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 & Assistant Art Instructor:
Michaela Frymus
Michaela is an avid photographer and appreciator of the arts. She received her BA in Psychology from Purchase College, SUNY. Michaela comes to Private Picassos with an artistic background encompassing several mediums including drawing, painting, design, printmaking and photography. She approaches everything through a creative lens and believes in the healing power of the arts and its positive effects on mental and emotional wellness. She is delighted to be part of a passionate mission that inspires, nurtures, and brings volume to the inner creative voice. Michaela is also the Administrative Coordinator for Private Picassos.

NYC ART INSTRUCTORS

Cassandra Akpan
Cassandra hails from Tucson, AZ and recently moved to New York to explore opportunities as a visual artist, dancer, and educator in both forms. She earned her Bachelors of Fine Art degree in Art Education from Arizona State University with a Dance Minor. She has a wide variety of teaching experience in both art and dance. She is passionate about exposing children to the arts, so that they may find and grow their creative voices throughout their lives. Cassandra is excited to continue teaching a wide range of ages and abilities.

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.

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.

Marina Kharkover
Marina Kharkover is a freelance illustrator and educator currently residing in Queens, NY. She has worked with a number of galleries and print publications. Her art explores the nature of human and creature relationships and is considerably influenced by Russian folklore and African ritualistic art. She believes that art should always push the ordinary and travel somewhere strangely familiar but simultaneously fantastical.

Talia Levitt
Taliais 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. 

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.

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. 

Parul Verma

 Parul Verma is a MFA recipient at PRATT institute, New York. She is originally from New Delhi, India and has received her BVA from Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayaji Rao University, Vadodara, Gujarat.  She has over 7 years of teaching experience and all her art and art teaching possessed both eastern and western philosophy.  She is certified in NY State Learning Standards for the Arts, and NYC Department of Education’s Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. She has worked with Success Academy Harlem North West, Sports and Arts for School Foundation, Henry Street Foundation, Pratt Institute, Franklin Furnace Organization and Katmint Learning Initiative. She has shown in INDIA New Delhi, Vadodara (Gujarat), New York and Washington DC (United States), Buenos Aires in Argentina and MORPHOS festival Palazzo Albrizzi Venice.

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.

Laura Wilbourn

Laura Wilbourn was born in California, but has lived in Thailand, Korea, China, Texas, and now New York. She is a recent graduate of Art Therapy from New York University with an MA in Art Therapy. She received a BFA for a double-major in Communication Design and Studio Art: Drawing from Texas State University. She has 10 years’ experience teaching children and adolescents. Laura feels she has the most fun when working with these age groups. When she is not working, Laura enjoys traveling and creating children’s books. 

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

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

Aileen Fox

Born and raised in Southern California, Aileen moved to the east coast in 2011 and enjoys the vibrant city of New York. Aileen holds a Masters in Early Childhood Education and a BA in Elementary Education from California State University, LongBeach. Aileen has ten years of experience working with children of all ages in private, public, and home school settings. For the past five years Aileen has worked in early childhood centers and schools in CT and NY. Recently, she was the Head Teacher for Building Bridges Preschool in Brooklyn Heights. There she introduced an innovative early childhood art program that exposed children to various artists, art materials, and art techniques with an emphasis on up-cycled art. She feels passionately about introducing process art to children at a young age to enable them to fully explore their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

STUDIO STAFF


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.

Gwen Miller
Gwen Miller is studying Printmaking at Pratt Institute. Gwen moved from Southeastern Virginia to Brooklyn in 2014 and has been greatly inspired by the transition. She has been teaching studio art lessons to kids for 5 years, focusing on drawing skills and watercolor painting. She is constantly amazed by the joy, abilities, and unbounded creativity of the students at Private Picassos. 

Catherine Robles

From childhood Catherine knew she would work with children. She began with babysitting, then student teaching and is now working as an assistant teacher in a preschool. Recently, she received her AA in Education Studies at Kingsborough Community College and is now attending Brooklyn College pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Childhood Education. In the future, she also plans to pursue her master's degree to further her Education.

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 Manager for Kids' Art Studio and Retail Shop

Private Picassos is looking for a Part Time Manager for our walk-in Art Studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Customers can work on a Drop-In Art Project, participate in classes for kids and adults and also purchase items from our retail shop.

Responsibilities include:
- greet and assist customers
- ask questions to identify customer needs (retail items, DIY art experience, etc)
- inventory of all retail items and art supplies
- share knowledge of art supplies, art projects and retail items with customers
- assist in any area of the studio when necessary; including but not limited to checking out customers, replenishing supplies, organizing DIY work table or painting area, etc.
-  lead all art classes for kids age 18 months - 12 years

Qualifications:

Required
- you relate easily to others and are comfortable building relationships with studio team members and customers alike
- you are able to speak with customers of all ages
- you enjoy spending your time with children and helping them create art
- you have experience working with children under the age of 6

Preferred
- experience teaching art to children under the age of 8
- you have or are in pursuit of an Art Education or Fine Art degree
- experience working in a retail environment

Compensation:
$12-14/hour, depending on experience

Hours:
Tuesday-Thursday 10am-6pm; Saturdays may also be available.  Additional weekend hours for special events will be available.

P/T Art Instructor for Kids' Classes

Locations:

  • Long Island (Long Beach and/or the Hamptons)
  • Westchester County (Scarsdale)
  • New Jersey (Jersey City and Hoboken)

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, summer camp partners 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 2017 Intern

Private Picassos, a visual art company based in Brooklyn, NY is looking for an intern for the Spring semester of 2017. This intern will assist with current art classes for kids and adults throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as administrative projects, including but not limited to:

  • online promotion of programming
  • social media posts
  • inventory of supplies
  • grassroots marketing, including promotional events

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

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

Qualifications:

Preferred

  • interest inart education or small business development
  • experience working children under the age of 5