FOUNDER OF PRIVATE PICASSOS

Valeen Bhat
Valeen received her BFA/MS in Art and Design Education, with a minor in Art History and a concentration in printmaking from Pratt Institute. After working at various educational facilities, including museums, early childhood education centers and community centers, she founded Private Picassos in the Spring of 2006. Her main goal was to create a process-oriented art program that valued skill building and exploration over the final product.  Valeen crafts the core values and philosophy of Private Picassos, drawing inspiration from her education, experience, and background, especially the influence of her two artist parents.  After 10 years of bringing art classes to children and adults throughout the Tri-State Area, Valeen created a home for Private Picassos at their first bricks and mortar Art Studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn!  Since opening in the Fall of 2015, PP Art Studio has become a mainstay in the community, offering an engaging space for kids and adults to create art and memories side by side. On top of all of this, Valeen and her husband welcomed a beautiful baby boy in May of 2016! 

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF

Administrative Coordinator:

Stacye Garvin-Dupree
Stacye graduated from The City College of a New York in 2015 with a BFA in studio art. While at City College her concentrations included painting, photography and a minor in Acting. She is a Brooklyn native who specializes in acrylic painting. She draws inspiration from old school cartoons and music. Stacye believes every child is an undiscovered artist and just needs the right guidance to bring that creative side out. Stacye has experience working with of all ages and one day hopes to start a non profit organization dedicated to the pursuit Visual and Performing Arts.

NYC ART INSTRUCTORS

Zahra Banyamerian
Born in 1984 in Tehran, Iran, Zahra Banyamerian is a practicing artist, living and working in New York City. She works predominantly in the medium of painting and printmaking. She has BFA in Painting and MA in Art studies from University of Tehran and Post-Bacc in Studio Art from the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Currently, Zahra is a graduate student in Art History at the City College of New York. She has exhibited her works in several group shows in US and also in Iran.

Hannah Brenner-Leonard
Hannah Brenner-Leonard received her BFA in Art and Design Education, and her Master of Education from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She is passionate about providing high quality art education to all students
. Prior to joining the Private Picasso's team, Hannah spent four years as the Education Curator at Lehman College Art Gallery where she worked hard to provide equitable arts programming to schools throughout the Bronx. As a professional artist annah explores concepts of home and place using collage and drawing.

Sinejan Buchina
Sinejan Buchina is an artist and a graduate student currently living and working in Brooklyn,
NY. She has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Marmara University in Istanbul, studied
“Ism’s in 20th century Art” in London, was selected to participate in the Node Center Curatorial
Residency program in Berlin and is currently pursuing her masters degree in Art History and
Museum Studies in New York. She has worked in several galleries in Europe and the U.S. and
also in several NYC public schools as an art instructor. In attempting to avoid the limitations of a
single medium, her art embodies everything from collage to oil paint, and from the abstract to the
conceptual.

Sarah Bushin
Sarahgraduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2016 from a five-year dual degree BFA/MAT program. Sarah’s passion for storytelling and creative writing led her to major in animation as an undergraduate, where she studied the medium in depth, including traditional hand-drawn, stop-motion, 3D animation, puppet construction, and set building techniques. She continued on to receive her Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) as a graduate student where she gained experience developing and implementing both arts and arts-integrated units for K-12 learners. Her professional teaching experience includes teaching photography and animation at MICA’s Young People’s Studios as well as teaching studio art full-time to middle school students in East Harlem. Sarah is thrilled by the opportunity to encourage the intellectual, artistic, and personal growth of her Private Picassos students!

Jackie Cantwell
Jackie received her BFA in Painting & Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Masters in Arts & Cultural Management from Pratt Institute. She has taught students age 5-25 for 10 years using a range of mediums including painting, watercolor, drawing, photography, claymation, portfolio and sculpture at the following venues: Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, Platanillo Primary School, Platanillo, Costa Rica, La Cambalacha, San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala, and Nazarene Primary School, Mombasa, Kenya, as well as the Atlantic Acting School, NurtureART and The Art Space in NYC. She also Co-Directs the The Bishop, a Bed-Stuy gallery with an emphasis on arts education.

