Farewell Message From Fran Rudoff

Dear Watershed Community,

During the summer months, I walk the winding tree-lined road from my office to our main campus for lunch each day. Down the last stretch of driveway, a wonderful scene always emerges – resident artists and staff conversing, laughing, and enjoying a delicious meal.

Walking to lunch

The magic that manifests from the simple act of bringing artists together in shared space amazes and humbles me. Last summer, an artist noted that they made more progress on their work in ten days at Watershed than they had in six months in their own studio. Another artist forged new friendships that she described as a homecoming. I feel honored and proud to be part of an organization that engenders profound experiences like these.

As my tenth and final year here draws to a close, I find myself thinking that Watershed has thrived for more than 35 years because our mission changes lives: We provide artists with time and space to create and live in community. Watershed’s Founders often note how this formula is deceptively simple, and yet so powerful.                       

Artists during The Color Network’s 2021 session in the new studio

In order to reach our full potential, Watershed needed accessible facilities where artists could safely experience the magic of a residency. Our new year-round Windgate Studio fulfills this dream. In June of 2021, I felt positively elated to open the new Studio with our first residents – eleven artists taking part in The Color Network’s mentorship program. Not only did they create new work and form friendships during the session, since then, we have continued and strengthened our organizational partnership with a 2022 residency session and an exhibition in our gallery.

This is just one collaboration that blossomed because we can now offer more space for artists to make and show work and find community. The possibilities for future partnerships thanks to an updated and expanded campus that supports creative connection are boundless.      

Additionally, Watershed reaches more Maine K-12 educators than ever through our professional development workshops. With our new heated studio, art teachers converge on campus from every corner of the state during the fall and winter to learn new skills, share with one another, and find community. Thousands of Maine students are expanding their ceramic art skills as their teachers bring new ideas back to their classrooms.

Martha Grover (right) leads a K-12 teacher workshop

It truly takes a village to create and implement initiatives like these. I am profoundly grateful for all of the artists who participate in our programs, the donors who support us, the seasonal staff who play such a pivotal role in shaping the residency experience, and my year-round staff and Board who work tirelessly to make Watershed succeed. When I arrived in 2013, I could not have fathomed all of the extraordinary people I would meet or how the organization would grow and mature to meet the needs of artists today. It has been a privilege to be part of this evolution at Watershed.

Because of our strong community, I know that Watershed’s future is bright and our mission will continue to flourish.

With love and gratitude,

Fran Rudoff
Executive Director