Art//Sky: May 20, 2020
We (Always) Need Artists
Greetings friends and colleagues,

I’ve been living on the Artists’ Ranch for the better part of a year now, and I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of having an inside view of life around the ranch on this coastal prairie in the redwoods.

This is a place of ephemeral delight.

Every day, there’s a thing or two that I catch at just the right moment - a writer celebrating the completion of a draft, a bobcat prowling through a meadow, the staff learning of a grant awarded or a check in the mail, a hawk entirely still in the wind, a composer getting a commission, the announcement of a prize nomination, new blooms dancing across the hillside, a beautiful dinner prepared by Dan Tosh - to make me especially grateful for this work.

But despite those fleeting joys, for me Djerassi Resident Artists Program represents resolute solidity - in support of artists and in support of a belief that one of the great ways to support artists is by honoring them with time and space in a beautiful place, uninterrupted.

And so it has been particularly gratifying to be here these last few months as five artists from Session 1 continued to shelter-in-place with us beyond their previously scheduled departures. Seeing those artists - Rodney Sharman, Sabeen Omar, Winter Miller, April Sellers, and Erin Bregman - at work and in reflection in these difficult heady months has been a total affirmation to me of what the Djerassi Program does.

It is easier to leave the words to them:

  • April Sellers said that continuing to operate during these days demonstrates “a deep-seated knowledge that the best investment is giving artists time and space to practice, reflect and generate the questions that will guide our future realities."

  • Winter Miller wrote: “What the Djerassi Program has given to me in this time is safety, sanity, and the freedom to dream new work."

  • Erin Bregman reported that she could “finish a rewrite of a piece that would have taken me 7 or 8 months otherwise." She also indicated that being here during the pandemic allowed her to return to her arts organization (Little Opera in San Francisco) with “a calm and collected mental state, [which] has been a huge asset to the whole organization.”

  • Sabeen Omar says that she wouldn’t have been able to get much done back home in Sri Lanka in the midst of COVID-19, but “being at the Djerassi Program helped me slow down. Knowing the world was closed and I was in an art making haven helped me really, really slow down.”

The world that this pandemic has introduced to us felt unthinkable just months ago, and the world that will eventually emerge from the shadow of this virus is equally hard to imagine. It is clear by now that we are entering a hard time for many out of work, distracted, and demoralized artists. Artists fill many roles in our culture - artists provide lenses of understanding, they inspire, they heal, and their work transforms our world.

And so both today and in the days to come, we need artists. We need artists to be valued and honored and given the time and space to be inspired and to heal and to create new work. And so it brings me immense pride to be here now, in the midst of the pandemic, working with our resilient staff and board to adapt to the times and to ready the Djerassi Resident Artists Program for continued responsible operation in the months to come.

Care & respect,

Peter Bradley
Deputy Director of Programs
Sandra Jackson-Opoku (Djerassi 2019) received an inaugural Esteemed Artist Award in Literary Arts from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events! Learn more
Rodney Sharman (Djerassi 2020) was featured in a "meet the composer" video by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, which was filmed right from the composer's studio at Djerassi. See the video 
Camille Dungy (Djerassi 2014) and Djerassi Past Trustee Robert Hass each had a book of their poems featured in a recent article on Book Marks. Read the article
Julia Bradshaw (Djerassi 2018) was awarded a 2020 Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission - as a direct result of artwork that she started working on during her residency at Djerassi, no less! Learn more
Dusan Tynek (Djerassi 2016) celebrated the start of Spring by sharing a video of Dusan Tynek Dance Theater's "Romenesco Suite." Watch the video
Philip Boehm (Djerassi 2004, 2010) is officially the winner of the 2020 Helen & Kurt Wolff Prize. We mentioned in our prior newsletter that he made the shortlist for the award, and now the results are in! Read more
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Celebrating 2,500 Artists
Image by Andrew Jones
This week, we've been sharing the stories and work of the artists who sheltered with us during the past two months. Thank you to Djerassi Program Vice-Chair Jeffrey Gerson, Melissa Wagner, Kiefer Hickman, Andrew Jones, and other members of our Social Media Task Force for devoting their time and energy on this social media feature. And of course, thank you to the five artists who allowed us to feature them! Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages to hear their stories.
The Hi(gh) Sign

by Melissa Gould (Djerassi 2002)
"I noticed that the post remnants of an old cattle fence/gate seemed to spell out the word 'Hi.' Using this existing ruin as the basis for my 'found' sculpture, I dotted the i of a vertical post ..." Read More
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