Essential Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of the Sedona Summer Colony?

Sedona Summer Colony development began in Fall 2015 with the first meeting between then Executive Director of Sedona Arts Center, Eric Holowacz and Paul Amadio, Head of Verde Valley School. Both arrived in Sedona in July 2015 bringing new ideas to the two organizations. Both had a background in residency programs and each saw a ready partnership in the name of cultural advancement and local identity. Throughout early 2016, the two continued working on the model for the inaugural program joined by Carol Holyoake then a new hire at Verde Valley School as Director of Legacy Programs & Communications. This year Carol Holyoake worked with Vince Fazio, now Executive Director at Sedona Arts Center, to develop the new four week program. Now in its third year the 2018 Sedona Summer Colony brings together the best of both organizations into a dynamic program offering options from individual artist residencies to unique residency/workshops to making your own creative combination of the two.

Four workshops in the visual arts are offered as stand-alone experiences or to kick-start your independent residency experience. These workshops will meet Monday – Thursday, July 16 – 19, 2018. With residency beginning on July 15th. The workshop program invites artists to study focused avenues of expression with the option of adding on an independent residency following the workshop. A unique 6-day spoken word workshop is offered at the end of the Summer Colony program, Aug 6 – 11, 2018 and culminates in an evening presentation on August 11th.

Visual arts workshops at the Summer Colony this year explore the Magic of Surrealism where participants can begin afresh where so many modern art movements began, or delve into a Plein Air Painting Immersion during the dramatic monsoon season or expand your skill set with a Contemporary Mixed Media workshop or discover the richness of indigenous culture through the Hopi Pottery Experience. The last week of the Colony (Aug 6 – 11, 2018) features a unique 6-day Spoken Word workshop for all levels and interests informal or informal spoken performance. The workshops are also perfect for teachers seeking continuing education credits over the summer (available through Yavapai College School of Arts and Humanities).

What’s the background on Verde Valley School?

Established in 1946 with a unique global outlook, Verde Valley School is located on 300 acres in a rustic setting eight miles south of the town of Sedona. Visionary founders Hamilton and Barbara Warren opened the campus in 1948 with sixteen students and a small handful of teachers and artists, dedicated from its beginning to changing the world. The Warrens believed that America needed a school where the values of cultural diversity would be understood and celebrated—not simply studied and tolerated. This quote, from Ham Warren, sums up what he accomplished in Sedona: “The nation, indeed the world, needs a school that will bring together children from many nations, many cultures, all races and religions, not simply to study and tolerate one another, but to learn from and celebrate their differences.”

Today, the campus has a village-like feel, with a small quad, dining hall, library, performing arts hall and gallery, equestrian facilities, and dormitory and faculty housing. The private boarding school is surrounded by monolithic red rocks, the Oak Creek riparian ecosystem, and high desert landscape. During the school year, it is home to 125 school students who care for the land and the campus, learn to be good stewards, and work towards an International Baccalaureate degree.

And what about Sedona Arts Center?

In 1958, the Verde Valley School art department head, Egyptian sculptor Nassan Gobran, and 12 other civic leaders founded the organization that would become Sedona Arts Center. The population of the area at that time was less than 400 people, most of whom were ranchers, orchard workers, and merchants. A few years later, with support from the town’s small Chamber of Commerce, Gobran acquired a former apple orchard warehouse that became known as the Art Barn. The first exhibition featured works by Max Ernst, who had lived in Sedona with Dorothea Tanning and remained inspired by the red rock landscapes. From its opening in 1961, the Art Barn has served as the hub of creative development and cultural celebration in Sedona.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the Arts Center grew to present workshops, festivals, films, performing arts events and opportunities for creative growth and community engagement. Today, it operates an expanded campus with a fine art gallery that represents 110 local artists, a school that offers ongoing classes taught by professional local artists and over 60 workshops each year taught by talent recruited from around the country. The annual plein air festival, and other diverse cultural events. As the organization celebrates its 60th year, Sedona Arts Center continues to serve artists and community in new and exciting ways.

Is there a fee to attend Sedona Summer Colony? Do I get a stipend or travel support?

Yes, there is a fee for this residency. To build a sustainable model—and cover the costs of room, two quality meals per day, and studio/workspace—we have set a fee of $85/day for 2018 Sedona Summer Colony Residents or $40/day for Day Residents (local artists not requiring a room). Travel to and from the Verde Valley School campus is the responsibility of the participants. The program provides accommodations, meals, and creative work space on campus, and will also offer optional excursions and field trips during the residency for a nominal fee. Residents should also plan to bring their own funding for other off-site activities, outside meals, and emergencies, as well as all the art supplies and equipment needed for their residency.

What does the application process involve?

The 2018 Sedona Summer Colony is open to artists of any medium, workshop students, creative people, cultural managers, content producers, and those involved in exploring cultural identity. We also welcome teachers looking for a creative means to achieve continuing education credits provided through Yavapai College, College of Arts and Humanities. We have a simple application process. After reading through the Frequently Asked Questions, and understanding the fee commitment, continue to the online application form and submit the appropriate deposit to secure a place in the summer colony and/or one of the residency workshops.

What is the application timeline and submission deadline?

