Art Instructor Biographies

2015 Self Portrait 3David Abrevaya
(Intro to Cartooning)

I am a cartoonist, concept artist, and storyboard artist from New York City. I graduated from the School of Visual Arts with honors and my work has been in galleries around NYC. I enjoy turning ideas into something tangible, that can stimulate the mind. My passion stems from the elegance and sophistication that is inherent to art, the beauty of creating an image and the creative flow that is required for the work to resonate. I have collaborated with designers, writers, and film directors on various projects. My artistic method is characterized by a uniquely diverse approach, analyzing the project from various angles and using my creativity to contribute to the bigger picture. I strive to continue to grow as a person, being able to do so as an artist and a creator is my greatest personal and professional satisfaction.



Amaturo, Maureen

Maureen Amaturo
(Young Authors Writing Group, Fashion Design, Anatomy of Fashion, Writer’s Week)

Maureen Mancini Amaturo is a freelance writer, columnist, poet, and writes fiction for both the adult and children’s markets. Her poetry has been published by Beatlefest, in several national anthologies, and has become song lyrics for local bands. When her short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Harlem” won first place in a national competition, she was labeled “America’s next Flannery O’Connor.”

After a career of fashion and beauty writing – having written for several major cosmetic companies and designers, published two beauty how-to books, and having had work published in Parents, Glamour, Vogue, Redbook, newspapers, advertising (U.S. and global,) beauty catalogs, and designer websites – Maureen saw fiction as a natural next step. But she hasn’t abandoned her fashion writing altogether. She writes a bi-monthly fashion column, “Dressing On The Side,” for her local newspaper.

Maureen is Programming Director for When Words Count writers retreat and was co-founder and Co-Chairman/Producer of Unicorn Writers Conference for six years. Additionally, she is actively involved in conceptualizing, curating, and producing exhibits, performing arts, and literary arts events for local arts organizations. Having established a Literary Arts Program at her community arts center, Maureen created and produced an annual Edgar Allan Poe event involving best-selling authors, television and Broadway personalities, and the Curators of Edgar Allan Poe Museums across America. At The 2009 Edgar Awards, Maureen received a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the city of Baltimore for her efforts in promoting the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Maureen teaches a variety of Creative Writing classes to students of all ages, Fashion Illustration, Jewelry Design, and other fashion and mixed media arts workshops. Additionally, she writes articles and conducts celebrity interviews for her local newspapers. She is founder of the Sound Shore Writers Group and is currently at work on several new children’s books and a romantic comedy. Maureen holds a B.A. in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.


Anechiarico, LauraLaura Anechiarico

(Illustration, Painting & Beyond, Beginning Drawing, Drawing Fundamentals & Acrylic Painting, RAP @ RAC: Rising Artists Program, AP Studio Art)

Laura Anechiarico earned her Masters in Teaching, Visual Arts, from Manhattanville College and earned a BA in Art from the University of Texas in Austin. She also studied at The Art Students League in Manhattan. Laura is working on a series of illustrations for a childrens’ book to be published in 2015, and her fine art work is represented by Gallery 52 in Rye, NY. Of her years at The Art Students League, she writes “For three years I studied with many instructors from The Students Arts League.  To prepare for each new incoming instructor, I painted in a style in which they could best critique, and in turn, in which I could learn the most from each teacher and their style.  From portraiture with Oldrich Tepley; to the Russian and European figurative realism I learned from Leonid Gervitz; to color, rhythm and the action painting of Kenneth McIndoe; I studied their work, and how they taught it.  When I met Knox Martin at the League, I wrote down everything he said and studied his lectures.  His classes intellectually allowed me to navigate what art is, and to read deeper into art, learning that in order to make art, I had to challenge myself to create something new, and to reveal something in it that is also invigorating.”


Baer, DavidDavid Baer
(Exploring Digital Photography/Photoshop, Maker-Maniacs, LittleBits, 3D Printing and Modeling)




Burtz, TracyTracy Burtz
(Drawing and Painting from Life, Figure Painting and Drawing)

I received my BFA from Boston University School for the Arts in 1978 and my MFA from CUNY Queens College in 1980. I have also studied at the New York Studio School in Paris, and RISD. I have been a figurative painter for over 35 years. As a contemporary painter, I have sought to “unlearn” my formal classical education in the attempt to discover my own creative voice. The abstract elements of picture making are of utmost importance, encompassing composition, color, light, value, volume, space, and line. My work has been exhibited in many solo and group shows in galleries and museums in NYC, Paris, New Mexico, Boston, Nantucket, Provincetown, as well as many other places. I have taught painting, drawing and pastels for over 25 years to students at every level from children to Graduate school. I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge through my teaching and professional experiences of almost 40 years that I seek to impart to my students for their growth and motivation. As a mid-career painter, my work feeds my teaching, and fortunately the teaching feeds back into my work. This result is a unique relationship with my students.


