Benjamin Mefford - Interim Executive Director
Benjamin Mefford is an interdisciplinary artist based in the Pacific Northwest, where he draws inspiration from the natural environment. His formal education includes a B.A. in Studio Art and an M.A. in Interdisciplinary studies. As a production assistant he has worked on video, stone, textile, and public art projects for master artists. Benjamin has unique expertise in sculpting stone for public art commissions, and trained as an apprentice for 4 years carving site specific granite sculptures. He has been invited to two artist residencies in Portland, Oregon and one in Toyota City, Japan. Major works include site-specific public art commissions for Lake Oswego, Oregon and the Underwater Museum of Art in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Through material exploration, he examines fluid dynamics and how these patterns are captured in solid materials. Symbolically, he looks for themes of interconnection and universal meaning. Dreaming, visualization, and experimentation are central to his process. Benjamin is represented by Blackfish Gallery in Portland's Pearl District. Visit https://www.benjaminmefford.com/ to see his work.
WACC Board of Directors
Christopher Shotola-Hardt, M.F.A. - President & Webmaster
I retired from one of my jobs in June 2020: Artist-Teacher & Art Director at Wilsonville High School, after 32 years of service in the WLWV School District. Being an art educator requires one to maintain one’s own studio practice, which is now my single, full-time job. I exhibit my own work and plan special programming at Blackfish Gallery (www.blackfish.com), one of the oldest artist-owned and operated galleries in the nation, and located in Portland's Pearl District. I have shown my work in galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest and in New York. Being an art educator also requires one to be a warrior for the arts, devoted to advocacy, devoted to networking, devoted to knocking down the barriers between school programs and the wider public. I served on the board of the Oregon Art Education Association (OAEA) for many years, including six years in the presidential cycle. I founded and ran OAEA’s statewide “Beyond the Demos: Oregon Artists Who Teach” exhibition series for ten years.
I am the founder of the Wilsonville Festival of Arts and served as the Festival Director for the first three years. I joined Theonie Gilmore and the board of the Wilsonville Arts & Culture Council in 1999 and have served on the board since then, with only a two-year hiatus when I was President of OAEA. Besides making art, teaching art, and arts administration work, I am a lifelong musician, composer and performer, and have been playing with a core group of musicians for the past 28 years: the progressive folk ensemble Bug Toast (www.bugtoastmusic.com), which played in clubs throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and now plays festivals and special concerts, and records albums. I live in Wilsonville with my wife, children, and cats, and I live my life by these two mantras: “Family. Art. Music.” & “Be About Love.”
Jenni Kadwell - Vice President
Jenni Kadwell is a nature landscape photographer. A film 35 mm Minolta was her first camera to accompany her to Europe and other adventures. “The ability to film wildlife while backpacking in Glacier was awe inspiring.” Her creative spirit led her to earn a dual Bachelor of Arts from Carroll College, Montana. After teaching in Japan, never keeping her camera too far, she returned home and completed her Master of Education, Oregon State University.
With a 16-year professional career as a language teacher, cross cultural / STEAM curriculum writer, and consultant, her passion for volunteering and supporting our community continues. Jenni is president emeritus of the Charbonneau Art Association, served as a board member after establishing its non-profit status in 2015.
Currently, Jenni has returned to pursing her artistic life, focusing on family, Make-A-Wish kids, and gardening. Jenni’s Garden is not only educational, her motto, “Let’s Grow Together,” focuses on helping others, especially those with special needs, seniors, and veterans.
Joan Carlson - Secretary
Joan Carlson lives in Wilsonville and has chickens in her backyard. She was the Artist-in-Residence at Boones Ferry Primary School in Wilsonville for over 20 years and has also worked in many of the other primary schools in the WLWV school district. She recently retired in 2019. Joan was the school liaison for the Beauty & The Bridge tile mural project under I-5 along Wilsonville Road. She worked with over 1,000 students in all five of the Wilsonville's K-12 schools during this project. Joan has been serving on the board of the Wilsonville Arts & Culture Council and on the planning committees for the Wilsonville Festival of Arts (WFA) for over ten years.
