Masters & Mentors


Exhibition is featured at the Court House Cultural Center Galleries through February 6, 2016.  Gallery Hours: Tues-Friday, 10-4 and Saturday 11-2. (Closed for Holidays December 24-26, and December 31-January 2) 

Do you remember Jon Gnagy? If age (too young) or memory (too old) fails you, I will share that he had the very 1st TV show broadcast from the Empire State Building in NYC in 1946.  The name of the show was “You Are an Artist” and many of us drew and painted along with him during his weekly broadcast.  He also developed a drawing kit that as of 1986 had sold 15 million copies! One of those copies landed in the hands of Jim Dirks, the owner and creative force behind Stuart Stained Glass. That Christmas gift turned Jim from a busy 4 or 5-year-old into a budding artist. From his early years in the small wheat-growing town of Othello, Washington, to a move at age 10 to the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland he has been making things. Encouraged by his High School art teacher, he explored all mediums. In H.S. and in college he spent much of his time creating pottery and ended up as the teaching assistant for his college class. At about that time he realized he could teach! When introduced to Stained Glass, he knew immediately that this was what “fit” his artistic sensibilities. He opened his business in Stuart in 1982 and along with his wife, Tess and son Jonathan, they teach, mentor, design and create new style art glass they call “Art Dirko” as well as more traditional glass which can be both leaded and etched.

Mia Lindstrom and Georgia Abood both grew up with parents that were artists. Both feel that making art is like breathing air; necessary for survival. Mia’s husband, Franz, brought her influences from his exotic travels to Tibet and South America. These mystical and spiritual element are often part of her ceramics, jewelry and metalwork. Mia’s studio in Jensen Beach is not only the go-to place for clay and supplies, but is a destination for an aesthetic experience. Part garden, part galley and working space for both beginner and accomplished artists alike, it is comprised of several buildings linked together by open gardens. Exotic, beautiful, inventive, a place which inspires creative thinking for sure!

If painting is your passion, Georgia Abood’s studio, Alizarin Crimson, in Stuart should be on your list. Opened over 30 years ago with her mother the studio flourishes with the energy of these creative women. Growing up in California, her family encouraged her to explore all the arts. Dance became an interest which she studied along with visual art at the California College of the Arts. After marrying, Georgia and her husband lived abroad and she began teaching art there. Upon returning to the States, she continued teaching art and dance in Connecticut and Virginia before settling in Stuart, Florida, near her parents. She and her mother were then able to fulfill their dream of opening a studio together. Her mother retired from the studio 10 years ago. Georgia now works exclusively in oils enjoying the flexibility and richness of the colors. Her artistic focus is primarily on land and seascapes with occasional architecture as a subject.

Carol Kepp also prefers oil painting as her main medium, with pastels a close second. She got her earliest lessons from a neighbor in Ohio in trade for watching her dogs! Her High School art teacher also recognized her talents and encouraged her to go on in her studies. After studying at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and doing advertising work for the Gas Company and 3M, she received her teaching certification from the University of Michigan. Carol’s busy schedule includes teaching at both the Stuart Artist’s Nook and the Hobe Sound Fine Arts League. She also manages to paint 3- 4 days a week for about 4 hours focusing on botanicals, still life and people in contextual situations. Carol also finds time to be a member of the Gallery Committee of the Martin Arts Council where she helps plan and present exhibits.

Michele Sanandijian remembers being about 8 years old when her mother recognized her artistic gifts. Lessons followed doing still life and drawing. There was never any doubt in her mind that she would be an artist. In her 2nd year at a small liberal arts school her art teacher encouraged her to make a significant move, he felt that she needed a more intensive program. Parsons School of Design in NY was chosen, and, although she could have entered as a junior she decided to enter as a freshman so that she wouldn’t miss anything! Now working exclusively in fiber arts she incorporates painting and drawing on fabric and considers herself a mixed-media artist. While support and artistic family members were present in her childhood, Michelle has had the unswerving support of her husband, Robert, who has remodeled her studio, built tons of shelving, re-wired for better light and taken care of the kids while she worked. If you get to see her studio you will know that Robert is unstoppable…how DID he get that equipment up to the second floor?

Robin Makowski grew up in Chicago and loved visiting the Chicago Art Institute. While encouraged by her father, a “hobbyist” artist it was her “artsy” friends that gave her the most support in her earliest years. In school in California she met and worked with Willie Brownlee who mentored her for many years. Before long she began giving demonstrations in watercolor and worked for Marlee Matheson when she had The Studio on Tressler which turned into the Studio at the Elliot Museum several years ago. Now running the Studio at the Elliot she wears many hats, mentoring, teaching, organizing classes and painting her amazing watercolors.

This group of six artists have given Martin County residents not only distinguished and award-winning art, but countless hours encouraging and promoting the arts. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase them at this show and to give back to them!

Masters & Mentors Featured Artists (l-r)

Georgia Abood, Jim Dirks, Carol Kepp

Mia Lindberg, Robin Lee Makowski, Michelle Sanadijian

2 thoughts on “Masters & Mentors

  1. New to Stuart from Virginia Beach Va. and the the Arts Council my husband and I look forward to a fun evening on Jan 14th at Havana Nights.
    I have loved the way Stuart embraces all the arts and made it comfortable for those of us who are just beginning .


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