There’s a certain appeal to pragmatism. I’m not referencing Charles Peirce’s philosophical movement in the 1870’s – but simply the idea of linking practice and theory in our art and dedications. Personally, I’m dedicated to my family, art, career and yoga. I’m sure I could give you a more detailed list to chew on, but that’s the top of the top, the crème de la crème of my ‘pragmatic dedication’. This week, I won’t go on about charity, helping others or ‘doing’ for the community - this week... I would like to go inside and see how we ‘do’ for ourselves.

Before we dive right into the ‘self’ - let’s talk a little about pragmatic art. As you may or may not know, there are several theories of art and pragmatism in a way, is one of them. There’s expressive, abstract, romanticism, naturalism, conceptual, formalism, symbolism, post modernism, to name a few. But the one that intrigues me most is pragmatism as an art form. Why, do you ask? Because pragmatic art is conceptualized in terms of its effect on its audience to enhance experience, thought and escape from reality. Now who doesn’t want that? This form of art is a specific attempt to create a shared experience with the observer. We can link our art with theory and vice versa to perceive a higher reality, promote cultural continuity and communicate to our fellow human being in a whole new way...

As an experience.

Now, that’s not to say that all art is not an experience. The silent observer often feels emotion or a connection to the art they see. This is axiomatic. But I’m speaking about a level of connection that lies deeper than the surface and the visual. This is art that moves you on an entirely different plane. This is art that changes you - because it’s made up of the dedicated and delicate artist’ soul. When we share our most precious art with the world, we often hope to generate an emotional response. But with pragmatism, the way I practice it, the art creates change in the world, not just you. But how does this relate to the self you might be asking?

I practice yoga. I’m dedicated to it. Yoga teaches me to let go of expectations so I can experience life as it is in the moment. I take that with me everywhere I go. By practicing this level of peace, I can always come back to it when I am with my family, at work or creating art. And there’s nothing like being ‘in the moment’ when creating art. Every artist knows this feeling and is driven by it. This is you/us on the deepest level. (This was the part about ‘the self’)

Dedicate time to your art, yourself and your loved ones. Taking the practical approach allows you to look even deeper into everything you plan to accomplish. Looking ahead to the way your art will change the world can be an enlightening experience. Just remember that the changes you create are usually subtle and small. Of course, there are times when an image or a work of art can effectively shape a nation or begin a movement. But please remember, first and foremost to look within yourself - live in the moment and dedicate yourself to - yourself. By doing so, you can take the first steps into an amazing world of oneness. And as far as I’m concerned - that’s pragmatic dedication.

 

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.

It’s indispensable, priceless and precious and that’s exactly why you should be giving it away. What am I talking about? Time, of course! Now, before you get all riled up and tell me that I was just explaining to you how very important time is, please hear me out...

Yes, time is a vital part of life and hard to come by these days. No one knows this better than I do! As the marketing and events director at Sedona Arts Center, I have very little time to spare. Between preparing for classes, organizing and writing for the upcoming Sedona Plein Air Festival and every gallery event we have each month - my time is invaluable. I can’t honestly remember the last time I actually had time to spare. Between all my work, my writing, creating art and the precious moments I share with my family - I have a full plate. But because my time is valuable – is exactly why I am giving it away, and so should you!

I recently signed up to volunteer at my son’s school. So once a week, I skip a lunch and use that “extra” time to help out the K-2 art class. I get to do all sorts of fun things like play with clay and encourage the children to use their imaginations. I help them put on aprons, hand out supplies and clean up after. I’m quiet when the teacher asks and follow instructions very well – setting a fine example for the other children. I don’t charge by the hour or demand a return. I simply enjoy my stolen moment in time with a group of fantastic children, learning to express themselves through art. Not only do I get to see my son growing and learning in school (a rare treat for a parent), but I get to see your children growing and learning, too. Being a part of that process is absolutely immeasurable.

With budget cuts and set-backs all over the nation: schools, teachers, and families are all trying to find ways to make art (and everything else) work. And let me tell you, we need all the help we can get. It’s not only the neighborhood schools that need your help. Art centers, nonprofits, and the community in general could use your free time as well. I bet you could find a dozen organizations that could use a helping hand right now. Places like the Sedona Public Library, Sedona Community Center, NORAZ Poets, Sedona Historical Society, Yavapai Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and even The City of Sedona are always looking for volunteers. And we need people like you, who say you don’t have the extra time to spare, to lend a hand. Because it’s people like you that set an example for everyone else – it’s people like you that help bring us all together.

