Meet our 2016 Ambassador Artists

Ambassador Artists:

Paola Gallardo

Florida-based artist, Paola Gallardo, was born in Bogota, Colombia in the early 70’s. At only 4 years of age, Paola and her family moved to Spain. While in Spain, she studied art starting with black and white media at the age of twelve at Jose Joaquin's Studio in Zaragoza, Spain. She explored other techniques at Goymar School of Arts in Madrid, and Graffito and charcoal at Artaquio Studio after she graduated. Paola splashed onto the art scene in the early 90's and worked as a private teacher for almost 8 years. She enjoyed blending her artistic European influence with the Latin-American artistic movement through collaborations with different artists in Colombia. While living there, she also worked as a tutor for portraiture at El Gorgojo studio. Always embraced color and texture, which is evident everywhere in her pieces. Her artwork has been on exhibit in Galleries in Spain, Colombia, New Mexico, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Artist Website

Diana Pantoja

Colombian artist, from a city called Valledupar, Diana Pantoja lives in Miami with her husband and little baby Francesca. Since early on Diana honed and showcased her natural talent while completing accredited visual art and painting courses throughout several schools throughout Colombia. She also earned her Business undergraduate degree in Bogota, but went on to pursue her passion for the arts and also completed a master’s degree in Fine Arts (Visual) from Miami International University of Art & Design. Diana works in two styles, her imaginary flowers where she is driven to find the essential abstract forms from each flower; transforming, deconstructing and recombining them to create images and representations beyond regular levels. And in her most recent work, abstract expressionism, which displays a new facet in her creations reflecting on memories and/or lifelong experiences with contrasted action lines depicting lighter and impulsive brushstrokes, resulting in a renewed and refreshing finish. Diana’s work is an introspection of life, feelings and emotions in a free and vigorous manner, creating an ordered chaos, where personal flashbacks meet current states. Diana’s work has been featured across the United States, Colombia and South Korea.

Artist Website

Grace Arts Center – Felicia Fish, Lena Luckey, Annie Melik, Glen Mayo | Curated by Clare Vickery

Grace Arts Center is a Florida non-profit since 2011 serving the South Florida community and based out of Fort Lauderdale. Our projects have served over 2500 artists since 2005 through gallery outreach into the community schools where artists donate time and resources or creating and producing innovative projects which pair practicing artists with emerging talent. The gallery business since 2005 donated resources to develop the charitable arts programming with partners in government and South Florida corporations.

Felicia Fish

After graduating with honors and years of intense artistic training in Florida, Felicia Fish took trips to the poorest places in Mexico and Brazil to paint, draw portraits of indigenous children, and design a cafe in the inner city. In 2012, she was commissioned for marketing and corporate branding but also began to paint works that explored the world through her spiritual lens, including people in her path, nature, and abstract 'wonderlands.' She has a passion for photography, ceramics, and painting as well as teaching high level art skills to lower income student groups. She's a Broward resident and professional artist working on various projects in South Florida.

Artist Website

Lena Luckey

Lena Luckey is a self-taught full-time artist who has worked for decades as a professional painter all over the world. In the United States since 2000, she has developed a wide variety of painting styles including Asian-inspired abstracts of triptych panels in bright primary colors, large canvases of acrylic earth tones embellished with layers of golden tapestry or architectural shapes and forms. Her blend of whimsical or industrial themes garners an expanding commercial and residential customer base.

Artist Website

Annie Melik (Brown)

Annie Melik, born in Holguin, Cuba is a Broward County resident artist recently moved from Cuba to marry a local businessman. Her extensive resume reflects concentrated academic training: a graduate of the Professional Academy of Fine Arts “El Alba” of Holguin, with a focus on Painting. She studied at UNESCO Regional Chair of Conservation Science for Cultural Heritage in the CENCREM (Centro Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museología) City of Havana, in the following specializations: painting materials and their use in the restoration of works of art and colonial heritage. She attended classes at the Superior Institute of Art in the specialty of Film direction, Radio and Television. She’s made several solo and group exhibitions, mural design, and runway fashion design. She’s worked in radio and television and received several fine art and media competition awards.

Artist Website

Glen Mayo

A self-taught professional artist for over twenty-five years in South Florida, Glen Mayo’s studio in Fort Lauderdale can design and fabricate with a distinctive standard of excellence. Recognized by multiple publications, multitudes of commercial and residential clients for his keen sense of style combined with attention to detail, Glen has a prolific career creating furniture, architectural installations and a wide array of steel, glass and repurposed material sculptural works.

