Sometimes, being a single, freelancing, non-home-owner with an old car and no kids can have its benefits. Like the opportunity to move into a tent in Santa Cruz to be an apprentice farmer at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UCSC for six months; couldn't have done that with a mortgage to pay. Or now, my latest adventure, being a live-in cook-intern in the kitchen at the Headlands Center for the Arts, just across the bridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
For those of you who haven't made the fifteen-minute drive over the water lately, the Headlands Center for the Arts is an artists' residency program occupying a collection of former military buildings in the Marin Headlands. Built in 1907, the buildings were abandoned by the military in 1972. In the late 1970s, an intrepid group of local artists began to renovate them for use. By 1982, the Center had a board of directors, and by 1985, it was granting commissions for renovations of everything from the latrines to the Mess Hall to the storage depot. Now, nearly 30 years later, the place is a well-recognized part of the Bay Area art scene, attracting artists from all around the world for its residency program.
There are lots of good things about being an artist in residence here. Time, unfettered time, time to breathe and think, look and hear and create. A studio for work, an airy room for sleep, the folded, elephantine hills of the Headlands and the whole Pacific ocean laid out at your feet. The rattle of the eucalyptus leaves and the shriek of the wild turkeys at night, the deer browsing under the fog-dripping cypress branches in the early morning. Support and appreciation for your work and its whims, wherever it takes you.