Verde Valley School and Sedona Arts Center worked in partnership late last year to establish a new residency program for artists and cultural managers – the Sedona Summer Colony. We’ve been working together over the past few months to shape a guest-host model to become a summer feature of the campus and its singular red rock environment. This bold idea begins in full from late June.
We’d love for you to join us on Friday, May 31 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm for an opportunity to learn more about artists’ colonies, contribute to our ambitious initiative, and celebrate a potential new chapter in local cultural development at the Sedona Summer Colony – A New American Residency Program for Artists and Cultural Managers at Verde Valley School Open House and Program Launch Party on the quad at VVS. We will provide campus tours, small bites, and refreshments, followed by Q&A with co-founders Paul Amadio, Head of Verde Valley School, and Eric Holowacz, Executive Director of Sedona Arts Center.
Click Here to RSVP
This summer, our community will host over 100 significant creative people and visiting cultural leaders—providing each with time, space, and opportunities for discovery. They are musicians, choreographers, poets, film-makers, organization directors, and documentarians. They come to Verde Valley School campus as our guests. And while here, we’ll need your help to prove that Sedona can be the best host—and most interesting place—they’ve ever experienced.
Why? Because our inaugural artists and cultural managers in residence are the active ingredient in 21st century American culture. Because Sedona deserves an entity and legacy like the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Aspen Institute, Yaddo in Upstate New York, Hambidge Center in Georgia, and Chautauqua. Because by playing a generous host, we also hope to offer our Sedona Summer Colony residents a new understanding of this community—and a life-long relationship with the wonders of our high desert landscapes and the undeniable sense of place around us.
How you can help the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony
All of the great artist colonies—and every deliberate creative community were built with a combination of vision, people, infrastructure and resources. Over the past six months, we’ve been gathering these ingredients and setting the stage for Sedona Summer Colony. In order to make this inaugural effort a success, and to help us establish this model as an ongoing annual effort—we welcome your help. Click below to learn how to become a charitable sponsor, donate unused housing or hotel rooms, or volunteer on the ground this summer in support of visiting artists and local excursions.
Click here if you’d like to become a sponsor of Sedona Summer Colony
Click here if you’d like to volunteer, donate housing, support artist projects, or provide goods or services in-kind
Who are the Inaugural Sedona Summer Colony Residents?
To begin this new program, Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School have invited over 100 fascinating creative people from around the world to join us and build a new cultural development model for Sedona. Their time here this summer will be free of obligation, self-directed, and supported by our efforts to provide work space and local community connections. Here’s just a sample of the extraordinary guest-host relationships we will foster this summer…
Tasmanian artist and cultural manager, Dave Edgar, will use his time in Sedona to explore geological phenomenon, continue a series of drawings based on rock structures, and build connections between his home city, Hobart, and Northern Arizona. Learn about Dave’s work here and here.
New Zealand-based playwright and documentary producer, Julie Hill, will spend much of her summer in Sedona researching American culture and working on a collection of satirical non-fiction essays about national stereotypes: how they came to be formed, whether there is any truth to them, what their function is, and why we categorising particular groups of people. Read more about Julie here and here.
Brad and Amanda Kik, agricultural activists and co-founders of the Crosshatch artist residency program in Michigan, will bring their bioneer spirit to the campus, and share practical environmental stewardship solutions and ecological community-building efforts with Sedona. Watch their TED talk here.
Miami-based Brazilian artist Ernesto Kunde, will explore landscapes and painting, and find new influences in the red rock and riparian environments surrounding Verde Valley School. Read an interview with Ernesto here or learn more about his work here and here.
Heidi Rider, Adriana Chavez, and Elizabeth Nelson—the women behind the new Small Space Festival in Las Vegas—will explore possible new collaborations with Sedona. Read about their Weft in the Weave Collective and learn what they are doing to establish a new creative landscape in Sin City.
