Sedona’s connection to Frank Lloyd Wright began when Victor Sidy moved here from Los Angeles in 1982.

Still in grade school, the student was drawn to the violin, thinking for a time he might become a composer, but also enjoying the experience of forming clay on his mother’s potter’s wheel.

Even more, he embraced the outdoors.

“When you live in Sedona, your backyard can be expansive,” Sidy said. “Building forts in the trees and mud castles in the washes was a passion of mine.”

His sixth-grade teacher at the Brewer Road School was John Kline who remembers Sidy well.

“I’ve had some really good students who’ve gone on to get their doctorates, but Victor was in some ways the finest student I ever had,” Kline said.

Kline doubled as his music instructor and said the student approached the violin and the viola with the same passion as he approached every other subject.

“Of course, it was like everything else he did ... he played a solo at his own graduation from sixth grade,” Kline remembered.

In addition to teaching, Kline introduced his student to his son-in-law, John Sather, an architect.

Through this early relationship, Sidy increased his exposure to building and the function of design.

At about the same time, the 12-year-old was forever influenced by a trip to Paolo Solari’s Arcosanti.

“It’s bold, an experiment that does to the landscape what a young person wants it to do — celebrating broad landscapes with a beautiful set of buildings,” Sidy said. “It takes into account the cycles of sun and wind, its wonderful half-domes collecting winter sun and providing shade in the summer.”

By the time he was a teenager, there was a lot of development going on in Sedona, drawing his curiosity.

“I found it wonderful to walk around construction sites and to see how things were built,” Sidy said. “It became clear to me that some houses were designed better than others and I was lucky enough to meet some of the architects. It was easy to contrast their work against crass developers who had little regard for the location they were building on and it made me realize building could be done sensitively — or not.”

At the time, Sedona was yet to have a high school, so he commuted to Flagstaff for classes.

“It was there I saw architecture could be viewed through a variety of lenses — math, history, a perceptive eye, communication, how things go together scientifically,” Sidy said. “An architect has to be a polymath and Flagstaff High School allowed me to explore those various disciplines instead of choosing just one.”

Dee Chadwick of the Village of Oak Creek was one of his instructors.

“Victor was advanced placement in 1992-1993,” Chadwick said. “He and his classmates set the standard for all who were to come. He showed outstanding intellectual curiosity, bringing up and often leading conversations about Shakespeare, Camus, Fitzgerald, Sophocles — we read them all. I think I learned as much from that class as they did from me.”

As graduation neared, Sidy was still unsure of his future course of study, but when one of his parents’ friends described architecture as frozen music, he realized he didn’t have to give up one for the other, that his interests in composing music and composing spaces might be combined.

Shortly afterward, the senior was informed he was the recipient of the prestigious Flynn Foundation Scholarship.

“Even though he’d won honors in science and math, he chose me to go to the presentation,” Kline said. “What else could I do but make him a gift of my viola.”

Sidy first enrolled at Arizona State University in Tempe, but then heard about Taliesin West and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation that runs the school of architecture, prompting him to take a year-long leave of absence from ASU.

When the year was up, he stayed on, earning an undergraduate degree and a master’s in architecture, then went to work with the largest private Montessori school in the country, designing for them a nature-based campus.

At the same time, Sidy was also teaching architecture and design to the school’s students and establishing a private practice nearby in Dallas.

When Saskia, his wife, was accepted at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, the couple relocated to New York and Sidy was just getting involved in loft redesign when he was contacted by his alma mater.

“When the call came in asking me to throw my hat in the ring for leadership at Frank Lloyd Wright, it caught me off guard,” Sidy said. “But, then I realized my work at Montessori gave me insight into how to manage small academic institutions.”

As the youngest dean at a school steeped in history yet built upon an avant-garde set of ideas, one of his challenges would be to honor the past while looking to the future.

Complicating those plans was a school changed in the 10 years since his graduation.

“The strong culture of architectural practice had devolved into academics,” Sidy said. “I wanted students to understand not only architectural theory, but how to build things because that’s at the core of making the invisible visible. That’s what made my own education so exciting — real projects that were compelling — cultivating relationships with clients and other architects and builders.”

Before he could reintroduce the passion of building for real, the brand new dean had major financial problems to fix.

“Two weeks after I started, the school was put on notice by its creditors,” Sidy said. “It was a clarion call for change and we spent the better part of two years addressing their concerns.”

Today, three and a half years into his tenure, his school’s program is one of the few centered around hands-on learning, allowing students to discover early on what it takes to get something built — a place where any impassioned student would want to test their skills.

With 24 students enrolled, four permanent faculty members and 15 adjunct instructors, the school is currently at capacity; however, Sidy thinks 40 students would be ideal, planning incremental expansion.

Currently, its highest-profile project is a collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum in New York, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their building and commemorating the 50th passing of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Sidy would also like the school to participate in the future development of Arizona.

“I love Arizona; I missed it when I was away — the power of its landscapes, the poetry of its seasons, even the smell of the rain,” Sidy said. “But I’m disappointed at the level of destruction that’s gone on in Sedona, Prescott and Phoenix. As a state we need to do a better job of tending to the land, using synergistic approaches to building through thoughtful design.

Another year older, another year ... slower?

On Saturday, Feb. 7, the same day as the fourth annual Sedona Marathon, I turned 27 and celebrated by running in the half marathon.

Since it was my birthday, I thought I’d be lucky and do even better than last year when I first participated in the event, but I was sorely mistaken.

Rumors started circulating mid-Thursday that runners could expect to run in the rain Saturday morning.a

When I awoke with pre-race jitters Saturday it was dark and cold, but thankfully, it was dry.

