Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center

Integrating the Arts and Natural Sciences

Willowtail Residency Alumni

Residencies in The Arts

Willowtail is a unique property, offering one – three week residencies that have a special appeal to artists. Sixty acres tucked away in the high, alpine desert of the Four Corners Region writers come to begin or work on novels, poems, memoirs, screenplays, musicians practice, compose and rehearse, visual artists paint, draw, sculp, and photograph. However, the best quality of Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center is its ability to offer a quiet inspiring space to reflect, research, experiment, explore, laugh and create, easily, intensely.

2018 Alumni

Carol Meckling, Durango

Painter, Mixed Media, Sculptor


David Holub, Durango

Writer, Playwright

Andrew Allport, Durango



Wendy Rasmussen, Seattle


Kate Loague, Durango, Durango

Public Art

Mary Robinson, South Carolina



6 Dollar String Band, Durango



Elizabeth Ferrill, Colorado

Print Maker, Painter


Crystal Hartman, Durango

Painter, Illustrator, Jeweler, Musician


Suze Woolf, Seattle

Painter, Sculptor


Lorena Williams, Durango



Tim Kaputska, Durango

Graphic Designer


2017 Alumni

Bronwyn Strickland Beatta, Painter, Dolores/Durango



Laura Schiavone, Durango



20Moons Dance Theatre, Durango



Tammy Hartung, Colorado

Ethnobotanical Herbalist, Organic Farmer

Desert Canyon Farm

Bethany Bachmann, Colorado



Lorena Williams



Suze Woolf, Seattle



Kit Frost, Durango



2016 Alumni

Ilze Aviks
Fabric Artist, Painter, Photographer,
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Open Shutter Gallery

“I have visited Willowtail in summer-what glorious gardens and so many trees! Paths are lined with found objects ,bowling balls and upended machinery.  But to be there in WINTER!!!! Willowtail deep in snow, the lake frozen, except for the aerated circles for ducks to find space to swim.  The bare bones of trees.  Abundant birds.

“The studio warm and light filled… a perfect place to spend days experimenting and thinking. Just yards away from a cozy bungalow stocked with fruit, coffee, eggs, a loaf of homemade bread and jam.  Facing the lake. Ahhh. Such isolation and solitude is difficult to arrange in one’s “real life.”  I was profoundly grateful to take my work to a place of contemplation and open-ended days.  And, there were walks with Beau, the resident protector, to round it all out.”

David Holub
Writer, journalist, playwright,
One Week Residency, [beginning April 10, 2016] Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center

“My Willowtail experience — from conceiving a proposal to the actual residency to executing and realizing my project — was the catalyst for so many creative endeavors that did not exist nor would have been possible otherwise.”
David Holub


David, former Arts and Entertainment Editor at the Durango Herald and currently Editor of the new magazine weekly magazine, DGO. came to write a piece on bird watching with his father.  He wrote a five act one person play in collaboration with Sarah Syverson.  The dress rehearsal was in the Treehouse Gallery with many of David’s friends who are actors, musicians acrobats, writers and comedians. The play was then performed to a sold out audience at Durango Art center and the Sunshine Theatre in Cortez.

“David’s performance at Durango Art Center was fantastic! We raised over $570 toward a future residency.  I think it also encouraged other artists to apply for this program and the partnership between Willowtail and DAC.”
Cristie Scott, Executive Director, DAC.

Dan Groth, Collage Artist, Painter
One Week Residency Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center

“My residency at Willowtail was a transformative experience, where I was able to focus all my attention on art and the creative process.  The solitude I experienced in the wonderful cabin, as well as the lovely natural surroundings allowed me to explore many sides of my artistic journey.  Some of the experiences and personal revelations I had at Willowtail will reverberate with me for years.

Kim Russell, Painter, Teacher at Mancos Public Schools
Awarded One Week Residency through Durango art Center

Dan and Crystal Hartman Hanging a Show at Durango Art Center.

Many of the residents who are supported by Durango Art Center show their work in the lobby for a month during the larger exhibitions in the main room. It is another chance for them to show their work without mounting a full show. These “mini-shows”  also demonstrate another way that DAC supports its local artists through residencies at Willowtail.

