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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.

A year ago


Over 36 Rhode Islands

A year 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. 

ATV

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

10 comments


  • Fabulous first dispatch! Can’t wait for more! May your Iowa horizons always be topped with blue skies…

    Marie Malchodi on

  • Sounds as though you are off to a good start!

    Sally Hay on

  • Beautifully written! Looking forward to all your updates!

    Cat Riker on

  • Ooooo, I am SO excited for you!!!

    Elaine Benevides on

  • Thank you for bringing us along with you Thea. I love your writing The photos are gorgeous

    Lauri Smalls on

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