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The Staff

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James Railing
Interim Director

Jim Railing is from Southern Indiana. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Cincinnati with a Major in Art History and Minor in Religion and received his J.D. degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. He was employed in the general practice of law in his own firm for more than 20 years with concentration in civil and criminal litigation and commercial law. In addition to handling a wide range of cases in dozens of jury trials, Jim was also legal counsel and board member for several financial institutions and community banks. Jim is now an Investment Banker and is the founder and President of a financial firm in Indianapolis that provides capital and debt financing to established multi-unit franchise owners throughout the country generally involving more than $10 million in each transaction.

Jim has served as President and Chairman of the boards of a number of community organizations and church-related entities. He has been active within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has been a member of numerous committees at the Presbytery, Synod, and national levels including Moderator of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley, Permanent Judicial Commission, Committee on Ministry, and was nominated to serve as the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. He served as Treasurer of the Brown County Art Guild in 2016 before becoming Interim Director in 2017.

Jim and his wife, Karen, are passionate about Indiana fine art including both historical and current artists, and in particular, the artwork of the member artists of the Guild, with whom they have developed many close friendships.

Roberta Chirko
Roberta Chirko
Gallery Manager

Roberta Chirko was born near Chicago Illinois. At the age of 16 she entered the fashion world as a model. Roberta lived in Milan, London and Paris before moving to New York where she met her future husband. In 1992 Roberta settled on top of a hill in Brown County and started her family. She fell in love with Brown County and the people who lived there. Roberta co-founded the restaurant Muddy Boots in downtown Nashville where she met many local artists. Although she is not an artist herself, Roberta loves all types of art and people. Her friendly enthusiasm is a wonderful addition to the staff of the Brown County Art Guild.

rachel digregorio
Rachel DiGregorio
Office Support Manager

While being born and raised in a family woven deeply into the musical fabric of Nashville, Tennessee, Rachel developed her artistic nature in the visual arts. In her early teen years she was an avid photographer. Her early 30's brought the discovery of clay and the creation of many utilitarian objects that can be found around her home. She is currently a member of the Sycamore Ridge Ceramics Studio..

Rachel left Nashville as a teenager to live with her mother in Vincennes, Indiana where, while being beaten into a cultural stupor, she developed relationships that came to define the next stage of her life. Rachel and her new found friends soon moved to the regional cultural epicenter of Bloomington where she purchased and remodeled a house, managed several businesses (including The Wandering Turtle Art Gallery), raised a dog, grew a million flowers, worked independently as an artist’s assistant, curated art shows and collected more pressed pennies than you care to know about. Rachel is thrilled to share the work of Guild artists with visitors and continue her life's work of being of service to the arts.

Maggie Evans
Maggie Evans
Gallery Associate
Maggie Evans is a Brown County native and has always enjoyed the close-knit, artistic nature of the area. Her family established themselves in Brown County on a Christmas tree farm nearly 50 years ago, and she has no intentions of living anywhere else. After graduating from Brown County High School, she attended Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus and earned her BA in Psychology. After taking some time off from school, she plans to earn her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Maggie loves the history that makes this small town unique and wants to continue discovering the hidden treasures that make up the area. Although she is not an artist herself, she has a profound appreciation for those who use their creativity in such amazing ways. She finds all types of art fascinating; with the capability art has of representing emotions, places, people, and so many other possibilities. Maggie enjoys being a part of the art community through sharing the history of the Guild, as well as interacting with the Guild staff, board, and member artists.

The Board

David Nickel
David Nickel
President

David Nickel is an award winning artist and designer. In the mid-1970’s, he studied illustration, oil & watercolor painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. His career as a Corporate Design Director has taken him from coast to coast across the United States, from NYC to Los Angeles and Denver. He has expertise in visual merchandising, sales and marketing in addition to all aspects of graphic and conceptual design. In early 2012, David completed an impressive project with the late artist, Pamela Mougin showcasing paintings of angels on the dome of the West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, IN

David can be classified as a “visionary,” someone who sees and imagines the potential of a place or situation, while maintaining a deep respect for the importance of its history. He enjoys working in collaborative settings with those who share his passion for artist excellence. He believes in the creative process and how it can be applied to a focused business strategy. David has exceptional skill in predicting trends and the public’s taste for fine art and its presentation. In early 2011, he helped to re-envision the Guild’s interior, galleries, retail, and permanent collection spaces. These updates have been very well received by the many patrons, artists and visitors to the Guild over the past years.

