Bassim Al-Shaker, Painting
First year at the Center: 2018
Bassim was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and his education and experiences while traveling 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.”
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 one of our amazing Writing Instructors here at Phoenix Center for the Arts! 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.
Jairo Carreón is from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and is devoted to bridging the cultural and generational gaps with his unique perspective of having grown up as a first generation immigrant in the United States since the age of 2. With a broad experience in broadcasting in both television and radio, he seeks to integrate his experience and inventive mind to create dialogue, awareness, and change in the form of expressive visuals.
Jairo had his start working as a promotion technician for Entravision radio in Phoenix, Az in 2012. He quickly came to cover many more positions and responsibilities ranging from promotions, live broadcasts, board operations and creating productions of on-air spots. During his time at Entravision he also began working on visual campaigns for V.I.M.B.Y, the largest real-time marketing company in America. His first position was Production Assistant and soon after took over the roll of Digital Imaging Technician. After Entravision he worked for KPHE 44 Phx covering several aspect needed to produce live content and planned productions. With a desire to be able to create beyond corporate demands he decided to leave KPHE 44 Phx. After that he left the corporate setting and had the opportunity to work on several productions with production house- Malakai Creative from award winning director Malakai. Currently he owns and operates Querias Norte on a mission to create visuals that show the world in a manner that was more pertinent to the reality that he experienced and lives everyday.
Michéle Ceballos Michot, Adult & Teen Ballet
First year at the Center: 2014
Michèle Ceballos Michot has taught and performed worldwide. Locally she has choreographed for Southwest Shakespeare Co., Arizona Opera, the Phoenix Conservatory of Music and New Carpa Theatre. She founded Opendance a non-profit 501(c)3 educational outreach company, was one of the co-founders of the Arizona Dance festival, and is a founding member of La Pocha Nostra LIVE Art performance troupe. Her work led her to receive the Creighton School District Partner Award, nominations for the Governor’s Arts Awards and a nomination for a Zoni Award for choreography. Michèle studied at the National Academy of Ballet & Theatre Arts, the American Ballet Theatre school and the Joffrey Ballet school in NYC, in London at the Royal Ballet School and teachers training in Tbilisi,Georgia SSR . She danced with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Deutsch Oper Am Rhine, Dusseldorf, Germany, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Chicago Ballet, Ballet Mississippi, and El Ballet Nacional de Colombia. Locally Michèle teaches Ballet, Pointe, Choreography, Personal Fitness, Privates and workshops, and can be reached at opendance(at)msn.com.
Teaches: Teen + Adult Beginning/ Intermediate Ballet
Date and Time: Thursday 6:30-8:00pm
Cost: $10 drop in
Class Description: Ballet offers a strong base for all dance forms. It teaches you the anatomy of movement, what muscles do what, why and how. Important for maintaining a strong physical body, injury prevention, balance and control. Class is based on the Russian Vaganova syllabus and the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) method.
Victor Contreras is a self made potter from El Paso, Texas. He discovered his fascination with clay at a very young age while making small clay pots and bowls out of the rich clay like mud that is a familiar to his home town. He first received a formal introduction in ceramics while in high school when his ceramics teacher, seeing his innate talent, introduced him to the ceramics instructor at University of Texas at El Paso, (UTEP). It was in that encounter that Victor knew he had found his passion. El Paso became the first chapter in his journey to his continued mastery of the art. He participated in several local art festivals and art shows where he exhibited his work and conducted live demonstrations. He also taught his first formal ceramic class at El Paso Community College in 1985. Victor has won several awards and shown work in galleries in Sedona and Flagstaff, Arizona. He currently works in his own studio in South Phoenix.
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.
Founders Dana Arbel, RYT 200 and Ashley Burns, RYT 500 are community activists who have over 10 years combined teaching experience. Their work focuses on breaking down the multiple barriers that hinder community members from focusing on their own health and wellness. They have formed multiple partnerships within the Phoenix community, collaborating to bring all aspects of yoga to unique outdoors spaces, while supporting local artists and businesses.
For more about them and their work, visit their website dirtyogacommunity.com
From the day Marilyn Johnson was born, she demonstrated a passion for three things, animals, art, and helping people. Throughout her life, these three things have remained a constant. Marilyn taught Special Education for 28 years. She also ran a boarding stable, and bred and raised Tennessee Walking Horses for 15 years. Then spent the next 12 years breeding English Mastiffs.
Throughout her lifetime, she dabbled in various art forms in her “spare” time. In 1984 she took a stained glass class and was hooked. She worked in this medium almost exclusively for the next 16 years. In 2000, she took a Beginning Glass Fusing Class at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
That class turned her love of glass into an obsession. Marilyn continued to take classes and develop her fusing skills, and in 2017 was asked to teach in the Glass Dept. at PCA. Her great joy is to turn people on to an amazing art form and watch them flourish. She believes that there is an artist in EVERYONE!
CarrieAnn Therese – Glass
First year at Phoenix Center for the Arts: 2019
“I have always felt called to do 2 things…to help make the world a better place; and release beauty and joy into the world…I strive to do that every day.”
