Who We Are

Meet the Arcata Arts Institute faculty and staff:

Director and Media & Visual Arts Instructor |  Johanna Mauro

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Johanna Mauro is the director of the Arcata Arts Institute and has been a teacher for over 20 years. She received her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz, with a major in art. She worked as a graphic designer and production manager for Regional Visitor Publications as well as a photographer for the North Coast Journal. After deciding she wanted to be a teacher, she got her credential from Humboldt State University in 1998. She immediately started teaching at Arcata High and has been here ever since. She continues to work as a photographer and has shown her photos in many galleries over the years. She was given an Excellence In Teaching Award in 2019 and was Humboldt County Teacher of the year in 2020.

Theatre  |  Melanie ZapperOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Melanie grew up in Three Rivers, a small town at the base of Sequoia National Park, where she initially began her pursuit of theatre arts.  She spent a short jaunt of time in Los Angeles where she received her undergraduate degree from Occidental College in psychology and theatre while working both onstage and backstage for theater and film companies.  In 2002 she found her way to Arcata and shortly after began to perform within the local theater, dance, spoken word and performing arts circles. She has been involved in performances with North Coast Repertory Theatre, Redwood Curtain Theatre, A Reason to Listen Poetry Collective, 2Left Feet Dance, BigNorthWest Dance, Chakra Nation Hoopers, Circus of the Elements, Nightshade Serenade, and Free the Beasts.  Melanie has been teaching math and performing arts since receiving her credential from Humboldt State in 2003. In addition to teaching and performing, Melanie actively choreographs pieces for local dance productions. She is a certified Chakra Nation Hoop Dance Instructor who may currently be seen with the Redwood Rings Hoop Troupe and Kitty Inferno Fire.

Music |  Cassandra Moulton

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Cassandra Moulton has been a music educator for six years both locally and in Central California. Ms. Moulton’s experience as an educator includes: Beginning and Advanced Orchestra, Beginning and Advanced Band, Beginning and Advanced Vocal Ensembles, Guitar, and Music Appreciation. During her undergraduate work at Humboldt State, Cassandra also co-taught String Pedagogy classes for music education majors, volunteered at the Blue Ox School as an Enrichment Teacher for the arts, and helped bring music to rural schools through the Northcoast Music Mentors. As a Humboldt County native, Cassandra grew up participating in many ensembles and was a product of the Humboldt Music Academy. Now a part of the AAI teaching staff, Cassandra is excited to help foster the next generation of music lovers.

Makers Instructor  |  Jason Sidell

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Jason Sidell – Arcata High School CoLab Director, Robotics, Game Design, Maker Course, Computer Programming/AP Computer Programming Teacher

Jason Sidell has been teaching for the last 13 years in Humboldt County. He began his teaching career running an after-school program CyberTribe, which focused on building youth technology skills. He then joined the Humboldt County Regional Occupational Program (HROP) as a Career Technical Education (CTE) instructor teaching classes related to technology/computer science. Jason has created and implemented three original high school courses: a Maker course, Robotics, and Video Game Development which he currently teaches. In addition to these courses Jason teaches computer programming at the Secondary level, and video game development and interactive media at the college level. Jason has a BS in Biology, MA in Education, and a California Occupational Education teaching credential. You’re most likely to run into Jason on the Hammond Trail or in the Arcata Community Forest when he’s not in the classroom

Foundations/Visual Arts/Printmaking  |  Tim Clewell

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Tim holds degrees in Art Education, Studio Art, and Art History. He received his teaching credential from HSU in 2011.  He is currently teaching AAI Visual Art classes, Art 1 classes at Arcata High School, Six Rivers Charter School, and Pacific Coast. He also has taught at Mattole Valley Charter School (Campus House) and has taught drawing courses through HSU’s Extended Education. He was a member of Empire Squared Gallery for Contemporary Art and Giant Squid Ink Printmakers. He has shown his artwork locally in several galleries including the Morris Graves Museum of Art, Piante, First Street Gallery, Hunter Plaid Gallery, the Ironside Gallery, Empire Squared, and at several small businesses throughout the community.


Figure Drawing  |  Joyce Jonte


Born in Berkeley, California in 1957, Joyce moved to Arcata in 1974 to study art at HSU. She graduated in 1979 with an emphasis in life drawing, representational drawing, and watercolor painting. Her paintings have always been inspired by the exquisite world we live in. The subject matter varies, but her response to form, contour, light and shadow remains constant.
She studied the human form since she was 16, intent in her pursuit to express the vitality and mood of every gesture. Her work with the students of AAI allows her to share inspiration with young artists.

