Canyon Fire – A Reminder of Impermanence

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
Rachel Carson, American biologist and writer

Slide Fire

We citizens stand by, nearly helpless, as fire burns in the canyons and forests of Sedona, the land that Ilchi Lee so lovingly speaks of in The Call of Sedona. In fact, it is Oak Creek Canyon where he suggests a contemplative “Water-Sound Self-Healing Meditation” in his book.

So now these canyon lands will offer another kind of contemplation: one that inspires us to share healing energy with the earth, the water, the birds and animals, the humans, and the air that are all affected by the fire.

And perhaps, the fire will offer a contemplation of the impermanence of things as well: We can drive by a place a hundred times, believing it has always been there, and will always be there, just as it is. But impermanence is our constant companion as we travel through life, and any perceived loss can serve as a reminder to look with eyes that “see” and to feel gratitude for all that life on this beautiful planet offers.

In these contemplations, and during this time of dismay, may we each find the “reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

By Lynn A. Trombetta

Bronze Sculptor, James N. Muir Shares His Call to Sedona and His Artistic Calling

Like Ilchi Lee, Bronze Sculptor, James N. Muir experienced the Call of Sedona from afar. In this revealing interview, learn how Muir followed his destiny and brought his dream into reality in the red rocks of Sedona. Muir’s call not only brought him across the country from Indiana to Sedona, but also led him to his true calling. On my visit to his working Studio/Gallery in Sedona, Muir takes time away from his live model and his largest commission ever, a 25 ft. sculpture depicting Texas A&M University’s 6 core values for Kyle Stadium’s 2015 dedication. Here we interview this thought-provoking artist on his journey and his discoveries along the way.

James Muir, bronze scultor, Sedona AZ

JNM: I took a circuitous route to get here! I had a keen interest in the west and that colorful history, the whole idea intrigued me. I began to feel a calling to go west, so one day I loaded up my horses, a mare and a colt, and I moved to Texas. I went to farrier (horse shoeing) school in Mineral Wells, TX. I then decided to go further west, through New Mexico, but no place felt right, so I kept going until I ended up in Phoenix. From there I decided to head north to Wickenburg, since I had always wanted to see the cowboy life. But when I arrived, all of the guest ranches were closed, with all the hands gone to Colorado. I traveled on, through Prescott, but again, it didn’t feel right.

A friend had told me of his love of the Flagstaff area, so I decided to go there. I traveled from Prescott, down through Jerome. I thought Jerome was cool, but still not quite “me.” By now it was dark so as I headed down the hill, I had no idea about the red rocks that surrounded me. This was spring of 1979, and when I arrived in Sedona I thought, “What a wonderful, sleepy, quiet town! I knew I wanted to be in mountains, then I saw the lighted cross on airport hill as I drove in. I am a great believer in “signs,” so when I saw the cross, I thought, “This is where I’ll land.” I got a motel in the dark of night, and it wasn’t until the next morning that I saw where I was—surrounded by red rocks and all this beauty. But in the darkness of the night before, I had already made my decision, by the feel of the place that I would move and live here.

LAT: As I understand, you were not doing art at that time. What did you do to earn a living in Sedona?

JNM: Back then, you really had to earn the right to live here; I did anything and everything I could to stay. I ended up working round up at couple of ranches—I got to “cowboy.”

And you’re correct; I hadn’t yet discovered my art. I began visiting Husberg’s Gallery and developed a nice friendship with Allen and Sheila Husberg. I was knowledgeable in history and horses, so it made for nice, sharing conversation. I became increasingly drawn back to study the sculptures in the gallery. Even though I’d never had any formal art training, I started thinking, “That’s not the way I’d do that: sometimes it was a question of horse anatomy or psychology, or other things I would notice. Then I began to know intuitively that I could sculpt. I decided to get some clay and I tried it. One night, I started at 9 p.m. and by 3 a.m. my first sculpture, “Parting Shot” was roughed in.

After it was finished, I checked with the local foundry and had it cast in bronze. When I took it to Husberg’s, they bought it immediately. A few days later when I visited the gallery, there it was on display in the gallery, alongside the work of the “professional” sculpture artists!

I started a second piece, “Rescue Under Fire,” and before I’d even finished, the gallery bought it and also took a customer order for another one. About that time I worked five months at a foundry owned by Jerry Eden, He was kind enough to give me a start. It was at this time that I received some sage advice from Allen Husberg. He said, “Sculpt what you know.”

