Nestled on the beautiful Verde River in Clarkdale (the Cottonwood/Jerome/Sedona area of Arizona,) the Reitz Ranch Ceramics Arts Center is dedicated to art in all its forms, but in particular the techniques pioneered by Don Reitz, the late founder of the center and world renowned artist and educator.
It was Don’s dream to have a program for ceramic artists at his ranch. It has a studio for both wheel work and handbuilding (the “bunkhouse”), and a kiln shed that has 3 wood fired kilns and a salt kiln. One of the kilns, known as the “Reitzagama” was designed and built as a modified anagama that would accommodate his large pieces – you can actually walk into it. If you’re familiar with the size of his work, it will make complete sense to you.
There are a number of other kilns on site; wood fired, electric and raku/saggar. Bisque kilns are both electric and gas.
And if that’s not enough, we even have our own swimming hole in the Verde River, should things get too hot!
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 ASU degree was design based (Landscape Architecture) and I considered myself a 2-D artist for many years (graphite, oil and watercolor). 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 from the Phoenix area, and Novie Trump and Dennis Ott from Clarkdale and Sedona, respectively – and Ted and I decided that it was too amazing of an opportunity to pass up.
“Amazing opportunity” is an overused 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.