Sedona Arts Center Ceramics Department Head, Dennis Ott (red shirt) unloading bricks for use in constructing the wood-fired kilnThe Sedona Arts Center Ceramics Department’s outreach program traveled to Nicaragua with Dr. Julie Williams to join her nonprofit Humanitarian Efforts Reaching Out (HERO) for an 8-day humanitarian mission last month. SAC Department head Dennis Ott and ceramics student Lew Reilly worked with representatives from Potters for Peace, a nonprofit worldwide humanitarian organization, to build a kiln that will enable locals to create clay water filters for purifying drinking water and vessels for irrigation.

On January 28, the group of 14 volunteers (four of them SAC members) arrived at Managua, Nicaragua, and traveled three hours by dirt road to Chinandega. There the group was hosted by Monty’s Surf Camp where they stayed for 8 days. Dennis and Lew worked with staff from Potters for Peace on the construction of a wood-fired kiln.

“It was heavy, dirty, satisfying work,” said Ott. “The experience of a lifetime.”

Potters for Peace helps communities set up workshops so that locals can produce the clay vessels themselves. The water filters that will be fired in the new kiln will remove pathogens and other contaminants found in local water sources. The vessels used in irrigation are designed to be buried near plantings, then filled with water that leaches slowly through the porous walls into the soil. They are refilled as needed.

The remaining twelve volunteers, including SAC members Jack Wooldrik and Julie Williams, worked on building a brick dwelling for a deserving local family and also cataloging and storing a large quantity of medication to be used for a HERO medical mission in March. HERO was founded in Sedona by Dr. Williams and a small group of people who wanted to offer assistance to those in need. It began as a grassroots medical team that traveled to the remote mountains of Honduras and expanded to a diverse group of volunteers, giving them the ability to serve more people in many more ways.

Working hard for 8 days, they were able to complete the kiln and build 75 percent of the house. One hot afternoon they went by boat to a nearby island to help release 500 endangered black sea turtles that had just hatched at a sea turtle conservatory.

Dennis Ott described his experience in Nicaragua as “unforgettable” and was appreciative of the things we take for granted here in the United States. Living without hot water at the touch of a tap, air conditioning regulated by thermostats, proper sanitation, a wide variety of foods and so many other things, opened his eyes to how a large part of the world lives on a daily basis.

“I have never worked with such a dedicated group of selfless people. They never complained during their entire stay, yet worked very hard to complete their mission.” A bit choked up, Dennis said, “I was just happy to do something to help change the lives of these people who live by a very different standard … to help them on the path to better education, irrigation, clean water and more.”

Hello, Art Lovers! It’s been a long time since my last blog and that trend is about to change. I’ve been busy conjuring up new and exciting things for the community and planning the future of this year’s Sedona PhotoFest, hosted by Sedona Arts Center. And what a fantastic two days of photo-speSeth Casteel Luluctacular events do we have in store for you!

I’ve grabbed ahold of the reigns and am Chairing this year’s event and of course, that means I have to be overly ambitious! Stay-tuned for more on Joyce Tenneson, Seth Casteel, Brad Buckman, Scott Stulberg, Bob Coates and yours truly for our keynote speeches and seminars. Plus, I’m working with Tracey Frugoli to bring the world of fashion photography to students at the Sedona Red Rock High School, with a prize from Sedona Monthly awarded to the best photo! But I’m getting ahead of myself...

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on our 2015 photographer artists, presenters and teachers, starting with Seth Casteel! Seth is going to kick off Sedona PhotoFest on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at the Sedona Performing Arts Center with a special talk, “Making a Splash.”

You may have seen Seth’s work – he’s super famous now. He has been known as the “Underwater Dog Guy” has been featured on: GOOD MORNING AMERICA, EXTRA, CNN WORLD REPORT, THE TODAY SHOW, JEOPARDY and in TIME Magazine! As one of the most published pet photographers in the world, his work can be seen in hundreds of magazines, calendars, posters, books, TV shows and maybe even in your Facebook feed.

Seth went from struggling pet photographer to best-selling author and he’s going to tell you all about it on Saturday morning, May 2. He will share his journey, passions and risks as well as give you a spectacular glimpse into his world beneath the surface. His passion for animals shines in everything he does and we couldn’t be happier to have him join us at Sedona PhotoFest this year! Want a little more one-on-one time? You’ll get to see him at the end of the day for a book signing and he’s going to also speak at a seminar on Sunday, May 3 at Sedona Arts Center. Seth will offer tips and tricks about working with domestic pets and the various avenues on how to monetize photographing our four-legged friends! You can visit to learn more about Seth's dedication to helping pets through photography. Seth's books, "Underwater Dogs" and “Underwater Puppies” are available online and in bookstores everywhere.

