Montello Foundation is a foundation dedicated to support artists who foster
our understanding of nature, its fragility and our need to protect it.

December 2023

First, I would like to thank everyone who responded to our fundraising campaign in June! Know what a tremendous difference your support makes in our mission and continuance.

In 2023, we had the opportunity to present our exhibition This Earth, Notes and Observations by Montello Foundation Artists, an exhibition originating at the Southern Utah Museum of Art under the direction of Jessica Kinsey, again, this time at Concord Arts. The exhibition was in an historic building in Concord, MA, just a few miles from Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, where he spent two years, two months and two days studying nature from the perspective of simplicity. So, the location was very poignant for us. At Concord Art we featured a new piece by SaraNoa Mark incorporating water from Walden Pond, an installation by Concrete Temple Theatre and an olfactory experience by Lea Thomas and Yoshihiro Sergel. Please have a look at the documentation in the report, and please let us know if you would like to receive a copy of the exhibition catalog.

At the retreat, 14 artists experienced the subtleness and grandness of the desert setting. As Grant Cutler and Allegra Oxborough so eloquently stated: Montello offered us a much-welcomed counterpoint to our overstimulated urban lives, surprising us with so many gifts that could only be offered through the uninterrupted silence of the Sagebrush Desert.

Looking ahead to 2024, in addition to our collaboration with the Ellen Meloy Fund, by hosting their award winner for Best Desert Writing, we are looking forward to hosting a member of ecoartspace, a prestigious platform for artists addressing environmental issues, founded in 1997 by Patricia Watts.

November 2023

It is not always explicitly but many of our residents arrive at the retreat on a mission to connect with nature. So how does a connection with nature become possible, specifically at the Montello retreat? How does one connect with nature in its various forms, the geological grand arc of time, the yearly and daily weather, as well as the flora and fauna. All of these have their own trajectories and will confront and question one. The terrain is comprised of patches of fine sand, almost silt, and rocks. Both will make one’s journey to the house a challenge. The weather is never mild and only on occasions (not for one’s occasion) pleasant. The living elements behave maddeningly opportunistic; their thorns will hurt you, and they try to claim their space and howl at night.

Connecting to nature means first to accept nature in every way. I know that this is often hard. Too many unforeseen challenges arise; ideas have to be thrown out, and the “connection” isn’t happening as planned. But many of our 2023 residents did accept what nature told them and listened. Not all this accepting translated right away into their language or their work, but a connection happened. Their future messages will carry what they experienced forward and help their audience accept the course of nature and its fragility.

March 2023

In our manual for the house, the residents are advised to disregard their plans for the retreat and first observe and listen to the nature around them. So, it is incredibly meaningful to present the residents’ work now near Walden Pond in Concord, MA, at Concord Art, near the site of the original listener and observer of nature, Henry David Thoreau. This exhibition includes works shown previously at Montello Foundation’s exhibition at the Southern Utah Museum of Art in 2021. New at Concord Art is a piece by SaraNoa Mark incorporating water from Walden Pond, an installation by Concrete Temple Theatre and an olfactory experience by Lea Thomas and Yoshihiro Sergel.

December 2022

As in every year, we had our successes and challenges in 2022. After we wrapped up and returned all the art from Montello Foundation’s alumna exhibition, This Earth, at SUMA in Cedar City, UT, it was again a really hard task to select the 2022 residents from the 185 applications we received. As you can see in the report, we had a wide range of art practices and also a wide range how different residents’ work is impacting society. Some are pushing conceptional ideas forward, while others work directly with their audiences. Both are necessary and I am very happy we could provide each of them with our inspiring setting.

One of the challenges of 2022 was the fact that in the spring a parcel of land next to the Montello Foundation Artist Residency came up for auction at the Elko County Land Sale. While I am happy to report that Montello Foundation was able to acquire the parcel of land, to protect the value of our unique retreat, it came of course at a price. Even in the desert, 40 acres are not inexpensive. This means that the realization of our large-scale construction of the Desert Waypoint for Contemplation and Exhibition has been put on hold. However, thanks to a wonderful steel frame, built and donated by Brett Wilson of MW Waterscapes, we have launched, created the first humble step of our Waypoint, a place to show art, a reason to stop.

