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Instructors

MEG BALKOVITZ
Meg Balkovitz grew up in the Pittsburgh area. She studied ceramics at CCAC And was mentored by ceramics masters of fine arts Scott Cornish of CCAC and Daniel Kuhn of Ton Pottery. Meg has worked in the ceramics field as a student study at CCAC, assisted at Touchstone Center for Crafts in teaching, multiple woodfire kiln firings, studio teaching and tech at Ton Pottery and personal lessons from her own studio.  Meg currently works out of her own studio making mainly functional pottery using electronic, soda, gas and woodfire kilns.  Her work has been on exhibit and for sale at Sweetwater and many nonprofit events to help nonprofit organizations.

DIANNE BAUMAN
Dianne is a retired art teacher from the Montour School District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She has been an artist all of her life, but started studying painting seriously over the past 25 years.  Dianne has studied under such renowned artists as James Sulkowski, James Douglas Adams, Thomas McNickel, Ron Donoughe, and Nelson Shanks.   Her artwork has been in local as well as national art shows winning numerous awards including "Best of Show".  She is a member of Pittsburgh Society of Artists, Western Pennsylvania Plein Air Painters and belongs to the Beaver Valley Artists Association and West Hills Art League. Dianne loves to travel and paint. Her recent trip was to Baja, Mexico where she actually was able to raft alongside, and touch, dozens of grey whales and their babies. She has painted in Monet's Gardens in France and the Galapagos Islands, as well as numerous other locations. 

BEVERLEE BLAIR
Beverlee Blair, a graduate of Boston University, has been a lifelong student of English literature, psychology, history and the arts (having studied both dance and acting). Ms. Blair has worked variously as a court-appointed private investigator, performance artist and teacher of creative writing for teens and adults on both the east and west coasts. Her short plays have been produced in both California and Pennsylvania and her short stories have been published locally. She is currently at work on a collection of short stories, a novel and a television series loosely based on her experience as a private investigator.

ANGELA BIEDERMAN
Angela Biederman is a sculptural artist whose primary medium is clay. The natural world has always been the principle influence of her work, and it is often used to also recognize personal and human endeavors such as growth, relationships, and existence. Angela earned her Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in ceramics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2010. She maintained a personal studio in Milwaukee for over four years before beginning her graduate studies in the ceramics department at Kent State University in the Fall of 2014. Before earning her MFA in May of 2016, she taught ceramics at Kent State, and was the Curatorial Assistant in the School of Art Galleries. She has exhibited nationall at NCECA's Providence and Philadelphia conferences, locally where she resides in Pittsburgh, and regionally in Kent, Cleveland, Columbus, Milwaukee, and the John Michael Kohler Center for the Arts in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. www.angelabiederman.com

DRAPER & DOTS (JORDAN MROZIAK & LISA BELCZYK)
Draper & Dots was founded on three simple principals - the arts should be unconditionally fun, universally accessible, and deeply meaningful for everyone. Sharing these core beliefs and having worked in a variety of educational environments, our central team brings to bear over 15 years of arts education experience. With a specific emphasis on building creativity, Draper & Dots have worked throughout the Western Pennsylvania area and have presented nationally to support learners, educators, and organizations in developing their imaginative, innovative, and expressive capacities. Our work in formal and informal learning spaces as well as nonprofit organizations has given us unique insight into the significance of providing flexible and engaging educational offerings - offerings that open new pathways for personal and professional development. www.draperanddots.com

DOUG BROWN
A Pittsburgh native, Doug attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.  Dough recently returned to Pittsburgh after pursuing a career as a package designer and freelance artist for almost forty years in northeastern Pennsylvania.  He is a signature member and past president of the Pennsylvania En Plein Air Society.  For the past fifteen years, he has taught watercolor classes and shared his love of the beauty of colors with students at several art leagues, both in group and individual formats.  He has given both demonstrations and workshops that benefited both beginners as well as more advanced students.  Doug has exhibited in many areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida and is currently represented by Matthews Gallery in Bellevue and Bottlebrush Gallery in Harmony.

DAVID COOPER
David Cooper is a commercial photographer based in Pittsburgh and has been an instructor at Sweetwater for over ten years. David combines his fine art photography background with his commercial experience to bring a balance to the art and craft of photography. His work has been exhibited in numerous local galleries, and is represented by Getty Images.

