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New studio in Trinidad: Tabula Rasa, a “Blank Slate”

Amanda Palmer stands proudly in her studio. Photo by Karen Jo Agnello


by Katherine Agnello


TRINIDAD — The owner of a local studio, Amanda Palmer is a bright, former artist-in-residency at the Trinidad History Museum. She spent three months in Trinidad and was enamored within a month. When her three-month residency ended in September 2018, she returned to her hometown of twenty-five years, New York, to pack her bags and move to Trinidad in February of 2019.

Tabula Rasa is her studio and workspace combined with a buyers club for local artists, hosted directly out of the detached garage of Amanda’s 1980’s historic home. Her goal is to provide high-quality supplies for artists as an alternative to being forced on a long resupply drive to Denver. Currently, the operation remains informal. “Trinidad has potential to be a great art town,” Amanda says.

Her studio has a modern etching press and a 1930s Vandercook proofing press, which she tenderly calls her “workhorse.” Hand printing usually takes her about ten minutes, while a mechanical press only takes two minutes. There are other benefits to using a mechanical press: the machine provides even pressure over the entire print, giving a cleaner look to the finished piece. Amanda is offering printing workshops for interested artists, which can usually be completed in 4-5 hours in a day.

Amanda earned her bachelors degree in printmaking from San Francisco State University. She makes her prints on linoleum instead of wood, claiming it is softer and makes it easier to achieve precise details in her carvings. Amanda doesn’t print editions, instead selling individual prints sold as proofs. She creates greeting cards as well, living for the enjoyment of creating an image. All the prints she displays in her studio are for sale, however, her art is yet to be found in other galleries.

One of the many things that convinced her to stay was the Artocade. She was part of the committee before she even put down permanent roots. Artocade founders Rodney Wood and Susan Palmer were two of the first friends she gained here. The Artocade crew even helped her unpack when she moved to Trinidad. She is currently the vice president and secretary of the Artocade board. She moved into a historic home that would soon be her studio come fall of 2019. She knew she was looking for a studio space, and the fruit-stand-turned-detached-garage was the perfect fit. She recently held a grand opening for her studio, holding a jam session inside with local musicians.

Her co-owner, Randy, is a painter, poet, and musician. Born in Texas, he moved here from Denver about three years ago. Amanda and Randy made two art-cars last year together, including the famous “Carmadillo.” They created the art-car with a grant to bring the skilled Rebecca Bass all the way from Houston. This year Amanda plans to make a raven-themed “Ra-van.”

Amanda comes from a variegated background in New York. She was the manager of a therapy pool for special needs children as well as a museum curator. Together with her husband, she ran a gallery/card shop combined with an espresso bar.

She first learned about Trinidad from Space to Create. Intrigued by our town, she saw the opportunity for the residency and knew she had to come. Trinidad was her seventh residency, the others being in national parks. She has an additional residence in the Mojave Desert, where she plans to include a gallery exhibit. Unfortunately, her husband passed away unexpectedly just before she began her residency here. She chose the name Tabula Rasa, Latin for “clean slate,” because she started a life in Trinidad with an empty outlook.