Sedona Arts Center Media Release

Arts Center's Montana Artists in Residence

Sedona Arts Center Exploring Creative Exchange with Glacier National Park

July 28, 2016
Sedona Arts Center
Fire and Ice Partnership with Creative Montana
Sedona Arts Center Hosts Nine Visiting Artists from the North

In August of last year, Montana artist Jan Shanahan visited Sedona and stopped by the Arts Center. She told then new Executive Director Eric Holowacz about her dream to establish something similar in her small community of Whitefish, at the foot of Glacier National Park. Holowacz offered to help, and the two began a friendship that may lead to an ongoing exchange of artists between Sedona and Whitefish. 

Sometime in early 2016, as planning for the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony began, Holowacz reconnected with Shanahan and proposed the idea of a residency for Montana artists, so they could get to know Sedona and explore an ongoing exchange.  

This week a group of nine visiting artists led by Shanahan made the journey form Montana to Sedona for an eleven day group residency. While here, they will occupy the Arts Center's Special Exhibition gallery to create new work and meet our community. During their stay, the Arts Center will begin planning a reciprocal residency project—the Fire and Ice Exchange—to send a diverse team of Verde Valley artists into the mountain paradise of Glacier National Park next year. 

"It's amazing how creative people and communities can connect in unexpected ways," says Holowacz. "This partnership began with a chance visit, and evolved into conversations about sharing our sense of place, exchanging creative influences, and forging new bonds between distant geographies."

The incoming Glacier Park contingent includes Western painters Meagan Abra Blessing and Michael Blessing from Bozeman, artist/designer Linda Katsuda, fiber artist and artrepreneur Edrienne Kittredge and calligrapher/jewelry designer James Kittredge from Cascade, sculptor John Rawlings and art therapist/painter Souheir Rawlings from Whitefish, fiber artist Jan Shanahan from Whitefish, and collage and watercolor artist Sheri Trepina from Kalispell. 

The community is invited to met the Montana visiting artists at Sedona Arts Center during the August 5 First Friday reception, where they will be set up in the Arts Center's Special Exhibition Gallery. Verde Valley artists who are interested in an exchange with Wihitefish, and a possible Glacier Park residency residency in Montana next year, should also stop by to learn about this new partnership during the First Friday reception.

Sedona Arts Center's artist in residency program has been made possible by support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Community Foundation, Kling Family Foundation, and generous patrons Joe and Judy Reddington, Jan Justice Oswald, Anne Uruburu, John and Rebecca Ellis, and David and Isabel Simmer. 

To learn more about the Arts Center's visiting artists, or upcoming projects, programing, and creative opportunities, visit the gallery and offices in Uptown Sedona, or contact Holowacz at 282-3809. 

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

About our Montana Artists in Residence

Meagan Abra Blessing

Meagan Abra Blessing spent her formative years packing, living, and working in various western states from Alaska to Colorado. Attending college with majors in Equestrian Studies and Vocal Performance, she spent nearly twenty years teaching and training, performing on occasion, and raising a family.

As an artist, Meagan is drawn to high contrast and movement when choosing her compositions. Years of hands on experience with horses in various capacities have resulted in paintings that are reflective of individual equine temperaments and personalities. Her love of the wide open spaces and lifestyle of the rural West coupled with her passion for all things equine is evident in her lively, expressionistic paintings. Meagan’s renditions of horses, working horses, and rodeo subjects are vibrant and dynamic, and her playful utilization of color and light brings a unique twist to classic and often quintessentially Western imagery.

Thrilled to have the opportunity to focus exclusively on her art without the usual distractions of running a business, family, and home, Meagan has set very specific goals for her Sedona Residency.  She will be working through exercises drawn from Dan McCaw’s book, A Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art in an effort to even out her artistic abilities and strengthen those areas in which she is weakest. 

Michael Blessing
Painter / Musician

Michael Blessing spent his formative years in rural Montana, surrounded by the land, the people, and the usual conglomeration of machinery. After pursuing a Master's degree in Music Arts, he spent the next thirty years owning and running two recording studios and working in the music industry in the areas of performance, production, and engineering.