His exposure to the Guild “has touched my heart and soul and I care deeply about its future success and its mission in Brown County. Having a strong connection to fine art and artists has enriched my life, and I want to do whatever I can to share that joy with others.”

Joanne Bennett

Joanne Bennett
Treasurer

Joanne Bennett has rich experience working with not-for-profits. She earned her Masters Degree in Public Affairs, specializing in Non-Profit Management in 2012. Joanne has a deep love for the arts (both visual and musical) and has worked diligently with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for many years as Director of Facilities and Audience Services. She also has freelanced as a Production Stage Manager for opera productions; community theatres; ballet productions; visiting touring productions and special events. 

Joanne joined our Board of Directors in March, 2012 and her knowledge, positive energy and desire to serve are all great assets to the Brown County Art Guild.

Karen Kirby, portrait by Amanda Kirby

Karen Kirby
Secretary

Brown County is Karen Kirby’s home. She and her husband Joel recently moved into the cabin and studio they inherited from Joel’s mother, artist Amanda Eller Kirby, and the earlier home of artist Marie Goth.

Karen is a graduate of Purdue University with a B.S. degree in Home Economics / Child Development and Family Life and Butler University with an M.S. degree in Elementary Education. She has served in a variety of capacities, including adjunct faculty for Lesley University (Cambridge, MA) and for IUPUI (Indpls); plus more. She participated in writing the Indiana Primary Guide, Teaching and Learning in the Critical Early Years. Karen retired after 41 years teaching elementary school, both in Noblesville, IN and the American Cooperative School in Liberia, West Africa. She is currently a substitute teacher for Brown County Schools.

Even before Karen met the Kirby’s, she had long appreciated fine art. While spending the summer on Nantucket, Mary Claire Barton, owner of Hoorn-Ashby Galleries of New York and Nantucket, hired Karen to work at the gallery in Nantucket.  When she returned home, Karen developed an Art Study for her kindergarten students. By the end of the Art Study each child had a portfolio of their own art, including still life, portraits, landscapes, pointillism, impressionism and painting modeled after Van Gogh, Monet, O’Keefe, and others. The Art Study culminated in a guided tour of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Karen is now an active community member in Brown County. She is a member of Tri Kappa philanthropic sorority, a 2013 graduate of the Leadership Brown County LEAP program, and a volunteer usher at the Brown County Playhouse Performing Arts Center.

The arts are of particular interest to Karen, as she cherishes the memory of her mother-in-law, Amanda Eller Kirby and Amanda’s legacy as a Brown County Art Guild member from 1967 until her death in 2009. Amanda was also a past president of the Guild. Karen has many happy memories of visiting the Guild with Amanda. She is delighted to support the Brown County Art Guild in an active way.


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Bobbie K Owens
Board Member

Bobbie K's paintings have been featured in exhibitions across the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia. He exhibited his work in the first Visual Arts Exchange project in Russia.  He was then invited to have a series of three, one-person museum shows in Bishkek and Moscow. Previously he showed in Soho, New York, at Atelier International Art Gallery. Over the course of twenty-eight years of painting and exhibiting work, Bobbie K has had the good fortune to participate in shows with artists David Hockney, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Milton Avery. Some of the artists he has had the opportunity to discuss art with are Philip Pearlstein, Daryl Pottorf, Robert Rauschenberg and Donald Lipski.

Bobbie K taught at IUPUC, ABC-Stewart, Art Gallery of Ontario School of Art, Ball State University, John Waldron Art Center in Bloomington, Dayton Art Institute and was resident artist at YMCA's of Greater Indianapolis. He has worked with the NEA, The Kennedy Center and The Center for Arts and Basic Curriculum in Washington, D.C.  Bobbie dedicates most of his time to painting, however, enjoys sharing his art knowledge and experiences. Bobbie and his wife, Libby Jewel, have two daughters, Ale, an IU grad, who lives in Wisconsin and Carleigh, a college student.


 

Kathryn
Kathryn Richardson
Board Member

As a resident of Brown County for most of the last thirty years, Kathryn has been an active member of the community. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Brown County Public Library and the local Rotary club, and as a volunteer through Brown County Literacy Coalition.

After graduating from Miami University with degrees in French and International Studies, she began a career in banking. Since 1996, she has participated in the family business, McGinley Vacation Cabins. She became active in the real estate industry in 2007.

Her parents are Mike McGinley and the late Elizabeth McGinley. She has a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Scott.

martin weaver
Martin Weaver
Vice President
Martin Weaver was born in Louisville Kentucky and grew up in French Lick, Indiana. He is a graduate of Paoli High School, Indiana State University, and the United States Army War College at Carlisle, PA.