To learn more about Sedona PhotoFest or to sign up for one of our amazing photography workshops, please visit: And don’t forget to like us on Facebook:

Art and Wine are both inspired by the rugged high desert landscape of Sedona. Indulge in both during the 10th Annual Sedona Plein Air Festival, October 18–25, 2014, presented by the Sedona Arts Center. A complete schedule of events may be found online at Highlights include the following:


  •       The Jerome paint-out on Tuesday morning, October 21, is hosted by the Jerome Chamber of Commerce and the Jerome Art Walk. Artists will be painting the compositions created by rustic buildings and steep streets of this historic mining town as well as the old trucks and shacks at nearby Gold King Mine. This year Cellar 433 in Jerome is hosting an exhibition and sale of the artworks painted that morning and free wine tasting for patrons from 2:00–5:00 p.m. at their downstairs salon at 240 Hull Ave, Jerome. To get your free ticket to the afternoon exhibition and wine tasting visit the Sedona Plein Air Festival tent at the main parking area on Hull Street. Paint-out awards will be presented by Gamblin Oils and Guerrilla Painter at this event.


  •       On Wednesday, October 22, Page Springs Cellars is conducting special winery and art tours that depart from the Sedona Arts Center starting at 11:00 a.m. Patrons will start with an insider’s tour of the exhibition in the plein air galleries at the Sedona Arts Center in uptown Sedona conducted by Vince Fazio, the Festival chair. Then you will be shuttled to Page Springs Cellars. The tour at the winery includes an intimate educational look at the process and variables of the art of winemaking. The winery tour includes five tastings with one tasting right from the barrel. The onsite winery tour will then allow time to explore paintings in progress by festival artists on the beautiful vineyard grounds along Oak Creek. Return to the Arts Center via shuttle while enjoying a specially prepared snack. Three different tour times are offered on the Sedona Plein Air Festival website, 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The final tour returns to the Arts Center in time for the Keynote Presentation by Jim McVicker at 7:00 p.m.

  •       The art and wine events culminate on Thursday, October 23, when all 30 artists will be painting at Alcantara Vineyards located at the confluence of the Verde River and Oak Creek at 3445 S. Grapevine Way, Cottonwood, Ariz., approximately halfway between Cottonwood and Camp Verde on highway 260.  "A Confluence of the Senses" begins at 4:00 p.m. with the chance to see artists finishing their works from the day of painting and then unfolds into a celebration of Food, Wine and Art. The ticketed event includes a crystal glass, two wine pours of your choice plus special pairings of numerous canapés with wine tastings. Pairings of wine and food will be presented by Mesa Grill, Schoolhouse Restaurant, Abineau Lodge, Xocolatl Confections, and Desirable Desserts with other foods available. Each artist will have two “Wet Paint” works on display at the Alcantara Tasting Room at 5:00 p.m. Awards will be presented by Guerrilla Painter and Randy Higbee Gallery with a special wine label award sponsored by Alcantara and chosen by ballot from all in attendance. The wine label will ultimately be associated with a special blend of wine created after the event. At 6:00 p.m. painter Shelby Keefe will perform “Beats and Brushstrokes, painting to music she has composed. The entire event has been designed to be an unforgettable evening where painting, music, wine, food, atmosphere and camaraderie blend to create a true confluence of the senses.

The Sedona Plein Air Festival is brought to you by Sedona Arts Center. Visit or call 928-282-3809 for a complete schedule of events.

“The iPhone is the most popular camera in the world.” – Apple, USA

In today’s technological world, professional photographers and artists are recognizing the iPhone as a useful and practical photographic tool. I have first hand experience with this and that’s exactly why I’ll be teaching another iPhoneography workshop this September. My one-day workshop at Yavapai College, Sedona Center for the Arts and Technology Room 28 on Saturday, September 13, 2014 will help you to go beyond the basics and learn to shoot professional quality photographs with your iPhone.

With the iPhone’s powerful apps and limitless possibilities, it's the perfect on-the-go creative tool. This workshop teaches you how to move beyond shooting “snapshots” and explores the complete artistic process from capture to final image. I’ll introduce some of the best apps available for creating beautiful and artistic images.

You will learn how to shoot, edit and share remarkable landscapes, portraits and the macro world around you in this 1-day workshop using only your iPhone, iPad or iPad Mini. I  will guide you through simple tips and tricks that will take your photography to the next level. Discover how to capture the essence of a place and your subjects rather than just taking a picture. You will also learn basic video capture techniques for use with certain apps such as Vine and Instagram.

The tools are in your pocket!

  • Learn how to get the highest resolution images on your iPhone and apps.
  • Practice creative techniques including HDR (High Dynamic Range)
  • Shoot panoramas
  • Learn about the latest editing, filters and stylizing apps
  • Learn about iPhone equipment: lenses, remotes, tripods and more.
  • Get the latest news on the upcoming iPhone 6 and what that means to iPhoneography.

This class is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 3, 2014 and costs $125 per person at Yavapai College, Sedona Center for the Arts and Technology Room 28. Presented by Sedona Arts Center. The first 10 people to sign up for this workshop will receive a free mini iPhone tripod.

Here’s a little more about me:

“Kelli Klymenko is an artist photographer and the Marketing Director for Sedona Arts Center. Kelli recently filmed and photographed the latest Sedona Chamber of Commerce television commercials and marketing campaign (billboards, print, web) seen on His images, including iPhone photos can be found on Getty Images, in national ads and in creative projects around the world. Kelli lives in Sedona with his wife and three children and embraces all aspects of art. He studied at Parsons School of Design in NYC and proudly boasts being an artist, storyteller, photographer, yogi, husband, father, and science aficionado.“

To sign up and see the required apps and materials for the class, please visit: or call the Sedona Arts Center at 928-282-3809.