April 2008, I arrived at Denver International Airport to be welcomed by a dashing gentleman who wouldn't shake my hand*. “Americans are Weird!” I thought, and followed him to a cafe, where I would be fed and interrogated. The subjects of inquiry included hot topics in politics (remember 2008?), what I thought of the mating habits of killer whales, who I thought would win in a fisticuff situation - Tesla or Edison (T-E-S-L-A!); and of course, what the hell I was doing in Colorado. If I didn't know it before traveling the 6,161 mile distance that Colorado Art Ranch was the right fit for me, this little tête-à-tête with Executive Director Grant Pound would assure me. In about fifteen minutes we'd be joined by a tall and dreamy artist who was so cool we were momentarily silenced. (He did shake my hand!) In the course of an hour, we were greeted at the Art Ranch HQ by two sexually confused dogs (one of whom would later try to impregnate my shoe), a sculptor arrived in a prairie schooner with two hundred of his most favorite Volant skis and fell asleep on the floor. When a gorgeous woman appeared out-of-thin-air and laid eyes on me, the picture was complete. I knew it for a fact that I had come to the right place. (FYI, co-founder Peggy Lawless doesn't have to mouth words to talk to little-alien-artists like me.)
This was the first three hours of my Art Ranch residency.
If you think I'm good enough a writer as to successfully sum up my entire Art Ranch experience in the three paragraphs allocated to me, think again. I can perhaps write a book about it or make three films. (Two of which I already wrote)
So I'll bargain for three more paragraphs, just to tell you a little more.
More miles would be traveled to Routt County, more hours would pass and I would soon meet:
the Poet who made us all star gaze, the Sculptress who wove us delightfully close; the wordsmith who spoke for the Mother Earth and the sculptor who yielded crops. The other dreamy painter was the real reason we all took on birdwatching. The Guardians of the river had us at “hello”. The ranchers had giant hands and even bigger hearts they held things with; the keeper of the books was my own secret thing. And we all knew it, where we were, once in the Hall of the True-Mountain-King. We went to the dump. To the reservoir. To the next town. I wrote, I read, I taught how to write films. I ate, I made half a film, I felt lost and found. There was rolling down the hills, making fires, arguing for hours, thinking, probing, making, asking. And at all points, atop the beetle-rotten trees, lost in the frozen marshland, singing to passing trains, talking to new good friends; Everything spoke, rather screamed to me, that I was at the right place, and at the right time, even though I came from a far away place, and scrambled time for a living. On an island in an ocean of land, I was educated on community, at all times and above all things; on how big it is to make small things.
And if you're reading this:
Peggy, Grant, Betsy, Geoff; Carol, Diana, Michael, Cathy, Bland, Carrie, Matt; Erica, Michael, Chad, Gavin, Tammie, Beth; John, Nancy, Steve, Toby, Bandit, Sopha; my brilliant students, my library stalkers, the unavoidable birdwatchers; magpies, heifers, farmer Bob's wayward horses, the mountain lion no one believes I've met, my true friend the white snake, the railway, the powerplant, the barn; and as always, our Dear Wayne - Far away in the galaxy, in the city of two seas (and elsewhere), I think of you and of my mountain home; often and dearly. And I know that wherever we are, whatever we do, there exists this giant forest of people, connected through time and space, people I can trust will not stop, will not cower, will not hide, no matter what. And this is what the Art Ranch has really given me.
This Earth will see better days, and then we'll make art, divide the atom into even smaller parts and grow good crops, not to fight battles or change the world; but to know and change the world that is our selves.
Until we meet again,
(Art Ranch and me? We fit to a T.)
Burcu Koray has run out of space to brag about what she's made lately or complain about what she has not. To listen to her outrageous stories, see what she's been up to or learn about the mystery of hand-shakes*, find her in Istanbul, Cannes, London or Mariensbad in the following months!
EDITORS NOTE: It said on google that it is offensive for an unknown male to shake hands with a female in Turkey. So much for google.