What defines art? Who determines what is art and what isn’t art? Why are dots sometimes more valuable than portraits, while sculptures of giant titanium screws can out-match the classics? These are questions we’ve asked over time that may never truly have a diplomatic answer. But just because I can, I’ll let you in on how I feel about it, my answers to these questions and in a round-about way why timeless art is never on time.

 

No matter where you look, you will find a large number of outrageous positions on what constitutes art. From art buyers to amateur collectors, you can be sure to find a wealth of opinions that sometimes eloquently describe classical art and at other times brazenly trample upon the ancient masterpieces. Of course it can be easier for some to understand the debate of “what is or isn’t art” when we are discussing the abstract expressionist, but “who decides?” is the real question. To answer this, we need to look no further than the most reflective surface we can find.

 

First off, I have to say that no one can idly make a claim to be able to determine what is or isn’t art. No art can be positively quantified to fit into a specific set of principles that define what is or isn’t the art in question. Art varies from person to person, from culture and history to time and space. (Yes, even space) – There is no master authority that can call anything ‘real art’ over ‘fake art’ or ‘bad art’ at all. The judgment falls solely on the observer; the person experiencing it. Art speaks to us in some way, it becomes a part of us and us a part of it. We are the true authorities, defining art based upon our own interaction with it.

 

So, who defines art? We do. Not the critics, masters or gallery owners – us, the observers. We determine what art is in our lives and we keep those things close to us throughout our lives. These things change as we change and evolve. Sometimes we are drawn to harsh metal and shiny silver, while other times we opt for soft tones and soothing brush strokes. What is your mood? What is happening in your life? The gallery owners and critics really do help bring that art close to us – but ultimately, we decide, which is why they made their choices to being with. Understand?

 

As artists, we are mired in a consistent conundrum of our own making. Sometimes we are too concerned with what others think of our art, or that by breaking rules or being different, we are somehow lesser than the masters. But isn’t it important to experiment, invent and question why we do things a certain way? Is it fear that inhibits us? Keep this in mind when you come across dots or splashes of colors you don’t understand.

 

Art changes with the times and time changes art. Trends come and go faster than you can read this blog and that’s ok. Art is in the eye of the beholder is it not? So the next time you come across someone that says, “That’s not art,” let him or her know that that’s their own personal opinion, and you can assure them that it is in fact, without question - art.

 

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.

This week something new and magical is happening in Sedona. (Just like any other week in this beautiful wonderland, right?) The first Roundabouts Art installations will make their appearance in just a few days! Ken Rowe and Kim Kori were the selected finalists in the City’s Art in the Roundabouts Competition a year ago, and have been busy working on preparations for the installation of these monumental works of art. The culmination of this journey will be the Dedication by the City of Sedona on March 16th at 10:00 am.

Celebrating the “Making of Above and Beyond” will be a talk and reception at Sedona Arts Center on Saturday, March 17th from 3 to 5 pm. Sedona Arts Center’s director Mei Wei Wong said “we wanted to give the community a chance to better understand the creation of these sculptures and how well they exemplify Sedona’s vision as a “city animated by the Arts.”

The design of Above and Beyond was selected from over 20 entries submitted to the City from the Northern Arizona region. On the concept of Above and Beyond, Kori and Rowe said “…our first thoughts are of nature and art. Our design incorporates nature, wildlife, the earliest human inhabitants, history and art. And for those visiting Sedona we feel that the birds represent getting away from the hectic responsibilities of life, to play and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors in this unique and beautiful piece of paradise we call home.” Many experts have come together to create these works of art we will admire for decades to come.

The City of Sedona will be holding a Dedication Ceremony on Friday, March 16th at 10 am, a fitting first in our celebration of Arizona’s Centennial. Come join us to learn about the process of creating what will surely become the new Sedona landmark. The Sedona Arts Center is located at State Route 89A & Art Barn Road in uptown Sedona. SedonaArtsCenter.com | 928.282.3809

I hope to see you there!

 

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.

What do you think of when you hear the word artist? If you are an artist, the definition could include words like: blood, sweat, tears, solitude, failed works, joyful successes and so much more. If you aren’t one, you might imagine someone eating grapes, lounging around on fine furniture and occasionally dabbing some paint on canvas. Or perhaps the extreme: you see a starving artist, sketching portraits for loose change on the streets. Either way, the artist invokes imagery and imagination, inspiration and introspection into the very workings of our creative selves. But art is ever changing and this week and this brings us to the controversial world of artisans.

