This small city - with its crimson earth and shapely spires, expansive azure skies, and green wooded canyons - is a testament to the raw beauty that only nature could create. Visitors and residents alike can surely relate to the timelessness of this attraction. Whether you’ve been here for two days, or 20 years, Sedona’s allure never fades.
However, Sedona is more than just its majestic landscape. Simply being here affects you. Whether you’re thoughtfully lingering along a labyrinth’s swirling path, ambling on a quiet trail, or sitting with a cup of locally-roasted java watching the sun bathe the red rocks in its early morning glory, this place will make an impact on your life. Similar to the way that art impacts you.
As if Sedona doesn’t already satisfy your senses, the city also has a rich art scene with an eclectic past. It began most notably in the early 1930s when two famous sculptors, Robert and Mary Kittredge, found solace in the town’s beauty and chose to call Sedona home. In the 1950s, surrealist icons Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning claimed Sedona as a source of inspiration. Famed Egyptian sculptor Nassan Gobran, with a group of other artists, founded what would become the Sedona Arts Center in 1958. In 1965, Contemporary Western artist Joe Beeler along with John Hampton, George Phippen, Frank McCarthy and Charlie Dye founded the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America in the Oak Creek Tavern in Uptown Sedona known today at the Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits. The intrigue of Sedona as a place for creative awakening hasn’t stopped. Sedona continues to appeal to the art world, as people come here to open themselves up to their imagination in this incredibly stimulating and unique setting.
What would a modern-day Sedona creative immersion look like? How can you experience the arts in this city while you’re visiting? Your perfect agenda might look something like this:
• Artists hold light in high esteem when painting or shooting, especially outside. The different natural light minute-by-minute can make or break a photograph, for example. Observe a particularly glorious time of day with sunrise coloring while floating in a peaceful hot air balloon.
• Enjoy a scrumptious trout and ham benedict with citrus basil hollandaise at Etch Kitchen/Bar at L’Auberge de Sedona, as the dappled shade from Sycamore Tree leaves dances on the ground and the cool water bubbles over multi-hued rocks in the nearby creek. While here, interact with any one of the more than 10 local Sedona artists as they paint and sculpt as part of the Artist in Residence program.
• Begin your tour of Sedona on foot with the GPS-enabled web map WalkSedona.com. Everywhere you turn, you will be surrounded by natural beauty, which is only amplified by perfectly appointed sculptures. Sedona has nearly 30 public art pieces peppered throughout the city that range in topic from Native American heritage to Sedona’s apple farming history. Use the Public Art Map distributed at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce Official Visitor Center at 331 Forest Road and SR 89A to guide you to the various pieces.
• Art is not only visual. Layer your senses with a flavorful treat. There’s nothing prettier (and tastier) than an array of frozen artisan dessert in brightly-colored Prickly Pear, rich Double Chocolate, and swirled Amarena Cherry at Red Rock Gelato. Delectable raw chocolate cups, magic bars, and truffles made from scratch abound at ChocolaTree Organic Oasis. You’ll likely rub elbows with the locals at these locales, many of whom are painters, photographers and writers who once had Red Rock Fever before making Sedona their home.
• Peruse the numerous galleries throughout West Sedona, Uptown and Gallery Row (from the “Y” down through Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village and up SR 179 including Hozho and Hillside plazas). As The New York Times claimed, Sedona is “A ‘New-West’ enclave of art galleries”, and the galleries certainly deliver. The varying styles of art in this city are immense and come from both emerging and established artists. From Western bronzes, Native American weavings and contemporary jewelry, to woodcarvings, landscape photography and fine art paintings, and much more. By now, you’re feeling inspired and moved by all that you’re experiencing in this magical city. Let that feeling guide you as you choose an art piece that resonates most with you. Take it home as a memory of your visit that will enrich your life for years to come.
• If it’s the beginning of the month, join the festivities at 1st Friday in the Galleries. From 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., members of the Sedona Gallery Association offer a monthly showcase of artists, art events and special exhibits. This event gives Sedona visitors and residents the chance to socialize with other art lovers – both novice collectors and long-standing supporters – in a relaxed and open reception environment complete with light refreshments.
• Your exploration of innovation doesn’t end at dinner. Restaurants in Sedona revere the culinary arts and the respective atmosphere provided to their guests. As with varied styles of art, there is an equal amount of diversity in cuisine. Relax against the tufted wall and varying shades of earthy amber and stone at Pump House Station Urban Eatery while delighting in your Crispy Skin Red Trout. Or partake in an innovative and regionally-infused prix fixe dinner menu at Cress on Oak Creek which recently claimed one of the “Top 100 Al Fresco Dining” spots in the U.S. by OpenTable. Enhance the palette and pair your dinner with locally grown wine co-created by passionate winemakers and the area’s abundant sunshine, cool nights and rich volcanic soil.
• Mary D Fisher Theatre hosts films year-round, along with the esteemed Sedona International Film Festival’s annual celebration of independent filmmakers in February/March. Sound Bites Grill has live entertainment nearly every night of the week. Other performing arts include the Verde Valley Sinfonietta which is in its 14th season, and the Red Rocks Music Festival showcases a unique collaboration of musicians. Live theatre can be found at the Emerson Theater Collaborative, and the Sedona Photofest returns in June 2019 offering a series of presentations on top photographers’ perspectives, photographic technique and use of digital software. All events and entertainment can be found at SedonaEvents.com.
This is a full day! You’ll need to stay longer to really immerse yourself in the full artistic and cultural experience that is Sedona. Check out VisitSedona.com to explore your options for lodging, dining, galleries, tours, events and entertainment.
With such rich layers of artistry, Sedona is an incredible destination to visit, and an extraordinary place to live, work and play. It’s as if this small piece of the planet was created solely for the purpose of inspiring and connecting people to what matters most in life. What better place to do just that, then in The Most Beautiful Place on Earth.