Bassim Al-Shaker, Painting
First year at the Center: 2018
Bassim was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and his education and experiences while travelingl throughout his home country have heavily influenced his artwork, though his personal style continues to evolve. Bassim lived in Baghdad until his work as a painter was selected for inclusion in the 2013 Venice Biennale art festival in Italy. Following the exhibition of his work in Venice, he was invited to become an Artist-in-Residence through the ASU Art Museum. He became a permanent legal resident of the United States in 2014. Bassim says that his experience engaging with the arts community in Phoenix has transformed his life and created new opportunities to share his skill as a painter and his passion for helping to cultivate the creativity of others. “I am honored to be a college fine arts instructor at Phoenix College and to be able to share my experiences and impact the careers of my students.”
Jamie Bonnell, Writing
First year at the Center: 2017
A Phoenix native and master of linguistics, Jamie began her career as an educator in rural Thailand. Five years and three languages later, she is an adjunct professor of English at Mesa Community College, a recipient of the Swarthout Award in poetry, a proud caregiver of nearly 70 plants and a cat called Moose, and the new Head of our Writing Department! When Jamie isn’t teaching or reading, she volunteers as a civil rights organizer with the ACLU’s grassroots platform, People Power. Service-driven and community-inspired, she is a dynamic addition to our team.
Antoinette Cauley, Painting & Summer Camp
First year at the Center: 2016
From an early age, Antoinette found comfort and security in her set of pencils and sketchpad. She would spend hours a day at school, her local Boys & Girls Club, and at home drawing. Throughout her teenage years, Antoinette was able to perfect her color pencil technique and advance in to college level art courses as a high school student. Art seemed to be the only thing that ever made sense to Antoinette. Her ability to create art was the only real sense of stability she found as a youth. She knew that she had been given a special gift to create and that one day she could use it to change lives. It was her lifeline, her way of escaping the everyday struggle she and her family had to face. Being a Phoenix native, Antoinette’s work is very reflective of her city – the gritty and the beautiful. Her work is heavily influenced by rap music and hip hop culture with a focus on social injustice and politics. She combines the grittiness of inner city turmoil, war and tragedy with the beauty of music, vibrant color, texture, pattern and an emotionally driven message. Currently Antoinette works as a full time artist in her studio in Phoenix, Arizona. She also works with youth ages 5-18, teaching art classes that focus on drawing, painting and color theory.
Edna Dapo, Painting & Drawing
First year at the Center: 2007
Edna Dapo is an international artist who currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the Department Head of Painting & Drawing at the Phoenix Center of the Arts and also teaches Drawing and Life Drawing at Mesa Community College. Dapo has been painting for twenty years and has won numerous awards. Her work has been selected for NEW AMERICAN PAINTINGS (Volume 70) and is on the cover of American Art Collector (CA, V4 B2). Dapo holds an MFA in Painting from Savannah College of Art and Design, BFA in Painting from ASU, and a diploma from Art School Luka Sorkocevic in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Ingrid Donaldson began her artistic career in 1998 when she opened Hot Sand Glassworks; a retail and instruction based glass studio. As she developed her own personal styles and techniques through research and development, she gained national recognition and was invited to study directly with the Bullseye Glass Company and several internationally known Glass Masters. In 2007, she decided to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Metals from Arizona State University while working professionally within the glass field, and opened The Blink Gallery in 2008. With her guidance, gallery representation and promotion, several artists have since received national attention. Returning to school, Ingrid decided to continue her education and was accepted into the Graduate Program at Arizona State University. She has since graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Metalsmithing. Ingrid has gone on to build a reputation for her innovative glass and metal designs and techniques as well as her well-balanced teaching strategies. She is frequently recruited to create and implement program development and class structures. Currently she is the Faculty of Jewelry and Metalsmithing at Scottsdale Community College. Ingrid also reopened the Blink Gallery which is located in Scottsdale Arizona.
Robert Isenberg, Online Writing
First year at the Center: 2016
Robert joined the Phoenix Center for the Arts team in 2016, teaching writing courses at our Downtown Phoenix Campus and online! Robert is a prolific freelance writer and multimedia producer based in downtown Phoenix. He earned his MFA in Writing from Chatham University, where he served as Whitford Fellow, the program’s highest honor. Before moving two Phoenix, he served as a contributing editor for Pittsburgh Magazine and spent two years as a staff writer for The Tico Times of Costa Rica. His books include The Green Season, The Archipelago, and Wander. Feel free to visit him at robertisenberg.net.
David Jarvinen, Mosaics
First year at the Center: 2013
David Jarvinen came to Mosaics through the world of Ceramic Tile & Stone Installation & Design. With over 30 years in the contracting industry he merged his talents with clay artists in the mid-90’s and, through that collaborative process, the interest in mosaics came to be. Understanding the importance of technical knowledge, for the last 12 years or so David has hosted a variety of mosaic workshops utilizing ceramic & porcelain tiles, glass tiles and stained glass to create wonderful art! David’s favorite way to create is mixed media mosaics! This type of mosaiking is exciting for the endless textures, contrasts, interest & color variations that happen when combining mixed media items. Virtually anything is fair game!
Michaela Konzal, Dance & Youth Dance
First year at the Center: 2013
Michaela Konzal is a Phoenix native and graduated from Arizona State University with a BFA in Dance in 2012. As a dance maker and educator, Konzal’s choreographic and performance work has been seen in Arizona, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and North Carolina. She has also worked with nationally recognized arts organizations such as The Yard and American Dance Festival and is the Co-Artistic Director of Dirty Buckle Dance. Currently, Konzal teaches dance at several valley schools as well as Phoenix Center for the Arts. Her youth dance classes provide a positive, fun, environment that fuels learning and creativity.
