Our instructors are drawn from a wealth of talented teachers, including nationally known artists from across the country and across the street. They are innovative craftsmen and artists who enjoy trying new techniques and love sharing what they do with their students.
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Cathy Kitto is a retired educator with 40 years of experience in six states and England as a teacher and school principal. Since retiring she has been able to pursue her interest and develop her skills in fabric art, specifically painting on silk and nature printing on shirts and other fabrics. When not enjoying her new-found hobby, you can find her in her garden playing with her flowers.
Helen Klebesadel is best known for richly detailed watercolors on paper and canvas that address nature, woman-centered and environmental themes. Her watercolors push the traditional boundaries of the medium in scale, content, and technique. She has exhibited her art nationally and internationally for three decades. Her paintings are in many private and public collections. Helen regularly offers workshops on art and creativity from Alaska to Texas, and, of course, in Wisconsin. Raised in rural Spring Green, WI, Helen went on to an academic career teaching and administering in the visual arts and Women’s and Gender Studies at Lawrence University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Helen maintains her art studio in Madison, Wisconsin.
Jim Kostohrys from rural Mineral Point is an artist of the age-old art of drawing on animal bones. This art form predates Neolithic times.The bones are found and carefully cleaned prior to applying pen.
Megan Kulick’s artistic credentials revolve around years spent on staff at Shake Rag Alley. She is a stay-at-home mom who loves coming back to teach soaps and scrubs as well as other fun and fanciful Shake Rag Alley Youth Program classes!
Laura Lein-Svencner grew up in Downers Grove close to her grandfather’s farm, and now resides in Darien, Illinois. She is married with four grown children and a home full of loving creatures. Although she has studied drawing, printmaking, sculpture, book arts and the art of hand papermaking, it is the love of paper and design that call her attention. Laura’s been educating students for 26 years. She comes from many generations of creative makers working with their hands.
Leighanna Light is a passionate art instructor, thingmaker, bookmaker, and figurative assemblage artist. Her background is in fine arts and photography, and she has been teaching art workshops for the past 18 years. Leighanna is represented by galleries and museums across the country and her work has been published in numerous books and magazines. “I love to create, to hunt for things to create with and to share my creativity with others. It’s what I live for, it’s my oxygen.” Leighanna grew up in a small town in upstate New York and has spent most of the past 20 years in New Mexico. She currently resides in Taos, NM, with her best friends Thomas, Ruby, and Lily.
Julie Lukosaitis has been making glass beads for many years, and has been a glass flameworking instructor for almost 20 years. She is the owner of Beadazzled By Julz, and travels with her glass art studio around Wisconsin. She has many years of experience working in public education and teaching to different learning intelligences. She believes the best reward for a teacher is seeing the joy her students feel with their own creativity and building on their skills. When that happens, she can see their confidence grow and it shows in their work.
Andrea Matus deMeng
Andrea Matus deMeng is a combined media artist living in Vancouver, BC, who exhibits as well as teaches her unique combination of painting, collage, assemblage, and sculpture throughout the world. In her art, Andrea creates powerful portraits skillfully combining color, symbolism, and ornamentation. Each motif is a transport to a different time and place, and through the process unrelated and discordant shapes and designs are manipulated to find balance and harmony where at first there seems none. Her passions and strong feminine aesthetic can be seen in all of her endeavors. The improvisational nature of collage coupled with the very deliberate method of painting creates a balance of spontaneity and premeditation in her work. Inspired by her extensive travels, a unique personal history and too many artistic influences to list, Andrea hopes to inspire others to live their creative lives and pursue their dreams of transformation.
Eric Charles May is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. A Chicago native and former reporter for the Washington Post, his fiction has appeared in the magazines Fish Stories, F, and Criminal Class. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck. Bedrock Faith is his first novel.
Denny McKernan is one of the people who have been critical to Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts’ success over the past 15 years. He originated the Blacksmithing and Metal Arts program, locating traditional coal forges, anvils, standing vises, hammers, tongs, and more to create individual blacksmith stations for up to eight students. For the last 11 years, Denny has been Shake Rag Alley’s volunteer Blacksmith Supervisor and Welding Instructor, and has dedicated his time to not only managing, but also building up their Blacksmithing and Metal Arts area. He now has retired as supervisor of the program, but as a very experienced welder, he continues to teach his Intro to Torch Welding Class four times a year at Shake Rag Alley.
Booklist calls Patricia Ann McNair “an irresistible personal essayist of refreshing candor, vibrant
openheartedness, rueful humor, and unassuming wisdom.” Author of And These Are the Good
Times (essays), and The Temple of Air (stories), McNair received the Chicago Writers
Association Book of the Year Award, Southern Illinois University’s Devil’s Kitchen Reading
Award, the Society of Midland Authors Finalist Award, and was named a finalist for the
Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking book of 2017. Her work is published in American
Fiction: Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, Superstition Review, Prime
Number, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Barrelhouse, and in textbooks
on writing. McNair’s second short story collection, Responsible Adults, is scheduled for release
in December 2020. She has received numerous Illinois Arts Council Awards and teaches in the
English and Creative Writing Department Graduate and Undergraduate Programs at Columbia
College Chicago where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award and was nominated for
the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year Award.
