Raku means “enjoyment,” or “comport” and is a special type of Japanese pottery that’s traditionally used in tea ceremonies. The bowls are typically hand-shaped, porous and fired with lead glazes at low temperatures and removed red-hot to cool in the open air. Contemporary potters worldwide have modified their firing techniques to bring some incredibly unique new pieces with a ‘raku’ finish.

This month, the Sedona Arts Center is hosting the largest and most diverse raku ceramics exhibition that has been held in the United States in over 15 years. “Raku Ceramics: Origins, Impact and Contemporary Expression” takes place March 7–17, 2014 in the Special Exhibition Gallery at the Sedona Arts Center. Western raku artists developed their own unique processes in the 1950’s, whereby ceramics are removed from the kiln while red hot, treated to a smoke-and-flame reduction with combustible materials in an airtight chamber and then cooled quickly. This process allows nature to take over by simply leaving the pieces in the airtight container with no interruption.

Here at the arts center, I’ve been watching as box after box of shipments from all over the world are coming in for the exhibit that begins on March 7th. The exhibition includes artworks of historical significance from private collections and works from as far away as London and Israel as well as from contemporary raku artists in the continental United States. There’s much ‘buzz’ around the arts center over this unique exhibit and we’re all looking forward to seeing this exhibit take form!

Here’s the schedule:

“Raku Ceramics: Origins, Impact and Contemporary Expression” takes place March 7–17, 2014 in the Special Exhibition Gallery at the Sedona Arts Center.

On Wednesday, March 12, Jim Romberg will give a special gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. This talk is free and open to the public, though advance registration is strongly recommended. To reserve a spot, register online or by calling the Sedona Arts Center.

The Arts Center’s ceramics department will also host two workshops in conjunction with the exhibit. Jim Romberg and Patrick Crabb will teach a weekend raku workshop on March 8 and 9. Participation in this “New Forms, New Surfaces” workshop requires some previous ceramic experience. Workshop participants will glaze and fire their own work over the space of two days.

On Sunday, March 16, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., Dennis Ott and Jim Romberg will host a “Raku Firing and Japanese Tea Ceremony”; no previous ceramic experience is required. Each participant will choose and glaze a tea bowl, participate in the firing and then use their bowl in the Tea Ceremony conducted by Masumi Oshima. The bowls are theirs to keep.

You can register for these events through the Sedona Arts Center online at www.sedonaartscenter.org, by phone at 928-282-3809, or in person at the Arts Center on the corner of SR 89A and Art Barn Road in Uptown Sedona.”



As you know, I’m a Sedona resident artist, photographer, Marketing Director of Sedona Arts Center and science aficionado! Well, Great news! I’ve been selected to cover the launch for the next cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) along side traditional media. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is targeted to liftoff at 4:41 a.m. EST Mar. 16 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

“A maximum of 50 social media users have been selected by NASA to attend the two-day event on March 15 & 16 and will be given the same access as news media in an effort to align the experience of social media representatives with those of traditional media. People, who actively collect, report, analyze and disseminate news on social networking platforms were encouraged to apply for media credentials. Selection was not random. All social media accreditation applications were considered on a case-by-case basis. Those chosen have met the very specific engagement criteria.”

NASA Social participants will have the opportunity to:

View a launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket Tour NASA facilities at Kennedy Space Center Speak with representatives from both NASA and SpaceX View and take photographs of the SpaceX launch pad Meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media Meet members of SpaceX and NASA's social media teams

My interest in all things science, technology and space exploration run deep within my blood. My uncle worked on the LEM for Grumman and was at Cape Canaveral during the moon launches in the 1970’s. So – I’m campaigning at GoFundMe.com to cover travel expenses and represent Sedona, Arizona at this exclusive event. A generous matching donation of $750 has already been promised after the first $750 is raised. I’m asking that science and space lovers donate what they can to cover the expenses for me and my family to experience this amazing opportunity.

The launch is only weeks away and I’m asking those with a generous heart to chip in and then follow the entire experience on Twitter and Facebook as I cover the event live. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/kelliklymenko and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/artistkelliklymenko. To donate, visit http://www.gofundme.com/74jprk.

Many of you would probably agree with me when I say that this is a wonderful time of year. We all have our reasons, but mine in particular is that brilliant thing called giving. We should do it all year round. There’s something particularly fantastic about seeing a smile on someone’s face, or knowing that you filled a heart with joy, even for just a moment. That’s exactly why I love working for a nonprofit and why the charitable events and immersions are so dear to me.  Sharing the arts has always been a dream of mine and this is a great time of year to do that as well! Here are two great events that I just love…


Middle School Immersion


Last month, the Sedona Arts Center coordinated a Native American cultural immersion at West Sedona Middle School and Big Park Community School. I was particularly excited about this because my daughter was able to participate this year, and she loved it! For many years the Sedona Arts Center has brought a cultural outreach program to middle-school students at West Sedona School and this year they expanded to the Village of Oak Creek. These curriculum-related programs are designed to give students a direct experience of another time, place or culture through art and the engagement of all the senses.