Vocal / Music Instructor | Jo Kuzelka


“Ms.Jo” is the Music Director at St. Bernard’s Academy in Eureka. She has a degree in Vocal Performance from Humboldt State University with an emphasis in Vocal Pedigogy where she also studied the Double Bass. She has been studying the art of singing for over 30 years, has been teaching private voice lessons for over 6 years and has been the Music Director and Orchestra Conductor for the Spring musical here at Arcata High for the past 5 years. Jo has performed on stage in Musicals,Choirs, and with bands her entire life and loves to use those experiences to inspire the new generation of performers and vocalist to have as much fun with craft as possible.

Fashion Design Teacher  |  Annie Liedstrand

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Annie brings 28 years of experience in industrial sewing to AAI. She began her apprenticeship as a sailmaker in the Bay Area for ten years and then started her own business, Techno Sewing in 1999. Annie specializes in prototyping and has solved a vast array of unusual problems including a bullet-proof money bag, a life-size fabric dragon and set designs for the Grateful Dead. She also works as an instructional aide in kindergarten at Jacoby Creek Elementary.

Painter/Watercolorist  |  Alan Sanborn

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Alan Sanborn is a local watercolorist who has shown his work both locally and nationally. He received his MA in Art from Humboldt State University (HSU) in 1983. He has been a local art instructor through HSU, College of the Redwoods, and other local organizations. He is a founding member of The Ink People Center for the Arts. His work can be seen across Humboldt County and is the featured artist on Farmer’s Market posters every year.

Silks Instructor  |  Leslie Costellano


Metalworking  |  Patrick Williams


Patrick Williams a practicing artist, graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelors of Arts in 1995. He has worked at various fine art foundries and art fabrication studios. Foundry jobs entailed working on repetition production statuary and monumental scale public works. Fabrication experience includes building scenery for television and film with larger projects being completed for various amusement parks.  In 2010 he completed his Masters in Fine Arts at Southern Illinois University.  He has taught both Vocational Technologies Metal Shop and Sculpture at Arcata High School.

Jeweler  |  Anna Ladd


Anna Ladd studied small metals at Humboldt State University. Having a love for large scale sculpture, Anna found jewelry to be a happy marriage of the arts and crafts movements – a way to create small scale sculpture with the challenge of finding a market excited to adorn themselves with it. You can find her line of jewelry at local arts and crafts festivals.

Percussionist, |  Jesse Jonathon


Jesse Jonathon brings exciting beats and rhythms to AAI through world percussion.  Jesse studied and graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in music in 2008 and has continued to be a local performer and instructor. As a talented percussionist, he has taught and performed all over the world in locations such as Scotland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Japan, and Canada. For the past six years, he has been a community percussion instructor in Arcata, focusing on bringing drumming workshops to rural schools throughout Humboldt County.  As well as serving as a masterclass instructor for our Pans- World Percussion class, Jesse also works as a music instructor at Trinidad and Blue Lake Schools.

Community Partner | Gage Seber


Gage Seber is a graphic and web designer raised in the dawn of the internet boom in San Francisco, California. As an AAI alumni, Gage has been honing his talents in the field of creative art and design since 2007. With studies at both Academy of Art University in San Francisco for Graphic Design, and City College of New York for Creative Arts, Gage has extensive training in modern communication design. In his freelance career, he has worked with musicians, bookbinders, fashion designers, jewelry designers, record labels, nightclubs, skateboarders, start-ups, and more. Gage has mounted art openings in Northern California featuring photography, illustration, and digital art. His style ranges from wildly imaginative, colorful abstraction, to controlled, corporate communication and everything in between.

Founder  |  Anne Bown-Crawford

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Anne founded the Arcata Arts Institute and was a teacher for almost 40 years. Anne is also a member of CREATE CA leadership council, a coalition of organizations, CCSESA, CAEA, CDE, and CAC, whose mission is to rethink and create an educational environment for all California students that features arts education as a central part of the solution to the crisis in our schools. In this capacity, she was appointed by Superintendent Torlakson to help write his Blueprint For Creative Schools. She is a new media studio artist and a freelance graphic designer who specializes in branding non-profit organizations via print and web.

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