Sedona Art: Facilitating Creativity and Connection in RidgefieldJun 30, 2021 01:00PM ● By Michelle Bense
Susan Ahlstrom with young artists at Sedona Art
During a year that held so much isolation and anxiety, Marge Courtney, owner of Touch of Sedona, built upon her legacy of bringing community together by opening an artistic haven next door: Sedona Art. A new age trading post for art supplies, creativity and more, Sedona Art is a continuation of Courtney’s vision of building stronger connections between business and community.
For nearly 25 years, Touch of Sedona has been a Ridgefield destination for Native American art and other unique spiritual items. Recently, Ridgefield was named the first municipality in the state of Connecticut to have a designated Cultural District. The timing couldn’t be better for the launch of Sedona Art, especially when so many people are seeking connection and a creative outlet.
“For centuries, people have come together to share with one another and connect in the process of trading goods and services,” says Susan Ahlstrom, Expressive Arts Counselor and Development Coach at Sedona Art. “The world is in a period of transformation around how we do business and interact with one another. So many people now shop online for products and services, but something is definitely lost when the task of ‘trading’ and commerce is done over the internet.”
These two businesses, Touch of Sedona and Sedona Art, offer a place for the buying and selling of goods (crystals, singing bowls, Native American art, art supplies) and services (classes, intuitive readings, expressive arts coaching), as well as providing a space for sharing ideas and personal experiences on multiple levels.
“Sedona Art serves artists and creatives of all types and helps nurture the heart and soul of the Ridgefield community and beyond,” says Ahlstrom.
Since moving to Ridgefield over 20 years ago, Ahlstrom had been a customer of Courtney’s at Touch of Sedona. The two got to know one another better while Ahlstrom was Executive Director of the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce. “When she needed help executing her vision of opening an art supply store in support of artists and the expressive arts, Spirit brought us together,” explains Ahlstrom. “We share a belief in the healing power of nature, art and Spirit. We value collaboration and understand the important role local businesses play in building community.”
Walking into Sedona Art is “like walking into a candy store”, in the words of Ahlstrom. Filled with light and color, it is a comfortable, feel-good place. “Everyone who enters, whether aged 2 or 82, shares the same reaction: ‘It feels so good in here.’ We believe that everyone is an artist and the store elicits a positive emotional response. Both stores invite the creative spirit to come forth,” she says.
Ahlstrom has often heard comments like, “I love to draw,” or, “I just started painting during COVID”. The store is a creative community that invites people “to be vulnerable and share their passion,” Ahlstrom says. “It’s a passion place, for sure.”
Sedona Art offers classes and workshops that range from Art 101 to exploration with Intuitive Art. One recent workshop was led by store manager and local artist, Lily Fertik, inspired by the Sagittarius Full Moon. “Pink and purple were the colors of this fiery full moon sign, but the evening was all about finding your center, connecting with color and expressing your creativity in a calm and relaxing space,” explains Ahlstrom. “Participants were guided through an opening meditation and encouraged to paint, move, explore and expand. They left feeling relaxed and inspired.”
In the coming months, Sedona Art will be expanding their one-to-one instruction, art classes and workshops focused on the expressive arts, including more “healing” arts programs. A Sedona Art Loyalty Program is also launching, which will give discounts and incentives to members.
Customers have found truth and healing in the creative arts facilitated by Sedona Art. “We are all in need of emotional healing after the year we’ve just had,” Ahlstrom shares. “The level of fear and trauma that we’ve all experienced can be processed and released through the expressive arts. There’s nothing better than an hour or two lost in a creative project. We want to encourage people to take the time to do more of that, for themselves and for the benefit of the wider community.”
Whether it is children and young adults sifting through the crystal bins at Touch of Sedona, or experienced artists perusing the paint colors and supplies at Sedona Art, all are welcome to take time and connect with what moves them, what inspires and delights them. Ahlstrom says, “We want to give people the means to find joy and, if possible, express themselves and share that joy with others.”