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A.R.T.S. Teaching Artists, 2012-2013
Jane Antee has been with A.R.T.S. since 2007. “I wish that all elementary schools would have an art program so that creativity, uniqueness, and self-expression are acknowledged daily.” Jane holds a degree in medical illustration but is well-known in Sonoma for her abstract acrylic paintings, where she is drawn toward abstract images that create stillness within chaos. “When I'm stuck on one of my personal paintings, I often think about what is important in my A.R.T.S. classes: freedom, risk, confidence, joy. The students teach me.”
Deborah Colotti began teaching in the A.R.T.S. program in 2005. Colotti specializes in 3-D artworks composed of recycled, up-cycled, and easy-to-find materials. “Sometimes the art I do in my studio inspires a direction for a class project, but it also works the other way around! Working with SVMA and A.R.T.S., the students and I go on a creative, discovery tour together; this is the best teaching-by-example adventure I can offer them! I like teaching because I am able to observe the true value in exploring the creative areas of life. Creative pursuits provide new directions from which to trouble-shoot and pull solutions. It takes practice to walk this not-so-linear road!”
Natasha Drengson is in her 7th year teaching art with SVMA. “Working with kids has helped my life in big ways. Each year we learn different things and through all this time it has changed my art in great ways, has made me a better person and artist, expanded my knowledge and given me more community love.” Tasha is currently doing a lot of work in watercolor and is known throughout the Valley for her incredible floral design.
Diane Egger-Bovet is an accomplished ceramicist and fiber artist. She has been with the program since it began in 2000, when the first student show was at the Sonoma Women's Club. “I enjoy teaching because I’m always learning something new. The students get a richer, more in-depth experience due to this program.” A veteran art educator in Sonoma’s public schools, Diane says, “my family has dubbed my car ‘the art mobile’ and whenever I go for a walk and some child sees me, I hear, ‘there goes my art teacher,’ and it makes me smile.”
Gayle Manfre has been with A.R.T.S. since the very beginning and was involved in creating its foundational framework. A painter and long-time resident of Sonoma, Manfre has taught in all of the Valley’s public elementary schools and is well known for leading a number of school mural projects. In 2010 Manfre was named Sonoma’s Treasure Artist in recognition of her many contributions to art education. “I love teaching art to students, it is my reason for being,” says Manfre. “My mottos are ‘there are no mistakes in art’ and ‘art saves lives.’ It is such a thrill to see a kid, who might be struggling with academics, blossom in art class. Everyone should be able to excel at something.”
Rosemary McNeely has been with A.R.T.S. 2005 teaching at Dunbar and Prestwood elementary schools, The Presentation School, and more recently, at Woodland Star Charter School. “I like to work in every medium possible to show students that creativity is easily at their fingertips.” Rosemary holds a BFA in sculpture and painting from Massachusetts Collage of Art and also studied ceramics at Philadelphia College of Art. “I want to show students that their creativity is like a muscle and when exercised, they can surprise themselves, learning that art happens easily when you give it a chance.”
Kate Ortolano joined A.R.T.S. in 2010 and works primarily in textiles, paper, and artist’s books. An accomplished artist and educator, Ortolano considers herself new to the art scene in Sonoma after “making a U-turn” from teaching garden science at Flowery Elementary School for 14 years. “I like teaching the arts because I can be with the kids and practice the concepts of encouragement. Art lends itself beautifully to the idea of developing ‘the courage to be imperfect.’”
Jill Sabel Valavanis has been involved with the A.R.T.S. program since 2011. “I love the program because it allows the students to focus on a theme for several meetings, getting immersed in visual art for an extended period of time. It's also a great opportunity for the kids to create something that is exhibited in a real art museum. When they are adults I hope that they will be more likely to visit art museums and galleries, or perhaps consider a career in the arts.” Valavanis holds an MFA in Integrated Three-Dimensional Media from California State University, Long Beach. She works with both fiber and metal to create sculptural objects.