Playwright D. W. Jacobs works at the intersections of art, literature, and the sciences. He was co-founder and long-time artistic director of San Diego Repertory Theatre, and now writes for theatre, film, and digital storytelling formats. His play R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe premiered in 2000, and has since played around the world. As our guest, D.W. will return to the desert, where his past work found much inspiration.
South Carolina conceptual artist, Michaela Pilar Brown, crates profound installations and visual statements about the female body, African-American experience, and the making and interpretation of objects. While in residence, she will continue her latest work, an exploration of home and memory, and connect with our own sense of place.
New York-based Belgian artist, Vahakn Arslanian, will head West to change scenery from his familiar streets of Brooklyn to our expansive desert landscapes and red rock monoliths. A self-taught artist, he uses found objets and repurposed materials to generate collage, sculpture, and installation works. A fascinating protégé of Julian Schnabel, Vahakn has an extensive online profile here.
Choreographer JoAnna Mendl Shaw is founder of The Equus Projects, an integration of dance with humans and horses. While at Verde Valley School, she will bring a collaborating choreographer, 2 dancers, and a videographer to research and workshop a new performance piece inspired by local settings.
But wait, there’s more…
Sedona Sumer Colony will also welcome some of San Francisco’s most interesting contemporary artists, like Melissa Wyman, Michael Namkung, Llewelynn Fletcher, Cara Levine, and Grace Rosario Perkins; Plant-based visual artist and biophilia creator, Nellie Appleby; Helsinki-based American photographer Curt Richter; fashion designer and creative force behind supermaggie.com, Maggie Kleinpeter; Canadian slam poet Mona Faith Mousa; New Orleans-based parade designer Katrina Brees; Texas and Mexican-American folklorist Cristina Balli; and Los Angeles-based musicians, Andrew Martin and Jessica Ramsey, of the ethereal alternative rock band Moon Honey.
And still more…
We’ve also formed partnerships with several of America’s most productive cultural proving grounds: the formidable AS220 in Providence, Rhode Island; the multi-site artist studio provider Radiant Hall in Pittsburgh; and the Masters of Arts Management Program at Carnegie Mellon University. They will send small groups to our inaugural Sedona Summer Colony and help us explore longer-lasting connections and creative opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
How did this partnership begin? Is there a fee for participating artists? Will resident artists produce or present work for a local audience? Will they explore the region with excursions and tours? Is there a Sedona Summer Colony website? Will visiting artists need housing or studio space off-site, outside of Verde Valley School? Can I come to the Sunday Afternoon Artists-and-Community Potlucks? What’s a javelina?
These questions and more are answered in our Sedona Summer Colony FAQ—a guide for invited and incoming artists and cultural managers. You can view the most recent draft (and suggest any edits or additional content) by clicking here.
About Verde Valley School
Established after WWII with a unique global outlook, Verde Valley School is located on 300 acres in a rustic setting eight miles south of the town of Sedona. Founders Hamilton and Barbara Warren opened the campus in 1948 with sixteen students and a small handful of teachers and artists, dedicated from its beginning to changing the world. Mindful of the international horrors of war and the ravages of ethnocentrism and racism in this country, the Warrens believed that America needed a school where the values of cultural diversity would be understood and celebrated—not simply studied and tolerated.
This quote, from Hamilton Warren, sums up what they set out to do in a remote patch of Sedona: “The nation, indeed the world, needs a school that will bring together children from many nations, many cultures, all races and religions, not simply to study and tolerate one another, but to learn from and celebrate their differences.”
Today, the campus has a village-like feel, with a small quad, organic farm, dining hall, library, ceramics studio, performing arts hall and gallery, equestrian facilities, and dormitory and faculty housing. It is framed by monolithic red rocks, the Oak Creek riparian ecosystem, and high desert landscapes of Coconino National Forest. During the school year, it is home to 125 private high school students who care for the land and the campus, work towards an International Baccalaureate degree, and sustain the founding vision of cultural understanding and togetherness.
About Sedona Arts Center
In 1958, the Verde Valley School art department head, Egyptian sculptor Nassan Gobran, and 12 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, and merchants. 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, 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 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 Workshops, Loving 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.