Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

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It’s almost time for the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour (HITH) in Cave Creek!


Last year, I went with Phillip and our friend Ling. I had about 13 studios on my to-visit list, but we really took our time, so we only made it to 5 of them.


The Tour

Over 40 working artists open up their studio spaces (often in their homes) two weekends in November to showcase and sell their work.

Most participating artists invite others to join them at their spaces, so there might be 7 artists at one studio (3 or 4 is more likely) with art for sale and sometimes prints of their work. In fact, I learned about the tour when I was doing graphic design for one of the artists, Robin Ray, and getting her work printed on greeting cards, aprons, calendars, etc.


At the last HITH tour, it seemed like there was a lot more art at different price points than in the past. There are the large statement pieces which – rightfully – cost a good chunk of change, but many artists are also doing smaller works to fit smaller budgets or living spaces.

There was live music at a few of the locations. We heard banjo players at one and a Native American flautist at another.

Many artists do demonstrations or work on pieces during HITH. They may show how they shape ceramics or be daubing oil paint on a canvas when you walk by.

We’ve gone in the past, so we had some favorites to revisit, as well as new artists to check out.


The Art and Artists

It was great chatting with the artists. I worry sometimes when I’m talking to artists that I’ll insult them by not understanding their work the way they intended. The ones we talked to on the tour were really happy to hear what our impressions were, answer questions, and talk about their techniques.


Here are some highlights, along with the studio number where the artist will be exhibiting at this year’s HITH tour.

Robin Ray (studio #9), who first told me about the tour, has more time now that she retired from teaching. In addition to her ceramics and painting, she is now making mixed media works inspired by Mexican shrines. We stopped by her place near the end of the day, and it felt like a party with friends sitting around an outdoor table, laughing, snacking, and pouring wine.



Also exhibiting at her studio was Ken Ryan (#9), who makes sculptures from metal and fabulous gnarly wood, as well as custom rustic furniture.


Nicolette Maguire Bonnstetter (#27) does collage-style paintings of items from her childhood on custom-milled wooden bowls.

Eddie Sparr (not exhibiting at HITH 2015) explores the relationship between mechanic structures and organic ones. You can find him at Big Red Robot Gallery or at Hibachibot, the Korean BBQ food truck he and his wife recently opened. They’ll be serving breakfast burritos 7:30-10a and lunch 11a-3p at Big Red Robot on 11/21, so you can fuel up on the way to the tour.

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The atmosphere at BH Bowman Studios felt calm yet vibrant, perhaps reflecting the quiet intensity of Barbara Bowman’s own abstract work in acrylics. There were candles lit, sculpture artists along the front walkway, glass mosaics on the back patio, musicians in the living room, and a mix of media throughout the house.

In a side room with a covered pool table, Julia Patterson (#29) exhibited a wall of pastel landscapes I could look at all day.


Christoph Heede (#30) constructed a kiln that’s big enough to walk in and also does raku ceramics, which he finishes in open flames.


Betsy Halford (#27) uses unusual found objects, like electrical components, to make jewelry and mixed media pieces.

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One artist (I think it was Sandy Pendleton at #29) attaches bells from a village in India to her glasswork.

Something I hadn’t seen before was 3D printed sculpture. It was cool to see artists like Kevin Caron (#29) experimenting with new technology.

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Judy Bruce (#42) had a series on nerds and a series of mixed media works about her mother, remaining beautiful as she fought cancer.




Really, everyone was great with the exception of one artist (not pictured/named in this post) who was unnecessarily harsh after Ling took a photo and then creepily kept watching us the rest of the time we were at that studio.

No one else the rest of the day had a problem with photos. Of course, if someone doesn’t want photos taken of their work, I’m happy to respect that. I just think they should ask politely.


So….back to people who are awesome.



At Desert Rat Forge (#43), metal artists Paul Diefenderfer (“Dief”) and Gordon Paul Mischke (“Gordy”) work in their outdoor spaces on large metal sculptures. Paul demonstrated how he heats and shapes metal. Gordy, one of our original HITH favorites, updated us on some of his long-term projects.

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Several other artists also exhibited work at the site. One was Josh States, who makes really nice knives and other metal and mixed media pieces. He also told us about the Camp Verde Pecan and Wine Festival, which would be fun to check out sometime.


The Grotto

We ate lunch at Grotto Cafe, which has lovely outdoor seating, coffee, panini, salads, and gazpacho.


– More info –

If you’re in the Phoenix area, check out the 2015 Hidden in the Hills tour November 20-22 and 27-29.

  • Program
  • Full map – Clicking the numbers will take you to artist info. Clicking below the map allows you to register and create your own personalized tour map with the studios you want to visit.
  • Our 2014 tour map – In case you need additional suggestions to get started.



  1. I couldn’t track down the artist for this piece. 
  2. Selfie with Ling. Think she snapped this one – mine were terrible.

The Tour

  1. Robin Ray (studio #9)
  2. Booths and artwork of (l to r) Betsy Halford, Christiane Barbato, Nicolette Maguire Bonnstetter.

The Art and Artists

  1. Artwork of Judy Bruce (#42)
  2. Artwork of Robin Ray (#9)
  3. Artwork of Robin Ray (#9)
  4. Ken Ryan (#9)
  5. Eddie Sparr (Hibachibot)
  6. Julia Patterson (#29) and her artwork
  7. Christoph Heede (#30)
  8. Betsy Halford (#27)
  9. Kevin Caron (#29)
  10. Artwork of Judy Bruce (#42)
  11. Studio of Judy Bruce (#42)
  12. Artwork of Christoph Heede (#30) on his home/studio wall.
  13. Artwork of Paul Diefenderfer (#43)
  14. Desert Rat Forge (#43)
  15. Paul Diefenderfer (#43)
  16. Gordon Paul Mischke (#43)
  17. Artwork of Gordon Paul Mischke (#43)
  18. Artwork of Josh States / Dos Gatos Designs (#43)

The Grotto + More Info

  1. Grotto Cafe
  2. Cave Creek sunset


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