Art Blog

By Eric Holowacz

We sat down with our Ceramics Program director, Dennis Ott, to discuss humor, paper routes, doo-wop music, and creative influences in Sedona...

A new series of conversations with local creative people compiled by Executive Director, Eric Holowacz, in celebration of Sedona Arts Center's 60th Anniversary Year.


Let's start with a very brief description of what you do.

I’m a ceramic artist that loves to push the limits of my creative work, and I'm an educator that loves teaching. I’m also the head of the ceramics department of the Sedona Arts Center and love to share my passion with all the students that cross our threshold.I have helped mold ceramicists that have grown to become successful professionals in Sedona and the Verde Valley.

What cities/towns have you lived in (or spent more than a few months in) beginning with the place of your birth?

I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and became a resident of Sedona 27 years ago—and I'm still loving it here! 

What are the earliest stories you remember hearing? The ones that told you about the world? 

When I think back, I can still remember the Bible stories that my mother used to tell me.

What music was present and still memorable from your youth/adolescence? 

The thing that automatically comes to mind is doo-wop music from the fifties and sixties! Over the mountain by Johnnie and Joe is my favorite song!

What’s your favorite street, backroad, trail in the Sedona area?

Bell Rock Pathways, and my home street and, of course, Art Barn Road.

For you as a creative person, who are three influential artists or thinkers?  

Paul Soldner the ceramic artist is top of the list, then Rodin the sculptor, and the Dutch Masters.

What's an average day in your life at present?  

I get up at the crack of dawn, head to the studio at the Art Barn and get engrossed in clay or teaching for the day. Then I meet with friends to share ideas and libations.


If you went away from the Verde Valley for a long time and then came back, what are the first three things you would do or visit?  

I would devour a Sedona Memories sandwich, then visit the Sedona Art Center, and walk the West Fork trail. I love that environment!

If you had to eat the same meal every day, what would it be?  

Pizza and salad with a side of peanut butter. Yes, a side of peanut butter (I love the stuff). 

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?  


What are you planning for 2017 that nobody knows about yet?  

I will be planning a river cruise in Eastern Europe. Hooray!

Who are your favorite or most admired figures from history?

Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, and Walt Disney

If the Governor asked you to make up a new policy or law for the state, what would it be?

I would guarantee more financial support for the arts. Period. 

In one sentence, can you define art?

Evoking emotion, be it good or bad.

Name a few films that you consider profound, moving or extraordinary? 

Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and La La Land


What was your first real job, second, third? 

I ran the paper route in a suburban neighborhood in California. That was my first job. Then in college I was a fountain attendant in a major department store, dispensing malts and sweets. I was very popular there. The rest of my work career, until I till I retired, was as General Manager for Save On / Osco Drugs in Southern California.

Where would you like to live, but have yet to?

I would love to live somewhere by the ocean. Maybe Carmel, California. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

What word of advice would you offer an aspiring creative person? 

Don’t give up. Ride it out. Wait for the good times, they’re worth it.

Has Sedona Arts Center helped your development in any way? How?

Absolutely—it changed my life. The Arts Center gave me a new way of life and a creative groove that I love dearly. For me, it has been a new creative outlet, and a place of new social interactions, artistic opportunities, community building, and so much more.

Looking back at your teen-age self: what one sentence describes you?

I was always full of humor.

The biggest problem about life in Sedona? How you would solve it?

The biggest challenges are traffic related. As a tourist town it’s a necessary evil, but the roads keep getting more clogged and backed up. Reestablish the road across Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing, and open up some new entry points...

What is your dream of happiness? 

A peaceful world and good health.

What one question would you add to this Interview?

What are you going to be in your next life?

About Sedona Arts Center

One of Northern Arizona's first cultural nonprofits, Sedona Arts Center was founded in 1958 and has been building creative community ever since. Our organization now serves as the artistic hub of the Verde Valley, with year-round arts opportunities, an open door for creative people and ideas, and new initiatives like PALET, a ukulele revival, collaborations like the Sedona Art Prize, and the new partnership with Verde Valley School, Sedona Summer Colony

Stop by the gallery and main offices in Uptown Sedona to learn about our ongoing exhibitions and classes, and innovative projects like Loving Bowls, the 12 x 12 ProjectSedona Ukulele Posse, and the VOC Arts Annex. And if you are not already, become a member today! Thank you for supporting our growth and bold new directions, and for being part of Sedona Arts Center as we work together to expand this wonderful creative hub.