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720 Chicago Ave.
Oak Park, Illinois 60302
(708) 386-9853


Meet the Instructors at the Oak Park Art League

Tony Armendariz
Tony was born and raised in Chicago in a graphic arts family. Upon graduating from Lane Technical High School he attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago where he had the privilege to study watercolor under renowned instructor Irving Shapiro. While still at the Academy he got his first job as a graphic artist in advertising. Upon receiving his AA in Graphic Art, he continued developing his skills working as an airbrush illustrator, graphic artist, color proofing technician and web designer in a variety of industries. Tony paints exclusively in watercolor in the pure transparent tradition on paper. He currently belongs to many artistic organizations across the country, including the Illinois Watercolor Society of which he serves as their Executive Director. Tony’s work is currently represented by the Hilliard Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri.


Joe Barabe
Joe has a long history in photography, including commercial, portrait & wedding, scientific (photomacrography, photomicrography, UV and IR photography), stock photography and fine art. He recently retired from McCrone Associates in Westmont IL as Senior Research Microscopist and Director of Scientific Imaging, and is currently semi-employed as principle of Barabe & Associates LLC, specializing in art and document materials analysis. He recently joined OPAL and is advancing in the photo fine arts world with exhibits at monthly shows and, most recently, in a 3-person show at Prairie Title, with John Nicholas and Will Roy. He has exhibited in the Chicago area, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Germany, with work in both public and private collections. He has been both winner and judge in the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Contest, and is an instructor at the Hooke College of Applied Sciences.

Stephanie Rose Bird 

Stephanie Rose Bird is an Oak Park painter and author of six books. She specializes in mixed media and drawing, with a special fondness for soft pastels. Her subject matter revolves around nature, flowers and plant life, transformed into organic abstractions. She has won several juror’s awards for Best of Show and Technical Achievement as a draftsman. Bird won several grants and fellowships, including a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, San Diego Opportunity Fellowship and Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant.  She holds a BFA cum laude in Painting and Drawing from Tyler School of Art and an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California at San Diego. She has exhibited widely including: University of Illinois, Chicago; African American Cultural Center; Betty Rymer Gallery of SAIC; Chicago State College; Prairie State College; Northern Illinois University; Sioux City Art Center; Rahr-West Museum, John Jay College of Justice, New York, and Woman Made Gallery, Chicago.

Bird was commissioned by Cialis Western Open, PGA Tour, as artist-in-residence. Her work was featured in the Art-in-the-Embassies Program, US Department of State, Cotonou, Africa. Bird’s art graces BMO Harris Bank and McCormick Place South’s Illinois Artists Gallery as well as the Hampton Inn, of Boca Rotan, Florida.

Lana Bjornson
Lana received her BFA in art education from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and her M.Ed in urban education at National Louis University. Teaching and art have always been her two greatest passions and she has been extremely lucky to be able to combine the two. Most of her teenage and professional career has been geared towards supporting students creative endeavors using a wide variety of materials including 2D, 3D, and 4D materials. During the school year Lana is currently a K-8 art teacher at a charter school in Chicago.

Nancy Fong
Nancy Fong received her bachelors degree in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her painting 'Bajan Queens' is included in the permanent collection of the Oak Park Public Library and she has two public murals along the Green Line embankment. She has served as vice-president on the board of directors of Oak Park Art League, and monitors the Tuesday morning figure painting sessions there.  Her award-winning work is representative, with her most recent work incorporating figures and still life to convey daily life.  Nancy teaches art to preschoolers, middle schoolers, adults, and seniors at various facilities in Oak Park.  She has taught continuing education and community outreach art classes at community colleges.

 Chelsea Dubick is a lifelong artist who is passionate about exploring creative expression across various mediums and languages.  She received her BA in Studio Art from Skidmore College and an MA in Spanish Linguistics from Middlebury College.  She is a multi media artist whose work is focused in undulating ceramic vessels and wildly colorful abstract ink and oil paintings that are heavily influenced by landscapes and cloudscapes.  She cherishes her time outdoors and places a strong emphasis on equal rights & representation and environmental conservation.  She is new to the Chicago area and has spent the last several years teaching art and Spanish to both children and adults in Savannah, Georgia.

Kathy Hirsh
It always begins with color: luscious, subtle, vibrant, complex. Nepal and China were Kathy’s home for 15 years a long way from the horizontals of Illinois. She studied painting and botany in college and completed a Master’s in medical illustration. Constantly drawing and painting, Kathy worked as a surgical illustrator for 25 years, and after many years of black and white has found her passion in color. Kathy has been featured in The Artist Magazine, shown at the National Gallery of Beijing, is a member of the Plein Air Painters of Chicago and is in private collections in the United States, Asia and Europe. She begins with the abstract color underpinnings and works to find the delicate balance in the tension between the abstract and representational. She keeps the painting process visible/apparent, the surface playful and maintains the integrity of each individual stroke.

robhoganRob Hogan
Rob is a Chicago native who challenges concepts of perception through his artwork. Rob began his practice at a young age, and continued his love of art through his high school and early college experiences. After earning a B.S. in Psychology from Loyola University, Chicago, Rob worked as a media buyer before returning to Loyola University Chicago to earn his M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration. As a college administrator he focused on helping students at risk. Hogan uses a multidimensional approach to art, and refuses to use only a single medium or art style. Rob believes that using various media improves his skill as an artist and allows him to see the world in new and wonderful ways. Rob’s work has been featured in print, television, and new media. Sale of his work has raised more than $28,000 for charities and nonprofit organizations. His work has appeared in over 100 exhibits, live art events, and festivals. Most recently, multiple pieces of Rob’s US Presidential Election political artwork has been seen in The London Times, Bloomberg Politics, Reuters, Associated Press and The New York Post.

