Image: Auseklis Ozols, Legatto, Oil on Linen. 36 x 60″ 1983

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Featured Artists & Artwork
Highlighting Contemporary Art in Conversation with History

SANDRA BURSHELL, Founder, New Orleans Drawing Group

Sandra Burshell is an Eminent Pastellist in the International Association of Pastel Societies (IAPS) (to be awarded at the IAPS 2024 Convention) and a Master Pastellist in the Pastel Society of America (PSA). Her award-winning moody, atmospheric, and figurative pastel interiors have been exhibited internationally.

Her pastels have been featured in many leading art magazines, as Pratique Des Arts’ Special Pastel Issue, 2019 “La Figure Dans Tous Ses Etats”, Pastel Journal Magazine May/June 2010 “The Romantic Space”, Pastel Artist International “Ambience You Can Cut with a Knife”, Artist’s Magazine “Creating Movement with Light”, and American Artist Magazine “Picturing What People Leave Behind”.

Sandra had been the IAPS Vice-President from its inception in 1994 through 2006, and a Degas Pastel Society Signature Officer. She has been represented by Carol Robinson Gallery, New Orleans, LA, for over 25 years. She was one of thirteen female U.S. pastels artists at the “Pastels of the World, Orangery of the Castle of Louviere, in Bourbonnais, France, June 2022. Sandra is the founder of the New Orleans Drawing Group (2005), a weekly figure drawing session, now in a Zoom format due to Covid. Sandra gives pastel workshops nationally – Portrait/Figure Mentorship Workshop with Corey Pitkin, June 11-12, International Association of Pastel Societies.

RONNA S. HARRIS, Associate Professor Newcomb Art Department (Retired)

Artist’s website:

My work is rooted in the American Realist tradition. However, my paintings communicate a state of controlled chaos as I combine two divergent forces and approaches into my art: realism and abstract expression By a proficient handling of light, a mastery of images, and a skillful mark-making method, my paintings confer an illusion
of reality to something that’s not real.” – Ronna Harris

RONNA S. HARRIS works in an American Realist tradition with the goal of conferring “an illusion of reality to something that is not real.” Using oil and pastel to paint figurative and still life pieces, her emphasis is on the quality of light and the illusory and abstract effects of color and mark making. Harris’s figurative paintings speak to “female attitudes, orientations, point of view, and emotions on birth, loss and social relationships.” The artist’s introspective figures reside within intimate narrative spaces that speak to her emphasis on internal perspectives and the “psychological phases of female development.” Her paintings merge inner dialogue with illusory worlds of light and color, inviting exploration and contemplation.

Harris holds a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the University of California Santa Barbara and a Bachelor of Art in drawing from California State University, Northridge, CA. She is currently an associate professor of Art for the Newcomb College Art Department at Tulane University in New Orleans and has had solo shows with galleries in New Orleans, LA; South Miami, FL; Los Angeles, CA; and Mobile, AL. She has participated in group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea at the Florence Biennale in Italy. She contributed to the White House Bicentennial Celebration: Part Two: Commemorative White House Calendar and her works have appeared in Magazine Contemporary Art, Art and Beyond Magazine and New American Paintings. Harris is represented in the collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA), the Jacksonville Art Museum (Jacksonville, FL), the Morris Museum (Augusta, GA), The Huntsville Museum of Art (Huntsville, AL) and the Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, AL).

Harris lives and works in New Orleans, LA, and Boone, NC.” 


CAROL PEEBLES,  Founder & Director, Blue Easel Club Drawing Atelier 

Carol Peebles is the Founder & Director of the Blue Easel Club Drawing Atelier. She has been teaching observation based drawing and pastel painting for over 20 years. 

Peebles trained with Auseklis Ozols in New Orleans. She is a Master Circle Pastelist for the International Association of Pastel Societies, Signature Member of The Portrait Society of America, The Pastel Society of America, The Degas Pastel Society,  The Salmagundi Club NYC, and the Allied Artists of America.

Her juried exhibitions include: The Art Renewal Center’s International Salon at Sotheby’s New York & The European Museum of Modern Art-MEAM, Barcelona, Spain; The Butler Institute of American Art; The Haggin Museum of Art; The National Arts Club, NYC; The Salmagundi Club, NYC and the Ogden Museum, among others.

