Introductions: Sydney Feeney
Being a new organization, there doesn't seem to be much out there in the world about who we are and what we are doing. We thought it was about time we changed that. For the next few weeks we will be posting small interviews that will help introduce Project 387 staff and residents to all who are interested in learning.
Meet Sydney Feeney: Landowner, Board Member, Arts Supporter, and Powerhouse.
Sydney and Ray Feeney own the the Project 387 land. Splitting their time between Southern California and Northern California, they make the nine hour voyage by car with three dogs in tow every month. Most days in Gualala, you can't get a hold of Sydney because she is never sitting still. She maintains a great deal of the land herself-- mowing the acres of meadows, tearing up and replacing irrigation systems, chainsawing, clearing brush, and chopping wood.
We met up with Sydney late one evening (don't try to take any of her daylight hours away) to get a few answers about her relationship with Project 387. Here's what she had to say:
When and how did you fall in love with this area?
In 1970, I came up here during spring break while I was at UCSB. My boyfriend at the time had a family ranch and rustic cabin which produced in me the instant love for the trees, land, and freedom one associates with Mendocino County. Regardless of the distance from Southern California, I found myself returning whenever I could. Although the nine hour trip from Southern California is arduous, crossing the bridge that leads into Gualala has never failed to produce a sense of well being and an instant smile.
When did you acquire the land? Did it look pretty much the same as it does now?
In 1989, Ray and I took our children on a trek to visit the area and rented a vacation house. In a moment of, we could do this for real; I suggested that we look around for something of our own. Within a year, we found ourselves with 90 acres of overgrown, inaccessible land perched high on a hill with views of the expansive Pacific. It generated a sense of absolute wonderment and adventure I had never felt before. Little did we know what lay ahead. As the years passed we acquired more parcels of land, built several buildings, added a bridge, restored a creek, paved roads, and undertook the massive project of getting rid of past logging slash and removing underbrush. As the land’s caretakers, we are proud of what we have done and love to share it.
How do you find the energy to maintain 150 acres?
My sister and I swear that there is truth in the philosophy that being among tall trees gives you energy. I find myself at the end of eight to ten hour days running out of light before my energy gives out. I think it also has to do with loving what you are doing. Perhaps our visiting artists will experience this magical phenomenon.
What made you want to share this opportunity with artists?
We always had a vision of sharing this place with as many people as we could. When the idea to create a residency was proposed, we felt like it was a great opportunity to utilize the property to its full potential.
How has it been prepping for 6 artists to come and live here for 2 weeks?
You know when you live in a place day in and day out, you rarely notice the faults in your home. Things like spider webs in the sky lights, windows that could use a little cleaning and those pesky tasks you've been putting off for ages. I am a stickler when it comes to making my guests feel welcome and comfortable so we have been upgrading and trying to make things sparkle for everyone.