LOWER MAKEFIELD >> The AOY Art Center welcomed nine new members to its Board of Directors at its July meeting.

“I am particularly excited as each of these persons bring an amazing set of skills and an exciting new energy to facilitate the growth of AOY,” said Board President Alison Smith.

Joining the board are: Connie Dierks, Richard Fekete, Diane Klein, John McDonnell, Carol Richardson, Jane Toland, Jim Walsh, Melissa Watson and Liz Young. They join current board members MaryEllen Bornak, Judy Curlee, Daria Long, Nate Semmel, Janis Schimsky and Alison Smith.

Connie Dierks is an artist and member of AOY for many years. She is interested in helping ensure the continued growth and influence of the organization within our community and beyond.

Richard Fekete is co-owner of the Countryside Framing and Gallery in Newtown. His gallery has continued to spotlight traditional Bucks County artwork while also expanding the offerings with several contemporary painters and photographers. With 30-plus local and nationally award-winning resident artists and monthly art exhibitions, Countryside Gallery loves to support local artists. Rich will chair the Shows and Events Committee.

Diane Klein served in multiple roles of increasing responsibility culminating in serving as Director at two arts centers very similar to AOY. Diane will co-chair the Strategic Planning and Development Committee with Jane Toland.

John McDonnell was Head of the Music Department in Pennsbury School District. Before retiring he took the music department to local, national, and international ranking. He has incredible organizational skills, with many connections throughout the community, and runs wonderful tours through Europe for school chorales and orchestras.

Carol Richardson has a corporate marketing background and is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Hearthside in Newtown. Carol helped with the Plein Air Open in May.

Jane Toland was Head of Continuing Education at the Boston Architectural College for seven years where she managed a variety of certificate programs, including Residential Interiors, Kitchen & Bath Design, Classical Design and Historic Preservation. Jane will co-chair the Strategic Planning and Development Committee and be chair of the Education Committee.

Jim Walsh is now a successful labor and personnel attorney at Morgan Lewis, a Philadelphia based, international, law firm. He has long been a hardworking supporter of the community and the arts.

Melissa Watson earned a BFA in art and interior design from the University of Georgia and began her career as an interior designer eventually transitioning to the sales of interior design related products. She is currently a Realtor® with Keller Williams/Newtown.

Liz Young owns the local bookstore, Commonplace Reader on South Main Street in Yardley Borough. Liz is an enthusiastic supporter of the Arts. The book shop has hosted many artists in the on-site gallery on the second floor of the bookstore. She is also on the board for Experience Yardley.

AOY is growing and it's all very exciting! Here are some of the indicators:

● More than 40 new members since April for a proud figure of more than 250-plus members.

● Summer Camp was at an all time high with registrations reaching into the 550's with more than 65 camps running, many at capacity.

● The Center will be expanding its program offerings later this fall with the establishment of a new printmaking studio.

● AOY will celebrate 10 years (plus one) on the Patterson Farm this September with an event to honor past and present members and supporters. This event will also serve as the opening reception for the first exhibition, “Fresh StART,” of the program year.

● The Plein Air Open this May yielded not only community awareness of the talented artists in our area but also art sales that were at a record high (more than $10K worth of art sold). In addition, AOY welcomed a large number of visitors to the exhibition (some days over 45 persons in an afternoon) and doubled its "hits" to the online gallery with over 840 unique visitors to its website gallery.

● The Member Spotlight exhibitions this spring showcased our local artists, one of our core missions. Even before Covid restrictions were lifting, AOY continued to safely hold

in-person gallery hours.

“All of the success and energy is the result of a committed and talented team involving staff, board, and members. It also brings new challenges to ensure that we are doing our best to meet the needs of our members, students, camp families and the community to promote arts education,” said Smith.

“We look forward to a new program year that reaches further and challenges all of us to continue to be part of that growth!,” continued Smith.

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