My Happy Place
I returned to the Sedona Arts Center this past weekend for the 14th time to teach my Paper Paintings Collage Workshop. Yes, you read that right, 14 times. I started teaching for the Arts Center eight years ago and have been returning twice a year ever since.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Sedona Arts Center and I am honored and humbled to have had my artwork chosen for the cover of their membership brochure and course catalogue magazine. Rumor has it that a full color apron with my cover artwork on it will be available for purchase at the Arts Center Gallery…
Just pinch me.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
This trip I was hosted by a local couple who are huge art collectors and supporters of the arts in Sedona. Jeff and Wally were more than happy to open their artful home to me when the Arts Center was unable to secure hotel accommodations for me in town.
I made my way to Jeff and Wally’s in Sedona via GPS from the Phoenix airport but sort of got off track at the last few twists and neighborhood turns. Siri had me in the middle of a grassy section of dirt road when I called Wally and he came outside to look for me. I spotted Wally next to an oversized wooden painter’s palette in the front yard; he waved me down. Despited the conservative Hyundai four-door sedan, Wally knew it was me when he spotted my flame red hair and mirrored pink sunglasses–I was waving frantically.
We had a big hug and a nice chat in the driveway as we unloaded my over-the-weight-limit luggage from the trunk. As it turns out, Wally was right at home dealing with my giant colorful bags, as he had recently retired from the airline industry.
When we entered the house, it was like leaving that black and white rental car behind and crossing the threshold of the Emerald City. We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.
Welcome to Casa de Colores
Jeff and Wally’s home is like an art gallery, only better because you get to stay overnight. Wally gave me a tour of some of the highlights of their art collection, but every time I came back to the house after class, I found something amazing that I hadn’t seen before.
Jeff says Wally gives the best docent tour, but that I didn’t have to tip him.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the love and support that both Jeff and Wally consistently give to the arts. Every piece of work in their colorful collection was purchased or commissioned from a gallery or from the artist directly. They have also taken the time and opportunity to meet and spend time with many of the artists in their collection. There really is not one stitch of wall or floor space that’s not adorned with art and color, carefully curated and combined by Jeff–who also paints the perfect wall accent colors (and shapes) to enhance the experience. In addition to collecting art, Jeff and Wally have been hosting traveling artists who come to town for the week-long Sedona Plein Air Festival for years.
I have met some of the most amazing people on my Art Journey.
A Room With A View
My room was adorned with the most amazing landscape paintings I have ever seen of the Red Rocks. It was most certainly an incredible view. Wally pointed out several specific paintings and gave me the names of the artists who created them. We have one artist in common, Gretchen Lopez (a local AZ artist) is in both of our collections. “We just love Gretchen,” Wally exclaimed, and I agreed.
Jeff showed me how the paintings in my room took on a different appearance all together when the lights were dimmed. The way the sunlight on the Red Rocks glowed in the low light was really amazing.
Speaking of amazing, Casa de Colores has an incredible view of Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock.
I would never leave the window seat.
Taking a Moment to Reflect
Every time I visit Sedona, I start with the Chapel of the Holy Cross in order to sit and remember friends not present. I honor the memory of my three SU college roommates as well as 32 fellow SU classmates who perished in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, I hold in my heart the memory of Jared Hall, who’s portrait I painted in memory for his mother Nancy some years ago (I spread some of his ashes in Sedona for her, an honor). While at the Chapel, I light four candles, meditate, and express gratitude to the Universe for the life that I have been fortunate enough to live.
Click above image to play a short video
Always an Adventure
I’ve had a lot of adventures in Sedona over the years, I’ve been hot air ballooning, hiking, mountain and road biking, Pink Jeeping, shopping, art gallery hopping…
This time I got tattooed.
Wally had looked into a shop with some long standing history for me before I arrived. Every time I come to Sedona it’s an adventure, I had one day off before my workshop started and so I was out to embrace the experience.
Adrian (and his little dog) at Physical Graffiti was happy help me with a line art tattoo I had been wanting to get since my guy retired. I had been carrying the print-out of my all-time favorite artist Gustav Klimt’s signature around with me for a while since Rick packed up his stuff and sold the shop, leaving me adrift.
We got to talking about Adrian’s fine art interests and his pursuit of a career in graphic design which ultimately led him to tattooing 17 years ago. Adrian thanked me for bringing in my design sized to fit, making it easy for him to create a stencil and get started. “Well, I’ve got some experience with designing tattoos,” I pushed up my sleeves and smiled.
As he set up his gear and transferred the stencil, we shared stories of our favorite art museums and the amazing fact that with my kids attending colleges in both NYC and DC, I was going to have the best excuse to visit some of the best museums and galleries in the country. “You must go to the National Gallery of Art when you take your son to college this summer.” I promised him I would.
When you have an open heart and an open mind, you get to know some of the most amazing people.
I left the shop and embarked on an incredible scenic drive along the Red Rock Byway into Sedona. Have I told you lately that this is my Happy Place?
I took the rest of my day off to appreciate the incredible views of the Red Rocks, to check out art at several galleries, to pop into some unique clothing stores, and to marvel at the combo of engineering and art of Andrew Carson’s unique kinetic wind sculptures at the Gallery of Modern Masters. Somewhere along the way I squeezed in some lunch at my favorite restaurant.