She has been featured in the Master Showcase of International Artist Magazine, Connoisseur Magazine, Pratique Des Arts, Pastel World, Pastel Journal, Artist Network Stokes of Genius:Best of Drawing and Pastelagram, and is recipient of the Pastel 100 Ruth Richeson Award, and Portrait Society of America International Exhibition Finalist 2019. 

Master of Fine Arts- Penn State; Bachelor of Arts-UNO.

Her greatest pride is having studied under Master Artist Auseklis Ozols, Founder and former director of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. 

AUSEKLIS OZOLS;  Founder and Former Director, New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts

Auseklis Ozols is the Founder and former Director of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. He retired from the Academy in 2020 amidst much controversy regarding the future and preservation of the Academy’s mission. As archives, documents, drawings and paintings dating back to the 1950’s had to be packed and moved during the coronavirus pandemic- the collection was born.

Ozols founded the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts in 1978 based on the model of the earliest American Museum and Art Academy, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He has worked and taught in New Orleans for over 50 years.  Ozols received a BFA from the University of  Pennsylvania, attended the historic PAFA studio program where he trained under Walter Stuemfig, and received an MFA from Temple University. His work is represented in public and private collections internationally. He has received numerous awards and significant professional recognition. 

He continues to lecture and paint, and serves as the president of the Ozols Collection: Museum of Painting & Pedagogy. 




Adrian Deckbar is a painter who uses photography as the basis for her work, which explores the boundaries of photorealism. Her transformation of photographic source material into acrylic and oil paintings take on a heightened sense of reality. The undulation of shapes, with light raking across the forms, pulsate with life. Vivid colors and jewel tones are contrasted with dark forms throughout the pieces, creating dynamic textures. The paintings become visually dramatic and mysterious.

Deckbar holds an MFA in Painting from Tulane University, an MA in Painting from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Painting from University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  She has served on the faculty of Tulane University, The New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, The Bascom Art Center, and Vermont College of Norwich University. She maintains studios in New Orleans and Leslie, AR. 

Her work is included in many public and private, and corporate collections in the US and abroad, including the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art; the Alexandria Museum of Art; the Louisiana Arts and Sciences Museum; the Hilliard Art Museum; Brenau University; Ochsner Foundation Hospital; Loyola University School of Dentistry; Tulane Medical School; The Eliza Jane Hotel; New Orleans, One River Place, New Orleans; Radisson Suite Hotel; Lykes Steamship Co.; and Chevron Corporation. 

Adrian Deckbar has received grants from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, The Adolph Gottlieb Foundation, The Pollack-Krasner Foundation, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Deckbar has had numerous reviews and publications of her work, including “Art in the American South: Works from the Ogden Collection” by Randolph Delehanty. 


Magtillt van Thiel was born in the Netherlands and grew up in New Orleans.  In 1963 she received a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania and a Cresson European traveling scholarship from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The hallmark of van Thiel’s work are here portraits.  She has had many exhibitions and commissions in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Orlando, and Atlanta. She currently resides with her family in Ocean Springs, Mississippi where she paints, teaches, and exhibits in the new realist tradition of oil painting. 


Image Gallery

CAROL LEAKE, Professor Emeritus, Loyola University New Orleans. 

 Carol Leake is known for her figurative watercolors, her landscapes in oil, and her depictions of the festival, Mardi Gras, which so particularly defines New Orleans.  The early Carnival images are the subject of a documentary short, Parade Pictures, featuring the Mardi Gras related work of Leake and of noted artist, the late George Dureau.

She is a professor emeritus of the visual arts faculty of Loyola University New Orleans where she taught painting, drawing and watercolor from1982 through August, 2015. In addition to teaching, she ran two galleries for Loyola and curated many exhibitions for the university and in other venues.  Her B.F.A degree is from Newcomb College, and her M.F.A. is from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.  New Orleans has
been her home for most of her life, however she is grateful for formative years spent
in New York.

