Art Blog

The Sedona Summer Colony is presented through a creative partnership between the Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School. Now in its third year, the two organizations have worked together to create a dynamic program offering not only individual artist residencies but also unique workshops.

This gives artists the option to jump-start their private residency with a workshop of their choice or even take the workshop as a stand-alone experience. Private residencies are available this year from Saturday, July 21, through Saturday, Aug. 11 and can be reserved for one, two or three-week durations.

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Photo courtesy of Kelli Klymenko

Poet Christopher Johnson, of Providence, R.I., writes a new poem on the lawn at Verde Valley School during the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony, co-presented by the Sedona Arts Center. Johnson was named a Rhode Island poet laureate candidate shortly after the colony concluded.

Sedona Summer Colony has the primary objective of providing an environment of space and time that fosters the inspiration and creation of new artistic work. The model of a residency retreat is undisturbed time, temporary living space, regular included meals and studio or work space.

However, the residency also creates the opportunity to foster new connections and dialogue among participants and instill new opportunities for cross-disciplinary interaction and thinking. The Verde Valley School is a unique environment with the feeling of a small village surrounded by inspiring hikes, views and natural wonder.

Sedona Summer Colony began in fall 2015 with the first meeting between then-executive director of Sedona Arts Center Eric Holowacz and Paul Amadio, head of Verde Valley School. Both arrived in Sedona in July 2015, bringing new ideas to the two organizations. Both had a background in residency programs, and each saw a ready partnership in the name of cultural advancement and local identity.

Throughout early 2016, the two continued working on the model for the inaugural program joined by Carol Holyoake, then a new hire at Verde Valley School as director of legacy programs and communications. This year Carol Holyoake worked with Vince Fazio, now executive director at Sedona Arts Center, to develop the new four-week program. 

“It was a great experience working with Carol developing this year’s program,” Fazio said. “We had a lot of creative ideas for workshops that would be a fit for the Colony environment, and we wanted to create an opportunity for teachers on summer break to earn continuing education credits while experiencing specialized art instruction. We also wanted to have a Native American cultural immersion as an option and tie into the Surrealist history in Sedona.”

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Photo courtesy of Kelli Klymenko

Ceramic artist Autumn Higgins explains her process of art at the Sedona Summer Colony. Higgins grew up in Minneapolis and was raised in Portland, Ore. She was born into a family of artists with a painter mother and grandparents who spent over 50 years working in ceramics.

What emerged from the development process was four workshops that meet for days each at the beginning of the Summer Colony. These workshops take place Monday through Thursday, July 16 through 19, with residency beginning Sunday, July 15.

The workshop program invites artists to study focused avenues of expression with the option of adding on an independent residency following the workshop. A unique six-day spoken word workshop is offered at the end of the Summer Colony program Monday through Saturday, Aug. 6 through 11, and culminates in an evening presentation on Saturday, Aug. 11.

Visual arts workshops at the Summer Colony this year to explore:

The Magic of Surrealism

The Magic of Surrealism creates a program where participants can begin afresh where so many modern art movements began.
Libby Caldwell teaches many techniques in this four-day experience using the work of 

Max Ernst as a starting point. 

Plein Air Painting Immersion

A Plein Air Painting Immersion is led by Matt Sterbenz and will take advantage of the dramatic monsoon, allowing students to work both outdoors in the early morning and late evening and in the studio.

Contemporary Mixed Media

Contemporary Mixed Media is taught by Joan Fullerton, known for her dynamic process of combining imagery and abstraction and guiding students through a process that teaches artistic spontaneity and individuality.

Hopi Pottery Experience

The Hopi Pottery Experience creates an intimate opportunity to discover the richness of indigenous culture while working with Rachel Sahmie, who studied traditional pottery with her mother, Priscilla Namingha Nampeyo.

In this workshop you’ll make small pots using traditional Hopi materials, methods and tools including Hopi clay, paint made from traditional plants and minerals, brushes made from yucca, the hand-coiled method and firing in sheep dung.

The Spoken Word

The Spoken Word taught by Thomas Eldon Anderson takes place the last week of the Colony from Monday, Aug. 6, through Saturday, Aug. 11, and is focused on the fundamentals of performance exploring principles of clarity of thinking, melody of meaning, and expressiveness using mechanics and emotional intention in the service of storytelling.

Appropriate for actors as well as business or professional speech, the last day of this workshop will involve a spoken word performance to which the public will be invited.

The workshops are designed to be shared by all levels; each of them is a complete experience. They are also perfect for teachers seeking continuing education credits over the summer available through Yavapai College School of Arts and Humanities for two college credits each. Workshops can also be used to start a residency that can then continue for as long as three additional weeks.

Sedona area residents are welcome to commute to the workshops or even to commute to their own residency studio experience and are offered a special rate that does not include lodging.

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