An Ahwatukee Foothills resident will be presenting his works of art alongside more than 150 others next month at the 20th Annual Sedona Arts Festival.

Richard Altenhofen, 60, will exhibit hundreds of pieces at the October festival, including pens, bowls and large decorative items, all made from wood. His work has been showcased at the festival at least two other times since he began woodworking about a decade earlier, he said.

Altenhofen began wood turning after seeing an ad in a magazine selling pens made from mesquite wood.

"That just made a lot of sense to me," he said. "It's made from something local. That's what started me to buy my first lathe."

Inspired, Altenhofen bought a small lathe and began making pens himself. From there, he moved on to other, bigger items.

Dead trees are one of Altenhofen's primary sources of wood. Local land owners with dead wood are often glad to make deals with the artist, he said. Hauling the lumber to and from his truck can be difficult work, Altenhofen noted. Getting the wood and moving it from its original site back to his house is his least favorite part of the job.

Nevertheless, Altenhofen said he loves taking something raw and making something else from it. He calls the process "extracting the beauty from the wood."

In addition to creating for art shows, the artist said he also does work for his own home. The cabinets in his kitchen, for example, he handcrafted.

In addition to personal pleasure, however, Altenhofen can make significant profits from exhibiting his pieces at art shows. His pens range in price from about $27 to $150, and some of his larger items can sell for up to $700.

Altenhofen said he takes many pieces to shows in order to prepare for what he may find when he gets there. Sometimes people are looking to buy high-end pieces and at other times they are searching for low-end work, so he brings it all.

"I take no chances when it comes to shows," he said.

Sales have been in a steady decline for several years, though, Altenhofen said.

"Shows that were really good are just OK now," he said.

While artists can make significant amounts of money traveling to out-of-state shows, Altenhofen said he intends to remain in Arizona. With two sons in school, one in college and a senior in high school, he does not want to leave them behind, he said.

The Sedona Arts Festival is set for Oct. 9 and 10. General admission at the gate is $10, while students and seniors can get in for $9. Tickets can be purchased online for $8. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit

Josh Snyder is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a senior at Arizona State University.


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