Daddy's Christmas Angel

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Visiting the James Ratliff Gallery in Sedona

James Ratliff Art Gallery ©Mary Montague Sikes
When we were in Sedona earlier this month, we discovered the James Ratliff Art Gallery in Hillside Plaza. I loved the variety of the art found in this gallery, and I especially enjoyed meeting and talking with both Patricia and James Ratliff.

This year James Ratliff is celebrating 50 years in the art gallery business. In the 1960s he owned his first gallery on Main St. in Scottsdale. For the past 30 years, he has operated a gallery in Sedona.

During his career which began with a love of art as a kindergartner, Ratliff has developed an awareness and sensitivity for talented artists. He especially enjoys mentoring young artists like Greg Heil who has displayed his brightly-colored landscapes in the gallery for the past several years. I found a show of the work of Cary Henrie especially intriguing because his work has evolved from wall paintings to three-dimensional paintings on stands. The show has been quite popular with many sales in the first two weeks, Ratliff pointed out. The abstract paintings of Allen Dutton are among the contemporary artwork on prominent display in the gallery. There is much more and a story to go with each piece of art.

James and Patricia Ratliff ©Mary Montague Sikes
Patricia, Ratliff's wife of 48 years, is an educator, music teacher, painter, former restaurant owner, and more. She is co-owner of the gallery. Visiting the couple amidst their beautiful array of art made me a little sad I was not a permanent part of the Sedona art community and able to converse with them more often.

What a joy it is to view art in other parts of our special country. What a privilege it is to be an artist and see the world through a lens of color and light.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sedona Features Timeless Beauty, Energy and Art

Rainbow Over Sedona Red Rocks ©Mary Montague Sikes
As visitors drive toward Sedona, Arizona, a sense of amazement is inevitable when all of a sudden the timeless red rocks rise up in the distance. The views are incredible. Clouds appear as angel images. A rainbow ascends from nowhere into the sky.

No matter how many times we visit this mystical mecca, it is never enough. So many art galleries, so many rock centers, so many spiritual retreats, so many trails to red rock formations--there is never time to see them all.

Bell Rock ©Mary Montague Sikes
We just returned from a week in Sedona. Although I planned to revisit Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, and more, I didn't get to them. We drove by Bell Rock many times and felt the remarkable energy of that formation. We dined at Miley's where a huge new painting of Bell Rock dominates. We feasted on seafood omelets at the Golden Goose and enjoyed lunch at Shugrues above the Hillside shops. And we spent a lot of time with art.

Art and the energy are what drew us to Sedona the first time. During a two week visit a few years ago, I enjoyed a pastel workshop and then took a metaphysical workshop that I found fascinating.

Ever since that early visit, those red rock images have crept into my artwork. Red rocks along with energy have also stolen their way into my writing and my novel, Eagle Rising. 

Something special exists in the timeless landscape of Sedona. Something special pulls us back again and again.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ward Center for Contemporary Art - Look of a Museum

Ward Center for Contemporary Art Gallery with historic staircase ©Mary Montague Sikes
In May 2013, when I first learned that Petersburg Regional Art Center was closing and that the old Butterworth building at 132 North Sycamore Street was set to undergo a $6 million renovation, I didn't know what to think. Although the Art Center was rustic and needed many updates, I hated to see it disappear. After all, I had spent 10 years as a resident artist there, and I feared the promised new art facility might never become a reality.

Abstract Artists Three-Person Show ©Mary Montague Sikes
I was wrong. Last summer,- I was invited to have a one-person exhibition in the brand new central gallery space, and this week we hung the show. The new Ward Center for Contemporary Art is beautiful. It features state of the art lighting, an excellent hanging system for paintings, lovely bathrooms, refinished wooden floors, and more. The historic staircase is still there in the big gallery and is a conversation piece because it now leads to nowhere.

The photos in this post are from the gallery during the process of hanging. I am looking forward to seeing it after everything is arranged and the lights are adjusted for each painting. A visitor during the hanging said the space "looks like a museum". I smiled and agreed with him.

Jessie Boyland, the gallery director, is overseeing the progress of the new gallery that will be the site of numerous future wedding receptions, meetings, and other social events. In addition, there are artist studio spaces located behind the gallery and in the basement that are available for rent.

The grand opening will take place in February. In the meantime, the gallery will be open to the public on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m. Following the opening reception, the days and hours will be expanded. My exhibition, "Passenger to Paradise" will be on display until March 7.

New Ladies Room ©MMSikes
Gallery Director Jessie Boyland helps with hanging ©MMSikes