Jan Williamson is the Executive Director of the 18th Street Arts Center. She came to the Center during its fifth year in 1995. Under her leadership 18SAC has evolved from a small, alternative artist-run space to Southern California’s largest artist residency center, working with diverse local and international artists who provoke public dialogue through their art making. During her tenure, the organization purchased 18SAC’s 1.25-acre property and Williamson has been leading the planning and fundraising efforts for the renovation and redevelopment of the site. Williamson holds a certificate from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders and a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2010, she was awarded a Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Fellowship for her executive leadership in the arts. For nine years she served on Santa Monica City’s Arts Commission. She currently serves on the board of Santa Monica Travel and Tourism.
Prior to 18th Street Arts Center Williamson worked for visual artist Tom Van Sant for four years on his revolutionary artwork The GeoSphere Project – the first satellite composite map of the Earth, free of clouds, and for performance artist, Barbara T. Smith. As an artist, Williamson co-founded and produced EWALA (Earth Water Air-Los Angeles) an annual performance art trek with playwright Susan Suntree, which engaged hundreds of Angelenos from 1994 to 2000 in honoring the Los Angeles River watershed while drawing public attention to threatened environmental areas along the river. She was also a founding member of the eco-political street theatre troupe FrogWorks, which performed original works nationally on the plight of California’s wetlands.
Sue Bell Yank
Sue Bell Yank is Deputy Director at 18th Street Arts Center. She has worked in arts, entertainment, and public schools for nearly 20 years, including as Associate Director of Academic Programs at the Hammer Museum, where she formed city-wide partnerships triangulating communities, the arts, and schools. She created an online education platform for the Oprah Winfrey Network, and has worked as a teacher and curriculum specialist in and out of public schools. Her interest in urban planning and affordable cities led her to create a six-episode podcast about housing in LA called Paved Paradise. She teaches at UCLA, frequently writes about socially engaged art practice and pedagogy, and has been a Field Researcher for A Blade of Grass and Asian Arts Initiative. She is the Vice-Chair of the City of Glendale Arts & Culture Commission. Yank received a BA from Harvard University and an MA in Public Art Studies from the University of Southern California.
Michelle Gonzalez is the Operations Manager at 18th Street Arts Center. She comes to us with a wealth of experience in non-profit facilities management, including at a multi-site charter school and various other organizations. She is also an artistic thinker and enjoys being around creative people.
Associate Director of Communications and Outreach
Jeny Amaya is a Los Angeles based filmmaker. Her recent body of work explores autobiographical narratives, notions of family, and how the temporality of the past materializes itself in the present of the Central American diaspora in California. She is the recipient of the 2015 Princess Grace Foundation Film Scholarship.
Amaya’s work has been featured in Artists’ Television Access, San Francisco; Northwest Film Forum, Seattle; UNIONDOCS Center for Documentary Art, New York; Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles; Santa Cruz Museum of Art, Santa Cruz; Porter Sesnon Underground Gallery, Santa Cruz; and Santa Cruz Film Festival, Santa Cruz. She has a bachelor’s degree from University of California, Santa Cruz in Film and Digital Media Studies and Latin America and Latino Studies.
Director of Exhibition and Residency Programs
Frida Cano is a Mexican visual artist and art curator. Cano is the creator of the transdisciplinary research-based art project entitled “Arttextum, Tejido de agentes culturales inspirados en Latinoamérica” that maps the intangible territory of our time through the metaphorical algorithms among cultural producers, viewing the artists as creative rivers, the art venues as mountains, and the art theory as the cultural climate; Arttextum has collaborated with the Ministry of Culture in Madrid since its beginning in 2012. Cano holds a BFA from the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving La Esmeralda, National Center for the Arts in Mexico City, and an MFA in Exhibition and Museum Studies from the San Francisco Art Institute, California, USA. As an artist and curator, Cano has had exhibitions and public talks in Mexico, the USA, Germany, Japan, Korea, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Spain, among other places. Frida has worked in various art venues such as SPACE Collection, California, USA; Centro de la Imagen and Kurimanzutto Gallery, Mexico, Walter and McBean Galleries and Marciano Art Foundation, California, USA. She has been awarded with the Endesa Scholarship for Ibero- American Cultural Heritage by Fundación Duques de Soria, Spain, National Fund for Culture, Mexico, Jumex Foundation, Mexico, Fulbright-Comexus, among others. She is the co-author of the book Geografía artística de Arttextum –El mundo que también habitamos (Promoción del Arte / Xociartek, 2019).
Director of Public Programs and Engagement
Michael Ano is an artist, curator, and educator. Contemplating the transmission of ideas and its correlative relationship to systems of power- Ano makes alternative platforms for information distribution, to explore how ideas and people connect to ask whether pedagogical methods can more fully democratize the diffusion of learning, and to conduct critical thought experiments in deconstructing how resources associated with social stratification are codified. He has worked organizing educational programs and outreach at the Orange County Museum of Art, the Norton Simon Museum, LACE, the New Museum, University of California, San Diego, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.
