2019 Festival Jurors

Susan Kliewer

Susan Kliewer is a native of Southern California, but has made Arizona her home for forty years.  She spent five of those years at Marble Canyon Trading Post in a remote area of Northern Arizona, adjacent to the Navajo Reservation.  A painter since the age of ten, Susan turned to sculpting in 1987, after working in an art casting foundry for ten years.

In 1993 Susan won a competition to create a monument of Sedona Schnebly for the City of Sedona, Arizona.  The ten-foot high sculpture of her town’s namesake was installed in front of the Sedona Library in 1994. Since then, many more monuments have been commissioned and installed in the United States and Europe.  Susan recently completed working on fourteen, two-thirds life sized sculptures for the Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens and Sculpture Park on Kauai, Hawaii depicting a Navajo family settlement.

Among the numerous prizes and awards she has won, Susan is especially proud of the Governor’s Award at the Cow Girl Up Show in 2007 and the First Place for Sculpture 2008 also at Cow Girl Up; held annually at the Desert Caballeros Museum, Wickenburg, Arizona.  She is also the recipient of the Olaf Wieghorst Award presented at the Mountain Oyster Club Contemporary Western Art Show in Tucson and the Gold. Silver and Bronze awards for sculpture at the Western Artists of America’s museum shows. Susan won both First Place for three dimensional art and Best of Show at the 2009 Sedona Arts Center Member’s Show and in November of 2009 Susan once again won the Olaf Wieghorst, (Best of Show), Award at the 40th  annual Mountain Oyster Club Show in Tucson.  More recently, in March 2012, Susan once again won the Governor’s Award as well as the People’s Choice Award at the Cow Girl Up Show at the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg.  

Susan won the Best of Show Award at the 2018 Cow Girl Up Show for her sculpture “Teton Warrior”.  

Susan often uses her Native American friends and relatives as models to capture that special intimacy which is a hallmark of her work.  Her depictions of Indians, cowboys and cowgirls in everyday life from the past as well as the present are, as one critic said; “Truly heartfelt”.  “My work aims to show the common thread that underlies all human experience, and which, I hope brings us to a great understanding between all people”, Susan says.  “If you do what you know and love, the feeling will shine through, giving your art a life of it’s own.”

Susan is represented by Mountain Trails Fine Art, Santa Fe, Nm; Mountain Trails Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wy; Park City, Ut. and Sedona, Az; as well as Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Az.  She is also represented by Mountain Spirit Gallery in Prescottt, Az. and Len Wood’s Indian Territory in Laguna Beach, Ca; Cameron Trading Post, Cameron, Az; and Brodmoor Galleries, Colorado Springs, Co.


Taylor Hellmann

Since 1978, Taylor Hellmann has been active in the Arts and the design industry, creating custom fashions, custom interiors, and custom jewelry, as well as fine art and fine art furniture. He worked as a jewelry designer for Pakula and Company in Providence, Rhode Island, as a design assistant for Leo Narducci in New York City, and as a high fashion apparel designer for McKane and Company in San Francisco. In January of 1982, he started producing fashion designs and accessories under his own label. He specialized in hand painted high fashion garments for an exclusive clientele, as well as men’s neckwear and women’s accessories to retail outlets, including Robinson’s, May Co., Macy’s, Wilkes Bashford, and Madonna Man. His fashions have been worn by television stars and other celebrities, including Michael Jackson. As his apparel business grew his role changed from that of artistic creator to a businessman running an increasingly larger manufacturing business. He was faced with the realization that a new facility with more employees was needed in order for the business to sustain its growth as a specialty company marketing to retailers. Missing the creative process that started the business he decided to eliminate the commercial production, continue designing and producing for his private client base and pursue his love of the fine arts.

In 1986 he moved to San Diego, CA. and pursued a career in the fine arts. He started showing work at the San Diego Art Institute where he soon became eligible for featured one man shows. This exposure quickly led to commercial galleries featuring him in solo shows and as he became a noted local artist in San Diego his exhibits were selling out. He became very active in the arts community and was elected to the board of directors of the San Diego Art Institute where he served until he moved to Sedona, Arizona.

His diverse experience in the commercial world and his love of the fine arts motivated him to combine his talents into a design firm which specializes in integrating artwork with interior design. By integrating design elements – Art, Lighting, Fabrics, Flooring & Color he has transformed the surroundings of his clients into works of art. His residential projects led to commercial renovations where Taylor was able to design specific corporate art into the overall project. His business “Art by Design” maintains a focus on integrating art and design and he is fortunate to have an abundance of commissioned work and new projects.

While Taylor has worked in many mediums he has always had a passion for wood which has led him to developing a process for achieving bright colors while maintaining the natural beauty of the wood grain. He combines this process with his lighthearted whimsical approach to everyday life which is apparent in his work. The subtle sophistication and timely commentary on contemporary life has attracted collectors worldwide.

In the spring of 2011 Taylor joined the instructional team at Yavapai College to share his love of art and design with future designers. His course in three dimensional design was filled to capacity, and an enriching experience was had by all who participated. Taylor’s vision of everyone learning from the experiences of each other was realized.

Taylor attended the University of Colorado, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, University of Idaho, and earned his BFA degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.


Lesley Aine Mckeown

When people ask how I became an artist, I often laugh and say, “it’s genetic.” I was raised in art. My parents met and married while they were students at the Art Institute in Kansas City. I was born shortly after they graduated and began their careers as professional artists. My father made jewelry in the 1960s and ’70, and worked for Hallmark while my mother painted, sculpted and illustrated medical textbooks until 1979, when we moved to Sedona, Arizona. This began a 30-year obsession with creating one of the top 100 Niche American Crafts galleries in the US. They both enjoy busy lives, creating and traveling the world to this day. But it was not until 1982 that the jewelry bug bit me. As an apprentice I learned traditional native American silversmithing techniques. In 1984 I launched my career as a jeweler, and I’ve never looked up since. It’s always been the challenges of metal smithing that I crave

Designing pieces that challenge me technically, that speak to a certain aesthetic, is what pulls me to create. Creativity is evolution, a constant yearning for more. And of utmost importance is how it is made. Each piece is created in my studio in the tradition of the American Studio Art Jewelry movement of the 1940s through the ’60s, which demands that the work is created entirely in the artist’s studio. From drawing through fabrication, the piece never leaves my hands. My studio is my refuge, and I work solo.

I’m an avid gardener, I believe in political responsibility, I love animals, and I’m a bit obsessed about cooking.