This is an overdue post. And for that I apologize. Reality hit me smack-in-the-face as soon as I landed back in NYC with the humidity enveloping me after being in a WY hailstorm just several hours prior. And being atop a mountain means rain turns to snow, people. Snow in May. Yup. So what sums up my thoughts on Brush Creek? Peaceful. QUIET. Calm. Comfortable. Yes. What I may have missed out at Ragdale I had at Brush Creek. So, as I am prone to do. Let me break it down for you:
For the writers this is spacious and warm. Mine was designed more for comfort while I feel like the Rancher's Daughter studio beside me was a bit more stylish. Either way I really liked both spaces as they were twice the size of Jentel (which was lovely and cozy) and separate from my room unlike Ragdale. Each writer's studio equipped with extra chairs (each studio had a La-Z-Boy), a couch, I had bongos for some reason, and lots of pillows, lighting, and a blanket. It was definitely cozy and if I could have or had more time I probably would've napped in there at some point.
The visual artists studios are a bit smaller than ones I have seen. Lighting comes in straight through the glass doors in the front and via some windows higher up that you'd need a ladder to reach for on the other side. They are spacious but again, not as big as I've seen visual artists work in at other studios.
The composers have houses! The Schoolhouse is massive and was a school house so it has several rows of pews and a stage. Armstrong studio has a piano and a good amount of space for a couch and fit several people in for a jam session so I'd say that's a nice space in and of itself.
The resident rooms were small, not really meant for lounging, but more as a place for rest and storage. But the bed was super comfy (foam) and the bathroom spacious. You get a robe and several sets of towels and cute toiletries. You have a big dresser and area to hang items with wooden hangers and a nice spot for your shoes/boots. There's a lot of light and a heater/air conditioner and it is QUIET. Everyone is respectful of being quiet once back in their room and you cannot hear sounds from the other studios. The housekeeping ladies are the sweetest and clean every Monday morning and they do a phenomenal job. Love them to bits.
The artists lounge is a bit small in terms of the library and computer area but very cozy as I read in there a bit. The library is still being built so feel free to add to it and send donated items! There are also games and some more additions we made when we went to a couple rummage sales on Saturday in the town of Saratoga. The kitchen is great but not well stocked in terms of cooking items since you're meant to reheat more than cook but this may get fully stocked as time goes on and if things change.
Out and About
Hiking you can do in abundance here. And not just hiking along a road but on trails, on roads too, but going to see land and nature and animals! Mainly moose, deer, and dogs, but still nature!
Also you can use the facilities at the main lodge. Colette and I tended to go to the gym every few days and once Jim started us in on the game room Hoop Fever and Buck Hunt became staples in our routine when we needed to get out and were restless. Plus, unlimited Gatorade in the game room!
You have to log into the open access internet once every 24 hours which can be burdensome and irritating if you're using the internet steadily in that it'll conk out on you in the middle of something. Also range isn't the best, mainly suitable in your studio but not as great in your room if you can even get access on your computer/devices.
As I may have mentioned, the food was mighty lackluster. And if you're a vegetarian be forewarned that the kitchen staff didn't seem to comprehend that there's a vast amount of things you can make for vegetarians outside of salad, quickly fried tofu, and pasta/pizza. A lot of times one of the other residents off-set the vegetarian items with leftovers and store bought items to appeal to the vegetarians who did not get as much protein as necessary.
In addition to that it seems that the variety of food doesn't improve for artists unless guests are present. Which is sad. It seemed that we were an add on and not a focus so the food was often uninspired and not great. The desserts were standard fare once guests came but nothing outstanding. You know I'm a foodie so that is important. But dinner was often better than lunch which I ate twice out of the ten lunches I was provided because I got sick of sandwiches doused in mayonnaise with lettuce and tomato on plain white bread that was heavy and soggy when I received it--often sandwiches were made early in the morning (around 5 or 6am) and left out until delivered to us around noon.
I did not get to go on any activities as by the time this was all sorted I was on my way out. Residents are allowed one activity per two week stay and it was odd that it would not be until the guests arrived that we residents would be allowed to get in on their activities. Which just seemed weird. So by the time guests did come which was the 16th we were waiting to be told every morning of what activities were available and after three days it was just not a good way of communicating/organizing. The director tried her best but it seems there's a real disconnect between staff at the lounge and the artists camp and hopefully this'll be fixed with new leadership.
If I could take Linda, Ragdale chef, and bring her to Brush Creek and add in a bit less tension between staff and the Artists Camp this would've been ideal and on par with Jentel for me. Speaking with other residents who had gone to Jentel and were at Brush Creek with me we agreed, hands down, that Jentel is the best residency experience we've ever had.
Of course you shouldn't always compare things. Every conference, retreat, residency, everything has it's pros and cons. But for the fact that the staff of one director was super attentive and kind, add in the amazing amounts of quiet, the cool people, the atmosphere, the cleanliness (in my room at least), and the lack of bugs it was delightful. I got so much more done at Brush Creek and I enjoyed every moment. Food be damned, though that is a big point for me, I would go back to Brush Creek and definitely recommend it to others to apply to with the caveats above. I think knowing more about your residency location can help you be more productive rather than being surprised. So, as a new residency they did a really great job and I'd encourage others to go if not for the peace and quiet in itself.