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The Muse begins new year of serving Old Town art scene


Pre-opening, Spring 2019

Pre-opening, Spring 2019


Originally Published: August 25, 2020 10:27 a.m.

The Muse Art Gallery in Old Town Cottonwood clinks a cheers to another year supporting local artists in the Old Town Cottonwood community.

Owners Annabel Sclippa and Jeremia Sunfellow recently wrote to member-artists, “We know it has not been an easy season for anybody ... with COVID and this heat! Oh My! We are so very grateful for those of you who continue to stand united in our Art Quest!”

To shift with the times, The Muse owners have opened an Etsy Art Shop, which is being populated more each day by the artists’ work: etsy.com/shop/MuseGalleryArtShop.

Also, every Saturday since sometime in April, the two have been presenting FB LIVE open Studio Showcases. Each week they interview one of their artists, either live at the gallery, or in their home studios.

To support The Muse group of artists, you can follow their INSTAGRAM and watch them on FB LIVE every Saturday at 3 p.m. Their handle is @OTCMuseGallery and, “We are always happy when you tag us with #OTCMuseGallery ~ ! Especially if you have bought a gem from us here, or been to one of our past events. The #OTC is for Old Town Cottonwood, by the way. No ‘over the counter’ here, unless art is your drug!”

The Muse was the new kid on the block when it opened its doors in May of 2019, and now will be the last standing in the east side of Old Town.

“We came to this end to help establish a ‘Star Art District,’” explains Muse CEO and partner Annabel Sclippa. “We envisioned each gallery or place that hangs art in Old Town to put some type of star out so folks passing through would have an architectural standout, to have them slow down and see these were galleries.”

Alongside spearheading this concept, Sclippa has volunteered running Old Town’s Second Saturday Art Walk since the gallery’s opening. She had started the Walk in 2007, then passed it on when she left as vice president of the OTA in 2012. It has ebbed and flowed over the past seven years, but was in a lull when she revived it.

“I picked back up the thread and opened invites to any places willing and wanting to participate during Second Saturday with art, music, culture. When I picked it back up, I expanded it to be the Second Saturday Art & Cultural Walk to emphasize our wine rooms, local musicians, and eclectic food here now, with places like 3 Kings Kasbar having opened as well.,” explained Sclippa.

Sclippa said it will be a hard market to uphold now that there have been so many losses to the Gallery community in Old Town.

“Tragically we lost Charlene Zack of the Zackford at the end of July. I considered her a dear friend so it was quite a blow when I learned she passed away,” said Sclippa. “Char had also been talking to me about giving the Zackford more attention once we got past COVID. She had even re-paved her entry and drive in the last year in anticipation.

“Because of new property management shifts, Transy of TL Studio & Gallery decided to leave Old Town, and Robert at the ARC, Arizona Regional Ceramics, in The Manheim, decided to shut after four years. There is still The Hart of Arizona - a Collective - but other than that ... and Kim Kavullish next door to OTCA with his East End garage studio, The Muse is IT, baby.”

It is hard to hold Art Walks with only two galleries “But we have the tasting rooms, the City Chambers and 3 Kings, who all also hang art, that help us hold a light,” said Sclippa.

“We thought long and hard about whether or not this is a good or a bad thing. We literally had spent months agonizing and sitting on the fence, but in the end, we opted for optimism - because we still believe at the core, what we believed when we opened our doors: there are many exceedingly talented artists that deserve and need our venue as a platform to show their work.”

As the heat and COVID march on, Sclippa and Sunfellow are keeping limited hours, and are open by appointment (928) 634-0003. They have also recently signed another year-long lease with their landlords, owners of the Old Town Center for the Arts, William and Christine Eaton, who have been major supporters in making this decision possible.

“We were tremendously happy we could announce to our member-artists that their spaces are safe havens for continuing in their creativity. We could not have done this without the Eatons, and other places like the Sisterhood Connection, and friends and family support. Also, a handful of our core artists willingly shifted in our turbulent times and offered greater participation by taking on Studio spaces in the Gallery.”

During their first year, The Muse depended greatly on their larger events, such as the Old Town Food Truck Art Fest, and long table white linen dinners, to support them, none of which they can do in 2020.

So, although they have added in some new classes, offering both virtual and super limited on-site (their space can only allow for five participants with physical distancing), the cancellation of major events and limited class options has been a true hardship.

These limitations have inspired them to look for creative financial solutions in the transition and fight to hold space for Art in the community. They have launched a GoFundMe. “It’s actually down under $2000 at this time. Everyone has been so kind, even handing us checks and cash, which we keep subtracting off the total we need to raise on the funding site. We live in such a generous and supportive community,” said Sunfellow, the company’s SFO.

To support The Muse, please visit their fund page: gofundme.com/f/2ghkd-save-the-muse. They offer porch pickup for those who live locally. Visit the-muse-gallery.com/events.

The Muse Gallery is located at 735 N Main St, Suite A, in Old Town Cottonwood on the corner of N. Main and N. 5th streets, next door to Old Town Center for the Arts. Open by Appointment (928) 634-0003. And you can always visit their website the-muse-gallery.com for events, classes, and artist information.