What better way to spend the day?
Doing what I Do Best
Day one at the Arts Center was Friday morning, which meant I got to give big hugs to my old and new friends in the office. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with the many of the same people year after year; Kelli and Jenny introduced themselves for the first time.
Vince has been promoted to executive director and Debby has been promoted to director of marketing, both big wigs now! Each of them took the time to make me feel welcomed and loved, as usual. Debby and I went to dinner at Picazzo’s Pizza and had a great time catching up the night before.
I had a great group of 17 ladies who traveled from far and wide to join me for ripping and gluing in Sedona. Debra came from Western Massachusetts in her 40-foot RV with husband Steve who was also born and raised in my neck of the woods. We laughed when we realized that we were once nearly neighbors!
My students came from far and wide (and local, thank you for the third time Patsy) Sandy, Kerry, Helen, Natasha from CA, Cathy from Louisiana, Michele, Barbara and her daughter Chesley, all from Colorado, Connie, Julia, Maryanne, and Kathy from Arizona, Michele from Virginia, and Emily from Michigan, I am always grateful for the support of students who come to my workshops, as well as honored by the distances they travel.
Thank you, thank you.
The Magic of Sedona
Sedona is not only beautiful, it’s magical. There is an energy in this place that is special–maybe it’s the spiritual magnetism, or perhaps it’s the energy generated by the vortexes, For me, things happen there that remind me again and again of how precious life is.
On my first night of class I met up with Lesley and her friend Randy for dinner. Lesley was in my workshop several years ago at the Arts Center. I’ll always remember our initial meeting, when she introduced herself to the class “I’m not an artist, I just follow Elizabeth and her amazing artwork on Facebook and I wanted to meet her!” She went on to explain that she was so excited and ready to get out the door, that she actually left her luggage in her kitchen. “Well, that sounds like an excuse to go shopping to me!” We hit it off right away. Lesley came to a second workshop to continue working on her first class project. Her third time we weren’t sure the class was going to meet the minimum enrollment, so Lesley signed up her granddaughters to boost enrollment.
These days Lesley and I agree to meet for dinner–we pretty much get together every time I am in town. How wonderful is it to have a local friend with such a generous heart? On Friday night Lesley and Randy bought me dinner and a show, a fantastic jazz concert at Sound Bites Grill in Uptown Sedona.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Be Still My Art Heart
On Sunday afternoon we had the door open in class in order to invite in the sun. Around lunch time a toddler appeared in the doorway. I looked up to see a wee boy in a fluorescent orange T-shirt, fussing.
I thought to myself, “where did that baby come from?” He was standing alone in the open doorway. Then out of the wings appeared an amazing sight… my niece Melissa and her husband Robert. I had no idea they were coming!
Melissa is my niece by special circumstances. My London roommate and best friend Suzanne (who perished in the bombing of Pan Am 103, 1988), was her aunt. I met Melissa’s mother Judy (Suzanne’s Sister) at the memorial service in Syracuse.
I’ll never forget when I first laid eyes on Judy, I remember sucking in my breath in as I felt my heart sink–Judy looks just like Suzanne. Their mother Anna Marie told me that the girls looked so much alike in their little kid photos that sometimes she had to check the date to tell them apart; Judy is the oldest of three Miazga sisters.
I met Melissa when Judy invited me to visit her in Vancouver with Anna Marie. Back then Melissa was a little girl with tons of energy and an incredible sense of adventure (she hasn’t really changed much). I have been friends with this amazing family for 30 years. I have watched Suzanne’s sisters have babies, and watched those babies have babies. I have lived with Anna Marie at her home in Upstate New York and been by her side with Judy in Lockerbie, Scotland as we stood and cried together at the Garden of Remembrance.
And there was Melissa, all grown up, standing in the classroom with a husband and baby that I had not yet met. The St. Jean’s live in Las Vegas and my teaching schedule prevented me from attending their wedding, but I did decorate the bride’s shoes, in memory of her aunt, so that a little bit of both Suzanne and I would be present.
So, it was not surprising that I would meet Robert and Cooper for the first time, in Sedona.
Thank you for taking a 45-minute diversion in your road trip to surprise me. I love you guys.
All Good Things…
The workshop was a huge success. 17 students accomplished amazing things with paper, taking ripping and gluing to new heights! Big hugs all around as we packed up our art supplies and said goodbye.
I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the amazing people who continue to support me in my Art Journey by attending workshops, purchasing artwork, books and products. I sincerely couldn’t do it without you.
Here’s to not having to brew coffee, wear a red polo shirt with khakis, punch a clock or shout, “Welcome to Walmart!”
Jeff and Wally asked me to add my name to the painter’s palette that hangs in the room with a view, joining the ranks of so many other talented artists who had come before me. I was honored to be amongst such good company. Big thanks again to this beautiful, colorful couple for their hospitality and generosity.
Oh, and a special shout out to Wally for making and serving me breakfast with coffee in the morning and wine in the evening. Food is love…
And thank all of you for taking the time to read, comment, and share in my experiences. I appreciate you.
for being a part of my