CarrieAnn has worked in the visual and performing arts her entire life, with extensive background in music, dance, high end floral design, writing, painting and cooking, particularly her passion for creating vegan recipes for a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle (for which she has gained a following). She admits to having an “uncontrollable creative drive”, but has always had a special passion for the mysterious properties of glass. She finds it one of the most fascinating substances to work with because it requires not only art but science as well. That multi-disciplinary quality makes it one of the more unique mediums and is constantly inspired by its ability to “play with light”.
Originally from Wisconsin, her teaching career began with music and Special Education. In 2000 she traded snowy winters for the Sonoran desert and truly feels her heart is at home in Arizona. She took some glass workshops over the years, then enrolled in classes, steadily at PCA for a few years, where her glass passion became a “runaway train”. She has won an International Fine Art Award, has a designer clothing line using some of her glass patterns, has one of her pieces on permanent display in The National Liberty Museum for a technique she developed, and was filmed for the Australian Public Television Art Series “Colour In Your Life”, in circulation around the world. She exhibits regularly and her work is available on commission and through galleries. She loves teaching and sharing her passion with others. www.soulfusionarts.com
Pam moved to Phoenix Arizona in 1981, from Cleveland, Ohio. She had some ceramics training in college, but really developed her love of clay after starting classes at The Phoenix Center for the Arts around 1990. While teaching at the Phoenix Center she has been able to pass along her experience with handbuilding in clay. In her own work she creates whimsical angels, mermaids, flying people and animals. Her other recent work centers around creating a plethora of textures in pieces that express “ Life’s Journey.” She strives to encourage an open, fun, and positive atmosphere for her students to create in.
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.
Shella Parcarey Jacobs is a Filipino writer, baker, and aspiring chocolatier. She is a former journalist who worked as a financial reporter on Wall Street, the Chicago Board of Trade, and Chicago Mercantile Exchange for Dow Jones. Her work has appeared on Dow Jones Newswires, in The Wall Street Journal, and Barron’s. While living in New York, she also reported for Institutional Investor and Bridge News. After moving to Tucson, she wrote for the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen. Shella moved to Phoenix just two years ago and is now the owner of a small baking and chocolate business, shella74 chocolates. Shella earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Yale University, where she was a staff member of the Yale Daily News, the country’s oldest college daily newspaper. During college, she also wrote for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Shella was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States when she was 10 years old. Her first language is Tagalog, but she taught herself English and discovered a love for English literature. As a teenager, she wrote and served as the managing editor of a citywide high school newspaper in Chicago. Currently, Shella is working on a novel based on her experiences growing up in the Philippines. This is her first year teaching at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
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 dance educator, choreographer, and performer based in Phoenix, AZ. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Dance in 2012. As a dance maker, Konzal’s choreographic and performance work has been seen in Arizona, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and North Carolina. She was recognized in 2016 as being a leader in the dance community with a nomination for the Mayor’s Arts Awards. She has also held administrative positions with nationally recognized arts organizations such as The Yard, American Dance Festival, and Ballet Arizona. Currently, Konzal teaches dance to all ages and abilities and is known for cultivating a high energy, judgement free, and positive classroom environment. She believes dance should be accessible to all ages and all body types. Let’s get to work! www.michaelakonzal.dance
Teaches: Adult Dance Fitness Class!
Time: 9:00 am-9:50 am
Cost: $10 drop-in
About the class: Burn up the dance floor and burn calories too! Dance Fitness feels more like a night on the town than exercise. By combining targeted strength training with the artistry of dance, you will drop the pounds and get rapid results while you dance, dance, dance! Anyone can do this, no experience necessary!
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!
Ike Ramalho is a Brazilian guitarist, singer, arranger, music producer, and instructor. He began studying guitar at the age of 10 and has always been connected to Brazilian Music and Jazz. Throughout his early years, he accompanied professional musicians and later began his solo career. After studying at the Paraná Arts College, he began working as a music producer, creating and participating in several musical and cultural projects in Brazil. He has performed with some of the greatest Brazilian musicians. Having recently relocated to Arizona, his performances have been in high demand on important stages, venues, and events. Ike Ramalho presents the modern Brazilian Guitar with innovative arrangements and a touch of Jazz, preserving the true essence of Brazilian Music.
Anne Rasmussen, Ceramics
First year at the Center: 2007
Anne was born in upstate New York and remembers always wanting to do something creative. She dabbled in many disciplines like fibers, writing, photography, metals but found ceramics at a community college in Phoenix, Az. As her practice became more serious, she sought a new challenge: teaching ceramics, which she loves more than would have expected. She has taught adult and children’s classes, as well as classes for Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury patients. While she enjoys handbuilding, her true love is throwing and her current work reflects her interest in Chinese history and shan-shui (mountain-water) landscape painting. “I love working in the arts. It’s an old tome but I have been asked how much I make as an artist and my answer is that I don’t make much money but I do make a life. I think art teaches us more than just how to make something. It teaches us resilience when things don’t go as expected, to become comfortable with ourselves, to think outside of our own boxes and to look at things two, three or more times over. Teaching these things through clay is incredibly rewarding.”
