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e-SitkaLetter, March 2008:
from Sitka Center for Art and Ecology


  • Notes From The Director
  • What Are the Current Residents Creating?
  • Spring Fever? Come to Sitka!
  • Call for Applications: Summer 2008 Internship
  • Call for Proposals: Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 Residency Program
  • 2008 Workshop Program Registration

Notes From The Director

As you drive up the long curving road to the Sitka Center, two of Cascade Head Ranch's pole houses sit prominently on the hillside looking down at the ocean. The smaller one to the left is John Soelling's house and I have had the privilege of living in this house for the last two months while I search for a home of my own.

The house has a character worthy of its own novel. Six sturdy wooden poles rise up from the ground to the rafters and define the spaces within the house. Creaky baseboard electric heaters supplement the old wood stove and the tall windows let you gaze with wonder at the pounding surf of the ocean as it meets the mouth of the Salmon River. These original pole houses (as well as the Boyden Studio) were designed by Bill Church, and they offer a rustic charm that suits this place. Some say the art of architecture is creating a space that seems natural to its location. These houses seem to have grown from the hillsides on which they sit. They are true to themselves.

Living so close to the ocean provides a unique opportunity to experience the power and beauty of nature. Winter storms buffet this house with winds that literally shake the walls and send chilling whistles reaching through the rafters. I have been grateful for my down-filled comforter on these evenings. At the end of January, I awoke to a cloudless evening sky with a full moon shining boldly down through the windows and a reflection on the ocean that made me ache for the ability to capture it. When our classes start this spring, I will be sitting with our students, hoping to learn how to paint, or carve, or write a poem to that brilliant moon.

Buildings are on my mind these days because Sitka is in the process of remodeling a few of its own. Years of coastal weather have taken their toll on the rooftops and windows of our studios. Combined with a need for two additional residences and some environmental upgrades, we are working on a comprehensive expansion and renovation plan that will cost a bit over $1 million but seeks to maintain the charm and character that so many of you know and love. When complete, we will have a campus that should be able to serve us well for generations to come while staying true to the essence that defines what Sitka is.

As I have made the 120 yard walk each morning from the Soelling house to the Sitka Center, it still humbles me to think that Cascade Head Ranch and the Sitka Center exist because of forward thinking individuals with visions of creating a better way to live and work and create with nature. Nearly 400 people invested in that dream last year, encouraging us to take it forward into the future. We are working hard to provide a cultural and ecological return on that investment. When we succeed, we will all realize the dream of creating a place on the edge of the sea where we can come to learn and love and find the joy of our creative selves.

Warm Wishes,

Eric Vines
Executive Director

What Are the Current Residents Creating?

Come meet the residents and learn more about their creative work during the Spring Resident Open House at the Sitka Center on March 15, 2008 from 1-5 p.m.

Three residents have been living and working at the Sitka Center since February 1 and will be here until March 26; Carol Gigliotti of Vancouver, B.C.; Chris Headley of Melbourne, Australia; and Patricia Wheeler of Deer Isle, Maine.

Patricia Wheeler is working towards completing an ongoing multi-media piece, which combines painting and videography. On Day 12 of her residency Patricia wrote in her journal, "I am trying to get a hold on what direction to go with Kathy Kelly's video portrait and song. it is about the song of life, balance brought to war by the feminine. use the strongest visuals of Kathy in Baghdad with the Iraqi People. some slow motion action of soldiers and tanks."

Chris Headley has been working on three projects during his Sitka residency, each of which, in one way or another, engages with the natural environment of this very special place. There are some clay objects emerging out of plaster moulds, some hand-built ceramic forms responding to the surrounding landscape, and an on-going photography of sited works.

Carol Gigliotti has been working on several things while here at Sitka. The larger project is her book, whose working title is "Wildness and Technology: creativity and animal life." Specifically she has been working on the first chapter on wildness in which she is attempting to reexamine scientific and cultural concepts of wildness and wilderness for deeper understandings of the free, self-willed, self-replicating wild agency of which the world is made.

The Sitka Center's Residency Program has provided more than 180 artists, writers, musicians, and natural science scholars the opportunity to conduct their work while deeply engaging with the inspirational Oregon coastal environment of Cascade Head. Up to four residents at a time, usually from different disciplines and stages in their careers, live and work on campus for one to four months free of charge. The Residency Program fosters cross-disciplinary creative and intellectual work for residents individually and collectively. Sitka's residents, many of whom are internationally respected and prize-winning, share their work with the local community through presentations, workshops, and service projects.