Memoir & Personal Essay – Writing Retreat
Manuscript Consultations – Writing Retreat
I live in Mineral Point and am retired from Lands’ End. I found my wonderful retirement job at the Mineral Point Public Library where I work as a circulation librarian and with the after-school programs. I found a wonderful way to share my love of making cards with kids who also want a way to express themselves. There are no rules in our card making. As one of my kids said, “You tell us to color outside the lines!”I hope that is what the kids get — the freedom to express themselves.
Trained as a painter, Richard Moninski received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master of fine arts from the University at Albany, State University of New York. He completed additional study in surface design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Moninski is strongly influenced by history, nature, and numerous decorative arts traditions. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally. Awards include a grant from the American-Scandinavian Foundation for research in Norway, and artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. An educator with over 20 years of experience, he has employed diverse media and approaches in the course of his teaching.
Chiaki O’Brien is a SAORI Leaders Committee Certificate recipient. She began SAORI Weaving in 1996 in Japan. She worked as an instructor for the SAORI head office/school in Japan before moving to Minnesota in 2004. She’s been teaching a variety of ages and abilities at schools (including special education classes), at facilities for people with disabilities and assisted living as well as fiber-related events and at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. She’s also a Bengala Mud dye artist/instructor. Chiaki operates Studio FUN from her home in Bloomington, MN.
Youth Program Workshops
Paul Pendola is a full-time Galena, IL-based green woodworking artist specializing in hand-carved wooden spoons and other hand-crafted woodenware. Using only an axe, straight knife, hook knife, and all-natural food-safe oil and wax, Paul’s mission is to create simple, authentic, and beautiful functional art.
You can find Paul’s work, and watch him work, at Galena Spoon Co., his retail shop located at 201 Hill Street in the heart of historic downtown Galena, IL. Paul participants in several leading traditional American art and craft fairs including The Galena Country Fair (Galena, IL) and The Waterford Fair (Waterford, VA), among others. Additionally, Also, Paul sells his work via several boutique retailer throughout the Driftless Region of northwestern Illinois, online at http://www.galenaspoonco.com, and via national wholesale accounts including The Holland Bowl Mill.
Interested in learning how to carve a spoon? Consider taking one of Paul’s classes here at Shake Rag Alley, at the Galena ARC, or at his home-based workshop, The Spoon Carver Cottage, located in downtown Galena, IL.
Paul (Galena Spoon Co.) has artist profiles on EnjoyIllinois.com and VisitGalena.org, and is an active member of the Galena Area Chamber of Commerce, The Galena Downtown Business Association, Key City Creative Center (Dubuque), Premier Business Partner of the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, and active in many arts organizations in the Driftless Region.
Paul is a Chicago native, currently a full-time Galena, IL resident, and holds a master’s degree from the Cornell University School of Business.
Leslie Perrino is an artist and “art evangelist” who loves to share the power of art and creativity with people, particularly in her beloved areas of metals and enameling. Her artwork is a quirky mix of traditional and found objects, most recently combining computer/electrical components with enamels. She is a charismatic and effective teacher who encourages skill building and exploration of the medium.
Deborah Petronio is an assemblage artist from Buffalo, New York. She describes herself as a lover of mermaids, gnomes, and old dollies. Her work exemplifies the juxtaposition of old and new, treasure and junk, and dark versus whimsy. She has been an instructor at art retreats and classes locally and nationally. Her pile of art supplies is legendary.
Sara Post’s mixed media art works focus on layering – adding and subtracting materials to create an abstract surface history with occasional structural references to landscape and architecture. Her work is exhibited nationally and is represented in many public and private collections. She is an award-winning instructor teaching at art centers across the country as well as in her studio in Davis, California. She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and received a master’s degree in art from Northern Arizona University. “I’m deeply attracted to collage – the delight of layering, of laying down a block of color, of transferring print, and transforming the work with paint. My art grows out of things I love – collage speaks to bulletin boards, posters on walls, chipping paint, certain buildings – especially those that are almost falling down. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the illusion of time and the certainty of change.
I have worked as a graphic artist for 38 years with the Madison school district. In 2005, I discovered the world of gourd art. For the last 15 years I have taught gourd art classes, exhibited at various galleries, and have been the co-editor for the Wisconsin Gourd Society’s newsletter. There is so much still to discover!
Sarah Rehmer was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago, where she still resides. In 2003 Rehmer earned her BA in Graphic Design and Photography from Dominican University in River Forest, IL. She found her love for working with pages from old books while auditing a class post-graduation at the university. Rehmer is an Illinois Arts Council – Professional Development Grant recipient and her work is held in private collections both around the United States and internationally, as well as Institutional and Corporate collections in Illinois and New York. Rehmer teaches classes and workshops around the Midwest.