Portrait Artists of Arizona (PAOA) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization providing support, education, and assistance to portrait artists in their practice and promotion of this fine art form. PAOA sponsors portraiture-focused workshops, portrait demonstrations by nationally acclaimed artists, working portrait studios with live models, and portrait-only exhibitions and competitions to enhance the community appreciation for fine art portraiture.
PAOA membership offers artists educational support, discussion, critique, and activities aimed at enhancing their practice, techniques, and applications of fine art portraiture. Additionally, PAOA encourages community support
and understanding of this art form.
For information on membership and benefits go to our Membership Page
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PAOA is supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Portrait Artists of Arizona – Our History
Portrait Artists of Arizona was founded in 2008 by Pamela Jonas. Curious as to whether there were other portrait artists in the Valley struggling to find support and encouragement in this particular art form, she started sending out emails and posting some signs at local art supply stores. Nearly 20 people showed up at the first informational/planning meeting in September 2008. By January 2009, there were 25 paid members. In the first few months, we met for discussion and critique, but soon we were holding painting sessions with live portrait models, called Portrait Studios, alternating every other month with general meetings. From within our membership, several talented professional artists volunteered their time to do demos and informational presentations, e.g. Chris Saper, Linda Brandon, Dodie Ballantine, and Linda Fox. By the end of 2009 we had 40 members.
In 2010, we implemented new Officers, a Membership Chair and formed the Members Exhibition Committee to begin planning our first exhibition. We also applied for and received our 501 (c) (3) status as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. Our first Guest Demonstration was given by nationally acclaimed portrait artist and highly sought after instructor, David Leffel. Nearly 40 local portrait artists (members and non-members) attended this special event. We added a Workshop Series given by members Linda Brandon and Jim Garrison. Member Demos were given by Jean Hildebrant, Jim Garrison, Rosalie Vacarro, and Saltness Parks. The Portrait Awards Program began in July, 2010 where members bring in their portraits to be voted on for ribbons and cash prizes. By the end of 2010 we had 53 members.
In March, 2011 we held our First Annual Members Exhibition at ASU Gammage Auditorium, with 24 members represented and 31 portraits exhibited. Additional opportunities for participation were added with Chair positions for Models, Portrait Studios, and Programs. Our members include all levels of artists, from fledgling beginners, to nationally-acclaimed, award-winning professional portrait and figurative artists and instructors. Our members live as far North as Prescott, as far South as Tucson, and throughout the Phoenix metro area. We continue to plan and provide opportunities to learn, to grow, to develop friendships with other portrait artists, and to share this art form with the community. In 2011, PAOA was awarded a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to assist us in our operations.
In 2012, we held our first gallery exhibition April-May at the SunDust Gallery in Mesa, AZ with an Opening Reception attended by over 150 people with a estimated visitors throughout the month of 2,500. Judged by local artist Robert Lemler and special award donated and selected by Scottsdale Artists’ School’s education director Audrey Lemler, other great prizes donated by Jerry’s Artarama, Utrecth Art Supplies, Arizona Art Supply, Gamblin Inc, and Chartpak, Inc. We held two significant 3-hour portrait demonstrations by internationally renowned Romel dela Torre in March and national and locally recognized Linda Tracey Brandon in September at the fabulous Studio 1307 in Tempe, AZ. Both events spurred new members to join and participate in our many Portrait Studios held at Granite Community Center in Tempe. PAOA began the planning of its New Scholarship Program for students and members to be launched in 2013.
In 2013, Sherri Aldawood became president of PAOA. During that year we hosted demos by Mike Malm, Matt Dickson and Annette Smith. We also held our 3rd Annual Exhibition at Scottsdale Artists’ School during the month of April. The scholarship committee awarded $1500 in scholarships and membership increased to 65 artist members.
In March, 2014, PAOA hosted its first one day demo/workshop, called a Master’s Studio, with Utah artist/instructor Jeff Hein. This was made possible by a $1000 grant that we received from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In May, 2014, our 4th Annual Exhibition was held at Bezalel Gallery on Main Street in Scottsdale. Other events scheduled for 2014 are a charcoal demo by artist/instructor Tim Rees and a one day workshop with Chris Saper which will focus on painting individual facial features. We continue to hold eight Portrait Studios per year.