Sedona Summer Colony Launch Party

Verde Valley School and Sedona Arts Center worked in partnership late last year to establish a new residency program for artists and cultural managers – the Sedona Summer Colony. We’ve been working together over the past few months to shape a guest-host model to become a summer feature of the campus and its singular red rock environment. This bold idea begins in full from late June.

We’d love for you to join us on Friday, May 31 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm for an opportunity to learn more about artists’ colonies, contribute to our ambitious initiative, and celebrate a potential new chapter in local cultural development at the Sedona Summer Colony – A New American Residency Program for Artists and Cultural Managers at Verde Valley School Open House and Program Launch Party on the quad at VVS. We will provide campus tours, small bites, and refreshments, followed by Q&A with co-founders Paul Amadio, Head of Verde Valley School, and Eric Holowacz, Executive Director of Sedona Arts Center.

Click Here to RSVP

This summer, our community will host over 100 significant creative people and visiting cultural leaders—providing each with time, space, and opportunities for discovery. They are musicians, choreographers, poets, film-makers, organization directors, and documentarians. They come to Verde Valley School campus as our guests. And while here, we’ll need your help to prove that Sedona can be the best host—and most interesting place—they’ve ever experienced.

Why? Because our inaugural artists and cultural managers in residence are the active ingredient in 21st century American culture. Because Sedona deserves an entity and legacy like the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Aspen Institute, Yaddo in Upstate New York, Hambidge Center in Georgia, and Chautauqua. Because by playing a generous host, we also hope to offer our Sedona Summer Colony residents a new understanding of this community—and a life-long relationship with the wonders of our high desert landscapes and the undeniable sense of place around us.

How you can help the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony

All of the great artist colonies—and every deliberate creative community were built with a combination of vision, people, infrastructure and resources. Over the past six months, we’ve been gathering these ingredients and setting the stage for Sedona Summer Colony. In order to make this inaugural effort a success, and to help us establish this model as an ongoing annual effort—we welcome your help. Click below to learn how to become a charitable sponsor, donate unused housing or hotel rooms, or volunteer on the ground this summer in support of visiting artists and local excursions.

Click here if you’d like to become a sponsor of Sedona Summer Colony

Click here if you’d like to volunteer, donate housing, support artist projects, or provide goods or services in-kind

Who are the Inaugural Sedona Summer Colony Residents?

To begin this new program, Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School have invited over 100 fascinating creative people from around the world to join us and build a new cultural development model for Sedona. Their time here this summer will be free of obligation, self-directed, and supported by our efforts to provide work space and local community connections. Here’s just a sample of the extraordinary guest-host relationships we will foster this summer…

Tasmanian artist and cultural manager, Dave Edgar, will use his time in Sedona to explore geological phenomenon, continue a series of drawings based on rock structures, and build connections between his home city, Hobart, and Northern Arizona. Learn about Dave’s work here and here.

New Zealand-based playwright and documentary producer, Julie Hill, will spend much of her summer in Sedona researching American culture and working on a collection of satirical non-fiction essays about national stereotypes: how they came to be formed, whether there is any truth to them, what their function is, and why we categorising particular groups of people. Read more about Julie here and here.

Brad and Amanda Kik, agricultural activists and co-founders of the Crosshatch artist residency program in Michigan, will bring their bioneer spirit to the campus, and share practical environmental stewardship solutions and ecological community-building efforts with Sedona. Watch their TED talk here.

Miami-based Brazilian artist Ernesto Kunde, will explore landscapes and painting, and find new influences in the red rock and riparian environments surrounding Verde Valley School. Read an interview with Ernesto here or learn more about his work here and here.

Heidi Rider, Adriana Chavez, and Elizabeth Nelson—the women behind the new Small Space Festival in Las Vegas—will explore possible new collaborations with Sedona. Read about their Weft in the Weave Collective and learn what they are doing to establish a new creative landscape in Sin City.

Playwright D. W. Jacobs works at the intersections of art, literature, and the sciences. He was co-founder and long-time artistic director of San Diego Repertory Theatre, and now writes for theatre, film, and digital storytelling formats. His play R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe premiered in 2000, and has since played around the world. As our guest, D.W. will return to the desert, where his past work found much inspiration.

