2019 Artists in Sanctuary Bios
Philip J. Selzer
Philip Selzer grew up in Akron, Ohio and had a natural talent from a very early age in the field of art. Phil went on to study art at the University of Akron, graduating cum laude with a BFA, emphasis painting. Just prior to his earning his degree, Phil was inducted into the Ohio Water Color Society through a juried competition. At that time he was the youngest member ever inducted into the society.
Phil taught secondary art for eight years while he continued to paint and show his work. He also began to dabble in wildfowl carving. Within less than five years, Phil had become an accomplished world-class carver, winning several awards throughout the United States. In 1994 he won second place at the prestigious Ward World Championship Pairs Competition in Ocean City, Maryland. Phil was not only able to capture “lifelike” qualities in his carvings, he was best known for his painting finishes.
In 2005, Phil returned to painting exclusively in oils. An avid outdoorsman with a keen sense of nature, he has spent the last several years painting landscapes and cityscapes that depict aspects of everyday life. He portrays ordinary people engaged in common activities, offering the viewer a suggestive narrative. His work may include an intimate dialogue between a pair at the park or the bustle of a crowd at a farmer’s market. One can easily imagine oneself within the story.
In late 2011 Phil was commissioned by the Franklin County Convention Facilities to complete a painting for the newly built Hilton Hotel, Downtown Columbus and in 2012 he completed a work for the Columbus Partnership.
Phil’s work can be found in both private and public collections throughout the country. Two of Phil’s paintings were selected for the 2014 Ohio Governor’s Office & Residential Artwork Loan, displayed in the Governor’s mansion and the Ohio State House.
Phil and his wife Peg visit Cape Cod to capture the special light here in plein air oil paintings done on location on Cape beaches, bogs, and lanes. www.philipselzer.com
Statement from the Artist: “Painting outside among all the elements offered, is a great way to stay in touch with Mother Nature. Outdoors, one not only sees, but feels and hears their surroundings.
When your subject is not right in front of you, one may use logic with how to approach it with your paints. When looking directly, out through the atmosphere, you see the shadows and reflected lights, which you may never have considered including in your work. These are the nuances I look for when I am out in the field.
A deep look into the shadows and reflections around us every day in our landscapes or cityscapes. I look to capture the temperature and the movement of the day, the activity of the birds and other wildlife, for many times they tell the weather. Conveying these messages in a plein air painting, for me, is the completion of a painting.
Painting from life is a spontaneous avenue to follow. Capturing the fleeting moments nature has granted us, documenting on canvas with colors and shadows, the day proceeds. Catching that scene, that light, that color that attracted you in the beginning, you hold steadfast until the end, your interpretation of the moment.” www.ohiopleinairsociety.com
In 2008, Michelle changed her career from Interior Design to pursue her life-long passion to be an artist. She went to workshops all over the US, Canada, and France, and painted daily to develop her skills as an artist. In 2012, she went back to college to obtain her MFA at the University of Cincinnati. In grad school, she learned how to go beyond painting techniques to how to think and produce art that had substance and meaning. Since childhood, Michelle has loved spending time outdoors both working and playing. Her inspiration is drawn from her surroundings and everyday life in Ohio. Michelle experiments with many different techniques, and utilizes various materials to achieve the desired effect. She enjoys working with oil, water-colors, and charcoals and loves to balance unique colors, movement, energy, and texture in her work.
Michelle Walker is currently a Professor of Art at Capital University. She and her husband, Mark, and two cats live in a log cabin in the woods near Wapakoneta, Ohio. Both of their daughters are married and live happy lives. https://insta-finder.com/miwalker55
Columbus-based painter Richard Lillash creates vivid paintings that employ distinct brushstrokes, active brushwork, and saturated color. By leaving flashes of bare canvas or tinted board, he creates an air of spontaneity and effortlessness in these carefully crafted studies. Influenced by early American Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, and California plein air painters, Lillash’s paintings capture small moments of everyday life, whether a vase of delicate flowers, a glimpse of a home through bare trees, or a look into the artist’s studio.
Richard Lillash is a graduate of Columbus College of Art and Design with a degree in fine art and illustration. His work has been exhibited state wide for over a decade. Richard has also worked more than 25 years as a successful illustrator, bringing ideas and narratives to life for numerous publications and businesses.