As a painter, Michael is primarily compelled by the shapes within a composition. Having discovered an initial inclination toward figurative painting, he favors a candid view of his subjects, often depicting unexpected everyday moments and emotions that are universally relevant. As a kid growing up in mid last century Americana, brightly lit neon signs often captured his imagination and interest. Michael felt he could combine his love of painting the figure with his love of the nostalgic pull of neon, and his “Neon Gunslingers” series was born. As a rule, Michael is drawn to strong compositions, vibrant color, and bold lines. His figurative work and paintings of vintage Western nostalgia are widely appealing and have an edgy quality that is both contemporary and timeless.

Michael plans to use his time in Residency to focus on drawing; value, line, and shape.  In addition, he is looking forward to having uninterrupted time to contemplate the larger story he would like to narrate in his work, often through pattern, composition, and subject matter.

Edrienne L Kittredge
Fiber Artist, Writer
Montana Artrepreneurial Program Founder

Born and raised where the Great Plains rise up to meet the Rocky Mountains, Edrienne (Cindy) Kittredge has lived and worked in major cities across the U.S. before finding her way home to Montana—where she first learned the power of place on the ranch where she was reared. She holds advanced degrees, has done post-graduate work in anthropology/museology, and has completed Sirolli Institute Entrepreneurship Facilitation training. A passionate believer in lifelong learning, she has taught collegiate and non-traditional students, besides working in cross-cultural communications and cultural resource management.

On returning to Montana, she worked as Executive Director of a regional history museum, which she led in an expansion into a 45,000 square-foot facility. In addition to creating a range of education programs and a major folk festival, she started the City-Count Historic Preservation Commission and served for twelve years on the governing board of the Museums Association of Montana of which she was president for four years. 
Montana State University-Great Falls recruited Dr. Kittredge to create, teach, and direct the Creative Arts Enterprise Program, which she designed to help rural-based artists build a business in art. Based on the success of that program, the Montana Arts Council hired her to translate the program to fit Montana’s needs. Her knowledge of issues affecting rural agrarian communities infused her creation of Montana’s Artrepreneur Program which has received national recognition. A fiber artist herself with a belief that the folk arts carry cultural markers and imbue life with art, she created the Montana Circle of American Masters, a program to honor exemplary folk artists. 
Her innovative research in how humans learn from and use their landscapes creatively has led to her authoring Artrepreneurship: Sustaining the Creative Life, Framing a Boundless Horizon, Unbounded Horizons: The Responsive Mind in Place, and From the Corners of My Mind. She blogs about art, cultural landscapes, and the intersecting spaces at 

During her Sedona residency, Cindy will examine the transformative aspect of the Montana Artrepreneur Program's ties to landscape and then weigh that in terms of the Arizona landscape—with the end goal of searching for avenues of adapting the program and its successes to a wider audience.

James (Jim) Kittredge
Calligrapher, Jeweler, Designer

James Kittredge spent his formative years in the hills of upstate New York, on the waters of the St. Lawrence River, and in a German neighborhood in Chicago. He now lives and works on his family’s historic ranch that lies on the banks of the “Mighty Mo” in central Montana. 

Discovering the joy of line and shape in letters, he studied calligraphy at a number of institutes in Florida and Texas, including botanical drawing with Priscilla Fawcett at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. He mentored with British calligrapher Ieuan Rees and American calligraphers such as Richard Ebbole. Besides completing commissions for private collections in Florida and Montana, Jim has taught calligraphy to students in those states.

In Montana, Jim has completed commission work for private collectors, as well as clients such as the Advertising Federation’s C.M. Russell Art Auction and March of Dimes. As an independent design contractor, he designed exhibits and promotional materials for the History Museum and provided design expertise to Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, creating pieces such as the poster for the Judy Chicago exhibition. In 1992, Jim completed an intensive jewelry design course with master goldsmith Alan Revere at the Revere Academy in San Francisco. Jim began creating jewelry that reflected, in materials and mood, his landscape. Working primarily in copper, silver, and glass, he designed and constructed pieces that married his interests in line, texture, and color. His work is in collections across the U.S., in Germany and Great Britain. 
About his Sedona residency, he says: "In the face of a number of life changes, I have found it necessary, like many my age, to reinvent how I expresses my creativity. With nerve damage to my hands, I am working to reconnect with a love of drawing while overcoming the difficulty of holding a pen or pencil, as well as the instruments for the precise work done in the past. Although I have been to Arizona, business has precluded my stopping to study the colors and draw the shapes and shadows that so define the area and pique my interest. I hope that the more unstructured forms in the unfamiliar landscape offered by this residency will provide, in their simple complexity, a way to develop new tactics for me to approach." 

