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This weekend, the Sedona Arts Center partnered with the Rotary Club of Sedona and the Rotary of the Red Rocks to show even tragedy can be reclaimed as art.The Slide Fire Story exhibit at Sedona Arts Center.

The clubs and the arts center unveiled a temporary exhibit, The Slide Fire Story, which we previewed on our front page on Friday, July 11, and feature in today’s newspaper.

Here in the newsroom, we sifted through hundreds of photos during and after the Slide Fire, placing the best we could find in our print edition. Others we posted on our website, and many more shared from other users on our Facebook page.

But images people post on the Internet to catch the eyes of visitors pale in comparison to gallery-quality prints designed to be stared at and scrutinized for every detail, especially when the image prints are far larger than most computer screens.

The exhibit features photos by amateur and professional photographers, including some from our own Larson Newspapers photojournalist Jordan Reece.

Some are newsy photos like those from Sedona Fire District Battalion Chief Jayson Coil showing firefighters working on the fire line or those from pilot Ted Grussing showing the smoke from the air.

Others are artistically beautiful, like Kelli Klymenko’s photo of the rising smoke plume catching the sunset’s colors. Coincidently, I remember seeing the same sight during the fire and snapping a picture on my phone camera, as did dozens of others that day. Fortunately, being an artist and with far more technical skill than most of us possess, Klymenko shot his photo and turned it into art.

The exhibit is up briefly, it only runs through this Sunday, July 20, so I strongly recommend our readers make a trip this week to the Sedona Arts Center gallery in Uptown and view it. There is also a video, an original piano composition and poetry inspired by the Slide Fire. The organizers hope to take the exhibit on tour to Flagstaff and Phoenix.

Any donations received benefit the Slide Fire Disaster Relief Fund — established by the Arizona Community Foundation — and the Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy, which trains firefighters to battle wildland fires and prevent future blazes from threatening the lives and homes of our neighbors around the Southwest.

Minutes before the speakers began their presentations, SFD crews headed to a call for a possible fire sighting in Oak Creek Canyon just south of Encinoso Picnic Area, and the passing sirens reminded those of us in attendance of the risk fire has always posed our hometown.

Fortunately, Sedona’s residents come together to support each other. I ask you to visit the Sedona Arts Center’s exhibit before July 20 and see how we reveal that support by turning tragedy into art.

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