I’m lucky enough to be around a wonderful group of individuals that are always volunteering their time to the Arts Center and local community. Not only do they share their time and expertise, but they also create fundraisers and outreach programs that benefit all of us. These people set an astounding example that makes everyone want to do even more. But I’ve learned that there isn’t a lot of time in the day to get everything done. So I offer what I can – when I can. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Imagine if we all volunteered just one hour a week – how that could add up! Is your time so valuable that it can’t be given away? No one could truly say yes.

Life is more precious than the money we seek to make day in and day out. The people and children of the community will only do better to know you and share their time with you. We can all continue to help build this beautiful place we call home by offering it the most precious commodity of all:

You and me

 

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.

Those of us who live amongst the red rocks of Sedona are truly privileged. We are immersed in beauty at every waking moment. Good Morning America recently listed Sedona as the third most beautiful place in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of people flock here each year to bask in the natural magnificence that surrounds us. And it’s healthy, too! But it’s not just the beautiful landscape that has a healthy effect. Art, nature, beauty, and culture can heal, reduce stress, aid in thought and meditation, and engage the body and mind. In fact, a recent study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that “a healthier cultural life may be an indicator of a healthier, happier life in general.” Now that’s something we all can live with... and live with longer!

This just goes along with everything I’ve been saying for a thousand lifetimes: art does the body good.

Of course we are typically drawn to beautiful landscapes; beautiful people; beautiful things. It’s only natural to want beauty in our lives. We constantly are in a state of beautification. We manicure our lawns, clean our homes, build additions, fix; remodel; refurbish, style, paint, sculpt, draw, design – all to make our world a better place, with a healthier ambiance. And because of this we can live longer, are happier and find peace within ourselves and all around us.

So what’s my point?

Art

Art is very important in our lives. The arts teach us to understand our visual culture and build communities. The art we create is not just a way to make a living – it’s a way of living. It’s sharing a piece of our soul. Artists of all walks of life create from the very depths of their inner beings and express themselves by sharing how they see their world. We can peek into the hearts of those around us and connect ourselves and our own feelings in the process. And as it turns out - it will keep us healthy, too.

I spoke of “time” last week. This week, take the time to paint or draw or sing or play. Engage your mind and body in the process of creating art. Take the time to make something beautiful. Write a poem, write a novel or finish a screenplay (this is something I need to do!) - But no matter what - make sure you actually do it (I’m speaking to myself here, too). Time is short and life can be longer if we slow down, open our eyes and become a bigger part of the beautiful world around us. People say I look ten years younger than I actually am. Perhaps it’s my active lifestyle and because I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life... or maybe it’s because of my art... and keeping that in mind - a painting a day, will keep the doctor away!

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.

We find, have, take, make, and can be just in or out of time; it passes quickly or slowly and sometimes stands still; we often have too much or too little of it on our hands and now and then we just don’t know where it has gone. But the one thing that I am most sure of is – we are a part of it, it’s a part of us and most of us live and die by the clock. Not only are we connected by time, but by each other as well.

Fossil fuels derived from creatures that walked the Earth hundreds of millions of years ago are a very important part of our lives. Millions of years have passed and we are still connected. Art, culture, language and so much more has been traveled and shared by billions over time. We are undoubtedly connected to each other in time.

And time is running out…

Time is running out to finish or begin that classical piece you’ve been working on. The clock is ticking on taking that art workshop, music study or volunteering. The seconds relentlessly pass, mercilessly shaping our futures, so don’t let it pass you by.

I have to juggle work, art, writing, play, school for the kids and more. Sometimes this can be a daunting task. I moved to Sedona not only for the beauty and inspiration, but mostly for the more relaxed lifestyle that can often escape me. So I simply make time, creating it from thin air, and I slow down. I remind myself that no matter what lies before me, there will always be that extra ‘time’ to make it happen. I prioritize and take a moment to see the beauty surrounding me, even if I have to stop myself dead in my tracks. (Which I often do)

What I’m trying to say is… Take your time.

Take the time to enjoy the world around you. Explore the country if you can – or at least explore your country (or backyard). Take time for your family, children and friends. Take time to create art, and experiment with the world of mediums available to you. Use this time to look into the connection you have with the world, people and the far and distant past. Express this time in your art. Share your art all the time.

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.

 

When I was growing up there were two things that fascinated me: Art and Science. I knew at an early age that I would follow either one of those paths as I traveled down the fantastic road of life. I studied and collected stones and examined EVERYTHING under a microscope. I experimented with chemicals, concoctions and all forms of fizzing, foaming, folly. I also drew each night and day. I captured through my youthful eyes the world as I saw it, both abstract and surreal at times. After a while I brought my attention to detail to my parchment and discovered realism. I found that my art has evolved (as have my beliefs) through a clearly scientific method of investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge and then correcting and integrating previous knowledge. What I ultimately came to realize is - my artistic experience is affected by a neural mechanism that is inherent within all of us.

