Hello from Monson Maine! I'm here participating in the Monson Arts Residency program, one of ten people that will be staying here for the next four weeks.
WHAT: 27 days of provided housing, food, studio space, and a stipend
WHEN: September 29-October 25 (other residencies held other months of the year)
WHERE: Monson, Maine (small town in the middle of Maine, surrounded by woods)
WHO: Ten people from different areas of the country/world and from different art/writing backgrounds
WHY: To focus on creating, meet other creative people, and promote creative growth in Monson
HOW: Residents selected through an application process. Apply on-line at monsonarts.org
Monson is about an hour and a half north-west of Bangor. There are about 600 residents year round, twice that in the warmer months. It's heyday was in the late 1800's and early 1900's, when about 6000-10,000 residents, many of them Swedes and Finns, lived here and worked in the industry of slate mining. The legacy of slate remains today, from footpaths and old mines to driveways and walkways, kitchen counters and bathroom floors.
You might know Monson from its being the last town before the final 100-mile leg of the Appalachian Trail. The Trail used to go right through downtown Monson, but has been moved about two miles out of town. There are still some back-packers around town now, resting up before heading out for the final stretch to Katahdin.
Monson's newest claim to fame is the Monson Arts program. This program is run through Pineland Farms, (which is funded through the Libra Foundation), with a goal of developing "economic and creative growth in the area" (from the Monson Arts brochure). The Monson Arts website explains the program along with stunning photography, so I recommend checking out the website if you'd like more information.
This is the first time I've done anything like this, and I expected something like "college dorm meets summer camp" but it's much, much nicer! Four days in and it's been amazing! The other residents are engaging and friendly--there are five writers and five visual artists.
And the food is so good it deserves its own blog entry. Seriously. Check out The Quarry's Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thequarrymonson/?hl=en
Below, more information about the town and living/working spaces, for anyone interested:
We are staying in houses near town, two or three residents to a house. The houses have colorful rugs over hardwood floors, cozy furniture and homey knick-knacks. There are full kitchens, laundry rooms, linens and towels, and each person has their own bedroom. Backyards are woodsy, and when it’s quiet, I can hear the leaves whispering. It’s easy to feel at home here!
We each get our own individual studio spaces, which are more simply furnished than the houses. We are the first residents to use the Moore Building, which has studios for seven of the ten of us residents.
The houses and studios are all within walking distance to the main street of town, which includes:
Also downtown, open seasonally, are the Appalachian Trail Information Building/Monson Historical Society Museum and Gift Shop, two antique shops, and several galleries (ceramics, paintings, wooden bowls)
Specific to the Monson Arts residents, and also within walking distance, are other Monson Arts buildings, such as the the lakeside cabin with a fireplace, and canoes and kayaks.
The town is snugged up against a beautiful lake, Lake Hebron. There is even an otter that hangs out near our studios.
Welp, I'm off to write (that is why I'm here!!). More about the surrounding area in the next post.