John Rawlings
Art Instructor, Sculptor

London-born and Australian-raised John Rawlings has been exposed to cultures all over the world.  A graduate of the University of Guanajuato in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, he has taught art classes there in addition to Ogallala Community College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in S.D., Northwest Community College in Powell, Wyo. and the University Alaska Southeast – Sitka Campus before moving to the Flathead Valley in 1989.  He began teaching art classes at Flathead Valley Community College, FVCC, and was hired as a full-time art instructor in 1993.  He has spent much time in Italy as he lived there twice and has led up to 15 study abroad trips to the country.  In 2006, he received global recognition at the Cairo International Biennale in Egypt, the largest visual arts exhibition in the Arab world, where his ceramic sculpture pieces were displayed in the world-renowned show.

The following is an excerpt from a recent press release… “John was named the 2014 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Faculty Member of the Year for the association’s North American Western Region and accepted the award at the ACCT Leadership Congress in Chicago. John was one of only five Professors recognized with the award from more than 1,200 colleges in the United States and Canada. He was recognized for his 49 years of classroom teaching and for his leadership role in steadily building an art department over the course of 25 years that, as stated in the nomination, “is now the gold standard for two-year art programs in the nation.” His charisma and instructional expertise have been enjoyed by countless students over his long career.  For the past twenty years John has been leading trips to Venice, introducing hundreds of students to its wonders.”

During the Sedona residency, he will focus on the landscape and culture of Northern Arizona as he looks forward to development of new work. 

Souheir Rawlings
Art Therapist and Painter

Souheir Rawlings is a certified teacher with over 30 years of experience.  Her teaching credentials come from Pacific Oaks College—a premier teacher’s college emphasizing multi-cultural education.  She has certifications in Expressive Arts Education and degrees in Human Development.  Her art studies began in Florence, Italy at Studio Art Centers International.  She received awards in art school for Portraiture and worked under the guidance of renowned Tuscan Artist, Manfredi. She has assisted John in all of his tours and is proficient in Italian language.  Her assistance and insights compliment all Art & Soul Study Abroad Programs. 

Souheir looks forward to exploring the Sedona area and absorbing the landscape and cultural expressions the valley has to offer.  After completing a residency in New Mexico recently, she plans to spend time developing new work that incorporates the southwestern feel.  She is available to provide a short seminar to Sedona Art Center members and would be please to spend time with members as they explore opportunities in this area of interest.

Jan Shanahan
Fiber Artist

Born in Whitefish Montana, Jan Shanahan returned there after living many years in California and Washington where she nurtured her skills as designer, pattern maker, and writer.  She used her publishing knowledge to license work to many pattern companies and magazines. In search of a good career path after majoring in Anthropology at UCLA, Jan focused on research and development in graduate school, which eventually led her to business management and publishing for the energy and IT industries.   Jobs demanded time and often required international travel; however, she stayed connected to her love of art, particularly fiber and textiles.  She owned a small fiber retail business and taught various fiber art techniques for more than 20 years.

Jan continues work in publishing, design, and functional art. She combines her love of texture to create one-of a kind quilts and small sculptures. In recent years, her art business has been transitioning from traditional fabric arts to more decorative surface creation with rich new mixed-media formats.  She enjoys her graphic approach in developing foundations for simple, but unique contemporary images.  A limited production effort for various creative themes enables Jan to focus on custom products for clients and colleagues.  Occasionally she will develop a series for a specific show. 

Some of the past 10 years have been devoted to sharing her knowledge about the business world, especially with artists.  In 2010 she became a Montana Arts Council (MAC) Certified Coach for the Montana Artrepreneurial Program (MAP), founded by Dr. Edrienne (Cindy) Kittredge where she works with artists as they learn about the basic principles of starting a business and as they become business-ready for their particular market. She also teaches business development classes in her community and at a Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana.
Jan enjoys the opportunity of continued business consulting, for time as a life-long learner, and for the wonderful friendships she develops while providing coaching services and teaching at her local community college.  She looks forward to each new adventure—always a great time to learn and share. 

