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Artist Residency at Whiterock Conservancy

Over 36 Rhode Islands

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is often used as a unit of measurement.

2 years ago

Over 36 Rhode Islands

2 years ago

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is often used as a unit of measurement. So to let you know how far I’ve traveled in my Honda Fit, it is over 36 Rhode Islands between my home and Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids IA. If, dear reader, you are already confusing Iowa, Ohio and Idaho, please check a map! 

I was invited to the  River House Artist Residency for a 3-week session which overlaps September and October. Corn is already being harvested in fields that stretch unbroken to the horizon topped with clear blue sky. I was following driving directions like, “On this route, drive for 99 miles, then take a left. You have arrived at your destination.”

Today I met with Liz Garst who, among many other things, is my lifeline for the residency and Niki Reynolds, Whiterock’s new Executive Director. In town I found the delicious La Terraza Mexican Restaurant (and promised to come back to practice my Spanish with them), a woman from RI who owns Jenna’s Tattooed Confections (long happy story), friendly people in thrift, resale and hardware stores. At the house, the maintenance crew taught me how to drive the ATV, the chariot I’ll drive on trails up and down this stunning river valley. 


Tonight I watched the full moon rise and heard some big fish splashing in the river. There are campers nearby, some barking dogs and other night sounds that I can’t yet recognize...back to you on that. 

I have a dual focus here. First, to document some historic buildings on the land through painting and drawing. Secondly, my purpose is to stay open for surprises all around me in this beautiful place. Glad you are along on my journey!

Iowa savannah grassland in evening light


  • Laughing about “Over 36 Rhode Islands”. Also laughing that I can count the number of times I have been out of RI on two hands since you left on weeks ago. Happy Trails.

    Kris on

  • Wishing you a beautiful stay with wonderful artistic possibilities.

    Valerie Seldon on

  • Sorry I missed you at Jennifer’s house in Ames.
    Enjoy that beautiful land!

    Barbara Walton on

  • So excited for you! Thanks especially for the vision and sounds of the night. Good luck!

    Jan Burling on

  • Good luck, Thea. Don’t get lost in those cornfields!

    Sue Simoneau on

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