Sedona Arts Center & Verde Valley School

Sedona Summer Colony Begins

Thank You for Helping Us Grow Something Special in the Desert!

The Sedona Summer Colony experiment began nearly one week ago. Since opening the Verde Valley School campus on June 19, we've been growing a new American residency program for artists, cultural managers, and creative producers. Over 40 people have now arrived from all over the world—and they've found a new sense of wonder and inspiration. Their presence and creative energy are also helping us shape a unique new aspect of Sedona and the creative community we call home. In our own backyard, dozens of wonderful volunteers and supporters have pitched in to make our first week a success, and we thank you all. Arts Center executive director and co-founder of Sedona Summer Colony, Eric Holowacz, looks back on the journey and how it began...

When Paul Amadio, new Head of Verde Valley School, and I first met over a bottle of wine late last year, it was like two long lost brothers reconnecting. We both arrived in Sedona in July 2015, and both came from other parts of the globe to settle in this red rock paradise. We unpacked suitcases filled with ideas and dreams for our organizations, and we both had creativity in our DNA. After a great dinner and a few hours of conversation, the seeds for a new American residency program had been planted. Before dessert was served, the quiet off-season campus of Verde Valley School had a nascent plan to become the Sedona Summer Colony for Artists and Cultural Managers. This past week, thanks to hundreds of wonderful staff, volunteers, and creative people, our brotherly dream began in full. 

The campus and our community at-large has begun hosting an influx of choreographers, poets, musicians, painters, and cultural leaders. We are now hosting creative people from Rhode Island, New Zealand, Miami, Australia, Chicago, and other places currently unconnected to our high desert environment. And thanks to the Verde Valley School staff and board—and dozens of committed community volunteers—the program is housing them, feeding them, and providing a platform for new artistic work. We have begun introducing our guests to Sinaguan ruins, Oak Creek swimming holes, the Gold King Mine, flowering prickly pear, a hike up Bell Rock, and the majesty of monsoon season. 

As we began telling people about this guest-host plan in early 2016, Sedona immediately responded. Our dream for an extraordinary creative place soon became a vision shared by all of the Verde Valley. Donors offered additional housing. Patrons volunteered to host receptions and dinner parties. Local artists donated supplies. Potluck dinners were planned. Volunteers and goodwill appeared where we never had them before. This past week and the month that follows, our reconnected organizations are combining all of those wonderful new ingredients to establish the Sedona Summer Colony as America's next great artist residency program. In the coming weeks, thanks to everybody involved, the Verde Valley School campus will become the most creative place on earth.  

Back when we shared that first meal in October, neither Paul nor I could have predicted such an incredible journey to get here. It really did take a village of visionary thinkers and an entire community of fearless cultural supporters. The Verde Valley School and Sedona Arts Center partnership has begun adding the active ingredient—artists, thinkers, makers, and creative guests—temporary neighbours and Sedona explorers. We thank you all for playing host and for helping us grow something special in the desert. All of us behind the scenes—after an extraordinary journey and a promising first week—raise our glasses high into the air. Let the Sedona Summer Colony begin!

Meet the June Visiting Artists and Cultural Managers!

The first ever Sedona Summer Colony has already welcomed the below artists, creative producers, and cultural managers to town. You'll find them out on the town, exploring trails and red rock vistas, cooling off in Oak Creek and Buddha Beach, and in studio spaces at Verde Valley School. You can also follow their experiences on the Sedona Summer Colony Facebook page.

To connect our community with the program, we invite you to share a meal in the campus Dining Hall at an upcoming Sunday Potluck Dinner.  And if you 'd like to volunteer, donate, or provide support for Sedona Summer Colony, see the item below. Again, we are grateful to all of the local people who have helped us grow this from idea to reality. We salute the below artists (and the ones who will follow) for sowing the seeds of America's next great cultural residency program... 