Applications for the 2018 program are now open, a deposit will be required to hold a place in the 2018 program. Remaining fees, based on the length of the residency, will be due on June 15, 2018. Apply early as workshops and residencies will be limited to a total of 50 visiting artists on campus. If upon review of your application it is determined that we cannot accommodate your needs your deposit will be refunded in full in a timely manner.

What are the 2018 Sedona Summer Colony dates and length of residencies?

For 2018 Sedona Summer Colony, participants can choose between, one, two, or three-week residencies between July 21, (arrival date) and August 11, (August 12 departure date). Day residencies, intended for creative people already residing in Northern Arizona, can be for any length (but are subject to space availability). Residents are responsible for travel, supplies and equipment, and the residency fee $85/day for full residency or ($40/day for day residents). See workshop/residency option to create a residency beginning on July 15 with a four day workshop.

The program provides housing, linens, 2 meals per day and workspace (which may be shared). The campus will host a maximum of 50 artists per day, and in keeping with its purpose of providing a quiet and inspiring location, the residency is not open to spouses, partners, children, or other relatives. Pets are not permitted.

How do I get to the Sedona Summer Colony?

By plane: The most convenient airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), located 2 hours South of Sedona. From there, ACEXPress provide van service to and from Sedona. If renting a car at PHX, see By Car section below. Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is located one hour North, but most flights connect from PHX, and there are fewer scheduling options. Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport (LAS) is a 4-hour drive from Sedona, and is an option if renting a car during your residency.

By train: Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, with a stop in Flagstaff. Sedona is a one-hour drive from Flagstaff, along Interstate 17.

By car or shuttle: If navigating by Google Maps, use this address for your destination: 3511 Verde Valley School Rd, Sedona, AZ 86351. The campus is located a few miles from the Village of Oak Creek, down Verde Valley School Road, after turning off Highway 179.

How do I take care of personal business while in residence?

The Sedona Summer Colony HQ operates at the heart of the campus, just off the quad and Dining Hall. We’ll have staff on hand to assist with needs like groceries, banking, medical care, places of worship, mail and shipments, phone or fax communications, meal requests, and the organization of excursions. There will be a ride board and periodic shuttle scheduled to assist residents in getting to town for supplies and off-site necessities.

How do people send mail or supplies to me?

Mail and boxes can be picked up in the Sedona Summer Colony HQ. To receive mail or shipments while in residence, use the following address format:

Verde Valley School
Attn: YOUR NAME, Sedona Summer Colony
3511 Verde Valley School Road
Sedona, AZ 86351

How do I contact key local staff and Sedona Summer Colony coordinators while there?

Your orientation/welcome packet will include contact information for Sedona Summer Colony personnel and coordinators. To enquire about anything in advance, call Vince Fazio, Sedona Arts Center: 928-282-3809 or Carol Holyoake, Verde Valley School: 928-284-2272.

What if I am a Northern Arizona artist? Can I still be in residence?

Yes we’ve developed a day residency intended for creative people already living in the Verde Valley who wish to commute to and from Sedona Summer Colony. Day residents will not receive housing, but will be provided with meals, studios space, and participation in excursions and activities for residents. Day residency places are limited, and the fee will be $40/day.

About the residency, campus, and environs

What is the setting for Sedona Summer Colony?

The 300-acre Verde Valley School environment has developed over the past 75 years into a self-contained, village-like community, set in a remote corner of Sedona and the Northern Sonoran Desert. It looks out to Cathedral Rock, and Seven Warriors Mesa, and is surrounded on 3 sides by Coconino National Forest. It is situated in high-elevation desert (4500-5000 ft) with the Oak Creek riparian zone running nearby, and walls of massive red rocks lining the surrounding landscapes.

The setting, 2 hours North of Phoenix and 1 hour South of Flagstaff, is located about 4 miles from the Village of Oak Creek—which has residential neighborhoods, restaurants, a supermarket, banks, golf club, and small businesses. The environment is shared with coyotes, javelinas, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and several million human tourists who visit each year.

During the school year, the campus is home to 120 students and several dozen faculty and administrators. From late June to early August, the location becomes home to Sedona Summer Colony. Facilities include the dormitories and dining hall, a performing arts hall and small gallery, library and computer room, art room, ceramics studio and yard, chapel, dining hall, equestrian facilities, organic farm, sports fields, small sound recording studio, and classroom buildings. During the Summer Colony all available facilities are adapted for use as studios, work spaces, and facilities that support the residents and their creative needs.

What is the campus housing like?

Dorm rooms are basic and configured in single, double, or triple bedrooms. Some have common bathroom, but for many dorms the restrooms and showers are located in the main hallways and shared. Residents have their own private bedroom, unless they specify a desire to share with another resident. Bedrooms are furnished with single beds and/or bunks. There are a half dozen dormitory buildings on campus, and each has a common (lounge) room inside, a patio area outside, as well as a connected faculty house. Everything is a short walk from the dining hall and other facilities.

Who is in charge on the campus of Sedona Summer Colony?

Carol Holyoake, a native Australian who had managed festivals and organizations in New England, joined the team as the third founder just before the launch of the inaugural Summer Colony. Carol oversaw the essential operations of the 2016 and 2017 program, and will be on campus with many various helpers to continue her work with the Summer Colony this year. Carol has worked with Vince Fazio to shape the program—with the goal of establishing a successful, productive, sustainable model in support of artists and other creatives. Contact them by email at or

Is Sedona Summer Colony an environmentally friendly place?

