Teachers

Marissa Isch

Marissa Isch is native to Colorado but spent over 20 years on the East Coast where she graduated from Pratt Institute with a B.F.A in creative writing and attended The New School NY for media studies, with a concentration in conceptual art. She returned to Denver in 2014, and continues to write and strives to expand her painting abilities by experimenting with varied mediums and subject matters. She enjoys reading and knitting, playing legos and crafting with her two sons, and finding new adventures in the mountains with her whole family. Marissa is certified in Early Intervention Infant and Toddler ASL and has a level IV ECE Teaching and Director Qualification Certificate through Colorado Shines Professional Development. She has a cumulative five years of experience creating and facilitating curriculum for ECE-grade 12. Her goal is to create a lifelong love of learning for her students.
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izaac Tafoya

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Elyse Lani

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Pat Clarke
Board Member and Teacher

is a nationally recognized Watercolorist exhibiting her work through galleries in Santa Fe, NM and Vail, CO. She is a signature member of the Colorado Watercolor Society and the Park Hill Art Club. She has had the pleasure of traveling the world painting landscapes in Spain, Egypt and more. Pat has been teaching students of all ages and skill levels for the past 26 years. She supports the development of the Art Garage as a non-profit, offering strength and knowledge drawn from her experience as co-founder of the Park Hill Bike Depot.
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Brea Jones

Art and I are thick as thieves, art is me, I am art, together we tell the story of my life. Everyone has a different connection with art, however, art allows us to have a deeper connection with ourselves. It is boundless, beautiful and speaks a language that everybody is able to understand in their own unique way. Whether you are an artist or an appreciator, artistic expression has an affect on all of us. Personally, the creative process is my source of dignity, many times it has guided me through my internal obstructions, pushing me through to stillness. Art is my therapy, there are no rules, its limitless, its magnificent! My creative path has given me the opportunity to engage with all ages, ranging from 0 - 100. I have taught art at accredited summer camps for teens, memory care facilities, I've organized small homeschool art programs, and am currently working on launching an art inspired after-care program at my home, called " Earth Momma", (website coming soon). I have dabbled in many mediums from pottery, stained glass, acrylics, pastels, movement such as dance, to slam. Mixed media is currently my main focus, I prefer organic materials, and anything that is readily available. I am often found outside collecting sticks and leaves and stuff. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my passion at the Art Garage, and I look forward to creating together! Love and Kindness.
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Kaitlyn Lafferty

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AJ Andrews

AJ studied Art & Design at California Polytechnic State University, where she focused on Photography and Digital Imaging as well as Dance. Her love for these arts has progressed her work and expanded in so many more ways. She worked as a freelance artist and instructor in Chicago for several years, in a range of different mediums, and now continues her adventures in Denver. Her most recent interests involve acrylic painting and digital art. But her real passion is sharing the joy of art-making with others. You can view her work at www.amberjeanette.com.
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Allison Avery-Wollenhaupt

has been a teacher with The Art Garage for the past three years, and before that was an art teacher in Ohio for six years. She enjoys helping students access their creativity through the use of art media and techniques, and feels lucky to have such amazing students here at The Art Garage! Allison has her MA and BA in Art Education, and attended Kent State University in Ohio for both degrees.
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Kylle Been

Kylle has been working in clay consistently for the last 14 years. She has a casual style of teaching with both hand building and wheel throwing. She has a working knowledge of the art of pottery making and history of clay. Asking quests in always encouraged. Clay is something you have to develop a feel for. "Let your experiences be your best guide"
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Brittany Bell

Brittany Bell is an elementary art educator in Jefferson County Colorado, certified in K-12 Art Education. She is a graduate of Colorado Mesa University where she earned a BA in Art Education and is currently seeking a graduate degree in the University of Florida’s online Master of Art Education program. She is soon entering her sixth year of teaching with experience from one non-profit art organization, three title 1 schools ranging from teaching children as young as 3 years old, to teaching students in the eighth grade. Brittany is a proud educator and artist. Specialties include drawing, painting, and ceramics. Other hobbies include hiking, camping, and exploring the beautiful state of Colorado as well as traveling to new places to experience food, culture, and people. Her drive for learning helps to support her love for sharing ideas about culture, art, and people with her students. Brittany can be reached at bnicole.bell@ufl.edu or on her website at brittanynbellart.weebly.com.
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Bailey Breiner

has always had a love for working with children and the creative arts. As a young child, she dreamed of being an artist and is proud to have participated in several art shows around Denver. Bailey's specialty is drawing, painting and collaging, but also enjoys sculpting and so much more! She has over ten years of childcare experience working with children from ages 0-18 years old. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to combine these two passions at The Art Garage.
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David Bridges

