2020 BOARD NOMINEE BIOS
The role of Treasurer for the Creative Arts Society serves as an intersection for divergent aspects of my life. First of all, obviously, is my love for art. I have been painting and showing art in Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin for more than 20 years. My art is oil and encaustic based, incorporates mixed media and is created in my outdoor art studio, behind my home on the lower east side of Austin. Second, volunteering for the Creative Arts Society fulfills a life-long passion of working with nonProfits. I’ve volunteered for an array of environmental and social organizations and gained my first board experience with the Urban Paradise Guild, in Miami. When I moved to Austin I volunteered consecutive years for Wheatsville Food Co-op’s Financial Audit and Review Committee. Finally, this role at the Creative Arts Society utilizes the skills I’ve learned managing business operations in the natural foods industry, where I’ve had the opportunity to manage an array of teams and budgets, specializing in process implementation and project management. In this role with the Creative Arts Society I am able to utilize my business acumen as a means to engage with my love for volunteering and deep passion for art
In my 50's, I decided to overcome my fear of watercolor and took a class at ACC with Janet Brooks. I paint portraits of people and pets, and am currently exploring stitching on my paintings with my sewing machine.
My day job is lab manager of an anatomy and physiology lab at ACC. I offered to be the liaison between ACC and CAS to help build a partnership between the two organizations, encourage ACC art students and the Art department to join CAS and work to secure meeting space for CAS at the Highland Campus. I'm not very prolific, as I still work full time, but I hope that will change as I spend more time surrounded by the creativity in CAS ;) .
Hello, my name is Betsy Denny. I moved here from San Francisco about 5 years ago to Round Rock. My husband and I have three elementary age biological daughters. We have lots of fun together around the Austin area on the weekends, or at home with our two dogs. When I was younger, I received my undergrad degree in Costume Construction and Fashion Design. I went back to school to get my Master's in Nursing Case Management. I worked many years as a Case Manager and taught at my grad school, before moving here to Texas. I'm currently not working as an RN, but I have found a lot of fulfillment with many opportunities in our area. I stepped off the Board of our school's PTA this year, but still volunteer for functions. I am also a volunteer with Education Connection as a literacy partner. This year I was accepted onto RRISD School Health Advisory Committee to provide recommendations to our Board of Trustees. I have really enjoyed being a volunteer at the Georgetown Art Center for the last couple years. I lend a hand for various events and assist with gift shop artists and inquiries. The best decision I have made recently is to join the Creative Arts Society. It has helped me develop a sense of direction and begin to rekindle my highly creative side. I am honored to be a part of CAS and the leadership it provides for all us artists. I have been very fortunate to be able to learn the ropes as a CAS Venue Coordinator for the Carver Branch Library this year in Austin. I'm excited about my 2nd year with CAS and the future opportunities it may bring. Thank you for your time and fellowship!
I began painting as a young wife and mother, finding art instructors and workshops in the many places we have lived while my husband was
stationed in the military. I started taking college courses in art when we first moved to Texas, in the early 90’s. After we moved to Georgia, I decided to
finish my degree and earned a BFA in painting from the University of West Georgia. We then moved back to Texas to be near family and enjoy the
inspiring, beautiful surroundings of the Hill Country. I've been a member of Creative Arts Society since 2009, and have held various board positions; such as Exhibits Chair, Program Chair and a co-chair in rotating venues. Currently I’m Special Events chair and Duo Works chair. Through CAS I have met and worked with many talented and dedicated artists and been given the opportunity to exhibit my art and grow as an artist.
Hello! My name is Jenn James and I joined CAS this summer and have really enjoyed meeting everyone thus far. I quit my "corporate" job of 21 years last year to live a more meaningful life with purpose. I'm still on this new path and love being able to create art and have the freedom to figure who I am and what I truly want to do. I live in North Austin with my husband, Christian, and our blended family consists of 2 kids, 3 cats and 4 chickens... all of which are highly entertaining! My style of art is bright, colorful, abstract and bold and can be seen at JennJamesDesign.com
Leslie is an artist and designer whose career has spanned more than 30 years in the Austin area. Although trained traditionally, after many years of working as a freelance graphic artist Leslie found herself exploring photography and digital art as a vehicle of artistic expression. Leslie offers a slightly different view of the world; rather than paint, she uses the color, texture and patterns of the elements she captures with her camera to create her surreal mirror-mad images. Her unique collections are inspired by photographic visuals from locations, events, and themes.
Leslie is honored to have been included in the 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2019 People’s Gallery at Austin City Hall. She has participated in dozens of exhibits over the last couple of years, including several shows featuring digital art. She has had an active exhibit schedule in 2019, including a solo exhibit at the Elisabet Ney Museum for FotoATX 2019. Currently, her works can be found hanging in various venues and juried shows around the state as well as in galleries where she is represented.
Leslie has served on the board of the Creative Arts Society for several years and is the past President of the organization.
