Richard Lobenthal will be NAIA’s first member of the Board of Directors who is not a working artist (although he is an amateur photographer). Richard first came to NAIA as a consultant aiding us in finding a proactive way to dispel misinformation, and get the word out about NAIA. Out of that discussion came the Independent Artist, NAIA’s newspaper. Richard introduces himself with this personal statement:
I retired from a lifetime career of being a civil rights agency director, dealing with civil rights, and civil liberties, to become a full-time consultant in the same field for another 7 years, adding organizational development and staff training to my repertoire. Following that, I joined boards addressing the same thing! (I am very focused!) In between and throughout, I took photographs and dabbled in showing and selling them, which I still do, although I work in film and digital will be the death of me. I bring years of experience with volunteer organizations, organizational development, strategic planning, fund-raising, and the like to NAIA and look forward to offering whatever skills I have which could be useful.
(I am compelled to add a little more of Richard’s resume below. -- Michael Kopald)
He directed the Michigan Office of the Anti-Defamation League; later, in addition, supervised other offices and was one of the 14 people who ran the national organization. Prior to joining the management team, he was the President of the Professional Staff Organization - a bona fide Landrum-Griffin labor union, and learned about union management and collective bargaining. As a consultant, one of his clients was the Michigan ACLU, which hired him as their Director.
Lastly, another client was the Ecumenical Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, which also hired him as their Director. (Other clients included many school districts and medium and small businesses.)
His past is further cluttered with numerous other items like teaching Sociology at Wayne State University, organizing the Michigan Public Interest Group (PIRGIM), representing the U.S. in a UN organization, consulting in Bulgaria (on democracy) and Germany (on social problems when the wall came down), being Michigan Public Radio's civil rights commentator, substantial experience with print-media, etc.
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Director of the Des Moines Arts Festival
Des Moines, Iowa
Stephen is an award-winning professional with over 20 years experience developing and guiding a variety of programs in special event, festival, nonprofit, educational, and administrative environments. At DEG, Stephen produces the award-winning Des Moines Arts Festival, U.S. Cellular World Food Festival, Holiday Lights Des Moines, Skywalk Golf and GuideOne ImaginEve!.
Stephen came to Des Moines after serving as the president/CEO of Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. in Northern Virginia. Before that he was the Director of the Festivals and Events Division of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. Stephen is an active member within the festivals and events industry. He is past chair of the Visual Arts Affinity Group for the International Festivals and Events Association. And he is credited as a founder of Zapplication, a universal online application system now being widely used within the arts festival industry as a standard for applying to visual arts festivals.
Before settling into the festivals and events industry, Stephen?s professional focus was live theatre where he acted in and directed over 125 plays and musicals, and taught drama at a private college preparatory school in Houston, Texas. Stephen earned a BFA in theatre from Sam Houston State University and a MA in directing from the University of New Mexico. In 2000, Stephen was honored to receive his alma mater?s inaugural Outstanding Alumni Award. Stephen is married and has three girls ages 15, 7 and 4.
Co Art Director of the Arts, Beats and Eats Festival
Royal Oak, Michigan
Lisa Konikow is in her 12th year as Art Director for Arts, Beats & Eats, with annual attendance currently over 300,000 attendees. Since its beginnings in 1998, she has been involved in every aspect of producing the top-rated Juried Fine Arts Fair.
Her responsibilities extend into all other areas of operations, including retail vendor and craft sales, which have secured over $750,000 in the last 10 years. Lisa has played an integral role in making events such as General Motors River Days, Detroit’s Winter Blast and the Share-A-Smile event successful with her strong initiation and keen facilitation of community and arts partner programs. She is a member of ArtServ Michigan and the National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA), as well as the growing and influential Cultural Alliance of SE Michigan.
She has presented at national conferences, participated in a variety of City and County focus groups, and has served as fine arts juror and on a variety of funding panels. Lisa has become integral to Oakland County’s interaction with the arts, especially in communities where her foreign language skills have been utilized. She has studied in Mexico and France and is certified to teach English as a Second Language in Spanish, French and Japanese. Her background includes deep involvement in the arts, including the Detroit Arts Institute and the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, and over 34 years of Aikido training and teaching at several YMCA’s and Community Centers. Lisa managed and partnered in Xochipilli Gallery in Birmingham, MI for 12 years (1984 – 1996), working with many of Michigan and regional top visual artists.
I have been an independent artist my entire life. My mother was a writer who owned a coffeehouse in the 60?s and my father was a theater director so musicians, actors, writers and artists surrounded me from the moment of my birth. I started painting when I was 8 years old and did my first outdoor art festival when I was 14. I worked my way through high school painting and selling my work at shows as well as starting my own commercial art business painting signs, logos, designing album covers for bands and backdrops for theaters in the area. After two years in the Fine Arts Department of York University in Toronto, Ontario, I decided to continue my artistic studies at a new school at the time, The Ringling School of Art & Design, in Sarasota, Florida, and moved south where I studied painting and printmaking.
I have always been a painter. I started working in oils, then moved to India ink, then to watercolors. Soon after moving to Florida I bought my first etching press and started working in Intaglio Etching Hand Painted with Acrylic washes. At that time the outdoor art fair circuit was young and thriving and the American economy was healthy. With a full show schedule and monthly gallery orders, being a real printmaker allowed me to maintain my artistic integrity and continue to offer original art to the public.
I believe in original art. As artists, our solitary natures find us spending a great deal of time alone in our studios working to create new and exciting artwork while striving to maintain our own individual styles. I believe that the independent artist who actually toils to create original art in their studio is special, unique and unusual and should be protected, nurtured and supported as treasures.
I believe in education. We need to work to reeducate the public as to the importance of original art in everyday life. Artists are thinkers and dreamers and I believe their work enriches the lives of everyone who comes in contact with them.
I have maintained my studio here in Englewood, Florida for over 34 years now and have a good reputation here as a fine artist being very involved in all aspects of art in my community. I was on the steering committee, which saved, restored and created The Hermitage Artists Retreat in my mother?s old house on the beach. I was on the board of directors of the Englewood Art Center when we raised the money to expand and build what has become one of the nicest community art centers in the area, now operated by the Ringling School of Art & Design. I was chosen as one of ten North American artists to participate in the first ever outdoor art festival in Japan, the Yokohama International Open Air Art Fair in Yokohama, Japan, in October of 2009 and experienced an amazing cultural exchange that enriched my life immensely. I teach art to the home schooled children of three counties, I sponsor many programs in the schools and in my studio to help keep original art alive and I am honored to have a scholarship named for me in our local high school.
I believe in the mission statement of the NAIA. I have watched the NAIA closely from its inception. I?ve seen it grow and change over the years and have watched it struggle against the confines of the show business and the artists that it is trying to foster. There is a lot of work to be done to improve our industry and I am excited to be part of that effort.
I am 55 years old, I have been a working artist my entire life and I am very well traveled. I?ve raised three sons and have four grandchildren. I have an enormous amount of life experience that I am proud to share with our vast "artist family". I?ve seen the early years of the art show movement, I?ve experienced the ups and downs personally and I have struggled to stay the course, maintaining good work ethics and standards along the way. I believe that art is important in every day life and I strive to continue the adventure?