Meet the Arcata Arts Institute faculty and staff:

Director, Founder and Media And Visual Arts Faculty Anne Bown-Crawford


Anne Bown-Crawford has been a teacher for 40 years on the Secondary level in public education. Presently she is the Director of both the Arcata Arts Institute, and the Innovation Design Institute, both sequenced career pathway programs at Arcata High School. She is also the Fine Arts Department Chair.

ABC (as she is nick-named at school) is the vice-chair of the CREATE CA Leadership Council. CREATE CA is a statewide arts education coalition of innovative thinkers working to ensure all California students reach their full potential by building an educational model that promotes innovation and creativity.

ABC is also an Adobe Education Leader, working closely with Adobe and education leaders from around the world, to support an education system that develops the creativity that drives innovation, and nurtures the new thinking skills needed in the new economy. This work is meant to follow an action based agenda that focuses on sparking young people’s creativity, giving them the tools to hone their creative skills – using advanced digital media tools and tested storytelling techniques. As the Adobe Foundation puts it, “With greater creativity, and a greater belief in their own abilities, young people will be more engaged in their education and better prepared for a fast-changing global economy.”

She is also a new media studio artist and a freelance graphic designer who specializes in branding non profit organizations via print and web.

Visual Arts  Johanna Mauro

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Johanna graduated from UC Santa Cruz as an art major in 1992. She then worked as a photographer and graphic artist for a number of years in Humboldt County. She chose to peruse a career working with children, and decided to become an art teacher. She attended HSU and received a high school art teaching credential as well as an elementary teaching credential. Johanna has taught art at Arcata High School and McKinleyville High School since 1998. She started teaching photography in 2007. She has two children (5 yrs. & 9 yrs.) which has given her a special appreciation for the way young artists explore creatively and develop artistically. She is currently working on a portfolio of infra red photography.



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.

English JoAnn Moore


JoAnn has been trained in architecture and design, business, accounting, mathematics and English. Her most recent degree is an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For the past 17 years she has taught high school English, thirteen of which were in Vermont. Now as a California transplant, when not teaching, she writes poetry, loves her very big dog, admires the ocean and continues to be awed by the magnificent Redwoods.

English Susan Clark-Luera

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Susan Clark-Luera has been an English teacher at Arcata High School for 18 years.  She has been the Junior English teacher for the Arcata Arts Institute for 10 years. She is a graduate of Humboldt State University, where she earned her teaching degree in English, and a supplementary authorization in art.  Susan is a lover of family, nature, farming, art, teaching and the written word.  Her aspiration in life is to make her community stronger and healthier through education, art and locally produced food.

Visual Arts Donovan Clark


Donovan Clark is co-founder of the Humboldt County art collective, Empire Squared. He has been showing art for Arts Alive and Arcata consistently since 2001. Local venues where his work has been featured include the Morris Graves Museum of Art and First Street Gallery in Eureka. He received his B.A. in studio art from Humboldt State University and was a recipient of the Martin Wong scholarship in painting in 2005. He possesses a single subject credential in art. Donovan has been teaching art for
the Arcata Art Institute since 2008. He is an art teacher for the Studio School, an art program for youth at Humboldt State University. And, Since 2009 Donovan has been teaching art for the Mattole Valley Charter School.

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 emphases 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.


Administrative Assistant: Tim Clewell

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Music  Howie Kaufman

Howie Kaufman is the director of the Humboldt Drum Academy and has been teaching percussion for over 20 years with a bachelors degree and a K-12 Music Education Certificate from Humboldt State University (HSU). Since 1993 he has taught percussion at the Department of Music at HSU, including classes in percussion techniques, beginning and intermediate percussion, percussion ensemble, world percussion ensemble, Afro-Cuban drumming, percussion studio lessons and more. He is a founding member of the Humboldt Calypso Band and he has performed throughout the west coast, Mexico, Cuba, Trinidad/Tobago, Brazil, and throughout Europe. Mr. Kaufman is the founder and director of the Explorations in Afro-Cuban Dance & Drum program at HSU, known throughout the world as the premiere Afro-Cuban folkloric workshop in the United States.


