Meet our Instructors and Staff

ArtsConnect is proud to employ a well-rounded and highly professional staff of teaching artists and arts educators.  On this page, you will be able to read about each instructor, find out what each one teaches, and follow a link to their class web pages.  We hope that you will enjoy the ArtsConnect classes and each instructor's approach.  If you are not sure what kind of class to take, then check out our Wednesday Workshops taught by our own instructors.  Those happen one time and allow you to get to know our instructors and how they teach.

sydney

Sydney Gentry-Barth is currently a Fine Arts and Art Education major at the University of Cincinnati in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Sydney's focus of her studies is photography and videography.  She enjoys working with children and creating curriculum that is interesting and appropriate for their development levels.  Sydney has been trained in Social Justice Art Education where sensitivity to inclusion is prevalent in the curriculum.  Sydney teaches the Kids Painting & Drawing Class.

Charlie Berger is a professional artist and sculptor with more than 35 years of teaching experience, most recently as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Design at the University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Charlie holds a B.A. in Art from Dickinson College and a M.F.A. from the School of Art in the College of DAAP at the University of Cincinnati.  He is an energetic and articulate educator with significant and in-depth teaching, teacher training, and management experience.  Charlie has developed curricula, courses, and written and edited books and articles for techniques, materials, and artistic methods.  He holds classes at multiple locations in Cincinnati.  His greatest pleasure comes from helping adults and younger artists develop creativity and significant skills in drawing and painting. Charlie is teaching the ArtsConnect Drawing Class on Thursdays 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. and the ArtsConnect Oil Painting Class on Wednesdays from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Gary Brooks - watercolor artist

John Carpenter is a concert pianist. He has won First Place in the Intercontinental Piano Competition in New York, 2018, Professional Division First Place, Alexander Peskanov Composer Award, Professional Division. He holds an Artist Diploma from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the highest degree available for piano performance awarded at the school, Masters of Music from Manhattan School of Music and Bachelor’s in Music from Manhattan school of Music. He has recently played in the Los Angeles area with the orchestra and at the NAMM monster concerts and with Dayton philharmonic. John is the first place winner of the BMTA International Piano Competition for solo pianists. He plays the traditional service for Mother of God in Covington and for the Wyoming Choir, and has a Radio show on WAIF 88.3 F.M. in Cincinnati, “Music Making Together – a building community program”. John teaches a workshop about learning how to be a radio show host, Creative Radio Broadcast and Audacious Audacity Workshop. Dr. John assists Ms. Suzanne with the ArtsConnect Private and Group Piano Lessons. Together, they own True Virtuoso Piano Studio.

Suzanne Carpenter
Charlie Berger

Gary Brooks began formal art training at Kent State University but finished at the University of Cincinnati where he earned both a B.F.A. in painting and a M.A. in Art Education.  While at UC, he began painting exclusively. He later worked as a studio artist with wildlife artist John A. Ruthven, worked in corporate theater production, and later earned a second Masters degree and a Doctorate in Educational Administration.

After private tutoring from Gary Akers (AWS), Brooks began painting sharp focus watercolors and egg tempera.  He has since continued watercolor studies. Gary is a member of the Ohio and Kentucky Watercolor Societies, the National Association of Painters in Casein and Acrylic, the International Watercolor Society, and the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society.  

Brooks’ watercolors and egg tempera paintings can be found in multiple private and corporate collections throughout the Midwest and at www.garybrooksart.com. Gary teaches the Watercolor Class for ArtsConnect.

John Carpenter

Suzanne Carpenter is a highly trained and experienced piano teacher. She studied at Oberlin College and Conservatory while attending grade school. She attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy. Suzanne has her Bachelor of Fine Arts in music (and art, drama, dance and creative writing)  from the University of Connecticut and Masters studies at Antioch in Special Education. She taught at East Manhattan School for Bright and Gifted in New York, taught in Mt. Healthy schools pre K-12, and has run 3 piano studios. Ms. Suzanne teaches the ArtsConnect Private and Group Piano Lessons. Ms. Suzanne and Dr. John both own True Virtuoso Piano Studio.

Dave Davis (Magic Dave) has over 40 years of experience entertaining audiences from coast to coast. He has a unique, delightful, and zany brand of entertainment which he brings to his classes. Dave has taught students of all ages over the years. He uses the internationally recognized program of Discover Magic. This program offers important interpersonal life skills and is based on the 8 positive character traits a true magician. Join Magic Davis on Tuesdays for Magic 1 and Wednesdays for Magic 2.

