CATA Faculty Artist Bios
Eddie Allen, Actor
Eddie has been teaching and acting professionally for 40 plus years. He presently teaches improvisation to the fun-loving artists at CATA. A founding member of Off Leash improv company and also a member of The Spolin Players in Los Angeles. He’s had the good fortune of directing and performing on stage, as well as performing in film and television. Credits include Bones, Bluebloods, Seinfeld, etc.
Paula Boyajian, Yoga Instructor
Paula has been teaching yoga to people with disabilities, at-risk children, and those with serious illnesses for 13 years. She is delighted to have worked with CATA since 2004 and especially grateful for the organization’s partnership in creating “Yogability” – an easy-to-follow yoga DVD for people with special needs and mobility issues. In addition to CATA, Paula also teaches at Berkshire County ARC, United Cerebral Palsy and The Association for People with Autism. She is the recipient of The Rachel Greene Grant to teach at Berkshire County Chapter One Schools, The Frank Iovieno Caring for Children Grant to bring yoga to Bay State Children’s Hospital and a grant from Kripalu to teach abused women and their children at Berkshire County Kids’ Place. Paula has also served on the palliative care team at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children (NYC) and the Sunshine Rehab Center and Hospital (Ossining, NY). She has also taught at Head Start, Berkshire Family & Individual Resources, Northern Berkshire Family Net, Frog Lotus and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She received her certification from the Nosara Institute of Yoga and studied with Sonia Sumar, Author of “Yoga for the Special Child”. With a background in improvisation, Paula mixes traditional yoga with games and creative movement for light-hearted, fun classes. To reach Paula and find out more about “Yogability” contact her at email@example.com.
Barby Cardillo, Actress, Teaching Artist & Social Worker
Barby performs in plays on local stages whenever possible. She is a founding member of the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe and performs throughout New England with this comedy troupe. In addition to her joyous work with CATA in settings all over Berkshire County, she is currently working with or has worked with the education departments of Berkshire Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage Company and Shakespeare & Company, mostly working with adjudicated youth in alternative sentencing programs. Barby has been teaching at CATA since 2004.
Janet Elsbach, Writer & Educator
Janet Reich Elsbach has worn a lot of CATA hats; she is a past board president and board member, the parent of a Moving Company dancer, past CATAdirect worskhop leader and a faculty member in the visual arts. In her non-CATA moments, she thinks and writes about the food she feeds her family of five, who live on a small, ridiculous farm with dogs and chickens and sheep (in order of increasing population), and about connecting for positive change personally and at the community level. Janet and her husband, artist Bart Elsbach, are leading the effort to resurrect the Great Barrington Fairgrounds as a community resource. She writes a blog, A Raisin & A Porpoise, edits other people’s writing at the slightest provocation, and teaches writing wherever she’s allowed. Janet began leading writing workshops at CATA in 2012.
Jeff Gagnon, Visual Artist
Jeff Gagnon is a sketch artist and painter. Jeff’s work has been exhibited at Gallery 51 and the campus center gallery at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He’s been involved in CATA’s since 2008, beginning as a volunteer in the visual arts, and is currently Program Coordinator and a member of the faculty. In 2012 he completed an internship at Mass MoCA developing curriculum and leading after school programming in the education department. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts Management from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and is currently pursuing an M.Ed. in Community Arts Education at Lesley University in Cambridge.
Aimee Gelinas, Drummer / Musician
Aimee Gelinas M.Ed is a naturalist/environmental educator and musician who has been performing, teaching, facilitating, and developing educational programs and curriculum for more than 20 years. She holds a Masters of Education from MCLA in curriculum development in environmental and cultural studies and a Bachelor of Science in natural resource studies with a minor in anthropology from UMASS Amherst. She co-founded and performs professionally in the world music ensemble’s Gaia Roots and Trio Candela and the hard rock band SIFER, performs in the Cuban and Puerto Rican drum and dance troupe Iroko Nuevo and co-founded and directs the Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center in Windsor, MA a non-profit educational organization situated on 32 acres of conserved boreal forest land dedicated to “Inspiring environmental and cultural awareness, appreciation and stewardship” by providing nature & drumming programs for all ages throughout Western MA and beyond. She has studied and performed folkloric drumming and singing in West Africa, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Central America. In March of both 2014 and 2015, she attended a master level week long workshop with her West African drum teacher Mamady Keita in Tulum and Oaxaca, Mexico culminating in a performance at the famous Juarez Theater in Oaxaca, MX. She produces a yearly fundraiser event for Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center, the Berkshire Drum and Dance Fest featuring over 75 drum and dance artists, the 7th annual fest will take place Friday October 14th, 2016. Aimee has performed at the Massachusetts State House and for former governor Deval Patrick, the Colonial Theater, Festival Latino of the Berkshires, Kripalu Center and many other distinguished venues throughout the state and beyond. Aimee joined the CATA faculty in 2015.
