Now in full swing, the Sedona Summer Arts Colony is the brainchild of Paul Amadio, head of Verde Valley School, and Eric Holowacz, executive director of Sedona Arts Center, and cosponsored by their two respective organizations.
The impetus of the colony began in fall 2015 during the first meeting between the two men. They invited about 40 local artists, art promoters and figures, myself included, to a dinner at the school shortly thereafter to give us all a heads-up about the program they were planning to launch.
The school, emptied of students during the summer, would provide the venue while the arts center would do the legwork to bring artists from around the country to Sedona.
The first colony in 2016 was a resounding success, with dozens of artists from around the country spending several weeks here, creating art at VVS and exploring Sedona area trails, sites and events.
They also performed or showcased their work around Sedona giving residents a chance to see new artwork from far afield.
VVS also encouraged residents to meet the artists with weekly potlucks on Sunday afternoons. Many of the artists had never been to the West and most had never been to Sedona.
One of the artists who had was slam poet Christopher Johnson, a decade-old friend of mine who brought a cadre of artist friends from the AS220 artist collective in Providence, R.I. I remember a few of those young Rhode Islanders told me they had never seen the Milky Way in the night sky until they came here and gazed heavenward.
While in Sedona, they worked on a theatre piece to bring back to their home venue. The artists who attended the inaugural colony worked as ambassadors, encouraging other artists to attend this year, or in years hence.
The partnership between SAC and VVS via the colony is on track to make Sedona a summer arts destination that will benefit Sedona residents’ quality of life in the long term. Thus, it is unfortunate that Holowacz will be leaving the Sedona Arts Center in October to take a job working in New Zealand.
While the nerd in me hoped that the Holowacz family would be moving to “Lord of the Rings” locales like Rivendell, Helm’s Deep or Minas Tirith, they will instead be moving to Whakatane on the North Island.
However, Holowacz did say he would make an effort to return to future Sedona art colonies, perhaps bringing a few Kiwi artists in tow. SAC will continue the partnership with VVS and Holowacz’s successor, Vince Fazio, will likely continue the strong relationship with Amadio to ensure the Sedona Summer ARTS Colony endures.
The colony is a delightful addition to Sedona’s cultural heritage the spirit of SAC’s founder, Egyptian sculptor Nassan Gobran, and VVS founders Hamilton and “Babs” Warren, who envisioned a school fostering a collaboration between international and American students to promote world peace. Art is the only language all humans understand intuitively.