In September of 2017, Willowtail will present a show in the main exhibition room of artists who have done residencies at Willowtail since 2014. Stay tuned for more news on this as the time approaches.

Judy Richardson, Sculptor from NYC,
Two Week Residency Scholarship sponsored by Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation

Judy came to Willowtail as an extremely experienced, energetic and knowledgeable professional artist. As an already recognized sculptor, opera set designer, painter and teacher with boundless processes at her disposal. She was also very generous during her time here to teach a wonderful class at Mancos Library for children and gave a spectacular, successful presentation another evening.  This was held in the beautiful Hanger outside Mancos owned by Tom Buffaloe. Many adults and children attended this presentation and were thrilled to share a glimpse into the life and work of this very established, talented and accessible women.

During studio visits with local community members, she eloquently and passionately spoke of the importance of maintaining the action and process of a piece, to keep it moving, without overworking the finished “product or work of art”. She stressed the life-source the process itself presents.

“I had expectations about my two week residency at Willowtail. I love the Southwest and looked forward to drawing, painting, and hiking in the high desert and canyon country.
When I got there I found a property in the hills with hand-built houses and a variety of gardens. My house was an old log cabin filled with antique furniture and every amenity I could have hoped for. The proprietress, Peggy Cloy, is effusive, helpful, and generous, always friendly and available. My studio was open, light-filled, and stocked with materials for my use. The property included a barn, garden house, and field house, all with lots of re-used materials and objects for my perusal. My time at Willowtail was a lot busier than I imagined, mainly because the surrounding area is so spectacular and filled with wonders, I felt an urgency to see as much as possible in the time I had.
The value of the residency to me is having the time to absorb the colors, textures, images and feeling of the place to reflect in drawings and sculptures, and to take with me for my work to come.”

Carol Meckling
3 Dimensional Mixed Media and Painting
One Week Residency awarded by Durango Art Center

“This was my first residency.The anticipation included “What if I don’t make good use of my time? What can I accomplish in a week?” However, the time immediately turned into a prolific, creative and exciting time.I already knew Willowtail was a special place, but I did not expect my work to grow and expand so quickly and easily. I still do not know exactly why this happens at Willowtail. The beautiful land? The energetic makeup of the earth it sits on? The nurturing hosts? The accumulation of creative energy collected over the years? A container is created for artists to create in ways they have not done before. One is filled with unimaginable creative freedom and energy to work.”

Suze Woolf, Seattle, WA. Plein Air Painter, Sculptor, Mountaineer, Scientist

Installation view  of Twelve watercolors on torn paper.  Trees are all from twelve national forest and national park burns

Epoxy resin and laser cut wood. from Lingua Larvae [Language of the Grubs] Series, inside book view

Laser cut wood , Max Block photograph, pyrography on wooden beads, linen thread, steel wire. Inside book view from Insect Killed pine beetle bored bark Series

Suze with charred trees at installation.

Kit Frost, Durango CO. Photographer

Whether capturing still images, recording time-lapse and video sequences or chasing the light at our National Parks, Kit Frost’s photography is emboldened by grand and intimate landscapes. Kit’s preferred work method is to explore landscapes over an extended period of time in order to capture the essence of each location throughout the day and into the night. Often found working with traditional film, digital and smart phones, Kit’s style is to capture the ever-changing and elusive light in front of her cameras, and her belief is that the best images are not created by the camera but by the passion and vision.


Crystal Hartman
Watercolor, Pen and Ink, Jeweler
One Week Residency, Scholarship awarded by DAC
One Week Residency, Scholarship awarded by Willowtail.Org

Crystal came to study and record two of the wild bee trees in Willowtail woods. She began to study other bees and pollinators while she was here. The series of long [up to 25 ft.] scrolls on rice paper with watercolor are truly exquisite and ethereal.

“When I came to Willowtail I thought I would keep drawing [the way I did in my studio, cold, influenced by the harsh realities of the honey bees’ current situation], but the first day [of my residency] I went to visit wild honeybees and their warmth and the warmth of this place, the quiet, the way you can hear a honey bee from a long ways off grabbed my heart and everything changed. My whole approach to their story and the way I want to share their story is much warmer now.”