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Sharon Doering

Sharon Doering is a mother, artist, a board certified and licensed art therapist, supervisor, educator, avid traveler, and a “decent” cook.  She holds a B.A. in Fine Arts, an M.A. in Art Therapy, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. Her focus of her doctoral research was the recovery of human trafficking survivors.  Dr. Doering has taught courses in human development, mental health, cognitive-behavioral therapy, diversity, and communication skills at the community, undergraduate, and graduate levels.  Her work spans hospitals, schools, and residential facilities with adults, teens, and children.  Dr. Doering currently runs a private practice, Discover Solutions, LLC, that assists people to discover creative solutions in their lives. Sharon teaches ArtsConnect Tiny Tots Family Art and Yoga weekly classes and various Art and Mindfulness Workshops on Saturdays.

Willie Evans is an artist and framer and the owner of Art Expectations, Ltd., custom wall art designs for commercial and residential clients.  Mr. Evans has been involved in framing since the middle 1970s.  He is a native of Crawfordville, Georgia but spent most of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He learned framing design and techniques through several framing schools affiliated with the Professional Picture Framers Association.  Mr. Evans completed his advanced training in 1986. Through the 1980s, he operated several framing shops.  He has since offered framing as a mobile service.  Mr. Evans is known for his work with many local galleries.  Many clients of his comment on his patience, his precision, and his keen eye for color and moulding choices.Willie teaches the ArtsConnect Picture Framing Classes.

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 Marian Fisher began oil painting lessons in 2008 in Morgantown West Virginia. She was inspired by her fraternal grandmother who, at age 82, began in oils to help alleviate arthritis pain. Marian also became active in the artist community as member and then President of the Morgantown Art Association. She moved to Cincinnati Ohio for retirement and slowly found good art teachers and great organizations. When asked about working with oils, her answer was definite. “I only work in oils because they are so forgiving and also fun.” She shares her thoughts on her passion.  “Painting is a priority because I’d like to leave a little something of myself behind for family and friends.” 

In addition to art, Fisher is a member of two book clubs and a proud grandma of three. Marian teaches various painting workshops for ArtsConnect.

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Todd Feazell is a local native potter from Mt Healthy. Todd owns Feazell Pottery, specializing in functional pottery and producing reduction fired stoneware. Feazell Pottery (formerly A Touch of Earth Pottery) was started in 1994. By 2003 Todd was a full-time production potter exhibiting in many juried art fairs each year. He first got interested in pottery at Finneytown High School, then built his first kick wheel, and bought a small used kiln. Todd furthered his knowledge of pottery in classes and workshops at Miami and Cincinnati Universities, as well as, attending 10 summers at the renowned Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA) in British Columbia. At MISSA, Todd attended workshops and worked as an instructor’s tech for some of North America’s most renowned potters: Robin Hopper, creator of MISSA and “glaze guru,” Tom Coleman, Randy Brodnax and Patrick Horstley. The knowledge and influence Todd gained from these respected potters helped to shape his own unique style. Todd teaches ArtsConnect Intro to Wheel class on Thursday mornings from 10 am – 12:30 pm.

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Joshua Fisher is a trained carpenter and a seasoned woodshop instructor, having taught woodworking for over 10 years.  He has taught numerous Woodworking classes for Tri-county Woodcraft in Springdale and currently teaches private lessons in his home studio.  Joshua also teaches Blacksmithing once a month to veterans in the Wounded Warrior program.  He takes great pride in helping the veterans learn new and useful skills.  Joshua brings his vast experience to ArtsConnect where he teaches Woodworking and Blacksmithing classes for adults.

Jamie Grauvogel is a ceramic artist, art educator and owner of Graybird Pottery, LLC. She received a BA in Art Education and BFA in ceramics at Mount Saint Joseph University. As an educator and professional artist Jamie has a constant thirst for knowledge, trying new techniques and finding new innovative ways to create. Jamie brings these new innovations into her classroom in the ArtsConnect Hand-building PotteryPottery Wheel classes and into her creative Pottery workshops.

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Heather Hitchman is an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Southern State Community College, Hillsboro, Ohio.  She is also the Nature Shop Manager at Cincinnati Nature Center.  Heather holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History and Art Education from Mt. St. Joseph, a Master of Arts in Art Education from Miami University and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Tennessee. Heather teaches the  Stained Glass Classes, Pint-Size Picassos, and various Workshops.

Mary Jesse has been sewing since she was 7 years old. She first learned to sew from her mother then continued in Home Economics in Jr. High and High School. In 2017, she took her love for sewing to a new level and started her own "LLC" business making t-shirt quilts and decorative pillowcases.  Mary’s personalized quilts and pillowcases become meaningful treasures for lasting memories. She is excited to be teaching Kids Sewing for ArtsConnect on Thursdays at 4:30 - 6:00 pm and looks forward to teaching kids how to make their own lasting treasures.