Jesse Howard
At an early age, Jesse showed an interest in drawing cartoon characters and rehabbing empty garages into club spaces. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Ball State University, with a major in Commercial Art and a minor in Business Administration. One of his favorite instructors, Larry Graham encouraged him to pursue truth and spirituality in his subject matter. Eager to continue to develop his graphic art skills, he worked for a topographer in Chicago. He wanted more control over his creativity. In the eighties, he rededicated himself to Fine Art. He began studying sculptors, such as Richard Hunt and Martin Puryear; He felt they had a grasp of space and materials. Since his rededication, his art work has appeared in many galleries nationwide and his career has been covered in many publications. His first major one person show in 1984 was with Zriny Gallery. He also exhibited with the Chicago Cultural Center, 5+5 In Perspectives In Black Art, just to name a few.

Nancy K. Jensen
Nancy is an abstract painter who is influenced by the major abstract artists of the 20th century. Professionally, she has worked as a visual merchandiser for 25 years, designing more than 3,000 displays, promotional marketing concepts, and windows for clothing, cosmetics, import foods and many, many other kinds of retail stores up and down the Magnificent Mile. Nancy’s experience working with children includes teaching a variety of mediums through the Park District of Oak Park, Expressions Graphics and has also taught Fashion merchandising at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an adjunct professor teaching art to adults at the College of DuPage.

Amalia Kouvalis

Amalia is a Chicago artist and a recent college graduate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in oil painting and printmaking. Her dramatic, melancholic oil paintings and etchings are heavily influenced by dreams, memories, silent films, and Victorian aesthetics.  Amalia's work is a reflection of her interest in spirits and dream-like atmospheres. Growing up in her late father's 1920's movie theatre, Amalia's mission is to visually express her personal connection to the enchantment of the theatre's ornate interiors, dim lighting, and mysterious atmosphere. 

Jackie Lakely
Jackie graduated with a BA in studio art and history in 1992, and she has done graduate study in painting and art education. She has worked in the non-profit art world for over a decade and has exhibited her work in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Scotland, and Chicago. A mixed media piece of hers was purchased for the permanent collection of the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, California. She has been teaching at the Oak Park Art League since 2013. Her work is about the process of exploring and building the surface into a world of layers and color, usually incorporating drawing, acrylic, collage, and mark-making with various tools and wax oil crayons. She also keeps watercolor sketchbooks in which she draws and paints from life. Her work often reflect s all the places she has lived and visited, and she is excited to embark on her first artist residency in Scotland for the month of March in 2016.

Olivia Lauritsen
Olivia has a passion for both the arts and environmental sustainability. She wants to teach her students how to care for our planet so that the many generations to come can enjoy its beauty. She believes in her students and strives to help them embrace their own unique styles. Olivia wants her students to explore and have fun while learning! Olivia is currently receiving her BA in art education at Hope College and will be student teaching in CPS this upcoming fall. 

Pam Penney

Pam Penney
With a B.A. degree in Interior Design and A.A.S. in Architectural Technology Pam worked in the field of architecture for many years but gravitated back to her love of fiber in the early 1990’s.  Pam has a passion for combining traditional needle art and fiber techniques in unique and contemporary methods to create her own textile art.  She is also passionate about sharing these skills and has taught knitting, sewing, crocheting and felting for over 25 years to both adults and children. 


Ann Primack
Ann has been an explorer of art and various media for her whole life. She studied for her MFA at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Cookville, Tennessee, and at the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also studied with artists Ruth Duckworth and Virginio Ferrarri. After an artist residency in Rome, which culminated in a solo exhibit,she found clarity in the direction of her work. Her primary mediums include ceramic sculpture, painting and drawing. She teaches classes for children and adults and has taught several summer art camps here at OPAL.

Rhona Taylor
Rhona is a Second City trained actress who was a member of the Playwrights’ Ensemble while at the University of Iowa. As an Artist-In-Residence for the City of Chicago, she wrote scripts, directed and acted with children. Rhona currently teaches at Pilgrim Community Nursery School and Intuit Dance on Harrison St. in Oak Park. She was the creator/coordinator of the After School Arts Program for District 97 and the Park District of Oak Park. In addition, she has led theater workshops for children with the Village Players, S.C.A.W., and the Actor's Guild for Triton College’s Junior Theater.