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4 great LGBT artist retreats

Take a trip around the globe to find your perfect inspiration

Angela Ellsworth and Tania Katan lead the Topography of Memory retreat in Tuscany. Credit: Aefa Mulholland

A picture is worth a thousand words, and you can work on perfecting those pictures, artworks and technique at a trio of LGBT-angled artist retreats around the world. Pencil one of these inspirational and educational escapes into your calendar for the coming year and prepare for a brush with greatness.

Anima Casa Rural
Jalisco, Mexico

Acclaimed LGBT visual artist and sometime Toronto resident Julian Calleros offers twice-yearly rounds of retreats at his hip home in rural San Isidro Mazatepec, Jalisco, in a valley of cherry, alfalfa, cactus and sugar cane. Offering both summer and winter dates, residencies run from two weeks to three months and aim to allow artists to explore their art within the setting of the Anima community. There is a particular focus on video art, painting, drawing, photography and writing. Anima Casa Rural can host up to 13 people per residency. Prices for shared accommodations (including full board) start at $560 per person for two weeks. Residents need to have a specific, planned project ready to work on and they must finance their own travel and costs. Letters from Anima are available for those who need documentation for funding applications. Stays at Anima include transport to and from Guadalajara airport. Applications for winter residencies are accepted up until Oct 31. Summer 2015 residency applications begin January and end March 31.

Topography of Memory
Tuscany, Italy
Another creative classic is the biannual Tuscan retreat offered by Phoenix residents Angela Ellsworth and Tania Katan, next programmed in May 2015. Topography of Memory is an eight-day writing, walking and drawing retreat held on an organic agricultural estate near Siena. Days are spent on creative exercises designed to “map stories, draw surroundings, and find the threads that connect past to present.” Meals are made from produce, meat, wine, olive oil and honey cultivated on the farm and prepared by a Bon Appétit and Condé Nast Traveller–acclaimed chef. Rooms are in the elegant Villa of Castello di Spannocchia. Those without drawing or writing experience are welcome to apply for this wonderful week. Applications close in October.

Intergenerational LGBT Artist Residency
Toronto Islands, Ontario
Those keen to paint the town red (or burnt sienna, yellow ochre or any colour of the rainbow) should set sail for the Toronto Islands next summer. The first Toronto International LGBT Residency took place in July 2014 at Artscape Gibraltar Point on gorgeous Hanlan’s Point and is planned to take place again next summer. Offering artful accommodations, a food stipend and studio space for a clutch of carefully selected LGBT visual artists, the two-week program is an opportunity for artists from the community to benefit from mentoring and studio visits from acclaimed artists, curators, collectors and art historians. The retreat, held at the Artscape Gibraltar Point artist residency and retreat centre, had three Canadian artists and two alternates chosen for the inaugural year. For application details for 2015 (applications open in May), visit Queer Artist Residency.

Fire Island Artist Residency
Cherry Grove, New York
A long-established gay resort destination, Cherry Grove has added some serious artistic clout to its party-packed summer now that the island town is the site of one of the most respected artist residencies on offer. Founded to support practising and emerging LGBT contemporary artists, five artists make the cut each year for this prestigious, four-week, residential summer program — the first of its kind in the US when it started in 2011. Recent residents have come from the UK and all corners of the US, but the program is open to all LGBT contemporary artists with fluency in English from around the world. If you don’t make the list this year, there are artist lectures and experimental queer film and video screenings that run alongside the program, open to the public, at Cherry Grove Community House. Applications for the 2015 residencies open in January 2015.

If none of the above suits you, an extensive list of artist retreats and residencies open to all can be found on the ResArtis Network of Artist Residencies website.