June 17, 2020 - A Promise of Renewal
There are some first impressions you never forget.
Early on a warm summer evening nearly 30 years ago, a friend who was a Trustee at Djerassi Resident Artists Program invited me to have dinner with the artists at the Artists’ House. I remember it like yesterday. After a hair-raising drive in a small sports car on the rutted and dusty Bear Gulch Road, there unfurled before me a sweeping panorama of breathtaking beauty. Yellowing hillsides glowed in the sunlight, and the endless view to the coast was softened by rogue wisps of fog. I asked him to stop the car. I gazed widely, and with each turn of my head I saw something that seemed more beautiful. Too big for my eyes to take in, I opened my heart. And that is where Djerassi Resident Artists Program resides, even now.
In the years since that first breathtaking experience, I have been a donor, consultant, and Trustee. The Program for me is like an old friend. Reading about it gives me comfort and reassurance. The times when I can visit for Open House, Artful Harvest or Artists’ Dinners are expeditions I anticipate with joy. Giving my time and funding to it over the years – in whatever amounts I can spare—has been very gratifying. And when we are apart for a few years, we always pick up easily where we left off.
For me, the Djerassi Program has always been about its promise: to the artists, to the land, to the memory of Pamela Djerassi. Over the decades, that promise has been evident in its mission and commitment to the more than 2500 artists who have savored the gift of time as residents. And that promise to the artists is paralleled by the Program’s dedication to the preservation and care of the 583 acres on which it dwells. Dotted with sculptures, providing living and work spaces for all artistic disciplines, the land and Program are integrated seamlessly into a place where art originates.
We have been going through unprecedented times of change in our personal and community lives: persistent pandemic, civil action for justice and peace, and contentious politics. During this time, I have turned more than ever to the arts for solace and inspiration. Music, dance, film, visual arts, opera and theatre, even virtually, have healed my spirit. As I seek renewal, art and artists are enriching my life. In these moments of artistic immersion, my mind often returns to that first unforgettable moment seeing the horizon over the wind-swept fields, and to the promises the Program has kept and continues to keep. It is a promise of renewal, a gift of time, and a commitment to keep the arts and artists safe and strong now, and always.
Kay Sprinkel Grace
Djerassi Program Past Trustee