During the immersion, students worked with Navajo weaver Mae Peshlakai, learning the mathematics and patience required to create even the smallest of weavings. Elder James Peshlakai taught the Navajo Butterfly Dance and Eagle Dance as part of the Navajo creation story and Char Kruger related the importance of the Navajo culture, and then led the students in the hands-on production of corn mush using a traditional stone grinder. Representing the Yavapai Tribe was Frieda Eswonia, Gertrude Smith and Reba Franco. On day one, Frieda led students through “Naming and Stories,” in which they learned the Yavapai names and pronunciations for various rock formations in the area, including Montezuma’s Well, which is the birthplace of the Yavapai Tribe. On day two, Gertrude and Reba guided the students in creating their own medicine pouches.


Overall, there were four days of cultural immersion at the schools and a reception at Sedona Arts Center, where parents and students came to hear the presenters from both tribes discuss their process. There were demonstrations and absolutely brilliant words spoken during the reception. I’m grateful that my daughter and all the other children were able to participate in this great event!


Loving Bowls


You don’t want to miss this fundraiser on Saturday, December 14, 2013 1-4 p.m. at the Sedona Arts Center’s Special Exhibition Gallery and Theater Classroom. I love this event; because I get to see the volunteers come in once a week throughout the year, to create the bowls. This year they made over 1000 bowls! The proceeds benefit the Sedona Food Bank, the Sedona Community Center and the educational programs of the Sedona Arts Center. Best part? The bowls are $10 each and come with chili, bread and desert!


So it’s all about giving back to the community and sharing with our children the culture and art that we love. You can’t beat that! But that’s just the beginning of the giving season. Check back next week for some fun and creative holiday art projects that are sure to spread some joy with the whole family!


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



dreamteamThe 9th Annual Sedona Plein Air Festival was a huge success! Once again, 30 artists from across the country came to Sedona to create their brilliant interpretations of the richness of Sedona. I was lucky enough as co-chair of the event to give myself the role of photographer and social media “buzz” person. This gave me the opportunity to experience every single aspect of the festival on the go while watching the artists create from start to finish their brilliant masterpieces. It was a truly wonderful experience!

I have to say, this was a most spectacular year for the Festival. We had a Native American Legacy Series in partnership with the newly formed Sedona Culture Collaborative, a private pit-firing at Ed Wade’s home and a special talk with Tony Abeyta among many other happenings. The artists this year brought new life and excitement to each event and paint-out and it was truly a memorable experience!  

Here were this year’s big winners:

Best of Show

Tracey Frugoli, "Amongst the Junk"
Judge, Jill Carver

Artists' Choice

Katie Dowling, for body of work
Judges, Festival Artists

Collector's Choice

Carl Ortman, "The Dream Team"
Judges, Public Attendees


2014 Poster Award

Carl Ortman, "The Dream Team"
Judges, Sedona Arts Center Staff


Merit Awards

Joshua Been, "Moonset Over Sedona"
Dave Santillanes, "Day Break Over Dry Creek"
Bill Cramer, "Western Spectacle"
Lori Putnam, "Jerome Gold"
Larry Moore, "Red, Blue, Yellow"
Judge, Jill Carver


Best Main St. Paint Out

Tracey Frugoli, "Sedona Prayer Tree"
Larry Moore, "Old Friends"

Judges, Carl Judson of Guerilla Painter
Scott Gellatley of Gamblin Oils


Best Historic Quick-Paint

Carl Ortman, "Cowboy Up"
Susiehyer, "La Sombre"

Judge, Carl Judson of Guerilla Painter

Best Native American Legacy

Williamson Tapia
"Morning at Montezuma's Well"
Judge, Tony Abeyta 

Native American Legacy Merit Awards

Shonto Begay, "Rim Elder"
Shanna Kunz, "Path to Montezuma's Castle"
Bruce Gomez, "The Sail"
Judge, Tony Abeyta

If you would like to see more, please check out the Facebook page I created for the Festival: Facebook.com/SedonaPleinAirFestival where you can check out all my photos from the event!

I would like to thank all our wonderful staff, sponsors and volunteers for such a memorable and rewarding experience. Thanks to all your hard work and dedication, this was one of the most successful and exciting Plein Air Festivals yet!

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

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.


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

Now that’s a statement!

I have to admit, I was skeptical about the potential quality of images that I would take with the iPhone – but that changed after the first day I used it.

I’ve been a photographer for what sometimes feels like forever. I have over 2148 images on Instagram, 295 Photos on Flickr, countless images on Facebook and over 31,000 images on my laptop alone. I’ve photographed everything from experimental (and dark) light–painting portraits to fascinating macro images of dragonflies, flowers and water drops. Needless to say, I LOVE capturing the moment. Every moment. I also like to share those little slices of time with you. But what I love more than just taking the picture is teaching you how to do it yourself.

There’s nothing more fulfilling than taking a beautiful landscape or up-close image of a butterfly opening its wings at the perfect second all on your own. Knowing that you were able to freeze time momentarily for posterity is a complete thrill. I know, because I’ve seen it in your eyes (my students).  I’ve also seen it in my family’s photos. I’ve watched my children create absolute masterpieces with their iPods and iPhones just by observing years of me incessantly photographing everything I see. This thrills me to no end as well!

