Musician and film-industry veteran Rob Chidester grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisianna. He’s got the culture of that state in his blood, but has worked all over the country art directing films, producing music videos, and serving as an impresario for creative people and projects. This week he landed in Sedona as one of the first artists in residence at the Sedona Summer Colony.
Rob grew up across the lake from the Louisiana State University Campus. He was introduced to theater in Ms. Shirley Pourciau’s drama class at Robert E. Lee High School and later he attended LSU Theater School where he founded the comedy troupe, The Humoroids that hosted weekly comedy show.
In the summer of 1984, Rob moved to Rochester New York where he began working comedy clubs. The following year he dove into comedy full time and traveled the globe for the next ten years entertaining people with his unique brand of humor. While on the road, Rob taught himself to play guitar and began writing songs. In 1988 he moved to New York City and then headed to Los Angeles in 1990 where he wrote sketches and created animated clips for a short-lived television show, “Naked & On Fire.”
By the end of the 90’s he moved to Nashville, Tennessee and became a regular at songwriter nights around The Music City. During the day he rand a scenic design shop working in the film and production world as a producer, designer, prop master and set dresser on music videos, training films and motion pictures with credits on two Academy Award winning movies, “Walk the Line” and “The Help.” Baton Rouge called him back home in 2011 where he established a scenic shop and prop studio there.
Since returning home, he has worked to foster Art through a series of live shows he conceives and produces at venues around the Capitol City. His most popular show Drop The Needle, enlists the talents of various local bands where he takes a classic record album and performs it live, on stage, start to finish. Since January of 2014, over 160 people have been involved in the Drop The Needle shows.
Today, Rob is experiencing the collective creative flow at the Sedona Summer Colony at Verde Valley School. When I sat down with Rob, he shared a typical Sedona moment with me. While traveling into town he was rerouted off the main highway due to a traffic accident. This led to a serendipitous encounter with world-class violinist Kirtley Leigh and underwater photographer Bob Halstead, who were headed to the Summer Colony as well.
Bob and Kirtley are creating a project using his photographs in conjunction with a live violin performance that intermingles the images and music. After getting settled at Verde Valley School, Rob met conceptual artist Michaela Pilar Brown, Los Angeles musician Teddy Cafaro, and environmental film maker Bill Pendergraft, among the several dozen residents. He's now cooking up even more creative ideas and collaborations.
This exemplifies his goal in wanting to be part of Sedona Summer Colony and an inaugural participant.
“I seek to foster art with other artists,” Rob said, “and to meet other artists, see what they’re working on, cooperate with other people and produce something in this unique environment.”
Sedona Arts Center’s Executive Director Eric Holowacz said, "I've worked with many creative people in my career, but I've never seen anyone tackle a project, drive artists to do new things, or build community around music and expression like Rob.”
Rob will be performing with other musicians at the Sunday Community Potluck Dinner. Potluck dinners are held every Sunday at 7pm while artists are in residence at Verde Valley School.
About the Sedona Summer Colony
From late June to early August, over 125 invited artists-in-residence will be guests at Verde Valley School—provided with housing, meals, excursions, and support for their creative projects. Some of America's most interesting creative producers will interact with Sedona and connect with our community and its undeniable sense of place. We bring them together knowing that other great ideas began in a small, local way. Places like MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Chautauqua, and the Aspen Institutehave all inspired our vision—and our clever plan to position Sedona as a place for diverse, interesting, and significant 21st century cultural production. Eric Holowacz, Executive Director of Sedona Arts Center and Paul Amadio, Head of Verde Valley School are the co-founders of the Sedona Summer Colony.
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