A Festival for the Senses

Writer Fadi Sitto
Photography provided by Sedona Arts Festival

Crisp renewed high desert air, the dawned sun and the euphoric feeling of being absorbed by a city full of continuous abstract beauty. I must be in Sedona.

It’s time again to take the short ride up from Phoenix and become immersed in inspired art. The 2018 Sedona Arts Festival is finally here.

This world-class fine arts festival consciously promotes mindfulness of the arts, supports diverse artists and shapes the Sedona community. This year’s festival will provide funding for all levels of art programs and scholarships for Sedona-area youth.

Established with a vision and love for the arts, the Sedona Arts Festival is the largest, most prevalent arts festival in the area. With roots dating back to 1989, it was created to support, sponsor and showcase the charmed red rock city of Sedona as a true leader within the cultural realm of North America.

The 28th Sedona Arts Festival is held on the campus of Sedona Red Rock High School, on Upper Red Rock Loop Road in West Sedona. This celebrated annual event has successfully evolved into one of the “must-experience” art festivals in the country; unveiling the collected works of over 100 juried artists.

High quality art and live music intertwined with the backdrop of the unique landscape of the area make this open-air gathering special.

There is a new area of the festival called the Gallery Collective. Launched last year, this highly anticipated addition accompanies the highest caliber of presented art—pieces by local and regional artists to showcase their exclusive limited number of original works. Over 100 composed paintings, photographs, sculptures and jewelry will be displayed and offered for sale in the Gallery Collective tent.

A portion of the proceeds from the collective tent will benefit the Sedona Arts Festival’s scholarships and grants program, which financially supports art education in the greater Sedona area.

Since the art festival’s inception almost 30 years ago, upward of $300,000 has been donated to the arts educational groups and graduating seniors pursuing their passion of higher education in the arts.

“The most rewarding part of my job is having the honor of presenting those financial awards, knowing that we are supporting the future of art in our society,” said Sedona Arts Festival Executive Director Lori Reinhart.

She points out that many people don’t realize that the festival is a fundraiser for their giving programs, financially supporting graduating seniors who are pursuing higher education in the arts with scholarships for college. The fundraising efforts also succeed in offering grants to local organizations that provide arts education to students K-12.

What sets Sedona Arts Festival apart is the unwavering commitment to their mission. Countless volunteers and locals have worked tirelessly to ensure the future of art carries on.

Lori says, “The Sedona Arts Festival was and still is instrumental in creating the busy fall season in Sedona.”

Alongside the over 100 diverse and talented artists invited to this year’s festival is the return of featured master potters Laura Bugarini Cota and Hector Gallegos Martinez.

These second-generation potters from Mata Ortiz Pottery are a renowned husband and wife artistic dream team from Mexico. They were introduced and affectionately mentored in the art of pottery by their equally talented parents in the Mexican village the studio is named after.

Laura experimented with innovative methods and designs with her pottery works—something completely opposite of most established potters from her village. She was able to craft her own magnificently detailed bandwork design, a design that is recognized around the world as “Bugarini style.”

Hector Gallegos was born to famous master potters who were known for their precise geometric style of pottery. Hector had other ideas though, and at an early age moved away from his parents’ style and toward his signature etched sgraffito works, incorporating meticulous animal designs. Laura and Hector are award-winning potters and a proud addition to the festival this year.

Northern Arizona birds and the early fall winds aren’t the only thing you’ll hear at this year’s festival. Live music throughout the grounds is an integral part of Sedona’s grand event.

The 2018 list of musicians is as interesting as their fellow artisans. Pioneering groups whose lyrical harmonies are inspired by the natural environment of Sedona will headline the event. William Eaton, Earth Speak and Rick Cyge with Meadowlark are among them.

Four-time Grammy nominee Eaton has recorded 16 albums and tours here in the states as well as internationally. He is one of the world’s leading designers of stringed instruments. His ground-breaking, multi-stringed instruments and harp guitars have been featured in exhibits and numerous publications.

Earth Speak is a unique fusion of folk, new age, world music and jazz. The band’s blend of original and familiar favorites will be a cool backdrop of sounds as you stroll around the festival grounds. Members of the band include flutist-vocalist Claudia Tulip, percussionist-vocalist Susannah Martin and harp-bass guitarist Bart Applewhite.

Rick Cyge is a talented finger-style guitarist with a discography that includes two solo albums and nine record releases with his group, Meadowlark. This vibrant collaboration performs an uplifting mix of music with a blend of distinctive musical influences such as Celtic, African and Mediterranean sounds motivated by nature’s splendor.

Hungry anyone? The Sedona Arts Festival is known for feeding its guests. There will be a wide variety of food truck vendors, drinks and yummy treats to make the festival experience even better.

Bring the kids, as there is plenty of artful fun and hands-on projects for everyone. The interactive KidZone experience gives children 12 and under the chance to create their own artwork with the help of local artists.

We sometimes forget how lucky we are to be within close proximity of such an awe-inspiring, uniquely Arizona city. Sedona elevates and bombards all five senses with surreal calm. The rust-red rocks, the colorful artistic vibe and the inspiring composition of nature greets you on every corner. The Sedona Arts Festival is one more way to enjoy all this city has to offer.


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