While we couldn’t move our exhibition, This Earth, directly to another venue, I am proud to enthusiastically announce that we will be able to show a version of this exhibition, less than two miles from Thoreau’s cabin site, at Concord Art in Concord, MA, spring 2023. I also would like to direct your attention to Gordon Hempton’s report; Gordon is a remarkable figure bringing awareness to the soundscapes, both natural and unnatural. In the spring, Gordon observed and measured the sound levels at the retreat over several days, and he found the setting extremely quiet. In fact, he found it so exceptionally quiet that the Montello Foundation’s retreat will be included in the database of Quiet Parks International, listed as the first Quiet Artist Retreat.

Luckily there weren’t many wildfires threatening Nevada and especially the retreat, but the weather was still challenging in 2022. When I was closing up the house in November, a light dusting of snow in the forecast turned into 10 inches overnight. Getting myself out first, and then the car a week later, could be described as arduous, and it would have been impossible without the help of strangers and friends! A big thank you to all who helped!

November 2022

They are in awe of the sounds. Our residents prepare themselves for many things and sights, but the soundscape of the Sagebrush Desert often comes as a surprise to them. Someone who knows a great deal about the sounds and the silence in nature, Gordon Hempton, visited the retreat this spring and listened, measured, and recorded the sounds at the retreat. Gordon describes himself as an acoustic ecologist; he has recorded the sounds of nature all over the world and is also the Co-founder of Quiet Parks International, a non-profit committed to saving quiet for the benefit of all life. The Montello Foundation is honored to be included now in this group of amazing places and are now officially the first Quiet Artist Retreat. Please also have a look at his report and have a listen to the recording Gordon made at the retreat, posted on our website.

In the summer of 1845, the young Henry David Thoreau set out to stay alone in a small cabin at Walden Pond near Concord, MA for over two years. There, he studied nature and society from the perspective of simplicity. His observations and meticulous note-taking, presented in wonderful prose, make him a guiding figure for our residents. So with great pleasure, I announce that we will have the opportunity to present a new version of the exhibition This Earth, an exhibition featuring Montello Foundation alumni originally at the Southern Utah Museum of Arts in 2021, at Concord Arts, less than two miles from Thoreau’s cabin site, in the spring of 2023.

Then, thanks to a wonderful steel frame, built and donated by Brett Wilson, of MW Waterscapes we have launched, created our first humble steps towards creating our Waypoint, a place to show art, a reason to stop. Our inaugural showing is a unique print, Vespers/Thunder by Patricia Watwood, from her series Montello Book of Hours. Her creative response to the Sagebrush Desert was to mark the conscious presence of that time and place: those particular sunsets and moonrises, storms and clear skies, that rabbit, that coyote. More is planned and we will keep you posted. In the meantime, we hope you can stop by on your way through the West, three miles North of Montello, NV on the way to Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels.

December 2021

Over the course of this year, our residency program has proven itself resilient, and we have been able to return to the mission of the Foundation and the purpose of the residency program with energy and commitment.

In 2021, the residency program was able to offer a quiet but invigorating retreat for compelling artists. These artists were able to isolate by choice. Travel within the United States and gatherings were once more possible this year, thanks to the tireless work of nurses and doctors. Unfortunately, we were not able to commit to international residents in 2021, as planning for the 2021 season began in early March, and it was not clear what 2021 would bring. Right now, however, it looks like we can host artists from all over the world once more in 2022. We look forward to giving international artists the opportunity of a residency in the Nevada Sagebrush Desert!

In the spring of 2020, the Director of the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Jessica Kinsey, approached me to showcase the work of our alumni at the museum. This Earth, an exhibition of Montello Foundation Resident Artists, opened this past October at SUMA. The exhibition has been a fantastic opportunity to fulfill an important part of the Montello Foundation’s mission, presenting work that emphasizes the fragility of nature to a wide and diverse audience. Or if you are in the area, This Earth is up until December 23rd.

For helping to make the exhibition happen and for their tremendous support, I want to thank especially Jessica Kinsey, Mallory Sanders, Emily Ronquillo and many more from the Southern Utah Museum of Art, as well of course, my co-curator Hikmet Loe!

Hopefully we can bring this exhibition to other venues. It is a beautiful show focused on the process of the artists and their relationship to nature.

November 2021

The mission of the Montello Foundation, from its founding in 2008, has always been to make the public aware of nature’s fragility. Through our residency program, we are able to provide time and space for exceptional artists to lay out their tools, get tossed around in the sagebrush ocean, sit in stillness, cradle their ideas, and focus on the next steps.