Pat Hogan, Visual Artist
Pat Hogan earned her BS in Art Education from Pennsylvania State University. She has taught art in public schools and privately in Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, and Massachusetts. For six years she applied her creative talent in the field of advertising working as a free-lance photography stylist in New York and London. An experienced teacher, Hogan offers painting and drawing instruction for novice and experienced artists. For sixteen years she taught at IS183, previously known as Interlaken School of Art in Stockbridge, MA, where she served as Department Head, Drawing and Painting before resigning in 2008 to pursue other interests. Her classes and presentations have been offered throughout Berkshire County at various venues including Norman Rockwell Museum, Berkshire Botanical Garden, and the Housatonic Valley Art League. Hogan also serves as an invited juror for competitive art shows. Her paintings are in private collections in England, Sweden, and throughout the United States. Since 1997 Pat has taught visual arts workshops. She also curates, frames, and installs CATA Art on Tour exhibitions.
Leslie Klein, Ceramic Artist
Founder of Clay Forms Studio, Leslie has been teaching the art of clay for over thirty years. Twenty of those have been as a CATA faculty artist, giving classes in her studio. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States at venues including the Herter Gallery at the University of Massachusetts. Her commissions include creating the sculpture for the Boston Freedom Award, presented by Coretta Scott King and Boston Mayor, Thomas Menino, to Dr. Charles Jacobs, founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group.
Dawn Lane, Choreographer, Dancer & Teaching Artist
Dawn has been choreographing dance and movement events professionally since 1980. She is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design (1980, BFA) and Lesley University (1992, MEd). Her curiosity, training and experience with mixed ability casts started as a student at Jacob’s Pillow in the late 1980s, studying with Liz Lerman, Victoria Marks, Sally Banes and later with Celeste Miller. In the 90s, she worked with Paula Rais and Peter Dimuro to pilot the Elder Arts Initiative thru the Massachusetts Cultural Council, to build opportunities for artists to make community based work in elder settings throughout the Commonwealth. She has presented and performed at VSA conferences and in 2006 was a keynote speaker at the National Brain Injury Conference in Harrisburg, PA. In 2012, Dawn was an Artist in Residence at MASSART, setting her choreography on Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) majors and artists with disabilities from Gateway Arts in Brookline. Her work has been funded by Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award Initiative, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Mid Atlantic Arts Council, LEF Foundation, Cottonwood Foundation, and VSA Arts International. Dawn is the recipient of many awards, which include a 2010 Massachusetts Cultural Council Choreography Fellowship, a distinguished alumnus award from Massachusetts College of Art & Design, the 2007 Outstanding Dance Educator Award from Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education and the 2005 Unsung Hero Award for Berkshire County, MA. Dawn is one of three nationally chosen choreographers/dance educators to lead Curriculum in Motion (CIM) residencies for Jacob’s Pillow, a model that draws upon K-12 curriculum frameworks as a source for kinetic learning and student driven choreography. Currently, Dawn is the Program and Artistic Director of Community Access to the Arts (CATA), where she has worked since 1994 and where she directs The Moving Company, a company of dancers with and without disabilities she founded in 1997.
Bernice Lewis, Singer, Songwriter, Educator
Bernice was dubbed by Rosanne Cash as “one of the Keepers of the Flame of real songwriting.” She has been a national touring artist for over two decades and has worked with Dar Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Dixie Chicks, and Christine Lavin, among others. She currently teaches songwriting at Williams College and Colorado College, as well as at schools and retreat centers. In 2009, she was selected by the National Park Service to be an Artist in Residence. Bernice has been teaching CATA workshops since 2008.
Marlene Marshall, Visual Artist
Marlene is a certified art therapist, water-colorist, mosaic artist, teacher, and author of several books on decorative arts. Her work has been exhibited and sold in galleries and museum shops throughout North America. A graduate of The New School of Social Research in New York City, she also holds a graduate degree in alternative therapies from Greenhouse Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Marlene has taught visual arts workshops at CATA since 1998.
Robin O’Herin, Musician
2013 Boston Blues Finalist, Robin O’Herin, specializes in historically rich, often interactive concerts that include original and traditional American music, for small listening rooms, libraries, festivals and schools. She has toured regionally throughout the US and Europe. She loves teaching and works with a broad spectrum of children and adults in a variety of settings. She has had her original music licensed to PBS and currently has one of her songs being played on NPR’s CarTalk. In addition she is in a Tap & Blues Duo with Rhythm Tap Dancer, Stefanie Weber. in 2015, Robin joined the CATA team, teaching music and instrument building.
Diane Prusha, Actor
Since 2000 Diane has been working with the talented artists and actors in CATA’s Shakespeare’s Players. Diane also teaches at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School and has acted with various companies in the community. Her latest work was this spring at Nicki Wilson’s new theatre in Pittsfield honoring the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam war and directed by Normi Noel. She will also be seen at The Mount this summer in a production of Summer, an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel. Diane continues to be awed and inspired and grateful to be a part of this enterprise called CATA.
