DOPT UPDATE: The bumps in the road...

Dear members of the Department of Public Transformation, 

Today was a bit of a tough one! After a wonderful week of adventures with Gus the Bus, he overheated on a mountain road... After a tow into town and a full day at a garage in Show Low,AZ, it became very clear that Gus' situation was going to need more time to fix than we had to give - so, we made the difficult decision of saying goodbye to Gus for now... We found a new friend (Dan the Van) and hit the road to Zuni, NM to get back on track! You can watch a video about our adventure here:

Gus is a great part of the Public Transformation project, but the real heart of the work is, of course, the stories. And, what we have been hearing over and over again in the stories we have heard so far - what makes the arts thrive is resilience, perseverance, commitment, dedication, and the willingness to play the long game - so, we are taking a page from the book of the friends we have met so far, and we are moving forward with the same amount of passion we had before we hit the bump in the road!

In other updates, we rounded out our time in the border community of Ajo with an incredible interview with photographer Tom Kiefer, ( an artist whose work seeks to honor the artifacts stripped from those who attempt to cross the border through the desert and are caught. Please visit his website for a look at his powerful and important work. 

We also met with Emily, Stuart, and Jonah Siegel of the Sonoran Desert Inn and Conference Center who talked about where their dreams of running an artist retreat center and the reality of managing a hotel in a rural community collide. 

From there, we made our way to Phoenix to talk with urban-based artists and organizations that do work in rural areas around the state. We met with Jaclyn Roessel, who goes by the stage name Grownup Navajo ( whose work looks at honoring the traditions of her culture through a modern lens. 

We also met with Gabriela Munoz from the Arizona Arts Commission who talked about their ArtsWorker Program, which brings artists to the rural community of Douglas, AZ. And, we had the sincere pleasure of spending an insightful evening and morning with one of my heroes, Michael Rohd, whose little red book I carried around with me throughout my undergraduate career. 

After we made it to Show Low, our host, playwright and theater artist Lisa Jayne, invited us to spend the evening at her house where we talked about the real challenges of making art in rural areas. 

Once we get over the blow of losing Gus, I will be writing some much more in depth reflections on the blog and will be sure to share them with you all! But, for now, it is 1am in Dan the Van, we are parked near Zuni, NM on Navajo Nation land, and Randi and I are in need a good night's sleep!!

Onward! Over and out, 

Ash x