Following the ethic and practice of Verde Valley School—which has won awards for its ongoing sustainability programs—residents are asked to use the recycling and composting bins located throughout the campus. Incoming residents will be briefed on the environmentally friendly practices followed by the school, and ongoing attempts to reduce waste and carbon footprint.

Is the campus accessible?

The trails and pathways around the campus are uneven, with many steps, gravel, and some rough terrain. As such the school is not wheelchair accessible, and may be a walking challenge for some with limited mobility. Those with special needs, should let us know in advance, so we can attempt to accommodate housing and living needs while in residence.

Can I camp in the wilderness?

Yes, but be prepared and always let the Summer Colony HQ know where you will be. There are trails right from the campus to various parts of the Coconino National Forest, and tent camping is permitted in some places accessible from Verde Valley School. Campfires are not allowed in most locations, however. Overnight camping is also prohibited in some areas, and it is best to consult the Coconino National Forest Ranger Station—located a few miles South of the Village of Oak Creek on Highway 179—for advice on rules and access.

What about cooling?

Most of the accommodations at Verde Valley School have an evaporative cooling system, also known as “swamp cooler.” These are used in low-humidity environments, and cool the rooms slowly but surely. Some of the campus buildings have standard electric air conditioning. Because of our elevation, the Sedona climate is very different than in Phoenix. Expect daytime summer temperatures between 80-90 and overnight temperatures between 60-70. Sedona receives an average of 330 days of sunshine a year, and with relatively low humidity. From mid July, the monsoon season begins, which can bring evening rains, dramatic thunder and lightning, and beautiful cloud formations in the afternoons.

Is there WiFi and Internet? How is the cellphone coverage on campus?

Yes, the campus has WiFi and Internet connections throughout—but do not expect extremely fast connections. Because of the red rock landscapes, mobile service can come and go based on location. Depending on your carrier, coverage may not be possible in all locations on or off campus—but all major providers service the area.

What are the meals like? Can I cook my own meals?

Dorm rooms do not have kitchens, but each has a refrigerator, coffee maker, and other items in the common areas. In general, residents do not have access to a fully-equipped kitchen. Sedona Summer Colony meals are provided twice a day in the campus dining hall, and residents will also be invited to periodic off-site receptions, dinners, and functions. On Wednesdays, no evening meal is served, and residents are encouraged to explore the community and dine off site (with shuttles provided from campus).

Chef Michael Briggs and his kitchen staff at Verde Valley School prepare and serve healthy meals, buffet style, in the dining hall for all Sedona Summer Colony residents. Michael trained at the Culinary Institute of America and uses local ingredients, with many sourced from the campus farm and garden. Service is from 10am to 11am and 5pm to 6pm. The chef will try to accommodate any special dietary needs identified in advance, and regularly includes vegan and vegetarian options.

What are the Sunday Community Potluck Dinners?

Each Sunday, the campus hosts a potluck dinner where members of the local community make, bring, and share food with the Sedona Summer Colony. This tradition began during our inaugural year and provides an opportunity for the Sedona community to meet the artists and exchange ideas. Approximately 50 to 70 people attend, and residents can chose to open their studios or show and tell about works in progress after the dinner.

Do I need to bring sheets and pillows, a bike, a car?

Linens, pillow, and towels are provided in each room, but you are welcome to bring your own if desired. There is plenty of parking on campus should you drive in or rent a car for your residency. A Summer Colony shuttle is regularly offered for trips to and from the Village of Oak Creek, local trailheads, Oak Creek, and also for optional excursions, off-site dinners, and other activities. All of the dormitory buildings have laundry facilities in them.

Can my family join me?

The 2018 Sedona Summer Colony is intended for invited residents only. We cannot accommodate friends, family, children, or pets. If qualified artists or cultural managers, your friends and colleagues may also apply, and if selected, we may be able to arrange shared living and/or studio space.

I have a special need, limited mobility, am under a doctor’s care, or require unique accommodations?

Sedona Summer Colony and the Verde Valley Campus aim to accommodate the needs of all residents. In some cases, we may not be able to do this, so it is important that you let us know in advance if you require anything specific in order to participate. The campus and surrounding area, like trails and some vehicles, may not accommodate those with limited mobility. If we know what is needed in advance, the program will make every effort to overcome existing limitations. If you are under medical care or require regular access to a local physician, please consult your primary doctor about the time you will spend in Sedona and what might be needed for continuity and wellbeing. The nearest full hospitals are over one hour away, with specialist and tertiary care usually located two-hours away in Phoenix.

I need a local swimming hole: where do I go?

Our favorite place to jump in the water, closest to campus, is at the end of the dirt portion of Verde Valley School road. Turn left from the school entrance and go for a few miles towards Cathedral Rock, until you get to the trailhead parking area. Across the street take Baldwin Trail over the red rocks and into the lush and green riparian zone. This is where Oak Creek flows, and a trail to the left takes you to Red Rock Crossing and an excellent swimming hole. The trail to the right takes you under Cathedral Rock and to several swimming holes and eventually to the bend known as Buddha Beach. If you can’t find it, don’t worry: we’ll show you.

About Studios, Creative Spaces, and Project Support

What kind of work space and creative facilities can I expect?

