On New Year's Day, I came home from the Rohatsu sesshin at Zen Mountain Monastery feeling quite beautifully exhausted. We need a new word to describe that feeling, which is being physically tired but with a relaxed, yet sharp, mind. The next day, I allowed myself to disperse that feeling just a bit by looking at my Facebook page. A friend had posted a notice about an artist residency in Ithaca, NY. Maybe it was because the place is called The Saltonstall Foundation, a name that to me says "Boston" not "Ithaca" (Saltonstall is a big name in Boston, with family ties there that go back to the 1600s. Massachusetts Governor, Leverett Saltonstall's wife, Alice, once famously said, about California, "It sounds lovely but who wants to live 3000 miles from the ocean?"). Naturally my curiosity was peaked. Then there was just a general feeling that I had been having that I have spent a lot of time lately developing my Zen practice and my yoga practice and my art practice has been riding along in the backseat - enjoying the ride! - but coasting a bit. So, add to that mixture the special energy that one only gets following Rohatsu and I found myself sending in an impromptu application, because the deadline was January 2nd - no time to over-think this one.
There are times when I have posted grant applications when I just know that it will be a winner. And there are times when I am fairly certain that I have just done a very important exercise in figuring out something about my work and myself but no money or opportunity will be immediately forthcoming. That second one is most of the time - there is just a little (or sometimes big) feeling of disconnect inside of me that lets me know that this idea or project or time just isn't quite ready yet. But on January 2, 2015, everything felt connected. It's not the kind of thing that one can force to make happen. But, you can improve the chances by creating the right environment and fixing mistakes from past experiences and by trying again and again. It's kind of like grant samādhi - when you are in it, you are in it, but if you think you are in it, you are not in it.
A few weeks ago, when the name Saltonstall popped up on my cellphone, I knew exactly why I was getting the call. I do not say this arrogantly! I have a mountain of rejections behind me and, no doubt, in front of me too. No, it was just that I knew that the time was right, the place was right, the name was right, and I was right! I am very pleased to say that I was selected to be one of the 2015 Fellows at The Saltonstall Foundation, which means I will be working in residence there from mid-May to mid-June. Here is the list of all the artists and writers who have been selected.
I am very excited about the opportunity that this residency presents. I have been trying to not plan what I will work on up there but a couple of ideas are loosely floating around in my head. It is such a privilege to have the time and space to work on them. Thank you to The Saltonstall Foundation and to Connie Saltonstall who was, yes, born in Boston but moved to Ithaca and who made it her dying wish to support other artists in this way. Thank you, thank you, thank you!