Yellow Springs as retreat for women
- Published: September 17, 2009
Nancy Mellon wants women to consider only one place when they plan a trip to get away from it all: Yellow Springs.
The local artist and new business owner is working to make sure that desire becomes a reality with Getaways for Women, a retreat service that she hopes will introduce area women to the village’s many resources.
With all the abundance and richness in town, “I’m like a connector,” Mellon said. “I’m a local host.”
As the owner and coordinator of Getaways for Women, Mellon plans to help groups gain access to information about Yellow Springs as well as aid them in finding lodging and dining services. The stay-at-home mother and visual artist has been busily working to get the business off the ground for the past few months. She recently put the final touches on her home office and is now ready to embark on her maiden venture: a weekend retreat with a plethora of activities including art and dance workshops, massages and discussions, organized in collaboration with the local business Creative Explorations.
The event will take place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17–18, and coincides with the third Friday Fling and Art Stroll as well as the Artist Studio Tour in which Yellow Springs artists open their studios to aficionados and the curious. The timing was no accident. Mellon would like to use Getaways as a vehicle to promote local artists.
“What I want is for Getaways for Women to become an income stream for a lot of artists,” she said.
As an artist, Mellon understands how difficult it is for creative professionals to garner an income, particularly during tough times like the current recession. Well-known locally, Mellon has her fingers in many pies around town. Along with Corrine Bayraktaroglu, she’s co-curator of The Chamber Pot Gallery located in the restrooms of the Yellow Springs Train Station, and the creator of the tree yarn sweater that brought the village international fame last winter.
She’s also a member of the Jafa Girls female art collective and has worked on a series of both solo and group public art projects. Despite that, she said that she has never enjoyed consistent payment from her own artwork. She hopes that Getaways for Women will help to change that for herself and others in the arts community.
Through Getaways, artists have the opportunity to teach their craft through workshops and gain name recognition with women from regional cities like Cincinnati and Columbus. Invited instructors will hold sessions in subjects that vary from photography and sketching to belly dancing, according to Mellon, who said that many instructors are people she met while networking in the local arts community.
“We have this incredible wealth and we have all of these wonderful, intelligent people,” she said. “There are so many people that I know who can do exciting things and we need a way to support that.”
Fostering relationships with other local businesses is the foundation of Getaways for Women. Mellon has already spoken to several bed and breakfast locations about accommodating retreat participants and contacted village home-owners about the possibility of housing surplus visitors. She has also partnered with friend and Creative Explorations owner Jennifer Horner to organize the weekend retreat. Creative Explorations will be the location for many of the activities and the key point for women to pick up information about dining and entertainment options in Yellow Springs.
“I have a really beautiful central location and it works for her in terms of getting the women into a convenient home base,” explained Horner on why she agreed to use her spa for the weekend.
The licensed social worker sees the retreat weekend as a way to promote Creative Explorations to a new audience. The center focuses on helping women to get in touch with their spirituality by offering lodging and access to programs that include use of the visual arts, nature and creative journaling among other tools. All of those programs will not be available for this event, but women can sign up to receive a variety of services from Horner’s team of therapists. Those services will include chair and table massages, paraffin hand dips, body massages and an electromagnetic foot relaxation machine.
“We both feel that Yellow Springs, in all of its uniqueness, is the ideal place for women to come and enjoy themselves,” Horner said.
The two women hope that those who participate in the weekend find not only relaxation and a nurturing environment but a space to explore their creative and intellectual sides. The goal is for each participant to experience aspects of life as a Yellow Springs artist and, perhaps, temporarily relieve themselves of the domestic concerns that may occupy their daily lives. Mellon is currently consumed with planning and preparing for her inaugural event but is already looking to the future. It’s her mission to make this just the first of many weekend retreats produced by Getaways for Women.
“Women need time for themselves so that they can find out who they are and what they like,” she said. “I think that we really need time that’s ours and I think that we have to take it, because it’s not often given to us.”