Creating Culture: Art in the Shadows

Cece Cole with photographer Jesse Rieser

Did you know that Michelangelo spent a little over four years working on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? While not every artist labors quite that long from idea to unveiling, the fact is that creating a piece of artwork takes time. But that’s just the first part of bringing visual art to admirers. The next step is to curate the piece — select the perfect location and present it alone or with complementary art. 

That’s where Cece Cole comes in.

Cole laughs when she explains her career. “I didn’t travel the usual route. I earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Louisiana and a master of fine arts from the University of Iowa,” she said. What happened next proves that she’s not a usual kind of gal, either. She received the inaugural Virginia Commonwealth University Painting and Printmaking Residency and Fellowship Award, quite an honor, to be sure. From there, her exhibition wins began, including (fortunately for Arizonans) as curator of the gallery at Mountain Shadows Resort.

The gallery is located just beyond the hotel’s registration area, a runway of tall, white, blank walls until Cole’s magic happens. “I am an installation artist,” she said, and that she is. Her museum-quality exhibitions are — in her own words — “selectively curated, conceptually driven and socially engaging.” 

To ensure she meets the socially engaging goal, every exhibition begins with an opening reception with the artist and complimentary wine from the resort’s restaurant, Hearth ‘61. Some of the exhibitions showcase a single artist; others are a compilation. Most have a connection to the Valley, and most run for two months.

For instance, Cole brought back a popular exhibition from last year to celebrate Arizona hosting the Super Bowl. “The Abstract Athlete” showcases artists who are former star athletes. We may not often consider it, but the creative process requires extreme discipline, just as athletic careers do. Featured in the show was the marvelous photography of Scottsdale resident and former NFL player Tony Mandarich.

Artwork by Nancy Kravetz – Three Panel Botanical (Sunshine in the Garden), 2022, acrylic on canvas and wood, 36 x 40 inches

The lineup of exhibits spotlights Cole’s diverse and seasoned eye. The work of Arizona octogenarian artist Nancy Kravetz followed the athletes in February and March, with “Spring Fever” up next in April and May. “The title references the lift of mood that comes with the end of winter,” she said. “Featured videos, photos, objects and images with concepts ranging from cinematic daydreaming to environmental awareness.”

And what does this multifaceted woman do away from the gallery? She spends her time at Good Company Contemporary, a combination project studio and online shop she founded. Whether there or at the gallery, Cole’s mission is the same. “I love shedding light on the work of emerging and mid-career artists, as well as those who are more seasoned,” she said. “Likewise, I enjoy cultivating new art lovers.” 

Whether you’re a new art enthusiast or a great collector, Cece Cole and the gallery at Mountain Shadows welcome you. Drop in any time; no ticket is necessary. Grab a glass of wine from the bar and immerse yourself. You’ll be in good company!

To learn more, visit and 

About Judy Pearson

Judy Pearson is a journalist, published author, and the founder of Her organization supports and celebrates women survivors of all cancers as they give back to the greater good in their 2nd Acts. Her passion is finding those who have have healed themselves by helping others.

From Frontdoors Magazine

Back to Top