Pachyderm Studio wants to save the world, but can it keep the lights on?

The beleaguered music-maker's Mecca has become the Temple of the White Elephant

"She's been here forever," he says, "and no one knows how she got here."

Here, he says, people hold prayer services during Pachyderm's occasional summer festivals. Candle wax is visible on a small stone enclave, an emptied shrine and a talisman of Pachyderm's lingering magic.

For the next month, Studio A's weekends are booked. With Zap Maya on an indefinite residency, there's activity in the house. It's hardly enough to meet the studio's immediate financial demands, but looking at the trout stream, sheathed in blankets of white snow, it's easy to imagine the mystique on the lips of the studio's residents.

Shaunna Peterson
The woodsman: Pete Monohan, Pachyderm's live-in custodian, keeps the fire burning
Nick Vlcek
The woodsman: Pete Monohan, Pachyderm's live-in custodian, keeps the fire burning

Inside the house, Zap Maya tinkers with synth lines, crafting an impromptu beat and padding around the lushly carpeted den. Mousetrap, the resident stray cat, pounces through the labyrinthine rooms. The indoor swimming pool, now drained, is lined with Mueller's djembes. A drum kit sits at the curb of the pool beside the diving board. Monohan stomps its kick pedal, and the report is like the buck of a cannon. In the floor of the pool, an arcane symbol is emblazoned in flaked indigo paint.

"Pachyderm is a magical place," says Sigmeth, Pachyderm's departed engineer, "and it deserves to have funding and management that meets its 20-year reputation. It's not getting that now. But it's nearly impossible to meet all the property tax and multiple building mortgage payments without having something else beyond the booking fees to fund its existence. I wish I knew the answer. If I did, I'd buy it myself. But I'm not that stupid."

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