 

When you conjure up the aforementioned images, no matter how elaborate you may imagine, typically you see one artist, with creative vision working with their chosen medium. However, these days in the land of grandeur and mass-production, this is not always the case. There is a new relationship between artists and artisans and the true ‘artist’ or creator of the work is actually in question when it comes to some of these pieces. Some artists use artisans to do all their grunt and dirty work, leaving the final touches and signature to themselves. Does this change the definition of an artist?

 

Many individuals from famous Renaissance artists like Michelangelo to contemporary creators such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and others openly whipped up numerous works, many of which had relatively no direct input from the artists themselves. Many of these pieces, created by perhaps dozens of assistants at times, have sold at auctions for millions of dollars. Where does this leave the artisan? How does this affect the aspiring creative individual who works for or with a ‘name’ to simply be involved in the artist community?

 

I suppose it’s easier to accept the use of artisans in some forms of art than others. Take video art for instance, which is typically expected to involve numerous people playing roles in setting up scenes, props, editing, music, etc. Similarly, conceptual art that is more of a vision takes on a different role, as the work is more about the importance of the message the original creator had in mind, rather than the physical part of creating it. Or take for example an oversized work of art (sculpture for instance) that is unimaginably enormous, where the process of erecting the work itself requires assistance. In a world driven by the demand of galleries, public opinion and instant gratification – it’s understandable that some pieces need the help of artisans to complete on schedule.

 

Obviously the artist remains the guiding hand behind their work. I know many artists that work very closely and spend hours discussing their vision and ultimate goal with their assistants. Some are involved in every step of the process, while others simply put their name on the final product. So the real question in these cases is – who is the artist? Should the artisans receive the same credit the original visionary receives, or are they simply laying down a foundation for the work inspired by the 'name' behind the work?

 

What are your thoughts on artists and artisans?

 

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.

As an artist, early on I had to learn to accept the customariness of disappointment. I suppose we all have to conform to this in life, artist or not – but as a creative person, who places their heart and soul out on a string, dangling it before its audience – this may in fact be a somewhat difficult task indeed. Rejection from a gallery, colleague, family member or alien being will always weigh heavier in the hearts of artists who express themselves for a living. But with strength, perseverance and persistence, life can and will go on and on and on.

 

I recently sought funding for a personal creative project on Kickstarter. I did as I usually do in circumstances related to my personal work and waited until the last minute to actually market it. And even then, I didn’t have the time to truly place 100% into the request for funds. (This is typical for me, however, as I thrive on the creative process and I’m not good at asking for coffers) Needless to say, the project had a time limit, ticking away. When the deadline came, I had accumulated pledges of 15% of my goal and funding was unsuccessful. So I walked away with a bruise and a dream.

 

This didn’t stop me, though. Within a few hours, I brought to life the same project. Resurrected from the ashes of my undying vision and stellar determination, I created the project on IndieGoGo. I immediately started creating all these quirky ads with classic movie themes and plenty of Star Wars and Star Trek references (and a Galaxy Quest one stating their catch phrase, “Never give up, Never surrender!”). I didn’t let failure stop me – I stood up and started over. And even though only one pledge from the original project came over to the new one, I continue on.

 

It’s this drive, this determination that makes us successful creatures of art. If every artist threw away their brushes every time they were turned down – there would be no art in the world. The world would be quite a boring and dismal place. Imagine if your motivation was dependent solely on the love of others. Admiration and affection are inherently needed, yes – but our inventiveness runs richer than that. Our inspiration comes from a place deep within us. A place that we openly and willingly share with the world.

 

What I’ve been trying to get at here is this: Don’t let failure discourage you. In fact, don’t let the word ‘failure’ even have meaning in your life. The definition of failure should be, “an opportunity to do something better.” So no matter who tells you, “no” or turns you and your work away – no matter how many projects are unsuccessful or underfunded… find the energy within you to create something new, or simply start over. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea was a bad one… it just wasn’t the right time. And tomorrow always looks good to me.

 

Never give up; never surrender; always create.

 

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.

Art is big business for some and small business for others. No matter which category you fall into, the art industry can sometimes escape you. True artists will say that they have no interest in the ‘business side’ of art while hoping for a good manager, gallery or agent to represent them. But if you’re anything like me, self-representation may be the only way to go for you. In any case, you’ll have to be on top of the game to make it work and your artist statement is a good place to start.

