We welcome your career and professional development news and accomplishments. To submit a class note, please fill out our Update Your Alumni Information form.
Marty Wimmer (BM ’86)
Wimmer recently retired from a 34-year career as a public school music teacher, band director, and choral director. He is also a veteran classical music radio host on WNED Classical Buffalo/Toronto and an anchorman on WNED-PBS working on both local and national broadcasts. A gifted writer, he frequently blogs at www.wned.org/classical. He is also a published composer of music for school bands and choruses. His recent work titled “Through Music” is included as a competition piece in the new NYSSMA Manual. Currently he serves on the board of directors of Buffalo Opera Unlimited.
Harriete Estel Berman (BFA ’74)
Berman recently had an eight-page article and images about her jewelry from recycled materials in Ornament Magazine. (Jewelry from tin cans as social and political commentary.) Look for the 26-foot-long necklace from black plastic as a commentary about plastic in our oceans.
Leslie Bruning (MFA ’72)
Bruning, a sculptor, has been working professionally since his first sculpture commission in 1968. Not only is he continuing to be a creative artist, he also runs a bronze foundry and fabrication studio that produces work for sculptors across the country. He still goes to his studio and works every weekday. “It is still the most fun thing I do,” he says. Visit www.bruningsculpture.com.
David Greenham (BFA ’83)
In January 2021, Greenham was appointed executive director of the Maine Arts Commission. At the time of the appointment, Maine Governor Janet Mills said “David knows how to work with a variety of personalities and how to get things done. He’s a consensus builder. He will lead in a good direction.” The initial appointment was made for “at least two years” by the Commission’s Board and started in March 2021. The Maine Arts Commission is the state agency that is charged with supporting artists, arts organizations, educators, policy makers, and community developers in advancing the arts in Maine.
Taye Diggs (BFA ’93) and Shane W. Evans (BFA ’93)
Diggs and Evans are the writer and illustrator, respectively, of the new children’s book “My Friend!” (Feiwel & Friends), a real and rhythmic look at friendship. Diggs and Evans also teamed up to write and illustrate the children’s books “I Love You More Than….,” “Mixed Me!,” and “Chocolate Me!”
Wendy Goldstein Tulman (BS ’95)Tulman makes clean-burning soy wax candles with custom wording. The elegantly scented candles are sold in boutiques in three states (featuring local zip codes and either “Home Sweet Home” or “Our Happy Place”) and online at www.jeanrosscandles.com. A portion of the proceeds is donated to mental health research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Please follow and say hello @jeanrosscandles.
Ken Rush (BFA ’71)
Rush is showing “Poolside,” a new collection of work, through March 10 at Court Street Collective. Over the decades, Ken has periodically returned to pool imagery, but it took the isolation of last summer for him to embrace the work he had started in 1970.
Evan Weinstein (BFA ’84)
Weinstein had a busy 2020, despite the pandemic. He oversaw hidden camera production for the Quarantine House Segment of the hit movie “Borat Subsequent Movie Film” and was
showrunner for “Disney Holiday Magic Quest,” a celebrity reality competition special airing throughout the month of December on Disney Channel and Disney+ Streaming.
Robin Slavin (BS ’85)
Slavin currently serves as a career counselor at Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Lauren Braun (BFA ’99)
Braun was the featured February artist for Buffalo Obscura’s Record Theatre Window Project in Buffalo, New York. The project makes art accessible to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Patricia Cain Beyle (BM ’56)
Beyle made her silver screen debut in the short documentary “Show Must Go On!” (SMGO). Pat, Mary Crabill, Karen Cooper, and Jane Hauser are a part of Hot Stuff, a group of 80-year-olds who perform in a comedy variety group. “SMGO” follows them as they prepare for their final performance in their retirement community. Performing in front of sold-out audiences, the ladies embrace life, discover themselves along the way, and encourage others to do the same.
Becki Davis (Bradford) (BS ’69)
Davis has been working in the film industry in New Orleans, appearing in featured roles in “True Detective” with Mahershala Ali (her scene was on the Emmys), AMC’s “Preacher,” TNT’s “Claws,” Hulu’s “Looking for Alaska” and Showtime’s “Your Honor” with Bryan Cranston as well as the films “Rightful,” “Gothic Harvest,” “Abbatoir,” and “Walkway Joe” with Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Charley Thompson (BFA ’76)
Thompson has worked as a fundraiser in higher education at both the University of Vermont and Northeastern University, where he currently serves as a regional director of advancement. After years of leaving artwork behind, he rediscovered the joy of being behind the lens and took up photography again. He also took up woodworking and music, playing the bass and ukulele. He merged these two passions and now builds ukuleles from scratch. He has been happily married for 26 years to his second wife, LaVerne, and has a wonderful daughter, Ashley.
Lisa Kyler Winkler (BFA ’97)
Winkler has been selected as a board member of the Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ). She is in her 20th year of teaching art and photography at Collingswood High School in Collingswood, New Jersey. As a board member for AENJ, she co-chairs the Advisory Council, which is responsible for providing professional development opportunities for members. She lives in Audubon, New Jersey, with her husband, Jeremiah Winkler (BM ’97), and their two children.
