Established in 1989 as a grassroots art organization, the Sedona Arts Festival was created to promote Sedona as a leading community in the cultural arts of the Southwestern United States.
What began as an apple festival held at Posse Grounds Park grew to become a two-day festival focusing on fine art.
“I like to think of the Sedona Arts Festival as an outdoor art gallery. It’s just a great way to spend an autumn afternoon in Sedona,” says Lori Reinhart, executive director.
This year’s festival includes 11 categories of art including ceramics, glass, jewelry, photography, fiber, painting, metal, wood, mixed media, sculpture and dry mediums by award-winning artists from across the country.
Reinhart also suggests that putting on the caliber of an art show such as this one is not an easy task.
“[The Sedona Arts Festival] is not easy to maintain. The thing that I've seen change over the years is the level of participation. So many artists have aged out of the circuit and younger people have other alternatives to selling their art, rather than lugging it around the country in the back of a truck,” she said.
Reinhart has been the executive director of the Sedona Arts Festival for 14 years. In the past, the festival was a lot larger than it is now, averaging over 400 applications. However, she also indicated that she doesn’t get nearly the number of applications that she used to.
“The other challenge with Sedona is that it's an expensive place to come and do a show, Reinhart notes. “[The artists] must find a reasonable place to stay, which, as we all know, is expensive, especially in October, which is our highest month for tourism … It's a huge expense for people to travel here, pay for accommodations, the booth fee, gas, all of those things. And personally, I don't know how they do it. Because as you roll into a show, it could be a great show, but you could drive away having sold nothing.”
Reinhart says that she prefers a much smaller show than a larger one. Keeping the size more manageable results in higher sales for the artists because there’s less competition. This year, there are 126 booths, and the layout is designed in a quad format, which means that everyone gets a corner. Reinhart says that this was a suggestion by an artist in years past and everyone seems to be happy with it. Additionally, the attendance caps out at 3000, which has been consistent year after year.
“There are artists that have the mindset that if there are more people that go by the greater my chances are of selling something just by pure probability,” Reinhart says. “But the thing that's nice about our show is the artists develop relationships with the people who attend and because it's not as many people they have time to talk and engage. They may not sell something to that person on the festival weekend, but they might, eight months down the road,” she said.
While the Sedona Arts Festival is smaller in size compared to other festivals in metropolitan cities across the country in terms of size, Reinhart focuses on high-quality art.
“After 14 years, I feel like I know what our audience is expecting, what they're going to appreciate and what they don't really care about. And the bottom line is, they're really there to focus on what artists are on the field,” Reinhart said.
Over the years, Reinhart has focused on creating partnerships with the Sedona Visual Artist Coalition and other arts organizations, helping them to garner some publicity for their artists. This year, the Verde Valley Pottery Festival is giving attendees a sneak peek at their artists' caliber of work, while promoting their upcoming festival on November 18 -19 at D.A. Ranch Estates Vineyards in Cornville.
Another featured artist at this year’s festival includes Russel DeHaven who incorporates precision and geometry into his ceramics. It is DeHaven’s first time at the Sedona Arts Festival. He has been selected as the "Official Artist" of the Mayor's Arts Award. DeHaven is currently designing a Fibonacci hexagonal sculpture which will be presented to five finalists in Sedona in May.
Reinhart is excited about the weather for this year's event, checking the forecast every five minutes.
“I cannot control the weather and I cannot control what the artists sell,” Reinhart acknowledges. “I can do my best to get people there and I can give them a wonderfully organized show with friendly people.”
The festival features nationally acclaimed artists, live entertainment, food trucks, and beer and wine selections.
Due to the location on public school property, the Sedona Arts Festival is smoke-free, and only trained service animals are allowed. Please leave your pets at home for their safety.
For information and tickets, visit www.sedonaartsfestival.org or call 928-204-9456. WEEKEND ADMISSION (covers both days): $12 online and $15 at the gate.
Saturday, Oct. 7, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.|Sunday, Oct 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Sedona Red Rock High School, Sedona, Arizona
Children 12 and under are FREE with a paid adult.