Why “Flow?”

For starters, a contemporary understanding of flow is that it’s “the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.*” Given the amazing talent, dedication, energy, and fine art created around here, that’s fitting.

But it’s much more than that. “Flow” accurately describes the gestalt of this place. Ideas flow. Creativity flows. Conversations flow. The headwaters of the Teton River flow. And relationships flow.

Just ask any of the artists, collectors, apprentices, students, friends and family that stream through this sacred space in the south end of Teton Valley. They’ll tell you that whatever else is going on, above all, blessings flow.

We live in the old renovated farmhouse next door.

If you’ve ever driven down Scott’s driveway and looked to your left, you may have seen the big north porch on the farmhouse and a happy woman tucked into one of the adirondack chairs with a glass of wine and an iPad. We’ve possibly even already waved “hello” to one another. I spend a fair amount of time tucked into those chairs, letting my thoughts flow with the beauty and magic light that swirls here. Plus, I have a propensity to wave to strangers. It’s a country thing.

My name is Kathy, and I’m a writer, photographer, blogger, humorist… and Scott’s neighbor.

Disclaimer: The only thing I use brushes for is to dab on the morning warpaint or to apply an egg-wash glaze to a perfect pie crust.

Oddly enough, this makes me a good fit for the position of observer, question-asker, and learner of the world around me here. I’m passionate about understanding how people at the top of their game think about what it is they do, and with Scott just across the creek and a new artistic community blooming all around us, it’s a fabulous opportunity to indulge in some (to me) interesting questions:

What’s the thinking model for fine art? When Scott approaches a blank five-foot by ten-foot canvas, what’s going through his mind, besides “What the hell am I thinking?!”

When he’s worked on it for five months, scrubbed it down six times, and is now focused on the horizon, what problem is he trying to solve?

And why would George Bumann, the sculptor, take one of Scott’s workshops? What would a sculptor hope to learn from an oil painter? And what’s the deal with field studies? Can’t they just take a photo?

I have many questions.

My husband Rick is a painter, songwriter, amazing guitarist, woodchopper and, well, more on all that later.

And that’s our trusty sidekick, Winnie, the Pootz. He won’t usually have much to say here, but somehow he always seems to wind up right in the middle of anything interesting going on, so I thought you might be introduced sooner rather than later.

There’s a warm stream that flows year-round between our two properties.

Last summer Rick and I piled a wheelbarrow full of large round rocks from our north field and strategically dumped them in two spots in the creek, so now it also burbles all year as well. We figured it was only right to create a great sound track for such an amazing space. Besides, we needed somewhere to put the rocks.

Scott and Rick met at the Scottsdale Artist School on 1995 where Scott was teaching a painting workshop. They became friends of the type that when the run-down farmhouse next door to Scott’s studio came on the market a couple years back, we jumped. And promptly knocked out most of the interior walls and four chimneys. And completely rewired, re-plumbed, re-porched, re-windowed, re-roofed, re-financed, etc.

Anyway, that’s how we wound up here, planted on the porch.

Long before Scott moved from Jackson to Victor and built his amazing 6,000 square foot gallery and studio space, he and Rick had talked many times about a vision for fostering a new artistic community that would flow with creativity and talent and learning and beauty…

… where the insights and inspiration from a variety of creative disciplines could be slowed down just enough to be appreciated, developed, and shared among kindred spirits.

Paint would flow.

New directions would emerge.

Most importantly, life itself would flow. Even before Christensen Studio had a roof on it, the place was already streaming with painters, and collectors, and sculptors, and musicians, and writers, and photographers, and chefs, and those seeking the guidance and insights that could take their own creative work to the next level.

That’s George and his amazing bison. More on George and the team sport known as “sculpting” in an upcoming post.

Flow is a a place for reflection, conversation, and community. It’s for all of us: The people this place attracts. The mastery that awaits those with the courage and curiosity to pursue it. The passion to create.

All mixed together with the joy and rhythms of life in this special place, with a few food stains along the way to keep it real.

Let the gravy flow!

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