+1tet, and appears on a dozen of his recent recordings. Pavone has received grants and commissions from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, New Music USA, The Jerome Foundation, The Tri-Centric Foundation, and Experiments in Opera. She was composer in residence at Soaring Gardens, and the UCross Foundation. She has premiered new work in venues in New York City such as Roulette Intermedium, Abrons Art Center, and The Kitchen.
Soaring Gardens Statement The church where I stayed was organized with the studio upstairs and the living quarters down making it very convenient to move between the two while maintaining a separation of work and life. I often chose to keep the windows open while working upstairs, enjoying a refreshing cool cross-breeze and abundance of natural light due to the multitude of windows throughout the studio and pleasant views of rolling farmland. Because I was there in late September, the reflection of the setting sun which very uniquely reflected an orange light, began at the start of dusk between 6:00 to 6:30. That was when I scheduled my dinners on the porch which were followed shortly after by a nightly show of dancing beavers, deer, and chipmunks. I appreciated the mental space and clarity this residency facilitated for me to focus solely on my music discipline which is virtually impossible while in the bustle of my everyday life in New York City.
W r i ting
Will Cordeiro is the 2019 winner of the Able Muse Book Award for Trap Street. His creative work is published or forthcoming in Agni, Best New Poets, the Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, DIAGRAM, Poetry Northwest, Salamander, Sycamore Review, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Will coedits the small press Eggtooth Editions and is grateful for a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, a scholarship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and a Truman Capote Writer’s Fellowship, as well as residencies from ART 342, Blue Mountain Center, Ora Lerman Trust, and Petrified Forest National Park. Cordeiro was a cofounder of Brooklyn Playwrights Collective and is working on a commission for a play, Route 66 to the Grand Canyon, scheduled for production at Theatrikos Theater in 2020. He received his MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University and teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University. Currently, he lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Soaring Gardens Statement I was fortunate to receive a residency at Soaring Gardens in the summer of 2011 at a precarious time in my career as a writer, a few years after I completed my MFA. While no longer a student any more, I also had not acquired the extensive resume and body of work of more established writers. I am grateful for the Ora Lerman Trust in selecting me since my time in the quiet countryside at the Church near rural Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, proved pivotal to my artistic practice. I wrote scads of poems, stories, and other pieces on the cozy porch that summer while observing the woodchuck on the lawn, during breaks between badminton games, or after rambling the nearby pondsides. Many of these images found their way into my work, as you can see from the poems I’ve selected for this exhibition, which all had their genesis during the residency. My experience at Soaring Gardens changed me in other ways, too: the fracking towers in the surrounding area fascinated me, giving my work a persistently more political turn. After living in New York City several years, the residency prompted me to reexamine the rural culture of Appalachia that in many ways resembled my own rural hometown in southern Delaware. Later, these concerns would lead me to study eighteenth-century pastoral poems for my doctoral dissertation, as I realized the sophistication of neglected pastoral works which reveal similar social tensions among rapidly changing rural communities. My own poetry, as well, took a cue from the pastoral tradition; in fact, the poems I wrote at Soaring Gardens are among the earliest pieces in my forthcoming first book, focused largely on rural American landscapes. Memories of Soaring Gardens keep returning — the testy bull I encountered on a run to the end of a dirt road, the tiny gravesite I discovered in the woods, the sunlit ferns along the Endless Mountains trail. That summer was a truly idyllic and transformative experience, and I am deeply thankful for the opportunity. My brief time at the residency continues to influence the work I engage in today.
