Sedona Arts Center & Verde Valley School

M E D I A   A L E R T 


Sedona Arts Center
Kelli Klymenko, Marketing Manager
Eric Holowacz, Executive Director
(928) 282-3809

Announcing the 2017 Sedona Summer Colony 
America's Next Great Residency Program for Creative People

SEDONA, AZ — Something magical is happening in the high desert landscape of Northern Arizona. In the geological expanses of Sedona, there’s a powerful form of creative energy pulsating from the red rock vortexes—and at its core is new cultural production and support for the creative process. Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School are pleased to announce the 2017 Sedona Summer Colony, and now encourage artists, creative producers, and cultural managers to apply for a residency with us.

Last June, the two Northern Arizona organizations established Sedona Summer Colony as a 21st century residency in the high elevation desert. The inaugural program hosted over 125 artists from as far away as Hobart, Tasmania and Manitoba, Canada. Hundreds of Sedona residents volunteered, hosted receptions, guided excursions and tours, and helped the initiative grow into something extraordinary.  

“Ever since artists Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning landed here in the late 1940s and set up a rustic studio to live and work, Sedona has been a place for new creative inspiration and community building,” said co-founder and Sedona Arts Center executive director, Eric Holowacz. “With the Summer Colony initiative, we go back to our roots, and the visionary idea of nurturing a bold new creative community.” 

The partnership recently announced the 2017 program dates, June 28 to August 5, and applications are now open to artists, performers, creative content producers, and cultural managers everywhere. Complete details and application guidelines can be found at 

"We invite painters, sculptors, poets, and performers," said Holowacz. "But we also want to expand the idea of a creative residency and welcome comedians, journalists and editors, television writers and producers, culinary figures, arts administrators, folk artists, and all of the other content producers who are actively defining our culture in the 21st century." 

The model for Sedona Summer Colony was inspired by the work and mission of residency programs like Yaddo, MacDowell, Hambidge Center, Villa Montalvo in California, and the American Academy in Rome. Those organizations—emerging from the early 20th century—were built upon a strong belief in the power of interdisciplinary associations of artists and the benefit of time and space to develop new things. Their founders built communities based on the regular gathering of cultural visionaries, the provision of creative resources, and the sharing of meals, excursions, spontaneous interaction, and daily life.

The Sedona effort, as it has ben cultivated over the past year and a half, found ready help and support from the Alliance of Artists Communities, and member organizations like Crosshatch in Michigan, North Mountain Residency in West Virginia, and Headlands Center in San Francisco. An early partnership was formed with the Carnegie Mellon Masters of Arts Management Program, and that continues to grow a platform for leading cultural managers.  

“Our main point of difference is a landscape unlike any other, an inspiring high desert ecosystem within the Coconino National Forest, and a campus that is ready to support diverse creative groups of summer residents,” said co-founder and Head of Verde Valley School, Paul Amadio. "We want to set the stage for new artistic interactions and meaningful immersion in our local culture and environment. We want creative people to find new and remarkable inspiration in this otherworldly place."

Applications for Sedona Summer Colony are open through March 31, or until all residency spaces are filled. The 2017 program is fee-based at $65 per day per resident. Selected artists and cultural managers will be provided with private accommodation, two meals a day, studio or work space on campus, and optional off-site excursions to explore the region and features like Arcosanti, Sinaguan ruins, Museum of Northern Arizona, Lowell Observatory, and the Grand Canyon. 

New this year are a limited number of Summer Colony Day Residencies, to support the creative development of local and Verde Valley artists who do not require housing. Fees are $30 per day, and include everything except for accommodation on campus. Sedona arts supporters can also get involved this summer by volunteering, sponsoring an artist, or donating materials and items for the program. 

The seeds for the Sedona Summer Colony were planted in November 2015 with the first meeting between Holowacz and Amadio. Both had arrived in Sedona a few months before, taking over well-established nonprofit organizations. Both came with a vision for change and community-building—and both had boards and trustees that were ready for big ideas.