David Bridges is a musician and artist currently living in Denver. He received a Bachelors of Fine Art in Drawing and Painting from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016. Recently his work has focused around the subject of sound and the relationship it has with the visual world. This manifests in both sound visualization and in visual-based sound-works. He also plays in several bands and other musical projects.
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Fiona Cannon

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Jane Chavez

is a Denver mixed-media artist with a passion for art, teaching and the creative process. She holds a BA in English with an emphasis in writing. She also has extensive experience in primary education. Her engaging lessons take students on an artful journey that will ignite creativity while learning new aspects of art and art history.
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Kelly Craighead

Kelly graduated with her B.A. in Fine Arts from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado. She enjoys painting large scale, and her intaglio prints have been recognized via a juried printmaking show at Denver’s Core New Art Space. In 2016, Kelly took a leap of faith and left Rocky Mountain Human Services, an organization in which she had passionately dedicated almost 9 years of her life working with adults with developmental disabilities. She now combines her two loves of art and a community of children and adults who are differently abled by teaching at Art Garage through the ARK program.
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Sara Donnelly

Sara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from Michigan State University. She is a multi-media artist and photographer, also owning her own photography business. Sara has taught and worked with children for more than 15 years. She loves to help students see how art history really is world history. Sara's core teaching philosophy is that everyone needs art, everyone has an inner creative self, and if students are given tools and instruction on how to succeed, they will! When asked what her favorite color is, she will tell you, "the rainbow" because she can never decide on just one.
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Christina Doyle

grew up in rural Ohio, where she enjoyed riding horses and dreaming of world travel. She went on to study studio art and education at Kent State University, and in 2007 received her BA in Art Education. She has been teaching artists of all ages ever since, and specializes in painting and mixed media. In 2012, Christina & her husband fulfilled a dream of theirs and moved to the big city of Denver. In addition to enjoying the area's natural beauty and culture, they are also avid travelers who hope to see the world together.
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Jennifer Ghormley

is a working artist who employs a variety of techniques in the translation of ideas into works of art. She received her MFA in printmaking in 2006 from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and her BFA in 2002 from Metropolitan State College of Denver. From 2007 to 2009, Ms. Ghormley was the Printmaking studio manager of at Anderson Ranch Art Center, located in beautiful Snowmass Village, CO. Jennifer actively shows her work through national juried exhibitions and invitational portfolios; she is Managing Editor for the Mid-America Print Council Journal; on the Board of Curators for the Aspen Chapel Gallery; and serves as Program Coordinator for the Venice Printmaking Studio in Venice, Italy. Currently, Jennifer teaches printmaking courses and artistic workshops to adult and children around throughout Colorado, and nationally. In order to embrace all of her creative urges Jennifer creates artwork under her own name, as well as Jen G Studios.
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Joy Giles

Joy Giles has been an art teacher for K-8th grade students in the Denver area for the past 13 years. Before that, she taught English in Japan for 5 years to students ranging in age from 3 years old to adults. She has a BA in Printmaking from The Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. She believes everyone has some kind of creative inclination and helping people find theirs is a passion of hers. Through art, she loves to learn and teach about world cultures, geography and history. She is very happy to be a part of the Art Garage family.
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Sal Greenberger

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Kari Hess

Growing up with a grandmother who breathed art, Kari Hess has been creating in some form for as long as she can remember. Her passion for working with children is just as deep. Kari earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and has taught in schools of all shapes, sizes, and philosophies for more than the past decade. She believes in the power of the arts to encourage communication, confidence, understanding, acceptance, and expression. Kari strives to reflect these beliefs in her teaching and community interactions each day. She is very excited to explore and create with you at The Art Garage!
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Julian Kramer

Julian Kramer, originally from Montclair, New Jersey, has a BFA in Art and Design Education from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He has experience working with kids of all ages in many different settings, including public schools, summer camps, a homeless shelter, and extracurricular art classes. Previously a summer camp director, Julian now works as an art teacher in Cherry Creek School District, where he teaches at the elementary level. He has a strong passion for art and teaching, and likes to work with painting, collage, printmaking, and ceramics. He is excited to bring his passion and strong background to the Art Garage!
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Amy Leiter

Amy Leiter is a practicing artist and art therapist that grew up in the midwest, where she enjoyed art, nature and dreaming of a way to help and serve others. She has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Ohio University in Athens, OH and a Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Amy has a diverse background in the arts including graphic design, art education, and art therapy in community-based and mental health settings. Her main interest is creating mixed-media paintings using pastels, acrylic paints, and paper. Amy has a passion for working with children and a desire to encourage them through art to pursue personal growth through self-expression. She teaches camps, birthday parties as well as participating in the ARK program at the Art Garage and offers therapeutic services at Violet Hive Art Therapy.
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Barb Mckee
President and Founder