Consider the campus to be very basic, with vacant classrooms to use, a small art studio and ceramics room, other adaptable work spaces, and the great outdoors in every direction. If the focus of your residency involves staying inside and working in a highly refined studio setting, please let us know what you require in advance. And if you need a dedicated studio space or equipment the entire time you are in residence, let us know so we can obligate what is available (and confirm before arrival). Keep in mind that the program may not be able to accommodate every studio need.

If you can make do with vacant classrooms, remain flexible during the residency, and share use of the campus facilities then the campus should satisfy your work needs. Those who place a focus on connecting with the Sedona landscape and actively explore the wonders of the world outside will thrive here this summer.

Facilities available for use and shared studio work include 10 small classrooms (approximately 12x12), the Art studio (4 workspaces), Ceramics studio (4 workspaces), Art gallery (6 workspaces), Performing arts hall, 2 Music rooms, Chapel, Library (with computers and divided space for writers and fabric/craft artists), and open outdoor areas.

Where do I get art supplies while in Sedona?

We wish there was a good answer. In Flagstaff there is a Michael’s and a store called Visible Difference. And as a last resort, the Wal-Mart in Cottonwood, about 30 minutes away, has a craft section. The best answer is: order online, or check and have supplies sent to you at the Verde Valley School address above. You will need to bring all the supplies and equipment you need for your residency, so plan ahead to bring exactly what you need.


What if I want to present work to an audience while in Sedona?

The focus of Sedona Summer Colony is on supporting the development of work and the guest-host relationship with residents—and on supporting their time, space, and creative development on campus. We may not be able to support projects that require a live audience, venues and technical production, marketing and promotion, and presenting to the public. We nurture informal presentations, open studios, and show and tell activities should residents wish to share their works-in-progress. The Sunday Community Potluck is one opportunity to share your work with the community.

Are there computers and printers available?

Printers are available in several locations, and there is a campus facility with several computer workstations. If you think you might need use of a school computer during the residency, just let us know, and we will set things up.

Can I help out on the campus organic farm?

Residents are welcome to support and work on the small organic farm, located next to the campus equestrian facilities. Garden and horticulture are under the guidance of the campus farm manager, Michael Spielman, who can advise residents and help them become involved in caring for the farm.

Is there a gym or exercise room on campus?

The campus has a small fitness center, and Summer Colony residents will have use of the exercise facilities during their stay.


How do I credit the Sedona Summer Colony?

If you would like to thank, credit, or mention our residency program in any way, here are the various names to use: Sedona Summer Colony; Sedona Summer Colony for Artists and Cultural Managers; Sedona Summer Colony—a new American residency program established by Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School.

Other useful things you might want to know

Where is Sedona Arts Center?

Sedona Arts Center is located at the end of the main street (Highway 89A North) in Uptown Sedona, just before the drive into Oak Creek Canyon. It is about 8 miles from the Verde Valley School campus, along Highway 179 and then Highway 89A North. The campus includes the historic Art Barn, acquired in 1961 as the original small town cultural center site, as well as an active ceramics studio and program, a fine art gallery that represents the work of 110 local artists, several classrooms, and a black box theatre/event space. The drive between Verde Valley School and Sedona Arts Center takes approximately 30 minutes.

How far is the Summer Colony campus from downtown Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Camp Verde, Cottonwood, and Jerome?

The Verde Valley School campus is just 3.8 miles from the Village of Oak Creek, just 8 miles from the downtown areas of Sedona, connected by a dramatically beautiful red rock drive along the slow and meandering Highway 179. Downtown Sedona is split into two locations: the touristy Uptown (where Sedona Arts Center is located) and West Sedona (where most non-tourist related commercial businesses, recreation areas, super markets, cinemas, and local restaurants are). Camp Verde, where most of the Yavapai-Apache Nation is located, is about 20 miles South along Interstate 17. A major Sinaguan ruin, Montezuma’s Castle, is located off the Camp Verde exit. Arcosanti, the intentional community and urban laboratory founded by Paolo Soleri, is about a half hour further South along I-17 and welcomes visitors and overnight guests. Other nearby high desert communities include Cornville (down Beaverhead Flat Road, and home to the folk art environment built by visionary artist Michael Kahn called Eliphante), Cottonwood (about 20 miles from the Village of Oak Creek), Page Springs (where the local vineyards and wine industry are based), and Jerome (a former copper mining town located on the mountain high above Cottonwood and its neighbor Clarkdale). Oak Creek Canyon, often referred to as a mini-Grand Canyon, is the gorge that begins after the Arts Center in Uptown Sedona and continues up to the 7000-ft elevation city of Flagstaff.

Who is in charge on the campus of Sedona Summer Colony?

Carol Holyoake, a native Australian who had managed festivals and organizations in New England, joined the team as the third founder just before the launch of the inaugural Summer Colony. She oversaw the essential operations of the 2016 and 2017 program, and will be on hand with various helpers to continue to work together to shape the program—with the goal of establishing a successful, productive, sustainable model in support of artists and cultural managers.

Will I meet the local community, and my fellow residents?

A Sedona Summer Colony residency can be inwardly focused, like a hermitage filled with solitude, or it can be about finding new connections and inspiration in the high desert and red rock environment. We intend to support the requirements of each resident, whether that is anonymity and minimal public interaction or heavy community engagement and local participation. And while the campus environment will not be open to the public in an announced way, there may be visitors and school alumni on campus from time to time.