Joan’s artwork is inspired by her unruly garden, the feathered ladies in the backyard, her journals of life, and her love for family. She is a working artist, volunteer art teacher, gardener, and grandma to a growing tribe. Acrylics, watercolors, collagraph prints, colored pencil, and mixed-media are her favorite mediums. Joan has shown her work in local cafés and coffee shops, corporate offices, and retail spaces.
Joyce Liden - Treasurer
Joyce Liden is currently working at Wilsonville High School as their Attendance Administrator. This follows two years as their bookkeeper and eight years as the office manager at Athey Creek Middle School. She has lived in Wilsonville for almost 30 years. Both her children are graduates of the WLWV School District.
Joyce graduated from University of Utah with a BS in French. Being the daughter of immigrants, Joyce also speaks Dutch, her parent’s language. She also speaks German and some Spanish.
Joyce lives with her husband, two dogs and a cat in Wilsonville. She loves animals. She and her husband have 'rescued' many pets the last few years. And hope to rescue more.
When she was in 6th grade an art teacher told her “You don’t have an artistic bone in your body.” She has spent the past 55 years proving that teacher wrong.
Toni Avery is a Pacific Northwest artist. Her artwork reflects the diversity of the natural surroundings from the high desert, forests and beaches to the farmlands of the Willamette Valley. Nature also inspired Toni’s abstracts and still life works. After receiving her art degree from Marylhurst University, Toni worked as a design consultant while continuing with her painting and photography. Toni often uses her photography as a “point of departure” when starting a new painting. Her paintings are included in a number of private collections, and her artwork can be seen in many public collections, as well, such as Kaiser Permanente’s “Healing Artwork Collection,” on display at the Westside Medical Centers in Hillsboro and Beaverton, Oregon. Toni’s artwork is also featured in the 2013 publication, “Tranquil Relief Through Nature.” Toni’s work continues to be a part of many local exhibitions, including shows presented by The Wetlands Conservancy, Clackamas County Arts Alliance, and the Fairweather Gallery in Seaside Oregon. You can enjoy Toni’s work at www.toniavery.com.
Jasleen Kaur Bhullar
Jasleen Kaur Bhullar is a graduate from Wilsonville High School. Instructed by ChristopherShotola-Hardt and Angenette Escobar, she was awarded Outstanding Fine Arts Student of her graduating class of 2020 and continues to pursue higher artistic education at CCC. She has an extensive history of volunteering for the City of Wilsonville, having contributed to the cover design of the electric bus fleet which transports the citizens of Wilsonville daily. She is primarily a painter and horticulturist, and has interest in pursuing ceramics, music and tattoo artistry. She works in her family’s Indian food cart called Platter Division on the weekends, which is located in the heart of Sellwood.
Angennette Escobar, M.F.A. - WLWV School District Arts Liaison
Angennette Escobar is a working artist and teacher living in Milwaukie, Oregon. Escobar has a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Sculpture and a minor in Art History. Escobar also studied for her MFA at the University of California, San Diego with a focus on Sculpture and Performance Art. Escobar has exhibited her work in the Portland area, as well as California, Texas and Washington; she is currently represented by Blackfish Gallery in Portland's Pearl District (www.blackfish.com). Escobar holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from George Fox University and is the Artist-Teacher & Art Director at Wilsonville High School, teaching Sculpture and 3D Design.
Escobar is a Mexican-American artist that was raised along the Mexican border in South Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Her most recent work often involves Mexican religious iconography, specifically Milagros, small metal charms that represent miracles. She uses body imagery intertwined with religious objects to explore her cultural identity and heritage as well as her corporeal reality as a human being. Escobar rarely sculpts full figures, instead she treats the body in parts or pieces like the Milagros. She often sculpts or paints onto found objects and combines them with other media like clay or plaster. Oftentimes, she embeds religious objects into the surfaces of her work. Escobar also uses memories and events from her childhood as subject matter in her work.
Brooke Lords - WLWV School District Arts Liaison
Brooke Lords is an illustrator and designer from the Wilsonville area. She graduated from George Fox University with a major in Illustration and a minor in Graphic Design before getting a Masters's in Arts in Teaching in 2021. She is a freelance artist and stays busy working on many commissions. In the local area, Lords has recently exhibited her work at the Wilsonville Fred Meyers Starbucks Gallery.
Lords teaches Fine Art & Photography at Wilsonville High School, from where she graduated in 2016. Lords has worked in acrylic paint, drawing, sculpture, and digital media. Her work often features whimsical stories and narratives, drawing inspiration from animation and children's books.
