Picnickers enjoy art and readings at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony

The time of relaxation and fun June 10 at the annual Dorland Mountain Arts Colony summer picnic allows writer Steve Shear an opportunity to share some of his work with public visitors and other artists. Tony Ault photo

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony artists, board members and visitors gathered Sunday, June 11, to celebrate the addition of two new artist cottages and a soon-to-be-completed, multipurpose room at a picnic under the oaks off Highway 79 near Temecula.

Current resident artists and writers, along with board members and guests, shared their latest creations with the picnickers sitting under the shady coastal oaks that cover the grounds. One of the two newest artist cottages served as the backdrop of the natural duff-covered speakers’ area.

Resident writer Amy Cannon shared her poem written at the colony.

“It was good to live lightly here,” she wrote, lauding the solitude and beauty found on and around the colony grounds. Another resident writer, Meryl Peters, originally from New York, delighted her listeners in reading an excerpt from the latest story, “The Girl from Albermar Road,” which focuses on a Jewish burial tradition.

“This place is fantastic, just love the new cabin,” Peters, who will be staying at the Colony for another week, said. Peters has been coming to spend a few weeks at the colony each year for the past four years writing her stories within her latest novel, which is soon to be published.

Adding to the fun and enjoyment of the annual summer picnic were board members preparing free bratwursts and hot dogs for the guests with a variety of fine wines for a nominal donation. Guests were invited to bring a potluck item for others to enjoy.

Other writers and artists attending included: colony director and artist Noreen Ring; board member and artist Kathy Stradley; author Sharon O’Brien; poet and artist O’Dessa Cleveland and poet and writer Steve Shear. Colony resident Robert Willis, a noted watercolor artist, held meetings with visitors in his studio on the grounds.

Janice Cipriani-Willis, art colony director, welcomed the visiting artists and friends to the picnic, offering tours and talks about the facility’s newest cabins and the upcoming multipurpose room for the visiting artists. The colony now has four approved cottages available to accomplished artists and rooms with acreage offering freedom in its ageless oak trees, ponds and flora and fauna. Wildlife abounds around the colony, and artist guests are allowed complete seclusion if they wish they are visiting.

“We are using what we have now for the visiting artists and want to begin some new art and music programs for the public,” Willis said. “We have space for four more cottage we hope to build in the future. We will build two more cottages in our next phase.”

The colony was once almost destroyed, including its six historic cabins, two art studios, adobe home, kitchen house and a rare grand piano, by the 2004 Eagle Mountain Fire that raged along Highway 79. The board has worked hard for the last 11 years to rebuild the facility with help from former residents, patrons of the arts, local businesses and contributors.

The legacy of Dorland Arts Colony founder Ellen Babcock Dorland, world famous concert pianist and nature lover, is being kept alive by dedicated lovers of art and music. Dorland initially created the Dorland Arts Colony, 36701 Highway 79 South, to give her friends and fellow artists a place to work and revive their spirits in a place of natural beauty and peace. The colony grounds were eventually turned over the Nature Conservancy to maintain and conserve the property in its natural state.

The nonprofit Dorland Mountain Arts Colony offers accomplished artists from all media to spend a week or two in quiet seclusion to work on their latest creations, whether in music, writing, photography, plein air painting and all forms of media. Each of the four cottages contain the most up-to-date amenities with some including a grand piano for musicians. Colony staff is currently installing a sturdy wheelchair ramp for any disabled artists.

For information about the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, call (951) 302-3837 or visit the website at dorlandartscolony.com or on Facebook. Cottages may be rented at nominal prices.

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