13 and make mistakes. I could spend the time completely devoted to the process of challenging myself. My work changed dramatically as a result of my residency. The Wyoming landscape brought a new humility to my work. With it, an injection of clarity and purpose that remains foundational in my studio practice to this day. A SHARED EXPERIENCE At Djerassi and Ucross, visual artists share their stays with writers, composers, choreographers and other artists. The communal evening meal is the only scheduled interaction between residents. East meets West, mid- career artist meets recent grad, recluse meets extrovert, urban meets rural, and painter meets dancer. At residencies, there is a unique power that is unspoken, yet recognized by all: the reason everyone is there in the first place is to work. This understanding creates not only a bond but also a shared responsibility not to squander even a moment of the opportunity. Everyone gets it. The work is primary. UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY In real life, the artist goes to the studio to work. At a residency, the artist is in the work. It is inescapable. No longer is there a separation between work and not-work. Recently I rented a studio during a trip to Florence, Italy — an independent residency of sorts. The project that I had planned was to merely sit in the studio and think, perhaps organize a traveling exhibition of a body of past work. I had brought only some books, a yellow legal pad and a ballpoint pen. As soon as I sat down and began, I was overwhelmed with the conceptual through-line for a body of new work. Was it the Renaissance atmosphere of the city? Or, was it that the regularity of my daily life with all its details and duties had been replaced by an open and horizonless atmosphere? Maybe a little of it all — whether in Florence, or Djerassi, or Ucross. I believe there is a balance between what we aspire to do, what we do well, what others appreciate that we do well, and a larger notion of what we value. We all seek to strike that balance within the confines of our own studios. We fashion our studios with the intention that they will facilitate our best work. We consider them sacred places, safe places — nurturing and familiar. However, “safe” and “familiar” are adjectives few of us would ever use to describe the intentions of our work. To explore the new and to search for the untried is, or should be, at the epicenter of what artists do. It is our duty to ensure that we use every single tool available to us to get the job done. The artist residency — a situation in which nothing is familiar — is one of those tools. A WESTERN PARTNERSHIP Out here in the West we live and work with a pragmatic, can-do common sense. Be it born from the internal strength of the redwoods, a reaction to the force of thunderstorms blowing across the High Plains, or the unrelenting rhythm of the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean — as Oregonians, these elements are in our blood. And even as our own immediate regional beauty — the Columbia River Gorge, Ecola State Park, Silver Falls, Smith Rock and so many others — surround us, they are still