Reflections on Cultivating Dreams

Steve DeGroodt, Los Angeles-based Visual and Media Artist

Reflecting back on The Studios of Key West residency last June is not a romantic escapist memory. Instead it s the realization of  just how valuable a resource TSKW proved to be with getting my HD video documentary project underway. The director, Eric Holowacz, and his superb office staff were so helpful with a friendliness and professionalism through it all.  Introductions, hookups, logistics, PR, and even recommending El Siboney as the best Cuban restaurant in Key West were right on.

I was generously provided a 24/7 working studio in the Historic Armory to build and photograph props and images. Each day would actually begin next door at 7 a.m. in the Mango Tree House, my residence on campus. Fortified with Cuban expresso and freshly sliced mangos on whole wheat toast, I did on-line research then later drove or pedaled my bike to scout locations.  It was the perfect situation with an ideal atmospheric ambience of shifting cloud formations and light. Even the heat lightening at night over the water was a revelation!

Cultivating Dreams, my historical documentary based on pioneer botanist, Dr. Henry Perrine, and his contribution to Florida horticulture in 1838-1840, sometimes required driving 2 hours north to Indian Key and Lower Matecumbe Key. There interviews with 90 year old archeologist/historian Irving Eyster were video taped. Later driving back to Key West with a brilliant sunset and the car windows rolled down, I was elated by each day’s video footage. Now the work I did in the Keys is in the process of being edited. I give thanks to The Studios of Key West for their assistance as well as studio artist and local naturalist writer Mark Hedden,  who generously provided me with a sonic custom made CD of bird calls of the Keys. This entire experience now seems as if I was in a dream. I look back in awe. A dream residency that was very real!

The Studios of Key West