He is currently represented by Brandt-Roberts Galleries in Columbus Ohio. http://brandtrobertsgalleries.com/artists#/richard-lilash
Wendy McVicker is a poet and Ohio Arts Council teaching artist. She has been stirring up poetry in a variety of settings for many years. She is currently involved in leading a creative writing residency for seniors in southeastern Ohio. Her poems have appeared in many small journals over the years, and in anthologies, including A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (ed. Becca J. R. Lachman). Her chapbook, The Dancer’s Notes, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2015. She performs with instrumentalist Emily Prince as the duo another language altogether, often in collaboration with dancers and other musicians. https://endicottstudio.typepad.com/poetrylist/lines-not-things-by-wendy-mcvicker.html
Kim McCoy’s past photography shoots include weddings, seniors, family, pets and product advertisement, but she’ll tell you Nature is her favorite subject. This is Kim’s fifth year taking photographs for the Arc’s Artist-in-Residence program. She brings to this project a long history and love of photography and art. Kim is an Arc member and spends most of her free time hiking Arc trails and taking photographs in all the seasons. She is also an Arc volunteer for Homeschool Day at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary. You can view some of Kim’s photographs Artists-in-Sanctuary photographs at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/601549643382943/
2018 Artists in Sanctuary Bios
Angela was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She has lived on the north side for most of her life and graduated from Northland High School. Angela pursued her art interest for a number of years by attending the Columbus College of Art and Design on a fine arts scholarship. She has taught art for almost 20 years at several Central Ohio cultural art centers. Angela also works on portrait commissions and offers private lessons in her Galena home studio. Between jobs and teaching she enjoys oil painting and working with pastels. Angela currently belongs to the Ohio Plein Air Society, Worthington Area Art League, and the Ohio Pastel Art League. She has entered numerous competitions across the country and has received awards in oil painting, pastels, and miniatures. www.artbyangelagage.com
I have been an artist for as far back as I can remember. I always loved to draw as a child and later took classes in drawing and painting while in high school and in college. I worked for a number of years in the graphic design business before turning my attention to fine art, specifically painting. I love to paint a variety of subject matter, with plein air landscapes being my favorite. I have been a member of Ohio Plein Air Society for a number of years and enjoy the paint-outs and competitions, as well as the camaraderie I share with the fellow artists in this group. I paint in what I would call a “painterly realism” manner and consider myself to be a Contemporary Impressionist.
Edith Dean is a Columbus, Ohio native who grew up in a family immersed in the musical arts. However, Ms. Dean learned to express herself through the visual arts. She earned both a BFA and MFA from The Ohio State University and also attended the Kent State University Blossom Summer Art program on scholarship. College revealed a love of line and drawing. Drawing led to printmaking and a graduate degree. A lack of presses after college meant she had to take up painting in order to continue – a panel, brush, and paint can be set up anywhere. In my work, I want to convey to the viewer what I get when looking at a figure or the landscape, – its atmosphere, the mood, the color, the essence. Exact truth isn’t so important, but the truth of expression, what I perceived, that is very important. What were the colors, was it hot, was it exciting and energetic, was it damp, was it… To me, it is all about communication. Ms. Dean has had numerous solo exhibitions at The Ohio State University, Michael Orr Gallery, The Bockrath Gallery, and Mount Vernon Nazarene College in Ohio. She also has participated in numerous regional and national group exhibitions including The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus, the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH), and The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. Her work is included in private and public collections, including the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, Indiana; McGraw Hill in NYC; Bradley University, Peoria, IL; and Dickinson State College, Dickinson, North Dakota.
Highly regarded by both the public and his peers, central Ohio prolific landscape painter Rick Akers is well known for his art painted “en plein air” which is French for “painting under the open sky.” While the vast majority of Rick’s offerings are created in and around the vistas of central Ohio, Rick has documented the varied scenes in nature across the continental United States, producing artistic compositions from Maine to Montana and Michigan to Florida. Heavily influenced by Van Gogh, Gaugin, Degas, and Monet, Rick emulates these Post- Impressionist/ Impressionist visions of color and movement. The non- traditional application of paint using only a palette knife is Rick’s preferred technique. Heavy paint is applied in mood-varying schemes, sometimes subdued and quiet , but more often, spontaneous and vivid. One can feel the energy exuding from Rick’s work. Rick Akers studied at The University of Dayton graduating with a BFA in Commercial Design. A 30-year career in this field exposed him to countless designers and fine artists who ultimately developed his creative eye and artistic preferences. Another major influence in the maturation of Akers’ artistic ability stems from his extensive collection of 18th- 20th Century Fine Art. His fondness for Ohio art, painted in the Impressionistic style, represents the majority of his collection. Since his first personal exhibition in 1998 with Sharon Weiss Gallery, over 500 private collectors, art dealers and patrons from across the country have procured Rick’s work. Rick has won numerous awards and consistantly donated paintings to raise money for organizations in Columbus such as Art for Life, BRAVO! for Children and Art of Recovery. Accolaids include acceptance into the juried Ohio State Fair, “All Ohio Show;” two of Rick’s paintings were accepted into a juried National Show with one awarded 2nd place and Rick has just concluded a very successful 20th Anniversary show at the Sharon Weiss Gallery in the Columbus Ohio Short North Arts District.
