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Birthplace of the Cowboy Artists of America

Historic Site or District
Artists Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton, George Phippen and western writer Robert MacLeod gather at the Oak Creek Tavern to found the Cowboy Artists of America, June 1965. – Elizabeth Rigby, Courtesy Sedona Heritage Museum

Built in the 1940s as one of the first commercial buildings in Sedona, Lee and Oma Bird ran their tavern, restaurant and market from this and an adjoining building. Here was where locals, cattle buyers, cowhands and workers from the Jerome mines and the Clarkdale smelter played pool, stopped for a cold drink or bought groceries. It was a friendly crowd, with the local population fluctuating at less than 400 people, everybody knew everybody else.

As Sedona grew in size, the Oak Creek Tavern remained a historic center of town. It has seen some of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars knock back a few at the bar during the golden era of western film-making in Sedona, location for more than 100 feature films. The Tavern's legendary status continued with its status as the birthplace of the Cowboy Artists of America.

Today, the spirit of the Tavern lives on in the Cowboy Club, a restaurant and bar.

The Cowboy Artists of America (the CAA) was founded in 1965 by four prominent western artists, Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton and George Phippen. Since its inception, the exclusive organization of artists has always been dedicated to portraying the lifestyles of the cowboy and the American West, both as it was and as it endures. The CAA was founded in the back of the Oak Creek Tavern in Sedona, Arizona and held its first art show in 1966 at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It started when three of the cowboy artists were at a round up having a good time when it occurred to them that other cowboy artists would enjoy just this kind of experience and be inspired to preserve the cowboy way of life in art. They decided to form an organization that would be fun, teach the appreciation of traditional western art and to help promote the art form and cowboy artists.

The Oak Creek Tavern is now called the Cowboy Club in Uptown Sedona. The fireplace where the original founding father artists sat over beers to organize their idea still stands. An informational plaque is on the outside of the restaurant tells the history of the CAA and its founding in this building.

Pet Friendly Notes

Outside dining only

Time Period Represented

1945 - present


11 am - 10 pm daily

Seasons Open



Price Style for this Establishment

Entrees $20-36

Visitor Fees

None, but it is an operating commercial building. The CAA history sign on the outside means access is not necessary

Nearby Places