The following bios tell of the extraordinary individuals who have shared their passion for the arts, diverse experiences, and expertise with East Side Art Institute. Life always brings challenges. Having a supportive community to nurture and guide us turns challenges into opportunities. This group of hard-working, strong individuals has turned an enormous life-changing set of circumstances into the opportunity of a lifetime. They are working tirelessly to accomplish ESAI’s goals, make sound decisions, and always choose integrity, honesty, and compassion.

Sincerely,

PRESIDENT | Nancy Utterback

Nancy has worked as a potter for the past 40 years. She studied painting from 1972 through 1976 and along the way discovered pottery. In 1975 she opened her first studio and has gained a reputation as a nationally sought-after potter and master ceramics instructor. While maintaining a full-time studio, she has exhibited her work in galleries and exhibitions, and shows. She has experience both with teaching pottery and presenting workshops across the US.

In Colorado, Nancy ran a successful pottery program for the City of Westminster from 1992 to 1998, receiving a national award for the best recreation program in 1995. She began teaching at the City of Boulder Pottery Lab in 1991 and by 2001 she became the director of the City of Boulder Pottery Lab, overseeing the operations of this teaching facility. In 2015 she became the director of the Pottery Lab for Studio Arts Boulder, and in 2016 she began creating East Side Art Institute.

During her career Nancy has become an advocate for energy efficiency, bringing “best practices” to the facilities and programs she managed. In 2008 she partnered with engineers from the University of Colorado in a research project on wood kilns and firing. She continued the research to quantify the most efficient firing and studio practices for ceramic artists. Her article “A Change in the Air” was published in Studio Potter magazine in 2010. She practices zero-waste by recycling all clay and glaze materials using minimal amounts of water. As Director of East Side Art Institute, these same practices will be taught and instituted. She has been published in Ceramics Monthly and Studio Potter magazine and was featured in The Best of Pottery published in 1996.

TREASURER | Kathy Griffin

Kathy is a Boulder County resident who discovered her passion for working with clay in high school. After several successful shows and sales while in high school, Kathy decided to pursue her passion and art studies at the collegiate level.

Kathy studied art at Emmanuel College in Boston. While attending Emmanuel, Kathy became involved with the local YMCA through a work-study program. The initial work-study role broadened significantly in the following semesters. Kathy developed and ran many summer camps and camp programs in the area southeast of Boston. Many of these programs were focused on special needs and at-risk children.

Then life intervened. Kathy married, started a family and raised 4 children. She then moved to Colorado where she has lived for the past 20 years.

While raising her children, Kathy devoted her full focus and energy into being an engaged mother. Volunteering at her children’s schools, she was active in their school PTO and organized and executed multiple fundraisers.

In recent years, Kathy has again started to pursue her passion for clay. She has attended various classes and workshops held in northern Colorado. She was/is a member of Front Range Potters and Boulder Wood-fire groups.

Now that her children are grown, Kathy has a home studio in Longmont, Colorado where she resides with her husband of 34 years. In addition to spending quality time in her studio, she oversees her husband’s remodeling of their 5th and final house.

SECRETARY | Anna Valenti

Anna Valenti has a passion for the arts and building spaces for community. Raised by a family of gardeners and engineers, Anna loves to deeply understand how things work and create art with her hands.

Anna currently works as the Ceramics Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and teaches ceramics at Naropa University. She received a BA and ceramics post-baccalaureate studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a MFA from the Maine College of Art. She has shown her work nationally and leads ceramic workshops throughout the country.

Though originally from New York, Anna has lived in Colorado since 2010. When not spending time with family and friends, she loves to spend time in the garden. Anna is a ceramic artist who takes a weavers approach to the technique of coil building. She is passionate about fiber clay and combines a variety of fibers with clay to test a ceramic form’s structural integrity. Her work centers around gathering spaces and the objects that carry belonging.

BOARD MEMBER | Zina Castanuela

Zina Castañuela is a designer, artist and teacher recently relocated from Chicago to Boulder. During her career in graphic and environmental graphic design, she has led award-winning design teams for the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and created internship programs for both institutions working with DePaul University and the Art Institute of Chicago giving students and recent graduates opportunities for being mentored by award-winning designers.