Melissa Anderson-Vincent is an actor, writer, and all around creative who brings over 15 years of administrative, organizational, and customer service skills to her position. She has worked at non-profit organizations in the past such as, Theatre of Hearts/Youth First and Sustainable Works, and is excited to join the passionate team here at 18th Street Arts Center. She is a member of the Towne Street Theatre, the company in residence at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, and currently volunteers with ARRAY, the film distribution company founded by Ava DuVernay which focuses on amplifying the filmmaking voices of women and people of color.
As an advocate and artist, Tom Norris understands the strength of community and believes that through the arts, collective societal change is possible. He addresses social structures and economic systems using various mediums, including sculpture, performance, watercolor, and sound.
Norris earned his MFA from Otis College of Art and Design, and a BA in the field of studio art from University of California at Riverside. Before arriving at the 18th Street Arts Center, he focused on the twentieth-century art and archives from the Pasadena Art Museum housed in the Norton Simon Museum’s collection. He currently builds community as a member of the Arroyo Seco Network of Time Banks.
Sam Francis Media Fellow
Tiana Williams is a filmmaker, researcher and activist archivist. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Digital Media and African American Studies from UC Davis and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Southern California. As a McNair Scholar, she conducted an original oral history-based research project that investigated the prisoners’ rights movement of the 1970s by reviving and analyzing archival materials. This experience inspired her to become more engaged with activist praxis as she produced social justice centered documentaries, helped build a radio program that dealt with confronting America’s mass incarceration crisis, and worked with KALW Productions in teaching journalism and radio production to incarcerated men inside Solano State Prison. Her work overall leverages oral history methodologies, critical race theory and abolitionist praxes to combat the suppression of liberatory narratives within the archive.
Ted Schwab is strategy consultant servicing the healthcare industry, an entrepreneur, and serves on several charitable boards. He has been in the health care business for 32 years and has started six small businesses. His interest in non-profit work started with United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), where he still is active. His interest in contemporary arts led him to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts where he was a board member for over a decade.
Joan Abrahamson is president of the Jefferson Institute, a public policy institute that identifies and implements innovative approaches to current policy problems. She was assistant chief of staff to Vice President George H. W. Bush from 1981 to 1985. She has also worked with the U.N. Human Rights Commission and UNESCO’s Division of Human Rights and Peace, where she designed new procedures for the treatment of alleged violations of human rights. She planned and implemented the Vienna International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights and the International Symposium on the Political Participation of Women. In 1985 she was named a MacArthur Fellow. She is president of the Jonas Salk Foundation and founding chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Jonathan Aronson is professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California as well as professor of international relations. He also is on the board of the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis. His two most recent books (with P. Cowhey) are, Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Transforming Global Information and Communication Markets: The Political Economy of Innovation (MIT, 2009). He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and served as president of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs. Aronson received his degrees from Stanford (1976) and Harvard (1971). He received an honorary doctorate from St. Petersburg State University, Russia, in 2000.
Born in Los Angeles but grew up in Colombia, Janine Arbelaez is a private practice Marriage & Family therapist in Santa Monica. Her past experience includes serving MOCA on the board of the Contemporaries Council from 2001-2010, as Vice President from 2007-2010, and also as Education Co-Chair (2004-2007) and Members at-Large Co-Chair (2001-2005) and also serving the Santa Monica Museum of Art from 2007-2009 on the Incognito Committee. Currently she serves on the board of the Contemporary Craft Council at CAFAM and also the Acquisitions Committee for MOLAA, both since 2012. Arbelaez brings a breadth of knowledge of Contemporary Latin American Art as a collector and avid supporter.
Susan Baik is the owner and Director of BAIK ART, a contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles. With over 14 years of experience representing and advising emerging and established artists, Baik also runs a satellite location out of Space Kaan in Seoul, South Korea. As former Director of AndrewShire Gallery, Los Angeles, which she owned and managed from 2002 to 2013, Baik expanded the gallery to Singapore in 2006 where it ran until she left to start her own enterprise. Baik has curated exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, Singapore, Seoul, London, and Indonesia. In 2016, she organized the exhibition Art and the Measure of Liberty at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations. In 2017, she assisted with Unexpected Light: Works of Young-Il Ahn at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to its critical acclaim as the first exhibition of a Korean-American artist at a major institution. As the visionary behind the BAIK ART residency program, Baik places her artists into a country or culture distinctly different from their own. Each concurrent residency takes place in a different country and culminates in a curated exhibition accompanied by a comprehensive catalog. In addition to 18th Street, Baik currently serves as a Board Member at the Korea Arts Foundation of America, and on the Art Committee at Davidson College in North Carolina. She graduated with a degree in Fine Art from the University of California, Irvine.
Andrew Beath is the founder of the EarthWays Foundation in Malibu, California, as well as several other nonprofit social justice and environmental organizations. His foundation has initiated projects to protect wilderness and assist threatened communities in South, Central, and North America. Beath is also author of the book, Consciousness in Action. His personal interest continues to focus on potential solutions to our ecological problems by dealing with the issues of poverty in the third world, consumption in our country, expanding human population, specific environmental problems, and the undeniable interconnectedness of all these things. EarthWays projects are meant to be a catalyst for personal and global awareness, and social and environmental activism.