Fractures Not far off the farm, we stumble a truck track smack into fracking: scumble and klieg lights. No fence or barbed wire, bare zone of a work site, hilltop and dirt bed, gravel and warnings — baggage that towers the river. Lines of porta-potties under a big god -forsaken rigged-out and gaudy crane-looking thing. It’s a landmark for miles, without moratoriums here, pumping 24/7. Factions and splinter groups, senators, PACs, each send out their peoples to snapshoot and leer, to test or to protest drilling Marcellus shale. Hard-hatted, one gruff guy on his smoke break gives us the eye behind mirrored shades; hits a last puff, then reflects on the rushes that tussle our direction, by gutters where real estate swallows fat green frogs, shallow glades, steep grades of a meadow (lush choir of croaking); hushed nondisclosure for those undersigned. We’ve all seen this trick, you run a spigot—you figure it’s common tap water, but in it a lit match goes ka-boom and blooms into fire. Nights blazed with a beacon; days, we’ve noticed our cameras won’t work in the bulldozed path of its shadow. No info leaks out. You feed an unbroken horse baby’s breath and core of an apple. Later, turning for home, out of roaming, down dusty lanes “not approved for gas co. use,” by stables made over, trash fires unwatched, a retrofit plowshare landscaped as space-junk, men riding lawnmowers to bars, thunked mailboxes chunky as lard cans, yards sunk under car blocks, hole-fills, and rotor-tilled gardens; past pipelines and privet, the last sign on the block proclaims “free manure.” Will Cordeiro. Fractures. Poetry. Originally published in Requited and forthcoming in Trap Street. 2012. 45
Rindle As light sweeps spider-webs across a river near inchling minnows silvered in a school, the mottled shadow of a water-strider slides over pebbles in a shallow pool. One sliver, stunned — flushed fleck of stone or shade — makes each fish flinch, flash, shudder through a narrows, which shatters sparrows in a scattered braid. They marble up the surface into mirrors reflecting blackbirds rallied back in flocks as downward minnows flood, splintering arrays of arrows — rash of errant gullies over rocks, brushing clouds through rushes and fast splashed cascades.
Will Cordeiro. Rindle. Poetry. Originally published in The Free State Review. 2014.
Solstice I tend the coiled vines that climb the trellis — lines of snap beans, melons budding flowers; soil’s séance, rapt tendrils of embellishment. Each leaf now slowly turns light’s warmth to sugar, this day the sun tips into summer: I’ve dug into the wet pursed clay & felt my own soft furze & hunger, my earth-soughed hands & bellyfat— eager, burning, my fingers sunk into a furrow’s bed. Each grain’s small burrs, the loamy hooks all pull me under, the whole day’s work rough on my skin.
Will Cordeiro. Solstice. Poetry. Originally published in TheMacGuffin. 2018.
Coe has a novel, New Veronia, published by Clash Books in 2019, and stories published or forthcoming in Antioch Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Electric Literature, Five on the Fifth, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. Coe earned an MFA from Cornell University; co-edits the small press Eggtooth Editions; and has held residencies from Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Petrified Forest National Park, and Ora Lerman Trust.
Soaring Gardens Statement My residency at Ora Lerman Trust’s Soaring Gardens was incredibly productive for my writing: I wrote, took walks, wrote, petted goats, wrote, visited a vegetable stand, and wrote. The quaint Church surrounded by lush grass (in which a groundhog and a few bunnies had made their home) was a tranquil, pastoral setting for my thoughts. And yet, just a few miles away, giant fracking compounds — scraped land filled with noisy machinery and spotlights — were a direct contrast to the peaceful residency grounds. This contrast fascinated me: it inspired me to write a novella about fracking. I am grateful for the mental space that Ora Lerman provided me, and I will always fondly remember my time at the little white Church.
Frito Pie Throughout my childhood, my mother’s favorite pastime was to make bets concerning other kids in the neighborhood. She would bet on which girl would get pregnant first, or which little horndog would have knocked her up, or which siblings looked too different from each other to have come from the same dad. She made these bets with our upstairs neighbor, for casseroles. She hated to cook. Loathed the dingy, communal basement kitchen with its stink of fried bologna. And so she played to win. A casserole could feed our family of two for four days. “You know that Tristan?” she’d say to our neighbor, Marlou, when the two of them were sitting on our couch. “That Tristan, he has the devil in his pupil.” “He done took over the whole eye, is what I think,” Marlou would reply. That’s when I knew a bet was coming, and so I would start doodling in the margins of my homework, because when a bet was on its way, I couldn’t concentrate on a thing else. “I bet you,” my mother said, “that Tristan will be locked up before he turns of age.” Marlou sat there, calculating. Tristan was fourteen, the same age as me, and while I knew that he was mostly a good kid who took joy rides once in a while, I wasn’t sure if Marlou knew the same. “In fact,” my mother said, “I bet you he joins up with that gang his father was in before he went to jail.” Marlou bit the bait, and they hammered out the final parameters, then shook hard, the tops of their arms jiggling.
R What really hooked my interest in the bets was Frannie, who had been one of the first. My mother and Marlou bet that Frannie would die young. The both of them had agreed on this part; the contention was over how. My mother figured it would be from a man, and Marlou figured it would be from Frannie’s own carelessness. Once they’d built the rough frame of this bet, they took hours hashing out the details. “What if a man beats her to death because of her own carelessness?” Marlou said, tippling her wine. “Then who would win?”
