555 Rural Artist Residency

555 is our pilot artist residency program, hosting 5 artists for 5 days in 5 Shelton Huts on the Blue Sky Center campus. The pilot program took place in April 2018, in collaboration with citizen artist and residency facilitator Mary Welcome, with generous support from the Santa Barbara Office of Arts & Culture, the Squire Foundation, Duncan Family Farms, and several individual donors. Blue Sky’s Shelton Huts are unique mobile shelters designed and built by father-daughter duo Jeff and Mattie Shelton and are available to host individuals from around the world to creatively and collaboratively engage Cuyama Valley communities. The pilot brought artists to make work in, about, and with New Cuyama. Our aim for the projects is that they help to create meaningful dialogue and socially vibrant spaces in the Cuyama Valley. In the spirit of rural-urban exchange, the residency culminated in a July 2018 exhibition in Santa Barbara, where artists shared their work and experiences during the residency.

Seeing Rural: Exhibition July 26 - September 30, 2018


Meet the artists!

Mary Welcome, (Palouse, Washington)

Mary Welcome is a citizen artist with an emphasis on cultural empowerment in rural and under-recognized communities. Her work is conversational and research-based, in response to the social, built, and natural environments we situate ourselves within. She collaborates with local schools, city councils, civic groups, arts organizations, youth groups, summer camps, libraries, neighbors, and friends to build cooperative environments that encourage civic engagement, radical education, and community progress. She believes in small towns, long winters, optimists, parades, and talking about feelings. She served as 555’s facilitator helping artists thrive in their projects and connect with local residents.

Butchy Fuego, (Los Angeles, California)

Butchy Fuego is a professional musician/artist and ametaur outdoorsman. He is the founder of Seeing Trails Hike Gang, an artist collective practicing what they call Wilderness Arts: a way of using wilderness practices as a medium and platform for their individual artistic disciplines. He spent the residency exploring the Cuyama Valley, specifically Santa Barbara Canyon, Aliso Canyon, and Quatel Canyon.

Designers on Holiday, (Gotland, Sweden)

Co-founders Tom Gottelier and Bobby Petersen started Designers on Holiday in 2014 as a unique off-grid design residency for creatives on the Island of Gotland. With the residency and their own design studio, they focus on building site-specific, sustainable, and minimal design that heightens the audience's interaction with their natural environment and showcases what is special in each different location. Their residency project was designing and building a community bus shelter for the Cuyama School District.

Nicole Lavelle, (Lagunitas, California)

Nicole Lavelle is an artist and designer who lives in California. Her research-driven, project-based social practice yields experimental essays, visual narratives, and platforms for participation. She thinks the most perfect art projects don’t identify as art at all, but as community publications, inclusive spaces, found language, weekly routine, landscape studies, or internet memoir. She is an Affiliate Artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts and Artist in Residence at the Prelinger Library. She explored the idea of what it means to be a visitor or temporary in a new place.

Noé Montes, (Los Angeles, California)

Noé Montes is a photographer based in Los Angeles. His work focuses on community and social justice issues and he has extensive experience working with educational, cultural and civic institutions and non-profit organizations. Montes' list of commissions includes work for the Annenberg Foundation, the California Community Foundation, the University of Southern California and The Getty Foundation. In 2015 he received an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship for his project about Farm Workers in the Coachella Valley. During his time in the Cuyama Valley, he photographed and interviewed long-time residents and taught a photography workshop with middle school students.

Small Medium Large Productions, (Los Angeles, California)

Angela Wood and Ben Guzman have been making short documentary content as Small Medium Large since 2012. Most recent was their 14 part web series entitled "2 Guys Named Ben" which documented a musical bicycle journey of Ben and his friend Ben Townsend from Townsend's home in West Virginia to Guzman's home in Los Angeles. Angela is a Chicago native with an MFA in film from Northwestern University. The two met while working in commercial post production in LA. Guzman is a Southern California native who is co-founder of the Bicycle Kitchen (LA) and co-creator of the series The Back Porch of America. They traveled to all ends of the valley shooting the diverse landscape and interviewing residents to find out their identity in this place.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Cuyama Valley Recreation District
E&B Natural Resources
Duncan Family Farms
North Fork Vineyard
Fat Uncle Farms
Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project
Grimmway Farms
Bolthouse Farms
Cuyama Orchards

SZ Ranch
Topa Topa Brewing Company
Lagunitas Brewing Company
High Desert Print Company
GM Fabrications
Will Price Backhoe Service
Harry Curtis
Carlos Rojas
John George

The Stoll Family
The Bassett Family
Cecilia Sullivan
Paul Chounet
Pam Baczuk & John Coates
Gean Guillard & Meg Brown
Kate Donahue / Coffee Cantina