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City exhibit celebrates southwest and indigenous art

High Road to Taos by Mariann Leahy (Courtesy/ City of Sedona)

High Road to Taos by Mariann Leahy (Courtesy/ City of Sedona)

Originally Published: February 7, 2024 10:03 a.m.

The city invites the public to save the date for its next artist reception on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers and Vultee Conference Room at City Hall, where paintings created by Karen Taylor and paintings and ceramics created by Mariann Leahy are on display through May 2. Special music guest at the reception will be Nathan "Saith" Gangadean.

Taylor, originally from San Francisco, majored in Anthropology at San Francisco State University, which cemented her fascination with the broad range of cultural splendor and diversity around the globe. She began painting 50 years ago, where her study and interest in the multiplicity of rites and rituals led to the colorful art she has created over the years. She is intrigued by the many alluring ways people find to decorate and adorn themselves.

After college, Taylor moved to the Duckwater Shoshone Indian Reservation to teach. She was inspired by the high desert light and the serenity of the isolated reservation. She also prized the beauty, composure and artistic traditions of the Native American culture. In the late 70’s, she moved to Sun Valley, Idaho and became part of the lively and nurturing art community at the Sun Valley Art Center. She worked in acrylics and pastels and specialized in large format faces of Indigenous peoples from all over the globe.

Taylor describes her move to Sedona in 2010 as coming home. "I have always loved the Southwest. I find the light thrilling. It makes me feel as if I'm floating on a sea of color,” said Taylor. It also renewed her interest in the Indigenous cultures and the pre-European people of North and South America. Her work currently can be seen at the Sedona Arts Center. Previously Taylor’s work was in Turquoise Tortoise Gallery, the Great Southwest Galley, Hillside Gallery and the Cynthia Garrett gallery in Santa Fe.

Leahy did her graduate work in ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and became a high school art teacher for over 18 years in Chicago. As a clay artist with a profound respect for nature, Leahy’s inspiration is found in ancient myths and symbols. Her hand built pieces made with mica rich clay echo these ancient motifs in a contemporary style. Leahy is also a painter working in acrylics and oils, using similar vibrant colors and fluid concepts based on nature and animal subjects.

Leahy has lived in Sedona since 1997. She has won numerous awards for her artwork, as well as having taught workshops at the Sedona Arts Center. For the Sedona Art Center’s 60th anniversary in 2017, Leahy along with others, was named a Sedona Legacy Artist. This honor was for exhibiting her work in galleries for more than 20 years. Currently her work is represented by the Sedona Arts Center. She was previously represented by Turquoise Tortoise Gallery for 25 years, as well as galleries in Santa Fe.

“I truly enjoy supporting local artists and connecting people in our community. I knew I had to introduce Karen and Mariann, who are so like-minded in their passion for other cultures, nature and the southwest. The colorful, bold work of these established artists complement each other beautifully. I hope the public will take time to view this intriguing exhibit,” said Arts and Culture Specialist Nancy Lattanzi.

More information

Viewings are available by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, or for more information on the City Hall Art Rotation Program, please contact Lattanzi at 928-203-5078 or NLattanzi@SedonaAZ.gov.