Barb Mckee and her family have resided in Park Hill for over 17 years. She is a multi-facet studio and public artist. With Art and Textile degrees from several universities, she has worked as a pattern designer and colorist. Forming a company called Surface Strategy, she was able to consult with and design the sound walls along the I-25 Denver corridor for the TREX project. She founded the Art Garage in Denver and along with several friends, filed paperwork to make this a non profit community organization. Within the Park Hill community, Barb was interested in connecting the local highly-skilled artists with the residents eager to live and learn about Art. Before the Art Garage, there was no such gathering place in NE Denver.
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Laurel Nook

is a Visual Arts teacher at Skinner Middle School and an artist. Her educational background includes a BA in Sociology and a K-12 Art Education Certification from Metropolitan State University-Denver. She has traveled to Guatemala to provide relief to schools in impoverished areas while bringing smiles to their faces through art and collaboration. While working on her art education license she taught Special Education and provided case management services for individuals who are differently abled. She also enjoys collaborating with others for larger installations and will be working with the City of Denver and a visiting artist to create a mural at the Montbello Recreation Center this Spring. Laurel believes art is for everyone and finds joy in sharing the art experience with individuals, groups and the greater Denver community.
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Ian Paisley

Obtaining his BFA at Metropolitan State University, Ian has an emphasis in ceramics and spatial media. He has a passion for creating art and actively participates within the art community throughout the Denver-Metro area. Growing up reading Bill Watterson's, Calvin and Hobbes, Ian appreciates that your imagination can be your best friend and through art making your creativity can be brought to life.
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Lisa Rooney

After graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in Visual Arts and Art History, Lisa worked as a sculptor for several years in New York City in fields such as architecture, jewelry making, furniture making, and animation. She specializes in ceramics and woodworking, and is the designer / maker of a jewelry collection called Gossamer. She recently relocated to Denver to find some inspiration a little closer to nature.
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Stuart Sachs

Stuart Sachs is a practicing contemporary artist based in Denver, Colorado. He obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Drawing from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2016. His artwork employs a variety of mediums and materials, deriving from a background in traditional drawing, digital media, and spatial media. He believes that creative expression is achieved through the synthesis of experimentation, research, theory, and imagination.
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Jamie Smith

Jamie was born in Colorado but raised in Washington State. Growing up on a farm instilled in her a love for animals, gardening, and the outdoors. She came back to Denver for school, receiving her degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver in Art Education. She has been teaching for about 8 years with a professional licensure and is certified in grades K-12. Her first job out of college was at a residential treatment center in Aurora called Excelsior Youth Center/High School (EYC). There she taught art in different mediums and various forms to grades 6 to 12. Jamie started a graphic design program through a grant received from the Jared Polis Foundation. The Sheila Fortune Foundation also gave grant money to the program so that she was able to have two bronze pours with her advanced art class. At EYC, she was able to see the benefits of art therapy and facilitate healing on many levels with students. Since then she has worked at a few charter schools growing in her teaching experience. Jamie enjoys being active including activities such as dance, biking, yoga, drumming, gardening, making jewelry, reading, and supporting local musicians and artists. She especially loves spending quality time with her husband and her daughter. She is extremely passionate about education and knew teaching was her calling when first spending time in a classroom with students. She strongly believes in educating the whole child and removing barriers to self-discovery. Jamie thinks that the perfect educational environment is a safe place where students are encouraged to ask questions and make connections to the world around them. It is her goal to inspire students to learn, where they incorporate into their lives, something that forever changes them personally.
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Courtney Throndson

graduated with a BFA in Metals and Jewelry Design from CSU in Ft. Collins, CO. Courtney’s teaching methods include community building while introducing advanced techniques in a variety of medium; paint, metal, glass and more.
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Teacher To Be Determined

We are currently running background checks and observing teachers as they implement lesson plans to determine if they are a good fit for The Art Garage. We will announce their names soon!
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Emily vonSwearingen

offers extensive experience of creating art programs and working within therapeutic arts. Her projects focus on arts expression for people with different physical, mental and developmental abilities through mixed-media and photography, often incorporating tactile forms of storytelling into her therapeutic approach to integrative based art making. Her diverse history includes founding the Artist in Residency program at the former Denver Children’s Hospital and collaborating with numerous organizations such as VSA Colorado/Access Gallery, the Colorado Center for the Blind, Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Denver Public Library, DPS STAR program, Easter Seals, Denver Housing Authority, Jefferson Hills Mental Health Care, and Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association. Emily is also a non-profit consultant providing expertise in prospect research, grant writing, content review, network collaborations, organizational infrastructure, program design, curricula development, workshop facilitation and communications.
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Alison Winterle