But it is, for us, also tremendously important to present the work of these Resident Artists to our audience. Reports like this are an essential part of our mission, but the art of course has an even greater impact when experienced live. So when the Director of the Southern Utah Museum of Art, Jessica Kinsey, approached me in April 2020 offering the Foundation the opportunity to show the work of our previous and current Residents, I knew this would be a fantastic way to fulfill the Foundation’s Mission and to showcase the work of our alumni.

The guiding principals of This Earth, developed with Scholar and Curator Hikmet Loe, are based on the artists’ various approaches and personal relationships to nature. These approaches were then divided into groupings. These are: Observing Nature which focuses on the great tradition of artists as observers and note-takers; In Dialog with Nature that presents artists who work with natural elements and materials, transforming them with their practice; Human Interactions with Nature shows works focused on the impact humans have on the natural world. While all exhibiting artists engage their audience, challenging them to understand nature and its fragility, a few are very direct and clear with their message: We need to protect the environment – their work is presented in a section called Preserving Nature.

December 2020

First – I hope you, your family, and all of yours are doing well! From a New York perspective, we seem to have gotten into a routine and have adjusted to the pandemic, but we know there is a lot of struggle everywhere. So foremost, I want to thank all the healthcare workers who are tirelessly dedicating themselves to helping despite much prevailing resistance. With their help, we will be able to get through this!

We were able to start running the Residency Program this year in Mid-May. Saskia Krafft and Gordon Hempton were to have Residencies in April and early May, but traveling from Germany and Washington State respectively and myself from New York City to open up the house was just impossible. We are looking forward to hosting them in 2021. Some of our initially selected artists also weren’t able to travel as the season unfolded, so more adjustments were necessary. Nevertheless, we had a very strong group of 10 artists at the retreat, chosen from over 184 applications.

Please have a look at their reports. You might think you don’t want to read another account of isolation, but these are all positive and uplifting stories of time spent at the retreat, their explorations, and work.

However the quest to build our Desert Waypoint for Contemplation and Exhibitions did not see much progress since last fall due to the pandemic. In the best of times, construction of an unusual building is tricky and can be delayed easily by unforeseen technical challenges, so with the additional complications this summer and fall, it just ended up being impossible to break ground. We had to figure out details of the handicap parking, and we are currently waiting for the Nevada State Highway Department to approve the access point, but we are moving forward – it will happen.

Looking forward to 2021, I am very excited to announce that the Southern Utah Museum of Art will be hosting a large-scale exhibition with Montello Foundation alumni October through December. Please watch out for more information about this show. And, hopefully travel to the residency program will be much easier next spring.

So there is hope in the air, that environmental politics are not based on profit but on caring; that we can help each other in this health crisis; that we can go out and explore and that we can all freely cherish art again.

November 2020

Inside you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of Creation. You are a world—everything is hidden in you. - Hildegard von Bingen

This year has been hard. This year we have all become very aware of isolation, and its effects on us. Isolation was often not a choice. So how is a self-imposed isolation, without it being for medical reasons, in any way necessary, even justifiable?

The residents at the Montello Foundation retreat go even a step further in their isolation with barely any connection to the outside world, including no connection to the virtual world at the house. How can this retreating be important in a year when caring was and is the mandate, and so many in the healthcare community worked tirelessly and cared?

Does the mind in isolation care? The artists longing for time and space retreated into their own worlds. Where is the caring? Their caring is in their work. Their work becomes the messengers of their internal worlds, worlds in which the artists observe minutely, explore, and dream. With these messages, their work, created in remoteness, we can experience their world.

They then can carry us all at this time through our various states of isolation. By focusing on their own practices and sharing their work, they are caring and giving us a path.

May 2020

The stillness you encounter in Montello is one you carry forward — it embeds itself within and permeates into the world beyond. Time is weighted differently there — offering a quiet form of introspection that can be summoned again from even the busiest city sidewalk long after the desert has been left behind. - Sara Morawetz, resident 2019

These words by Sara Morawetz resonated with me especially this spring. Of course we are not finding ourselves much on busy sidewalks right now, but it is stillness that does carry us on when we are facing uncertainties. This spring was hard for a lot of us, especially for those living in New York City and so we want to express our gratitude to all healthcare workers for their most dedicated work for the past months and right now.

Like everybody else we had to react to the current situation, not that staying at a solitary retreat poses a problem, but traveling to it is a challenge, so we had to adjust our program and could not host our first residents. We were able to open the house though and are now looking forward to host these exceptional artists this year. They will experience quietness and subtleties at the retreat and they will carry this stillness back to us in their work.