I began painting in 2014 after retiring from three decades of working as a mechanical engineer for IBM. While with IBM, I was certified as a Project Management Professional (Project Management Institute). I currently work part-time as a CAD designer and volunteer as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for abused and neglected children. I have lived in Austin, TX for over 27 years with my husband and we have two grown sons in Houston.
My art includes acrylic abstracts, landscapes and portraits. I have been a member of CAS since 2015 and have served as Publicity Chair, Membership Chair and Vice President. I am honored to serve on the CAS board and will do my best to keep our organization vibrant, inclusive and fun
Joan Lawson expresses her love of nature in her paintings. She finds inspiration in dreams and visions as well as in the natural beauty and light of the Texas Hill Country. Additionally, she likes to paint scenes from her travels in the American Southwest and abroad. She enjoys the flexibility of acrylics and collage to achieve texture and depth in her work.
She has a BA in studio art from Oklahoma City University, and has studied painting with well-known artists in the U.S. and France. She is a founding member of the Creative Arts Society in Austin and is currently on the Board of Directors. Her paintings are in private and corporate collections in the U.S. and abroad. Her work can be seen in her Oak Hill studio, at various local exhibits, and on Facebook at Joan Lawson Fine Art.
Shruti has been with CAS for two years and currently serves as Program Chair on the CAS board. Shruti started her art education at age twelve with her Guru Late Mrs. Avantika Jetley in her hometown in India. Shruti’s life experiences informs her art. Shruti’s choice of art is painting using mediums such as acrylic, mixed media, oil, watercolour.
I have been a member of CAS for about 2 ½ years. While in CAS I have been on the Board as the Newsletter Editor for 1 ½ years. I have also been the Twin Oaks Venue Coordinator for the past 6 months and occasionally assist with installations. My primary artistic work is in film photography, printing in platinum and black & white. I have been photographing since I was in Jr High School and developing film and printing for the past 30 years.
Debbie Upton is a mother, wife, artist, and entrepreneur. She currently resides in far southwest Austin with her husband, 12 year-old twins and their 3 pets. Debbie has lived in Austin for a little over 3 years, moving here from Colorado.
Debbie has been artistic in one way or another most of her life and has two art degrees. Her undergrad comes from Texas Tech in Art Education and she taught middle school art for 4 years in Mesquite, TX. Debbie received her master’s degree in Art Therapy from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM. She was an Art Therapist for several years in Colorado. Art is a necessity in her life, not just for the therapeutic aspects, but for the creative outlet. She currently is focused on alcohol inks on canvas and other materials.
Debbie has been involved in multiple non-profits, coalitions and numerous volunteer organizations in the last 15 years. She highly values the importance of giving back to the community, not just for the community, but for the enrichment of self.
My name is Amanda Zappler. I have thrived on being creative since an early age and pursued knowledge about techniques and tools for artist expression which have been gifts throughout my life. I am inspired by everyday existence and enjoy bringing beauty into the world.
I use art as a means of self-expression. I paint to better understand my reality, and to express my interpretation of the world around me. I also create art to open the unexplored world- a place for curious self-expression, but also a world of new relationships, new chances, new beginnings, and most importantly new stories.
Some of my artistic influences include Modigliani, Cezanne and Chagall. I am also a huge fan of Klimt, Kandinsky and Klee.
There is immeasurable pleasure (for me) derived from painting and drawing. A unique sentiment is inscribed into each image I create. I present my thoughts and feelings of and about this world through the filter of color and whimsy. I manipulate pigment and media to showcase my ideas and dreams and transform them through pattern and texture.
My art features imagined scenes of whimsical people, animals and places and has a story-book quality to it. I draw inspiration from the past and present; things possible as well as impossible.
My artwork varies in category, style and technique. I primarily use gouache, pen, pastel and acrylics on a variety of surfaces. I love the bright colors and rich textures that occur when mediums are combined.
I wish for my art to convey a sense of hopefulness and joy. I experience so much pleasure from painting that it is my desire to pass a bit of this along to the viewer. I believe that art should be accessible to everyone; the visual, conceptual and financial attributes of my work reflect this passion. I create art to share. When a piece of my art work brings a smile to someone as they pass by, I feel that I have been successful!
Hi, my name is Kat Zinna. I’m retired and my husband and I moved to Texas about three years ago.
I needed to do something with my time. My sister-in-law, Lisa Zinna does wonderful photo collage art. So I thought maybe I could do something artistic. I started doing paper collage and a little painting.
I joined CAS and have been a member for about a year. I love all the venues that I have an opportunity to show my art in and all the members I’ve met are so nice, helpful and talented. It has been fun!
Lisa Zinna is currently the Social Media Chair. She enjoys editing photos, writing copy, and #trending hashtags. Her job as an information developer at IBM provided the technology experience, but lacked in exercising her creativity. That's when her passion for photography started to blossom. These days she is retired, creates colorful photo art, and also volunteers with CAS as a venue coordinator and installer and helps out Round Rock Arts in a similar capacity.