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July 14, 2015

Home – Drew Ludwig ’15Photo

by drewludwig
Accidents suck. Accidents suck even more when they involve your face and pavement. This is a little story about my return home at a high rate of locomotion.
I was looking to hit the ground running. This was three weeks ago and the day was perfect. I was home which already put the day in a positive direction and the clouds were out wearing their fluffy cumulus attire. The sun was low in the sky, and I had just woken up in my tipi near Colorado’s largest waterfall. It sounds whimsical because it is around here. Its silly gorgeous and it only got prettier during my time in Rhode Island. Not that Providence doesn’t have its charm, but I am a mountain boy and there is far too little open space or anything mountainous to look up to in the ocean state to keep me from here. We all have a place we call home so imagine your happy spot where you just want to put your hands in the soil and Telluride, CO is that place for me. Yours I imagine is amazing too and please feel free to describe in the comments below.
View from tipi deck the evening before fateful crash:
So there I was on my bike pointed towards town with not much on my mind beyond a contented curiosity about the name of the wild flower I had just passed when my bike tire froze and bucked me off. It was cinematic. It was traumatic. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an equal or greater force or at least this is what wikipedia has to say on the matter. The greater force in this case was friction and the oppositional parties included most of my body (hands/face/knees/elbows but mostly my left pinky) and the road.
I was heading to town to start something. The reason you are reading this blog post was my target; the Maharam Fellowship and it was my first day on the job at our local arts non-profit, Telluride Arts. Side note: I do not blame you nor any interested parties for my fate as it was I who found it more fun to not use my handle bars and it was I who had forgotten to attach the coaster break to the frame of the bike. You reap what you sew and consequence is something I have been courting for years. Granted, I am usually on the lucky side of chance, but that day found me crumpled and looking to bath in a pool of triple antibiotic ointment. I lost a little skin and some momentum but three weeks later I am well on my way to a full range of motion in the hands and the scar on my face looks like a shark, so I have that going for me.
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But why am I telling you all of this? I have no idea, but lets just say that if you don’t have your health you don’t have much of anything. First health then space to grow. Literal space. Multiple squares of feet of it. You have to have the room to be healthy, to practice your art, to eat dinner with your family and to just be. Telluride, my home town, and where I was speeding that morning, has an abundance of space but its outside our town limits. National forest, BLM lands and all sorts of privately owned reserves surround our town of 3 thousand. These great expanses are the Great Nothing Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 9.58.30 PM Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 9.53.30 PM
that drew all of us here in the first place. The mountains have a gravity and we feel this pull every moment of every day. It even finds its way to our dreams. You may think of this as homesickness but its deeper than that. Its like if Homesickness met Romantic Longing and they had a love child named Home. And imagine if Home weighed 9lbs 6oz with a full head of hair. So what is one to do if you love open space, need room to grow but don’t have the means to find a pot big enough for your roots?
I think it is important to jump in here and touch on the subject of wealth disparity. Telluride is a resort town. People from all over the country and world treat this place as an investment. A safe place to visit their valuables (property). Their money is made elsewhere in amorphous, non substantive places called “markets” and our town lots have become their safety deposit boxes. They prefer to view their valuables around the holidays and over the fourth of July holiday. FREEDOM! We have defenses against these liberties and they are the first wave of locals who felt the pull of this valley thirty years ago and stayed long enough to raise their family, grow some gray hairs and generally make this town an amazing place to live. They may have done too good of a job as this place is far to good for the general public. They still hold some of the keys to this place, but they are selling out and leaving at an alarming rate.
We call this phenomena the demographic cliff. The moment the long time local stops quietly subsidizing the younger generation of locals through below market rents, higher than expected hourly wages and access to their storage space in the back of their undeveloped properties. They are aging and the harsh reality of the mountains is that no one wants to be here when they are 70. Its just a fact. We all will feel that pull to the mountains weaken and we most definitely will eventually wander off to the lowlands. But HOW the older generation chooses to exit will determine the character of this town for decades to come.
Ok so here we are today. My fingers are healing, my shark scar is awesome, and I need a space for my offset printer to make the art! Bad news: can’t find a space for my printer. Good news: I am working with the Telluride arts to develop a partially collapsed building in the center of town as an artist maker space. Bad news again: it will take years for this to be developed but yes this space became available by the good graces of a long time local family who held onto it for the past 40 years. Yahoo for localism! That said I wouldn’t say they are giving it to us but a buy in by the arts community is a good thing. We will be invested. Now to raise the seed capital for Art Space’s (if you don’t know about this non profit check them out here) consulting fees, architectural fees, lawyer fees and all sorts of other fees before we get to the real millions it is going to take to acquire, stabilize and then build out the space. One step at a time and there have already been thousands of jogs to get us where we are today.
My first job as intern was to make our first fundraising party fabulous. Artist tend to be good at this. This was the first time the Transfer Warehouse (the building mentioned above) had been open to the public since the roof collapsed in 1979. To learn more about this space check out this website. The party was last Friday and we spent a week cleaning, building and transforming the space into an open air bar. There was live music, dancing, wheat pasted photos and just about everyone in town. We had 700 visitors and raised 20K. All in all a great evening under the open sky. Check out the trees that have grown in the center of the space since the 80s.
Yes these were shot with a drone and yes I want to shoot down every drone I see:
Ok so check in next post as I talk about how difficult it has been for me to find one of those maker spaces under the current environment here in Telluride. I am traveling to California this week to pick up the offset press that will produce our underground arts publication, The DUMBSAINT. Sad I do not have a place to put it when I get back next week but I have faith some space will turn up, and I am guessing it will probably be because some old time local hears from someone who heard it from someone else that there is someone looking for a space to keep this town weird and arty. Three cheers for weird and arty. Oh and three more cheers for health and space. Those are the first two things you need before you can even think about being weird and arty.
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