Teddy Cafaro Music, Los Angeles
Rob Chidester Music / Film, Louisiana
Maya Ciarrocchi Visual Arts / Film, New York
Rebecca Edwards Photography / Yoga, Australia
Bob Halstead Underwater Photography, Australia
Autumn HIggins Visual Arts / Ceramics, Minnesota
Vahakn Arslanian Visual Arts, New York
Sean Illing Political Journalism, Washington DC
Bob Kubiak Photography, Pittsburgh
Kirtley Leigh Music, Australia
Erick Miller Visual Arts, Philadelphia
Michael Hoerman Poetry, Arkansas
Elizabeth Pechacek Visual Arts / Ceramics, Minnesota
Micahela Pilar Brown Visual Arts, South Carolina
Katrina Rank Wine Making / Visual Arts, Napa
Jessie Schlosser-Smith Cultural Manager, Boston
Frank Scurlock Cultural Manager, New Orleans
Michael Shields Cultural Manager, Key West
Tiffany Tate Visual Arts, Philadelphia
David Wells Cultural Manager, Wisconsin
Ava Williams Visual Arts / Arts Education, Louisiana
Ernesto Kunde Visual Arts, Miami
SaraNoa Mark Visual Arts / Chicago
Adara Meyers Theatre, Boston
Bill Pendergraft Film, Washington DC
Katrina Brees Parade Design and Production, New Orleans
Rachel Garcia Shank Visual Arts / Culturla Manager, Boston
Brad and Amanda Kik Cultural Managers, Michigan
Brent and Mary Grace Wahl Visual Arts / Cultural Manager, Philadelphia
Rachel Barker Dance, North Carolina
Joe Lertola Visual Arts, New York
Anja Marais Visual Arts, Miami
JoAnna Mendl Shaw Choreography / Dance, New York
Kimberly Prentice Theatre / Dance, New York
Nellie Appleby Visual Arts, Key West
Keoni Bigno Visual Arts / Carving, Hawaii
Ella Edwards Music / Healing, Australia
Kacey Katzenmeyer Dance, New York
Seth Clark Visual Arts, Pittsburgh
Matt Gilbert Sound / Electronic Arts, Los Angeles
Ryan Lammie Cultural manager, Pittsburgh
Adam Lehl Visual Arts / Typographic Design, Wisconsin
Andrea Avery Visual Arts, Wisconsin
Joelle Ryan Cook Cultural manager, South Carolina
Dan Cook Music / Journalism, South Carolina


How You Can Support the Inaugural Sedona Summer Colony

All of the great artist colonies—and every deliberate creative community we know of—were built with a combination of vision, people, infrastructure and community resources. Over the past six months, we've been gathering these ingredients and setting the stage for the first ever Sedona Summer Colony. To make this inaugural effort a success—we welcome volunteers, sponsors, and partners from our local community. Below are a few ways that Sedona can help make this program a success. To express interest, simply click here to contact our volunteer coordinator.  


Make a Dish and Attend a Community Potluck Dinner on June 26, July 3, 10, and 17
Lead an Off-site Excursion or Trail Hike for a Group of Visiting Artists (flexible dates)
Provide Kitchen Help and Dining Hall Clean-up (all days, flexible schedule)
Support our Program Staff, Daily Operations, and Artist Services (all days, flexible)
Host a Private Dinner for Visiting Artists (June 30 and July 7, 14, and 21)

Program Photographer and Documentarian (flexible schedule)
Offer a Private Room/Accommodations for Visiting Artists (1-3 weeks)
Donate Art Supplies or Equipment
Loan a Mountain Bike or Camping Gear 
Provide Local Transportation Services

Serve as a Tour Guide to Lowell Observatory,
Museum of Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon, Arcosanti,
Jerome, Tuzigoot, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki,
Montezuma's Castle or other historic sites   

Click Here to Let Us Know You Want to Help

About Sedona Arts Center

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. The population of the area at that time was less than 400 people, most of whom were ranchers, orchard workers, merchants, or from the Native American community. 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.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the barn and Arts Center became a hub of creative activity, artistic development, cultural events, and community-building. Today, it keeps that tradition and operates an expanded campus, a fine art gallery that represents 110 local artists, and a school that offers over 100 classes and workshops each year. The organization 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, and gatherings in keeping with Gobran's original vision. The most ambitious initiative in a long time is driven by a renewed partnership with Verde Valley School—and the desire to create America's next great artist residency program, Sedona Summer Colony. 

Copyright © 2016 Sedona Arts Center

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

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