The world is a different place compared to when I was a child growing up on New Jersey streets in the early 80’s. There were no cellphone cameras (or cell phones for that matter) to endlessly entertain us. We had boom boxes and large squares of cardboard that my friends would throw down when break-dancing fit the mood. My father had an old Olympus 35mm that I occasionally would be allowed to fiddle with and develop some film if I did all my chores. (I still have that camera today).

But today things are much different! Thanks to the exponential growth and the miniaturizing of everything electronic – we’re in a world of brilliant machinery that lets everyone participate. Apple has developed some of the most creative tools for us to imagine, play, create and dream with. The tools are now in your pocket! In today’s technological world, even professional photographers and artists are recognizing the iPhone as a useful (and even practical) photographic tool. We see the quality of images increasing in all our cellphone manufacturers, but the iPhone 5 has surpassed others by far with quality and function.

That’s exactly why I’m teaching a one-day workshop at Sedona Arts Center on Sunday, September 22, 2013 to help others learn how to create amazing images with an iPhone! I want you to learn how to shoot, edit and share remarkable landscapes, portraits and the macro world around you with absolute ease. I’ll teach everything you need to know about basic framing techniques and the editing tools you’ll need to move beyond the ‘snapshot’ and into the realm of stunning photography.

My class is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 22, 2013 and costs $75 per person.

A general knowledge of how to use & navigate your device and apps is required!

To sign up and see the required apps and materials for the class, please visit: SedonaArtsCenter.org/School/Faculty/kelliklymenko.html or call the Sedona Arts Center at 928-282-3809.

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

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.


Sedona is mostly known for three things: its beautiful landscape, its art-colony atmosphere and as a place for spiritual discovery. Now imagine wrapping all these into one unique package where art and self-discovery fuse to create a life-changing experience. This is exactly what the Sedona Arts Center has created in the form of two incredible retreats known as the Sedona Art Retreats. They are called Unique Connections and The Power of Words and they are fantastic!

I have to say that I am thrilled to be a part of both retreats!

I’ve spoken before of the many hats I wear. I’m sure you all know of my photography (you can ‘like’ me on Facebook to see more: Facebook.com/artistkelliklymenko) – and that’s exactly what I teach at the Unique Connections retreat. My segment is called, “Photographing Essence” and it’s one of my favorite classes to teach! One of the reasons it’s so much fun is that I help students to move beyond the technicalities of photography and explore the true essence of composition through emotion. You learn how to photograph feelings rather than just scenes or landscapes. I love seeing my students explore new techniques and challenge themselves. The results have always been amazing to witness!

Photographing essence is just one part of this visual arts retreat. There are a total of six instructors (including me) that explore collage, journaling, life-masks, talismans and ceramics. I look at it as a chance to let go and let art happen in your life. If you are looking for a creative outlet and a chance to view art from a different perspective – this is your chance to share an intimate connection with truly creative individuals. Komala U. Rohde, Libby Caldwell, Vince Fazio, Liz Learmont, Dennis Ott and yours truly (me) instruct this retreat.

But what if you are a wordsmith? What if you’ve read through this simple and quick blog I’ve written and had a dozen complaints on style, grammar and punctuation? What if you love writing, performing or orating? Then The Power of Words retreat is for you!

The Power of Words retreat is based on the transforming and healing power of engaging our senses, creative wordplay and storytelling. Our words have the power of personal magic when grounded in reality and used creatively. Kate Hawkes is the lead instructor and coordinator who, along with three other instructors (me included) “create a unique synergy of influences, a model for writing, grounded in the senses and in spontaneous creative potential”.  If that doesn’t sound fabulous, just wait for my segment:

Aroma-creativity. (Here’s where you learn about another hat I’ve worn.)

I spent a good portion of my younger years exploring the world of scent. I’ve made over 300 incense and oil blends, published 3 formularies and love creating soaps, lotions and anything that makes our world smell better. I even owned my own shop called Spellbound in New Jersey for a good number of years where I made the best smelling scents around. I always loved to fashion new ‘intention-based’ scents to help with creative moods, ease stress or allow love into our noses. I still mix blends today, and this retreat is just another excuse to share the art of mixing unique blends.

The retreat starts with a surprise exercise in writing and editing, where students then develop characters from my aroma-creativity session. Then, through a gentle outdoor "moving-meditation" students learn to deeply inhabit a story and ultimately learn to write themselves as a character from a different point of view. Kate Hawkes, Jim Bishop, Tera Klymenko and I instruct this retreat!

You can learn more about the retreats here: SedonaArtsCenter.org/SedonaArtRetreats or by calling the Arts Center at 928-282-3809.

Now that I’ve shamelessly plugged my retreats, I just want to say that I love what I do. I love to share art, creativity and inspiration any chance I get. I hope we all never forget the importance of art in our lives. I am proud to be a part of the Sedona Arts Center on many levels, where we have hundreds of artists who share their work, their knowledge and their spectacular skills every day.

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

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.