Monday, September 6, 2010

Matt's helping build a straw house!

Our intrepid poet has signed on to help with this remarkable house in Clemson, which still needs its clay surface and a lot more work, but which has us all impressed. It's earth-tone (my favorite) but extremely green! This volunteer work gives the Rensing Center some outreach points, and Matthew some new skills to add to his already substantial arsenal. Bravo!
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Martha's Night-blooming Cereus

The sprawling, improbable, very forgiving plant fulfills itself every summer when the flowers explode in huge splashy dinner-plate-size blooms that collapse by morning. This one is at home in a pot Jamie threw in the early '80s, and has been a member of the family that long. The first twig came from Martha Dunigan, a marvelous artist and teacher whose green thumb left us this legacy and many a fine memory...we stayed with her for years at the annual PCI show in Winston Salem, NC.

This is my favorite kind of immortality. I hope the Rensing Center adopts such resilience!
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ensemble Pamplemousse

...enjoying a few moments of relaxation after a brilliant workshop and concert. Jessie fell in love with Hemmie the Mastiff at Hagood Mill, and Kiku did her best imitation of Martha Washington. We hope they had fun.
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Three exhausted residents, re-hydrating after our first weekly Monday Morning group Workfest. Turns out that when you get a chain-gang together they can get a HUGE amount done in four hours. Especially if they're good! Elizabeth, Valentina, and Matthew helped gather the tools, hardware, and major painting equipment from the outside closet, emptied 30 years worth of files from my old office, painted said office, moved all the shelves in there, and stocked them. There's a threatening poster about putting things back where you found them, and soon we will know where that is!

Next we retrieve all the re-usable file folders and paper clips from the boxes, and make mulch out of the contents. Feels GREAT!
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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Porch grew today

As we prepare for Ensemble Pamplemousse to visit us for a week, and breathe the nearly liquid air of South Carolina's summer, we thought we'd make their arrival at the Studio somewhat more complicated by giving them a still-wet slab of concrete to dance across. Who wants to make bets on what kind of footprints are in the surface by tomorrow?

Really, they'll have another access, and we're very excited to see them. Matthew and Elizabeth are unflagging in their cleaning and earth-moving and painting and curtain-hanging, and Valentina has escaped all the above by cleverly leaving for a stay at Penland, where she is working just as hard.

Next stop, a roof over the new slab, and a front door!
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Friday, August 13, 2010


Blueberries behind Jamie's studio are weighing down the branches. They freeze nicely, but many never make it to the kitchen. Cobblers, with lots of ginger (one of the other major food groups) are nearly a daily treat. Kiwi harvest is looking great for October, too.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pamplemousse are coming!!

Elizabeth's first contribution to our growing graphic history. I'm delighted. We are eager to welcome this tribe of New Yorkers next week. They look like fun!
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recreational program instituted!

Two fierce warriors, well matched. Jamie's old table is seeing lots of new use, and my skills are taxed tracking who is winning. I'm more likely to be learning Italian with our native speaker, Valentina. Evenings are a pleasure at the Rensing Center!
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Friday, July 30, 2010

The new library in mid-sort

Boo (last year's resident), James (this summer's intern), and Amalia (full-time daughter and doctoral candidate, whose book collection been hidden in the storehouse for many moons) hauled countless heavy boxes up and down countless steps, and a real library emerged. This fitting tribute to Evelyn's passion for books (clearly a part of the genome worth researching) became a new focus and a commitment for the Rensing Center. Send us your favorites! Come help us catalog! Curl up and enjoy the newly-accessible wealth of information. We'll brew you some tea!

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ArtFarm Camp this spring

We loved the lively activities at Camp this spring, and are busy planning the next ones. Tony's amazing bike was a big hit, as were Shelby's salt-lick moulds and Nathan's marching band. Every day was very full, but there were not enough of them! According to popular demand, we must perpetuate: Judy's story circle, some Roast Beast, and lots of music, perhaps as played on the alarming (plastic) baby-leg flute. Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Crystal Shenck builds a nest

We were treated to a visit by this brilliant artist from Portland, Oregon, who took our theme of "use available materials" very seriously. She collected fallen fragments of pine-bark, and turned them into this beautiful nest. Elegant idea, elegant execution...
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Mari Brown and Ted Rose are married!!

Our illustrious board member wrote and spoke her most important words last week, and thunder rolled! While the chuppah (canopy) we assembled for them out of good wishes, feathers, and theatre tickets got wet, spirits in Boulder were very joyful. What is Buddhist for Mazel Tov?
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Campers at Ramsey Creek

Dr Billy Campbell, one of the Rensing Center's advisors, treated us to a tour of the first green burial cemetery in the US. We had a great picnic, hiked through the woods, and pondered mortality. What a great way to kick off Farm Camp 2010!

Bill and Mike at Hagood Mill

Crystal and Shelby got to enjoy Bill Carson and Michael Trent at the Mill, and we all got our stone-ground grits! These powerful singers kept us riveted. We hope they come back to the Rensing Center, soon and often.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Handsome tenants...

...arrived last week in mom's pasture, just in time for FarmCamp. A fantastic demo by Chad of herding with his famous border collie really wowed our campers, mostly city kids. Very exciting stuff!

We're SO official!

Benjie arrived with this new sign, legible from outer space, which Susan Lau created from mom's 1937 signature. We installed it just in time for the Garden Party. We were all very pleased, even mom.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

The new green

Thanks to our Permaculture workshop in March, our Mother Oak is presiding over a new collection of friends, which have taken root nicely. Chestnut(with a pedigree), and a lovely pair of Nanking cherries, with some rhubarb at their feet and a mulberry in the background. Dot Jackson warned us that the chestnut is a favorite lollipop for deer, so Jamie caged our two. Cross all body parts.

The sheep have been slightly delayed, but should still arrive in time for camp.

All the trees have their glad rags on.

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Marco's Italian Cooking Class

Posted by PicasaThe olive oil and wine flowed, and the eggplant, risotto, chicken cacciatore, and panna cotta were divine! Lorenzo translated. Marco worked his magic. Many new friends for the Rensing Center.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Here is Ellen, basking in the spring glow on Benjie's bench, with an armfull of bamboo. She is getting the materials together for next week's ArtFarm Camp. We're having a bunch of people here for a Garden Party, to celebrate mom's 90th birthday, and support the Rensing Center. Jamie's donating his mom's collection, 35 years worth of his pots, for our auction...Don't you think the bamboo looks like the handles for our butterfly-shaped auction paddles?
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Portland's Biennial shows off our own

The Rensing Center has more to crow about...

Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis rock! Their contribution to Portland, Oregon's art scene now includes the second installation of their full-sized 18-wheeler, made of recycled sheetrock. It is becoming known as Moby Truck, but the official title is West Coast Turnaround. Shelby is both founding father of the Rensing Center, and native son of Pickens (and of Jamie and Ellen). Crystal's already famous, but her inclusion in this prestigious invitational is another feather in her very glamorous hat.

We are very proud that they will both join us for a residency this June.