A residency at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology provides recipients with picturesque housing, workspaces, a library, laundry facilities, a canoe and kayak, a supportive staff, as well as the luxury of time to delve into creative work.
All of this is within the awe-inspiring greater landscape of Central Oregon’s Cascade Head including ancient Sitka spruce trees, and towering vistas of haystack rocks, the Salmon River, and the Pacific Ocean.
I first heard about Sitka Center for Art and Ecology three years ago while I was teaching a mokuhanga workshop at Bend Art Center in Bend, Oregon. Sitka was highly recommended to me as a place to teach in the future. I investigated further and got super excited when I learned more about about their residencies.
In April 2018, via an online application, I applied for a 3.5-month-long residency that would take place in the fall. In total, there would be only a handful of residents selected for this time period. I made the first round in the selection process and was interviewed over the phone. After my interview was over, I wasn’t sure if I did very well, thinking I could have sold myself better. Still, I followed up with a thank you note.
A short time later, I was sent a very nice email saying that I didn’t make the final cut, I wasn’t selected. I followed up with another hand written note saying that if anyone cancelled, I would be happy to take someone’s place. After all, it happens sometimes. And in late August, it happened.
I was offered a one-month time slot instead of the full 3.5-month, but I was still thrilled! In the end, the shorter residency was probably the best for me anyway because of the time away from my family and other responsibilities.
I really can’t say enough good things about the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology’s residency program. The facilities are fantastic, the staff is incredibly helpful, the other residents were inspiring and extremely intelligent. But for me, most inspiring was the Cascade Head and Oregon Coast landscape. Naturally, as as a landscape artist my goal was to experience and later interpret this fantastic natural environment into my specialized medium – multi-color woodblock prints.
Within walking distance of campus, my favorite activity was to hike through the ancient Sitka forest and up Cascade Head to view the panoramic sunset. I took full advantage of the unusually dry and sunny weather we had that month. The hikes were exhilarating, the sunsets breathtaking, and it was amazing to experience absolute darkness in the forest at night.
Being in the old growth forest felt like being in a cathedral. I could never get tired of those Sitka behemoths with their mossy fingered limbs. I fell in love with them and plan on making woodblock prints based upon my experiences on the trail.
The primary beauty of Sitka Center for Art and Ecology is it’s quiet, pristine isolation. Consequently, having a vehicle is a must, especially if you want to explore further afield. Coming to Oregon from Michigan, I flew into Portland and rented a car for my whole residency. I was glad that I did.
Up the coast from Sitka, about a 30 minute drive, some friends introduced me to Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, in Pacific City, where we watched spouting gray whales. It is an inspiring area and I returned several more times to hike the Cape and take photographs of the haystack rock.
Cape Lookout State Park is a little further north of Pacific City. Cape Lookout has three hiking trails with fantastic views that will get your heart pumping. I took the 4.8 mile Cape Trail. I was alone so had to be very cognizant of each step I took. These trails are steep in places, with close-cropped drop offs where you don’t want to look down. I went late in the day and had to hurry back before it got pitch black. This was a place that I stumbled upon and I didn’t to have think my headlamp with me in advance. Too used to living in the city!
Between my hiking expeditions, I reviewed my photos and made sketches for several prints. I was given use of a huge printmaking studio to work in while I was on my residency. Elk sometimes lingered outside my studio window and I could often hear the sound of the ocean if I had my window open.
I am now back in Michigan, continuing to work on images inspired by my residency.
My Sitka Center for Art and Ecology Residency helped me to feel fully awake and grounded to the earth, refueling my sense of confidence and purpose.
It was thrilling to explore new landscapes. Being on the Pacific Ocean coastline, among the giant trees, and on the edges of cliffs and deep darkness – all of it, was invigorating.
I am immensely grateful for my time at Sitka.
As always, I am happy to answer any questions!
If all goes according to plans, I will be back at Sitka in the summer of 2020 to teach a mokuhanga workshop, and to have an exhibition at Rowboat Gallery in Pacific City of work created from my residency. Stay tuned!
* Original Woodblock Prints * Guest Lecturer and Instructor * Documentary Film * Note Cards *
©2023 Mary Brodbeck Productions LLC
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