Holowacz, with a global background in residencies, festival direction, arts facility development, and cultural engineering, proposed the idea of using the summer campus to invite and house creative people from all over the world. Amadio, whose career also includes summer arts programs and an earlier tenure as a stage performer, saw a ready partnership that would enhance local identity and build new relationships well beyond the Sonoran Desert. The leadership team was completed by the arrival of Carol Holyoake, a seasoned project and event manager from Australia now based at Verde Valley School. She oversaw the campus logistics and operations during the inaugural year, and played a large part in establishing the program. 

"This is a major step for both our organizations to contribute to 21st century cultural identity, and to enhance the way that the world looks at Sedona," said Holowacz. "We invite creative people from all over the world to consider this opportunity and help us build the next great American artist residency program."

Information and application guidelines are now online at To learn more about this Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School partnership, become a volunteer, donate housing or services, or support the 2017 Sedona Summer Colony in any way, contact Eric Holowacz. 

— 30 —

To take a look back at the artists and creative people who were part of the inaugural 2016 Sedona Summer Colony, see images below. To request photos, interviews, or additional program information, click here.

Click Here to Visit the 2017 Sedona Summer Colony Website
Philadelphia artist Erick Miller contemplates a new model in his Verde Valley School studio. A full-sized sculptural work, based on Sedona rock observations, emerged from his residency at Sedona Summer Colony. 
Los Angeles-based musician, Jessica Ramsey, joins Seattle musician Chris Lott and writer/visual artist Colleen Barry on top of Cathedral Rock, after a morning hike. While here, Lott began work on a new album for his band, Wall of Ears. 
Pittsburgh-based artist D.S. Kinsel, creates works that reflect race, culture, and his generation. He contributed provocative and socially-salient ideas, and left with the rudiments of a new body of work relating to the African-American experience.  
Wisconsin ceramic artist Elizabeth Pechacek creates new work in the Verde Valley School pottery studio during her late June residency with fellow artist Autumn Higgins. 
Ryan Lammie (right front), director of Pittsburgh studio complex Radiant Hall works after a morning brunch, joined in the Dining Hall by Pittsburgh photographer Bob Kubiak. 
Summer Colony intern, Amber Engelmann, kept the daily logistics running smoothly, and provided ongoing support for the artists and program team.
Peace Paper Project intern, Amy Chen, perched on the South Rim during a Sedona Summer Colony excursion to the Grand Canyon and Wupatki Pueblo. 
Louisiana musician Ian Frazier came to Sedona to work on his first album. Before he left, he presented a new body of music to fellow residents (and the Seven Warriors in the distance) at the campus chapel. 
Painter Thomas Crouch, based in South Carolina, set up a studio space inside Brady Hall. Inspired by the surrounding geological wonders, he depicted landscapes and painted furiously during his month-long residency. 
Musician Daniel Pelonquin-Hopfner—from Manitoba, Canada—gains angel wings during a music video shoot on the Verde Valley School campus. While here, he helped other visiting artists create and record compositions on campus.
During an open studio tour, conceptual artist Michaela Pilar Brown talks about her work at Sedona Summer Colony, and ongoing projects that explore memory, female body, and African-American experience in the 21st century. 
Las Vegas performer and festival founder, Elizabeth Nelson, arrives at Sedona Summer Colony after successfully launching a collaborative project in downtown Vegas, the Small Spaces Festival.
Rhode Island cultural manager, Xander Marro, created a new population of hand-made paper masks during her time in Sedona, and then showed them off after a Community Potluck open studio tour.  
Playwright D. W. Jacobs, co-founder of San Diego Repertory, returned to the desert after many years. While here, he revised his highly-successful play based on the life of R. Buckminster Fuller. 
Miami-based Brazilian painter Ernesto Kunde joined other visiting artists at P.J.'s in the Village. Here he prepares to run the table—while sporting his new Northern Arizona headwear.
Young artist SaraNoa Mark, now based in Chicago, created dozens of new works and experimental assemblages in her campus studio—often using materials gathered form the surrounding landscape.
Hawaiian community organizer Keoni Bigno treated the Summer Colony to a kava ceremony, using his special blend of hand-harvested rhizome. While here, he shared many other aspects of his Polynesian culture with the campus. 
Writer, performer, and cultural manager Caitlin Myer ponders our red rock environment and Wild West heritage during her residency at Sedona Summer Colony—as the monolithic Cathedral Rock looks on in the background. 
An easy walk or drive down the dirt road, trips to the swimming hole were a regular part of the Summer Colony experience. Here a contingent breaks through the riparian canopy bound for Buddha Beach and their first vortex experience. 
Dancers from The Equus Projects spent their creative time workshopping movement in the landscape. Here, they stir up the dirt in the name of new dance at the Verde Valley School equestrian ring. 
Sedona Summer Colony Program Manager Carol Holyoake, the nucleus of the residency operation, relaxes on the campus quad—flanked by Key West impresario Michael Shields and Miami-based South African artist Anja Marais. 
Another frequent excursion was a hike up Bell Rock and a 5000-foot vantage point overlooking Courthouse Butte and the road to Sedona. Here three visiting artists connect with the vortex, near the peak, during a twilight outing.
Boston-based visual artist and cultural manager, Rachel Garcia Shank, works on a new painting in the Verde Valley School art studio. 
Thanks to a partnership with the Museum of Northern Arizona, and generous executive director Carrie Hienonen, Summer Colony artists were treated to guided tours of the exhibitions and collections. 
Sedona Summer Colony co-founders Eric Holowacz, head of Sedona Arts Center, and Paul Amadio, head of Verde Valley School, celebrate the inaugural effort at a reception hosted by The Collective in the Village of Oak Creek.  Below: Rhode Island performance poet Christopher Johnson finds inspiration on the campus quad.