Born in Brittany, France and having lived all around the world, Damien Bigot has become a specialist in cultural diplomacy, international relations, and institutional administration for the arts. After working for several years in Italy (Villa Medici and Rome Music Foundation), he moved to Israel to manage the French Institute (Institut français) for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then for three years in Lebanon as Regional Director, where he started several different cultural and art initiatives. Damien Bigot was Director of Cultural Affairs of the City of Montrouge (France), and was a regular Conference Speaker for the Arts, Science, and Technology University in Beirut. He became a representative for the Middle East at Cultural Heritage Without Borders (Patrimoine Sans Frontière), an international organization, official partner of the UNESCO, that mobilizes the notion of cultural heritage as a means to respond to the demands of local populations (post-crisis situations and social exclusion). In this role, he worked to utilize the power of cultural heritage as a means to respond to the demands of local populations.
Susanna Bixby Dakin
A native California writer and sculptor, Susanna Bixby Dakin is a co-founder of 18th Street Arts Center and the former publisher of High Performance magazine. Dakin has also been an instrumental and sustaining figure over many decades in family and indigenous farmers’ rights, nuclear disarmament, and environmental justice movements.
Malindi Davies is the Chief Operating Officer for Tamara Mellon, Inc., the premiere direct to consumer luxury footwear brand, where for the past year and a half she has overseen operations and finance through triple-digit growth. Prior to Tamara Mellon, Malindi was General Manager of the global online marketplace Saatchi Art, a Leaf Group company, and managed Investor Relations and M&A for The Knot/ XO Group. Her first career was on Wall Street where she spent over a decade in equity research covering the ecommerce and online media sectors.
Born in Germany, Judith grew up in East and Southeast Asia. She worked in EU lobbying for more than 10 years, advising large financial services institutions on issues related to the EU Enlargement and the Financial Services Action Plan. She left the lobbying industry, when the family moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where she worked in Asset Management. After 10 years in Geneva, the family moved to Singapore, where she started establishing her network within the arts community in Singapore and Indonesia. Judith now concentrates her efforts on promoting Southeast Asian artists in Los Angeles.
Judith studied French literature and history at the Sorbonne in Paris and holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations & Politics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in Brussels, as well as a Master’s Degree in Art Business from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the Drucker School of Management.
She speaks fluent German, French, and English, some Italian and basic Bahasar Indonesia.
Jessica Cusick is president of Cusick Consulting, established in 1999, which specializes in cultural planning and policy development. Ms. Cusick has over thirty years of experience working in community development and the arts for governmental agencies, the private sector, and non-profit organizations. Key areas of expertise include municipal government, public process, and resource development; as well as public/private partnerships and neighborhood revitalization projects in which the arts play a substantive role. Clients include the cities of Fort Worth, Pasadena, and Ventura; the California Arts Council; the County of Los Angeles; the Houston Midtown Redevelopment Authority; and the Seattle Public Library, among others.
Ms Cusick was the cultural affairs manager for the City of Santa Monica from 2005 through 2015, where she oversaw significant expansion in the City’s support for artists and the creative sector, including the establishment of an artist fellowship program. As part of her work, she developed Glow, a unique, all-night art event that drew over 200,000 visitors in its first year.
She has taught in graduate programs at several institutions, including Otis College of Art and Design, the University of Houston, and the University of Southern California. Currently she teaches a course in cultural policy for Claremont Graduate University.
Ms. Cusick has a degree in art history from the Sorbonne in Paris and a master’s degree from New York University. In 2014, she was awarded I’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, one of France’s most illustrious titles, for her distinguished career in the arts.
Alice is a community builder, program designer and social innovation strategist with global experience. Before landing in sunny Los Angeles, she spent time in Edinburgh, New York, Seoul, Boston, Kathmandu and Nairobi. Alice currently leads community initiatives for Tala, a technology and data company who’s mission is to expand financial access, choice and control for the global underserved. Her career has been defined by using the power of creativity in service of education, connection and social impact, working with refugees, women and girls, as well as with global brands. She holds a degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Tufts University.
Michael G. Rey
Michael G. Rey is presently a working fine artist in Los Angeles. He was the Founding Principal and Creative Director of Intersection Studio. Intersection first specialized in design and creative direction for publications and music packaging then grew to include branding and fundraising strategies for major non-profit organizations. Clients included: The Getty, Skirball Cultural Center, LA Philharmonic, United States Artists, Sundance Institute, Autry National Center, The Broad Stage, CHOC Children’s, Craft and Folk Art Museum, Geffen Playhouse, KCRW, Natural History Museum, North Carolina School of the Arts, Otis College of Art and Design, Pacific Symphony, PRI (Public Radio International), Segerstrom Center for the Arts, SCI_Arc, UCLA, USC Marshall School of Business, USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and Art Center College of Design. He holds a BFA in Advertising Design and an MFA in Fine Arts from Art Center College of Design, where he has also taught photography and graphic design.