Carol Leake’s work has been shown regionally and nationally and is represented
in numerous corporate collections, including that of Bell South at the corporate headquarters in Atlanta and the collections of Freeport MacMoran, Texaco, Citibank and the Louisiana Land & Exploration Company. Among private collections that include her work are the estate of the late Jim Morrison and the collections of artist Peter Halley; writer, Valerie Martin; writer, Julie Smith; musician, Patti Smith; the estate of musician, Alex Chilton and musician, Chris Smither.

Current series of work includes: Figures in Watercolor, Nudes with Guns, The Amphibious Desert, Women of a Certain Age, and New Orleanians.

SARAH GRIFFIN THIBODEAUX, Founder & Principle Instructor, Studio Thibodeaux

Sarah Griffin Thibodeaux is a contemporary realist artist living in New Orleans. She paints the figure, still life, landscape, and portrait, using the alla prima technique. Thibodeaux studied at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts with Auseklis Ozols and Dell Weller, the Art Students League in New York with Ronald Sherr and the Florence Academy of Art with Daniela Astone. She paints portrait commissions, teaches still life and portrait oil painting at her atelier and worshop center, Studio Thibodeaux, and teaches a weekly online class since the start of COVID-19. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, twin boys, and dog Darla. She is a member of the Portrait Society of America and the Salmagundi Club in New York City.



 Kim Bernadas, sculptor of  Figurative and Portraiture in Neoclassic Realism , has been creating works of art for over 25 years. With focus on gesture, form and emotional sensitivity, her sculptures evoke a unique likeness and timeless portrayal of each of her subjects. In her figures, she uses gesture, proportion, and the spirit of each individual to capture the essence of the subject. With a background as a physical therapist and a former ballet instructor, Kim has had a lifelong study in the dynamics of the human form.

Her artistic training began at New Orleans Academy of Fine Art in 1991, where she was the Chief  Sculptor Instructor from 2005 to 2023.. She presently teaches workshops and classes around the Southeast throughout the year, notably one of which includes a 6 week intensive for LSU and Tulane Medical Residents of Plastic Surgery.

 Her professional career has included many public and private collections; most recently the Walter Dumas Bust for the Baton Rouge Community College Center,  Ed McKee Plaque for Livingston Parish, Baby Pan for the Soniat Garden and The Lifesize Mother and Child for the Tulane Medical Center Maternity Pavillion. Most noteworthy was the selection of the work Birth of a Muse in 25 for 25–Arts Council of New Orleans -elected as one of the most influential public art contributions in  25 years. 

The first Public Commission Post Hurricane Katrina for City of New Orleans/Coliseum Square Park – Birth of a Muse, wasinstalled September 2011. Other Projects  in Public Spaces include life size bronze of Stanley W. Ray for New Orleans City Park, a multi-compositional sculpture for East Baton Rouge Library, and a life size bronze of Pastor Robert Blakes, Sr. for the New Home Ministries Church, contemporary Bronze sculpture for the CardioVascular Institute of the South, The 4 Greek Muses, 4 Lifesize Bronzes representing Muses Terpsichore, Euterpe, Thalia and Melpomene for Jefferson Performing Arts Center,  Lifesize bronze memorial of Brother Martin Hernandez, Lifesize bronze memorial for Lafreniere Park in Memory of Ingrid Petersen, Butterflies and Irises. Most recently,  lifesize bronze sculpture of St. Landry as part of the Bicentennial Celebration of St. Landry Parish in Opelousas, LA.

Kim was also featured in the New Orleans Magazine, Homes and Lifestyles Magazine and named the 2005 WYES Artist of the Year, as well as an award winner in the 2004 National Drawing Exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kim received the 2014 and 2024 Award for Sculpture in the nationally renowned Portrait Society of America Competition, and 2020, 2022, and 2023 Award Winner for the 92nd national Exhibition of American Artists Professional League. In addition, newly elected to Signature Status with the AAPL.  Publications available in February 2014-from Lark Books- 500 Figures in Clay- Volume 2, which include works by Kim Bernadas and other noted clay figurative artists; Sculpting Plastic Surgeons, Country Roads Magazine,  January 2014, Nola Canvas Magazine 2018.  2022 Coastal 98- Featured  Highlight  on Artist is Residence , Eastern Shore , Fairhope ALA. Multiple publications in print of Times-Picayune, The Advocate , Clarion Herald 2011-2018, and Journal of Portrait Society of America October 2019 issue featured article for artist spotlight.


