Faculty Biographies

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Aric Attas

Aric holds a BS in Psychology from Hobart College and an MFA in Photography from the Hartford Art School. He has won numerous awards for his work which has been widely exhibited. As a two-time cancer survivor he thrives on sharing the healing power of creativity with others through art, music, creativity coaching, workshops and speaking engagements. His teaching credits include Rutgers University, Hartford Art School, Trinity College and Ovation TV. 

Sandy Bachmann

Sandy Bachmann earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising design at New York Institute of Technology. After 23 years working in graphic design, she moved to Florida and went back to school to receive a teaching degree in art. She has been teaching art for 17 years at the middle school and elementary school levels in Broward county and the past 6 years in Indian River County. Sandy earned awards with her colored pencil drawings, but as an art teacher, all mediums were important to have her students experience. She realized that she enjoyed 3-D work the most. After taking a pottery wheel class, she fell in love with getting her hands into clay, resulting in her buying a wheel and kiln, and now has a small studio at her home, where she is happy to give lessons in both clay and painting.

Lynn Berkowitz

Lynn Berkowitz is an experienced museum educator with a career spanning over 20 years. Lynn has overseen thousands of educational programs during her tenure as Director of Education for The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, as well as in her role as Director of Learning Experiences and Interim Museum Co-Director at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and most recently at The Barnes Foundation, as Community Programs Manager. She holds an M.F.A. from Temple University and currently teaches various online art appreciation classes through diverse educational organizations.

Judy Burgarella

Judy Burgarella has taught painting and drawing for fifteen years, and her work has been exhibited in many galleries and shows, earning her numerous awards. She is an artist of many mediums, including sculpture, and she has studied with such notable artists as Christopher Chang, Dorothy Starbuck, Karen Lafell, Lou Bonomarte, and Charles Gruppe.

Walford Campbell

Walford Campbell attended the Walsall School of Art and Derby Lonsdale College in England. He served as head of Ceramics at Solden Hill House in England, and taught at Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica. Walford’s focus is on surface decoration and larger sculptural forms.

Camy De Mario

Camy De Mario is a self-taught artist, children’s book author, illustrator and screenwriter. She has produced short animated movies, and has participated in several national and international film festivals, where she has received a few awards. Camy has taught art classes to children both virtually and in person. Her own art uses bright colors which results in happy pieces with her favorite techniques of pointillism and doodling.

Chris Fasolino

Christopher Louis Fasolino has an M.A. in art history and English literature from Plattsburgh State University. He has taught art history for more than ten years, including courses for undergraduates and museum docents. His historical adventure novel, Men of Promise, was published in 2015. Christopher’s new novel, Early Nature Artists in Florida – Audubon and His Fellow Explorers, is available from Arcadia Publishing.

Xaque Gruber

Xaque Gruber graduated from Pratt in 1991 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing. He studied art education at Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1992, Xaque earned his first graduate degree (art education with a concentration in K – 5). Xaque taught art in New England to thousands of schoolchildren, primarily in Douglas, Massachusetts, and in the summers, in Concord, Massachusetts at the Middlesex School.  In 1999, he was nominated for Massachusetts Art Teacher Of The Year. In addition to acting and writing for tv and film, Xaque began working as a reporter and teaching art in Florida. He is a freelance journalist for The Press Journal newspaper, and teaches art workshops here at the VBMA Art School. His own artwork is primarily watercolor and mixed media.

Sherry Haaland

Sherry Haaland received her B.S. in art education from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She has extensive experience in both oils and pastels, having studied art and art history for many years. Sherry is a professional studio artist, receiving many commissions for pet portraits in pastels.

Gail Lois Jaffe

Gail Lois Jaffe is an artist, psychotherapist, Brennan Healing Science Practitioner, and longtime meditator. She has a private practice in Vero Beach, works as a professional artist, and is a public motivational facilitator and workshop facilitator. She combines decades of experience and training in psychology, energy healing, yoga, meditation, personal growth, and art, in a sophisticated and unique way to enhance healing and creativity.

Joel Johnson

Joel Johnson has a B.F.A. in art from Westminster College and M.F.A. in painting and art history from Utah State University. A career artist, Joel has received numerous awards, exhibited in many national shows and has been featured in many fine art galleries throughout the country. Joel is a member of the National Watercolor Society and the Transparent Watercolor Society. He is also an exhibiting artist at the Prix de West in Oklahoma City at the Cowboy Heritage Museum. This will be his fifth year and in 2021 he was awarded the Donald Teague award for Outstanding Work on Paper. His work has been featured in Southwest Art magazine and also Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. His work is represented by Mountain Trails Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit  www.artistjoeljohnson.com 

Kent Johnson

Kent Johnson has his degree in ceramics from Palomar College, along with two years in studio production. He has also worked with renowned potters, Stephen Hill and Lana Wilson. Kent spent the past thirty-six years as a landscape designer, receiving awards from the Home and Garden Show in San Diego, and created displays for the prestigious Delma Thoroughbred Club.