“That would have to go to me,” my mother said. “If she crosses the street and forgets to look, that’s true carelessness, and goes to you.” The funny thing was, I figured they probably had it about fifty-fifty. Frannie made all her thick-necked boyfriends mad as hell, and she also set herself on fire about once a week by falling asleep with a lit cigarette. But what happened to Frannie in the end was a source of shock and awe for the whole neighborhood, and it caused months of fighting between my mother and Marlou. On the afternoon of Frannie’s nineteenth birthday, her boyfriend handed her a hundred dollars and told her to pick any present that she wanted. Apparently, Frannie had dreamed ever since she was a little kid of skydiving. Could you imagine? My dreams centered around the new animal doctor Barbie doll or a room of my own so my sleep wouldn’t be interrupted by my mother’s snores, while Frannie fantasized about falling through the sky. She took her boyfriend’s money over to the touristy place that set up these sorts of daredevil endeavors, and she watched a twelve-minute video that was supposed to prepare her. She practiced the position by laying on her belly and arching up her arms and legs, as if the wind were buffeting back her limbs, just the way it would happen when she was zooming through the air. Then they drove her out to a field, suited her up, and strapped her tight to the front of some man named Zane — it was the rules that first-time divers had to go quite literally with instructors — and they hobbled into the tiny plane. The plane puttered around a few miles outside of the city, away from the spiky buildings and hard concrete, and from somewhere up there Zane rolled the two of them out of the plane and they fell, and fell, and fell through the air. It was strange because, when the insurance company investigated, they found out that the problem hadn’t been the parachute at all. Zane hadn’t tried to touch it; if he’d pulled the lever, it would have deployed without issue, and they would have floated gently to earth. But for some reason, Zane had wanted to keep it neat and folded up, right where it was, strapped carefully to his back. Of course, these circumstances were cause for serious debate. “It was her own damn carelessness,” Marlou said, “that got her killed!” My mother shook her head firmly. “It was a man. A man! Zane Hedley, they called him. The — she wiggled her fingers in the air, making quotes — “instructor.” He was suicidal, depressed, all his coworkers said so. Didn’t you watch the news?” “What kind of person decides to go jumping out of planes in the first place? A careless one!” “If that man had pulled the lever, Frannie would be safe and sound and with us today.” “Here’s the thing.” The pocket of skin under Marlou’s chin trembled with excitement. “Frannie herself could have pulled the lever. She was strapped right there onto the front of him! She could have reached up her hot little hand and pulled it. They taught you how, I heard, right there in the training video, in case your instructor passed out or something.” “No.” My mother folded her arms across her chest, stubborn. “It was the instructor’s fault. Or, if you want to take it another step, her boyfriend’s for giving her the money in the first place.” Marlou did one of her big, martyr sighs. “That man was crazy, but she made her choice, her own careless choice, to jump.” “Maybe he held down her hands,” my mother said in a last-ditch effort. “Maybe he was so crazy that he held her tight by the wrists and shoved her hands down against her thighs and she couldn’t move, couldn’t do a thing, couldn’t touch the lever that would save her life, nothing.” I’d seen my father hold my mother’s hands in just that way, back when I’d been a little kid, before she and I had fled that two-bedroom apartment. He had loved her cooking. Every morning, he told her what to make, and if it wasn’t on his plate by night, he’d hold down her hands and ask what they — her hands — had been up to all day. “That’s something we’ll never know,” Marlou said. “That would have been between the two of them, and the two of them went splat.”
At the kitchen table, I was doodling. I added a splat to the bottom right corner of my math homework. I hated math. If two bodies weighing X fell from a height of Y, how quickly would they die? Frannie had landed first. She’d been the one to truly go splat, her body a meaty pillow for his. When I’d first heard the news of her death, I’d wondered if my mother and Marlou had somehow willed it, somehow forced the bet true. In the end, Marlou won. My mother had to bake her a huge casserole with ham and capers, both expensive ingredients. The deciding factor was that Frannie could have deployed the chute on her own: the lawyers went over and over that during their fight in the courts. No one could figure out why she hadn’t reached up and done so. For months after Frannie’s death, I had dreams about being strapped to the front of a stocky, muscular Zane. The two of us would float like dried leaves on a breeze down, down, down into a warm pool of water. This dream was vaguely erotic and not at all frightening. After it stopped, I wished that it would return; sometimes I’d bring a fall leaf into my bed to try and encourage it.
