Goodbye, Sweet Space!

at the studioSomeone I was to meet today just let me know that they are at the wrong address. I checked my website and noticed I haven’t updated the location page as yet. And I find this photo—with Anne Marie, Ken and his daughter, and my son Arijit, and husband Jay, (the photographer) all of who helped me paint the studio and hang up the sign, and make it what it became.

This September we completed 3 years of Studio Pause, and as I start Year Four, I have to let go my lease of the original space. The second location in Ballston became the favorite as people liked showing their work in the bigger space, found the closeness to the Metro a gift, and relaxed with the ample parking. And yet, others who knew the original space enjoyed the intimacy there, found “spaciousness,” and helped it grow.

But before the lease on the original studio was up we had one last Writing PAUSE there, or as studio member Mary Louise Marino called it, a Writing PAUSE soireé.

Like every Writing PAUSE, I had art prompts for the writers. This time it was the Empty Walls. Here’s what people wrote. And you can find photos from that session here. Thanks to everyone who joined in over the years to make this idea happen. I could not have done any of this without you.
these empty walls
by Mary
these empty walls of
baked clay and endless sky
of earth harvesting ideas
that sprout a show of creative
these walls filled with expressions
of art, writing, making
memory, sharing, belonging
for a moment to take in the past
and imagine all that is yet to be
on new walls, a new space,
new art, story, community
the endless sky awaits
“Eulogy” for Studio Pause
by Sharmila
The body discards
the soul remains.
Each entity a baked claycomes to being.
The possibilities of a soul’s journey
comparable to an endless sky.
your time of existencewas oh so precious!
You nurtured me, accepted me,
Helped me express & explore.
In the comfort of your arms
I could dream without boundaries.
You helped me pause, reflect
and reclaim…
…an identity that I had left
somewhere in my past
Thank you for endless sweet memories…
Although your soul moves ahead
for a higher purpose
The emptiness on the walls
celebrate your existence…
with an assurance that you
have moved on to change
other lives in another form.
The other place needs you more
even though you leave a void
you also give the assurance
of filling it up with newer dreams.
Many blessings for your soul’s journey
to touch many more beings.
Your legacy shall never be forgotten.
It’s the baton I will carry in my heart
and keep the legacy alive.
—A heartfelt closure to a sacred space that
meant to me more than any words can describe.
Ode to the Studio That Started It All
by Rachel 
These walls are not blank!  They are full of memories… a black and white photo of a landscape filled with unusual machinery, teasing my imagination to go beyond the limitations of the structure and explore new meaning… a lunch bag covered in creative love meant just for his daughter, who will always be his little girl, brown-bagging her lunch to school… raindrops so skillfully shaded with pencil, bringing a whole new meaning to 50 shades of gray… a collage of an Angel with so many colors that I can’t help but feel grateful as I read the word “gratitude,” so perfectly placed on this pretty wall…
The walls are now screaming with their own gratitude at the amazing woman who has entered their space for the last few years:
“Thank you for loving me!
Thank you for opening the eyes of the community
to all the possibilities
that a blank wall can bring!”
Kara Billings, who has been part of the Studio since the day it opened (and since she was Kara Clifford), was unwell that day but she sent her writing by email.
Building a Life of Magic
By Kara

The music brings color back to the landscape. I look out the window. At the same time, “look out the window” is sung.
Yesterday, I thought of elephants for the first time in…months? a year? I was at the zoo for a company picnic and my co-workers and I were talking about how sad it was to keep such intelligent creatures in captivity. For some reason, I had wanted to see the elephants only. I had decided that morning. But they weren’t anywhere to be seen when I went to find them. I got home, and I opened a birthday package from my grandmother. A book called “Elephant Whisperer” was sitting in between tissue paper.
What does this have to do with the studio? Three years ago, when D.C. was a new, lonely place, I got a postcard in the mail.
Are the signs swirling around us, like leaves to catch, or are they always knocking on our door, trying to find a way in?
That studio, for me, was learning how to live a life filled with magic (it was also a place to laugh, cry, meet new people, make new friends, fall back on, seek advice, to introduce others, to try, experiment, learn). The cool blue walls and burnt orange will linger in my mind, as will the smell — of glue and paint and fresh fall air.
You just need a spark to get started. Remember.
And here is what I wrote:
Empty Walls
by Sush
What exactly is empty?
A washed teacup?
But it holds memories of many
teas with friends or alone.
Blank walls?
But I can still see every artwork—
sparkling ceramic birds in a flight of imagination
and brown paper lunch bags full of a dad’s love.
Words like Hometown
carefully arranged from many other words.
I felt the phantom pain of the amputee
whose photo used to be there
as the man remembered the day
everything changed.
The woman who sang of the Andes
her eyes closed
yet looking at the painting of the mountains.
The clothesline full of shirts
with poetry on them
surrounded with books from childhoods.
Art done with black gauche and twigs—
I’m going to do that next week!
So is that wall empty?
Sure it is!
Because all that art
is in me now.
All those stories
are now my story.
This space, like the Tardis,
is much more than we see.
We have to let it be like that.
And create others…
I have to let it be
Inside me
Full. Not empty.
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