A Selection of Featured Artists & Friends

Meet an Artopian: A J Brown Historic Highwaymen

Artopian A J Brown Historic HighwaymenWho is your favorite artist?
Florida Hall of Fame Original Highwaymen Johnny Daniels, deceased… another (still living) is Hall of Fame James Gibson.

What makes painting nature so incredible?
Nature is an ever changing phenomenon God given creation we must cherish.

What is your favorite album?
Michael Jackson, Thriller

Why have you supported Big Bend Cares?
Big Bend Cares is a caused worth supporting, we may all have a friend or family member touched by this disease. Big Bend Cares is dedicated to helping millions of families in need.

What advice would you give to young artists trying to find their way?
Find a mentor who can teach and show you the ropes.

Meet an Artopian: Diane Dyal

Artopian Diane DyalWho has been your biggest influence as an artist?
Jackson Pollock is my biggest influence as an artist. I like the freedom of his style and when I first started out as a painter I sort of copied his style simply because it looked like fun. I also like the wildness of it as I believe it reflects his personality and mine as well.

What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is purple.

Why have you supported Big Bend Cares?
I love to support Big Bend Cares because of the value of their cause and the fact that they have made it possible for art to make a difference in our community as well as providing our population with a great event to attend each year.

If you had a super power, what would it be?
If I had a super power it would be invincibility. Since I am a sensitive person I believe this would be good so if I were to help someone or something and it was a difficult situation I wouldn’t get hurt emotionally and could be more effective.

What is your favorite song?
My favorite song is Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie. The whole album, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, is just stellar so it’s hard to chose just one song.

Meet an Artopian: Michèle Beaudin

Artopian Michele BeaudinHow would you describe your artistic style?
I do a lot of nature photography but enjoy superimposing a number of my original photos in a unique composition either dream-like, nostalgic or inspiring.

What advice would you give to young artists?
My advice to young artists, is don’t give in to trends or fads. Great talent comes from always being true to your own vision.

If you could see into your own future, what would you want to know?
I would want to know how many lives I have positively influenced along the way.

What is your current favorite musical artist?
And which child or grandchild do you prefer? This is a trick question, there are so many. Queen is definitely in the top 5, Michel Sardou, Sarah McLachlan, Edith Piaf, Josh Broden, Chopin and many others in all genres.

Why did you donate to Artopia?
This is a worthwhile organization to support and does a great job for the community in its realm of services.

Learn more about Michèle at her website,

Meet an Artopian: Alexandra Ifland

Artopian_AlexandraIflandWhen did you realize your love for creating art?
Creating art has just always been apart of me in some way, my dad is an artist and my mom is a dancer so the arts were always big in my house. But I’d have to say when I really realized my love for creating art it was on a field trip as a child to 621 Gallery and Railroad Square (back before their was much in there). I just remember loving a day dedicated to creating art and seeing sculpture, I fell in love. Funny thing in college I did my internship at 621 Gallery and fell in love all over again so that gallery and I clearly have a connection.

What influences your creativity?
The cliche push and pull of emotions from life but also people. I paint people I find influential, I also have a mentor of sorts, an old professor of mine that inspires me. We’re a lot alike so when we’re brainstorming is when I get a lot of my ideas and direction.

What is the best advice about art that you’ve received?
When I’m getting discouraged to go to bed and revisit what I’m working on in the morning. It works wonders.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
To be able to time travel.

Why do you donate to Artopia?
I donate because HIV/AIDS research has come so far in my lifetime and if my artwork can help continue to further that research or help people living with HIV/AIDS I will always be happy to donate to Artopia and Big Bend Cares.

Meet an Artopian: Elizabeth E. George

Artopian_ElizabethGeorgeWhen did you realize your love for creating art?
My love for photography began when I was 9 years old. My mother allowed me to use her camera to take pictures at a zoo in Budapest, Hungary. I was hooked right then and there. I love capturing candid moments revealing the true essence of my subjects. It’s an honor when someone tells me my photos do so.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
Because there is a soft spot in my heart for nature, I would have to say Ansel Adams!

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?
The photo that I am most proud of is actually the one I submitted this year, “My Lady’s Garden.” It is of a beautiful red rose taken right after a storm. I used a very cheap, cheap camera. Just goes to show, a good photograph does not always need expensive equipment, but rather a good eye.

What is something that most people do not know about you?
Now, if I revealed that, everyone would know and then I wouldn’t have any hidden attributes anymore. hahaha

Why did you donate to Artopia?
Knowledge is Power and when you Know Better you DO BETTER. The funds raised at this amazing event help BBC serve our community through educating our community about HIV/AIDS. I have had a couple friends pass from this horrible disease many years ago when we still didn’t understand it. I hope my small contribution can help BBC continue to bring awareness as well as assist those who are afflicted.

Meet an Artopian: donalee pond-Koenig

artopian-donalee-pond-Koenigdonalee pond-Koenig_002How would you describe your artistic style?
My artistic style is abstract – realism. I love detail, but also like fluidity of paint or graphite.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration as an artist?
Inspiration for my art comes from what is going on in my life, design, nature and our world.

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?
I have a very large drawing from a body of art called “Inner Space and Soul” entitled “Angel of Despair, let me be” It has to do with anorexia.

What is your current favorite musical artist?
My favorite musical artist is a hard one as I like all kinds of music. Adelle, Cher, Celine are all great so love music.

Why did you donate to Artopia?
Artopia is very special to me, as I was on the ground floor of its creation, met many wonderful people there. It raises money for such a great cause. As a cancer victim and survivor, I am aware of the needs to help people with various afflictions, HIV…I could go on. Artopia has helped make awareness in our community of understanding difference, medical needs and compassion. I won or was awarded in 2001 volunteer of the year award in the arts from Talla. It was for my work with Artopia. There is a special place in my heart for this wonderful event.

The Florida Flats piece is part of a series, and won first place in a Nat’l competition. The other is “Angel of Despair”.

donalee pond-Koenig_FloridaFlats

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