R Much of the time, it was hard for me to think of the neighborhood kids as kids, and not just the subjects of various bets. There was the chicken and rice casserole kid who broke her little sister’s nose, the shitake and beef cube kid who took PCP and jumped from a rooftop into the river because he thought he was a fish, the lasagna kid who stole cash from the corner store that exploded blue dye into his face and blinded his right eye. Even my first boyfriend, Tristan, was a bet, but because I was fifteen and wanted badly to try kissing, I overlooked this fact for as long as I could. When my mother caught us necking in the empty lot adjacent to our building that everyone referred to as a park, she shooed him away so that us girls could talk. “You know the boy is trouble,” she told me. “You remember what me and Marlou bet on for him?” I shook my head, even though I did remember; I even remembered the type of casserole — a frito pie. Sometimes it rankled me, that the bet for my boyfriend was such a simple dish. I could still feel Tristan’s spit coating my tongue. “That boy will join a gang and wind up in jail, and who wins the bet depends on which he does first.” I said, “But nothing like that has happened.” “Yet,” my mother said. “This bet here, it’s still outstanding. I’m riding on the gang — remember? It’s going to go one way or the other, you’ll see, and when it does, you’d best be out of its way.”
Some months later, when Tristan had me laid out across the backseat of his mother’s sedan, a bright, white
light bore through the black eye of the windshield. I clapped my arms across my chest in fear. The light swung around and up and there were several swift raps against the glass. “Police,” said a man’s voice, “open up.” “Oh shit, oh shit,” Tristan said as we both struggled to yank on our clothes. He opened the door first and tumbled out. I pressed myself into the corner, hoping they would forget about me, hoping this was not my first step into the long and treacherous slide of becoming the sort of kid my mother would make bets about. “Is this your car?” the officer said, and when Tristan said no, and also that no, he didn’t have permission to be in it, the officer turned him around and pressed his face up against the window across from me. His babyfat cheek flattened on the glass. Another officer arrived, lights flashing, and took me out of the car for questioning. My whole body felt disgusting and weak and bent on preservation, and I allowed my worst self to take over. “I didn’t want to be with him, doing that,”
I said. I would like to think it was the fear and anxiety of the moment, the overreaction of the cops, that made me lie so cruelly, but in reality, it was because I knew that Tristan was a lost cause. As soon as someone became a bet, they were doomed, and I wasn’t ready to doom myself along with him. “He forced you?” asked the officer. I nodded.
R In the end, Tristan was locked up, and I never got to speak with him again. If he disputed my account, the officers never asked me about it. He went to juvenile detention, which in the world of my mother’s bets was as good as jail. Tristan had stolen the keys to the car out of his mother’s purse — it turned out that the car actually belonged to her boss — and even though we hadn’t gone anywhere, it still, apparently, counted as theft. About the subject, my mother said, “You ruined the bet; you made me lose. It’s time you start seeing the consequences of your actions, so you bake that frito pie for Marlou.” As I crushed up the chips for the casserole, I mourned the loss of Tristan, which I had caused, maybe right from the beginning. I hadn’t ever actively participated in the bets, but I was always there, listening in, taking pleasure in the proceedings — I believed in the bets. The onion frying in the pan stung my eyes; I covered it with red, raw hamburger. Even if my mother never made another bet, the neighborhood was already full of outstanding wagers. Because once a bet was made, you had to wait for one side or the other to come true. I opened the oven and shoved in the pan, then took it out again and spit into the mound of shredded cheese and hot sauce, then put it back and watched through the tiny glass door as it all devilled together.
M.S. Coe. Frito Pie. Fiction. Originally published in The Nashville Review. 2019
A. Kendra Greene
A. Kendra Greene is a writer and artist who has worked at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Chicago History Museum, the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and the Dallas Museum of Art, where she was a writer in residence. She has an MFA in nonfiction and a graduate certificate in book arts from the University of Iowa and has received a Fulbright grant, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, and a Harvard Library Innovation Lab Fellowship. She lives in Dallas, Texas, where she is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Texas, a guest artist at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and an associate editor at Southwest Review. Her first book of essays and illustrations will be published by Penguin on May 12, 2020: The Museum of Whales You Will Never See: And Other Excursions to Iceland’s Most Unusual Museums.