Wendy McVicker is a poet and Ohio Arts Council teaching artist. She has been stirring up poetry in a variety of settings for many years. She is currently involved in leading a creative writing residency for seniors in southeastern Ohio. Her poems have appeared in many small journals over the years, and in anthologies, including A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford (ed. Becca J. R. Lachman). Her chapbook, The Dancer’s Notes, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2015. She performs with instrumentalist Emily Prince as the duo another language altogether, often in collaboration with dancers and other musicians.
2017 Artists in Sanctuary Bios
Jon Browning is a life-time member, past President, and current board member of the Ohio Plein Air Society. Jon’s paintings evoke memories of growing up in Ohio, experiencing the changing seasons on his grandparents’ New Philadelphia farm. His landscapes represent both pieces of that past and the promise of something different. Jon states, “Painting allows me, on my best days, to tease out memories and imaginings and to commit them to canvas. Through sight and color and technique, I can focus on recollections and re-examine my past. It’s like personal research. It’s time travel.” He paints “en plein air” and maintains a studio at his home in Marble Cliff, OH. Mr. Browning’s works have been featured at the Bennington Center for the Arts (Bennington, VT), The Zanesville Museum of Art (Zanesville, OH), The Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus, the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH), and The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. https://www.pbs.org/video/broad-and-high-plein-air-artist-jon-browning/
“My paintings are an expression of my love of nature. As a child, my desire to draw began at an early age, and I would put to use any paper surface my mother could provide for me. I hope to convey to the viewer the passion, beauty, and reverence I feel when exploring our magical natural world.” Majoring in fine art at Kent State University, Carolyn focused on painting the figure. Her study of the human form proved later helpful in her anatomical renderings of the wildlife in her paintings. She worked as a graphic artist immediately after college and later for seven years as an illustrator’s assistant. Close observation, photography and her almost daily treks into the woods, fields and along the Big Walnut Creek, over which her studio sits, have been the inspirational reference for her richly colored, realistic oil paintings. Carolyn has been represented by numerous galleries and has been included in local and national juried competitions in which she has been recognized and awarded for her paintings. https://www.localohioart.com/carolyn-heffelfinger
Mary Jane Ward
Mary Jane Ward is a Columbus, Ohio based artist. She grew up in Eugene, Oregon. She studied ballet and had a ten year career as a professional dancer, with companies including The Eugene Ballet Company, Ballet West of Salt Lake City, Utah, Ballet Memphis, and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montréal. She was self taught as a visual artist until in 2011, when she was introduced to the rigorous academic training under Jacob Collins at The Grand Central Atelier, in New York City. She studied there part-time until joining the core program on full scholarship in 2013. In 2015, Mary Jane took part in The Hudson River Fellowship, a 3 week residency for a group of national and international painters, which pushed her to develop more as a landscape painter and helped her to discover a deep love of painting en plein air. Mary Jane is passionate about finding opportunities where her love of the outdoors and painting the natural landscape can enable others to see their surroundings with fresh eyes, and possibly a renewed reverence for the landscape. Mary Jane moved to Ohio in 2015 with her partner, artist Amery Kessler, and often assists him with his large interactive/relational artworks. She also teaches portrait and plein air classes at The Columbus Cultural Arts Center and gives lessons from her home studio. https://www.maryjaneward.com/bio
2016 Artists in Sanctuary Bios
Jim Glover worked as an wildlife illustrator and graphic designer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for over thirty years. Now he’s begun his “second career” as a painter of landscapes, buildings, critters and people. A fresh interest in the Impressionists led Jim to follow their example with “en plein air (French for “outside in the open air”) painting. Jim switched from acrylics to oils, producing a looser, more relaxed-style image while remaining true to his nature art background. It has been rewarding and satisfying for Jim, who says, “I feel like my paintings are more alive, as if there is some part of me in each one!”
