Ever since the Cowboy Artists of America organization was founded in Sedona back in 1965 (at what is now the Cowboy Club restaurant), this town has had a reputation as an artists' community. Today, with dozens of galleries around town, it's obvious that art is one of the driving forces behind the local economy. Most of Sedona's galleries specialize in traditional Western, contemporary Southwestern, and Native American art, and in some galleries, you'll see works by members of the Cowboy Artists of America. You'll find the greatest concentration of galleries and shops in the uptown area of Sedona (along Ariz. 89A just north of the "Y") and at Tlaquepaque.

With more than 40 stores and restaurants, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, 336 Ariz. 179 (tel. 928/282-4838;, at the bridge over Oak Creek on the south side of Sedona, is designed to resemble a Mexican village. (It was named after a famous arts-and-crafts neighborhood in the suburbs of Guadalajara.) The maze of narrow alleys and courtyards, with its fountains, chapel, and bell tower, is worth a visit even if you aren't in a buying mood. Most of the shops here sell high-end art, jewelry, women's fashions, and unique gifts. I wish all shopping centers were such fascinating places.

Unfortunately, many of Sedona's shops now specialize in cheap Southwestern gifts that have little to do with art, and weeding through the tackiness to find the real galleries can be difficult. One place to start is at Hozho, which is right on Ariz. 179 just before you cross the Oak Creek bridge in Sedona and has a couple of Sedona's better galleries.

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