Soaring Gardens Statement Soaring Gardens was my first residency, and I had the tremendously good fortune to share it with my friend and collaborator Lee Marchalonis. We had a standing 10 am meeting in the backyard to discuss what we had figured out the day before, what we were currently thinking about and grappling with, and our goals for the day. Then she went to her studio to sketch, and I went up to the peaked roof of the writer’s studio to work out an essay about the theft of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. I remember my writing group impressed that the final essay was a leap forward. “Is that what happens when you go to a residency?” they asked. Lee taught me that mushrooms sauté best in a pan of half oil, half butter, and that a fried egg beautifully completes a meal of rice and vegetables. Occasionally we went to visit the poet alone at the other location, alone except for the passel of goats who had the run of small playground on the other side of the fence. I was impressed Paul sometimes led a study abroad trip on Walking and Writing. It still sounds terribly dreamy to me. It was the month I became an aunt. It was the summer “Call Me Maybe” was big on the radio, and even Sesame Street had made a parody video with Cookie Monster: “Share It Maybe.” I got in the habit of taking long evening walks, often catching a sunset, and soon came to prefer the scenery afforded if I turned right from the house instead of left. It was on the road going left where was an afternoon I was walking back up the hill and met a young bear crossing the road. I remember Lee was unimpressed by the encounter, though it left quite the impression on me. I know we went swimming in two different ponds.
Lilja collects me from the airport bus under a gray morning sky and, swinging my bag into her little silver car, asks if I got her message not to worry about the volcano. “Because you shouldn’t, and it won’t affect your trip, and these things happen all the time.” The whole trans-Atlantic approach from Boston to Reykjavík takes less than five hours, which is scarcely time enough to fall asleep or start a third in-flight movie or convince yourself of the proper pronunciation of every unfamiliar letter in the Icelandic alphabet — eth and thorn, especially — but it is apparently long enough to board an airplane and cross half an ocean without having any idea you are aimed straight at a sudden increase in seismic activity. Not that it should be surprising. Just the forty-five minutes from the international airport to the bus terminal downtown is a misty drive through old lava fields and venting hot springs, a gradual accumulation of houses and buildings tracing the ocean’s edge of an island straddling two tectonic plates — an island that rose up from these waters in the first place precisely because of those plates, their penchant to slip and grind and spill their molten heart. Lilja says, “Don’t worry about the volcano,” and in the same breath begins to describe the possibility of ash clouds and gas masks and helicopters plucking hikers from the mountains because there’s no better way to alert them that they may be in mortal peril. She pulls up the national weather service’s website, teaches me to toggle from the outline of Iceland annotated with the forecast of rain, to the one predicting the visibility of the northern lights, to the dots and stars mapping a string of tiny
earthquakes, every shift and shock detected for the last seventy-two hours. Mostly, on the map, they register not much more than a 3.0 on the Richter scale. I grew up along another shoreline, in California, and the freckling map prompts a certain kind of nostalgia, a tenderness for these almost imperceptible events. I am to keep vigil, Lilja says. I am to refresh and refresh and refresh the map. It doesn’t matter that they are tiny, doesn’t matter that they are all but obscure. I am to watch whether the number of tremors waxes or wanes. I am to notice how their alignment is not random, every one of them a sign. I am to witness: Their accumulation, in fact, articulates the frontiers of fault line and fissure we cannot otherwise see. It describes those underpinnings shaping everything else. And, though we may tremble, it points us ever toward what may just happen next. The ridgelines here are black rock or lupine laced, perhaps dotted with sheep, if not dusted with snow. Where there is shoreline enough I pick up sea glass and shards of china, walk past feathers and sometimes bones. I have come, I think it is right to say, because of the borders of this place. Because not just here but always, something happens at the edges. I have come for the perimeter of territory staked out under the name “museum.” Because for all the museums I have worked for or volunteered at or interned with, for all the continents where I have been the museum visitor, I have never known a place where the boundaries between private collection and public museum are so profoundly permeable, so permissive, so easily transgressed and so transparent as if almost not to exist. “So maybe don’t make plans until we know if the lava is melting the glacial ice, if the flood of all that water unbound will close the northern roads or the southern roads or, who knows — it’s happened — both.” They say that if you’re baptized wrong, if the holy water does not wash over your eye, you may retain another sight, may see the elves even when they do not choose to reveal themselves to you. And I feel something of that old story here, that I have been given a glimpse of something extraordinary, hidden though it was there the whole time, interwoven amid everything else we see or know or put in our pockets or hold in our hands. Sometime later, in the calm of a museum café, I will be chatting with a family visiting from