December 2019

December 2019 marks the close of our fifth season hosting artists at the retreat. I am most grateful and excited that I can now present to you the work of the 2019 Montello Foundation Artists-in-Residence. We have included some sketches of new work, paired with work that the artist has created earlier so that you can see the artist’s developmental process. Others came home with finished work, and you can feel the impact the residency had on them.

In Nevada this year, we were spared the devastation of wildfires, but nature was not always an easy collaborator. While rainstorms can be a quite a dramatic visual and sonic event there, they do also make driving to and from the retreat a muddy and sometimes dramatic event. Of course this is true not only for the residents, but also for our Housekeepers Pam and Tom. Thanks to their dedicated help, and the endless and amazing support of our neighbors Tony and Lupe and also Phil and Ros, all the artists arrived and departed safely.

In September, the Building Department of Elko County approved the architectural plans for our Waypoint for Exhibitions and Contemplation, and in April 2020, we can start the construction in earnest. As the method of pouring concrete on the ground and tilting up the resulting slabs as walls is not a standard construction practice, patience will be necessary. I am confident though that we will arrive at a beautiful building by the summer. I hope that you will continue to be invested in the Montello Foundation in spirit and in thought and will be able to visit our Waypoint in the not too distant future. Know how indebted I am to you for your support and faith in all that we do. Thank you!

November 2019

We went down into the silent garden. Dawn is the time when nothing breathes, the hour of silence. Everything is transfixed, only the light moves. - Leonora Carrington

Many of the Artists-in-residence have commented on the quietness at the retreat, their discovery of silence. Most of them live and work in cities; their ears are accustomed to filtering out noise - and at some point actually all sounds. It is a natural reaction, since we perceive unwanted sounds as an invasion of our space.

Silence is something very difficult to grasp. It is simply defined as an absent of sound. But is it a void? According to acoustic ecologist and founder of Quiet Parks International, Gordon Hempton, silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything. Hempton would have us believe that silence is not a void, but is instead filled with matter. Translated into the visual world, silence becomes light in every color - white light. White light enables us see colors; it gives us clarity and possibilities.

This silence opens up the Artist-in-residence’s personal sphere of awareness to the sounds of birds, crickets and especially the wind. The sound of the wind here has many notes. The wind in the Juniper trees sounds different than the wind in the sagebrush, different than the wind in the grasses. This soundscape of silence then defines a whole new space for the Artist-in-residence, almost a physical space, a space not invaded by the sounds of machinery and electronics – on a par with the sky, the land and the studio.

The residents do listen in awe, but I also know that the silence is not always easy to appreciate. This silence and its possibilities can become overwhelming and our actions seem insignificant, but the quietness is also sheltering and comforting. Whether intentionally or not, the silence adds a whole new element in their work.

I also want to give you an update on our Waypoint – which many of you are very generously supporting. Last year we started this ambitious project, building a waypoint, a place for contemplation and exhibitions, easily accessible near the village of Montello. Our waypoint will focus on nature, the wide vistas as well as delicate details.

Through a student competition, we arrived at a very open design by Naoki Ono and Tinca Decuseara, consisting of five concrete slabs cast directly from the earth at the site. Of course there were numerous design decisions to be made and the precise plans to be drawn up, but finally, we have now the building permit from Elko County, NV. There are technical details and logistics to be figured out, and starting construction in the harsh winter of Northern Nevada would not be the right time, but we are confident that we can have the main structure raised in spring 2020.

November 2018

The emphasis on mindfulness is often a reoccurring theme in the reports we receive from the Montello Foundation’s Resident Artists: mindfulness as they approach the nature, mindfulness in their work practices, and also a mindfulness towards their audience. It is of course part of our selection process to look for this quality in Resident Artists’ applications, but we believe that our setting, and the fact that they are approaching it on their own, makes a big impact on their awareness. In addition, they have to rely on their own minds to navigate the Sagebrush Desert, as only mindfulness can help here.

In 2018, the Montello Foundation’s Artist Residency program hosted 13 artist and numerous visitors at our retreat in this remote valley near Montello. This season, visual artists, but also composers and recording artists, set up their temporary home and workshop in the Montello Foundation’s retreat. In the enclosed report are examples of their art as well as brief quotes from their experience at the retreat. That said, as listening to the sounds of the desert is often an important part of the visual artists’ experience, the retreat is ideal for recording artists and composers. Of course, we can’t present their work in this printed brochure, but on our website, there is a page with audio files: a direct recording of the desert and files of how the artists have processed, reimagined these sounds through their craft.

