Donna Granata is the Founder and Executive Director of Focus on the Masters (FOTM), a highly respected non-profit educational program documenting contemporary artists. Founded in 1994, the goal of FOTM is to demonstrate the importance of the arts to society by bringing highly accomplished artists to the forefront of the community. The program presents its research to a broad public through photographic exhibitions, the Artist Spotlight Series, a video-taped interview series, Learning To See educational outreach to schools and youth centers. Focus on the Masters has been the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of its outstanding contributions to arts education including the 2005 inaugural Ventura Mayor’s Art Award – Arts Educator and the 2007 Ventura County Arts Council Art Star Award. Focus on the Masters is recognized as one of the leading arts organizations in the state of California.
In addition to her ongoing lecture series for Focus on the Masters, Donna teaches classes for the Road Scholar Elderhostel International including an Introduction to the J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Roman Villa. Special lectures trace the careers of photographer LIFE Horace Bristol and painter John Nava, creator of the tapestries commissioned for the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, CA. In addition, she has lectured for the journalism department at UCLA on the ethics of photography. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2005 by Elderhostel International. Among her most recent awards is the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts from the City of Ojai, CA.
An accomplished artist in her own right, Donna Granata is an internationally published and award winning painter turned photographer. Her photographs have been displayed across the United States. Selected works from her FOTM portrait series are housed in the Smithsonian's Archive of American Artists; in the photographic Collection of the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York and other public institutions that house the personal archives of the artists documented.
Donna received a Bachelor’s of Art Degree and Honorary Masters of Science Degree from the Brooks Institute of Photography where she is an adjunct professor in the Portrait Department. She is listed in Marquis Who’s Who of American Women.
Mary R. Galbraith
Mary R. Galbraith joined the FOTM staff as a volunteer in 2003 as Volunteer Coordinator. Mary served for 22 years as a member of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Child Guidance Clinic, including two years as Vice President for Fund Development and two years as Board Chair. For nine years she was bilingual intake counselor at M.E.N.D. in Pacoima, working with disadvantaged families. Mary is a Trustee Emerita of Wilson College. During her tenure as Trustee, she chaired the steering committee of a major capital campaign which earned $55 million for the College, was Chair of the Honors Committee, and held the position of Vice Chair of the Board.
In addition to coordinating volunteer activities at FOTM, Mary manages the membership program, mid-year and annual fund drives, and assists in preparations for the Tuesday Talk series and special events. As a volunteer herself, Mary recognizes the important role volunteers play in the daily activities of Focus on the Masters.
Mary and her husband Jim moved to Ventura in 2002. “We are blown away by the wide variety of cultural experiences in this city. We’re proud to live in a community whose leaders recognize the value of a healthy arts community,” says Mary. In addition to her volunteer duties at Focus, Mary enjoys quilting and making one-of-a-kind special occasion purses. Mary and Jim are the parents of three adult sons and grandparents of seven of the world’s most amazing grandchildren. Their passions are art and travel.
Aimee French has joined the force of FOTM as the Learning to See (LTS) Youth Outreach Program Coordinator in January 2011. Aimee’s extensive arts education experience includes class instruction, program development and management serving populations from all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds and learning levels.
Aimee received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from Ohio State University. As a lifelong artist, she has worked in, experimented with, explored and has been inspired by hundreds of art mediums, techniques and ideas. Her former position as Director of Museum Education for the Jacqueline Casey Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth, Georgia, as well as her present position as Education Coordinator for The Humane Society of Ventura County has prepared her to lead the Learning To See Youth Outreach. Her experience in arts education coupled with her experience in humane education has given her a broader insight into how we learn, and the importance of how what we learn manifests in a student’s life. Her goal is to nurture inspiration and creativity. To learn more about Learning To See please email Aimee at Education@FocusOnTheMasters.com.
Learning to See is an eight-session, one-hour-per-week cross curricular program that teaches about the Ventura County artists documented through the Focus on the Masters educational archive. Lesson plans and art projects are developed based on the artist’s biographies, life experiences and the medium in which they work. Each week, a different artist is featured in a short PowerPoint presentation. The relevance of each artist’s life and work is woven into the subjects that students are studying in school. After a “round table” open discussion, the students have a hands-on experience of creating their own work of art inspired by the artist being featured.