LAT: Sculpting “what you know” has produced an incredible array of subjects including your amazing horses as well as the fact that your interest in historical events has led to pieces that depict military, cavalry, and Native American Indian wars. The historical detail included in your pieces is indeed impressive!

JNM: I depict history truthfully and accurately in every regard. I became known for historical details, not just in the “details,” but in the nature of the character and emotions of what I am depicting. Emotions such as love, and courage, and everything in between. My “sage” friend Lester Levenson (The Sedona Method) once pointed out that what I am actually depicting is “courageousness—the bridge between the level where most people approach life and a more uplifting focus based on acceptance, and ultimately peace.”

LAT: You have often referred to yourself as an Allegorical Sculptor, and your pieces have many levels of meaning, both the subtle and those more obvious.

JNM: By the end of the second year of sculpting, I had already become aware that what I was doing went way beyond being a mirror of reality, and as I later learned through a quote by Bertolt Brecht, art can be, should be at a higher level, “not [merely] a mirror to reflect reality, but rather a hammer to shape it.”

Early on, in fact, at the very outset of my career, I came to increasingly recognize that through this God-given talent, I was given an opportunity, through my art, to be a messenger, helping bring light into the darkness of men’s hearts, and leave the world a better place than when I found it, in some small way. I’m a believer that talent is God’s gift to a person, what we do with it is what we give back. The only way we truly serve God is in service to others, “service to ONE, through service to ALL.”

LAT: Recalling the Sedona you encountered so many years ago and the energy of Sedona today, how has this place influenced your art?

JNM: The red rocks of Sedona have always been an ever present reminder of what true power and greatness is. This helps to keep a more balanced perspective on our individual role being played in the overall divine plan. Still, people often look for a “savior” outside of themselves, or come to Sedona in search of “something.” And the true message that can be discovered here is that the “something” you seek is within you.

LT: Last year you released a beautiful work, called “Eden’s Gate” that was sculpted partially en plein aire in a small apple orchard in Sedona. It is in this work that I personally see how you have captured the essence, both of that “something” that we seek, as well as the energy of Sedona, both strong and tender.

JNM: Yes, People can find that “beautiful garden” here. It’s true though, that we each have that Garden of Eden within. Once you have found it, you can’t just stay and wallow in the beautiful place, you have to take it out into the world. Artists in all fields find it, but with the blessing, comes the responsibility of taking your gifts out into the world at large. Then, the “by-products” of your journey, your art, can be spread out and shared with the rest of the world.

LAT: Thank You!

Nature Shares Her Pure Potentiality

By L.A. Trombetta

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.” – Lao Tzu

How often does our ego mind try to rush us and make us impatient with “what is?” Nature doesn’t rush! As we gaze out over the landscape of our lives with an eye toward the lessons that Nature has to offer, we develop awareness that we have within us the seeds to recognize the pure potentiality of each and every moment.

This is the antidote to our harried lives! Break away to spend time outdoors and let the stress melt away, allowing the soul nourishment to fill your senses. In The Call of Sedona, Ilchi Lee commented, “With the help of Sedona’s energy, we have a meeting with ourselves in a state where our various defensive walls surrounding us have come down.”


It is in these moments that we clear our vision enough to see the potential of things early on. Whether that potential is in someone or something, although not yet realized, this is the first step on a path that leads us to bring it to our reality.

Although we cannot know the future, we can understand how our thoughts and actions are energy that travels outward, like ripples on a pond. And how, at the center of these ripples are our thoughts, the seeds for our future. To sit quietly in the center of this knowledge, and listen to our soul’s own knowing is another kind of seed that will grow and flourish within.

[Trail of the Month] The Famous Bell Rock Offers a Friendly Experience of Sedona’s Red Rocks!

By L.A. Trombetta

If you’ve read Ilchi Lee’s The Call of Sedona, you are already familiar with his impressions of Bell Rock. Here’s an easy hike that will allow you to experience the magnificence of the area as you work your way up on any one of its numerous trails. Parking for this hike is right off Highway 179, and you’ll be up on the north face of Bell Rock in no time enjoying panoramic views and possibly even a little vortex power!

Ilchi Lee - Bell rock

A View from Bell Rock (Photo by L.A. Trombetta)

This area can seem busy, as it is very popular with visitors, but it’s not difficult to find you own trail and enjoy a peaceful experience in spite of any crowds. Wind your away around the formation at almost any elevation of this sunny and warm trail and you’ll easily experience the feel of the red rocks of Sedona in a way you’ll never forget. How far up you’ll go is up to you, but be sure to look out over the spectacular views as you go and watch for medicine wheels and other artifacts left by others along the path. Going all the way to the top is not recommended unless you are quite experienced and equipped. Bell Rock’s conical slopes and ledges seem to offer steps in places and there are plenty of spots along the way that will call to you to pause and reflect or meditate as the energy of the place soaks into your soul!

