Board Of Directors
Friday Gretchen, President, Ventura
Friday runs Ventura County’s Poetry Out Loud competition and is a founding member of the committee that established a Ventura County Poet Laurate. She was introduced to writing poetry at Moorpark College in 1990, culminating in winning the Poetry Slam at Lollapalooza, Los Angeles in 1994. Two-years later in 1996, she teamed-up with two distinguished LA poets to design, produce and host the LA Spoken, a poetry event attended by over 300 of the most influential Los Angeles area poets. Her poetry has appeared in ARTLIFE Limited Editions, Caffeine, ASKEW Poetry Journal and the 2011 anthology, A Bird Black As The Sun – California Poets on Crows & Ravens. She has hosted many poetry events and writing workshops and has hosted Ventura’s ever-popular Annual Erotic Poetry Event since its inception over a decade ago. Gretchen also hosted the long-running community poetry series, Friday on Saturday. In 2009, she became assistant editor for ASKEW Poetry Journal. Since then, ASKEW has expanded into printing books of poetry under Adder’s Tongue Press, where in 2012 she edited The SpiritLife of Birds, by Maia. Friday served on the Board of Directors for the Ventura Film Society from 2009-2012 and was recently recruited to serve on the Bell Arts Factory board. She has lived in Ventura for nearly twenty five-years, actively championing the arts and local businesses.
Fernando Albert Salinas, Treasurer, Ventura
Fernando Salinas is a professor at Brooks College. Mr. Salinas received an A.A. in Liberal Studies at Santa Barbara City College, a B.A. in English at California State University, Channel Islands, and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing with an emphasis in entertainment from Full Sail University. He is a founding member of the committee that established a Ventura County Poet Laurate. In addition to serving on the VCAC Board he is also Director of the local chapter of CPITS, California Poets in the Schools, and coach in the annual Poetry Out Loud competition. Two of the last three county champions worked under his guidance. Salinas is also a poet and performer. His writing has appeared in multiple publications, poetry collections and online journals, among them ASKEW, Chaparral, Journeys, and The Aviator. He has performed his poetry at numerous venues and county events.
Fernando focuses on enhancing the presence and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts, raising awareness of the power of the written and spoken word by supporting forums for collaboration of various art forms throughout Ventura County.
Michele Kantor, Secretary, Oxnard
Ms. Kantor has a J.D., from the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont, and a B.A., in English, with Honors, from the State University at Albany, New York. She currently is the Cultural Arts Administrator for the City of Oxnard. As a longtime employee of Barnes & Noble, Michele planned and managed all events including large scale events and hosted nationally recognized authors. She serves as a Consultant in the development of Volunteer Handbook and background check policies/procedures for the Ventura County Discovery Center for Science and Technology in Thousand Oaks. Ms. Kantor’s community service work is extensive and focused on education. She has served as college admission counseling and guidance to Los Angeles and Ventura county high school students; judged the Los Angeles County History Day Competition; the Reflections PTA Student Arts Competition writing category; provided lessons in art, reading, and science; assisted in computer classes in Conejo Valley elementary and middle schools.
Michele was recently invited to sit on a grant review panel with the California Arts Council for their Community Impact grants.
Todd Collart, Ventura
Mr. Collart retired from a 35-year career as a manager with the Ventura County Planning Division. He was the former President of the VCAC Board of Directors and currently manages our Atrium Gallery program in the County Hall of Administration, curating 15 exhibits a year. His visual arts interests were piqued after entering the County Employee Art Show, coordinated by VCAC in 2002. He is an active member of the San Buenaventura Artist’s Union Gallery and enters award-winning work in local galleries. He has been involved with numerous Ventura arts organizations since the 1970s, including Forum of the Arts, Ventura City Arts Council, San Buenaventura Foundation for the Arts. While on the Ventura City Council, he voted for the City’s 2% for the arts program.
When not creating eccentric kinetic artwork or tending to VCAC-related business, Todd can either be found on his recumbent bicycle which has taken him across the US and from Canada to Mexico, on one of his motorcycles, or nursing one of his two vintage cars.
Wendy Osher, Ojai
Ms. Osher was trained as an arts educator. She has taught in public and private schools and served for eight years as Associate Curator of Education at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. After raising a family, she left the museum to pursue a full-time career as an artist. Her first solo exhibition in 2004, Boy Code, examined cultural expectations of masculinity by translating doodles of adolescent boys into embroidery. Her idea-based practice incorporates video, installation, fiber, performance, drawing, and sculpture in works that often question environmental, social, and political issues. She has exhibited in Pittsburgh, New York, Los Angeles, and internationally, garnering prestigious selections for a 2004 Media Arts Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, 2005 Pittsburgh Biennial, 2008 commission by American Jewish Museum, 2008 Tough Arts Residency at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 2009 Virginia Center for the Creative Arts residency, and 2010 Schloss Pluschow residency in Germany. In 2013 she was chosen for Sites of Passage a project with Palestinian, Israeli, and American artists. Her work was selected for Governor’s Island Art Fair, NYC, in 2014 and a Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara regional exhibition in 2015.
Wendy remains deeply committed to arts education and has been honored with several teaching residencies that have included working with populations as diverse as rural primary school children and urban adults with mental illness.
Odette Moran, Oxnard
Odette Moran is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. She works at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard and attends UC Santa Barbara.
MiRi “Seoulsonyk” Park is an b-girl, modern dancer, choreographer, actor, singer, writer, producer, scholar and mother, based in Thousand Oaks, CA. She is currently the Associate Choreographer for the 20th Anniversary tour of RENT, and will join on faculty at UC Santa Barbara dance department in 2017. MiRi spent 15 years living and working in New York City where she learned the art of b-girling and other underground dance forms while working full-time as Producer/Curator and Marketing Director at Dance New Amsterdam (formerly Dance Space Center). MiRi served on the faculties at Hunter College, the New School University, and the Dance Education program at NYU Steinhardt where she taught hip-hop dance, culture and history. She helped launch Columbia University’s Oral History Master’s Program (OHMA) as Program Coordinator, under thesis advisor and OHMA/Columbia Center for Oral History and Research (CCOHR) Director Mary Marshall Clark. MiRi’s academic work focuses on the oral histories of NYC b-girls in the 1990s, and she has presented her work extensively at academic conferences. She has written for The Village Voice, KoreAm Journal and Dance Spirit Magazine. MiRi was the B-Boy Consultant on the Sony Screen Gems feature film Battle of the Year 3D (Dir., Benson Lee). Notable performances include the Bessie Award-nominated evening-length piece A Single Ride by choreographer Ephrat Asherie, RENT at the Hollywood Bowl (Dir., Neil Patrick Harris), and the final Broadway tour of RENT (Dir., Michael Greif). MiRi has worked with choreographers Maura Nguyen Donohue/inmixedcompany, Doug Elkins, and Marlies Yearby, Nia Love, Rennie Harris, and actor/producer Kate Rigg. MiRi holds a BFA in Dance and BA in Journalism from UMass-Amherst and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. She is the 2004 US & World Air Guitar Champion.