As a Sunday afternoon ritual, we invite local arts supporters to make a dish and share a meal with residents on campus at the Summer Colony’s Sunday Community Potluck Dinners. These gatherings provide a casual platform for locals to interact with residents, an opportunity to offer open studio tours for residents who would like to share their work or creative process. Thursday evenings at the Summer Colony are programmed with off-site dinner parties in private homes, local ranches, or creative destinations. Residents will also have opportunities to engage with the Sedona community through excursions and off-campus studio visits, guided tours and trail hikes, and through their own local explorations. It’s a very friendly and welcoming town.

What are some of the possible excursions that will be offered to residents?

During your residency, we will offer optional excursions to connect with trails and natural features like Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock, Soldier’s Pass, Red Rock Crossing, and Oak Creek Canyon. Other opportunities might include a trip to the Grand Canyon, Sinaguan ruins, local energy vortexes, Jerome and the Gold King Mine, as well as the Lowell Observatory and Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. For residents with specific needs, if identified in advance, we will try to accommodate research needs, possible local collaborations, and specific site interests.

I'm very private. Will you publish my name or use my participation to publicize the program?

Sedona Summer Colony will respect any request for privacy and anonymity—and we will also welcome those who wish to help us promote and advance Sedona Summer Colony. If you would prefer not to be listed, quoted, or mentioned, please just let us know. Likewise, if you are interested in helping the program with a quote, interview, photo opportunity, or any form of external relations, we would be grateful. Our team may also take photographs of Summer Colony activity, for documentation and future promotion. Please let us know if you do not wish to appear in any materials.

What if I am arriving from abroad or am not a US citizen?

If you are a foreign national, we will provide a letter of invitation in advance with details about the residency and what is provided. You are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas or travel permits, and ensuring that you can legally enter the country as a tourist. We cannot sponsor you in any other capacity or assist with other forms of immigration. Please consult your nearest American consulate or Embassy for current requirements for entry and stay.

About Native American Cultures

Tell me about Indigenous cultures and Native Peoples.

Evidence of human presence in the region begins around 4000 BC, when hunter-gatherers roamed through the Verde Valley. As early as 300 BC the dry desert land was being farmed by the Hohokam people, who created a systems of irrigation canals around 700 AD. They mysteriously abandoned the area, possibly as a result of the volcanic eruption in 1066 AD. The agrarian Sinagua Indians followed, and farmed, built pueblos and cliff dwellings, and may be linked to the more sophisticated (and still mysterious) Anasazi Indians. They made baskets, pottery and jewelry, and established trading relationships with tribes from the Pacific coastal regions and northern Mexico, including high-grade copper mined in the areas west of Sedona. Early in the 15th century, the Sinaguan people disappeared from the area (another great mystery). About this time the Yavapai and Apache Indians began to settle along the sides of Oak Creek canyon.

Traces of the Sinagua may be found in the remains of their ruined pueblos scattered around the Sedona area. Sites such as Palatki, Honanki, and Wupatki had dozens of rooms in double story buildings and were decorated with intriguing pictographs and petroglyphs of clan affiliations, mythological beings and astronomical observations. If ancient ruins and petroglyphs interest you, just let us know. We are eager to share them with our residents.

Our region of the Colorado Plateau is home to the combined Yavapai and Apache cultures, with Navajo, Hopi, Ute and Zuni nations several hours away (beyond Flagstaff and into the Four Corners). The Ancestral Pueblo peoples (Anasazi, Sinaguan, Hohokam) established agrarian communities then left the area between 600-800 years ago. But the Sinaguan ruins and pueblos can still be found in nearby cliffs, creeksides, and caves. The cultures that migrated away are now known by the Hopi as “Hisatsinom” (“people of long ago”). Near the campus, Sinaguan ruins that can be easily visited by car include Montezuma’s Well and Castle, Wupatki Pueblo, Tuzigoot, Palatki, and Walnut Canyon.

How can I learn more about modern-day Native cultures?

The Museum of Northern Arizona, in Flagstaff, is a collections and research institution, and has significant ethnographic resources. The Sedona Summer Colony works in partnership with the Museum, and can arrange a guided tour of its collections and exhibitions for our residents.

About Local Culture, Creatures, and Curiosities

What is a Vortex?

According to contemporary tourism literature: A vortex or vortexes are areas of concentrated energy rising from the earth, often accompanied by supernatural phenomenon and considered to be places of heightened spiritual and metaphysical energy . Some consider them to be a portal for celestial and terrestrial spirits, and others report the sensation of a slight tingling on exposed skin, or vibrations emanating from the ground when encountering a vortex. A common sign of vortex energy is tree branches growing together, as if fused by a concentric force. Seeking the vortexes, and their earth-borne power sources, is a popular past-time for residents and visitors in Sedona. Some just call it hiking. You can find vortexes (or just a fabulous hiking trail) at the Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Boynton Canyon, Munds Trail on Schnebly Hill Road, and Spaceship Rock at Courthouse Butte. If you ask us: the vortex is inside you!

Should I be careful when hiking or exploring?

Yes. When you hit the trails or climb Bell Rock or go deep into Boynton Canyon, there are no safety nets. People sometimes get lost and meet a tragic end while doing these very simple things. Be mindful of the terrain, and the weather conditions, and the fact that you can get immersed in natural beauty here. Understand that you share Sedona with snakes, coyotes, bobcats, large furry spiders, elk, and other native animals. You may never encounter these critters, and they almost never attack people—but you may hear some of them at night, while in residence, or if camping in the wild. If you know that you are part of their world, your exploration will be even more respectful of their environment.

