Free Arts commissions professional teaching artists to work with children in our Camp Series and Professional Artist Series.
These artists understand the value and fulfillment the arts bring to young people. They work hands-on with our children to enable them to create art to aid in their self-expression. These artists are not only accomplished in their own rights, but are also experienced mentors that understand how to support children who have experienced trauma, enabling them to share their often difficult stories through an artistic lens. The artists below are examples of the artists that work in our programs.
Frank is adjunct faculty at Arizona State University and a national trainer for REMO Health Rhythms. Frank is currently a board member for Sounds Academy and a former board member and chair of Ear Candy Charity. He is a Co-Developer of the ASU Music Therapy Clinic Community Music and Wellness Program, and also teaches hand drumming classes for beginners in the greater Phoenix area.
As a poet, writer, teaching artist and community activist, Thomas Stanton is dedicated to advancing the arts of spoken word and Hip Hop as a platform for youth development and civic engagement. Co-Founder of Phoenix’s premiere youth spoken word ensemble, Phonetic Spit, Thomas uses Hip Hop pedagogy to inspire youth to boldly express themselves through poetry, dance, and theatre.
Eileen performs and teaches Taiko and Japanese bamboo wind instruments with Fushicho Daiko and Phoenix Taiko Drummers. Eileen has incorporated her Taiko program in numerous after school, summer school and library programs throughout Phoenix and Arizona. She majored in flute with a minor in piano and saxophone and earned a B.S. degree in Music Education, K-12 and a Master’s degree in Deaf Education, K-12. Her extensive travel to Japan and China has included study and performance opportunities, and she has taught Taiko and music in public, private, special needs and state schools for over 20 years.
Visual Arts, Acrylics & Mixed Media
Oliverio Balcells is a photographer, painter, self-taught musician and scholar of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures. He is a native of Guadalajara Mexico, and moved to Arizona in 1999, and creates Mexican contemporary social art. “I’m interested in social themes like history, human potential development and infinite consciousness. I use self-expression to inspire people in the present moment. My influences stem from ancient Mexican manifestations, Wixarika Art (Huichol art) and the Mexican master muralists.” You can view his art on his website.
Linda Pullinsi is known for her use of rich, bold color to create uplifting works of art. Her favorite subjects are nature and all things organic. Pullinsi’s paintings are created in multiple layers of archival watercolors and brilliant acrylics and oils on paper and canvas. Linda has been a volunteer with Free Arts of Arizona for the past 20 years, and she received a Governor’s Award in 2011 for being an outstanding mentor. Linda is a juried member of the Arizona Watercolor Association and her work has been featured in Phoenix Magazine and the Arizona Republic. Her artistic creations reside in corporate collections throughout the United States, and in private collections throughout the world. She teaches at the Scottsdale Artists’ School and leads private painting parties and art retreats throughout the Southwest.
Sculpture and Fiber Art
Christy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and has exhibited her artwork around the country for over 25 years. She has been working in the community for over 12 years sharing her creativity.
Annette Sexton Ruiz
Painting, Ceramics, Mural Artist, Bookmaking, and Illustration
Annette Sexton-Ruiz was born in Chicago and has lived most of her life in Arizona. With a Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University in Art History, Annette has created private and public art though residencies and commissions since the late 1970s. The majority of her public art pieces are ceramic murals which now number over 20 throughout the Phoenix Metro area, and her work has been displayed nationally and around the world. In recent years, she has focused her efforts on working with local pro-immigrant groups and curating art exhibitions to raise awareness of laws and practices that limit civil and human rights. You can view her art here.
Catherine Thompson is a teaching chef and adjunct faculty at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, AZ. She also runs Do It All Catering, her own catering, personal chef and cooking instruction business, in Scottsdale. She loves cooking and enjoys teaching others the skills and techniques that make the art of eating fun and easy.
Melanie Sainz (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin) is a visual and performance artist, cultural arts presenter and social justice advocate. She currently holds the title of Executive Director of Little Eagle Arts Foundation, an incubator for new and emerging Native artists that promotes the arts, creativity and community. Melanie held the title of Miss Indian America XXVI in 1980, and received her BFA and post-graduate coursework in Art Education from Arizona State University, with a Minority Business certificate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her art has received awards at the University of Wisconsin, The Heard Museum, William King Regional Arts Center, Southern Highland Craft Guild, American Indian Contemporary Arts Gallery and The Eiteljorg Museum. Her work is dedicated to the human virtues of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional balance and encourages others to live in harmony with all living things.
Aaron Voigt works with recycled metal materials out of a private studio in Mesa, Arizona. His found objects are welded, and they fit into charismatic robots and functional art work. As a second generation welder, his craftsmanship allows his art to thrive from our discarded past and live on for other generations. His mentors over the years shared their love and skills for the trade and he plans to continue that tradition. Voigt’s love for early science fiction robots and transportation of the ’50s and ’60s is reflected in the components of his pieces. By preserving natural shapes and patinas, his work maintains the components of rich history and past lives. His art comes from a place of joy and roots of industrial strength.
Shari Keith is a teaching artist who works with students of all ages to explore the artistic potential of items rescued from the waste stream. She calls herself the “Junk Lady” because she collects junk, decorates her house with junk, and wears only clothing that is recycled and re-purposed. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master’s degree in Education.
Kristine Kollasch has been a Phoenix-based artist for over 30 years, and has been involved with Free Arts of Arizona for nearly 20 years. In 1997, she established her business, Fine Art & Creative Environments, LLC, to specialize in fine art, murals, themed environments and public art. Her degree in Secondary Art Education and her management experience have helped her to be successful, whether it’s designing a play space for a medical center, making public art with the community or creating custom residential or corporate art. View her work here.