Three reasons to take leisure learning courses

Sisters Phyllis Hudecki and Jody Simpson share their Doel Reed Center experiences

For years, many friends and alumni have taken advantage of the leisure learning courses offered at the majestic and historic Doel Reed Center for the Arts. It’s truly a unique experience with each year bringing a wide array of course offerings. We talked to sisters and OSU alumni, Phyllis Hudecki and Jody Simpson, to present these three reasons you should consider joining us next summer in Taos for Leisure Learning Courses.

Phyllis Hudecki and Jody Simpson

1. It’s not your momma’s summer art camp: When Phyllis and Jody told their families they were attending the course From Plant to Paper at the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, their children joked that they were attending an adult summer art camp. Phyllis had attended the year previous and knew this to be far from the truth. To combat the jest, she and Jody threatened to make their families artwork from popsicle sticks before heading to Taos.

While there, the sisters learned how to make paper by hand using local New Mexico plant fibers. Former Smelser-Vallion visiting artist Megan Singleton taught the course and even brought grass clippings from her St. Louis home to incorporate.

“You can literally make paper out of anything. It was really interesting” Jody said. “You almost feel like you need to have an idea of skill or craft of art before attending. But it’s strictly leisure learning. You don’t have to have any background or expertise.”

“I don’t look at things the same,” Phyllis added. “I find myself looking at plants and thinking to myself, ‘That would make an interesting embellishment on a piece of paper.’”

The next set of Leisure Learning courses are scheduled from July 22 through July 26, 2019, and covers topics ranging from fly-fishing, Southwest cuisine, the Southwest’s influence on Hollywood and much more. View the complete list of courses and reserve your spot today!

2. You'll find kindred spirits: Like Phyllis and Jody, many of the course participants rent homes and stay together even if they don’t know their housemates well. While days are spent at the Reed property or out and about in town, evenings are for shared meals and conversation.

“It’s good comradery. I was impressed with the different backgrounds of people,” Phyllis said. “For me, it’s a combination of a vacation, learning and really quality time with each other.”

“It was amazing the things we had in common even though we all came from different backgrounds and different career fields,” Jody said. “It was very easy to have conversations. Some of it was about our times at OSU, but it went deeper than that. I will look forward to seeing them again!”

3. You'll leave with a broader perspective of art: For more than a century, Taos has been an arts mecca where the famous Taos Society of Artists and other visionaries like Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, Doel Reed and many more have sought inspiration and comradery. You’ll understand why once you’re tucked away in the mountains.

Phyllis has a Doel Reed aquatint Before the Storm that depicts the view from the center’s property. She stumbled upon it at a gallery after attending her first leisure learning course in 2017 and had to have it.

“Not only did Doel Reed create these masterpieces, but OSU has taken his property and created opportunities for people to experience all different kinds of art,” she said. “We are very proud that OSU has developed this facility. It’s an outstanding aspect of the university. It adds another dimension to the emphasis on visual and performing arts that’s happening at OSU.”

Both Jody and Phyllis said they will return to Taos in the future to attend courses.

“There’s something about the mountains and the whole New Mexico scene that’s enticing and relaxing,” Jody said. “It’s the perfect setting to do creative work. It is so inspiring.”