How to Get to Bell Rock – North Face:

Beginning at the roundabout in Highway 179 known as the “Y” near Uptown Sedona, go south on Highway 179 for approximately 5.2 miles to the left turn out that crosses oncoming traffic and leads you into the parking area. Once parked, gather your gear and head south toward the large bell-shaped rock to begin the moderate climb up Bell Rock where you’ll find wonderful views and great spots for photos!


  • Open year round.
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
  • A Red Rock pass is mandatory, especially since this is a heavily used area.
  • Usage: Moderate to Heavy and finding a parking spot at the trailhead can be difficult.
  • Elevation gain: Up to 430 feet.
  • Length: about 1 mile<./li>

  • Hiking time: Up to about 45 minutes one way.
  • Facilities: none.
  • Dogs allowed on a leash.

Special Tips:

  • Hiking shoes or boots are recommended.
  • This trail is not recommended for very small children. A walking stick is a nice way to stabilize your balance along the way, but is not necessary.
  • If you have a fear of heights, enjoy the lower areas of Bell Rock.
  • Always take plenty of water, especially in warmer weather, and possibly a snack, but please remember, “Leave no trace” and take what you brought along home with you.
  • Take your camera and binoculars to capture the views.
  • Parking: Early in the morning is a good time to avoid the rush and a full parking lot, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Don’t hike alone and let others know where you’re headed—just in case!

Internationally Renowned Wildlife Sculptor Ken Rowe Shares His “Call of Sedona” Story

By L.A. Trombetta

Call of Sedona

Ken RoweI have admired the work of artist Ken Rowe for many years, so when the opportunity arose to interview area creatives about their own “Call of Sedona,” this well-known bronze wildlife sculptor was at the top of my list! He and I both grew up in different areas of the desert of Arizona during the same years, when towns were smaller and much was still undeveloped. As we settled in for our interview, we both reminisced about our love of the land, the beauty of the saguaro cactus and palo verde trees and the indescribable scent of the creosote bush after a rain.

LAT: Ken, what was your personal Call of Sedona that brought you from the land of the lower desert to this beautiful place?

KR: This is our 19th year in Sedona. My wife, Monica and I were both born and raised in Phoenix. It was a neat town to grow up in—before the housing boom. Citrus groves, not as busy, it was nice. But we had grown tired of Phoenix. It was heart-wrenching to see it grow and destroy itself over the years. We were ready to leave. Then, suddenly through a series of events and a chance meeting, our lives were changed nearly overnight.

I was in the taxidermy business for a long time. We had our own commercial studio for 14 years and in that business I loved the anatomy and the wildlife physiology. I loved doing each animal justice by doing a great job on it, but after a time it just wasn’t fulfilling to me. I began to have an interest in sculpture.

In 1987, I finally got up enough nerve to sculpt my first piece, and although I felt it was atrocious, it was a confirmation, and I thought I could do it. I took a college course in sculpture and just kept working and working at it. So here’s the beauty in all of that; here I am a practicing taxidermist during the day, and at night I’m a sculptor surrounded by animal references that most people would die for. So, there I could sculpt anything—deer, bear, elk, moose; anything I had in that shop.

LAT: When did you begin selling in Galleries?

KR: In 1992 I got into a remarkable gallery in Scottsdale, Heritage Gallery—I’ve been with them ever since. The Murray family owned it at that time, they were legends in the art world, and so, for me going from a taxidermist to Heritage Gallery was like going to the Olympics—it was scary and exciting. And so that truly did launch it—it confirmed that I really wanted to do this full time now. I don’t know how many years it is going to take, but I know I will eventually do it full time.

Troy Murray, who was the gallery owner at that time, was an incredible influence and gave me absolutely profound direction. Now that I was “a professional,” I really dug into it, and I used to watch Ken Payne every Saturday morning on PBS, “Sculpting with Ken Payne.” He would sculpt and I would take notes.

One day I walked into Heritage Gallery to visit them, and guess who’s looking at my work? Ken Payne! And I thought, you can’t pass this up. So I introduced myself, and he said, “Oh, I really like your work!” I was on cloud nine!
I went home and told Monica, and two weeks later I got a phone call from Ken Payne. “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse! Come up and be one of my feature artists at Mountain Trails Gallery!”