Pearl Lau

Pearl Lau graduated from Art & Design HS and was an art director in Manhattan for over 20 years. She also holds a BA and MA in Art Education from CUNY, NYC. Pearl has taught at Northeastern University, the School of Visual Arts in New York and the NYC Dept of Education, where she was New York City’s Art Educator of the year twice. She has won several grants to study the arts of Ancient China and Meso-American Mexico, including a Fulbright to India. Using a variety of media, she is primarily a landscape painter. Pearl has won numerous awards as an art director, art educator and as an artist.

Stephanie Lovallo

Currently a professional painter and sculptor, Stephanie is known for her large scale assemblages. She received a BFA from FAU in Boca Raton, FL; a Masters in Science in Emotionally Handicapped from Nova University SE in Davie, FL; and certification credits from Barry University in Miami, FL for Guidance and Counseling.

She was a member of and art teacher at the Broward Art Guild in Ft Lauderdale, FL, a founding member of a Ft Lauderdale art gallery, and has won numerous art awards.  She is retired from the Broward County Schools system, where, during her tenure, she taught severely emotionally handicapped students full curriculum and Art, taught Elementary students Art, was an SED specialist, and was a Guidance Counselor.

Elise Mahovlich

Elise Mahovlich founded and operated Living Yoga Studio in Vero Beach for 15 years. She is a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor with many thousands of hours of classroom teaching experience over 18 years. She is also certified to teach Prenatal Yoga and is a 3rd Degree Reiki Teaching Master.

Katie Nall, Ph.D.

Katie Nall, Ph.D., is a certified Qigong instructor through the Cloudwalker program in Vero Beach. She is also a mathematician, a two-time TEDx speaker, a professional member of National Speakers Association, an Accredited Master Trainer and Practitioner in Emotional Freedom Technique. 

George Paxton

George Paxton was educated at the Art Students League in New York City, and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. He has studied with a multitude of classical sculptors in the U.S. and Europe, and has won many awards in juried shows and art competitions. His works are in numerous private collections in the U.S. and Europe.

Marlene Evans Putnam

Marlene Evans Putnam works in watercolor, and most recently in oils, and has conducted numerous workshops around the country. She is known for her portraits as well as seascapes, has won many awards, and continues to exhibit throughout the U.S. Mrs. Putnam’s work is included in many public and private collections.

Barry Shapiro

Barry Shapiro is a graduate of Pratt Institute (BFA in painting and printmaking) where he studied with internationally renowned artists such as James Grashow, Vasilios Toulis, Rudolph Baranik, and Audrey Flack. His portraits and abstract landscapes have been featured in multiple exhibitions in the northeast and locally.

Diane Thelen

Diane Thelen, who joined Film Studies in the fall of 2014, holds a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in art and French, from Douglass College. She also did post-graduate work in education at Rutgers University. A former Language Arts teacher, who has traveled abroad for many years, Diane combines a keen interest in film, together with a curiosity about people and cultures. She brings this appreciation of cinema to the class, to share its emotional power with all of Vero’s movie buffs.

John M. Walcott

John M. Walcott is the Chief Instructor: A.S. B.A. M.M.Q. Adept and 40-year veteran of the healing and martial arts. A graduate of Palm Beach State College and Florida Atlantic University, majoring in Human Services and Social Psychology.  He started his training in 1977 with the Grandmaster Dr. Alan Lee’s Chinese Kung-Fu, Wu-Su Association. Mr. Walcott is a certified instructor in Chinese Tam Style and Ba Gua Zhang Kung-Fu, a 5th degree black belt in Japanese Gōjū-ryū Karate and has trained in multiple major schools of Medical Qigong and Qigong Healing. He is certified in Asian bodywork therapies including 5 Element Acupressure, was twice elected Member of the Board of Directors of the National Qigong Association and Chairman of the Outreach Committee (www.nqa.org), is a Senior Instructor with the Vero Beach Qi-gong Society, and is the founder of the Cloudwalker Place – a mind/body healing system.

Martha Westphal

Martha Westphal studied at Springfield College and the Springfield Art Association, as well as Peoria Center for the Arts and Illinois Central College. Martha has continued and expanded her studies in the arts with numerous professional artists including sculpture with Syril Moss, egg tempera with Robert Vickery, and oils with Daniel E. Green, N.A., Jack Acetus Jackson, among others.


Teach at the Museum Art School
The VBMA’s Museum Art School is always accepting proposals from artists and art educators to lead classes and workshops for adults and children.