Jamie Chiarello was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1985. After a brief stint in NYC she moved to New Orleans in 2004.

Self-taught in a traditional sense (not having attended college,) she has studied classical painting approaches on her own as well as in workshops with contemporary artists.

Over years of steadily painting & drawing she continues to explore the duality between imagination and observation.

Her work is classically inspired with a strong emphasis on the figure and mark-making.




I am a filmmaker, photographer, photojournalist, and muralist. I’ve dedicated my life to celebrating the spirit and culture of New Orleans. I’ve been in the film industry for 25 years and in 2010 I founded my film production company, Crista Rock Productions, to tell the stories and struggles of New Orleans and its surrounding parishes. I recently just wrapped my first 8 episode cooking show called “Blind Kitchen” which you can stream for free on “Very Local”! One of the greatest accomplishments in my life was filming during Hurricane Katrina for NBC Nightly News. That storm changed my life and only strengthened my love for the city. My work is driven by my passion and love for New Orleans and I think folks can feel that energy in every frame I shoot, paint, and edit






Edgar Jerins was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1958. He was the recipient of a full scholarship from Scholastic Art Awards to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts graduating in 1980 with a four year certificate. That year, he was awarded a Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, which funded his move to Los Angeles. Subsequent grants : The Pollock-KrasnerFoundation Grant, New York Foundation for the Arts, Fellowship in Printmaking/Drawing/Artists Books, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Grant, George Sugarman Foundation Grant (twice), and the E.D. Foundation Grant.

He has had solo exhibitions at the Latvian Foreign Art Museum, Riga, Latvia, Museum of Nebraska Art, Payne Gallery at Moravian Collage, and two New York City exhibitions at Tatistsheff Gallery. His drawings have been widely exhibited in catalogue supported shows across the US. 

Reviews include The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and American Arts Quarterly. A feature article “Uomimi in mezzo ai guair” by Lorena Cerbini appeared in Italy’s Arte Magazine. His work and essay are included in the recent survey of figurative art in the Rizzoli book “The Figure.” 

His public collections are the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Arkansas Art Center, Museum of Nebraska Art, and Moravian College. He is represented by ACA Galleries in New York City. Jerins is a Adjunct Faculty at the New York Academy of Art.

Edgar Jerins is currently represented by ACA Galleries.



I’m Maija.  I have been obsessed with horses since I saw my first horse at age three.  But I also like cats and dogs.  Okay most animals.  

I’m a PhD student at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies / TOAR in Atoearoa, New Zealand.  Because, well, people are killing each other and that’s a drag. 

When I’m not researching where people believe violence comes from, I am chasing auroras, buying paint, going around looking for horses, watching sea lions, getting upwind of the sea lions (because whew! they eat only fish and never bathe and boy can they fart), and practicing enjoying life. 

And humans make art everywhere, in every situation.   In concentration camps.  In prisons.  In every culture of the world.  As children.  Even fish make those mandalas on the sand.  Bowerbirds create colored homes.   What is going on?  What is being transmitted?  What is being expressed? 

People pay sometimes millions of dollars for pieces of art.  People like me devote tens of thousands of hours to practicing it.  There’s something important happening, when we make it and when we look at it as well.  But what?  I don’t know.  Truly.  Don’t let anyone tell you that life is not full of immense mysteries . 


SASKIA OZOLS, Founder: Fine Arts Preservation Society of New Orleans

Saskia is a painter and independant curator from New Orleans, La. Her exhibition record spans three decades and includes regional, national, and international venues. 

Her work addreses advancement of the Fine Arts as a vital learning tool; promoting intercultural discourse.

with a foundation in classical techniques and conversations. 

Saskia has taught at Boston University, Tulane University, Loyola University and other Colleges.   Her work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in cities including New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Her area of focus is Realism in visual art with its contemporary intersections.

She holds an MFA from the Museum School of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and received numerous award including the Cresson European Traveling Scholarship in 2000.  She  trained with  figurative painters including Sidney Goodman, Bo Bartlett, Vincent Desiderio, Nelson Shenks, Bruce Samuelson, Auseklis Ozols, and Patricia Traub.