Catherine Duskin-Vernarelli and Stephen Vernarelli designed their Village of Oak Creek gallery, Cielo Bella (“beautiful sky” in Italian), to resemble a SoHo loft. The large space features concrete floors, a serene water fountain, soft music and an eclectic mix of art ranging from Catherine’s own jewelry and sculpture, to investment pieces by painter Patrick Antonelle, to 3-D paintings and organic bath products. The gallery represents artists from Sedona, the U.S. and Russia. Cielo Bella opened in July 2012, the day before Catherine’s birthday.
“We really wanted something eclectic with all kinds of different art,” says Catherine, who was born in New York but has lived in Sedona since 1993. “We want to bring art to every aspect of people’s lives. There’s so much going on in the world – disasters and tragedy – but art touches the soul and brings joy and happiness.”
Catherine and Stephen have been married since 1998, and they both have creative backgrounds. Catherine studied visual and performing art at the University of the Arts, formerly Philadelphia College of Art, in Philadelphia. She has owned her own production company; acted and modeled; and has exhibited her photography, sculpture and jewelry in galleries across the country. Stephen’s background includes visual art (you’ll find his mirrors at Cielo Bella), filmmaking and writing. The couple also serve on the board of directors for Artisan Festival International: World Peace Initiative.
The gallery space is designed around Catherine’s jewelry, which she crafts using precious and semiprecious stones. In 2011, she was commissioned to design a line of Elizabethan-inspired jewelry for the Metropolitan Opera’s gift shop. It was while touring juried art shows that Catherine and Stephen met many of the artists they represent. “My travels not only inspire me, I meet artists along the way,” says Catherine. “I love it.” – Erika Ayn Finch