Music  Ruben Diaz

Ruben F Diaz was raised in LA and grew up in a family surrounded by musicians. He fell in love with guitar at a young age and was playing beautifully by the time he was a teenage boy. With the help and teachings of his father Nino Ricardo(master of the reqinto guitar)he grew up and attended the Musicians Institue of Technology where he hohned his licks and studied to became a fluent and creative player in any idium. After graduating from MIT he began playing with many great musicians over the years such as Bobby Vega, Ray White, Garrett Sayers. Mike Emerson, Jimmy Sanchez, Melvin Seals, Carlos Rios, Oscar Seaton, Mo Pleasure, Prairie Prince, Garaj Mahal, The Blue Turtle Seduction, BIAS, Moo-Gotu, Don’t Push the Clown, Three Card Monty,The former JGB & The Avalon Allstars just to name a few!!! Ruben goes beyond the common standard of guitar as we know it, with his fluent riffs and amazing chord comping techniques he adapts to any musical enviorment and makes himself a part of it. When not out on the road rocking the socks off the audiences he enjoys teaching guitar lessons in Humboldt Coutny, Ca where he resides during his downtime.

Composer, Sound Design Tim Gray

Composer, sound designer, audio engineer and musician, Tim is the resident composer and sound designer for the Dell’Arte Company.  His recent credits with the company include Mary Jane: The Musical, Blue Lake: The Opera and Three Trees  Other credits include Amerika, Or the Disappearance at Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Minneapolis,  and I Afton Skrack och Skratt at the Kulthurhuset National Theatre, Stockholm, Sweden.  Mr. Gray also composes and records music for film and television and is the owner of Myrtletown Records recording studio in Eureka, CA.  Tim Gray is a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers 2005-2007 and his work from Paradise Lost: The Clone of God has been awarded with inclusion in the United States National Exhibit to the Prague Quadrennial 2007.  Nominee – 2006 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards – sound design, Tartuffe, Marin Theatre Company.

English Julie Angles
Julie Angles has been teaching English at Arcata High School for 20 years. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she earned a B.A. in English, a minor in music, and a secondary teaching credential in English. Since moving to Humboldt County in 1991, Julie has performed in numerous theater productions, taught aerobics classes, and participated in a variety of educational organizations. Julie taught senior English with the AAI program during its first two years and is very glad to have returned last year. She is well aware of the power of the arts in education and is pleased to be surrounded by such talented students who inspire her. In fact, Julie was so inspired last year that she and a few of her colleagues formed a teacher band called “JuJu and the Plague.”  It is always a joy when the student becomes the teacher, and in AAI, that is a frequent occurrence.


Master Pattern Drafter Renee Thompson



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Renée Thompson has lived in Humboldt County for 22 years where she received her BA in fine art and her MFA in theatrical costume design. Renée has worked as a creative and technical designer for the past 12 years. She has worked independently as a freelance designer as well as with several established apparel companies. She was a technical designer for Shakespeare Santa Cruz and a designer for Kokatat Watersports Wear as well as Lucy Activewear. She now lives in Humboldt County where she is raising her daughter and running her own design company, POPPY.

Fashion Designer, Margaret Uemura

Margaret grew up in Arcata. She attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and graduated from Arcata High School in 2004. After Arcata High Margaret moved to sunny Burbank, California and attended Woodbury University School of Architecture and Design. There she studied Marketing, Fashion Design, and Textile Design. In 2006 her weaving work was selected for display in the Art on Cloth exhibit at the Judith Tamkin Fashion Center in Burbank. She brings to AAI her knowledge in sewing, pattern making, fashion figure drawing, weaving, and silk screen printing.

She is a member of Artists’ Resistance Movement for Dignity, a local artists’ collective that has done work for events such as Day of the Dead celebrations and youth education art workshops. She recently became a Gallery Exhibition Commissioner for the Ink People Center for the Arts at the Ink Annex. She is currently doing research for and developing a collection of apparel that wastes no fabric and anticipates bringing these zero waste skills to the classroom.

She recently bought a bottom whorl drop spindle and is teaching herself to spin yarn for weaving. Margaret believes that clothing design is a survival skill that everyone should have. Without it,we would all be naked and a little cold.