Alumni News + Notes


Don McCartney – Commercial Design started his own company in May of 2006—Don McCartney Design. He is building the business with a variety of clients from real estate to structural engineering to ballet companies to a cashmere store in Carmel and a brewery in Indiana. Don feels that Ringling was one of the absolute best experiences of his life. As he put it, “Ringling rocks!”


Jeremiah Miller – Fine Arts had an exhibit of paintings at the Mooney Center Gallery of the Helen & Peter Mooney Art & Educational Technology Center at The College of New Rochelle in January 2007.


Deborah Covington – Fine Arts had a three woman show at “The Gallery” in Chattanooga, TN, in December 2006. ( Deb received an honorable mention from the Tiwhan Art Center in Flushing, NY, for work submitted by invitation to a Pastel Society of America show.

Donna Weidman – Fashion Design was inspired by a Ringling School Continuing Studies Class in floor cloth painting and now meets regularly with friends to continue working in that medium. She and her friends enjoyed the class and learned so much that they can’t stop painting!


Robert Highsmith – Fine Arts is a working artist with galleries in Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces, NM, as well as galleries in Connecticut and South Carolina. He has exhibited in the past two Arts for the Parks Top 100, a show that originates from the Grand Teton National Park, WY. Highsmith is a signature member of the American Watercolor Society and the New Mexico Watercolor Society and an associate member of the San Diego Watercolor Society and the National Watercolor Society.


Carl Coleman – Commercial Design authored an article about AMVER, a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship-reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. AMVER is sponsored by the United States Coast Guard. Coleman will be honored by AMVER at its 50th Anniversary Celebration is 2008.

Lou Hitchens – Commercial Design and her sister coauthored a novel, Sarandipitous Slippers, a modern-day fairy tale with a companion DVD. The book was published by iUniverse and is being used in the interactive reading classes of schools in the Broward County School District, the sixth largest school district in the U.S.


Edwin Young Jr. – Graphic Design and Chandra

Young – Interior Design are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of their Atlanta-based firm, Young and Martin Design.


Barry Graham – Graphic Design is Communications Manager for the city of Vicksburg where he manages advertising, public relations, and cable channel RCTV23. He paints as often as he can, creating watercolors of the Mississippi River and the Louisiana Delta. He is also lead singer for a wellknown local group called The Chill.


Patty Garcia – Interior Design moved to Alaska four years ago after more than 20 years in Texas and found her second husband Jim who she married in December 2005. She works at the University of Alaska and for Wells Fargo Banks as a project manager/designer. She is still a practicing interior designer and received her LC in 2004, which expanded her practice to lighting design. In her spare time, she dabbles in photography and hikes, fishes, and flies with her husband to remote areas within Alaska

Ann Hall – Interior Design trained to become a Master Gardener beginning in 2004–2005 and added landscape consultation and indoor/outdoor coordination to her business, Ann Hall Design for Home and Garden. She is very interested in “Healing Gardens”— gardens that create feelings of peace and contentment.


Sherry Neidigh – Graphic Design has been freelancing for the past 19 years. She works with various educational, trade, and religious publishers and children’s magazines. Sherry lives with her two dogs—Basil and Harper.


Michael Briere – Fine Arts is an Adjunct Drawing Instructor with Cy-Fair College, a community college in Houston, Texas. In 2002, Briere received his MA in Humanities with a concentration in Art from California State University.

William Jenkins – Graphic Design specializes in vinyl marine graphics throughout the Florida west coast and beyond.


Diane Dempsey – Graphic Design has realized a dream come true with the start of, which combines her love of retro Americana and her long-held desire to create a line of greeting cards. She hasn’t yet given up her “day job” and reports that Chameleon Studio is still alive and kickin’.

Steven Dickey – Fine Arts had an exhibition at Agora Gallery in New York, in November 2006. The exhibition, titled “Verse and Vigor: Steven Dickey,” featured sculptures that reflect the artist’s musical background as well as his training in realist art.

Karen (Jacobi) Smith – Illustration received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Texas Woman’s University and began her first year teaching art in a public high school in fall 2006. She hopes to encourage future artists.


Elizabeth Collins – Graphic Design is married with two children, Amy (17) and Matt (13). She owns an advertising/design agency named EC Graphics that has been in operation for 23 years.

Amy Siegel – Graphic Design is a graphic designer with Gensler, an architecture, planning, and design firm. She has been with the company for 16 years.

Scott Spear – Illustration is Senior Art Director for Stephen A. Smith & Associates. Scott is designing a new logo for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and for each of the chamber councils.