Kimberly Archer (MM ’00)
Archer is a professor of composition at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville who was selected by the “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band to compose a new fanfare for the Inaugural Prelude that proceeded the swearing-in of President Joseph R. Biden (L’68) on January 20. The work is titled “Fanfare Politeia.”
Eli Hariton (BID ’09)
Hariton will appear as a contestant on HGTV’s “Design Star: Next Gen” premiering February 22. View the trailer.
Jennifer Liebeskind (BFA ’00)
Liebeskind was recently promoted to vice president, film & TV soundtrack marketing for Sony Music Masterworks, which includes Masterworks, Sony Classical, Milan Records, and Masterworks Broadway imprints. Jennifer has adeptly overseen the music label’s soundtracks marketing division working with teams from L.A, New York, London, and Berlin. Boasting more than 85 releases last year, highlights include soundtracks from “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “The Prom,” “The Crown” season 4, “Da 5 Bloods,” “The Witcher,” “We Are Who We Are,” “Outlander” season 5, and “Euphoria.”
Joanie Leeds (BFA ’00)
Leeds received a 2020 Grammy nomination for Best Children’s Music Album for “All the Ladies,” According to Joanie’s website, the album is “focused on gender equality, female empowerment & breaking glass ceilings” and “produced, recorded, and performed entirely by women.” The Grammy Awards will be presented on March 14.
Steve Woo (BFA ’99)
Woo has directed and produced numerous films, television, and commercials. Currently he is the head of studio in China for Digital Domain, a world class VFX company founded by James Cameron.
Jay Aubrey Jones (BS ‘76)
Jones was featured as Grandpa Prophater in the Irish Repertory Theatre’s streamed online production of “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
Xiaowen Zhu (MFA ’12)
Zhu has published a new artist book “Oriental Silk” with the renowned German art publisher Hatje Cantz. This English and Chinese bilingual book links the people, places, and stories that make up the phenomenon of Oriental Silk, the first Chinese American silk importing shop in Los Angeles. Having once risen within the Hollywood movie industry, the shop, established more than four decades ago, reflects a fascinating family legacy in which the past and present, home and diaspora, personal memories and cultural values, are closely interwoven. Xiaowen encountered her subject during a yearlong post-M.F.A. engagement fellowship in San Pedro, California, funded through a gift by VPA alumna Marylyn Turner ’56, G’57 and her husband, Charles Klaus G’05.
Kathryn Hoefler (BFA ’11)
After a successful 10-year career in high-end hospitality interior design in Chicago and New York at reputable firms like Pierre Yves-Rochon, Roman and Williams, and most recently Related Companies, Hoefler has decided to launch her passion project and started her own business, Dear Assembly. Dear Assembly makes what was old new again by turning a carefully curated assembly of fabrics into beloved hair accessories. Dear Assembly’s first collection of hair accessories launched in October; they will be highlighting vintage accessories and objects as well as custom garments in 2021.
Colette M. Hebert (BM ’05, MS ‘07)
Hebert is the Colette founder and president of the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization the DAR Project, which empowers and educates orphans in East Africa. Her non-profit is currently in its 10th year and has partnered with companies such as Swiss Air, Brooklyn Brewery, Google, and Ironman. She is a 14th-year teacher in New York City. This year, she also published her second book and presented her advocacy work at multiple national conferences for educators and U.S. senators.
Anthony Bollotta (BFA ’84)
Anthony Bollotta recently produced the 3rd Annual L’ATTITUDE (Virtual) Conference featuring Pitbull, Eva Longoria, Chef José Andrés, Gloria Estefan, Gerard Butler, Kenny Ortega, and the cast of Netflix’s “Julie and the Phantoms.” The annual conference includes Emilio Estefan among its three equity partners. Additionally this year, Bollotta was invited to join the board of trustees at San Diego REP, as well as teach event design and Production for San Diego State University’s Global Campus. He has also released a new podcast, “Bollotta-Fide,” devoted to the discipline of event planning with an emphasis on virtual and live entertainment and engagement. It is currently available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Android.
Mickey Gentile (BM ’76)
Pop, country artist, and SAMMY winner Lisa Gentile is paying tribute to her late father, Motown producer and songwriter Mickey Gentile with her new single “Just When I Thought the Rain Would End.” Lisa first recorded the song in 1988 with Mickey producing; it makes a comeback as the lead single of her fourth studio album “Start Flying” (winter 2021).
Karen Guancione (BFA ’81)
Guancione is the artistic director of the New Jersey Book Arts Symposium. She recently moderated this year’s virtual symposium, “Tumultuous Absence,” which featured speakers, panels, exhibits, and artists in residence.
Erin Toy (BFA ’20)
Toy is an interior designer at Holland Basham Architects and was recently featured on the firm’s website.
Sijia Hong (MFA ’18)
The School of Art’s illustration program shared that Hong received a Silver Book Award at Spectrum, the prestigious showcase for fantasy art.
Sammy Lopez (BFA ’13)
Lopez was featured in an American Theatre article for being one of eight Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) producers who are launching the new company The Industry Standard Group (TISG), the first completely BIPOC commercial theater investment and producing organization in the country.
William H. Harris (BM ’65, MM ’78)
Harris recently became president of Local 78, the American Federation of Musicians (“The Professional Musicians of Central New York”), and celebrated 50 years of serving on the faculty of VPA’s Setnor School of Music.