Last week I wrote on supporting the Arts throughout the community and beginning with the schools our children attend. Art begins in the home as those of us young enough can remember our parents putting up our masterpieces on the refrigerator, or have children of our own now continuing this wonderful tradition. As children we are free to express ourselves through paper and crayons and proud to share it with anyone who would look. Imagine telling a child their special drawing is not up to par or misses the whole point of good art.

Art is subjective. There isn’t any standardized method to evaluating the quality or magnificence of a painting, drawing or sculpture. We can’t measure, weigh or scientifically calculate the superiority of art, because beauty truly is “in the eye of the beholder.” I recently read an article where the writer demanded more quality artists in the world. He claimed he had the answer to ‘the problem with art’ today, which was simply, “there are no good artists left in the world.” I disagree wholeheartedly. Creative expression should run freely with less of the judgmental, biased and opinionated repartee of the critics.

Whether you are an adult taking up painting for the first time or a child exploring colors, the last thing you need is a detractor telling you how to express yourself. Art is an extension of ourselves and while criticism becomes part of our growing experience, it should only be constructive and never something that takes away the freedom of expression and creativity. Monet, Picasso, Kandinsky, Pollock, Warhol, Murakami, Leibovitz all broke with tradition in their art styles and what they wanted to express. They had their detractors who considered their art not good enough too. Imagine if they took that to heart and stopped creating.

…Which brings me back to children’s art and education.

In my home the children’s creative expression runs wild in a thousand artistic forms. I always encourage them to draw outside of the lines - to not be afraid to take the untamed approach to art in all its forms. Artistic expression needs encouragement and the freedom of experimentation. Artists seek approval from family, teachers and friends, who often discourage them or exclaim, “Don’t quit your day job!” if you’re an adult artist, or consider a child’s art as merely an extension of playtime. Parents often give their children coloring books and are so proud of them when they color ‘within the lines.’ They guide their children to color how they feel they should. “Hair isn’t pink! Here are the colors you can choose from.” What they should be saying is, “Paint that hair blue! Ignore the lines! Green faces? Sure! There is no wrong way to color or express yourself.” Don’t box in life, creativity and conception – we need artistic freedom in society more than you can imagine. Start with our children.

So what can we do to help our children?

Encourage them to color outside of the lines. Give them big paper, then bigger paper, and then even bigger paper and tell them to draw beyond the edges. Let them know that it’s never wrong to express themselves in what you might find to be bizarre or questionable ways. Let them choose colors – and by doing so you can get a glimpse into their world. Let them learn from their ‘mistakes’ and teach them that sometimes a blunder is simply the path to a masterpiece. Give them the creative freedom to be masters and they will change the world.

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

There’s no argument – when it’s time to cut funding or make ‘simple’ budget cuts, the arts are on average the first to go. As museums, theaters, schools and art centers feel the effect of the recession, it becomes increasingly more difficult to attract supporters. Arts institutions and school programs are closing, downsizing and reorganizing as our fragile economy runs its course. Our President’s most recent State of the Union speech promised science, technology, engineering and math, but what about the arts? Was that left out deliberately as irrelevant or ignored out of indifference?

Too often the arts are overlooked and considered “frivolous and unnecessary,” but the fact is - the arts teach us about humanity and how to be more civil and caring in the world. Creativity allowed to nurture expands possibilities and dreams. We should always promote imaginative and creative thought in our schools. The arts encourage expression, communication and exploration of our cultural and historical understanding. Arts education strengthens problem-solving, critical thinking, develops cognitive and creative skills and adds to overall academic achievement. Many great thinkers and inventors studied the arts and some even gained recognition as creative artists. Will we have another scientist, inventor and artist like Leonardo DaVinci? Bottom line is we do need artists in our world to connect us to understanding our humanity.

The general public is slowly beginning to understand the importance of art, but we are sure to have some hurdles to overcome as various programs are still being cut from our schools. Let’s always strive to allow creative expression to be included in our children’s curriculum. Their imaginations will bring us the products, lifestyles and even the sound and look of the future we will all inhabit. Look around and see how art in its many forms encompasses your life. See the beauty and inspiration that builds your world and remember to pass that along to everyone you know, especially children. Recognize how each and every creative program is a building block of our society.