Alison has a Masters in Art Therapy from Naropa University and has extensive experience working as an art therapist and in elementary and middle school educational settings. She has worked in a variety of settings such as the Denver Children’s Home as an art based psychotherapist, guest lecturer at Metro States using art to support the group process and creating open studio opportunities for adults and children. Alison Winterle has been teaching as an ARK facilitator working with the Joshua School (2017), Synergy (2016-2017) and Shiloh House (Teen Girls, 2016)
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Leadership

Katie Moran
Executive Director

graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY with a BFA in drawing and has a Masters in Teaching specializing in children with special needs from Pace University. She has taught art in the NYC public schools to children with severe special needs. She served in the Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean where she worked in community development focusing on special education teaching and training. She also co-directed Grenada's inaugural nationwide Camp G.L.O.W. (Girls Leading Our World) to empower secondary school girls to assess and take action on personal goals and community issues. She is a practicing artist specializing in drawing, oil painting and bookmaking. Art and community development is her passion and she has been able to bring those together with her work at the Art Garage.
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Abi Ostendorf

is a local artist originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. She completed her BA in Business Communications and Media Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She additionally enjoys painting, jewelry deign, furniture restoration and stone cutting in her Denver studio. A majority of her inspiration comes from nature and simple geometric patterns. Being a part of a strong artistic community is very important to her and also contributes to her day to day creativity.
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Hannah Bean

Hannah is a writer, artist, and Denver native with a BA in English from Metro State University. The Art Garage is the perfect confluence of Hannah's passions for the arts, education, and building community and she is constantly inspired by the amazing work of the staff, students, and the organization itself.
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Board of Directors

Melanie Brazil-Aksland
Treasurer

more than 20 year resident of Park Hill, has been in the banking industry for almost 30 years. She has worked for one of the top mortgage lenders in various management positions and currently serves on the national underwriting operations team. After completing her B.S. degree from CU Boulder, she enrolled in fine art classes and taught pottery for community centers in Colorado and Washington State. The Art Garage represents everything she believes in for giving back to the community through the arts. Melanie and her children attend classes at the Art Garage. She is excited to contribute to the wonderful Art Garage community.
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Linda Brown
Accountant

is a proud alumna of CU Boulder and University of Denver and her education developed skills that led to a career with various CPA firms specializing in small business, banking and non-profits. She and her family have resided in Park Hill for 40 years and Linda is adamant about volunteering in the community. She has worked with the Art Garage to realize its potential as a non-profit community center that inspires the artist in all of us. Her current diversions are traveling, photography, and gardening.
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Pat Clarke
Board Member and Teacher

is a nationally recognized Watercolorist exhibiting her work through galleries in Santa Fe, NM and Vail, CO. She is a signature member of the Colorado Watercolor Society and the Park Hill Art Club. She has had the pleasure of traveling the world painting landscapes in Spain, Egypt and more. Pat has been teaching students of all ages and skill levels for the past 26 years. She supports the development of the Art Garage as a non-profit, offering strength and knowledge drawn from her experience as co-founder of the Park Hill Bike Depot.
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Kathy Gorham

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Karrie McBryde

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Marion Richardson
Board Member and Teacher

has more than 18 years of experience teaching painting and drawing to students of all ages through such DPS schools as Smiley Middle School, Steck, Park Hill, Merrill, and Hallet Fundamental Elementary School. He has also taught at Sunrise Senior Center in Glendale, CO. As a self-taught artist, his drawings and paintings give Realism new definition. Marion serves on the Board of Directors and also teaches students how to execute such techniques as blending, shading, stippling, feathering, drawing and more. Students always leave with a deep understanding of certain paint techniques, color mixing and with a painting ready for a frame!
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Rob Shikiar
President Elect

Robert Shikiar and his family have been Park Hill residents since 2001. He presently works as an attorney for the University of Colorado physician group practice on the Aurora medical campus. He serves on the board of another non-profit organization, Adoption Options, and as a volunteer attorney for the Colorado Health Equity Project. He participates in the Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Alliance home building project as well. He feels that the Art Garage brings a very positive element to the community because it serves as a neighborhood gathering place for students and artists alike. His children, Sam and Alex, enjoy taking classes at the Art Garage.
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Cara Sterling

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Janine Sturdavant

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Pam Sweetser
Board Member

and her husband Dan are the adoptive parents of two children; Lacey who was born in Korea in 1986 and Sam who was born in India in 1989. Her children catapulted Pam into a career she never expected as the founder and Executive Director of Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, Inc., a non-profit organization that runs 11 annual camps for families with children born in countries across the world, including right here in the U.S. Pam also helped to start and run the Art Lab at Park Hill Elementary School many years ago when there was no art program in the school. She continued to teach art at Park Hill in the Art Lab and in the after school program, and then at Smiley Middle School for several years. Pam is a long time Park Hill resident, and loves the idea of a community art center like the Art Garage in the neighborhood.
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