Glover has won numerous awards, with inclusion in the Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society national juried shows, and his art resides in private collections far and wide. Jim enjoys teaching art, and was 2013 “Artist In Residence” at the High Road Gallery and Studios in Worthington, OH, where he currently is ensconced in his own studio space. http://jimgloverart.com/
Columbus-based watercolorist Cody Heichel uses bold colors and high-contrast tonality to create atmospheric interpretations of daily, and recognizable, scenery. Heichel aims to capture the mood and movement of his subjects through quick, spontaneous brushwork. The individual strokes that make up his compositions seem arbitrary and fluid. Mysterious figures often occupy the focal point of each composition, and it is through their individual appearance and body language, as well as the language of their surroundings, that the story of each scene unfolds. Urban cityscapes, rural settings, and national and international locales provide the inspiration for Heichel’s work.
Heichel is a Signature Member of the Ohio Watercolor Society, and an Associate Member of the American Watercolor Society. He works as an Art Facilitator at Open Door Art Studio, a non-profit studio space and gallery for adult artists with disabilities. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the People’s Choice Award at ARC Ohio’s 2014 Art for Life benefit, as well as the Ohio Watercolor Society’s Merit Award. Most recently he was awarded First Place in the Columbus Through A Lens Competition, hosted by Le Meridien Columbus – The Joseph. http://www.codyheichel.com/
Jason Clary is a representational artist and educator specializing in the figure and portrait. Working primarily in oils and pastel, he is interested in a physical and psychological naturalism which reveals itself through the process of looking over time. He sees his process as “…an observational dialogue between painter and subject, one of asking questions and receiving partial answers.”
Mr. Clary taught painting, drawing, and foundation studies for 15 years at the Columbus College of Art and Design and continues to teach privately. He received his MFA from Indiana University in 1999, his BFA from the University of Cincinnati in 1996, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art in 1992. In 2011 he served as an artist in residence in the Vytlacil AIR Program of the Art Students League of New York. He has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, including shows in New York, Alaska, and at the Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy.
Jason Clary lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio. http://www.jasonclaryart.com/
Frederick Fochtman is an art restorer and award winning oil painter from Columbus, Ohio. As a painter, Fred works from direct observation and paints exclusively from life. He feels that a necessary and integral part of his process is the relationship with his subject as together they face the challenges created by shifting light, weather and time. Fred’s painting subjects include landscape, still life, figurative and interior. The palette and mark making choices are responsive and designed to reflect a method of problem solving as it relates to each individual painting experience. Although Fred often works in the alla prima style, some of his paintings require multiple sittings in order to achieve the desired result.
As a painter, Fred travels annually to Vermont and the Atlantic coast in order to create work in the plein air style. Additionally, he paints landscapes both locally and throughout Ohio. His figure work is created in various studios in collaboration with other painters. Interiors and still lifes are often produced in his restoration studio and the Clintonville bungalow he shares with his wife Peg. Fred feels it is essential to keep an open mind as it relates to painting styles and methods because, in his experiences, some of his most satisfying work is born out of exploration and risk taking.
As a fulltime art restorer, Fred works on paintings and murals for governmental clients, colleges and universities, museums, corporate clients, galleries and private collections in Ohio and throughout the country. He finds the work very satisfying and feels fortunate he is able to spend his days in such a rewarding pursuit. http://www.fredfochtman.com/
Statement from the Artist: “I’m passionate about plein air. Years ago two good friends invited me to go painting with them outdoors. From that first brushstroke I was hooked and still prefer to paint from life in all its manifestations whether it be from a landscape or a figure. My paintings, primarily in oil, reflect not only the image viewed but also the emotion it evokes. Being reared in Springfield within a theatrical family (my father had a dancing school where I took every type of dance class) gave me a taste for the dramatic – it expresses itself in bold brushstrokes and color choices. I often can be seen painting at Hoover Reservoir in Westerville or at a sunflower farm in Pickerington.” http://www.karenlavalleyart.com/
2015 Artists in Sanctuary Bios
Debra Joyce Dawson
I am a full-time professional artist, a founder of the Ohio Plein Air Society, and someone who is no stranger to working on location, not only here in Ohio, but also around the world. This opportunity to live close to the land, while trying to capture the very essence of simplicity, complexity and ingenuity of the natural world is no small task. Nature doesn’t reveal herself all at once; she unveils her moods little by little over time. This three week residency gives me time: time to observe, to come to a better understanding of this particular corner of Ohio; time to study in paint the various conditions of weather throughout the day or night.
My work centers on capturing a quality of light falling on form. I plan on painting several works each day no matter what the weather brings, possibly exploring a variety of mediums: oil – my primary medium, watercolor, gouache among others. The large body of work produced will be physically taxing, and my growth as an artist will be my greatest reward. I expect to do a fair bit of experimentation in terms of paint application and style in my search for ‘the spirit of place’ that is truly captured best en plein air.