 

I recently came across a paper from the Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California in San Diego which proposed various theories on our propensity to enjoy art. The purpose of this essay was to stimulate a dialog between artists, visual physiologists and evolutionary biologists. It listed eight laws of aesthetic experience and how they related to the human artistic experience: peak shift, isolation, perceptual grouping, contrast, perceptual problem solving, an abhorrence of unique vantage points, visual metaphors and symmetry. These eight principles relate to cognitive brain function and our process of interpretation. The author wrote of our interest in art as “puzzling” while asking, “What biological function could this mysterious behavior serve?”

 

This question along with my own interest in human behavior led me to dive right in to trying to understand a little better the human artistic experience. I agree that the eight principles listed above can definitely be attributed to our basic instinctual and biological behaviors and how we process art; however I want to feel like there is more to it than meets the eye and I’m sure you do, too.

 

Aside from those who suffer from prosopagnosia, we all practice face perception on a daily basis. Our minds interpret and understand the face from birth. This is biologically hardwired into us and our survival depends on it. This is why we see faces everywhere, in everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to crumpled pieces of paper. Through facial recognition we have the ability to identify friendly people and complex pre-verbal communications. Artists have the ability to capture these moments in their art. This essence, or as Hindu artists often speak of “rasa”, is a way of evoking a direct emotional response from the viewer. This can be in the form of hyper stylized figures to caricatures (peak shift). The same way we recognize faces, we recognize these attributes and are drawn to them. We unconsciously are drawn to art that not only represents and depicts reality, but more so to art that enhances, transcends and distorts reality such as fertility figures in ancient art.

 

But that is just one of the eight laws mentioned in the paper! Of course we could go on to discuss how perceptual grouping works and why visual metaphors are so darn interesting… I won’t go into that today, but I will say this, “Art is within us.” As we live and breathe and see and hear, our art flows through us. Sure, we have biological triggers that make certain art interesting and more powerful than other forms of art. Yes, our minds recognize patterns and associate, disseminate, and discriminate. Indeed, once we recognize a pattern and have that ‘ah ha!’ moment, perceptual problem solving pats us on the back and we feel empowered. But our art is beyond just the biological. Our art is beyond the physiological experience. Our art is the life-force that affects change, growth and is a fine example of our absolute potential.

 

I’m sure that we will one day be able to find a detailed reason why art makes us feel the way it does. But one thing is for sure – art will always make us “feel” something… no matter how much information we have as to why we feel it. So for now, I’ll leave my science out of art, but keep the art in my science.

 

 

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.

Have you heard about the Jackson Pollock bought at a thrift store for $5? Or how about the original version of the Declaration of Independence in a Tennessee thrift store that sold for $2.48 in 2007? Or perhaps you heard about the original Picasso found at a garage sale for $2?

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”

Although we’re not claiming $1Million finds, this statement couldn’t be truer this weekend at Sedona Arts Center’s rummage sale. We’ve been cleaning house and hanging, stacking and resting paintings on walls. Besides having the opportunity to take home a Marilyn Sunderman estate painting at a bargain, I’ve personally witnessed a trove of treasure being sorted. Everything from tools, kitchenware, chairs, computers, shelves, frames, costumes, stage props & fixtures, party décor, furnishings, darkroom equipment and more have been stacked, sorted and tagged for this huge rummage sale. And the best part of it all? All the proceeds help to benefit the Center’s Scholarship Fund.

I actually have to stop myself from personally collecting half the items in storage in the art barn. After walking through, I found at least two dozen things I wanted to take home with me. Now, I’m not a pack-rat, I can just imagine a million ways to recycle art and props. I’ve already framed one of my paintings and hung it in my office. But I’ll stop there. (Unless you have a truck and storage space for me!) There's just too many golden little 'finds' to search through and I have a lot of work to do...

The wealth of the event, however, can be found in the Special Exhibition Gallery, where we hung Marilyn Sunderman’s works. There are over 100 pieces both very large and small of her fabulous work. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Al Sabah of Kuwait, former California Governor, Edmund Brown and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayid all have her work in their collections and so can you! So if you have time, stop down and check out the treasures. It’s all happening at Sedona Arts Center, 15 Art Barn Road (North end of Uptown):

Fri. July 29th 7 - 11am
Sat. July 30th 8 am - 1 pm

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.