Jay Melberg, Music & Youth Music
First year at the Center: 1994
Jay Melberg has been teaching piano and voice at Phoenix Center since 1994. Mr. Melberg obtained his Music Education degree from the University of Arizona in 1987 and won the John Phillip Sousa award from Sahuaro High School in 1983. Highlights at the Center have included teaching summer camp, directing musicals, and performing with Sacred Blues Band. Mr. Melberg taught choir with the Phoenix Children’s Chorus from 1994-98, then developed piano classes for youth and adults. Recently he has added youth and adult guitar lessons to his reportoire. Jay directs many youth theater productions in the Valley, winning awards for Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Godspell, Xanadu, Hairspray, Once Upon a Mattress, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Twilights Quest. He also wrote the musical Christmas Carol for Fountain Hills. Most recently, Jay composed the musical, House of Illusio for ASU. He loves teaching kids and adults all about music at Phoenix Center for the Arts!
Don Ridley, Ceramics
First year at the Center: 2006
Don Ridley was born and raised in Tempe, Arizona. He began his ceramic studies at Marcos de Niza High School and continued his pursuit of clay at Arizona State University. After spending time as a professional musician and a brief stint in corporate management, Don returned to his pottery roots and spent several years teaching and working with Tom and Elaine Coleman at their studio in Henderson Nevada. Don has won numerous awards for his artwork. He continues to sell his pottery at shows and gallery’s throughout the southwest and currently heads up the ceramics program at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. His work in the past 5 years has evolved into a concentrated study of the relationship between the palate of glazes used and the various forms he constructs. This evolution has brought about a more focused interest in the alterations and textures introduced during the early stages of the piece, and their obvious and/or subtle interaction with the multitude of layered glazes applied.
Char Sanchez, Glass
First year at the Center: 2014
Char’s love of art began in a high school stained glass class in Wisconsin. She was immediately hooked on the medium—the color variations, movement, and depth were absolutely mesmerizing. As Char transitioned into teaching, she also began exploring the realm of fused glass and torch work. In the past 20 years, she has taken classes from several locally, nationally, and internationally acclaimed glass artists in techniques such as fusing, embossing, mixing mediums, and—her personal favorite—manipulation of glass. “Nothing like manipulating 1700 degree glass!” A majority of her inspiration comes from nature and cosmic energies. Some of Char’s work has been displayed in Jerome, Scottsdale and Sedona. “Expressing myself through glass brings me great peace and I love passing that feeling on to others,” Char says. “I’ve been teaching glass art techniques for 17 years and I just love it. I have had the pleasure of being a glass instructor at Phoenix Center for the Arts for approximately 3 years. The Phoenix Center for the Arts staff and students are amazing!”
John Tzelepis, Metals & Jewelry
First year at the Center: 2007
John Tzelepis has been dedicated to the art of jewelry and metals for more than fifteen years. He received his undergraduate degree in Jewelry and Metals from Skidmore College and his Master of Fine Arts in Metals from Arizona State University. His work has been exhibited in numerous national exhibitions, most recently at Emergency Arts in Chelsea, New York City and the Palm Springs Art Museum, Jorgensen Gallery, California, where he has won several awards. His sculpture and jewelry can be seen in several publications including 500 Necklaces, 500 Metal Vessels, and The Art of Jewelry: Wood. He has also contributed to several project-oriented books including 30-Minute Necklaces, 30-Minute Rings, and 30-Minute Bracelets. Inspired by architecture, while exploring the concept of artist as engineer or constructor, he fabricates his sculptural work with mathematical precision and proportion to investigate line, form, balance, and tension created by the physical effects of gravity and magnetism. Energizing negative space and activating kinetic possibility, the play of gravity and magnetism converge in points of dynamic tension, fusing physics with architecture.
Arnold Williams has explored various aspects of photography for more than 50 years and his work continues to evolve. Besides heading the photography department and teaching photography at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, he also teaches photojournalism, beginning and intermediate digital photography at Phoenix College. He also is a writer, photographer and film critic for local newspapers and a national newspaper association, capturing interesting people, places, and events making them as beautiful as possible. With a simple and straightforward style he has captured images from many countries and throughout the United States. His work is regularly featured in local and national publications, and juried exhibitions. He has two degrees in Journalism – a Master of Science from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso.
Wendy Willis, Printmaking
First year at the Center: 2010
Phoenix printmaker Wendy Willis moved to the Phoenix in 1978. Her technical prowess, combined with strong conceptual imagery, has made Willis an artistic force in the Arizona printmaking community. While she works across several printmaking media, it is the “no turning back,” extreme method of reduction relief that is her forte. Willis is a member of Five15 Arts Gallery in Phoenix, the Department Head for Printmaking at Phoenix Center for the Arts, and the Membership Chair for the Arizona Print Group. “My recent work is inspired by what’s at stake as human actions endanger the Earth’s waters and life within. The beauty of the undersea world could be damaged irreparably by our actions if we don’t change our ways.” Her complex multi-layered, reduction relief prints, etchings and monoprints can be found internationally in museum, university and private collections.
Sandra Zally, Youth Art & Teen Artist Guild
First year at the Center: 2002
Taking the scenic route, Sandra Zally launched her art education from the coast of Maine. She studied Fine Art at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine. In 1987, Zally rode the rails across the country to Phoenix, Arizona; where she took up studies in Advertising Art. Zally’s artistic interests embrace a wide spectrum of arts. She has painted scenic backdrops for several valley youth theaters; winning an AriZoni Award in Scenic Design for Phoenix Center Youth Theatre in 2006. Zally works as a teaching artist at community centers, senior centers and art schools around the valley. She promotes art within the community by encouraging and teaching young artists…and continues to be inspired by them.