Artists Development Workshops

S.A.S WORKSHOP smallThe New Jersey State Council on the Arts in collaboration with Morris Arts
Saturday, April 18, 2015 – 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Morris Museum

SAS (Steps for Artist Survival) is a workshop for artists of all disciplines featuring a panel of those currently working in theatre, furniture design, poetry, visual arts and music. This workshop is sponsored by Morris Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, will feature six successful artists from diverse backgrounds that will share their personnel stories of success, challenges and practical steps for living life as an artist in 2015.

The panel will feature: Jason Koontz (Cinematographer), Frank Pollaro (Pollaro Custom Furniture, Inc.), Kevin Sebastian (Actor, Director, Write, Producer), Bisa Butler (Mixed Media Visual Artist), Roddy Wilderman (Mixed Media Artist), Benjamin Weinman (Musician and Composer, Founder of Party Smasher Inc.) and Ellen Papazian (Writer, Teacher) – all panel member bios and website featured on the bottom of this page.  Although each artist will represent six different genres of art, all share one thing in common: they have managed to live a life where their creativity is central to everything they do. For those of you that are beginning your careers as artists, making a change mid-career or reinventing yourself as an artist, this panel discussion will give you some practical ideas on how to succeed.

If you have ever asked yourself, “Is it possible to create a life where I can support myself and remain true to my artistic calling”, these artists will certainly have some interesting and informative examples of how they did just that!

The event will follow a panel discussion format facilitated by our Director of Arts in Community, Kadie Dempsey. We will leave ample time for questions from the audience. There will be opportunities to hear the unique stories of artists who make their living doing something they love.

Tickets are $15 if you register online prior the event and $20 on the day of the event. Students with ID free of charge.

Please arrive with your payment on the day of the event in the form of cash or a check.
Walk-in registration allowed if sessions are not filled. Register online and secure your seat today! 

SAS (Steps for Artist Survival) Agenda
8:30 Registration and Breakfast
9:30 to 11:15 Panel Discussion
11:30 to 12:00 Q & A

Click here to register now!

Panel Bios:


Jason Koontz
Jason Koontz is a freelance Cinematographer. He tackles a diverse range of projects that cover sports, design, technology, lifestyle, and fashion that air on both TV and the web.

His work has taken him throughout the United States as well as around the world.

Each environment has presented its own set of challenges, making it a necessity to be nimble enough to evolve with each new project and client.

He has done work for NFL Network, TBS, Madison Square Garden, Big Ten Network, Dwell Magazine, Pfizer, Microsoft, Revlon, and InStyle.


FRANKFrank Pollaro
Pollaro Custom Furniture, Inc.

Frank Pollaro, President and Chief Executive Officer, founded the Company in 1988 at age 21. Frank demonstrated his interest in woodworking at a very early age.

The son of a building demolition worker and a medical assistant, Frank was encouraged to pursue his artistic talents, which included design, drawing and building. Twenty-five years after founding Pollaro Custom Furniture, Frank’s work has been showcased in literally hundreds of publications and media.

His furniture continues to win critical acclaim from leading designers and architects, who consider a Pollaro piece to be the crown jewel of their artistic interiors.

In addition to the pursuit of challenging commissions, Frank also actively preserves his craft through teaching at leading furniture making programs throughout the country.

KEVINKevin Sebastian
Actor, Director, Writer, Producer
Film & TV reel:
Commercial reel:
Hosting / Spokesperson reel:
NYC Theatre: Waiting for the Bus (American Globe Theatre Best Actor Award), Samaritans or Where is Sylvia (Best Supporting Actor nom.), Importance of Being Earnest, Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged, Intermezzo (NYC Opera at Lincoln Center), Dark of the Moon, Six Passionate Women, and Hamlet. Regional Theatre: Clandestine Marriage (Daily Record Award) and The Mousetrap at Centenary Stage, Valhalla (Star-Ledger nomination) and Omnium Gatherum at The Theater Project, Sick (with director Benjamin Klein) at NJ Repertory, Noises Off (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), Death of a Salesman (Arkansas Repertory), Romeo & Juliet (Tri-State Actors Theater), Hound of the Baskervilles (Depot Theatre). Film & TV: CBS’s “Blue Bloods”, “Killswitch” (Cannes Film Festival), “The Man with the Red Right Hand” (Tribeca VisionFest), “The Grid” TV pilot (lead actor, writer, producer; NYC Intl’ Film Fest Best Pilot Award), “Saturday Night Live”, hit webseries “Producing Juliet”, writer and associate producer of “Redheads Anonymous.” Proud Actors’ Equity member.