Chari, SheelaSheela Chari
(Writing for Children (for Adults)

Sheela Chari is the author of the children’s novel, Vanished (Disney-Hyperion), an Edgar Award Nominee for best juvenile mystery, a Children’s Literature Honor Book by the Asian/Pacific American Library Association (APALA), and featured on the Today Show with Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids. She has also published hi-lo books for children with Children’s Press. Sheela holds an MFA in fiction writing from New York University, and lives in Scarsdale with her family. Visit her online at



Checo, IsmaelIsmael Checo
(Portrait Painting for All Levels, Drawing for All Levels) 

Ismael Checo is a painter with a knack for finding beauty where other people have overlooked it. Although his subjects are drawn from the world, trouble politics and complex sociology are not what he is out to capture; his terrain is of a different kind, propelled by close looking at things which delight him. He is, by his own description, a “perfectionist,” preferring to address the ubiquitous, those things familiar and accessible. He is a master of all small truth about the particular light of a particular place, a specific quality of this one thing. In his hands, the ordinary is transformed into something finer and more enduring. Checo is a realist who always works from direct observation. Studied Painting and Drawing at The School of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo, The Art Students League of New York and as an Apprentice with Nelson Shanks in Andalusia PA. You can check out his website at


D'Amico, Larry Larry D’Amico
(Painting for All Levels, Exploring Painting: Representation, Abstraction and More)

Larry received his B.F.A. from SUNY Purchase. His work has been shown extensively throughout the New York metropolitan area and across the United States over the last 20 years. He has taught painting, drawing, and sculpture at all age levels through the Westchester Arts Council and Silvermine Artists Guild. More about Larry: New York artist Larry D’Amico’s interest in the play between representational imagery and the more abstract qualities of color and form is evident in his Impressionist-style paintings. His use of color in his oils, acrylics and pastels simulate light and create atmosphere. D’Amico’s paintings add a sensuous texture to an already color-drenched canvas, where vigorous abstract brush work and washes of color communicate the experience of landscape. D’Amico’s work has been recognized in shows such as the “American Landscape” group show in Madison, Wisconsin; “Plein – Air: A Tradition Honored” in New Rochelle, NY; and “New York: Before and After 9/11”in Naples, Florida.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards for his work, with paintings in several corporate collections.


Davis, VinnyVinny Davis
(Cartooning I & II, Cartoon Characters, Action Figures and Creatures)

Vincent Davis is a cartoonist, comic book illustrator, ad designer and art instructor. He currently works freelance for Charles Fazzino and Museum Editions Ltd. His work appeared in the successful End Times (2012-2014) magazine series which was nominated and won for the Best Horror Anthology of 2013 by the Horror News Network. His illustrations and ad designs can be found in the pages of Screem magazine, Filmfax magazine, Monster Bash magazine, Defenestration magazine, and Mr. Davis has been teaching the art of cartooning and comic book illustration to children and adults for 18 years. He lives in Fleetwood, NY with his wife Jennie and his dog Skip. For a more complete resume visit Vincent’s online portfolio at:


DeNapoli, Daniel Daniel DeNapoli
(Manga Club)

Daniel teaches our popular Manga Club classes at The Rye Arts Center.  He studied at The School Of Visual Arts NYC, The Arts Students League NYC, and NYU Tisch School of The Arts. He is also an artist and Art Director for his own Advertising Agency, called “Ads2go New York Inc.” ( He has serviced many fortune 1000 accounts at prominent New York City companies. He has worked at many advertising agencies and companies, including: Clairol Inc., Kiss Products Intl., Shiseido Intl., The Vitamin Shoppe Inc., HBO NY, BBD&O Worldwide, Y&R, Bates Worldwide, Case & McGrath Inc., Esty Advertising, Signature Advertising, etc. Steven Pressfield writer of “The War of Art, Winning of “Inner Creative Battle”, says, “Daniel has a burning passion for his Art, a fearless artist of our time…a true warrior…not afraid to paint the dark side or what his heart feels, and his eyes see…the Van Gogh of our time…he walks with their spirit, emotion, loss… and paints the human condition with the same determination and passion.” Daniel’s present work is derived from living in New York City and traveling around the world in search of his next new canvas and rare vision to express. Like Monet, Daniel gets his passion from walking in nature. “The richness I achieve comes from nature—the source of my inspiration.”- Claude Monet.