Tony Weldon – Illustration has had a piece of artwork accepted for inclusion in the permanent collection in The Native American Wing of the Smithsonian Institution and another piece on permanent exhibit at The Booth Western Museum in Cartsville, GA. or


Mary Verrandeaux – Illustration sold her advertising agency of 21 years to focus on fine art, painting, and illustration work. She illustrated The Fish That Made a Wish, published by Shooting Star Publishing, Inc., and has a new book that is being published by Baker & Taylor.


John Hambrock – Graphic Design has created a comic strip, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee which King Features Syndicate began distributing in October 2006. You can find the strip at and hopefully in your local newspapers. John gives Ringling much of the credit for his success.


Thomas Chambers – Graphic Design was the recipient of the 2005–2006 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship in photography. His photomontages can be seen online at


Sandra Reinhart – Illustration has had her own business for the past six years called Splash Graphics Florida doing scenic design for Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL and Williamsburg, VA, and Hershey Park & Sea World in Orlando. In 2005 she moved with husband Brian Reinhart to West Virginia where in 2006 they opened a restaurant called The Sunset Grill.


William Berry – Graphic Design celebrated his 40th birthday in style with help from classmates Steven Thompson and Paulette Boudreau. Steven is a senior graphic designer for Bell South in Atlanta, GA, and Paulette is an art director for Ervin/Bell in California. Also celebrating with Bill was his partner Jeff and their daughter Michelle. Happy Birthday, Bill!

Sanford Cohen – Graphic Design was elected a member of The President’s Forum of the Sarasota area by Leadership Centers USA. This group is part of a world organization of 12,000 CEOs. Leadership Centers USA’s mission is to increase the effectiveness and enhance the lives of CEOs via continuing executive education.


William Haas – Illustration is working at JHT Inc., as a graphic artist. In the last year he finished work on “Curious George” with Project Firefly, and a host of other freelance projects, including interior renderings with Intertect Design Group, where his wife Pamela (Piscopo) Haas ’91, ID, works. His work can be found at

Phillip Jones – Illustration was named the official cartoonist and illustrator of Stuff the Magic Dragon, the mascot of the Orlando Magic.

Tara Massarsky – Fine Arts has received numerous awards including the 2006 Purchase Award: Acclaimed Artist Series, New Mexico Art in Public Places Program. In 2007 her shows will include “The Whales Mouth” (Solo Exhibition) Bivouac Artspace, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and “Tara Massarsky’s Introspective: 20-year survey” (Solo Exhibition), Inpost at the Outpost, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Bruno Weber – Interior Design continued his education after Ringling and now holds a Bachelor of Environment Design (BEDS) and a Master of Architecture (M. Arch).


Gregory Sweeney – Illustration has been working at Progress Energy Nuclear Training Academy since graduating from Ringling School. In 2005, he and his wife Melissa opened a Salon and Day Spa. His son Brenden is six years old and step-daughter Morgan is 11 years old. The Sweeneys live about two hours north of Sarasota and would love to get together with some of the old gang.


Tracie Claflin – Illustration completed her 11th year of teaching art and moved to California where she will be completing her thesis for a masters program in Creative Arts Therapy through Pratt Institute. She will also be starting a new life with her fiancé. 

Richard Montgomery – Computer Animation is married with three awesome children. He works for ESPN and reports that “life is great!”


Erik Barton – Illustration has been painting like a maniac ever since graduating from Ringling. He started his own business painting murals as well as faux finishes and decorative painting. Erik’s fine art work has been shown in several galleries around Florida.

Brian Beauregard – Illustration is the Senior Design Director for the Merchandise Division at Universal Studios Orlando. He is responsible for the development of merchandise for the Orlando and Hollywood locations. Brian has been developing products and providing creative input for the NBC Experience Store in New York City.

Brooke (Lyon) Melko – Graphic Design announced the birth of their son Boden Andrew in 2006. Brooke recieved a Master of Science Degree in Art Education and has changed her career path from graphic design to education (“and I love it!!”).


Bernard Cavender – Illustration has been working in the animation industry in the NYC area for the past seven years as a background artist and character designer. He currently works as a lead designer on Nick Jr.’s Wonder Pets.


Jason Bravo – Computer Animation joined Allen Interactions Inc., an award-winning custom designer and developer of e-Learning solutions worldwide, as a senior interactivity developer in Tampa, Florida.

David Piurek – Fine Arts exhibited a new series of more than a dozen still-life paintings at Greene Contemporary Gallery in Sarasota in October 2006. David works at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art as a conservation technician. He was also responsible for much of the work on the restored Asolo Theatre.


Marci Peters-Keirn and Benjamin and Benjamin Peters-Keirn – Fine Arts welcomed a baby girl, Feona Genvieve, in 2006.


