Savannah has a way of sucking you in.
For those not born here - particularly those with an artistic bent - Savannah seems to have a weird vortex of creative energy that draws you in with its mysterious pull. Writer CC Perry experienced Savannah's peculiar magnetic charm while traveling around the country, staying at various home-shares and working on a book about the personalities she met.
"I had the sense very immediately that there are people here who are doing things and not just saying they're doing things," explains Perry. "When I left, I knew I needed to come back."
Peripatetic by nature, Perry continued traveling and working on her book after staying in Savannah for a spell. While in San Francisco, near the end of her journey and nearing the end of her writing project, someone broke into her car and stole almost everything she had, including her laptop and the hard copies of her book manuscript, erasing years of work in one cruel stroke. Distraught, Perry decided she needed somewhere to go where she felt safe and supported and ended up back in this cozy southern city on the Georgia coast.
She spent three months at author Chad Faries' treehouse retreat in Thunderbolt and during that time, Perry conceived the idea of a nomadic residency program. After a bit of brainstorming and connecting with different members of the Savannah arts community, the Hestia residency program was born.
"Hestia is the world's first nomadic artists' residency," explains program curator Stephanie Raines, who also works as interpretation and engagement coordinator for Telfair Museums. "Instead of relying on a brick and mortar artist residency as a site-specific place, our goal is to develop an artist residency where the artists operate more as nomads. They're nomads in residence, is how we refer to them. So we will go to a place and build out programming there.
"Right now we have a lot of resources and knowledge of the ecosystem in Savannah, so we've built our pilot here because we have so much on the ground and it's such a wonderful community."
The inaugural residency has been underway since Feb. 22 and will conclude with a communal celebration March 3. For the past week, Oakland, Calif.-based science fiction writer Meg Elison, Brooklyn-based electronic musician Alexandria Hall, and San Diego-based artist and muralist Celeste Byers have been exploring Savannah with locally paired artists, writers and musicians, and will present various talks and performances this weekend.
Elison will host "a night of fantastical storytelling" on March 1 at The Book Lady Bookstore. Hall will perform as "Beth Head" on March 2 at Sulfur Studios, along with local musician Jeff Zagers. And Byers will conduct a public mural workshop March 2 at Bull Street Labs. Each event is free and open to the public.
At 8 p.m. March 3, the entire event culminates in "Ruckus & Revelry: Our First Fete" at Epworth Church, 2201 Bull St. This is an opportunity for the public to get a first look at the Starland District's newest venue, which is being developed by Foram Group. The space isn't built out yet, but Hestia is transforming it with a "moss-and-botanical" art installation by local artist Samantha Delaney and a number of other elements developed by local artists. There will also be 3-minute "quick take" talks from Elison, Byers and Hall, various live performances and cuisine and cocktails from Black Sheep Provisions.
It's a one-of-a-kind event that will bring together an exciting mix of Savannah creatives and community partners while highlighting the fundamental mission of Hestia.
"Our difference, and what I'm already noticing, is the emphasis on relationships," says Perry. "To me relationships are sustaining.
"We should take care of each other and create spaces and gentle environments that are supportive without being overly protective - that provide just enough support, and then leave you to your own thing â€¦ Savannah can do that. Savannah definitely did that for me, so it wasn't even a question of where the residency should be. It's supposed to be here."
IF YOU GO
What: Hestia Artists' Residency
When: March 1-3
Where: Various locations
Cost: Free; closing party is $10
6:30 p.m. March 1: Book reading with Meg Elison; The Book Lady Bookstore, 6 E. Liberty St.; free
1 p.m. March 2: Mural workshop with Celeste Byers; Bull Street Labs, 2222 Bull St.; free
9 p.m. March 2: Performancy by Beth Head; Sulfur Studios, 2301 Bull St.; free
8 p.m. March 3: Ruckus & Revelry: Our First Fete; Epworth Church, 2201 Bull St.; $10 at eventbrite.com