Derderian, Elizabeth Elizabeth Derderian
(Acrylic and Oil Painting)

Elizabeth B. Derderian earned her B.A. in art history from Barnard College, and her MBA in marketing from NYU. Her work was mentioned in the April 2013 issue of Gallery and Studio Magazine, and featured in the June 2010 issue of The American Artist Magazine. Paintings by Elizabeth can be seen locally on the cover of the March 2010 Rye Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Map, the postcards of the Pearl Restaurant Group, and the walls of On the Way Café, Ruby’s, and Sotheby’s. The American Artists Professional League granted to her in November 2011 the Cheap Joe’s Award in the 83rd Grand National Exhibition; and in November 2010 the Frank C. Wright Medal of Honor in the 82nd Grand National Exhibition. In December, 2010, she was juried in as a Full Member to the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club and won top awards in 2008, 2009, and 2013. In 2013, she was invited to become an active member of the National Society of Painters in Casein and Acrylic, which is by invitation only. In 2014, she was elected full artist member of the American Artists Professional League. She has had 10 solo exhibitions. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her joy and skill of painting with her students at The Rye Arts Center.


Dufault, Katharine Katharine Dufault
(Encaustic Painting, Saturday Drawing & Painting, Fashion Illustration, Fashion Runway, Relief Printmaking, Teen Figure Drawing)

Born in Cambridge England, Katharine studied fine art, photography and graphic design at Anglia Ruskin University before coming to New York. She graduated with honors from Columbia University, NY, with a degree in Painting and Literature. Katharine is an artist, curator, photographer and educator. She believes the classroom should be a safe and honest space where individual encouragement helps each student to improve their skills and strengthen their vision. Katharine is The Rye Arts Center Gallery Committee Chair, and has curated several exhibitions for The Rye Arts Center. Katharine will lead The Rye Arts Center High School Arts Council in the Fall of 2016. For more visit:


Kelly, Joy Joy Kelly
(Head Start Outreach Program, Fun with Melody and Rhythm)

Joy is an actor, director as well as storyteller. She has performed on “Late Night with David Letterman” and several soap operas and in the 1997 independent film “Out of Season.”  As a storyteller, she has performed in several venues including The New Jersey Storytelling Festival, The Mohegan Festival and Story Grove at the Clearwater Festival as well as numerous libraries and museums in and around the New York City area, Westchester and Long Island.  She currently works as a Teaching Artist in the New York City Public Schools as well as at the Rye Arts Center in their summer program and as part of RAC’S partnership with Head Start in Port Chester, New York.  As an actor, Joy most recently was featured in the New York City Parks Project, Summerstage in the Faux Real Production, “Seven Against Thebes”.   She also directs for Theatreworks, USA.


Ladd, Ann Ann Ladd
(Recycled Art, Drawing & Painting Fundamentals, Beginning Drawing & Painting)

New York artist Ann Ladd has been a professional muralist, surface painter and teacher for the past 25 years. Ann believes that while fine artworks are best seen in galleries and museums, art is to be found everywhere in life. So, for example, she teaches a “Junk Art” class in which her students learn to look for and see beauty and significance even in castaway objects. She says, “To succeed as an artist is not a matter of competition with others, but a journey of self-discovery for each person. Having spent her formative years overseas; she now returns annually to Thailand where she satisfies three of her passions: teaching art, travel and giving back. In 2011, Ann was the resident artist for The Anantara Resort in Phuket, Thailand. One reviewer said of her work, “Ann is driven by a desire to transform her entire world into a work of art. For her there is no distinction between the room, the walls and the art. The viewer doesn’t so much look at her work as enter into it.” She has exhibited in the Katonah Museum of Art, painted murals for The Neuberger Museum of Art, The Thayer Hotel at West Point, Nicole Paone in Manhattan, The Rye Synagogue, Bet Torah in Mt. Kisco, British Airways corporate retreat, and Follow the Fish, an elaborate signage mural for the Westchester Medical Center, for which she received a grant from Reader’s Digest and The Children’s Rehabilitation Center in White Plains contains more than 50 of her murals. Ann teaches weekly Drawing, Painting and Recycled Sculpture classes at The Rye Art Center and is a Roster Artist for ArtsWestchester, which brings art into New York-area Public Schools. You can see more of her work here: and here:


Loritz, Brigitte Brigitte Loritz
(Transparent Watercolor for All Levels, Transparent Watercolor for the Intermediate Level)

Brigitte was born and educated in Switzerland and studied at the Kunstgewerbe Schule in Zurich. In the United States, she has studied under such prominent watercolorists as Ed Whitney, Jane Carlson, Arnie Lindmark, Janet Walsh, Mel Stabin, and Diane Faxon. She also attended Parson’s School of Art and Design. She has won numerous awards. Ms. Loritz calls her style semi-impressionistic, “watercolor opens a door to endless possibilities. The so called ‘lucky accidents’ combined with planned compositions are always challenging to me.” Her work has been exhibited throughout New York, Connecticut and Switzerland. Her paintings are in the possession of General Electric home office in Stamford, CT and private collections in the United States, Asia and Europe. She has been teaching at The Rye Arts Center for over 27 years and is an Artist in Residence for the Port Chester Council for the Arts. She conducts workshops in transparent watercolor and mixed media classes for adults and children in various schools in Westchester County.


MacFinn, C. A. C.A. MacFinn
(Programming Concepts for Kids using Scratch, 3D Animation using Blender, Creative Code using Processing, Minecraft Animation)

C.A. MacFinn Animator and Interaction Designer received his BFA Summa Cum Laude from FIT’s Computer Animation and Interactive Media program, and studied Life Sculpture and Figure Drawing under Barney Hodes and Peter Clapper at the Arts Students League. C.A. MacFinn introduced, developed and teaches 3D Computer Animation at SUNY RCC. Credits include character animation for three animated shorts, animation and programming on related mobile/tablet apps and a recently released science app for CGMuse ( He has also done character animation and motion graphics for Means of Productions, NYC, Primaxus Executive Coaching and web design for many businesses. Other teaching assignments have been animation and computer programming education classes for Rockland Center for the Arts, Pelham Arts Center, Cortland Croton Center for the Arts and libraries in Rockland and Westchester counties. He holds a BS with coursework concentrated in film/digital media and a Screenwriting Certificate from The New School University. His work can be seen at


Mack, Gary Gary Mack
(Creative Building, Digital Architecture with Google Sketchup, Minecraft Club, Engineering using LEGO/K’NEX, Siege Machines and Medieval Fortresses)

I have been told by many parents and education professionals (educators?) that I have “a knack”. I like Webster’s extended definition, “a special ready capacity that is hard to analyze or teach.”  Using this intuitive approach, underscored with three degrees in education, I emphasize a visionary fusion between all different learning styles and computer game-based learning.  All children come out of my classes enthusiastic and confident about their abilities as creative problem solvers — kids who love to learn.


Mollica, Patti Patti Mollica
(Fast Loose and Bold Painting)

Patti Mollica has been a fine artist and professional illustrator for over 30 years. Her artwork is is known for its fearless use of color and uninhibited brushwork. She delights in painting the world around her in a bold, decisive style, with hues that are intense, brilliant and contemporary. “Great painting is not about the “subject matter,” but rather the way an artist communicates beauty, sensitivity and integrity in whatever is depicted. Flowers, gardens and sunsets are no more worthy as painting subjects than subjects than a subway station full of weary commuters, or a close-up of some old rundown fire escapes. My goal as a painter is to point out the hidden artistic essence in all subjects and scenes, and objects, most especially the ones that are not commonly thought of in an artistic light“. Patti has been commissioned by, and is included in, the private collections of American Express, Sheraton Hotels, CBS & RCA Records, Penguin Press and many others. Additionally, she is a Certified Teacher for Golden Paints and conducts workshops throughout the U.S., covering topics such as “Innovative Acrylic Techniques using Golden Paints”, as well as “How to Paint Fast, Loose and Bold”. Patti’s original artwork is represented in several galleries throughout the US. Published prints and posters can be found in retail chains worldwide. Patti is the author of 3 books, Modern Acrylics, Color Theory, and Acrylics – Getting Started, published by Walter Foster Inc. She has also authored 3 instructional painting DVD’s, Acrylic Painting Value Techniques, Brushwork Techniques, and Color Techniques, published by FW Media. As an active member of the “daily painter” movement, Patti posts her latest paintings and commentaries at her blog, For more info on Patti, please visit