South Carolina conceptual artist, Michaela Pilar Brown, crates profound installations and visual statements about the female body, African-American experience, and the making and interpretation of objects. While in residence, she will continue her latest work, an exploration of home and memory, and connect with our own sense of place.

New York-based Belgian artist, Vahakn Arslanian, will head West to change scenery from his familiar streets of Brooklyn to our expansive desert landscapes and red rock monoliths. A self-taught artist, he uses found objets and repurposed materials to generate collage, sculpture, and installation works. A fascinating protégé of Julian Schnabel, Vahakn has an extensive online profile here.

Choreographer JoAnna Mendl Shaw is founder of The Equus Projects, an integration of dance with humans and horses. While at Verde Valley School, she will bring a collaborating choreographer, 2 dancers, and a videographer to research and workshop a new performance piece inspired by local settings.

But wait, there’s more…

Sedona Sumer Colony will also welcome some of San Francisco’s most interesting contemporary artists, like Melissa Wyman, Michael Namkung, Llewelynn Fletcher, Cara Levine, and Grace Rosario Perkins; Plant-based visual artist and biophilia creator, Nellie Appleby; Helsinki-based American photographer Curt Richter; fashion designer and creative force behind, Maggie Kleinpeter; Canadian slam poet Mona Faith Mousa; New Orleans-based parade designer Katrina Brees; Texas and Mexican-American folklorist Cristina Balli; and Los Angeles-based musicians, Andrew Martin and Jessica Ramsey, of the ethereal alternative rock band Moon Honey.

And still more…

We’ve also formed partnerships with several of America’s most productive cultural proving grounds: the formidable AS220 in Providence, Rhode Island; the multi-site artist studio provider Radiant Hall in Pittsburgh; and the Masters of Arts Management Program at Carnegie Mellon University. They will send small groups to our inaugural Sedona Summer Colony and help us explore longer-lasting connections and creative opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How did this partnership begin? Is there a fee for participating artists? Will resident artists produce or present work for a local audience? Will they explore the region with excursions and tours? Is there a Sedona Summer Colony website? Will visiting artists need housing or studio space off-site, outside of Verde Valley School? Can I come to the Sunday Afternoon Artists-and-Community Potlucks? What’s a javelina?

These questions and more are answered in our Sedona Summer Colony FAQ—a guide for invited and incoming artists and cultural managers. You can view the most recent draft (and suggest any edits or additional content) by clicking here.

About Verde Valley School

Established after WWII 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. 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. Mindful of the international horrors of war and the ravages of ethnocentrism and racism in this country, 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 Hamilton Warren, sums up what they set out to do in a remote patch of 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, organic farm, dining hall, library, ceramics studio, performing arts hall and gallery, equestrian facilities, and dormitory and faculty housing. It is framed by monolithic red rocks, the Oak Creek riparian ecosystem, and high desert landscapes of Coconino National Forest. During the school year, it is home to 125 private high school students who care for the land and the campus, work towards an International Baccalaureate degree, and sustain the founding vision of cultural understanding and togetherness.

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 form the town’s small Chamber of Commerce, Gobran acquired a former apple orchard warehouse that became known as the Art Barn in what is now Uptown Sedona. The first exhibition featured works by Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, and the early years included arts education, lectures, exhibitions, and live theatre.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the barn and Arts Center became a hub of creative activity, artistic development, cultural events, and community-building. Today, it operates an expanded campus, a fine art gallery that represents 110 local artists and a school that offers over 100 classes and workshops each year. The organization also presents innovative collaborative projects like Peace Paper Workshops, Loving Bowls, the 12 x 12 Project, Plein Air festivals, Sedona Ukulele Posse, and community projects like the VOC Arts Annex, and gatherings in keeping with Gobran’s original vision.

Summer Read with Bill Carter

VVS is proud to once again partner with writer, director and photographer Bill Carter for our all-school summer read of his book, Boom Bust Boom. Students were given the book during our Earth Day celebration and are asked to have it fully read by the start of the 2016-2017 VVS academic year. Carter will host an evening of discussion about the book, fascinating new developments, and what we can do about our role in the consumption of copper when we return to campus in August.

Here are some of the things students should pay attention to while reading the book and some possibilities for how they will be assessed on the reading.