TERESA DUFF
Teresa holds a B.A. in Art History and an M.S. in Historic Preservation.  Previously, she worked in education and research at the Getty Museum, conservation at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, and currently teaches early-childhood art education at the Mattress Factory.  In addition to art pedagogy, Teresa is a freelance conservator specializing in outdoor sculpture, architecture and monuments.

JEFFREY ELLSWORTH
Jeff Ellsworth is an accomplished guitarist who has been playing and composing for over twenty years.  He's played on numerous recordings for major independent labels and has toured with several bands throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.  From a young age, he studied with talented instructors both independently and at Duquesne University.  Jeff personalizes lessons accordingly, making his class a favorite of students of various skills levels and ages.  His lessons are focused on the genre requested by the student and follow an intuitive pace on the fundamentals of guitar and bass guitar. 

PAT FALBO
A teacher by profession, Pat loves sharing her knowledge of metal and design with interested students. She is a member of the Craftsmen's Guild of Pittsburgh and is a contributing artist member at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Her business, Jewelry Art by Pat Falbo, furnishes unique pieces to boutiques and galleries in Pittsburgh and Charleston, SC. www.pittsburghsilversmiths.com/PatFalbo.html

NICK GRYSZKA
With over 30 years of experience in the food service, Chef Nick Gryszka has worked in many facets of the industry. From restaurants, hotels, business and industry cooking, and healthcare he has been exposed to a wide variety of kitchens and cuisines. He has also taught culinary arts for 5 1/2 years at Bidwell Training Center working in every classroom on every subject. He not only taught the students but helped to teach the new instructors as well. Chef Nick simply says "I loves to teach!" "I enjoy passing on the information to people who have an interest in learning about cooking." "The biggest kick I get is when a new student gets excited about what they have learned". "I keep the lessons simple and the ingredients used can be bought at your local grocery store." " I believe in giving people their money's worth, so when you take one of my classes you not only learn but you go home with all of the recipes taught in the class and can recreate them the very next day." He has also run the gamut in his career. He has worked in many leadership positions such as Roundsman, Sous Chef, Executive Sous Chef, Executive Chef, and Food and Beverage Manager. He is glad to be part of the Sweetwater family where minds can grow with the help of passion and creativity.

RON JESIOLOWSKI
Although Ron has been drawing and painting since he was about 3 years old (now 63), he began his career studying painting and drawing at Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He continued honing his skills and style over the years while accomplishing an extremely successful career in corporate design, leading large design departments for both industrial and consumer product corporations such as Westinghouse, DelMonte, GlaxoSmithKline among others and eventually completed a degree in art from Art Institute of Pittsburgh and an MBA in International Design from Westminster College in London, England. His art direction and design has graced the packaging and branding initiatives of many popular and diverse global consumer products including: Aquafresh, TUMS, Nicorette,  Milkbone, 9 Lives, Kibbles and Bits, Meow Mix, Starkist, among many others.

His fine art work has gained critical acclaim and has been featured in exhibitions throughout the Pittsburgh region including the Scaiffe Gallery, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Carnegie Museum. He is a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and is currently Professor of Drawing, Painting, and Printmaking at Waynesburg University.

Ron has a reputation of nurturing creativity and skill through personal coaching to one's own skill level, strengths and personalities from the beginner to the professional. His philosophy is that there is no "Right Way" of drawing or painting and that each person expresses themselves in their own unique personal style. "My job is to simply provide a few technical tools, and nurture creative expression along the way." End result is an enjoyable, fun class with work that is personally expressive and surprisingly rewarding.

SHERRI KELLY
Sherri Kelly offers the total package for a successful food operation. Her passion for the culinary arts led her to develop her own business, Mezza Luna Café. As a café owner and custom caterer, Sherri has extensive networking relationships within the private, public, and government sectors. She has both attended and participated in various food expos and trade shows nationally. The Mezza Luna Café has received numerous awards and accolades for its high quality and amazing food and pastry combinations. As a food expert, Sherri keeps informed of new and innovative trends in the marketplace. She lends her expertise to various non-profit organizations in the Cranberry Township and surrounding communities. She is formerly a financial planner with 15 years experience. Sherri worked with multi-million dollar clients successfully managing their assets and developing financial analyses. Sherri holds a business degree from Robert Morris University.