I believe the arts will always survive, but we will need louder voices and individuals willing to stand up and remind us how important our creative world is. I am one of those voices, asking you to join with me and be a part of just one of the millions of changes we can make together.

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.




Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Needing to brush up on your skills or in need of a little inspiration for that next Masterpiece? Read on….


Acclaimed Artist Peggy Sands returns to the Sedona Arts Center with her popular workshop “Drawing Without Fear”. This exciting 5-day workshop is the answer to those who have always wanted to draw but were afraid to take on the challenge. It is designed for absolute beginners as well as those who wish to brush up on their drawing skills. The workshop will be held at the Sedona Arts Center from November 16th-20th. For more information please call the Sedona Arts Center at 928-282-3809 or visit their website at .



Bonnie Hartenstein, a nationally noted artist, lecturer, and teacher, will present a lively public lecture and discussion in Tlaquepaque’s Sala de Milagro ballroom at 3:00 PM on Sunday, Nov. 15. Her free presentation will be given in conjunction with the Sedona Visual Artists Coalition annual art exhibit currently on display in the same venue. Hartenstein’s talk will be an interactive discussion of the theme of the exhibit, "Beneath the Surface". She will consider how various art works in the exhibit reflect the depth and meaning of that theme. How do artists create a "surface", thick or thin, built up or scraped off, transparent or opaque that either reveals or hides the layers underneath? What meaning is revealed by how that surface is created? How does the viewer spend time looking at art to get beneath the surface and see the process the artist goes through to create a work of art? Hartenstein will discuss both the viewer's and the artist's willingness to consider "themes" in art and how far each is willing to go to connect to meaning and understand how "form is function".

Need two great reasons to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery of Sedona? There should be plenty of color to see at the following events.

The Sedona Gallery Association presents it’s Annual Red Rock Canvas Event this weekend November 6th, 7th and 8th . Their will be Receptions, Demonstrations, Artist Dialogues and a Silent Auction throughout the weekend. The Silent Auction begins on Friday at 3:00PM and closes on Sunday at 3:00PM. For more information on the event and to view participating galleries please visit .

Also going on is the opening of Canyon Moon Theatre’s latest exhibit, featuring the works of local artists Jim Peterson and Jerry Buley (PhD). The exhibit can be seen through Nov. 22 in the lobby gallery of Canyon Moon Theatre (Village of Oak Creek, in the Oak Creek Outlet Mall). It is open Monday- Thursday from 10AM to 3PM. Sales from this exhibit will benefit the theatre, which is a non-profit arts organization. The exhibit includes a broad sampling of vibrant, richly detailed works of the two photographers, and although the two artists share a common medium and sometimes choose similar subjects, their artistic vision and their respective approaches to their work are highly individual. Both artists have an experimentalist leaning and are willing to push the limits of their medium, creating works unlike any that have come before. With the two artists exhibiting jointly for the first time, the room is a burst of color, design, and artistic diversity. For more information go to .

Have a great weekend and enjoy the Scenery!

Halloween weekend has arrived, and costume or not, Sedona art connoisseurs are in for a real treat.

The Sedona Visual Artists’ Coalition opens it’s 2009 Annual Fall Art Exhibition Friday, October 30th from 5-8pm at Tlaquepaque.

Come on by to enjoy live music, wine and hor d’oeuvres, and see how some of Sedona’s most amazing artists interpreted this year’s theme, “Beneath the Surface”. A silent auction will also be held. The exhibit will run from October 30th through November 18th and is free and open to the public.

If you enjoy art, but also like seeing others ‘dress up’, what could be better than a fashion show! The fashion show is to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new gallery at Hillside, “Spirit of the Andes”. The show will be held Friday October 30th and Saturday October 31st at 4:30pm at the Hillside courtyard. In addition to the fashion show, Spirit of the Andes welcomes Bolivian artist, Mamani, accompanied by the fashion designer Jacquline. Come experience the incredible beauty and spirit of Bolivia right here in the red rocks.

Whatever spirits you might enjoy this weekend, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Sedona’s Award-Winning artists continue their work this weekend in another big weekend for anyone who loves to explore the arts. Whether you are an accomplished artist or someone who just enjoys fine art, their will be plenty to see and do around Sedona and the Verde Valley.