English classes at all levels will spend the first week of classes analyzing and discussing excerpts from Boom Bust Boom to explore the ways in which writers use diction, syntax, image, point of view, etc. in order to reach an audience and achieve a purpose. Teachers will use the text to introduce and review the literary devices and rhetorical strategies that serve as the foundation for English courses. Students can expect to submit a written response to the text which will serve as a baseline writing assessment in their English course.

In Chemistry, students will look at the physical and chemical properties of copper, such as density, malleability, conductivity and a quiz on these properties will test student understanding.

In Environmental Systems and Societies, students will investigate the complex and nuanced relationship between the natural world and we, the humans, that live within it. After reading Boom Bust Boom, students will be asked to write a short research paper in which they distinguish a specific issue within the fascinating story of copper mining in our world with another environmental issue of their choosing. Students will have the first three weeks of the school year to complete their report, but are expected to have read the book upon returning to classes in the fall. Bill Carter will be a guest speaker in your classes.

Anthropology classes will use Boom Bust Boom to discuss grassroots social and environmental activism in the face of corporate giants. What kinds of social problems are linked to mining? How is it even possible for people to prevent mining in their neighborhoods? Bill Carter will be a guest speaker in your classes.

Enjoy this fascinating book written by Bill Carter, a member of our VVS Community. Along the way, you will learn not only about how copper literally runs our world, but gain insights into Arizona. Bill is world renowned author, photographer and documentary filmmaker. If you need another great book for the summer, read his book Fools Rush In documenting his work in Bosnia and his collaboration with the band U2 that helped end the Bosnian war.

If you have questions, please email Caroline Diehl, Global Goals Coordinator, at

Learn more about Bill Carter at

Project Period 2016 Schedule

With graduation just around the corner, students and faculty are gearing up for our end of year Project Period week. Project Period runs from Thursday, May 19 to Thursday, May 26.

Click here for the Project Period morning and afternoon schedule.

Day student parents and parents of 5-day boarders, please recognize that students are required to attend each meeting of their project and that projects run through the weekend. Project Period is a graduation requirement.

Project Period is a pretty magical way to end the school year, allowing for a few more adventures with friends before we disperse all around the globe. click here for a listing of Project Period offerings for 2016 and learn more about Project Period at

Project Period 2016

On May 19th we begin Project Period, a time in our calendar designed to widen the VVS curriculum by adding something not included in our day-to-day, or by providing the opportunity to go into greater depth in an area already studied. Many projects are led by guest artists who travel from all over the country to take part in the week. Others allow students to see different sides of their teachers as they offer various projects showcasing their passions outside of their classroom subject.

This year projects include outdoor projects like backpacking, canyoneering, mountain biking and solitude; arts projects like creative welding, slam poetry, expressive dance and circus arts; sports projects like VVS triathlon, personal fitness and aikido; and service projects like garden expansion, home makeover and Global Goals Malawi. This is just a taste of the projects. For a complete list and explanation of the projects on offer click here. Learn more about Project Period and see photos from past projects at

Day student parents, please be advised that the Project Period schedule includes weekends (May 19 through May 26) and students must attend all days of their project. Project Period is a graduation requirement.

Nancy Green Print Workshop

Nancy Green, ’69, visited VVS last week to resurrect the old printing press and give students in visual arts classes a workshop on the press.  

Nancy, a notable artist and classmate of ceramics and photography teacher Jeff Perkins finalized the idea of getting the printing press going again and teaching a new generation of VVS students to use it this past summer when Jeff and his wife Crissy visited Nancy and her husband Jerome West, ’66 at their home.  Jerome joins the Anasazi field trip each November, walking our students up into canyons and showing them amazing rock art.

Nancy has contributed her artistry to VVS many times in the past, most recently by offering a printmaking project period.  In addition to donating her time to students, Nancy also donated the materials used in the workshop and to working on the press.

Nancy and Jerome live in Torrey, Utah where she paints abstract landscapes inspired by Capitol Reef country.


You can learn more about Nancy and her art at


Theater Presents “The Creature Creeps”

VVS IB Theater students have used the Decembermester extended periods to finish rehearsals for their fall performance of “The Creature Creeps” by Jack Sharkey.