Artist Website

Weston Art Guild Presents: Lisa Botto, Susan Gillingham, and Melanie Margolies

The Weston Art Guild is a nonprofit all volunteer visual arts organization with the purpose of creating a cultural atmosphere in the community by educating the public on the importance of all forms of visual art. The Guild will provide the community exposure to all forms of visual arts while providing its members outlets for their work. The Guild will also provide its members with activities that foster their art and provide camaraderie with other artists.

Lisa Botto Lee

Born into a family of artists tracing back 5 generations to mural painters in Northern Italy, it was only natural for Lisa Botto Lee, this year’s recipient of the prestigious Allied Artists of America 1st place in graphics 2016, to follow in her families footsteps. As a little girl, art started in the home as a toddler sitting on her father’s lap watching him paint. For Lisa, it has been a circuitous trail to become a fulltime artist as she was sidetracked by the sudden loss of her husband and her attention turned to raising her two young children which became the forefront of her life. Through this tragedy, Lisa rebuilt her life and as her children grew, she was able to return to her passion of art fulltime. As depicted in her hyper-realism portrait of The Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards, her life is defined by the lines and years traveled to this moment. Lisa’s work is a culmination of her education, travels, family, children, vision, passion, and life experience.

Artist Website

Susan Gillingham

Susan Gillingham is a professional artist and graphic designer who specializes in oil paintings of the sea. She studied her craft at Parsons School of Design and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. A New York native, Sue achieved early success painting murals that can still be seen around her home town of Elmsford, just outside New York City. While there she immersed herself in the museums and art galleries surrounding her. The work of Impressionists became her inspiration. A love and respect for the force of the ocean was instilled in her when she left the city and moved to South Florida. Here she was exposed to the rhythm of the sea, which is an ongoing influence in her work. Sue’s training as a graphic designer creating destination brochures for establishments in Florida and the Caribbean have won her a number of ADDY awards and has transformed her painting style into a unique blend of realism and abstraction with a Pacific style and Caribbean flair. Susan has participated in the Artigras art festival and exhibited at the 1310 Gallery at the Sailboat Bend Artist Lofts along with a number of exhibits through the Weston Art Guild. You can see her paintings at Art on a Whim Fine Art Gallery in Islamorada Florida.

Artist Website

Melanie Margolies

Melanie Margolies grew up in Miami, Florida. She enjoys being creative, using her imagination and working with her hands. She specializes in stained glass art pieces including lamps, window panels, kaleidoscopes, and customized gifts. Once an art piece is completed and displayed in the sunlight, the wide ranges of vibrant colors explode. Looking at the beautiful arrangement of color can easily brighten your day. Melanie participates in local art events and art exhibitions including the Glass Gallery in Pembroke Pines, Coral Springs Museum, Sunrise Civic Center, Weston Hills Country Club, and the Sailboat Bend Gallery. Melanie is an active member and on the board of the Weston Art Guild. Melanie has won national and local awards and has been in the Stained Glass News Magazine, Miami Herald, and Weston Lifestyle Magazine; along with an art piece published in The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today, Volume 2 (2008).

Phoenix Marks

For Phoenix Marks the extraordinary beauty of nature and wilderness are a wonder. Attempting to fix them in time is her passion; photography is her art. Known for her painterly approach to composition, light, color and texture in her photography, her works have been honored in numerous juried exhibitions, showcased in solo exhibitions, including Everglades National Park Gallery, featured in magazines and calendars worldwide and can be found in private collections across the United States. She is the recipient of several awards including the Broward Cultural Council’s Creative Investment Program Grant and Best in Landscape at the International Photography Juried Competition. She has been selected to curate Broward County’s prestigious DBA 2017 Exhibit. This October she will be the Artist in Residence at the Olive Stack Gallery in Listowel, Ireland. For the past three years she has exhibited and sold her work at Art Miami during Art Basel. Professionally Phoenix serves as president of the National League of American Pen Women, Fort Lauderdale Branch. For the past three years she served as Vice President and Professional Development Chair of the Broward Art Guild. A native Miamian, Phoenix lives and works in Fort Lauderdale.

Artist Website

Jen Walls

Jen Walls is a mark-maker and mixed media artist who is often inspired by the traditions and stories of indigenous peoples. Self-taught, her art is the result of disciplined studio time, a regimen of exploratory and experimental projects and a good dose of magic. She is a member of Ciel Gallery in Charlotte, NC, where she also teaches workshops. An advocate for doodling in the classroom, the waiting room and the board room, she lives in Plantation, Florida with her husband, son and assorted wildlife.

