Where Inspiration Begins

Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Sedona Visual Artists’ Coalition

As spring begins to blossom among the orange-red cliffs of Sedona, it’s impossible to ignore the natural beauty. It is no wonder that Sedona has long attracted lovers, dreamers and artists from around the globe. This month offers a unique opportunity to witness the synergy between human creativity and the natural inspiration that captivates us all.

Each year, the Sedona Visual Artists’ Coalition invites guests to share in the process by visiting artists in their studios during the Sedona Artists’ Open Studios Tour. This year’s free, three-day event takes place April 26–28 in locations throughout the Verde Valley, including Sedona, Cornville, Cottonwood, Clarkdale and the Village of Oak Creek.

This year’s tour includes a studio-wide drawing for a $250 gift certificate. The winner can use their gift at any of the studios on the tour—which will, no doubt, be a difficult choice!

The tour began with a handful of participating artists and has now expanded to include 50 talented creatives whose work spans from photography to ceramics to paintings. Their mediums include clay, watercolors, oils, acrylics, glass, wood, metals, stone, fiber and mixed media.

“For the visitor, the Open Studios experience invites the artwork to speak much more intimately to them as it provides an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the creative process,” explained Open Studios organizer and coalition president Mike Upp, whose ceramic sculptures and studio, Earth and Fire Ceramic Design, are among those featured in the tour.

For more than 15 years, artists from the Sedona Visual Artists’ Coalition have opened their workspaces and shared their thoughts and processes with thousands of people. They’ve created more than art along the way; they’ve developed a destination where tourists and Arizona residents alike have learned to seek out fine art. Napa may have wine, but Sedona has art.

“It’s not like going to an arts festival or a gallery,” Upp explained. “Here, you are actually going inside the space where the artist is creating. Everybody on our tour is really into communicating what their processes are and trying to educate people as to what goes into working with the medium they’re in.”

As an added bonus, the stunning visual allure of Sedona, as well as its resorts and inns, fantastic restaurants and unique shopping opportunities make taking a trip “up the mountain” an exciting getaway.

It’s becoming so popular, in fact, that many people are making it a tradition. Many of the artists have begun seeing the same faces year after year. They’ve gained a fan following that is owed solely to their individual talents.

“The wide range of style, quality and art forms is a testament to the thriving vitality of the arts community in Sedona and the beautiful Verde Valley,” Upp said. “This is the excitement of helping people gain a deeper understanding of producing art.”

The Sedona Visual Artists’ Coalition is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational and charitable organization that welcomes artists of all levels and encourages creativity, community and camaraderie. More than 125 artists from Sedona and the greater Verde Valley are members of the organization, which sponsors open studios tours each spring and fall.

Brochures with a map and list of participating artists will be available in locations throughout Verde Valley, as well as at the Sedona Arts Center and the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in Uptown Sedona. Maps and a complete list of artists and their mediums are also available online.

Don’t miss the fun! It’s sure to inspire you, amaze you and create an experience you won’t soon forget.

Spring Sedona Open Studios Tour
Friday–Sunday, April 26–28 | Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday noon–5 p.m. | Locations available online | Free


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