When and what is Monsoon season, and what is a haboob?

From about mid-June, our high desert landscapes also see the annual phenomenon known as Arizona Monsoon, caused by winds shifting from a Northern Source to a Southerly origin across the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Monsoon season here brings short afternoon rains and sometimes dramatic thunderstorms, which also cool the environment and make for magical skies above the red rock horizons. Every now and then, the shifting winds also bring a dust storm phenomenon known as a haboob, which can darken the skies and seem like a tornado is coming. And then they are gone.

What is a riparian zone?

The area around Sedona has several creeks and rivers running through it: Oak Creek, Wet Beaver Creek, and the Verde River are primary waterways that feed the life of our community. While the high desert landscapes of Northern Arizona are mostly dry and brown the waterway landscapes around theses rivers are known as the riparian zone. Here you will find entirely different trees and plant life, migratory birds, amphibians and mammals, and a feeling very different to the outside desert landscape. In spring and summer there are lush grasses, cottonwood and willow trees, wild flowers, waterfowl and songbirds throughout the riparian zone.

Red rocks everywhere? Geologically, what am I looking at?

Sedona’s monolithic rock formations and canyon walls show nine layers of stone from different geological periods. These strata span hundreds of millions of years. You will notice six layers of sandstone, two thin layers of limestone and atop all of these, one igneous layer of basalt stone. The sandstone and limestone layers, literally all around you, were formed by wind-blown sand dunes or mud deposited by inland seas over millions of years. The red colors of some of the sandstone layers are the result of iron oxide staining the rocks over eons. The uppermost igneous layer was deposited by volcanic eruptions 14.5 million years ago, and this once covered the entire Verde Valley several meters deep in lava.

What’s with all the hummingbirds?

Several species of hummingbirds can be found year-round in Sedona. Beginning in July, migrant hummingbirds begin to arrive after completing their nesting season from regions to the north of Sedona—bringing a diversity and a distinct buzzing to our backyards. Some of the summer species are Anna’s Hummingbird, Rufous, Broad-tailed, and Calliope Hummingbirds. You are likely to see and hear them while in residence.

What other creatures inhabit the area?

The Coconino National Forest, and the area around Verde Valley School, is home to elk, black bear, mountain lions, bobcats and coyotes. You may also encounter tarantulas, snakes, lizards, skunks, and roving bands of javelinas (also known as peccary). Even if you don’t encounter the thin-legged boar-like javelina, you will likely smell its musky scent—which comes from a powerful gland on the top of its rump used to mark territory and scent the other members of their group.

Verde Valley, Mogollon Rim, Sinaguan, Javelina. How do you pronounce them?

Locals say “Vur-dee” instead of “Vair-day.” And Mogollon is pronounced like “Moe-ghee-yon.” Sinaguan, which is from the Spanish for “without water,” is pronounced either “sin-ah-gwin” or “sin-ah-when.” The New World pig you might encounter while here, the javelina, is pronounced “Have-uh-lee-nuh.” Now you know.

What is a prickly pear?

A member of the Cactaceae family, prickly pear cactus are found all over Sedona and the Verde Valley. Also known as nopal, they grow in clusters of pads that form asymmetrical shapes and have both thick protruding spines as well as smaller harder to see spines called glochids. The pads and fruit of the prickly pear cactus are edible, and the fruit (often called the tuna) can be peeled and eaten raw or made into candy, jelly, juice, or wine. From early spring to summer, the cactus blossoms with red, yellow, or purple flowers, which later become the fruit (which are ripest from September to November). Parts of the prickly pear have long been used by Native People for their healing properties, and remains popular as a local treatment for cuts, insect bites, sunburn, and windburn.

What is the VOC?

VOC stands for Village of Oak Creek, the small hamlet located along Highway 179 just 3.8 miles from the Verde Valley School campus. Also known as “The Village” or its earlier name Big Park, Arizona, the VOC is not to be confused with Oak Creek Canyon (the gorge and higher elevation canyon located to the North of Sedona).

What kind of restaurants and grocery stores are in Sedona and the VOC?

The region sees several million tourists a year, and recreation, adventure, spiritualism, and leisure pursuits are the major industry. Sedona has a diverse range of dining options—from Thai to Middle Eastern and from New York pizza to fine Southwestern dining. There are also restaurants that specialize in vegan, paleo, and farm-to-table menus. The Weber IGA is the only super market in the VOC, located about 3 miles from campus at the town end of Verde Valley School. West Sedona has many more options, including a Whole Foods, Safeway, Bashas’ (Arizona-based grocery store), and a Natural Grocers.

Can I find psychics, crystals, metaphysics, and New Age spirituality? What about yoga, tai chi, massage and pilates?

If you are looking to get metaphysical, and explore alternate forms of spirituality, Sedona has plenty to offer. Discover Atlantean wisdom, learn about the Ascended Masters, Reiki, Shamballa and Theosophy, Shamanic ceremony, and get to know Kryon of Magnetic Service. It’s all here, all around us, just like the fabled Energy Vortexes that tourists seem to constantly seek out. Local establishments that offer readings, supplies, and spiritual pathways include Center for the New Age, Sedona Crystal Vortex, the School of Wholeness, Sedona Awareness Healing Center, Sacred Light of Sedona, University of Metaphysics, and the International Institute of Advanced Metaphysics. Sedona also has plenty to offer in the way of yoga, massage, and movement. Some local sources include Sedona Meditation Center, Light Body Pilates, 7 Centers Yoga Arts, Vortex Yoga Hiking, and Vita Pura Yoga.

