Pilisa Rainbow Lady walks through the bright gallery at the back of Creative Gateways artist co-op and points to one of her glass plates hanging on the wall. She explains that when she got stuck on the piece, one of the other artists who shares the space – a painter – gave her some ideas that helped her finish it. “All of the artists in here are open to collaboration,” says Pilisa. “That’s what this is all about. When we first started, there was an interview process to make sure we were all compatible.”
Creative Gateways is a 4,369-square-foot space that currently houses the studios of five artists as well as the aformentioned gallery where the artists sell their work. It’s also the home of a very friendly studio dog named Lokey. The space was formerly the studio of one of Sedona’s most beloved artists, Mary Fisher. Prior to that, it served as a Waldorf school, says Pilisa. (One of the gallery’s artists, Marika Israelson, actually attended the school when she was a child.) Pilisa purchased the building in 2015 and realized her dream of opening an artists’ co-op last year. Creative Gateways acts as one big open studio where art lovers can visit with working artists, observe the creative process and purchase work. (Its off-the-beaten-path location makes it feel like Sedona’s best-kept secret.) This month, Pilisa will begin offering glass classes from her studio at Creative Gateways.
Aside from Pilisa and Marika, the gallery represents Terry Israelson, Meg Munro, Michael Colpitts and Sumati Colpitts. Pilisa, who was the founder of the Ringing Rocks Foundation and owner of Sage Crafts (both located in Sedona), said she got the idea for the co-op after commissioning a chandelier from a similar studio when she lived in Australia. Pilisa has had an interesting life. She was raised in Baltimore, owned her own software business and lived all over the world before coming to Sedona 14 years ago. She says she was drawn to the idea of collaboration and socialization (most artists will tell you that art can be a lonely pursuit) inherent in the co-op concept. “I’ve always done art as a hobby, and my friends were telling me I should sell it,” says Pilisa. “I decided to make a go of it.” – Erika Ayn Finch. Photo by Marika Israelson.
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