BISABisa Butler
Mixed Media Visual Artist
A formally trained artist, Bisa Butler graduated from Howard University, with a Bachelor’s in Fine Art degree.  It was her education at Howard that Butler was able to refine her natural talents under the tutelage of such lecturers as Lois Mailou Jones, Elizabeth Catlett, and Ernie Barnes.  While at Howard, Butler also studied the works of Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, and Henry O. Tanner. Bisa has been a part of the nationally renowned traveling exhibitions by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi ; Textural Rhythms, Constructing the Jazz Traditions,  Quilting African American Women’s History and  The Journey of Hope in America , quilts inspired by President Barack Obama. Bisa is represented by the Hearne Fine Art gallery of Little Rock, Arkansas. She has artwork in private and public collections such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Arkansas Art Museum, and the Kinsey Collection. She has exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and internationally. Bisa has been teaching workshops around the country, and has students who come from as far away as Alaska. Recently Bisa Butler had the honor of having her artwork displayed with The Kinsey Collection at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and is currently exhibiting at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. While at Disney Bisa taught workshops as a part of the Disney Dreamers Academy. Last year Bisa’s quilts were exhibited and featured in an article by the Swedish magazine, Helmslöjd. The highlight of Bisa’s career was being chosen to exhibit at the Emperors Palace, in Johannesburg South Africa during the International Quilt Expo. Bisa Butler currently resides in West Orange, New Jersey and is a Newark Public School art teacher.

RODDYRoddy Wilderman
Mixed Media Artist
Roddy Wildeman is a mixed-media artist known for his Composite Memory Artwork™, transforming debris and recycled materials into fine art. Wildeman was born in Long Branch, New Jersey and has been an Ocean Grove resident for the past decade. His work hangs on the walls of the Rockefeller family private offices, and is sought after by private collectors and commercial venues in New York City and along the Jersey Shore. Roddy belongs to a growing artistic movement that intercepts the waste stream through art. He is an environmentalist and believes that it is our social responsibility to recycle and repurpose materials to keep them out of landfills. Wildeman has been featured on TEDx/Navesink, The John F. Peto Studio Museum, PBS, local news shows and online magazines. He is a Trustee of the Belmar Arts Council and is the owner of Torche’ Galerie in Belmar, New Jersey, a contemporary art gallery dedicated to promote local artists and to support fine arts organizations that foster social awareness. Also a philanthropist, Wildeman has donated several of his pieces made from New Jersey boardwalks wood, devastated by super storm Sandy, to local fundraisers to restore the Jersey Shore. He is a longtime supporter and has raised funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The Sarcoma Foundation of America and the Kawangware Children’s Center, Kenya.

BENJAMINBenjamin Weinman
Musician and Composer, Founder of Party Smasher Inc.
Benjamin Weinman, a New Jersey native, is most known for his role as guitarist founding member of the band The Dillinger Escape Plan since its inception in 1997.  After eight studio albums, multiple music collaborations, movie soundtracks and countless tours around the globe, Weinman has earned much respect from fans worldwide, with accomplishments such as coverage in both music and business media giants like Rolling Stone, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times. He has reached Billboard chart status, Revolver Magazine’s Golden God award for “Independent artist of the year”, and Kerrang Magazine’s “Spirit Of Independence” award as well as most recently the Kerrang Magazine “Inspiration” award. Weinman has been lauded for his distinct style and musicianship and composition.  He was named one of SPIN magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time. Weinman was named one of Guitar World Magazine’s 50 fastest guitar players of all time alongside Guitar players such as Eddie Van Halen and Les Paul. He was also recently named one of Guitar World’s Top 25 Cult Guitarists,  and one of the top modern Metal Guitar players by  Benjamin Weinman has also been listed on as an example of today’s most important musicians under their definition of “guitarist” and was named one Alternative Press Magazine’s “10 Favorite Guitar Slingers.” On Feb 6, 2012 Weinman appeared on the VH1 series Metal Evolution in the final episode on progressive metal where The Dillinger Escape Plan was quoted as being “the world’s most dangerous Band”. Weinman formed Party Smasher Inc., as an outlet for him and his trusted circuit of creators to have a place to both express themselves and expose the work of those who have inspired through their expression.

ELLENEllen Papazian
Teacher & Writer

Ellen Papazian’s nonfiction and fiction appear in the anthologies About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look in the Mirror and The Long Meanwhile: Stories of Arrival and Departure. A former staffer at Ms. magazine, her interviews and features have appeared in Ms. and Bitch magazines and include Oh, Yoko!: 20 Ways of Looking at an Art-World Icon.  As a teaching artist with Morris Arts, she leads creative writing workshops on memoir and poetry in school-based residencies in northern New Jersey. She also independently leads writing workshops for adults. She received her master’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Rutgers University-Newark.

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Morris Arts is funded, in part, by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.