"After stepping off the bus at Velez-Rubio, I was yanking my too-heavy backpack out of the luggage hold when I heard a stranger say, in a polite English voice, “Are you Rick?” I smiled and turned around to find a young man with wide-eyed look. He introduced himself as Stephen and said he was just leaving Joya and was getting on the very bus out of which I’d just stepped. He had what can be best described as “that Joya look”—relaxed, open, expanded even. Steve told me that our host Simon was across the street for me at a café, where he was waiting for me with another artist. But first Stephen and I found ourselves a conversation—about how I was happily returning to Joya and about what he’d been working on during his stay, how he’d departed from his usual art practice and had begun working with the amazing landscape at the residency-- all while the bus was taking on passengers and just about to close the doors. Stephen’s last words to me before he jumped on the bus: “I envy you”.
The rugged beauty of the circular valley that holds Joya in its palm. Simon’s and Donna’s warmth, insight and generosity of spirit. The white earth that is rich with rumours and dreams. Wonderful, hearty dinners with our hosts and fellow artists. The Syrian pines glowing green under sun and cloud. The beautiful minimalist design of the repurposed cortijada at Los Gázquez. The smell of fresh rosemary in the valley. Enlightening and inspiring artist talks, in which surprise is usually a key ingredient. The rustic second studio space outside the living quarters, a perfect place in which to map out ideas for a novel, write a bunch more scenes and ideas and even write some trumpet and string parts for another project. The shimmer of goat bells drifting across the valley. A gigantic yellow moon slowly climbing over the hill at midnight, filling Los Gázquez with light. Getting spoiled with delicious breakfasts by a French-Tunisian-American cookbook author. A sky exploding with stars on clear nights. The walks down the barrancos and up the mountain and the (thankfully) vain searches for wild boar. The psychic and physical space I was gifted so I could follow the vision, wherever it roamed.
Getting up at dawn (one of my great achievements at Joya), I stepped outside with my still-too-heavy backpack and saw the valley below filling to the brim with pillows of cloud. It was silent but for the slow, hushed preparations for the day echoing from the house. As Donna drove us out of Joya’s valley to Velez Rubio, from where we’d go on to our respective destinations, I looked back to see the great cloud spill over the side of the lower valley and drift through the trees surrounding the cortijada. The sun was coming up over the mountain to the east and the world was, in some indefinable way, expanding".
You can see Rick Maddocks performing here in Country of Madmen by Sun Belt, from the album/book Cabalcor: An Extracted History (OffSeason Records/Anvil Press).
SUN BELT is a musical experiment reaching into other arts.
Cabalcor publication by Sunbelt