This year, we also focused on a new project. To compliment this solitary experience of the resident artists, we are now planning to create a place for the general public, a waypoint to focus on the original purpose of a journey — a waypoint that is also accessible directly from the road.

Especially when we travel, it is in our nature to seek points of rest, to reorient ourselves. We want to understand the place we are traversing; but we also want to focus our mind on the original purpose of our journey rather than just on the logistics and technicalities of our transportation. We are looking for guidance.

Driving is how one mostly moves through the deserts of Nevada, traversing a valley with few distinct features recognizable, and we all drive at high speed. We measure our journey in minutes; walking the same crossing would take one the better part of a day. Without stopping, we have no chance to understand the place we are traversing. We need a waypoint; we need to stop and find new ways to measure a journey. Historically these waypoints were often created in a spiritual or religious context, focusing us through commonly known symbols, but as the Montello Foundation is dedicated to fostering artists, we will let them be our guides, focusing us on nature and its fragility. Their work will also focus us on time; artists are able to stop us, forcing us to rethink and question our journey. Then they create, within us, this energy that carries us on and has us embark on new perspectives, even if we can’t exactly say how and why.

Nancy Holt observes: “’Time’ is not just a mental concept or a mathematical abstraction in the desert. The rocks in the distance are ageless; they have been deposited in layers over hundreds of thousands of years. ‘Time’ takes on a physical presence.”

December 2017

As I am writing this, I am struck by the fact that our mission to foster artists and raise awareness of the fragility of nature has become increasingly more important. We are not alone in our quest, but as we feared a year ago, the voices of reason and the voices of caring are being shouted down and silenced.

We hosted seventeen wonderful artists this year. We lured them into the desert wilderness, spurred their curiosity, provided a shelter from the harsh climate and gave them a space to work on their voices of caring; their voices of reason. Providing this space for artists, this residency program will always be Montello Foundation’s core mission, but we have decided that it is time to have more presence in Nevada, and so to this end, we are going to build a waypoint in the village of Montello. This allows us to directly present our residents’ work, and the waypoint itself will help to further foster the Montello Foundation’ mission.

When we travel, it is in our nature to seek points of rest, to reorient ourselves. We want to understand the place we are traversing; but we also want to focus our mind on the original purpose of our journey rather than just on the logistics and technicalities of our transportation. Historically these waypoints were of course often created in a spiritual or religious context, recognizing the need to provide a focus for hope. This waypoint will focus on nature, both the wide vistas as well as delicate details, so artists’ interpretations of nature and our interactions with nature may be the starting point for travelers’ contemplations.

For this, we have launched a Student Architecture Design Competition to be able to hear and see the new voices of architecture, the new visions. Details of the Competition are on our website, please have a look and do forward the information to anyone you think might be interested.

November 2017

The artist as an explorer, with no agenda, with no theory to prove - even sometimes without an aim - was a reoccurring theme in the reports of our Residents this year. Then, in terms of exploration, the artist’s role became one of the observer and the note taker. There is a great tradition of artists being observers and note takers. While observing and recording the human body was of course historically the original focus, a quest to understand the entire natural world, its geometry, its light and the relationships between all the elements soon became essential. Artists became then interpreters of their own observations, rather then interpreters of an imposed dogma. Their message became based on their exploration.

The unfamiliarity of the setting of the retreat, definitely foreign to most of our fellows, is an important part of our residency program. It can be a challenge but also an opportunity. It stimulates the urge and need to explore and interpret the observations: the desert as a muse.

In 2017, seventeen artists stayed at the Montello retreat from early May until early November and observed everything from freezing nights to hot summer days, wildfires and muddy roads and were able to take in the skies, the fleeting moments of colors in the morning and evening, as well as a majestic night sky.

December 2016

I write this letter to you today because I have a deep concern. I am concerned about how the voices of caring for the arts, caring for the environment, and even caring for others just got shouted down.

Caring is an essential part of a functional society and community. There are of course many ways to engage in society and to be part of the conversation. By setting up this residency for artists, I have chosen to support artists, as I believe artists have something important to add to the conversation. More than ever, we need their voices to be heard; more than ever, their work needs to be fostered and seen.

I am not denying that the original purpose of this letter is fundraising, but what is most important now is to encourage the search for understanding and the voices that enable us to understand the environment on a higher level.