Troy Mathews - WLWV School District Arts Liaison
Troy Mathews is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. He is an art educator who currently lives, works and creates in Portland, Oregon. Troy graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts with a focus on painting and curation. While getting his undergraduate degree he also started a graduate degree in Art and Teaching which was attained in 2018 from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Troy's Art is focused on ideas of social justice and equality. He often blends scientific theories and historical ideas with current issues to create a conversation about the world in which he navigates. The paintings are not necessarily answers but more often questions that challenge the viewer to think in a new way. It is his drive and passion that transcends his love of simply making and bleeds into every part of his life.
Kit Whittaker - Registered Agent
Kit Whittaker attended Whitman College and the University of California at Berkeley. Kit has been a Wilsonville area resident since 1975 and has watched the community grow and prosper. Over the years she has taken part in city projects and initiatives and has participated in many local organizations, including the Wilsonville Arts & Culture Council since 1999.
Professionally, Kit has been a school teacher, reporter and editor of the Wilsonville Spokesman community newspaper, and worked for the Oregon State Representative serving the Wilsonville area. She retired from a position as Clackamas County’s public information and citizen involvement director, where she learned the strength of personal commitment and group participation to build community and effect change.
All the arts have long held a central place in Kit’s life. She appreciates, creates and collects both fine art and handcrafted art, and enjoys cultural experiences of all kinds. In retirement, Kit pursues her horticultural passions in the family vineyard, orchard, perennial border, native plant hedgerow and raised bed vegetable garden. She and her husband Tom have travelled extensively, and also enjoy exploring Oregon’s lakes, rivers and ocean estuaries in their home-built wooden kayaks.
Janice Yang - WLWV School District Arts Liaison
Janice Yang is a figurative painter and an illustrator. Born in Connecticut, raised in South Korea, having cross-cultural experience has had an enormous impact on her life and her work. In her body of work, Yang explores people's cultural identities and cultural transformations and assimilations. After studying for three years at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, Yang moved to Oregon and graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland. Her work was selected “Best in Show” at PNCA’s BFA Juried Show. She also received the 2021 National Scholastic Art Award and a 2021 Golden Acrylic Artist Residency in New York. Yang is represented by Blackfish Gallery in Portland's Pearl District.
Janice Yang is Artist-Teacher at Wilsonville High School, serving as the 2D Art Specialist.
Deb Zundel Deb is a life-long student, enthusiast, and appreciator of the arts. She studied arts and humanities at Brigham Young University, including a study abroad in Europe, while earning a degree in child development. She has lived in Wilsonville since 1990 and has raised four children, all graduates from Wilsonville High School. She spent many years developing talented and gifted programs at Boones Ferry Primary School, where she personally created and directed the Artistic Children’s Theater Company, where many students found their voices performing in plays and participating in the creation of sets and costumes. Some of her creative writing students had work selected for national publications. Following this, Deb studied Graphic Design at Portland Community College, finishing at the top of her class. From event planning to logo and poster design, Deb enjoys creating visual arts. She is now retired and applies her artistic talents to her backyard flower garden and her grandchildren. She looks forward to working with WACC to further promote the arts within the local community.
Theonie Gilmore - WACC Founder & Executive Director Emerita
Following a twenty-five year career as a music educator in the David Douglas School District (Oregon), Theonie Gilmore continued as an advocate for the arts and became and arts administrator. Gilmore was a founder of three pivotal arts organizations: the Center for Endangered Arts - MUSIC (CEA-MUSIC), the Clackamas County Arts Action Alliance, and the Wilsonville Arts & Culture Council. In 2008, she was awarded “Wilsonville Citizen of the Year” by the Rotary Club of Wilsonville.
“My basic essence is arts. I want the city of Wilsonville to be nurtured in the arts. They enrich one’s outlook and being. People involved with the arts do better academically. They have an open outlook, a more flexible perspective. Arts develop the creative side of our lives. It’s important for pre-school kids to be exposed to music, dance, theater and literature. It starts with that first crayon.
“I’m committed and passionate about this and I seek volunteers who share my passion,” Gilmore says. “It’s not about having your name on a list of board of directors. It’s about people taking action.”