Pennsylvania native Matt Weigle was certain by the time he was in his late teens that he wanted to be a professional artist. A significant influence was skateboarding, with its outsider art and music that captured his attention. He began teaching himself to draw by copying these designs and inventing his own images. His direction from outsider art to classical art has been a steady path through many years of study with some of today’s most famed classical artists and instructors, to hone his painting and drawing skills.
Matt’s undergraduate degree is from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design (now called the Pennsylvania College of Art), followed by a certificate program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and then private study with his teacher/mentor Anthony Visco. In 2008 Matt graduated from PAFA with his Masters of Fine Arts, and then continued his classical training for four years at the prestigious Grand Central Academy/Water Street Atelier in New York. Among many other honors and recognitions, Matt was awarded the Hudson River Fellowship in both 2008 and 2013; a rigorous competition selecting artist’s to study plein air painting in upstate NY and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Matt currently lives and works in Queens, New York.
A New York City native, Daniel began his career in the decorative arts studying at the Van Der Kelen School of decorative painting in Brussels and fresco painting at the Fondazione Villa Fabris in Venice. His fine arts studies continued at the Barnstone Studios in Coplay, PA, the Art Students League in NYC, and as a proud alumnus of Atelier Armetta right here at LIAFA. He most recently received his MFA from the New York Academy of Art in TriBeCa. He continues to make paintings in Brooklyn and is head artist at Felix Chavez Inc, a leading and established art restoration, conservation and design firm in New York.
Born and raised in Claremont California, Mitchell Martinez is a New York based Figurative Artist. Working first as a scenic Artist and prop maker, Mitchell received his BFA in Entertainment Arts with a focus in Animation. Subsequently he worked as a prototype toy sculptor working freelance and for Gentle Giant studios creating maquettes, action figures, collectable figurines & movie props for such companies as Dark Horse, SLG Publishing, Pixar, Disney, Jaxx, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon and Playalong.
Mitchell attended the New York Academy of Art where he received his MFA with a concentration in anatomy. In 2011 he was awarded the CAFA/NYAA Shanghai/Beijing Residential Award, where he and three other artists were invited to show as part of the CAFAM Biennale. He is currently on faculty at the New York Academy of Art Continuing Education Department and LIAFA. Mitchell’s painting, sculpture and toys are part of private and public collections across America.
Felicia Feldman was born in Taegu, South Korea. She was adopted when she was 3 months old, and grew up in Moline, Illinois. Throughout her youth, she planned on a career in music, playing both violin and piano, but made a decision in 2003 to pursue art instead. She decided to concentrate on representation, with an emphasis on the figure. Some notable achievements include a 4-month study with Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum, selling work at Sotheby’s Auction House, NY, and showing in juried exhibitions in Iowa, Illinois, Baltimore, and NYC. Felicia is a 2007 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and a 2010 graduate of the New York Academy of Art. She currently resides in New York.
LIAFA’s Co-Director and Administrator Rebecca Forster grew up in southeastern Tennessee, where it was easy to fall in love with the beauty of the mountainous landscape. Her interest in naturalism led to her undergraduate studies in art at Union University, followed by two years in Italy, where she studied sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art. There she met her husband, Steve Forster. Returning to the States, Rebecca used the techniques she’d learned abroad to teach sculpture to students of all ages, first in Elizabeth Rogers and Cessna Decosimo’s studios in Chattanooga, TN, and then in New York City.
Steve Forster was born in Boston but spent most of his life in central Florida. He was educated at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy and the New York Academy of Art, where he received his MFA.
He is Co-Director of the Long Island Academy of Fine Art and also teaches painting at the New York Academy of Art. Steve’s paintings have been exhibited in solo and group shows nationally and internationally and are currently represented by Island Weiss Gallery in NYC.
Lauren Rosenblum, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, worked as a designer and stylist in the textile industry before finding her vocation as a visual artist. Pursuing studies in the decorative arts in Texas and in New York City, Lauren learned her craft from the top professionals in her field and spent a year as an apprentice before opening her own business.
In the fine arts, Lauren has studied classical life drawing, anatomy, and painting. Her teachers include Gustav Rehberger, at the Art Students League; Attila Hejja, at the Stevenson Academy of Fine Arts; and Robert Armetta, at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art.
Manu Saluja’s paintings hang in public and private collections worldwide. Her work has been exhibited at the The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbortsford, British Columbia. In 2012 her work joined the permanent collection of The Community Museum in Yuba City, California. Saluja was a finalist in the Art Renewal Center’s 2010-2011 Salon of Contemporary Realism, and a recent recipient of The Stobart Foundation Grant, and on a fun note her paintings are prominently featured in the Canadian film “Breakaway,” starring Rob Lowe.
In addition to her own work, she has been a commissioned portrait artist since 1998. Her clients include Teacher’s College, Columbia University; St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia; and sponsors of Hofstra University. Saluja trained with John Frederick Murray at the School of Visual Arts, and as a registered copyist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She received her MFA from the New York Academy of Art. She lives and works in New York City.