 

I recently gave a short talk about creating professional biographies and artists’ statements. I went so far as to say that one of the most important pieces of selling material an artist has is not their art – but their artist statement. Let me tell you why.

 

The artist statement is a written expression of the artist’s belief system. It represents the ‘brand’ the artist is selling. As with any business, a brand has to be focused and everything you do or say has to support that effort. People are drawn to brands when its values align with their own. The same goes with art and the artist’s brand. Art collectors purchase art to remind themselves of the world around them. A successful artist creates a clear message that helps the buyer/collector/fan feel more connected to the art and artist collectively.

 

Artists often make the mistake of thinking that the ‘sell’ is about them. It’s usually not. An art collector buys art because it validates something about them, not the artist. (Let’s leave out master works by da Vinci, Picasso and others for arguments sake.) The art becomes an extension of the person buying it – not about the artist necessarily. Art, 99% of the time, is about the person who buys it. Therefore, the artists’ statement is an opportunity for the artist to illuminate the buyer about his or her work and why it matters and has value.

 

An artist statement is your chance to express to aficionados, your personal thoughts, feelings and experiences that went into your work. It’s much different than an artist biography, because these are your own words, in the first person, speaking directly about your work. When writing your statement, use the present tense (“I am”, not “I was”). Keep your sentences direct, authentic and don’t be afraid to say nice things about yourself. Begin with a simple statement of why you do what you do and how you select materials, subject matter, techniques, etc. Keep it simple and true. You can go on to tell the reader about your current work, challenges you’ve overcome and what you’re exploring and attempting by doing the work you do.

 

In the end, you ultimately want to have something extra to offer that special someone who purchases your work – a window into the world of the artist. In today’s society, we seek connections, social interactions and personal experiences that bring us closer to the people that create the things we love. Be a part of that experience and share with your collectors a small piece of who you are: in your own words. The experience will be momentous when combined with the beautiful art you create.

 

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.

If you asked me years ago if I thought self publishing was a good idea, I would have given you mixed messages. I would have presented to you an extensive list of pros and cons and why going with a traditional publisher is the only ‘real’ option anyone would have. But today things have changed significantly in the publishing world – enough to merit some accolades. So here are a few tips for those of you seeking to self-represent, self-market and self-publish your work.

 

No Fear

 

The first thing you have to do is look at your glass as half-full. Ignore anyone that tells you that you can’t do it on your own. Whether you are publishing a novel, a cook book, an art or photography book or children’s book – you CAN do it. There is a whole world of opportunity for you. It’s called the internet – you may have heard of it. It has all these places you can go to print, publish and market your work. It’s really fantastic!

 

There are literally dozens of sites you can go to and create a print or e-book, poster, cards – anything for that matter. If you do your research, you will see a whole new world open up to you. It’s a lot easier than you think. Just combine initiative, motivation and creative juices and you’re good to go.

 

Speaking of Initiative...

 

Are you motivated? You need to be motivated. You need to want to create the world that you envision could actually be your future. It’s fine to dream big, imagine yourself a rock star on the New York Times Best Seller list, but remember that the do-it-yourself approach is a little (a lot) different than that. Every artist knows that humble pie tastes great and should be shared. But that shouldn’t stop you from setting some lofty goals. I know a few people that made it big just by taking initiative. So get up, get going and take on the world! You need your motivation to do research (lots and lots of research), list yourself on hundreds of sites and plug away socially.

 

Narcissism

 

Alright, so maybe not narcissism, but at least healthy doses of feel good about that person you see in the mirror. Taking the do-it-yourself approach requires you to sell yourself, your soul and your work to the world. Create a biography and an artist statement that sums up in 150 words or less what you are all about. Memorize this mini-bio and be ready to share it with anyone interested in listening. The biggest mistake people make is not offering enough information. Sure, you don’t want to be that annoying person that sells insurance or time-shares to their family members... but what you do want to do is make sure people know about your work. So don’t be afraid to plug yourself once in a while (or all the time). Just remember to listen to your friends sometimes, too – we’re all in this together and we all have something to share.

 

Take a class

 

Last but not least (for the purpose of this blog that is) – take a class. There are many outlets for writers and artists who are turning to the self-publishing world. If you’re trying to write a thriller or just want to publish your art, there are classes for you in your local community. Get together with writers groups (even if you’re trying to publish a photography book) and meet with people of like minds. You will be pleasantly surprised by all the help that’s available to you.

 

And above all –

 

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.