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Varda Artists Residency

March 2020

Since the late 1940s the SS Vallejo houseboat has been a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. Talented artists such as Jean Varda, Gordon Onslow Ford, Mark Tobey, Wolfgang Paalen, Roberto Matta and Ruth Asawa either lived or stayed at the SS Vallejo. Cultural figures such as the philosopher Alan Watts have also resided there. Others who have been connected to the boat at one time or another include intellectuals Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg, writers Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller and Maya Angelou, musician Harry Partch, filmmakers James Broughton and Agnes Varda, and curator Grace McCann Morley. 

I was invited to spend a month to join the residency in Spring 2020 to live and work on a new collection to launch with Tappan. This was one of my most magical times being able to create, converse and share with other creatives and live on the historic SS Vallejo. The collection explores the fluidity of the ocean and living on boat, mimicking shapes and forms around me. The colors are reminiscent of the nostalgia and history of artworks that were  made,  referencing back to the 1970's when Jean Varda was painting and living on SS Vallejo. When looking at the collection you will see heavy textures, referencing the rough textures of the boat, thick  rust colors exploring the underlay of the boat and circular shapes referencing the windows. ' Living on Water' is collection that is most close to heart for me, and time in the world that will never be forgotten.


Photographs below taken by Artist in Residence Shannon May Powell

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