Deborah Sussex
Pastel artist, Photographer
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Willowtail.org

Deborah worked last year at Willowtail on her photographs.  This year she worked on her new project, pastels, which she will be teaching at Willowtail sometime in 2016. Stay tuned on Classes and Workshops schedule. She also spent the day of our fundraiser photographing at Willowtail for documentation of the event. Some of these photos appear as marked on some of the pages of this website.

“When we find the setting that reunites us with our core being a sense of focus and delight takes over.”

“Restless mind can morph into a tranquil place, inspired calm waters of the Boreal forest.”

“And then there were the moments of tranquility and transcendence.”


Mariposa Velez Sentner
Art form
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center

“Willowtail has been such an inspiration to me.  From the beautiful stillness of the surroundings to the wise words of Peggy.  I am so blessed to have had this experience.  To concentrate solely on the artistic process is invaluable to me.  The focus that an artist residency offers is necessary for the creative growth of an artist, thank you for providing this space for just that and for so much more.”

 Rebecca Koeppen
Photographer, Pastel artist
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center and New Face Productions

Rebecca has been taking photos and working both at Willowtail sites and around Montezuma County.

“Over tea and treats, left for me, I watched the wild ducks and winter birds begin their day. Vases of flowers, antiques and art filled my view. After a photo expedition and the slumbering snowy fields and hills of Montezuma county, I returned to sketch in the spacious Working Studio. Even if I wasn’t already aware, it would have been clear that this place was lovingly created by artists for artists. Now that my residency is over, my memory bank is dispersing the makings of exciting paintings, the inspiration being my stay at Willowtail.”

Roxie Mitchell
Experimental Digital Photography
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center

“I really appreciated the time and space that Willowtail allowed me to dive deep in my creative process and produce work.  Although Willowtail is close to my home geographically, it felt like a whole different world. The Studio, Bungalow and property were full of opportunities to meditate and inspire new thinking.
I most enjoyed getting to know the Cloys and their openness and willingness to act as friends and mentors.”

Roxie is head of digital photography at Durango High School.  She was on sabbatical for a year during her residency at Willowtail.

 Jeremy Pataky
Writer, Photographer
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Willowtail.Org

“Peggy smiling on the porch and Lee’s kind laugh across the lunch table at the Mancos Bakery, the endless formal variation of juniper and the pale orb of their berries fallen to the ground, a writers heaven. The white faces of coots paddling the lake and the flash of mallard wings lifting off the lake, a bowl of fresh eggs, bread, jam, pears and apples and a hearty jar of whole coffee beans, like an hourglass, marks time passing over my stay. The homey clutter of used dishes, books, clothes, water glasses, binoculars strewn about the cabin and divine porch, indicators of a well-used space.  I have a feeling I will be back.”

Jeremy is an accomplished writer, living in Alaska. His first book of poetry, “Overwinter”, speaks in a deeply personal and evocative way about the Alaska landscape.

Jeremy has enormous experience in worldwide artist residencies.  He has been Artist Resident Program Coordinator for the Rasmuson Foundation, one of the largest foundations of its kind in the country.  His knowledge of residencies and their funding is extensive.  He was, and continues to be, most generous in sharing his extensive knowledge and experience with Willowtail.

Nina Elder
Artist, Painting, Drawing
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Willowtail.org
Nina is the Director of Residencies at Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM

Her current series is challenging, provocative and exquisitely beautiful. She is an excellent lecturer and would bring a broader “world view” to the Four Corners. She is fast becoming a recognized world class artist.   She is young, extremely gifted and a passionate speaker.  She loves Willowtail and is willing to speak to groups in this area.

“I examine the visual evidence of land use in the American West and its cycles of production, consumption and waste. Through the vernacular of landscape painting, and using parking lots, bombing ranges and junk heaps as my source material, I explore the delineation between land and landscape, beauty and banality. My work scrutinizes the aesthetic mitigation that often camouflages humanity’s dependence on nature.  I respond the place where the organic and the artificial rasp against each other.  This post-industrial landscape is the physical manifestation of modern needs, economies, policies and powers, yet I approach it as a pure spectacle.  I aspire to elucidate and aestheticize the friction, grandeur, mystery, frankness, degeneration, necessity and beauty in the contemporary American landscape.”