Kelly O’Sullivan
(Ceramics, Head Start Outreach Program)



Rabetz, Marilyn Marilyn Rabetz
(Colored Pencils, How to Draw Absolutely Anything)

Marilyn received her BA from Brooklyn College, in New York where she studied with Ad Rheinhardt, the abstract expressionist, and Philip Pearlstein, the figurative realist. Both aspects of their concerns appear in her realist, sometimes magical, still-life paintings. Rabetz has exhibited widely over many years and has been published may times including four times in American Artist Magazine. The Director of the Richmond Art Center at the Loomis Chaffee School (a private preparatory high school), she also taught all levels of drawing, computer graphics and advanced placement at the school. She is currently preparing a series of instructional books on the overall topic of realist drawing and painting with graphite and colored pencils. Her work can be seen at her website,


Smith, Leslye Leslye Smith
(Exploring Digital Photography and Photoshop, Analog/Digital Photography)

Leslye Smith, professional photographer and business owner of Studiosmith based in Port Chester, for over 25 years, studio and location work. She love the rewards and challenges of being a business owner.  She has a BA in Art History from Manhattanville College. She loves teaching at RAC and introducing kids to the world of black/white darkroom photography and showing the basics that lead up to digital photography and photoshop. Photo credited to a summer school student at RAC. For more information visit:


Wingate Taylor, Martha Martha Wingate Taylor
(Glass Creations: Kiln-Formed Glass)

Martha is a glass artist, working out of her studio in Rye Brook, NY. Her work includes casting, kilnforming, deep sandblasting, lampworking, cold construction, and photography on glass. Ms. Taylor has studied with many internationally recognized glass artists, most notably Paul Stankard, who was a great influence early in her career. At both Urbanglass in New York, and the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass she studied lampworking with Mr. Stankard, Robert Mickelson, Emilio Santini and Loren Stump.  She studied etching with Austrailian glass artist Jane Bruce, and Jiri Harcuba from the Czech Republic and cold construction with Martin Rosol.  Ms. Taylor studied deep and layered Sandblasting with Steuben designer Eric Hilton, furnace formed sculpture with Paul Marioni,  Kilnforming with Mark Ditzler, and casting with Lucartha Kohler. Before becoming a glass artist, Ms. Taylor was a professional singer, performing in Welsh both here and Wales, and singing on and off Broadway in New York for many years.


Wood, Kathy Kathy Wood

Kathy received her B.F.A. from the College of New Rochelle and is certified to teach art in New York State. She has completed her M.S. in Early Childhood Education also at The College of New Rochelle. She studied with Marilyn Dintenfass and Judith Weber in New Rochelle and wood builder John Forbes in upstate New York. Kathy teaches art at Resurrection School in Rye, NY. Her work is in private collections throughout New York and Washington, DC.



Zahour, NicoleNicole Zahour
(Half Day for Half Pints Program, Young Artists Mixed Media Club, Beginning Drawing & Painting, Drawing & Painting Explorations, Art & Engineering using LittleBits, Head Start Outreach Program, Jewelry)

Nicole Zahour is a working artist, photographer and goldsmith based in Rye, NY. She received her BA from Seton Hill University majoring in Art Therapy with a minor in Studio Arts. She also received a teacher training certificate from Cambridge University in London. She has taught in England, Germany, Czech Republic and Portugal. Her portrait photography has made the cover of Instinkt Magazine and the Huffington Post.  She photographs Fashion Shows, Presidential visits and various large fundraisers in NYC. She’s photographed many prominent NY celebrities including Robert De Niro, Milos Forman, Tim Gunn, Iman, Bloomberg and many more. Her wedding jewelry is sold around the world and has been featured in Bride Magazine. Her approach to teaching at The RAC- “I believe my role as an educator is to facilitate and spark students’ creativity while helping them actualize that idea through process and technique. Watching a student realize their potential and become enthusiastic about creating their vision is the greatest reward.”