Spring Fever? Come to Sitka!

This spring awake from your hibernation with an exciting workshop at the Sitka Center. Patricia Wheeler, a current Sitka Center artist-in-residence, will be teaching "Painting Archaeology: The Abstract Painting of Place" on March 21-24, 2008. Using the concept of palimpsest, where remnants of earlier, imperfectly erased markings and language are revealed, participants will explore texture, color, and surface to create abstract paintings of place. As we build and excavate, stencil and cut, we begin to understand the layering and distressed surfaces of ancient sites. This class has been cancelled due to an illness in the instructor's family. Please call 541-994-5485 for more details if you have signed up for this class.

On April 19-20, the Sitka Center is pleased to offer our third annual Lois McClelland Memorial workshop, "Calligraphic Interpretation of Text" led by instructor Margot Thompson. The Lois McClelland Sustaining Fund was established in 2004 to honor the life and work of former Sitka Center calligraphy instructor Lois McClelland. The fund ensures ongoing yearly workshops in calligraphy at the Sitka Center. In the "Calligraphic Interpretation of Text" workshop, participants will develop a design strategy for interpretation of original writings and quotations. We will examine the core question: which alphabet best supports the meaning of a written passage while still allowing the calligrapher to employ a distinctive personal style? Participants will survey differing points of view and do a series of exercises that promote this formative phase. On Saturday, the class will join Kim Stafford's writing workshop "Your Dao at Sitka" for a tea-time discussion. Margot Thompson is a calligrapher, painter, printmaker, and the designer of the Sitka Center logo. Margot is represented by the Laura Russo Gallery in Portland, Oregon. To Register

On April 19-20, 2008 beloved Sitka Center writing instructor, Kim Stafford, will be teaching a workshop titled "Your Dao at Sitka." Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute in Portland, and author of a dozen books of poetry and prose. In addition to Sitka, Kim has taught writing workshops at the annual Fishtrap Writers Gathering, and colleges and literary centers in Oregon and abroad. In "Your Dao at Sitka" we'll explore the story of Lao Tzu, who departing from the world, paused at Han Gu Pass to write the Tao Te Ching. In this wild place, he considered what he had learned, and wrote it deftly down. Our opportunity at Sitka will be to compose a little book of fragments drawn from close observation of the place we call Cascade Head, alternating with distilled moments of understanding from our journeys. On Saturday, the class will join Margot Thompson's calligraphy workshop for a tea-time discussion. To Register

Call for Applications: Summer 2008 Internship

Experience a summer at Sitka as the 2008 workshop program intern! From June through September, interns help the Sitka Center offer more than 80 hands-on workshop in a wide variety of topics including drawing, painting, sculpture, natural science, music, writing, and calligraphy. Courses offer one to five day intensive exploration for individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. The intern is provided with housing, a stipend, and the opportunity to participate in workshops. The application deadline is March 31st. more >>

Call for Proposals: Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 Residency Program

The deadline to apply for our Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 residencies is April 21st 2008. Artists, writers, and natural science scholars are encouraged to submit a proposal for a project that investigates the connection between art, nature, and humanity. Residents are provided with the space and support needed to conduct their research or execute creative work at the Sitka Center for one to four months free of charge. During their residency, residents are expected to share their gifts by performing community outreach and participating in the Resident Open House. We encourage applications from emerging, mid-career, and professionals on sabbatical. Join the legacy of the 180 artists, writers, and naturalists whose work has been profoundly impacted from their time in residence at the Sitka Center. more >>

2008 Workshop Program Registration

The 2008 workshop catalog was mailed mid-February. If you didn't receive it, please let us know. We are happy to send you another copy. The 2008 workshop program is also posted on Sitka's website at http://www.sitkacenter.org/2-0.html and a lot of people have been taking advantage of the opportunity to sign up online. Registration for 2008 Sitka workshops opened on March 3. Some of our most popular workshops have already filled up, so register soon to guarantee your place in those workshops that remain! If you are not already a member and wish to join at the same time as you register for a workshop, you may be able to qualify for a registration discount. View Workshops