Walk through the entrance to Tlaquepaque, and you risk losing time. Within the adobe walls of this artists village perched on the bank of Oak Creek are more than 45 galleries and shops featuring almost any medium you can imagine.
You might find yourself spending the day there without even realizing it.
“There’s something for everyone,” says Wendy Lippman, general manager of Tlaquepaque. “We try to create a place where all your senses are going to be stimulated, whether you want a fresh-brewed beer at Oak Creek Brewery or sit under a shady sycamore tree. We are a day journey.”
Named for a city near Guadalajara, Mexico, Tlaquepaque was the creation of Nevada businessman Abe Miller. He was a frequent visitor to Sedona and quickly became enamored with the burgeoning art scene and a piece of property near Oak Creek and state Highway 179. He purchased the property and set about building an artists colony influenced by Mexico’s arts and crafts scene.
Tlaquepaque’s architecture is Spanish colonial. Stucco walls, stonework and patterned tiles are found throughout the village. There are nooks and courtyards to get lost in and a chapel where you can meditate or simply nourish the soul.
Miller opened its doors in 1971, and some original tenants — Ninibah (Indian jewelry and other items handcrafted by Native Americans) and Kuivato (glass art) — are still there. Lippman says that speaks to the village’s longevity and reputation as the “art and soul of Sedona.”
“There’s a much greater synergy of artists creating on site,” says Lippman. “Forty percent of our galleries are artist-owned. The caliber of the art and quality of the galleries has taken off.”
One criticism of Tlaquepaque has been the price point — not everyone can afford to spend thousands of dollars for artwork. A popular joke is that the artists colony should really be known under the name “to lock your pocket.”
“One of the things we’ve tried to do is create a merchant mix where you can buy one-of-a-kind items and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars,” says Lippman, who points to Calling All Angels and Red Rock Candle as examples of that effort.
Tlaquepaque is also known for signature events such as the Fiesta del Tlaquepaque and the Festival of Lights on Dec. 9.
Sedona is approximately 130 miles north of the East Valley. Take Interstate 17 north to state Highway 179 (Exit 298) and turn left.
336 Highway 179 Sedona Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (928) 282-4838 or www.tlaq.com