After college, Martin served in the United States Army for five years then transferred to the reserves and retired after thirty years of service in 2002.

Concurrent with his military career, Martin worked in several sales positions, as he still does today. It is his opinion that “nothing happens until something is sold.”

He ultimately sold American Airlines on the idea of hiring him to fly, which led to living in New York City, and the opportunity to visit art centers throughout the United States and Europe during his twenty-five years as an airline captain. Visiting the galleries of London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Paris was an unexpected privilege of his employment. He became a Shakespeare fan while in high school, and spent layovers in Stratford-upon-Avon enjoying performances at the Royal Shakespeare Theater.

Martin also serves on the Board of Directors of Indiana University Health Morgan Hospital and as a county political party chairman for eight years. He is married to Morgan Superior Court III Judge Jane Spencer Craney. They live in Martinsville and have two sons and three grandsons. Martin works in sales and marketing for United Consulting Engineers and still enjoys flying his Cessna Skylane for fun and visiting art galleries throughout the Midwest.

Although not an artist himself, Martin said he appreciates what artists do for the world. Something he recently read in the American Art Review sums up his reasons for wanting to serve the Guild: “A successful painting unveils inner emotions that are often indescribable in words.” What better reason indeed?

Ron White
Ron White
Board Member

Ron White is adjunct associate professor of adult education at Indiana University Bloomington. Previously he was executive director of IU’s Continuing Studies division, where he oversaw the campus’s programs for adults including noncredit courses in the arts and humanities and the General Studies degree program.  He chaired the mayor’s Bloomington Lifelong Learning Coalition from 2008-11, and was president of the Indiana Council for Continuing Education in 2010-11.

Prior to moving back to Bloomington in 2000, Ron was dean of continuing education at Long Island University and an assistant provost for the City University of New York. Going back even further, he was a junior high social studies and art teacher and a high school teacher in Louisville, KY.

Ron is a native of Sandusky, Ohio, but has lived the longest in Bloomington and New York.  He says, “I have had a lifelong interest in art and architecture and look forward to helping with the educational activities of the Guild.”

David Wilcox, Board Member

David Wilcox
Board Member

David E. Wilcox, P.E. is a graduate of Purdue University with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Mr. Wilcox worked for Indiana Bell Telephone Company for 32 years. After retirement, he chaired the Computer Committee for the city of Carmel, IN. He and his wife, Eleanor, are strong supporters of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and he is a member of their Board of Directors. Mr. Wilcox’s career includes numerous professional and community honors and accomplishments.

David’s interest in the art of Marie Goth, V. J. Cariani, Genevieve Goth Graf and Carl Graf began when he was a preschooler traveling with his parents to visit the four artists. David’s mother, a cousin of Carl’s, was raised by Carl’s parents after her parents both passed. During David’s visits, he was introduced to their latest works, “all so beautiful and oh so many of them.” During the summers, they enjoyed guided tours of Cariani’s garden and Carl’s workshop. These trips would also include visits to the Brown County Art Guild to view the latest shows, enjoy the teas, and to meet other artists as well. David’s mother also took him to the Hoosier Art Salon shows in Indianapolis. After the four artists passed on, David and Eleanor, continued to take his Mother to the spring teas at the Guild. They researched art galleries where the founders’ works might appear for sale, and they bought a few paintings as budget would allow. David says “to be a part of this organization is a dream I never knew I could have, and one which is now bringing untold joy to be able to help preserve the legacy it represents and the strength, support and stability it brings to current and future member artists of the Brown County Art Guild.” David serves on both the Permanent Collection and the Facilities committees, and the Guild is fortunate indeed to enjoy his involvement.

Joe Young
Joe Young
Board Member

bio coming soon
Libby Whipple
Libby Whipple
Board Member
Libby Whipple grew up in Plainfield, Indiana, graduating from Indiana University in Bloomington and I.U. Law School in Indianapolis.  She began painting while in law school to balance out her studies, but art grabbed her, and her love of art continues to this day.  She and her husband Dan live in Avon, where they raised three sons and a daughter, Katie, who is a professional artist in New York.

Libby’s paintings have won awards in Hoosier Salon, Indiana Heritage Arts, Indiana Artists Club, and the Indiana State Fair.  A painting Libby did of her daughter Katie titled To My Daughter was a finalist in International Artists magazine’s portraits and figures competition.

Libby and her husband Dan enjoy traveling with the Fine Art Connoisseur magazine group, visiting museums and connecting with artists and art enthusiasts around the world.