During her years working in the design field, she developed a love of craft, color, typography, and paper including a handmade paper that led her to Columbia College and their MFA program in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper. She has taught papermaking community classes, led papermaking demonstrations, and shown her artist’s books and paper sculptures in Chicago, Seoul, Korea, and Denver.

More recently she is consulting as a creative director for a variety of clients from artists and healthcare technology companies. She has rebranded national companies leading the visual design for all media of communication including websites, print collateral, tradeshow assets, social media, and signage. She has designed books, artist catalogues and helped update websites and other communication internationally.

Zina has worked with several not-for-profit groups in both Chicago and Denver helping them expand their visibility and reach their fundraising and mission goals. While on the board of Hand Papermaking Magazine she was the guest designer of their magazine for a year of issues and helped to plan fundraising events as well as hire a permanent design director.

She began her work with Picture Me Here by project managing and designing their 3-year retrospective exhibition installed at the McNichols Building as part of an Arts in Society grant. PMH programs worked with new Americans teaching them–through the use of writing, photography, sound, and video media–to tell their immigration and refugee stories. After creating the exhibit, Zina helped to write and budget for a grant of 40K for the PMH year-long Creative Arts and Media Fellowship. For this fellowship, she interviewed fellowship applicants, planned and created curriculum and program schedules, taught and mentored students, and curated and installed two final exhibitions at Colorado Photographic Society and Rocky Mountain School of Design. She also presented the program goals and plans to the Arts in Society grant donors including the Hemera Foundation, Bonfils Stanton, and the Arts in Society team.

She is excited to work with ESAI and help them become a resource for artists, students and the expanded community of Boulder County.

BOARD MEMBER | Lys Anzia

With a background in Radio Communications, Art History, Media Journalism and Art Curation, Lys Anzia has worked closely with a diversity of artists, guiding them toward a career as a successful public creative.

“I believe that art can work to change the world”, says Anzia with commitment.

From 2004 to 2005, Lys and her partner opened two art galleries in the “Mecca of Art,” Santa Fe, New Mexico, which encourage artists of all ages with quality mentorships and education.

For the past 15 years, Lys has also worked closely with human rights issues at the United Nations in New York as a news & feature story journalist. Today she still works with issues that help heal the world.

“Let us together tell our stories. Let our creative essence empower all forms of art. East Side Art Institute is part of the solution to a better world.” says Anzia.

BOARD MEMBER | Kathy Icenogle

After moving to Boulder in 2013, Kathy was able to rediscover her high school interest in ceramics. She took classes from Nancy Utterback and others at the Pottery Lab, and was able to pursue more advanced classes through ESAI. During Covid, she started painting with pastels. When it comes to art, Kathy relates to those who don’t necessarily identify as an artist, but experience tremendous restorative value from immersing themselves in the practice of art. It gives her energy to serve the larger community.

Before moving to Boulder, Kathy lived in Massachusetts while raising her family. During that time Kathy worked in the computer industry, developing online information technology (before the internet was a thing), and then continued to provide innovative information solutions in the tech industry as the Internet Revolution transformed how we access information. As a graduate of Stanford’s Product Design and Art Design programs, Kathy approaches everything she does as an opportunity for creative problem solving, a process that starts with identifying a need. A great example of this approach came while helping to solve a communication problem in the small town where she lived, where the only news source was the gossip you heard at the local coffee shop, library and town transfer station. Kathy created and published a digital news website and introduced the use of online discussion forums (pre-Facebook) to the community. In addition to techies, she also got small-town farmers, shut-in elders, and stay-at-home parents to participate in the online discussions and rely on her newspaper for the scoop on local activities and politics. That activity ultimately contributed to a broader and better-informed voter base, and showed her she could be successful as a community organizer. So, when Kathy saw the public-school arts programs suffering from funding cutbacks, she played an instrumental role in establishing a non-profit group that ultimately opened doors to opportunities for students whose families were more economically challenged.

Kathy’s past experiences and desire to work collaboratively in solving problems is just one of the many ways she hopes to contribute to ESAI. She is looking forward to helping ESAI fulfill its mission.