Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center

Integrating the Arts and Natural Sciences

2015 Alumni

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!”