So I went from taxidermy to full-time sculpting with that one phone call, and that’s what got us up here! Monica and I sold virtually everything. We sold our house, our property, closed the business down, fast, fast, fast! Everything happened like a domino effect. But, it was nice because you know how they always say; “when you go in the right direction, things fall into place.” We found a house here in one day, in a great neighborhood, we could afford it; everything just worked out. This just absolutely fell in place!

LAT: It was more than a call, it was divine direction!

KR: Yes, “here, it’s going in your lap!” Here’s one of those weird things: When we were in our taxidermy business, we were so tired of Phoenix. So when the stroke of luck with Heritage came along, and the chance meeting with Ken Payne . . . It was like, “Oh, I know where I’m going. I’m going to the art profession. I’m moving out of this town.”

And then when Ken called, it was like, God’s taking care of us, here it is. He just put it right in our lap. Sales were beyond our greatest expectations instantly. Not because so much of the work—it was the timing, it was the staff—they were primed and ready, professional. The staff was the key—just the right fit. Ken Payne was just an amazing mentor to have . . . he was a good, good business person.

LAT: Ken. Your passion shows in every piece you create. What is the driving force behind your work?

KR: I’m totally obsessed, I really am. As a child, one of our family friends was a psychiatrist, and she was this little genius that would plant these little seeds of wisdom as I grew up. She could tell that when I got something in my head, it was just going to get done. So she said once that the best doctors, lawyers, or any professional that she could ever acquire in her lifetime were this way too. They were so focused on whatever they wanted to do, that they perfected whatever they wanted to do. So when you know how to channel it, I guess this kind of obsession is a good thing.

What I feel is, in my DNA is this reverence for animals, and it’s the root of everything that inspires me. I’ve always loved the outdoors. It’s been my benchmark for reality: Feeling stress from business? Take a walk. Get out in nature and look at what is really out there.

LAT: Ken, please tell us how Sedona has inspired you and your work.

KR: Sedona’s a creative environment, and there are a lot of great inspiring artists here. And any direction you look, driving to work, or in your yard, you see inspiring views that make you want to take a hike to see all these wonderful places. Even though I don’t paint, the outdoors has always been my barometer for reality. So here I am, in the middle of what’s often said to be the most beautiful place in the world, I pinch myself. I can’t think of anything more beautiful. And here we are living in the middle of what probably should have been a national park. God, what we take for granted once in a while. And then somebody comes in from Europe and has tears in their eyes from the sunset he saw last night, or the sunrise today, and it makes you realize we should never, ever, take it for granted.

What Is Your Favorite Thing About Sedona?

Sedona has so much to offer—beautiful scenery, interesting shops, relaxing spas, plenty of outdoor activities. What is your favorite part? In this short video, STEM Production asked people walking around Uptown Sedona what they thought. Leave your own impressions in the comments.

Love & Chocolate

Kelly Johnson came to Sedona, where his grandparents have lived since the mid 1980s, and started to sell his raw organic chocolate creations in a raw food cafe. Jenny Moore stopped by Sedona after the Tucson Gem Show and stayed when her van needed repair. From Kelly she learned to eat vegetarian and detox her body. Now Jenny owns the cafe, with an organic garden on the side that provides vegetables for the dishes she and Kelly serve in addition to the chocolate. Together, from the cacao plant, at the Chocolatree cafe, they have grown love for everyone.

In this video, they tell their story.

[Video] Why did you come to Sedona?

Everyone comes to Sedona for a different reason, whether it’s for a one-day jaunt or the rest of their lives. However there are common themes. STEM Production took their camera to the streets of Sedona and asked, “Why did you come to Sedona?” What’s your answer?

[Video] What is energy?

It’s hard not to talk about energy when you talk about Sedona. Many people come here to explore the vortexes and feel the “good vibes.”

But what is energy really? Is it beauty? Is it electricity? Is it a metaphysical light you see with your third-eye?

The STEM Production video company went around Uptown Sedona asking the people walking around on a beautiful Sedona day what they thought energy was? Watch this video to see what they said. Do you agree? Leave your own answers in the comments.

[Video] What is the Sedona Spirit?

In honor of Sedona Spirit Day on September 29, 2012, members of the Sedona Meditation Center asked locals what they thought the Sedona Spirit was. Their answers were relatively similar; Sedona has a special energy and vibe that brightens people’s lives.

You can see this spirit in their faces and their voices. Maybe they are the Sedona Spirit? What do you think it is? Leave us a comment and let us know.