Nestled on the beautiful Verde River in the Sedona/Cottonwood/Jerome area of Arizona, the Reitz Ranch Ceramics Arts Center is dedicated to the art in all it’s forms, but in particular the forms and techniques pioneered by Don Reitz, the late founder and designer of the center.
My name is Sheryl Leigh-Davault. I’m married to Ted Davault, and although we did not have children, we have more than made up for it with our herd of dogs, cats and horses.
Art is a thread that runs throughout my life; disappearing in some spots but always resurfacing. My degree was design based (Landscape Architecture) and I considered myself a 2-D artist for many years (graphite, oil and watercolor). I have some experience in participating in and running creative communities. I entered ceramics via a pottery studio at the end of my road, immersing myself in wheel and sculpture classes.
Two of the artists I met at that studio – Dexter Woods and Amy Sams – and I collaborated to form You+Me=We, an open studio in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. In the spring of 2017 my husband found Reitz Ranch for sale. Dexter educated us on the legacy of the ranch with the help of members of the Phoenix ceramic community – Peter Held, Farraday Newsome and Jeff Reich, to name a few – and Ted and I decided that it was too amazing of an opportunity to pass up.
“Amazing opportunity” is a hackneyed phrase in our lives today, but it fits. Don Rietz had a heart that might only have been surpassed in size by his creativity and talent. Reitz Ranch is a nexus formed by a larger-than-life artist and the web of artists and friends that love it and him. It isn’t often that a community survives the loss of its leader to carry it forward even years afterwards, but you see it in the yearning of the folks I have met to reconnect and fire again. It’s more than a bunch of mud, bricks and heat, it truly is a family.
Community is the bottom line for everything we want to do. All of this is for naught without the people, the sharing and synergy that ceramic artists working together create. And the results are beautiful, touching, tactile and thoughtful. Those are rare gifts that we can bring to this world and we are committed to being part of it.
With that, we are open to those people who made the ranch what it is and will help make it what it can be; both the legacy and the future. You all know what Don wanted and you can bring your own vision to it, too – I see it all as a part of what we can do together. And I couldn’t be more excited.