Spaceheater Editions announces a new 2018 title: TROPHY

Spaceheater Editions announces a new 2018 title: TROPHY
Two-page spread (pp.4+5) from TROPHY by Philip Zimmermann

Sunday, May 17, 2015

April at Playa Summer Lake

I spent the entire month of April at the amazing artists' residency called Playa Summer Lake, located in south-central Oregon. It's on the northern edge of the Great Basin. I got back to Tucson after a very long two-day drive very late on May 2nd.

Playa is unusual in that it encourages not just writers, musicians and visual artists but also scientists, especially those who are interested in ecology issues. The first two weeks I was there two USGS aquatic biologists, Morgan Ford and Mike Venarsky, were there and did a lot of testing of the critters in the pond at the Playa residency property as well as the large body of water called Summer Lake on which the residency sits.

The residency is expertly run by the photographer Deb Ford, who is the Executive Director. She used to be the manager at the Ucross Foundation, another terrific artists' residency. For many years she taught photography at Prescott College in Prescott, AZ.

I have included a few pictures that show the Playa residency (the reddish buildings in the photos below) and it's environs. The pond stays full of water all year, but Summer Lake is only two feet deep (though six miles across) and it dries up in summer. It does not fill up with water until the winter and spring snow and rain fill it up again.

This view shows the residency, facing east, with Summer Lake beyond. {Click on the photos to see a larger view.}

The photo below show the view from the grassy alkaline flats on the shore of the lake, looking west. The hills beyond are full of wild flowers and juniper trees up to a certain hight. Above that are the remains of a large forest fire that happened in the Fremont National Forest in 2002.

I have below a few pictures of the grounds. The first photo is of the commons building where there is a dining room, a large comfortable living room, a professional kitchen and rooms for doing film screening and playing ping pong and the like.

Views of the living and dining area:

The main "green" with some of the 10 cabins for residents:

Below is my cabin, which is really more a cottage than a cabin, and which was located right on the residency pond.

A partial view of the interior of my space, which shows my work area with computer and color printer.

This shows the view from my deck. It is right on the pond, with lots of duck action, and beyond the lake.

Below a view of the southern-most part of the lake, taken from a logging road that leads up to the Fremont National Forest.

We also did a number of field trips including a trip to the Paisley Caves, the sit of an archaeological dig where some of the oldest human and animal remains have been found, dating from 14,500 and 16,000 years old. Caprolites were found that showed that the human DNA matched that of the inhabitants of Siberia, potentially confirming the Bering land-bridge theory of how humans came to the American continents.

There were several changes of residents while I was there. Most people stay a month, but a number stayed only two weeks due to jobs and other commitments. An interesting writer was there, Chin-Sun Lee; several poets: Jane Otto, Catherine Woodard; and many visual artists including several other book artists. Those included Bea Nettles and Sandy Tilcock. Also there were painters and sculptors, including Suzanne Lee, David Nechak, Robert Tomlinson and Carlie Trosclair. The well-known writer and poet Bill Fox was there for the last two weeks of my stay. He posted a blog about his stay which is here.

It was a very productive residency for me. (I got a lot of work done!) The first week I worked on and completed final edits for a two-channel video piece that is meant to be shown in a gallery as a viewing environment for a new book that I am concurrently working on called The Nature of Things. It is my take on the famous epic poem by Lucretius. I was also working on another book called Celsius 233, about book burning. The last week I was there I was working on my chapter of a book on the history of four-color process printing to be published by the RIT Press in 2016.

One of the other important things that took up my time while at Playa was observing the incredible bird life there. A quick list of birds came to about 36 different species and there were a few birds that I could not identify.

Some of the ones that I could recognize included cedar wax wings, sandhill cranes, white-faced ibis, meadowlarks, mountain bluebirds, merlins, flickers, eared grebes, tree swallows, barn swallows, bufflehead dusks, cinnamon teals, two types of gulls, snow geese, swans, brewer's blackbirds, robins, numerous finches, red-winged blackbirds, many kinds of raptors, the list goes on and on. It was birder heaven.