Amanda Duch
Amanda Duch is an educator of elementary and preschool age children. She was born and raised in New York City and graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Art History. She loves working with kids and leading projects which help to nurture their curiosity and creativity. She enjoys painting, drawing and ceramics.

Arielle Johnson
Arielle Johnson is an artist and designer who enjoys sharing her passion for art with others. She loves teaching all ages and has experience teaching a range of mediums including drawing, painting, sculpture, paper-making, clay, weaving, pattern-making and sewing. Arielle has her Associates in Fine Art from FIT and is currently pursuing her certificate in Art Education at CCNY. Arielle loves working with children and seeing a child's process as they grow as an artist.

Talia Levitt
Talia is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, and current Painting/Printmaking MFA candidate at CUNY Hunter. She is an exhibiting artist and Rhode Island State Council for the Arts (RISCA) Fellow. Talia has pursued teaching for nearly ten years and has instructed at P.S 321 and Beth Elohim (Brooklyn) and at the Rhode Island School of Design. She loves to teach printmaking, drawing, painting and collage especially!

Elizabeth Limanov

Born in New York City and having been an artist for most of her life, Elizabeth has a foundational degree in Fine Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology, finishing her bachelors In Textile & Surface Design. Her mediums of choice include Collage, watercolor and pen & ink.  Equipped with a colorful imagination and a big heart, her favorite things include travel, Art history & anthropology, reading, writing and drawing, discovering new music, working with children, drinking lots of espresso and meandering through the occasional museum. She is currently pursuing a path where she can work with people and hopefully make a change in the world. 

Sue MacLeod

Prior to teaching, Sue enjoyed a career as a graphic designer, working in publishing, both in New York and overseas in Hong Kong. She spent many years designing books and calendars before following a life-long dream of becoming an art teacher. Besides working at Private Picassos, Sue enjoys being a substitute art teacher with the NYC department of education. Her degrees include a BA in studio art from Tulane University, a MFA in graphic design from the Academy of Art College and an Advanced Certificate in art and design education from Pratt Institute. Sue and her husband, both Boston natives, are now long-time Brooklyn residents where they live with their two kids and three beehives.

Michela Muserra

Michela Muserra is an artist and illustrator born and raised in Italy. After graduating at the School of Visual Art she worked as a freelance illustrator creating short comics strips for some local zines and advertising cartoons for the web. Her work has been showed worldwide in galleries and reviewed on art books and magazines. In 2003 she moved to New York City where she currently lives and works. "If you are happy and you know if clap your hands" is her first picture book published by Caraco Editore, Italy 2015.

Jolie Prom
Jolie is an artist with over ten years of formal art making experience. She began her studies in art as a student at the LaGuardia High School for the Arts and Performing Arts. She went on to attend the City College where she received her BA in Art with a concentration in Art Education. She spent a year in Paris studying studio arts and art history with a special interest in 19th century French art. She has extensive practice in drawing, collage, and printmaking. Her art is eclectic and narrative deriving inspiration from fairy tales and folklore. Jolie is currently studying to become a certified art teacher in NYC and finishing her Master in Art Education at Brooklyn College.

Maya Sakellaridis

Photo and bio coming soon!

Meredith Stein
Meredith received her BFA in Visual Arts from Roger Williams University and continued her studies at FIT in Fashion Illustration. With extensive child care experience, and a profound love for nurturing creativity in others, she felt compelled to move toward an art education path.  Since then, she has worked as a teaching artist in after school programs and summer arts programs.  Meredith is excited to continue working with children of all ages, and helping them to reach their creative potential.

Aneta Wegrzyn

Aneta Wegrzyn is a Fulbright scholar from Poland, she received her MA in painting from Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wroclaw, PL and her MFA in Studio Art from Montclair State University. She has been showing her paintings and painting installations in numerous art venues including Governor Island Art Fair, MagnanMetz Gallery, WHAC, Momenta Art and BWA Gallery in Wroclaw. Aneta has also been awarded Vermont Studio Residency, Fulbright Scholarship, Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Scholarship. For her, all years of studying art and becoming a professional artist has a point only if she can share her experience and help others to advance their talents. She believes that art is a place where there is no judgment, no "wrong or right" brushstroke or line, but rather a tool to find a unique way of expression with joy and fun.

