AVA Faculty

Adult Classes and Workshops


Evan Williams received his BFA from Syracuse University. He began his career in pottery as an Apprentice Potter at Simon Pearce before becoming a Master Potter with Miranda Thomas Pottery where he has worked since 2002. Evan exhibits his work throughout the US and is a juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. www.graceandevanpottery.com

Digital Arts / Photography

Nick Gaffney received an MFA in Photography from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and a BA in English from New York University. Nick is a documentary photographer who has exhibited nationally and internationally. He has taught Photography and Studio Art in higher education for more than 15 years. ngaffney.net


Ginger Armstrong studied Japanese Calligraphy (Shodou) in Vermont with an artist from Hokkaido in northern Japan, Aya Itagaki. After moving to Yokohama, Japan, Armstrong continued her studies with another teacher, Kazuko Makino, who stressed the perfection of form as a whole. Her final teacher, Ooba Sensei, taught in the Chinese tradition of Toseu Calligraphy and gave her a deeper understanding of this art as an expression of spirit beyond form.

Daniel Gottsegen taught for close to twenty years at California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco, teaching all levels of painting, drawing, Foundations and working with graduate students. Gottsegen has done large scale Public Art Projects; he recently created a series of twelve large windscreen glass panels for the new light rail station in Westminster, CO, just outside of Denver. Gottsegen has won many awards and fellowships. Recently he was selected to be the Artist in Residence in 2017 at the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. He has also been awarded a Vermont Arts Council Individual Artist Creation Grant. www.dangottsegen.com

Michael Kraatz holds a BS in Art from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has been a roster artist with the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts for many years, completing numerous Arts in Education residencies in public schools. He works in both 2-D and 3-D and is particularly known for his blown glass. Kraatz’s work has been shown nationally and regionally, including at AVA. www.kraatzrussell.com

Lea Wells is a professional illustrator who studied advertising at the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale and the University of Florida.  She has worked with a wide variety of clients on illustrations for books, magazines, advertising, and websites. Her work has been recognized by the AIGA (the professional association for design), the Art Directors Club of Denver, and the Denver Art Museum. She has shown her work nationwide and teaches art at various workshops around the country. www.leawells.com


Meredith Smith holds a BFA and MAT from Rhode Island School of Design and did post graduate study in costume and theater design at Brown University. She has worked as a costume and jewelry designer, college professor, and owner of a London-based clothing company. Meredith is a juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen.


Jimmy “The Welder” Martell has been welding for 35 years, most of those running his own business near his home in Wilmot, NH, and the last six years with Dartmouth College. As a teacher his primary objective is to introduce the basic, critical techniques of welding—to be learned before self-expression and improvisation can factor into any trade or craft. By committing to learning the techniques, his students will increase their appreciation for welding in everyday life, and be inspired to create their own functional, durable, and beautiful objects.

Sue Martin majored in art at a teaching college in Ripon, Yorkshire, England. Currently retired as a classroom and reading teacher, she has time to rekindle and expand her artistic interests to include stained glass.  She finds great delight in incorporating found objects into her work and she has exhibited it in the Upper Valley.

Mixed-Media and Writing

Kim Bernard received her BFA from the Parsons School of Design and her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. She shows her sculpture, installations, and encaustic works nationally, and was an artist-in-residence in the Physics Department at Harvard University. Bernard mentors emerging artists individually and teaches workshops nationally. www.kimbernard.com

Elizabeth D’Amico, a graduate of Syracuse and Columbia universities, taught in the Visual Arts Department at Plymouth State University until her retirement. A mixed-media artist, she shows regionally and nationally and is a signature member of the National Collage Society and an active member of the Women’s Caucus for the Arts-NH Chapter. She won a juror’s award in AVA’s 2019 Summer Juried Exhibition. www.elizabethdamico.com

Jenny Gelfan, MAed. has written professionally as a journalist, a publicist, and creatively in verse and short stories, some published. She has taught writing at the college level, participated in and led creative writing groups and workshops, and worked as an editor. Her life has many chapters. She says, “Writing is one of the ways I explore this amazing world and myself.”


Jennifer Brown began her art career at a young age making woodblock prints in her family kitchen. She majored in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and earned a degree in art and education from Vermont College as a parent and working adult. Most recently she has taken painting and printmaking workshops at Art New England in Bennington, VT, as well as continuing to study oil painting with painter, Peter Granucci. She explores nature, landscapes, and figures in the landscape using primarily watercolor and gouache.

Robert Carsten graduated from Rhode Island School of Design and was a scholar at Academia di Belle Arti in Carrara, Italy. He is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and a contributing writer to the Pastel Journal and The Artist’s Magazine. Carsten is a Master Circle artist of the International Association of Pastel Societies, and his paintings and drawings have been shown in many museums and galleries, are collected worldwide and have won many awards. www.robertcarsten.com

Margaret Dwyer earned her BFA from Sienna Heights University and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Margaret works in several 2D and 3D mediums (though watercolor is her favorite). Her work has been included in numerous juried national and international exhibitions and has been published in art books and magazines. www.margaretdwyer-artist.com

Rich Gombar has a BFA from the Pratt Institute and has taught at Hofstra University as well as built exhibits for such institutions as the Museum of the American Indian and the Guggenheim Museum. He exhibits his paintings and drawings around New England and has his work in private and corporate collections nationwide.