Therosia is a native Arizona artist, poet, singer and actress. She developed her talents as an artist while battling a condition known as “Pseudo Tumor Cerebra”, where brain and spinal cord are under extreme spinal fluid pressure. Art was part of her regimen to maintain fine motor skills and continue her education. Now her artwork is used to inspire others and raise funds to free slaves from sex trafficking.
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.
Nik brings more than 20 years in the arts industry (including theater, spoken word, and music production and youth workshops across the United States, and is currently a Youth Department Head and Resident Artist at Phoenix Center for the Arts Thunderbird Arts Center (Phoenix , AZ).
The founder of AZCRU, an Art+Apparel company based in Phoenix, Arizona, Nik provides fine art for both residential and business interiors and exhibits in galleries and art spaces across the USA.
Nik Ridley is one artist who has creatively morphed his artistic expression into the visual arts and design. His passion and desire is something that can be felt through to the soul of his art. The artists that have struck an “awe” chord with him have been, Jean Michael Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Roman Bearden, Miles Davis and all the Italian Renaissance Artists.
– Wendy L. Pitton R., 303Magazine
“Fine art allows me the freedom to express color, rhythm, text, and content in infinite ways. Design provides a structure for the ideas. And when placed on the right cloth, it’s like a living stage, pen, and canvas all rolled into one.”
Nik also works as a marketing and design consultant and is art curator for CRU:WALK ‘19, an art+fashion runway show in Phoenix, AZ.
Katie is a Phoenix local who works full-time doing marketing for nonprofits. She has a love for reading, writing and the arts. She earned her Bachelors in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. While her work requires writing professionally, conducting interviews and telling stories for PR, she still explores fiction and nonfiction writing in her free time.
Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow is the author of the poetry collections Horn Section All Day Every Day, and The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor (Salmon Poetry, 2018, and 2012, respectively), as well as the chapbook Old School Superhero Loves a Good Wristwatch (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Honors include the Red Hen Press Poetry Award, the Tusculum Review Poetry Prize, Willow Review Prize for Poetry, a Beullah Rose/Smartish Pace Poetry Prize, and three Pushcart Prize nominations, two of which were from the Pushcart Prize Board of Contributing Editors.
Her poems have been featured in numerous anthologies, including: The Plume Anthology of Poetry 5, Plume Poetry Anthology 7, Even the Daybreak: 35 Years of Salmon Poetry, and Drawn to Marvel: Poems From the Comic Books. Her poetry has appeared widely, nationally and internationally, including The American Journal of Poetry, American Literary Review, American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Fjords Review, Folio, Fourteen Hills, Georgetown Review, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, J Journal, Live Encounters International, The Los Angeles Review, Main Street Rag, Salamander, Santa Clara Review, Smartish Pace, South Dakota Review, Texas Review, and Verse Daily. New poetry is forthcoming in Gargoyle and Plume.
She is a Poetry Instructor at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, Changing Hands Bookstore-Tempe, the Desert Botanical Garden-Phoenix, as well as community poetry workshops throughout the East Valley Phoenix area. She had her own legal business as a certified paralegal for 22 years.
Joshua Taff, Photography
First year at the Center: 2020
Joshua Taff is a commercial photographer in Phoenix, AZ. His area of expertise is in the realms of portrait, editorial and lifestyle photography. Over the past 20 years, his photographs have been printed in publications locally and nationally. Billboards and other advertisements have featured his work for agencies. In addition, he has been the featured artist in First Friday gallery events in downtown, Phoenix.
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.
Tiffany Velazquez’s work with movement began at Yuma Ballet Academy where she studied the classical forms of ballet and contemporary. After high school, she had an opportunity to attend Utah Valley University. After her first year in Utah, she followed pursuit back to Arizona after losing interest in traditional conservatory models. At Arizona State University, she grew into finding a voice as an artist through the introduction of unfamiliar movement styles. As well as exploring various art mediums lead by professors with an array of art modalities. In spring 2018, she co-produced ‘The Delight Manifesto’ and presented her own work, ‘Nogitivity: ‘Heartbreak-Falling in Love’. This production was a full evening multi-media performance with original works at The Unexpected Gallery in Downtown Phoenix. This past summer of 2018 she had the opportunity to attend ‘American Dance Festival’; a six-week summer intensive at Duke University in North Carolina. At ADF, she honed her craft for movement choreography by entering work into the student performance and created a duet, “It’s Not that Serious”. In the same summer she also attended ‘Illadelphia: Legends’ a week long intensive solely focusing on urban dance forms. Professionally, she has performed with CONDER/dance at Beta Dance Festival, Phoenix Art Museum, and Tiny Dances. The Sizzle Series for [nueBOX] in a work by Felix El Cruz, JordanDanielsDance at Mesa Arts Center, Scottsdale Community College, and Breaking Ground, and Liliana Gomez for ArtDetour in Warehouse 215 at Bentley Projects and Park Central/Grand Opening. Tiffany is involved at Phoenix Center for the Arts where she teaches both youth and adult creative, ballet, and improvisatory classes.
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.