Artists today have many jobs outside the production of work. They must be office manager, marketing director, sales manager, communications specialist, and publicity person. So, the importance of this residency, with its promise of uninterrupted concentrated work, cannot be overestimated in terms of artistic ideas and growth. www.debrajoycedawson.com
Doreen St. John
Doreen St.John’s paintings demonstrate her love of and respect for the natural environment. “I’m inspired by the way light and color influence what we see and feel…not only in the landscape but also in the human form. My work is really about Relationship in the deepest sense of the word….relationships between shapes, light/shadow, and between the viewer and the artist, scene, or subject…. My hope is that my work engages…evoking an emotional response or memory…allowing my own feelings to come through in the work.” Li Po, an 8th Century Chinese Philosopher, said it best:
“I would not paint a face, a rock, nor brooks, nor trees,
Mere semblances of things…but something more than these.
That art is best which to the soul’s range gives no bound.
Something besides the form, Something beyond the sound.”
St.John has given workshops and exhibited her work nationally in juried outdoor art shows, has been represented in galleries in Canton, Akron, and Columbus, and has won numerous awards, including “Best in Show” for her watercolor paintings. After taking several years off from painting to pursue a Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership, St.John started painting plein air works in 2005. A self-described ‘watercolor artist’ for 30 years, St.John retired from her job as an educator in 2010 and has recently begun painting full time, concentrating on works in oil.
Born and raised in the art center and resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan, Doreen St.John exhibited artistic ability even as a small child, receiving art instruction from Cora Bliss Taylor, a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute and a well-known local artist. Although St.John pursued undergrad and graduate degrees in education, the need to create was always a driving force. St.John took her first watercolor classes at the Canton Art Museum in 1980 and later studied under Bette G. Elliott of North Canton and also with other nationally recognized artists such as Edgar Whitney, Frank Webb, Frederick Graff, Marilyn Hughey Phillis, Stan Miller, Marc Hanson, and others. She was chosen to be the “Artist in Residence” for a community art project called “Leave Your Mark” in Canton, Ohio in 2008. https://doreenstjohn.com/
Christopher Leeper is a realist painter working in all mediums. His award-winning work has been shown in solo and juried exhibitions throughout the country.
He has illustrated four children’s books and has written and illustrated the book Realism in Watermedia, North Light. His work has also been featured in The Artist’s Magazine, Watercolor Magic and Ohio Magazine and recently in the book Splash 14 (North Light).
A popular instructor, he teaches numerous workshops each year. He is a member of the adjunct faculty in the Department of Art at Youngstown State University. He is a member of the Oil Painters of America, Ohio Plein Air Society and is past president of the Ohio Watercolor Society.
He graduated from Youngstown State University in 1988 with a BFA degree in graphic design. Since 2000, he has worked full-time from his studio in Canfield, Ohio. He is represented by Charlotte Fine Art, Charlotte, NC. www.christopherleeper.com
Statement from the Artist: “I HAVE A PASSION TO PAINT AND A CALLING FROM GOD TO PURSUE MY PASSION. In the beginning, God created…Genesis 1:1
To me, painting is relaxing and my way of getting time with God and His creation. I want to soak it in, to understand it as well as I can, and then capture the special beauty in life as light and shadow splashes across the scene. I enjoy painting so many different subjects- everything from architecture to wildlife to cityscapes to rural scenes. I have always loved being outside so I really enjoy plein air painting. Nature never fails to reward and challenge me as an artist with its constantly changing colors, light, and atmosphere. When painting, I depend on my design skills as a graphic designer, spirited brushstrokes and tonal unity. I also enjoy working in my studio in Ashland, Ohio when I cannot get outside.” http://robinrobertsfineart.com/
Bridgette resides in Columbus, Ohio and has been a professional artist for the last 30 years. She obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Kent State University in 1980. Today, her work is centered in painting both in pastels and oils and in painting is the plein air tradition. A long time gallery exhibitor, she opened Turner Studio & Gallery in 2007. The Gallery showcases Bridgette’s work as well as other artists. She is a charter member and President of the Ohio Plein Air Society, a member of the Oil Painters of America, The American Impressionists Society and a past featured artist for Door County Plein Air Competition. Her work, most recently, has been featured in shows at the Riffe Gallery, Zanesville Museum of Art and the Springfield Museum of Art. http://bridgetteturnerfineart.com/