A Place to Write

The Studio

I write today’s post from the studio of Suzanne Sbarge and Rufus Cohen. The studio has a big table in a sunny kitchen. Joey the Welsh Corgi lies at my feet and lets me rub his belly with my toes. When I stand up and walk around to stretch my legs, he follows, his nails clacking against the wood floors. Suzanne’s artwork hangs on the walls. In the backyard sits an Agricultura Network cold frame with rows of organic salad greens. Across the street loom two immense cottonwoods on opposite sides of an adobe archway. The river is close.


Above all, it is quiet, the only sounds an occasional car or truck, a neighbor’s small tractor, Joey shifting his weight, or Canada geese flying south.


I spent the first few weeks of life post-El Otro Lado trying to write on my side of the office with big Sony headphones over my ears, my laptop set to “Spirit of the Rainforest” on Pandora to tune out Henry’s conference calls. This arrangement worked much better than not writing. But still, I craved a room of my own. Last week, I escaped to Marisa Silva’s North Valley casa to write in her magic room, with its three walls of windows and doily the size of a serving platter covering her desk. The doily was made by her grandmother, and when I set my candle on its pink center, I am reminded of my Grandma Rosie, whose house was filled with her creations: crocheted potholders and ceramic figurines and white doilies that eventually came to rest in the homes of her children and grandchildren after she died.

Someday the room I crave will be in our house, but until this book is finished, I will be at the Sbarge/Cohen with my laptop, Joey, and a cup (or a pot) of gunpowder green tea. When the studio is being filled with the creative juices of another artist, I will be at Marisa’s.

Community is important. We artists need each other. We need other people, non-artists, friends, readers, family to walk with us as we pursue projects that force us to dig deep and mine the rich material of our lives for beauty and meaning.

That’s where ArtSpark comes in. ArtSpark is “a social experiment to discover how artists and arts organizations can fund their projects and engage their audience, fans and communities using social media + face2face buzz.” Launched in Albuquerque in 2010 and founded by dance/theatre artist Kristine Maltrud, ArtSpark is collaborating with nine Albuquerque artists and arts organizations to experiment with social media, microfunding, and other strategies to engage each artist’s or organization’s public.

It’s already working. Two weekends ago, Kristine hosted a brunch for ArtSpark’s 2010 artists and arts organizations. We introduced ourselves and talked about our projects. No sooner did I mention the need for my own writing space, then Suzanne Sbarge turned around and said, “Michelle, you can write in our studio.”

Like Suzanne, whose independent nonprofit arts venue, 516 ARTS, was featured last month by ArtSpark, many blog readers have signed on to support the writing of Vessels. To accompany me in my chocolate fast, Neri has pledged to write in her journal every day, Sabina has committed to washing her dishes, Daniel is writing music, Tomás is painting, and Andrea is writing, writing, writing.

Through the writing of Vessels, I am building a devotion, recommitting myself to my craft. You can help build the devotion. Read how on a special post this Thursday, December 16.

Published in: on December 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hallelujah! And thanks to our doggie brothers and sisters who support us in countless ways with their loyalty and devotion. They don’t care if we’re prize-winning artists; they just love us with pure hearts.

  2. So I realize that washing my dishes isn’t the most creative act, but being in a grad program I’m steeped in creative action non stop and the house cleaning goes to the wayside, I think to keep my mind free the clutter needs to be gone so hence the dishes idea. I HATE washing dishes! But now that I will be home for 3 weeks and away from school I am going to practice my guitar daily in substitution of dish washing, tho I will be washing dishes for my parents while home. Thanks for the challenge, I admire your strength and am thrilled that you have found a space!!!

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