Cisco is a ghost town located in the high desert of Utah. There are no services in Cisco, no gas station, grocery store, and no neighbors. You will want to bring everything you need, though weekly trips to town can be made for groceries and laundry if you do not have your own transportation.
There is no running water in Cisco, but drinking water is provided and rain water is captured for washing brushes and laundry. The Colorado River is a 10 minute drive. About once or twice a week you might find it necessary to get to the river for bathing, or go to Fruita CO, (40 minute drive) for a hot shower at the Community Center there.
So begins the description of a unique artist-in-residence program called “Home of the Brave.” And that sounds pretty compelling, already. An abandoned ghost town, high in the arid scrublands of Utah, impossibly starry night skies and views of the horizon that go on forever? With no neighbors? Yes, please.
And they’re now accepting applications for terms at least three weeks in length, and up to a mximum of five weeks. Only one artist at a time gets the residency. The artist will stay in an old Winnebago RV converted into an art studio. Little bits of the abandoned lives once led in the abandoned town are everywhere, for inspiration. If you can get yourself there, room and board are covered. Then there’s also a $500 monthly stipend. In return, the artist is asked to leave one piece of art behind for permanent collection and to genially host visitors during open studio days when curious lookie-loos pop by for a poke around.
Cisco was used as a filming location in Thelma and Louise and Vanishing Point. It was also the setting for a 1967 Johnny Cash song about a man who ran a gas station there, who feared what the construction of route I-70 nearby and therefore a diversion of traffic past Cisco would do for his business and the town as a whole. Prophetic. Since the 80s, the town’s population dwindled to nothing.
The woman who runs the residency, Eileen Muza, is Cisco’s only resident. An artist herself, she fell in love with the tiny, strange town after visiting on a tip. Loved it so much she bought the whole town. “It looked like people just got up and left,” she said in an interview with Artnet. “I did the math and I realized, I spend at least that much paying rent over winter. I thought, if I buy this place and sublet my house, I can go on a little adventure. At worst, it gets weird. At best, I have a place to be that’s my own. And who knows what could happen from there.”
Intrigued? Artists of any medium are encouraged to apply for the residency. Applications are being taken until July 1 and the chosen artist will be announced no later than September.
You can see more from Cisco and Eileen on her Instagram page.