Artist Website

Hilma Koelman

Hilma Koelman was born and raised in the Netherlands. During her stay in the Caribbean she started to paint, impressed by the deep turquoise sea and the cheerful Caribbean lifestyle. Painting and working with driftwood became her passion and marked her start as an artist. Hilma is primarily a self-taught artist. But she has also followed multiple art classes and workshops given by the best teachers she could find during the past 14 years. She has learned to work with very different techniques, styles and materials and since she is living in South Florida she studied with Sally Cooper, Sherry O’Neill and Rebecca Crowell. Over the years she developed her own “unique voice” coming deep from inside. Sometimes it’s full of vibrating energy and sometimes there is a sense of mystery and serene stillness what makes you wonder what’s going on in the mind of this artist. You can always feel her passion and she takes you with her energy into her own created world. Hilma currently lives in South Florida with her husband and an adorable senior pet.

Artist Website

Carmen Smith

Originally from St. Augustine, FL. Carmen Smith studied fine art and design at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Richmond, VA. She moved to Miami in 2008 and now lives in Hollywood, FL. Carmen began drawing at a very young age, displaying strong skills and interest in the arts. In her third year of college, she spent a semester abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. In her free time, she would explore the Hermitage museum, known for its collections of Italian Renaissance and French Impressionist paintings, as well as exceptional collections of works by Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse. There in the galleries of the Hermitage she fell in love with the expressive possibility of painting, and upon returning to the U.S., she enrolled in a studio art course. She then went to study painting, art history and design at VCU, graduating with honors in 2005.

Artist Website

Grisell Gajano

Grisell Gajano has painted ever since she could remember. From the walls of her house as a child; to the canvases lined up in her hallway, painting is her escape. She was born in Manhattan, New York and she was raised in the Cuban Mecca of Hialeah, FL. Growing up in Miami allowed her to meet all types of nationalities and cultures; which in turn fueled a desire within her since a very young age to travel. She has been all around the world, and this experience has helped her see every day mundane things in a whole new light. Demure and submissive are not adjectives that would describe her, and after you see her art you will agree. She loves COLOR. The more saturated the better. Grisell’s art is bold, makes a statement, and makes you feel something.

Artist Website

Claire Satin

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Claire Jeanine Satin's talent was first recognized when she was just 8 years old. Her parents sent her to Brooklyn Ethical Culture School, where she excelled. Following high school, she continued her education at Brooklyn Museum of Art School and Sarah Lawrence College, where she spent 2/3 of her time in studio arts, and earned her B.A. in Sculpture. Her mentor, Theodore Roszak, shepherded Claire into the MFA program at Pratt Institute, and recommended her for a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant in sculpture, which she was awarded. He also recommended her as a fellow for the American Academy & Institute for Arts and Letters. Claire taught art for several years at high schools in New York City before moving to Florida. In the late 70s, while teaching in the Art Department at Broward Community College (now Broward College), she met the composer John Cage, and also the minimalist composer Steve Reich and the avant garde filmaker Stan van der Beek. Claire became a follower of Cage's theories and his concept of indeterminacy. In subsequent years, her work has been largely devoted to the concept of chance/indeterminacy. To date, she has created over 100 bookworks and she has been awarded 3 artist residencies to Venice, Italy by the Emily Harvey Foundation.

Artist Website

Erika Zalez

Erika Zalez is an artist whose life long experiences and fascination of nature’s textures, colors and geometry allow her to create unique pieces of artwork from her studio located in Davie, Florida. Since early in life Erika has danced to a different drumbeat. Heard and saw life quite differently than anyone else. She started translating her version of the world at a very young age by producing elaborate pieces purely for her own satisfaction. She attended UCLA and obtained a degree in International business. She soon began a successful international corporate career that lasted for almost twenty years, until Erika decided to pursue her true passion in life: Fine Art. Her desire to produce pieces, as she perceives, was never constrained by traditional techniques. Erika has developed her own ways to interpret her visions by making use of both high-tech along with rudimentary methods of expression. After traveling millions of miles around the globe, Erika has gathered a wealth of knowledge from visiting museums, art galleries, craft shops including: art, textile, glass making, wood work and pottery studios. Always trying to exchange ideas with artists and creative minds despite cultural and language barriers.

Artist Website
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