Headspace

These Walls Tell Tales, pt. 4

Life can be surprising; it sometimes twists when you expect it to turn, zigs instead of zags. It’s best to learn to lean into the surprise, to see where new unexpected delights might take you. This can also be said for an artistic practice: when allowed the time and space to expand, a practice is much like a life, and it too will surprise you. At Headlands, we strive to create conditions that allow for such expansion, and for Artists to develop richer, stronger relationships to their work, and to each other. Sometimes, those relationships are lifelong, and those distinctions between art and everything else fall away: a new, surprising turn to lean into.

 

Zachary Scholz (AIR '02)

A babys playpen in a large room below a window. In the foreground are large sheets of upholstery foam leaning on pillars

From Zachary Scholz’ Headlands studio. Photo by Klea McKenna (AFF ’15–’16)

 

“My older daughter Aurelia was two-years-old during the three-month live-out residency I did at Headlands in 2012. I had her with me in the studio during the day while my wife Felisa was at work down in San Francisco, and I would set up an old rickety pack-n-play for her naps. I had to keep extra quiet while she slept. I was working with large sheets of upholstery foam, and would sometimes prop and pile them around her to form a dark quiet cave. I occasionally had to sneak off to use the bathroom two floors below with my fingers crossed that she wouldn’t wake up while I was gone. Her naps could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or two.  At home when she napped, I would shut the door to her room and tackle some domestic task or piece of writing until she woke. But, in the gorgeous studio I had at Headlands, these routine tasks seemed menial and a waste of precious time. So, instead, I developed a practice of quiet waiting and watching.

A person in a large room scattered with large sheets of foam

Zachary Scholz in the studio. Photo by Andria Lo.

 

“I couldn’t leave on a hike through the chaparral looking for wildlife, or wander down to the beach and watch the waves rolling in across the ocean, but I could wander the room I was in and observe it as if it were a grove of trees, or a field of grass. The studio I was given was magnificent—not as a work space or an exhibition space, as it was filled with columns, and had so many windows that there was hardly a single decent sized wall—it was magnificent as a thing unto itself. The room possessed the same eloquent deterioration that David Ireland so lovingly transformed in Headlands’ public spaces, but here they persisted in their quiet and poignant original modesty. The golden light that streamed through the windows revealed the room’s poetic details in a shifting chorus that swelled and receded, warmed and cooled, in an ever-changing dance. This interplay extended beyond the room itself, drawing into it the views from its windows—glimpses of the glittering water far away at the beach, the crest of green hills undulating across the valley, and the rocky hillside close outside one long set of windows, melancholically clad in gray-green lichen and delicately blowing stalks of yellowed grass. 

“So many of the things that I deeply love about Headlands were simultaneously present in that room. I sat and I watched, listening to my sleeping child breathing. The experience shaped the work I eventually made, and changed me.”

Jamie Brisick (AIR '18)

I’m forever indebted to Headlands. I wrote around the clock, interspersed with daily beach walks, hikes, and bike rides up and down green and rolling hills. I lived in the memoir I was writing in a way that I never could at home, with the ringing phone and quotidian duties. Immersion: that’s the thing I got from my Headlands residency. And it’s not just about how prolific, how many words written per day; it was about my relationship with my work, a deep exploration inward. 

“I also enjoyed ridiculously delicious meals, and engaged in memorable conversations with fellow artists. Simone Forti was there. At dinner one night we got onto the topic of relationships (at the time, Simone was 83). I asked if she was married. ‘Not at the moment,’ she said.”

Robert Minervini (AIR '09)

A person in a large studio full of paintings and objects

Robert Minervini in the Project Space studio.

 

“In 2009 I graduated from SFAI and was a runner up for the Graduate Fellowship award. I was disappointed I wasn’t selected but made other plans and moved on. 

“A few weeks later, I got a call: someone couldn’t do their Project Space residency and would I like to go in their place? To which I said, ‘of course!’ 

“During that five-week residency I got to spend more time with my classmate Vera Kachouh (GF ’09), who had won the Graduate Fellowship. We went on walks after dinners, and did all the magical things one does at Headlands. About four years later we reconnected, started dating, and on an unforgettable night on August 6th, 2016, we got married at Headlands.”

A black and white photo of a bride and groom

Vera Kachouh and Robert Minervini on their wedding day at Headlands.