But, let us now focus on our 2016 residents. Please read their reports, go to their websites and have a look at their whole body of work. And, do contact them and let them know you are caring what they are doing. You will indeed start a most rewarding conversation. This is most important, because more than ever, civil conversations are needed, as are the exchanges of ideas, where the listening is as important as the speaking. Please start these conversations and keep them going.

November 2016

Our retreat program centers around the idea of raising awareness.

I believe that to reach a higher level of awareness, one needs to be guided. Language, spoken and written, can be a guiding force, but so can many other forms of art. But how does one guide those who create, those who are the ones guiding our society? Our approach is to nurture them with space and time in a place where no ostentatious scenery is prevalent. Sure, the sky can be quite dramatic (as can getting to the retreat), but otherwise the features of the setting are subtle. Here, a heightened awareness is necessary to understand nature; only a heightened awareness leads one to discover elements of beauty and revelation. What we have done is taken distractions away and have created a base station. From there, we are pushing the residents to search for these elements of beauty and revelation. Their level of awareness is being tested.

A little bouquet was at the retreat when I arrived for my last stay of the season, a bouquet that wouldn’t draw much attention in many other settings, but as it is the essence of this environment, it is a testament of the heightened awareness one gains at the retreat. In 2016, thirteen artists stayed at the retreat and, as we can see from their reports, did amazing work there and were inspired for their future work. They will certainly be guides for all of us towards awareness, awareness for details and the larger picture.

December 2015

Water collection in the desert is a challenge. Acquiring wood for heating, in a land where trees are rare, is a challenge. Sustaining a shelter in a remote location is a challenge. In the Montello Foundation Annual Report for our first season, 2015, you will see that we are not trying to sustain just any shelter and its need of water or heating. It is for a shelter with a special purpose, in a place that has been called by many magical. In 2008 we, the Montello Foundation, set out to build a place for artist, a temporary residency in a remote valley in North Eastern Nevada for artists with a mission: to listen to nature, artists who are driven to observe a delicate desert environment as well as the subtleties of the large skies of the American West. But most importantly, with their work, these artists send out a message, to all of us, alerting us how fragile these systems are. To get this message out is our core mission.

Of course we could publish numbers, show graphs, but we are convinced that a reaction, a change in our society’s interaction with nature is most likely evoked by the work of dedicated artists.

The construction of this shelter got underway in 2012 and was mostly completed over this past summer with the help of numerous donors, our Builder’s Circle. It is now at this point that we find our resources stretched and are in need of your help to finish the shelter and keep it up and running. We need to install a rainwater collection system (quite an elaborate one, in the basement, since outside collection would freeze in the winter), and for heating, we need to haul in firewood. There are the occasional repairs; some more expensive than others, and then the regular upkeep is costly. Our housekeeper, Angie, has to drive almost 20 miles, on often treacherous dirt roads, to get to the building.

November 2015

Solitude in the city is about the lack of other people or rather their distance beyond a door or wall, but in remote places it isn’t an absence but the presence of something else, a kind of humming silence in which solitude seems as natural to your species as to any other, words strange rocks you may or may not turn over. - Rebecca Solnit

Interaction is a vital part of being human and being an artist. Interaction with an audience is the artist’s focus throughout their entire process, from conception to presentation. An artwork does not exist as an artwork without an audience.

So, it might seem that setting-up a residency for artists in an isolated setting is counterproductive. But a void of something always focuses the inquisitive mind on the existing. This residency was built to give inquisitive minds a space to experience the environment in ways they cannot normally experience it, especially those minds that have the ability to eloquently report their findings.

The retreat is not located in a region with wildly flourishing nature. It is in a desert, a region where the flora has, for the most part, a very slow growth rate. The vegetation there is in an unassuming state. Appreciation of this environment requires attention to detail, but then the weather can easily demand attention on a grand scale.

This year was the first season the Montello Foundation offered residencies. Of course, we had many questions as the residencies began: Would the artists be able to focus in the extreme isolation? Would the environment be too overwhelming? Would sudden rainstorms make the bad roads impassable? Would the building function as planned? There were hiccups and challenges, but the Residents met them with utmost grace. For this, we are humbly grateful. The artists also had to face their share of uncertainties. They each prepared for a solitary and undisturbed retreat and made their plans how to spend their time there, but in the end, they all stood mostly in awe, listened and observed.

So, the idea of this residency really worked: Ten amazing artists were inspired, rattled, distracted by the clouds and had an experience to draw from for their further development of their work, their message. These messages will surely inspire their audiences to listen and observe and stand in awe in a quiet desert setting and in all nature.