Christopher Adams – Computer Animation is teaching gaming at SMU’s Guildhall in Dallas, TX.

Peter Anderson – Illustration joined Turbine Games in Westwood, MA, as a character artist.

Bettyjean Pergola – Fine Arts has been “having a blast” working as a designer for Marie Osmond Dolls (yes, Donny’s sister of Donny & Marie fame). Highlights have included the opportunity to create a coffee table book as a well as a cookbook based on Marie’s family and friends’ recipes. BJ works with the productdevelopment team in designing product packaging, creating marketing materials, catalogs, promotional materials, photography, and national ads.


Amy (Dickey) Kligman – Illustration moved from American Greetings to Hallmark Cards where she works in the giftwrap and party division, doing surface design and illustration. Amy also happily reports that she has gotten married.


Amanda Martinez – Graphic & Interactive Communication had a baby girl named Giselle Grace Martinez.

Teia Smith – Illustration recieved her MFA in Illustration at the Academy of Art University San Francisco. She works as an in-house illustrator at The Rush Group located in California.

Mark Unger – Graphic & Interactive Communication earned his MFA from the Yale University School of Art and joined the Orlando design firm PUSH as the Creative Director-New Media.


Matthew Campbell and Yael Campbell – Graphic & Interactive Communication welcomed a new member to their family— son, Eitan. They purchased Donnelly’s Printing on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota. Idoleaf, Inc., and Donnelly’s Printing will operate under one roof providing a full range of printing and graphic communication services.

Amer Kobaslija – Fine Arts had a number of exhibits in 2006 including a show titled “Scale Studio Paintings” at the George Adams Gallery in New York City, a show at Columbia University, and a solo show in Paris. Amer reports that 2007 is looking just as busy. “Life is good and I am happy and grateful about everything.”

Suzanne Russo – Fine Arts participated in a group exhibition of Fine Art Photography at the Agora Gallery in SoHo in New York City. Suzanne is a sculptress who photographs her work in natural settings.

Chomphunut Sripinit – Illustration is a lecturer in Fine Arts at Assumption University in Bangkok. She enjoys teaching very much. She is also doing freelance illustration work.


Lauren Delost – Illustration left the Bradford Exchange in Chicago, IL, where she worked for 2 1/2 years as a product developer. She is now with the Hamilton Collection in Jacksonville, FL.

Eric Dolhon – Illustration has been attending graduate school seeking a double masters in Business and Public Administration from the University of Phoenix in Orlando, FL. He is also working for the University as an admissions counselor.

Eric Grimmenstein – Computer Animation has headed to New Zealand to work at Weta.

Ryan Sawyer – Illustration is working as a graphic illustrator for The Mathworks in Natick, MA.


Lowree Cartwright – Interior Design is working as an interior designer reporting directly to the Vice President of Design and Development for Baha Mar Resorts Ltd.

Cassandra Sudziarski – Photography & Digital Imaging was married last June in her hometown on St. Thomas, V.I., where she now lives.


Thomas Blanchard – Fine Arts is attending graduate school at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.

Guillermo Careaga – Computer Animation won the Rhythm & Hues Scholarship Competition in the Character Animation category.

Hope Conner – Fine Arts exhibited (solo show) work at White Dog Design in Sarasota, Saks Fifth Avenue, and is represented by The Gallery at Canvas Leysin in Sarasota. You can see her work at and Hope is also actively pursuing a career as an elementary art instructor.

Lara de Carvalho – Graphic & Interactive Communication is working at Stoltze Design in Boston, MA.

Aaron Holley – Illustration accepted a position with S2 Games in Rohnert Park, CA, as a concept artist.

Reina Okawa – Fine Arts is working toward a masters degree in printmaking at the University of South Dakota where she’s experiencing her first cold winter. Reina has been assisting former Ringling faculty member Johntimothy Pizzuto with his beginning print class.

Michael Plymale – Graphic & Interactive Communication accepted a position as a creative developer at American Greetings Interactive.

Gwendelyn Robson – Computer Animation is with Sony Pictures Imageworks working as an assistant animator on Surf’s Up.

Han Jin Song – Computer Animation received an award at The Education Channel’s 2006 Independents’ Film Festival is for his animation, The Fly.

Dorothy Torres – Illustration finished a book called Jacob and his Magical Flying Bears, and has started a new book called Owl’s Nest of Rhymes.

Kristafer Vale – Computer Animation landed his dream job at Sony Pictures Imageworks as an associate technical animator. Soon after, he became engaged to Carolyn Anderson ’08, CA. They’ll be married in May 2008.