Will I be able to see the Milky Way?

Both Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek are Dark Sky Communities, and join a dozen other US cities in preserving and protecting the night sky. The special designation means an intentionally low-level of light pollution at night and along streets and urban environments. The result is a town that gets dark soon after sunset, giving way to robust views to the Milky Way and the heavenly bodies above. This makes our region one of the best for star-gazing and hobbyist astronomers, and this summer we will connect interested residents with opportunities to view the night sky, visit the Lowell Observatory, or meet with local stargazing groups.

How did Sedona get its name?

In 1900, about 15 homesteading families called the area home. T. C. Schnebly, an enterprising young man from Gorin, Missouri, was one of them. He had married Sedona Miller and moved here after his brother, Ellsworth, had settled in Arizona for health reasons. Finding a unique place to live, Ellsworth convinced T. C. and Sedona to join him in red rock country. The Schnebly’s built a large two-story home that also served as the area's first hotel and general store. The brothers saw a need for regular mail service, and T. C. organized the village’s first post office.

He suggested the names Oak Creek Crossing and Schnebly Station, but the Postmaster General in Washington had a prejudice for one-word names for postmarks. Ellsworth advised him, "Why don't you name it after your wife?” and in 1902, the town of Sedona got an official name.

When Sedona Miller was born in 1877, in Missouri, her mother "just thought up" the name Sedona for the child—because she thought it sounded pretty. So, even though the name sounds like it could be Spanish, Native American, or derived from Latin, it is an entirely made-up name.

Tell me about the Cowboy Artists of America

On June 23, 1965, at the Oak Creek Tavern in Sedona, a handful of notable cowboy artists gathered for a drink and conversation. They were Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton, George Phippen and western writer Robert MacLeod. As the cold beer flowed, the four founded the organization of artists that would become a full-blown cultural phenomenon. A few days later, in Charlie Dye’s Sedona studio, they met again to formalize their ideas for the new organization: Cowboy Artists of America. Their objectives were simple: To perpetuate the memory and culture of the Old West as typified by the late Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and others; to insure authentic representations of the life of the West, as it was and is; to maintain standards of quality in contemporary Western art; to help guide collectors of Western art; to give mutual assistance in protection of artists’ rights; to conduct a trail ride and campout in some locality of special interest once a year; and to hold an annual joint exhibition of the works of active members. Their efforts and art soon became known around the country, and helped galvanize a national interest in Western art.

About them Charles Goodnight, the consummate Texas cowman, once wrote: Most of the time we were solitary adventurers in a great land as fresh and new as a spring morning, and we were free and full of the zest of darers. The zest of the Western darers remains implicit in, and fundamental to, the paintings and sculpture of the Cowboy Artists and in their lives as well. They have created a collective celebration of life in a land like no other. And each spring or early summer, the group still gathers somewhere in the West on a real ranch at roundup time just for fellowship and fun.

What about Hollywood and the Western film genre?

In the 1940’s and 50’s Hollywood began filming western movies here, setting features amidst the red rocks—Billy the Kid, Apache, Johnny Guitar, and Comancheros, and Broken Arrow. Many of Hollywood's classic westerns of that era were filmed in or near Sedona, because the red rock buttes and desert landscape provided a striking setting for the genre. Famous actors who have appeared in movies filmed in Sedona include Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Rock Hudson, Gene Autry, Joan Crawford, Henry Fonda, Ryan O’Neal, Elvis Presley and Robert De Niro.

What’s up with the Max Ernst / Dorothea Tanning connection?

As the story goes, soon after Max Ernst left Peggy Guggenheim for Dorothea Tanning in 1943, the pair drove cross country from New York. As they meandered through the Sedona landscapes, the Dada and Surrealist pioneer realized he had found the environment dreamed of in his pre-war paintings. The two decided that here, between the red rocks and high desert landscapes, they needed to stop, build a home and studio, and settle. And they did. By 1946, Ernst and Tanning began a small wooden house in Brewer Road, near the Forest Service ranger station. The following year, Henri Cartier-Bresson visited and recorded their wild West existence. In 1948, Ernst began working on the sculpture Capricorn, a masterpiece and lasting legacy of his Sedona years. Yves Tanguy visited that same year, and other modernists and intellectuals knocked on their door throughout the early 1950s. The pair moved to Paris in the mid1950s, but visit Sedona off and on after that.

Egyptian sculptor Nassan Gobran—then head of the art department at Verde Valley School—was offered their Brewer Road home and used it as his studio into the early 1960s. It is there—at a time when there were very few residents, no resorts or super markets, and no other significant artists—that Sedona Arts Center was born. In 1958, at the Ernst / Tanning home, Gobran gathered the town’s business and civic leaders for a “gourmet chicken dinner.” He charmingly pitched the idea of establishing Sedona as an artists’ community, and laid the groundwork for the establishment of a new cultural facility. Everybody, including ranchers and merchants, agreed to the bold vision. Several years later, Sedona Arts Center acquired the Jordan Apple Packing Barn and found a new home for classes, lectures, and exhibitions. It opened in 1961 with a party for most of the town’s residents—an orchestra from Tempe, and an exhibition of works by Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning.