my homeland, and I will tell them how the local museum-studies professor puts the count at 265 museums and public collections in this country of 330,000 people, how that alone would be astonishing — but remember almost all these places have been established in the last twenty years, like seeds dormant forever and then triggered at last by some great fire, some sharp snap of frost, to finally take root and bloom. Amazing, they agree, though they sit there in the museum café, sipping their coffees, never leaving the antechamber for the exhibits within. Outside, the mist collects and recedes, gathers up and blows through, the world beyond the museum’s glass wall always there but veiled, disintegrating, fading in and out of perception’s reach. “And anyway it doesn’t have to flood; it could spew ash. Maybe the crops die, maybe the sheep are poisoned, maybe you breathe through a washcloth and famine sparks the French Revolution.” These are old forces. The magma and the tremors. The famine and the want. The way we love rocks and birds and old boats and brass rings, and the way we survive this world because of the stories we fashion from its shards. We do not just keep and collect things, amass and restore them. We trouble ourselves to repurpose, create, and invent things just to carry, a little easier, those stories we cannot live without. Enchantments and mysteries and monsters and — the woman on the cusp of transformation searching for her sealskin so she can return home, become again what she was before — this is what we have always held on to, this is how we lash ourselves to the mast. These are old forces — irresistible, shaping the world anew.
A. Kendra Greene. Arrival. Excerpt from The Museum of Whales You Will Never See. Nonfiction. Originally published by Penguin Books. 2020.
The Ora Lerman Charitable Trust Trustees: Margaret Mathews-Berenson, President Ann Sutherland Harris, Vice President David Ostwald, Treasurer Ilene Sunshine, Secretary Rachel Selekmans Board Members: Gail Shaw-Clemons William Tersteeg Robert Zakanitch
Soaring Gardens Artistsâ€™ Residency Program Soaring Gardens, a residency program for professional visual artists, writers and musicians, provides studio space in a peaceful rural setting in northeastern Pennsylvania from May through September. Each year ten to fifteen residents enjoy the solitude of this twenty-three acre retreat in Laceyville, Pennsylvania, established in memory of Ora Lerman (1938-1998), an acclaimed artist, who made this her summer home for thirty years. Over the past dozen years Soaring Gardens has hosted over 100 artists-in-residence, who during three- to six- week residencies, have worked independently or collaboratively to develop new ideas, pursue new projects, and advance their careers. The retreat consists of two facilities: a four-bedroom nineteenth-century farmhouse with an adjacent modern annex with two separate studios; and a country church with living quarters and two working spaces. The professionally maintained grounds, inspired by Ora Lermanâ€™s residency at Giverny, include perennial flowerbeds, a grand alle and a manmade pond. Applicants must have been actively working with at least two years of professional experience since graduation. The House at Soaring Gardens can accommodate up to three working artists; the Church, one or two artists. Since the residents will be living closely together, group applications, in any combination of artistic disciplines, are welcome, although judges reserve the right to select or reject individual members of any group. There are no fees, but residents must provide their own food and transportation. A car is necessary. Length of residencies can vary depending on scheduling although four to six weeks is now standard. For further information about the application process and about the residency facility and services, go to lermantrust.org.
Index of Soaring Gardens Residency Artists Coe, M.S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Lamb, Kirstin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Cohen, Brian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Lanina, Yuliya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Colaizzo, Matthew . . . . . . . . . . 28
Mosholder, Megan . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Cordeiro, Will . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
Pavone, Jessica . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Cowan, Ben . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Quick, Debbie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Crimmins, Jaynie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Spencer, Lori . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Dervis, Dariana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Stroebe, Suzanne . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Farina, Christin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Tersteeg, Nathan . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Fuhrman, Sarah . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Torres, Miggy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Graybill, Jonathan . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Treacy, Erin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Greene, A. Kendra . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Yarrow, Wynn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Godwin, Michele . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Pipkin, Everest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Johnson, Bethany . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Wamsley, Lesley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Darlene Miller-Lanning. Stone Wall and Studio. Soaring Gardens Artists Retreat. Digital photograph. 2020.
Dedicated to our Founder Ora Lerman (1938-1998)