A residency at the Bray is pretty special because priorities in “the real world” seem to temporarily disappear. Every year I watch artists come and go from the Bray, taking their time here to focus. Some focus on developing a new direction for their work, some are taking a reprieve from teaching, some want to take their current work and get into galleries. Some artists are looking for a teaching job, the next best step for their careers, or simply the best strategy to staying an artist after their residency. Being at the Bray opens up opportunities to focus on whatever one needs to focus on. Time is a bit more forgiving, space is abundant and other artists are here to talk to, to share struggles, concerns and ideas with.
My first summer at the Bray I had an internship at the Clay Business. I got to know year round and summer residents. A few days after arriving, I was at the farewell show for Chris Antemann in the Pottery Gallery. A tent was set up over the brick walkway, horses came down the dirt drive with people wearing old fashioned gowns and hats, the work was incredible, red dots everywhere, great time chatting afterwards at the brewery and I had no idea that a show like this did not happen every day! The Bray was magical right away. And somehow continues to stay that way.
On each end of the Bray people were making sculptures, figures, pottery and installations. Kristine Veith, a resident in 2001-2003 made a tile piece in her studio that now lives in the Great Northern Town Center in downtown Helena, across from Al Swanson’s gallery. There was some talk that one of the leggy ballet artists in the mural was our then governor, but that rumor has never been confirmed. Susannah Israel was here with Bill the summer of 2002 and created the Tea Party, one of the favorites here on the Bray grounds. The figures have many clues to the happenings that summer like the kitten named “Ana” because she appeared one day and always hung out by the wood kiln. And physical pieces were incorporated by other summer residents such as the cups by Kowkie Durst and Lesley Baker. The place, the people, it was all very intoxicating.
Ten years later I still love being a part of this community. I am excited for another full summer and a new group of artists who will each contribute to the Bray and its history in a new and unique way. Sometimes it is hard to make the time and take a break from “the real world”. I am guessing that if you are applying for a residency, you already know you are applying. Hopefully you do not talk yourself out of trying, because if you are ready-so is the Bray. And it is totally worth it.