What about driving and speed limits in Sedona?

Be mindful that the speed limit is 35mph for most of the way between the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona. It can seem slow going, and you will want to go faster,—but most of us are in no hurry. And besides, the local police frown on speeding through our red rock paradise. Also be mindful that Sedona has roundabouts, lots of them, instead of stop lights. This is partially a beautification thing, but also eliminated the need for stop signs—which theoretically keeps the traffic flowing. This is often defeated, however, by tourists from Phoenix and out of state who have no idea how to proceed through a traffic circle, or when to yield. The rule is, keep driving through a roundabout (do not stop) if there is no oncoming traffic on your left. If so, yield until they have passed your entrance point. The most problematic series of roundabout is between Uptown Sedona and West Sedona, where Highways 89A and 179 come together. Known as “The Y” by locals, this intersection is now a series of roundabouts that flummoxes visitors and is likely to get you heading in the wrong direction early in your Sedona driving career. Don’t worry, just go to the next roundabout and circle all the way back. A final note about traffic: on holiday or summer weekends, the Y and highways around it can get backup up for miles, with out-of-state cars and people escaping Phoenix. The result is a slow crawl into Uptown.

Can I smoke, do drugs, raise hell, party in the desert?

Smoking is not permitted indoors on campus, and only allowed in designated areas or off campus. If you’d like to do anything deemed illegal by local, state, or Federal authorities, we’d prefer that you not do it while in residence. And, if you chose to while on the Verde Valley School campus, we reserve the right to ask you to leave and not come back. Not to seem harsh: parties and social gatherings (and wild expressions of happiness) are encouraged during the Sedona Summer Colony.

How is Sedona Summer Colony possible?

It takes a village—in this case the entire community of Sedona and Village of Oak Creek. Besides the leadership team mentioned above, our bold new program would not be possible without the support, ideas, and participation of the 2016 Program Team: Winnie Muench, Volunteer Coordinator; Amber Englemann, Residency Intern; Claire Pearson, Office Intern; Amaya Romanski, Verde Valley School Student and Office Intern; and Talya Reynolds, Logistics Intern.

The Inaugural program was made possible by our very generous Founding Sponsors/Funders: Arizona Commission on the Arts; Kling Family Foundation; Lewis Guthrie and Daryl Kling; Arizona Community Foundation; David and Isabel Simmer; Neil and Mary Pope; Charlotte and Hassan Hosseini; Dr. Ronald E. Dennis and Carol Keefer (in honor of their Anniversary); Timmy Wang; Gay Chanler; Holli Ploog and Bert Campbell; Joe and Judy Reddington; and Winifred Muench.

We also thank the incredible Culinary / Dining Hall Team: Michael Briggs, Verde Valley School Chef and Holly Vaughan, Verde Valley School Director of Food Services; and well as our Campus Support Team: Donita Coburn-Amadio, Verde Valley School; Jean O’Neil, Verde Valley School Art Department Chair; Jeff Perkins, Verde Valley School Ceramics Department; Dana Blavat, Verde Valley School Registrar; Kris Fritz, Verde Valley School Receptionist; and John Chorlton, Verde Valley School Director of Technology. We are grateful to the wonderful Community Potluck / Dinner Party Team: Kath Gilliam, Potluck and Dinner Party Coordinator; and party hosts Thomas McPherson and The Collective, Mary Byrd, Dottie Webster, Bev Copen, M. L. and Sheri Coleman, Lawrence and Marcia Swearingen, and Terry and Janet Klebe.

We are eternally grateful to our Housing Sponsors: Jennette and David Bill; Sheri and M.L. Coleman; Joe and Judy Reddington; Charlotte and Hassan Hosseini; Anne Uruburu; Rebecca and John Ellis; Jan Justice Oswald; Charlotte Selenski; Audrey Waite; Rick and Carol Gandolfo; Linda Starr; Jennifer and Ron Epperson; and Sonya Malkhassian.

And finally, we thank all of our 2016 Partners, Supporters, and Thought-Leaders: Sedona Arts Center Staff and Board; Verde Valley School Staff and Board; Sedona International Film Festival; Carnegie Mellon University / Masters in Arts Management Program; Buck Allen; Radiant Hall—Pittsburgh; AS220—Providence; ACE XPress; Cheers of Sedona; Pago's Pizzeria and Italian Cuisine; Museum of Northern Arizona; Mayor Sandy Moriarty and Sedona City Council; Nancy Lattanzi; Sedona Chamber of Commerce; Kim Larkin, MXD Arts; Ken Zoll, Verde Valley Archaeology Center; Pilisa U’e Rainbow Lady, Creative Gateways; Chip Engelmann; Vince Fazio; Kelli Klymenko; Kate Hawkes; Eliphante Village; Joe Gigas; and Lawles Bourque.

Ready to Apply?





Following the invitation to participate, a deposit will be required to confirm dates, work space, and residency details. Once confirmed, Sedona Summer Colony staff will assist each incoming resident to help plan logistics, studio needs, ground transportation, and project development needs. 2017 participants should confirm travel and arrival details no later than May 15.


928-282-3809 | 928-284-2272