Kristin Winter

Kristin is a licensed and practicing Art Therapist in Brooklyn, NY. Her passion for the visual arts has led her from the study of mixed media techniques, to a degree in Social Psychology from McGill University, and finally to NYU, where she completed her Master's in Art Therapy. Throughout her studies, Kristin has had the opportunity to work with youth in a variety of settings both at home and abroad, including schools, hospitals, residential centers, and summer camps. Kristin believes in the empowering and healing potential of art making, and is excited to be a part of the team at Private Picassos!

WESTCHESTER & CONNECTICUT ART INSTRUCTORS

Anotonia Barolini
Antonia Barolini grew up in a family of artists and teachers in Westchester, NY. She has received academic recognition and been awarded merit scholarships for her art work. As a teen, she attended the New York State Summer School for the Arts (NYSSSA) and was later asked to work there. Antonia has taught children of all ages, from nursery school to high school. She is a recent graduate of Bard College where she majored in fine art and plans to attend a graduate school program in art and art education.

Samara Sussman
Samara is a professional artist and certified art educator from Scarsdale, NY who loves working in the visual arts with children and adults. She has lead drawing, painting, collage making, printmaking and sculpture programs in the NYC public school system, Midchester Jewish Center, Camp Mohawk Country Day School, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Vanderbilt YMCA, Art Farm in the City and Studio in a School. She holds a Master's degree in Fine Art in Painting from Pratt Institute, a Bachelor's degree from SUNY Purchase in Fine Art, and a Bachelor's degree from SUNY Purchase in Languages (Hebrew and Spanish).

LONG ISLAND ART INSTRUCTOR

Frieda Block

Frieda Block attended The School Of Visual Arts in New York City where she received a Bachelors in Fine Arts. Combining her passion for the arts and love of children, she went back to S.V.A to attain her teaching certification, and later to the University of New England for a Masters Degree in Education. She has taught fine arts to grades pre-k to high school in the New York City Department of Education. Her specialty is connecting visual arts to academic subjects, using arts as expressive and healing emotional tools, and building relationships and community through arts projects. In addition to teaching art, she works as a tutor and infuses creativity into the process of learning so that students always have an opportunity to practice the arts!

Chris Sahr
After earning a degree in Art History & Museum Education from Furman University in South Carolina, she worked in the art departments of both Princeton University and The Parsons School of Design. As her family was growing, she co-chaired the Arts-in-Education programs at her children's LI schools and worked as aProp Coordinator, Scenic Designer and Assistant Director for many elementary and middle school drama productions. Most recently, she was an assistant teacher at a Montessori nursery school where she was known as the "art teacher". She loves nothing more than guiding children through the creative process and helping them take pride in their new creations.

NEW JERSEY ART INSTRUCTORS

Lynne Hayward
Lynne Hayward has studied Early Child Care Education at Nassau Community College and also studied for her CDA. She has enjoyed over 10 years as a head teacher in a daycare setting. She loves to observe her class being creative and expressing themselves with projects she has created using many different mediums. She has worked with children from six weeks to twelve years old. She has enjoyed arts and crafts since she was a child thanks to her paternal grandmother and her aunt, who shared their love of crafting with Lynne at an early age. She is still an avid crafter, always working on gifts for friends and loved ones. Lynne lives in East Windsor, New Jersey and is always looking for new ideas. She is now passing on her love of creating to her grandson Caleb and and granddaughter Mackenzie.    

Rita Kennelly
Rita Kennelly has over 17 years of experience as an art therapist working with a variety of populations, from toddlers to adults. She received her M.S. in Art Therapy from the College of New Rochelle in New York and her B.A. from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Most recently, Rita developed and facilitated art and allied therapies for children and adolescents living in group homes throughout northern NJ for Children’s Aid & Family Services in Paramus, NJ. Rita strives to create a safe and welcoming environment for all to create and explore their "inner Picasso".