At the starting line there seemed to be more racers than last year; younger ones, older ones, fast-looking ones, along with the usual suspects like Rick and Jennifer Wesselhoff, Chris Leake and Sedona Police Chief Joe Vernier.

The new start and finish line from the old Cultural Park meant a drastic decline from the start, followed by a daunting hill to even get out of the park. From there, it was back to the same course.

Last year I kept my sights on a lady with a good pace a few clips ahead of me, so I wouldn’t start lagging behind. This year, it took me a while to choose one, but I finally settled on a girl with a white hat who I remembered from the Porta-Potty line, a good distance ahead of me.

Like last year, my plan wasn’t to reach her or surpass her. I just didn’t want to lose sight of her, fearing that would mean I was slowing my pace.

Up Dry Creek Road, past the man blaring his boom box — thank you for that, we need all we can get — and on and on to the turnaround point before Doe Mountain trailhead, I kept her in view.

From the turnaround point, things literally and figuratively went downhill. I didn’t catch her name, but when bib number 3374 kindly encouraged me to keep up, I just couldn’t. My psoas wouldn’t let me.

They were tight and getting tighter with each step. My hips threatened to block me from the rest of the race and finally I took them seriously. I flung myself down into a lunge, hoping to stretch them out, begging them to let me continue.

I need a second wind, I thought as I trotted back toward Highway 89A. That’s when I approached a lady walking the half marathon, wearing a birthday cake hat, complete with candles sticking out of the top.

“It’s my birthday too,” I shouted and waved. So I can cry if I want to, I thought.

I wouldn’t let my thoughts slip down that dark, scary road of “I can’t do this. It’s too hard. I have to stop.”

If I went there, if I thought about how hard it felt, I’d be done — not an option.

So luckily, when I saw the 10-mile mark, I got a second wind. Just three miles left, I told myself, I can run three miles in my sleep, there’s no reason I can’t run it now.

Unless of course, this light blue car creeping up behind me really doesn’t stop and “J@$*%!” I shouted out of shock, looking back and realizing the man behind the wheel wasn’t stopping.

Luckily, the attempted homicide took place right in front of Sedona Police Department volunteers, and I looked at them to help stop this man from running me over.

“Stop!” They shouted and ran in front of his car, as I kept running. I looked back over my shoulder to see more police running to his car, to see why he was attempting to take down runners.

I can’t give an estimate on how close his bumper came to me, but it was enough to leave me shaken and — uh-oh, I can’t breathe — I was hyperventilating.

Just recently while running a trail, a dog attacked me and I was so shaken that as I ran home, I found the combination of heavy breathing from running and fear left me unable to breathe at all. I couldn’t let that happen. I had to clear my head.

I made my way up Highway 89A, down past the hospital and up that last, final hill, where a crowd of strangers stood cheering and singing “Happy Birthday” to me!

I was embarrassed but appreciative as their boost got me to the finish line.

I paid the price for being under-hydrated the rest of the day, and my relationship with my psoas is still strained.

As for the man who nearly knocked me out of my misery, I’m left wondering why at least one lane of traffic could not be closed for half a day.

I know Sedona’s marathon isn’t as big as New York City’s, or the P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll marathons around the nation, but we’re the same runners participating in any one of them, and we at least deserve one lane’s width to run our race.

We have enough challenges along the way. We don’t need to be dodging cars too.


Alison Ecklund

Larson Newspapers

On Saturday, April 19, the Sedona Teen Center provides Sedona’s youth with a hardcore rock concert.

Phoenix-based band Defy Tomorrow will hit the stage at 8 p.m. and play a concert aimed at Sedona’s teens — only those age 18 and younger will be admitted.

The Sedona Teen Center is located at 480 Posse Ground Road, West Sedona.

Photo by Ashley Wintermute 

The Mac Sēoin Band opens the outdoor stage at the Martini Bar for the warmer season with a performance Saturday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m.,

Led by Karl Jones, the band welcomes drummer Conor Madden, fiddler Jonathan Miller and belly dancer Habib.

Jones, “The Irish Rover” was raised in Dublin, Ireland. A long-time Sedona area musician, Jones has released two albums, “1916: The Best of Karl Jones” and “Dublin Soul.”

He regularly plays in Sedona, Flagstaff and the Phoenix area, and most recently performed at the Sedona St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Sex education at Sedona-Oak Creek School District seems to be a touchy subject.

With no employed health teacher to ask about district policy regarding sex ed, fingers were pointed around the district with no one willing to go on record.

School district administrators, health officials, teachers and the district attorney, 10 in all,  either didn’t know the district’s policies on sex ed, deferred the questions to someone else or refused to go on record.

 

A dancer delicately weaves her body across a spotlighted outdoor stage while poetic verses waft through the air, accompanied by jazz piano.

The organic mixture blends three art forms into one, much like the mixed gin and tonics or double-shot espressos and steamed milk warm the bellies of the entranced audience, blending art and art lovers into a single moment.

This moment of artistry is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 1, at the Szechuan Martini Bar, 1350 W. Hwy. 89A, West Sedona.

The 999 Eyes Carnival of the Damned is the last authentic human oddities freak show in the world, and will perform in Sedona on Friday, March 21.

The show is appropriate for all ages and wheelchair accessible.

As seen on National Geographic, the troupe offers a vaudevillian show  and recreates the world, one freak show at a time, as part of the 10-day tour of the Southwest.

The 999 Eyes Carnival of the Damned celebrates genetic diversity by showcasing amazing feats by fabulous freaks, according to a press release.

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