Audiences got a sneak peek at the production during October’s Family Weekend.  The  full production will answer unanswered questions such as what connection is there between the mysterious disappearance of four villagers and the dark secrets of Castle von Blitzen? What sinister events transpire when Daisy, the daughter of Baron von Blitzen,  returns unexpectedly to announce her engagement? Is her happiness to be doomed like that of the long suffering Zitzen sisters? Will the cellar of the castle give up its’ awful secrets?


Find out during the open dress rehearsal on Thursday, December 10th at 8:00 pm and the matinee performance on Sunday, December 13th at 2:00 pm. Both shows are open to the public and performed in Brady Hall on the VVS campus.  Tickets are $5.

The play is directed by theater teacher Bridget Broomfield and the cast includes:
Baron von Blitzen: Drake Busby
Gretchen Twitchill: Lola Olorode
Heinrich Schtunken, et al: Tyrien Fixicio
Mord: Talie Peck
Daisy von Blitzen: Jennie Harlan
Frank Sterling: Kevin Chisholm
Babsy Ballou: Gracie Shoup
Maritza von Blitzen: Galen Coburn-Amadio
Hannah Zitzen: Maya Shen
Freda Zitzen: Tiffany Tian
Olga Zitzen: Elena Papalexis
Hedi Zitzen: Morgan Bailey




What’s Happening at VVS

We get up to a lot in a day and you can keep in touch with us through a number of virtual channels. The VVS website is a great place to go for newsphotoscalendared eventsgiving opportunities and answers to many of your questions. Expect an electronic update like this one on the 15th and the 30th of each month. You can find an archive of these newsletters on the website also. Anytime you see an underlined word on this page you can click on it to link you to the information referred to.

You can find links to VVS social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr) at the bottom of our website homepage.




Thanks for the photo, Richie Greenberg, ’71.” width=”239″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-6039″ /> Jamie Horner as a student at VVS. Thanks for the photo, Richie Greenberg, ’71.[/caption]Today we learned the news that James Horner, the master film composer known for his scores for Field of Dreams, Braveheart and Titanic, died Monday when the plane he was piloting crashed near Santa Barbara. He was 61 years old. James is a Verde Valley alum and will be missed by all of us and the millions more who have enjoyed his music and scores for over 100 films.

Jamie, as he was known at VVS, won two Oscars for his work on the 1997 film “Titanic,” best original dramatic score and best original song for Celine Dion’s classic, “My Heart Will Go On.” He was nominated for Academy Awards 10 times and also wrote scores for “Apollo 13,” and “The Amazing Spiderman.” He also collaborated with James Cameron again on “Avatar,” the top-grossing film of all time.

James brother Chris is also a Verde Valley alumni and a member of the Verde Valley Foundation Board. Our thoughts and prayers are with James’ family.

VVS Awards at Northern Arizona Watercolor Society

2015 dylan naws web

This past Saturday and Sunday the Northern Arizona Watercolor Society featured artwork from students at 11 different Verde Valley and Flagstaff schools at Sedona Red Rock High School.
Now in it’s 25th year the show consists of student work submitted by area art teachers. This year VVS artists took 12 ribbons, with senior Dylan Eckert winning $150 by taking best in show with his 3D crossbow sculpture. Winners include:

Barret Li  – Third place: drawing

Allean Bankhead – Honorable mention: painting

Victor Park – Honorable mention: mixed media

Cindy Ji – Honorable mention:painting

Linh Nguyen – Honorable mention: photography

Ray Huang – Honorable mention: ceramics

David Ruiz – Honorable mention: ceramics

Josh Yang – Honorable mention: ceramics

Alexa Szombathy – Second place: ceramics  sculpture

Natalie Grandaw – Second place: ceramics

Katharina Geppert – Third place: sculpture

Dylan Eckert – Best in Show and First place: sculpture


Guest Artist in IB Visual Arts

ib wire web

IB Visual Arts teacher Jeremy Broomfield welcomed guest instructor Carrie Gaydos to class today. Carrie taught a unit called “Working with Wire” to the juniors. Over four weeks, the students will complete small projects involving wire (e.g: create an insect, a wire rendering of your favorite food, a Calder-inspired mobile) as they build up to a large final project.  We’ll post more photos along the way and on the final projects.