Boston florist launches ‘art house’ retreat in Mexico to help creativity bloom
For the past few winters, once the busy wedding season has finally come to a close, florist Krissy Price has packed her bags and traveled to a far-off place with the goal of unwinding and searching for inspiration in another part of the world.
The brief respites, which have taken her to Cuba and Australia, have helped her recharge and refocus, before delving back into making eye-popping displays for people’s nuptials.
“Boston is brutal [in the winter] and you lose motivation and it’s hard to get yourself in gear,” said Price, owner of Boston Pollen, a floral design company. “This time of year is when I get my inspiration for the year and color pallets for the year.”
She plans to take off once again — this time to Mexico — after the new year. But Price is doing something a bit different for her 2019 getaway.
Rather than embark on a solo trip, the 34-year-old wants to give other artists, writers, videographers, photographers — anyone in a creative field — the same opportunity she’s enjoyed when trying to spark her imagination during the off-season.
Price, who launched her floral business six years ago, is renting an apartment in Mérida, Mexico, for three months this winter, and inviting people to take a step back from the daily grind and focus solely on their personal projects alongside her — free of charge.
From January through March, Price, who is known locally for her “flower-bombing,” where she beautifies a bland space with fresh flowers, will open the doors to what she’s calling the “Wandering Art House,” a multiroom compound south of the border that she hopes will become a place where inspiration flows and collaborations blossom for years to come.
“For me, it always comes down to the level of inspiration that I get from interacting with artists that are of a different medium, or a different thought process, or a different style than I am,” she said of the retreat for artists. “And I think it’s important to see how other people create and to look at other people’s process.”
Price, who is originally from Idaho but came to Boston more than a decade ago to attend graduate school at the Boston Conservatory, is funding the house in its entirety, she said, including the cost of room and board and food for those selected to visit. Interested artists are on the hook for their plane tickets.
But she isn’t letting just anyone into the art house.
Price said she’s vetting applicants before booking time slots, Airbnb style. The stays will range from three to seven days at a time, to allow as many people as possible to attend and focus on their work.
So, what’s the catch?
Price stressed that the opportunity isn’t just to soak up the sun in Mexico during a free vacation — it’s about working toward a goal and making connections along the way.
“You have to have something you’re working on,” she said. “We want you to have that intense, focused moment to create something, whether that’s a passion project or you’re writing a book or album and you’re stuck and you need a fresh scene to be inspired. We’re asking people to work on specific projects and talk about what they can bring to the house.”
The other element, she said, is getting people who come down to Mexico to contribute to the group and get acquainted with the Mexican community.
“Maybe you’re a musician, and you can bless us with your music in the evenings,” she said. “Or maybe you also lead guided meditations or do yoga, and you can offer that type of engagement.”
Price said she’s had more than 50 conversations with artists interested in spending time at the Wandering Art House, many of them from Boston.
“Already I’m trying to organize people into different times,” she added. “We already have one person who has booked flights.”
That person is Ally Schmaling, a freelance photographer and owner of Ally Schmaling Photography.
Schmaling, who typically shoots weddings and corporate events, plans to stay at the house, which recently underwent renovations, for at least a month.
While there, she plans to work closely with Price, do a portrait series, and possibly take pictures for brands in Mexico who may need content.
She said as a self-employed artist, it’s exciting to have a space where she can team up with others to get creative outside of her day-to-day job. In the winter, she’s usually cooped up in the studio alone.
“I have found that something really beautiful happens when you have a team coming together to create something larger — greater than the sum of its parts,” Schmaling said.