Azule has been a gathering point and incubator for creativity of all kinds, for folks from every which place. Our social coordinator Alicia Araya, originally from Chile but rooted in Madison County since at least 2016 (or earlier, depending on how you look at it), describes how she landed at Azule and how grateful she is that she did.
Jim and I first moved to the area in 2011, after giving up on the Atlanta city life (or it gave up on us, more like). For the first 6 months to a year here, our only objective was to hike, swim, explore Madison County and our own creative potential as it unfolded in a low-stakes, natural setting.



At some point, savings depleted, we began casting about for something remunerative to do - and just like Robin and Marcos above, we found that all the random driftwood that exists in the area made a great canvas in which to marry both Jim and my creative skillsets - writing and drawing. At some point along the way, Jim discovered his talents for coloring, and we’ve been selling this driftwood art ever since. ”Marshall Arts”

A sudden urgent need for money inspired me to create my thus-far most ambitious project, the Kickstarter-funded “90 Paintings in 90 Days” project. It was right around the time I successfully funded this project that I met Camille and saw Azule for the first time, in part thanks to Duarte Morais and his work with people-centred tourism initiatives.

Aside from receiving the newsletters (which Gwylene and Olivier put out at the time, if I recall), and occasionally having the good fortune to attend a potluck or two, I had no real exposure to Azule, though the intention to participate in this amazing place was cemented in my mind, like most people, pretty much after that first encounter with Camille and her life work.

Good fortune allows us to move to Hot Springs proper right around the time Matt Wallace moved on from his position as Azule to pursue ROAR. So I filled that void.

Four years later, and here we are.

My tasks, responsibilities, and general strategy for this position I took on as part-part-part time social and resident coordinator has morphed somewhat during my tenure at Azule, and that to me is the most rewarding aspect of my work here.

I began with the simple marching orders of “keep the social media machine going, interface with residents, and put out a newsletter hopefully once a month” and in the interim I have both taken on additional responsibilities, as I have handed off others to those more capable.

But what I do at Azule, while trying to negotiate the delicate balance between being effective on a slim budget, changes all the time. Currently my mind turns towards considerations of Azule’s longevity - financially, as an institution, as a member organization of this community.

I could wax eloquent on the fundamental role that Azule, and Camille’s influence specifically, have had in my formation as a person, worker, and artist - the fact is, I was but a shadow of the person and artist I am today before Azule, Lynda, Barbara, Rebecca, and Carolyn decided to take me on as social coordinator in Spring 2017. The faith these women have put in me is a sacred office that I undertake to the best of my capacity. I have spent the past 4 years developing most of the materials Azule has put out, and I hope I have managed to reflect, through that work, what Azule really means to me.

I want, in my time at Azule, to accomplish one solid, concrete thing that would allow its organizational viability in perpetuity. I am blessed to be a part of something so rare and magnificent, and I aim to contribute to its longevity.