Catching up with 4 artists and their creations
The Good Life|January 2021
It’s always a pleasure talking with artists about their projects, but it’s especially nice to check in after a few years and hear about continuing growth and new directions.
Susan Lagsdin

The current professional lives of these four, profiled in The Good Life in between 2010 and 2015, remind us that successfully making art in the Wenatchee Valley area, especially in this last perplexing year, takes a combination of love, labor, luck and a whole lot of creative talent.

Here’s wishing a good New Year to all our area artists!

Ana Marie Spagna’s current sojourn teaching writing in upstate New York lets her sample the hiking in older, gentler mountains than those surrounding her Stehekin home.

ANA MARIA SPAGNA

‘I’m lucky to be in a place that feels new during an era when others are feeling very stuck’

Ana Maria Spagna learned to love the mountains from her work for the Forest Service and the Park Service.

She writes from (and often about) Stehekin, where she’s lived since a summer job in 1990 turned into a home, a marriage, a new career and a lifetime.

In a The Good Life interview nine years ago, she avowed her appreciation of Stehekin’s solitude but said, “Sometimes I envy big city writers who can attend readings or workshops or just meet at a coffee shop anonymously. Most days, it’s just me and the keyboard.”

By then she’d written three books and several short essays in anthologies and journals, and it was clear that she and her keyboard were doing well.

Ana Maria successfully ventured from her home, leading writing workshops in Wenatchee and for the Whidbey Island Writers Program, but after earning an MFA, she went farther afield and taught at Whitman College for a year where she found, “I really loved teaching writing to college students in person.”

And she’s kept on writing, experimenting with poetry, publishing four more books. The latest are Uplake, which was a finalist for the Washington state book award, and a middle grade novel, The Luckiest Scar on Earth. Her published articles, essays and reviews have reached the 100 mark.

Last winter Ana Maria served as the Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, where she was teaching when COVID-19 hit. She made it home, but after a summer gardening and writing in Stehekin, she took a previously planned job as a visiting professor at St. Lawrence University in (far) upstate New York.

Ironically, after moving 3,000 miles away from her Washington home, she’s teaching only online classes due to pandemic precautions. But she does enjoy her favorite snow sports in the east’s older, gentler mountains.

Ana Maria will be home in April and says, “I’m lucky to be in a place that feels new during an era when others are feeling very stuck. And, of course I hope to bring new words to life: poetry, prose, anything, everything.”

BRIAN OHME

‘Keep your ears open; I may take another turn around the block’

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