ALEXANDRA LAKIN
Alexandra Lakin is an artist, educator and curator born and raised in New York State. She has a BFA in Painting and Printmaking and an MFA in Electronic Integrated Arts from The School of Art and Design at Alfred University, NYSCC. In between degrees she worked in architectural metal fabrication and the web industry in NYC. After 2 years of assistant teaching during graduate school, she was Visiting Assistant Professor in Drawing at Drake University in Iowa during 2006-7. In addition, she has worked as an art educator with high school, middle school and elementary school students in programs in New Mexico, Oregon and finally Los Angeles, CA where she lived for 8 years before moving to the Pittsburgh area in 2015. She continues to show her artwork nationally and internationally. www.alexandralakin.com

SARAH MAMMAY
Pittsburgh native, received her BA in Art Education from Carlow University in 2010. Sarah has been teaching at Sweetwater since 2011. She has also taught at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Museum. Sarah is an elementary art teacher at Fairview Elementary in the Fox Chapel Area School District. Sarah specializes in drawing, painting, mixed media, and screen printing. She also enjoys making jewelry and crafting.

MARY CLAIRE NEMETH
Mary Claire Nemeth received her BA in Visual Arts and Art History from Columbia University and her MA in Apparel Design from Cornell University. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Textiles at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She works with a variety of materials and techniques including printmaking processes on textiles and paper, drawing and sketching, and collage.

SALLY OBERDICK
Sally Oberdick has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and elementary teacher certification from Chatham College. She has taught the pre-kindergarten class at a local pre-school for 11 years and has taught children's classes at Sweetwater for 10 years. She is also a substitute teacher through the Northern Area Teacher Service.

JOYCE WERWIE PERRY
Joyce Werwie Perry is the owner of le Poire, a fine art studio and gallery located at 11 E Crafton Avenue in the heart of Crafton near the West End of Pittsburgh.  Joyce has won numerous awards in regional and national exhibitions, including juror's awards given by such people as Douglas Fogle,  Curator of Contemporary Art at Carnegie Museum of Art, Virginia Mecklenberg,    Curator at The Smithsonian,Washington, D.C and Faith Ringgold , renowned international artist and Caldicott Award winner among others.  Most recently, Joyce received the prestigious Westmoreland Museum Exhibition Award by Curator Barb Jones for a solo exhibition in 2010. Her work has been shown at Carnegie Museum of Art, Andy Warhol Museum, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Butler Museum of American Art in Youngstown ,Ohio, Avampato Discovery Museum  in Charleston, West Virginia, Duquesne University, Seton Hill University, Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts,  and many other local galleries.  Joyce is a member and former Vice President /Exhibitions Co-Chair of The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and has nationally over 110 works in private and public collections nationally. She also teaches her original knife technique at le Poire as well as Touchstone Center for the Arts near Uniontown, PA. Her websites can be found at joycewerwieperry.com and le-poire.com.

VANESSA ROSSI
Vanessa Rossi is a certified art education teacher who possesses a lifelong passion in her field.  As a Sweetwater Instructor, she has taught a variety of children at summer camps, After-School programs at St. James and Cornell, and art workshops throughout the year.  In addition, Vanessa also collaborated with Summerbridge Pittsburgh to provide arts enrichment to middle school students facing limited opportunities.  Vanessa also teaches visual art through Lincoln Park Performing Art Center's ArtReach program, which offers hands-on classes to PA Cyber school students throughout Pennsylvania.  As an artist and educator, Vanessa's talents embody various styles and mediums including: painting, sculpture, ceramics, mixed media, jewelry, fibers, assemblage, and photography.  Her unique, diverse, and often nature inspire artwork is exhibited regionally in various galleries and festivals.