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Mary Jessee headshot

Claudia López is a 300-Hour Jivamukti Yoga Instructor. She has 20 years of experience practicing yoga. Claudia studied Jivamukti Yoga with Sharon Gannon and David Life, creators of the Jivamukti Yoga method. Claudia also completed an Apprenticeship program with local renowned Movement Specialist and Artist, Fanchon Shur. Claudia was previously an international humanitarian worker throughout several countries in Africa and South America. She is currently the founder and CEO of Profluence, a business coaching organization. Claudia is an executive coach for businesses combining methodology of mind, body, and data. Join Claudia Thurday nights for Jivamukti Yoga.

Gary Lord is a professional decorative painter and has recently retired from a 40-year career as a decorative painter and owner of his company, Gary Lord Wall Options.  During his tenure, his company won 10 National awards for being the "Best in Craft."  Gary also owned and ran a school for decorative painting for over 25 years.  As a teacher, he was showcased on hundreds of "how to" radio and television programs teaching his award winning finishes.  For over 30 years, Gary has taught both nationally and internationally.  He specializes in water-based paints and enjoys sharing his talents with other adults.  Gary holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ohio State University. Gary teaches  various creative Workshops for ArtsConnect.

Gary Lord
Paul Mato

 Paul Mato is a graduate of Kent State University with a major in Photo Journalism.  He worked as a news photographer at WKBN-TV in Youngstown, Ohio for 6 years and WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio for 32 years.  After he retired, Paul has served as a volunteer photographer for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers at Caesar Creek State Park.  His role was to photograph events and to hold photography workshops. Paul later attended the National Geographic nature and landscape photography workshops by photographers Michael Melford and Eddie Soloway.  His love for landscape and nature photography has led to photographing in over 30 of the nation’s National Parks and countless state and local parks.  His personal teaching goal is to share his love and knowledge of photography with others.  Paul teaches the Digital Photography Class for ArtsConnect.

Gregory Petersen is the author of three novels: Dancing With The Locust, Open Mike, and The Dream Thief, which is set for a May 26th release through Morgan James Publishing. He was also the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Mannie Award from the Midwest Writers Workshop, and he is hard at work finishing up his newest novel, 20 After.

When he is not wrangling blank pages he loves to spend time with his family, root (often in vain) for Cincinnati sports teams, volunteer for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, and he is the current director of softball for the Finneytown Athletic Association.

“Gregory Petersen delivers what few authors can: Vivid storytelling, dreamlike imagination, and remarkable characters who cling to you long after you close the book.” - Trace Conger, Author of The Shadow Broker and The Prison Guard’s Son. Greg teaches ArtsConnect Writing and Publishing Workshop.

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Greg Peterson

Nancy Pushkar is an actress, screenwriter, acting coach for teens and tweens, and also an artist. She uses her talents in every aspect of her life, noting, “Creativity makes every day more enjoyable.” Nancy is the owner of Crazy Cat Lady Productions LLC. She has produced and written a two series drama/comedy called, The Randoms, currently in post-production and has recently begun pre-production for a series, Dr. G & Mia. She has studied acting and Improv on the east and west coasts and continues her acting studies in Cincinnati. Nancy has degrees in art education and psychology. Nancy will be teaching First Act! Kids Theater Class on Mondays, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. at ArtsConnect Community Art Center.

Heidi Rice is a Springfield Township resident, wife and mother of three. She teaches Embriodery Workshops for ArtsConnect.  Heidi learned to sew and embroider as a pre-teen in the 4-H program. She enjoys making all types textile projects, like quilting, garment making, knitting, crochet, cross stitch, and embroidery, as well as, home DIY projects, and baking. Heidi taught sewing and quilting classes for 4 years at Sewn Studio. Her favorite part of teaching textile classes is watching the joy and relaxation that people get from creating things with their own hands. Heidi shows people that the craft of embroidery, sewing and quilting can be trendy and modern, and that they can sew stylish garments to make traditional or modern works of art.

Heidi Rice. Sewing Instructor
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Kelly Richey is one of the hardest-working independent musicians in the music industry today.  A blues rocker and veteran guitar-slinger described as “Stevie Ray Vaughn trapped in a woman’s body, with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” Kelly is a guitar teacher with over 30 years of experience and has taught over 1,000 guitar students to play from all over the world.  As a songwriter and recording artist, Kelly has released 16 CDs. Fronting her band, she has played over 4,000 shows and logged a mind-boggling 1 million road miles, throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, and Australia.  Discover the power of Kelly Richey’s music instruction in one of ArtsConnect’s Saturday Guitar Workshops.

