We had the good fortune of connecting with April Bachman Leonard and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi April, is there something you believe many others might not?
That one must seek a formal education, or degree, to do something greater. I’m so glad that I’ve stopped buying into that.

I think the secret is to remain curious. And, to become really comfortable with being a beginner. Then, find people that are doing what you are wanting to do and show up. Slide into their DMs, join their group, take a class, or 100. There’s a lot of ways to specialize and to piece it together for yourself. Believe you can. Know you can. Celebrate that you will always be learning and growing.

We live in a powerful time with so much information at our fingertips. For me getting quiet, turning inward and discovering what was really important to me created the first step.

When I took the time to listen, this is a distilled version of what I heard:
Making art, traveling, creating in community, contributing to a sustainable future, sharing space, hosting gatherings and participating in a deeper conversation. All the while loving and respecting where I exist physically with a connection to nature, place and others.

We all have a list like this. What lights your fire? How can we connect what inspires us to serving others and the planet?

Once you have your list, think of ways it can translate in to an offering. Then, spend time building a community of people that will help you reach your goals. And… leap.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been creative and resourceful. It’s been within the last 10 years that I began to hone it. I am a watercolor artist, illustrator, potter, and surface pattern designer who enjoys collaboration and creating in community. I have experimented with offering things like greeting cards, prints, commissions and classes. It’s been challenging, confusing and amazing to have a wide variety of creative pursuits. And to envision a way that they may be able to come together.

This last year has provided me with some powerful perspective. In October of 2020, I had emergency surgery that was a result of a complication from a prior surgery that I had 10 years ago. This little brush with my mortality, along with existing collectively during a global pandemic, really lit my fire. I started dreaming of a way to join together my love of making/creating, sharing space, building community, caring for the environment and spending more time in the desert. A way to also be closer to family, achieve some big goals and to consciously contribute to something greater than myself.

My husband Jacob’s family is from the Tucson area going back generations. His parents now call Phoenix home. I’m originally from Montana and we have been living in Portland, Oregon for 20 years. We purchased a home in Tucson in April 2021 to house my current project. A physical space to actualize these dreams.

My mom, sister-in-law and I worked for over a month together to transform our Tucson home. Our creative minds working together learning all sorts of things about each other, building, making and creating this place designed to share with others. It became a place that is utilized to promote not only my work, but the work of other artists. Our home encourages a connection to place, the environment and the community. It is an extension of my creativity, and also houses the creative work of others. I offer it to rent short term as an opportunity to host travelers and fellow creatives as they explore one of the most amazing places on earth.

I promote local artists, markets, and creative businesses in Tucson through social media and via direct communication to my guests. The decor in the house physically promotes local artists and vintage sellers.

I am always looking for ways to be a better steward of the planet. Buying local and choosing vintage combined with carefully selected new furnishings is one of the ways I was able to implement this goal. I intentionally communicate about our solar power, rain barrel cistern and xeriscape garden. If you stay at our place, you will be encouraged to be a part of the community and I’m willing to bet that you’ll learn something you may not have known before.

I’d like the world to know that I believe in us collectively. I believe in the power of sharing what we have, gathering, creating and building things together. I’m pretty dang sure that staying curious about ourselves, others and our surroundings is the key to rich experiences and a more respectful way of living. And, that art is meant to be shared. I am grateful to always be learning and to know there is forever room to do better.

I am just getting started as to what is possible by sharing space. I envision expanding this project into opportunities for artist residency, education, connection, collective creativity, community and growth. I look forward to painting and creating more here in the desert. And, to my first maker’s market table, which I can see in my future. I am excited to build on this project every day and I feel more creative than ever.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Good one! First, I would find a market… There’s almost always a maker’s market to check out. Go support local artists!!
Bhava Wellness is a fantastic stop for apothecary, yoga, body and home goods
EXO Roast Co for some coffee and a snack
5 Points Market & Restaurant
Time Market
Ceres
MSA Annex (shops and restaurants)
Catch a flick The Loft Cinema
Mission Garden
Eat at Tumerico or La Chaiteria
Take a creative workshop at Good Things Tucson
Take a pottery workshop from Spring and Vine
Order sweets and acquire some pottery from Agave Pantry
Monsoon Chocolate
Grab a refreshing “tea snow” at Transit Tea (my fave is the Zephyr)
Saguaro National Park
Sabino Canyon
Tucson Clay Co-op
MSA Annex
Tiny Town Gallery
Explore the murals
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Mt. Lemmon
Farmer’s Markets
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Santa Theresa Tile Works (take a workshop or visit their showroom)
The desert… go out into nature and take a desert plant and animal identifying book. See what you discover.

Another cool thing about Tucson, is it’s a great place to discover as you go. Talk with people, ask what they are up to. Go with the flow, because the flow is abundant here.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family. Both by blood and also my family of choice. These are the people that are in my corner, cheering me on, showing up for me in ways I couldn’t even imagine. They have learned new skills to be able to lend a hand, shared their experience/knowledge and physically shown up to help me achieve my goals. My level of gratitude in inexpressible. Launching this latest creative endeavor has brought us all closer and I am beyond grateful for this experience shared with my family.

My husband, Jacob. He sees me at my most vulnerable and believes in me to his core. He has encouraged me, lifted me up and supported me in whatever I have chosen to pursue in my life. We’ve been on many adventures.

Open hearted people, artists and creatives in Arizona and beyond. I thank them for welcoming me, sharing resources, collaborating, and introducing me to so many cool possibilities. They inspire me to always be curious, ask questions, keep learning and talk to people that are doing what I’d like to be doing. I’m honored to be joining this community.

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer This book should be a mandatory read. It’s also a great audiobook. The author reads it herself and is an amazing narrator.

“New and Selected Poems, Volume One” A collection of poems by Mary Oliver. Read the poems “Wild Geese” and “When Death Comes.”

The Sonoran Desert. The wisdom of nature is a guiding light for me. The way forward is in connection to all living things. To honor and care for our planet, environment and all beings. The desert feels like home and is forever providing lessons and opportunities to be better.

Website: www.airbnb.com/h/sonorandesertblossom

Instagram: @stay_sonorandesertblossom

Other: www.beginandrisecreative.com

Image Credits
Photography of me and of my home by Moon Valley Creative

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