JONATHAN SCHWARZ
Jonathan Schwarz received his B.F.A. from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in Edinboro, PA, and an M.F.A from Kent State University in Kent, OH. Schwarz's recent works are an investigation into the simple act of making. Using only his hands, Schwarz creates forms that interrelate and rely on one another to exist. Schwarz has shown nationally from Texas to Oregon to Pennsylvania. He currently works as a studio artist and owns and operates a kiln repair business in Pittsburgh, PA. www.instagram.com/jon_schwarz/

COLLEEN SHERTS
Colleen earned her B.S. in Art Education from Indiana University of PA. She teaches art to all ages from age 3 to 93. In addition to substitute teaching in the public schools K-12, she instructs in a variety of settings such as after school programs, scout workshops, mommy and me classes, ladies night out classes, adult day care and nursing homes. Her art endeavors were in a "holding pattern" for 23 years while she was a flight attendant, but are "taking off" as she pursues her art interests. Her pastel paintings which she exhibits locally have won several awards and she enjoys working with mixed media and collage. She likes to convey the expression that "art is from the heart" and loves to share her knowledge and love of art with her students. She is a member of CAN ( Cranberry Artists Network.)


JEANNE SHUFF
Jeanne has been beading for over ten years and has taught at numerous bead stores in the greater Pittsburgh area. She currently works at Crystal Bead Bazaar in Lawrenceville where teaches basic bead weaving classes. She has been represented at several galleries in Pitstburgh and participates in local art and craft shows, inluding Sweetwater's annual Holiday mART.

JAMES SULKOWSKI
James Sulkowski is a classical artist in the tradition of the Masters. His adherence to Old Master concepts and techniques gives his work both timeless and luminous qualities. His dramatic effects of light and use of deep, rich color have attracted private, corporate and public collectors worldwide including former President and Mrs George H.W. Bush, the Saudi Arabian Royal Family and the Metropolitan Opera of New York. James studied at the famed Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts , at Carnegie-Mellon University and most notably with master artist Frank Mason at the Art Students League of New York. James is listed in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICAN ART and has authored four books including MASTERING OIL PAINTING which is published by Walter Foster books. He has appeared in and written articles for several national magazines including AMERICAN ARTIST , AMERICAN ART REVIEW, US ART , and ART & ANTIQUES . James' work has been published by NORTH LIGHT BOOKS in THE BEST OF FLOWER PAINTING 1 & 2 .Among his many awards is the Helen DeCozen Award for Best Floral Painting. James feels that teaching is an integral part of his artistic life and he loves to share whatever knowledge he has of the " nuts and bolts " as well as the joy of painting in his National Workshops. www.jamessulkowski.com

For mobile devices : www.jamessulkowskifineart.com

AMY SHORT
Amy is a sculptor, painter, illustrator and lover of all art including music and theatre. She received her Bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh with majors in Art and French. She also studied at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland and was an apprentice to artist Gerardo Dicrola in Paris, France. Amy is influenced by traditional sculptors like Rodin and Giacometti and contemporary artists like Valerie Hadida, Julie Taymor and Tim Burton. She is an active member of the West Hills Art League and currently works out of her home studio selling her work online (amyshortart.com) and in galleries and shows around Pittsburgh. www.amyshortart.weebly.com/

RON THURSTON
"A surge of visual impact here, a wisp of creative style there, if it looks good, leave it alone."  Ron Thurston is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society and a past President of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society.  He is a founding member of Pittsburgh Under Water and a member of the Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators.  Ron has a long career as a commercial artist, whether from design firms in the advertising market, or in the personal commission field where his reputation as one of the area's premier watercolor painters brings many buyers to his work.  Ron's favorite borrowed philosophy comes from the artist Henry Koerner: "If you do something with love, love looks back at you."  For ten years Ron was the President of Watercolors, an artist-owned gallery located in the heart of Pittsburgh's downtown cultural district.  He currently teaches watercolor workshops at Sweetwater and Touchstone. www.ronthurston.net

JILL VALENZUELA
A native of Indiana, Jill Valenzuela earned her BS in Art from Ball State University in 1977. She worked for almost thirty years in the field of Interior Design and Sales finding ways to creatively enhance the living and working spaces of her clients. After retiring from her first career in 2006, Jill explored her passion for weaving, embroidery, stitching, sewing and metal work. In 2013 Jill discovered the world of Eco printing (contact printing with nature), Natural Dyeing and Rusting. She found that these  processes brought a new level to her Art. Jill works intuitively to  make what moves her. She practices Wabi Sabi---Finding the Beauty in the Imperfections. Jill brings all her loves together  to work harmoniously and cohesively with one another. She incorporates all her passions into making one of a kind Art – Wearable Art and Wall Art. www.facebook.com/FiberLady/

 

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