Emily Rechnitz, Writer
Emily began her happy affiliation with CATA as an Art Cart volunteer in 1998 after meeting–and being smitten by–Founder, Sandra Newman. She has been thrilled to be a member of CATA’s diverse and talented board since 2000. Emily received her B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College and a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from New York University. She has taught poetry to children in after-school programs at several grade schools and libraries in New York City and in the Berkshires. Her own poetry has appeared in various journals and magazines including Mudfish, The Kansas Quarterly, Poet Lore and The New Yorker. Concurrently, Emily has pursued her other love, acting, appearing in many local community theatre productions. From 2003 to 2005 she volunteered to help with fundraising at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA. She resides with her husband, John Paladino, and their two children, Max and Flora.
Roger Reed, Juggler & Mime
Performing as Roger the Jester for thirty-six years, Roger has delighted audiences of all ages in twenty-three different countries. Starting as a street performer on the streets of Boston, he went on to perform with the Swiss mime/mask theatre, Mummenschanz. He then appeared in Circus Brazil Jack in Switzerland, Circus Roncalli in Germany, and Circus Knie in Switzerland. He spreads joy and laughter through his silent physical humor, object manipulation, magical moments, musical mayhem, and audience play. Roger thanks all of his CATA students for teaching him new ways to juggle!
Janice Shields, Artist
Janice spent much of her life creating art as a hobby. In 1995, with the encouragement of many, she became a full-time artist. A circuitous route over the next year brought her to the beginning of her rustics business, Cut It Out. Janice teaches at the Arnold and Polly Hill Arboretum and has been featured on the PBS series Victory Garden, in The Boston Flower Show, and in many books and magazines. Janice has taught visual arts at CATA since 2001.
Kara Smith, Artist
Kara is a visual artist and art educator living and working in the Berkshires. She received a Master of Arts in Art Education and her New York State Teaching Certification from Brooklyn College, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. She has completed artist residencies at The Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, and Brooklyn Art Space, Brooklyn, NY, and has exhibited throughout the Northeast. In addition to several years as an arts educator in Brooklyn, she has been a dresser at the Metropolitan Opera, a freelance art director and prop stylist, and an arts administrator at galleries in Boston, Los Angeles and New York. In February of 2016, Kara came on board as CATA’s new Program Associate and CATAdirect Studio Manager.
JoAnne Spies, Singer/Songwriter
JoAnne is a singer songwriter using music to help understand environmental issues, build community, and empower voices for positive change. Recent works include songs written for Marmalade Production’s Watershed Waltz, an interactive environmental program for schools, and Sounding the River, an ongoing event that honors Mohican heritage, celebrates the river, and brings together diverse parts of the community. JoAnne has been teaching at CATA since 2000.
Vikki True, Singer & Performing Artist
Vikki, daughter of Grace Evelyn, granddaughter of Anna Lee Victoria, promotes healing and community-building through singing, drumming, listening, and loving. Vikki has toured the U.S. and abroad appearing in concerts, festivals, clubs, coffee houses, churches, synagogues, on radio, television, and some great kitchens and back porches. She holds a BA in Music and Theater from Mt. Holyoke College. Since joining CATA’s faculty in 1997, Vikki’s knowledge of music as a tool for healing, growth, self confidence, and communication is beautifully reinforced.
Anamyn Turowski, Writer & Educator
Anamyn was introduced to CATA in 2008 by Janet Elsbach and became Studio Manager of CATAdirect, the weekly crafts cooperative. Prior, she lived and worked in Los Angeles where she owned her own clothing business. She is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and with her husband, fellow CATA faculty member Eddie Allen, is a proud parent of two boys. She studied writing at UCLA and is embarking on her second year as a member of CATA’s writing faculty.
Stefanie Weber, Dance Artist
Stefanie Weber began making dances as a child and continues to strive to expand the meaning of what it means to her to be doing so. She presently directs the COH eNsemble otherwise known as the Creatures of Habitat Physical Poetry Performance Group. She is also a member of the Silver Swimmers (USA) and the Commonwealth Tap Collective. Stefanie has been mentored by tap masters such as Dianne Walker and Heather Cornell and had the joy of experiencing the secrets of the shuffle whispered to her from the wise feet of Jimmy Slyde. Stefanie has been leading CATA artists on stages since 2004.
Michael Wolski, Visual Artist & Puppeteer
An award-winning playwright and set designer, Michael comes to the Berkshires from British Columbia. He continues to perform his one-man shows William K. Whiskers and Michael’s Surprise Shows to the delight of family audiences while pursuing his latest love: painting. His work has been exhibited at galleries throughout the Northeast. Michael has been with CATA since 2002.