Jan’s goals during the Sedona Art Center Residency Program are to gather photos that illustrate the rich colors in the rocky landscapes and to examine the architecture that is so unique to the area.  She plans to develop a series of color palettes for both paint and fiber media return for reference as she develops contemporary images for her mixed-media portfolio. 

Sheri Trepina
Collage and Watercolour Artist
Sheri Trepina was born in Washington State where she spent her summers at the family pear orchard in Cashmere.  She lived in Honolulu Hawaii during the school year.  The beauty of the family farm, located at the base of the Cascade Mountains and the lush land and seascape of Hawaii had a great impact on her love of colour, texture and design.  Sheri comes from a family of artists who nurtured her love of colour and art. These early experiences were key in the development of her later art career.

Prior to finding her artistic voice, Sheri spent her professional career in California, initially working in the environmental industry. She managed a hazardous transportation facility in Oakland CA, and lectured at UC Berkley, covering regulations specific for hazardous waste packaging, disposal and transport.  In 2002 she and her husband Don left the corporate world to purchase their own business.  They opened a sign and graphic design business in Concord, CA.  During this time Sheri developed her graphic arts skills for the sign business and took advantage of fine art classes in the greater Bay Area.  Sheri participated regularly in juried fine art festivals and joined local art organizations. In 2011, Sheri and her husband sold their sign business and moved to Kalispell MT. This new landscape brought new inspiration and focus to her art. 

Sheri’s work has been nationally recognized through publication and awards.  Her stunning textural collage art is inspired by elements in nature.  Her art is an expression of what she observes in nature now and the memories of the surroundings of her youth. She draws inspiration from the landscape, gathering regional leaves and grasses which she uses to make initial marks onto paper.  The technique of Collage is her preferred method. Sheri works to achieve rich textures and line thru the layering of delicate papers and watercolour. The movement of paint and water against these layers is exhilarating to Sheri, and gives her work an abstract quality.

Sheri hopes to convey what she observes in Sedona through colour and texture. She will gather local leaves, bits of soil, photographs and sketches of the landscape during different times of the day.  Upon returning home, she anticipates producing a series of collaged art pieces that will communicate the unique beauty of the area.  She believes “Art can enliven our daily lives, remind us of what is important and can create a reference to the world around us.”

Linda Katsuda
Printmaking / Mixed-media

Self-taught artist/designer Linda Katsuda began drawing at a very early age. Hawaii's natural environment and multicultural society have exerted an influence on her work. Although she attended a rural school with limited art education opportunities, teachers and others soon recognized her artistic talents and in middle school she was awarded a scholarship to the Honolulu Academy of Art.

After two and a half years at the University of Hawaii, Linda took advantage of an offer to learn printmaking at the Honolulu Academy of Arts on another scholarship, studying the traditional forms of art printing such as lithography, etching, and intaglio. She worked as a visual merchandising designer with a firm in Honolulu and in 1980 moved to Los Angeles to help open their stores in the then new Bradley International Airport. She later headed the visual merchandising department of the firm's eight retail shops in the San Francisco area. She also studied landscaping and drafting at City College of San Francisco.

Of her work, she says: "Nature is inspiring for more than the visual effect, because of the inherent quality of Nature itself. That it is what it is without pretense or trying to be anything other than what it is. When we experience Nature, in its wild state, most of us leave with a sense of peace, sometimes awe and generally uplifted. My intent is to capture bits of that experience. Works of wood, sticks and stones and paintings of sunlight streaming on golden fields, majestic mountains or the intricate patterns of leaves can remind us of that sense of peace and wonder." 


About Sedona Arts Center

One of Northern Arizona's first cultural nonprofits, Sedona Arts Center was founded in 1958 and has been building creative community ever since. Our organization now serves as the artistic hub of the Verde Valley, with year-round arts opportunities, an open door for creative people and ideas, and new initiatives like PALET, creative ideas like this Montana exchange, and a brand new partnership with Verde Valley School to establish the Sedona Summer Colony

Stop by the gallery and main offices in Uptown Sedona to learn about our ongoing exhibitions and classes, and innovative projects like Loving Bowls, the 12 x 12 Project, Sedona Ukulele Posse, and the VOC Arts Annex. Thank you for supporting our growth and bold new directions, and for being part of Sedona Arts Center as we work together to expand this wonderful creative hub.  
Copyright © 2016 Sedona Arts Center, All rights reserved.

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