Erica Robinson-Gripp has a passion for line dancing and her contagious enthusiasm fills her classes.  She has been 100% all in since first being introduced to the fun of Line Dancing in 1991-1992.  She never stops embracing the fun of learning and teaching line dances to all genres of music. Erica has been teaching consistently, several classes a week in the  tri-state area, since November 2011.  She was recently invited to teach at Jesus camp in Nantucket. Her favorite reminder is. "There are no mistakes in line dancing, only options!" Erica teaches ArtsConnect Line Dancing on Tuesdays.

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Leila Srouji is a Louisville, Kentucky native who transplanted to the Queen City six years ago and received a bachelors degree from the University of Cincinnati. After a six week beginner’s throwing course at Core Clay she instantly fell in love with pottery and has not looked back since. She did a one year residency at Core Clay where she taught beginner wheel throwing courses and learned the ins and outs of running a pottery studio. Since completing her residency, Leila has moved into a private studio of her own where she is pursuing a full time career in ceramics. Her dream is to outfit restaurants and cafes with her tableware collections but for now she is focused on offering work via online shop restocks on Etsy.

Leila finds much of her inspiration from her world travels. Growing up in a multicultural household had a lasting affect on her perspective and appreciation for the arts in different countries. She wishes to turn habitual moments in the home, such as morning coffee or dinner prep, into meaningful experiences that encourage us to appreciate the little joys in life. You can find Leila’s work on Etsy at TierraMadera Ceramics or on instagram @tierra.madera.ceramics

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Tamara White is a Nurse Practitioner for adults and geriatrics.  She uses yoga everyday with her patients helping them to breath and to be more present. Tamara believes that ’Motion is Lotion’ to our joints and moving is vital to our health. Tamara uses Yoga techniques in her classes to teach students how to move and stretch properly.  Her chair yoga class helps students with balance, flexibility and strength which are key to living a  meaningful life. Join Tamara Thursday mornings for The Power of Self-Care Chair Yoga.

Dianne Schreck holds a B.S. in Music and Social Studies, a M.Ed. in Secondary Education, and an Associate Degree in Computer Programming. She began teaching general music in Winton Woods, worked as a computer based trainer, and returned to teaching instrumental music in the 90's.  She was employed by The Music Staff, an organization that provides band teachers for Catholic Schools. With over 20 years of experience leading grade school and junior high bands, she became the band director for many Cincinnati based Parochial Schools.  Dianne worked for 20 years through 2018 and currently continues as the band director at St Boniface School. Dianne’s major instrument is the French horn and Trumpet for marching band.

Leila pottery

Katherine K. Smith is an artist, art educator, and education adviser. She is an adjunct professor of the School of Art DAAP at University of Cincinnati, Katherine holds a B.F.A. from Wittenberg University and both a M.A. in Art Education and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Miami University. Her paintings and murals are found in homes, public buildings, and as illustrations in books and book covers. Her published writing is found in teaching, curriculum, and education journals. Katherine has served as an adjunct instructor for Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She has taught curriculum leadership classes and Art Education classes for Elementary Education majors and has taught Art Appreciation for undergraduate students. Katherine also consults with Woodford Paideia Academy in Cincinnati Public Schools to assist with their integration of the arts into the classroom curricula. Prior to her university teaching, Katherine was a middle school art teacher at Tower Heights Middle School in Centerville, Ohio. Katherine has conducted research with ArtsConnect.

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Jennifer Watson on the wheel

Lisa Zupon is a career Visual Arts Educator teaching for 30+ years. She has taught all ages from Preschool to Adult, in public, private and charter schools, in colleges and in community art centers. Lisa taught 24 years in the US teaching Visual Art to grades K-12 and then began an 11-yr international teaching career. She taught secondary Visual Art and AP Studio Art in Egypt and Taiwan, then taught English in China.  She volunteered in extremely poor village schools in Tanzania and Uganda for a year teaching Art and English.

Lisa has a BS in Art Education from Case Western Reserve, an Art Certificate from Cleveland Institute of Art and a Masters in Elementary Education from Kent State University. She also has a TESOL/TEFEL certification for teaching English as a second language.  

Lisa received numerous awards for teaching art: Case Western Reserve Hazel Gibbs Excellence in Art Education, Northeast Ohio Art Teacher of the Year and Superintendents Teacher of the Year.

Lisa has held various leadership roles from the Head of two Art Departments, Program Director at a technology company to her current position as Education Director for ArtsConnect. Lisa has brought her passion for teaching and directing to ArtsConnect to help build strong and varied programs.

Jennifer Watson received her MFA from the University of Cincinnati DAAP in 2018. She has 10 years of wheel throwing experience and has been teaching ceramics since 2015. In addition to teaching, she runs her own small pottery business. Jennifer teaches the ArtsConnect Date Night Pottery classes.  

Lisa Zupon