About Sedona Arts Center

Exactly 60 summers ago, a group of creative people decided to turn Sedona into a community driven by artistic learning and creative expression. The population of the area at that time was less than 400 people, most of whom were ranchers, orchard workers, and merchants. In 1956, the community embraced the first Sedona Summer Art program, and our town's creative ethic has been growing ever since. 

In 1958, the Verde Valley School art department head, Egyptian sculptor Nassan Gobran, and a dozen other civic leaders founded the organization that would become Sedona Arts Center. A few years later, with support form the town’s small Chamber of Commerce, Gobran acquired a former apple orchard warehouse that became known as the Art Barn in what is now Uptown Sedona. The first exhibition featured works by Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, and the early years included arts education, lectures, exhibitions, film screenings, and live theatre. 

Exactly 60 years later, channeling the same bold and fearless dream of creative community, we have established Sedona Summer Colony. With a nod to Gobran and his legacy, our reunited organizations have set out to build the 21st century's next great artist residency program. We see the power of creative people, unexpected collaborations, and those that express cultural identity. We are grateful for the past 6 decades, and excited about the ones to come! 

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the barn and Arts Center became a genuine hub of creative activity, artistic development, cultural events, and community-building. Today, we keep that tradition and operate an expanded campus, a fine art gallery that represents 110 local artists, and a school that offers over 200 classes and workshops each year. Sedona Arts Center also presents innovative collaborative projects like Peace Paper WorkshopsLoving Bowls, the 12 x 12 Project, Plein Air festivals, Sedona Ukulele Posse, and community projects like the VOC Arts Annex.  In keeping with Gobran's original vision, and thanks to a renewed partnership with Verde Valley School, we have begun the Sedona Summer Colony. We thank you all—volunteers, sponsors, and participants—for making it an enchanting experience!
Copyright © 2017 Sedona Arts Center

Our mailing address is:
Sedona Arts Center
15 Art Barn Road
Sedona, AZ 86336

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive Sedona Arts Center Creative Alerts?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list