STATEN ISLAND ART INSTRUCTOR

Samantha Erck 
Samantha Erck is an enthusiastic art educator that is eager to work with artists of all ages. She is experienced in engaging and teaching toddlers, adolescents and senior citizens. As a professional artist, Samantha specializes in drawing, illustration and painting. Her work speaks to her love of life’s various different relationships as she enjoys developing and building meaningful relationships with all people, letting kindness and spirit lead her development as an educator.

PRIVATE PICASSOS ART STUDIO TEAM

STUDIO MANAGER & ART TEACHER

Stacye Garvin-Dupree

Stacye graduated from The City College of a New York in 2015 with a BFA in studio art. While at City College her concentrations included painting, photography and a minor in Acting. She is a Brooklyn native who specializes in acrylic painting. She draws inspiration from old school cartoons and music. Stacye believes every child is an undiscovered artist and just needs the right guidance to bring that creative side out. Stacye has experience working with of all ages and one day hopes to start a non profit organization dedicated to the pursuit Visual and Performing Arts.

STUDIO STAFF

Sue MacLeod

Prior to teaching, Sue enjoyed a career as a graphic designer, working in publishing, both in New York and overseas in Hong Kong. She spent many years designing books and calendars before following a life-long dream of becoming an art teacher. Besides working at Private Picassos, Sue enjoys being a substitute art teacher with the NYC department of education. Her degrees include a BA in studio art from Tulane University, a MFA in graphic design from the Academy of Art College and an Advanced Certificate in art and design education from Pratt Institute. Sue and her husband, both Boston natives, are now long-time Brooklyn residents where they live with their two kids and three beehives.


Jessica Mendez
Jessica is very excited to be a part of the  Private Picassos' team. She joins the team with experience working with school children from volunteering opportunities in Elementary schools for many years. She has tutored children in reading, helped with homework and partook in creating fun after-school activities for them, some relating to art. Jessica has always had a background in art since she was a young child. She enjoys working with many different kinds of mediums including drawing with pastels, graphite media, painting with acrylics and so on. Jessica is currently a full-time time student at Brooklyn College where she double majors in Psychology and Fine Arts. She plans on furthering her education to teach art.

Rylee Young

Rylee Young is a Brooklyn based artist currently attending Pratt Institute as a painting major. She has a strong passion for art in every form and hope that everyone can learn to enjoy the process of creation. Recently her art style has had an emphasis on strong light and color and features surrealistic elements. Rylee moved to New York from Texas after high school and plans to start a traveling art gallery offering art and music lessons to all ages once she completes her degree.

Employment Opportunities

See below for our current employment opportunities.

Application process for all positions:

  1. Send a cover letter and resume to Valeen Bhat at valeen@privatepicassos.com.
  2. No phone calls please. If your experience is applicable, we will contact you directly.

P/T Art Instructor for Kids' Classes

Locations:

  • New York City
  • Long Island
  • Westchester County
  • Northern New Jersey

Private Picassos is looking for a freelance art instructor to lead art classes for kids age 18 mos. - 12 years. Availability at least two weekdays after-school is a must. Classes take place in student's homes, schools, and kids' stores throughout the local area (see specific locations above). 

Travel to and from sites is a large part of this position. 

Payment is made on a per-class basis, once a month, which includes prep/class time and meetings.

Responsibilities include:

  • set-up, clean-up, prep and implementation of prepared fine-arts curriculum
  • organization of supplies and materials
  • correspondence with parents regarding lessons, progress reports, special events, etc.
  • curriculum development, with assistance of Director

Qualifications:

Required

  • experience teaching art to children under the age of 4

Preferred

  • pursuit or possession of bachelors or master's degree in art education, preferably with experience or interest in early childhood art education (work with children under the age of 4)

Spring 2018 Intern

Private Picassos is looking for an intern for the Fall semester of 2017. This intern will assist with Art Classes at our Park Slope Art Studio. Classes will be for students 1.5-10 years old, taking place Monday-Thursday.  In addition to assisting with classes, interns will also assist with Birthday Parties and Special Events throughout the Fall semester. 

Other projects include, but are not limited to:

  • grassroots marketing
  • administrative tasks
  • organizing art supplies for our Studio and Mobile program

School credit can be arranged.  A monthly travel stipend will be provided.

Qualifications:

Preferred

  • interest in art education or small business development
  • experience working children under the age of 6