Meet Mary Helsaple.
Mary is a fine artist, photographer, and exhibition consultant.
She is an advocate of preserving the natural world for future generations while focusing on creating and
living in sustainable equilibrium with our environment. She produced “Spirits of the Rainforest,” an Emmy
Award-winning conservation nature documentary for the Disney Channel.
Mary’s paintings and exhibition projects foster education, creative learning, and building a compassionate
world of sustainable conservation and peace. She creates imagery that shows how humans relate and
depend on nature in all habitats worldwide.
Together with her husband, Neil Williams, an entrepreneur and filmmaker, she co-produced several Emmy
Award-winning nature films in South America. Mary grew up in the Bay Area of California and received a
BFA from San Francisco State University.
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: Ten years ago, Neal and I retired to Sedona. We were looking forward to doing nature films here in the
Southwest. I was equally excited to find a new subject to paint because our nature films have been about
the tropical rain forest. The Javelina, Road Runners, Ravens, and all sorts of new wildlife species fascinated
me. When we moved to Sedona, we just fell in love with the Red Rocks and the desert. We are not
producing films; we’re just editing footage from our library.
Q: What wildlife have you encountered here in Sedona?
A: We built a house when we moved to Sedona and spent a year designing it ourselves. It took about a year
to build. We moved in June, and we love it. We were visited by a roadrunner that would spend the morning
with Neil and me eating breakfast. This roadrunner would tap my studio window and hang out with me. He
visited for three years in a row. It was wonderful to have that one on one interaction with the wildlife.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Neal and I have adapted well after 47 years together. We worked on a lot of projects, and we are never at
a loss for things to do. I started teaching because I wanted to give back to the community. I’ve met some
wonderful people, and I have discovered a whole new group in Sedona who wishes to learn painting now
that they’re retired.
Q: Where do you take people who are visiting to lunch?
A: If it’s not my house, I like to take them to Pump House. It is one of my favorite places. Dellepiane is
wonderful. My girlfriends and I go to Chipotle in Uptown, and if my artist friends are hatching a new
project or art event, we love to have breakfast at Indian Gardens Market.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Sedona?
A: Since 2008. We lived at Red Rock Loop Rd, then over in the Chapel area, next off Brewer Rd, and now
we live in Kachina Suites. We’ve had the privilege of seeing every beautiful view in Sedona.
Q: Do you ever have a paint party with friends?
A: I have a group of individuals that get together and do Plein air painting.
Each year, the Sedona Art Center hosts a Plein air festival. It’s where you buy the most beautiful red rock
painting of your life because they have a whole gallery filled to the brim with gorgeous Sedona landscape
Q: What is something you are passionate about in Sedona other than art and hummingbirds?
A: It was an honor to have my artwork at City Hall and to have met some distinguished people. I find it a
real privilege to live in a town and know the Mayor. You can see the public officials at the film festival, or
Mary D. Fisher Theater, or the grocery store. It is such a great feeling to know the people who live in our
From the Interview with Jonelle Klein