During her time at Willowtail she completed one of her large pencil drawings from her series of work from Kennecott Mines throughout the world, including Peru, China and Chile. She hikes extensively to these sites to gather material.  She is also working on Anchorage Museum’s Polar lab and has done many photographs, drawings and paintings of cold war era radar communications sites in Alaska.

“Willowtail is a space of great intention. The founder’s care and vision are ever present-from the framing of the landscape through the windows, to the wending through the woods, to the picturesque accommodations.  My days at Willowtail were balanced between reading next to the fireplace, drawing in the studio, and snowshoeing around the property.  Even though the views were expansive, I was deeply focused and without distraction during my residency.  I had set very ambitious goals, and I not only met them, but exceeded them and became deeply enchanted with the land and logic of Willowtail!”


Elizabeth Ferrill
Three Week Residency – Scholarship Awarded by Willowtail.Org

Elizabeth is currently Director of Painting and Printmaking at Anderson Ranch. She has taught at many places, including most recently, Rhode Island School of Design, Graduate students. She has exhibited widely both in New York and Berlin.

Deborah Sussex
Painting and Photography
One Week Residency, Sponsored by Open Shutter Gallery

“My week at Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center allowed me to fill the well of my inner artistic reservoir.  Life is hectic and full of distractions.  For me, the months prior to my time at Willowtail were busting at the seams.  I appreciated the unique opportunity to separate myself from typical responsibilities which have a way of distracting my artist brain.  My week in a peaceful, beautiful, and supportive atmosphere allowed my artist brain to, once again, tune into sounds, smells, observations, details and all the magic of the moments where the littlest things in life seem utterly important.  In addition, I regained momentum for carrying out some daily patterns that are part of my artistic process; writing, reading, sketching, painting, image making…all on a daily basis, with regularity and zest!”

Elizabeth Kinahan
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center

The grounds that Peggy and Lee have cultivated make you feel like you’re a million miles away, perfectly suited to getting lost in inspiration and total beauty. Such a place is exactly what an artist needs to incite fresh creativity, a new perspective, and a natural inclination to push work further. All other things fall to the side in the present moment, birds flutter from tree to tree, chime out their melodies. I am reminded of what is truly important in life. During my week at Willowtail I was afforded the time to truly be “in the space” they have created. I was able to observe my own creative process, from the moment of inspiration to the completion of a piece. I allowed myself the “time” to sit and draw from life, which I do not often do. I saw the benefits immediately. I immersed myself in a new world, watched the way it influenced my brush. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, one that I will draw on for years”

Elizabeth agreed after her residency to serve as a board member for Willowtail. As part of her financial contribution as a board member, she donated half the proceeds of her show from works produced at Willowtail back to Willowtail. She has also served in many capacities as board member and volunteer at events and other meetings.

Jane Pedersen
Handmade Paper and Book Artist
One Week Residency, Scholarship Awarded by Durango Arts Center

“The Artist-in-Residency which I recently completed is the first collaboration of its kind for between the Durango Art Center and Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center and is part of The Art Revolution Program. It is the first part of what the art community hopes will become a regular opportunity for artists to explore their genre.

Why is a residency program important for artists? After all, most of us have a “residence” and mine even includes a lovely space set aside for my work. However, what my home doesn’t provide is the opportunity to place oneself in a pure and serene environment, free of the distractions of everyday life.

Peggy and Lee Cloy have the spirit and energy to make this opportunity work, as evidenced by the quiet, peace, and permission I found while spending my week at Willowtail. They anticipated my every need and their non-intrusive emotional support was invaluable.”

Shay Lopez
One Week Residency, Willowtail Scholarship Awarded

“What a place! I have so enjoyed the solitude and quiet of the Garden Cottage and feel so blessed to have experienced Willowtail. You have created a true gem. Thanks so much for making this available to artists. May our work perpetuate in some way, the energy and love of Willowtail Springs.”