Stephanie Gordon received her BFA from the University of Michigan. Stephanie taught art at Hanover High School for 18 years before retiring. She currently teaches community art classes for adults and teens. Stephanie has most recently been making encaustic paintings. She exhibits work locally and regionally and her art is in many private collections. sbgordonart.com

Joan Hoffmann paints impressionistic oil and watercolor landscapes and birds en plein air. She is dedicated to painting, teaching and preserving the wild landscapes that she explores. Joan lectures on the History of American Landscape Painting, National Parks, and Public Lands and the Art of Landscape and teaches and exhibits her work in UT, CO, CA, and at her studio in South Royalton. www.joanhoffmann.com

Patricia Killian earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, a BFA from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University, and an Advanced Diploma from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. She won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for her portrait and landscape painting. She also designed the logo for the Upper Valley Haven.

Meg McLean is a painter and children’s illustrator living in the Upper Valley. She has a BA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her illustrations appear in books and publications such as Click Magazine, Weekly Reader, and Zoo Books, and her paintings are in collections around the country. She has an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Cranbrook Academy of Art and is a member of the Copley Society of Art, Boston. www.megmclean.com

Robert O’Brien received his BA from S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo and has worked in watercolor for 40 years. Since moving to Vermont in 1977, he has focused his work on the landscape and architecture of New England. He studied with James Whatford, Tony Couch, and Marshall Joyce. He is a member of many watercolor societies and has won numerous awards. www.robertjobrien.com

Jonathan Rose has taught pastel (and oil and acrylic) for 10 years in Nevis, West Indies. He is currently teaching pastel at Center for the Arts, New London. Jonathan believes that many aspects of pastel can be taught quickly, and that it is a gateway medium for other ways of painting. www.jonathanhrose.com

Lia Rothstein has BA and MFA degrees from Boston University. She has been a professional photographer for over 40 years, has taught digital photography and imaging in colleges and art centers throughout New England, and has also worked as a photographic specialist for Dartmouth College. From 2009 through August 2012, Rothstein directed the award-winning PHOTOSTOP Gallery in White River Junction, VT. She has exhibited her work in galleries and museums across the US and is in numerous private and public collections. Rothstein’s encaustic and cold wax paintings are featured in the book, Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts and Conversations by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin. She has been a presenter and teacher at the annual International Encaustic Conference, held annually in Provincetown, MA. www.liarothstein.com


Derek Bell received his BFA in Painting in 2008 from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Painting, and spent three of his years there as a Teaching Assistant. As a painter, Derek prefers landscape, portraiture and animals, as well as an occasional still life. Since graduating from RISD, Derek works primarily in oils, watercolor, gouache and more recently egg tempera. www.derekbellart.com

Mary Mead received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA from the Boston Museum School and Tufts University. She has taught printmaking and art history at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH and at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction, VT. Mead is a member of the Boston Printmakers Society. www.marymead.weebly.com


John Hikory is a granite carver who worked as an independent carver in Barre, VT. for 28 years. While there he carved various saints and soldiers on memorials ranging in size from 8” high 3/4” in reliefs to the nine foot statue for the Korean War Monument in South Boston. Born and raised in the N.Y.C. area as John Houk, he monitored classes at The Arts Students League of N.Y.C. in the early ‘60s and attended Columbia University’s School for General Studies and School of Arts, 1964-1968. He has been a artist in residence at the Carving Studio in West Rutland and shown his art at several venues including AVA Gallery, Cider Hill Gardens, and Sculpturefest in Woodstock. Now living in Windsor, VT, he pursues creating his own abstract and expressionist images at his studio.


Chris McGrody has been building custom furniture and handcrafted cabinetry professionally in his shop for 15 years. Prior to starting his own shop, Chris worked for a number of years at a local furniture studio building high-end traditional Shaker furniture. While working there as a craftsman, he also ran the workshop program and taught week-long and weekend workshop courses. Chris also instructs regularly at the Dartmouth College Student Woodshop. Chris enjoys passing along his knowledge of woodworking through project based classes. www.chrismcgrody.com

Jay Singh is a skilled woodworker and sculptor. He is known for his use of texture and color, and it is often difficult to tell what material was used in any given piece. His work has been strongly influenced by his interest in spirituality and African aesthetics, and has been exhibited widely and featured in private collections. He has been an instructor in the Fine Woodworking department at Santa Fe Community College

Children and Teens

Karl Neubauer has been a studio artist and artisan for thirty years. His work can be found in shops and galleries throughout the US and locally at The Artisan’s Hand in Montpelier, The North East Kingdom Artisan’s Guild in St Johnsbury, Catamount Arts Gallery in St Johnsbury, and AVA Gallery.  He has been teaching art to young people in and out of public school for over seven years. www.karl-art.com

Susan Davis Shimko earned a BA from Smith College in Education and Child Study and an Ed.M. from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Learning and Teaching.  She has taught in the elementary grades in both public and private schools and is a long-time Masterpiece Art Program educator.  Ms. Shimko studied art history at both Smith College and Harvard University and is an avid proponent of art literacy and integration in the classroom.  She is familiar with the New Hampshire K-12 Curriculum Framework for the Arts and the Vermont Department of Education Arts Grade Expectations.

Lea Wells is a professional illustrator who studied advertising at the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale and the University of Florida.  She has worked with a wide variety of clients on illustrations for books, magazines, advertising, and websites. Her work has been recognized by the AIGA (the professional association for design), the Art Directors Club of Denver, and the Denver Art Museum. She has shown her work nationwide and teaches art at various workshops around the country. www.leawells.com

Allison Zito received a BFA from the University of the Arts. Her artwork has been exhibited in numerous museums including The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield MA, The Delaware Art Museum, The State Museum in Harrisburg PA, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has taught at The Philadelphia Museum of Art and University of Pennsylvania Morris Arboretum.