Ruth Chase

Artist-in-Residence for Belonging

Ruth is a California-based painter using biographical portraiture to communicate stories of compassion and insight in order to promote positive social change. Her work has an expressionist quality to it and is informed by life studies, community involvement, media and the role our environment plays in our lives. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, she has been exhibiting since 1990. She has been awarded grants as an artist and as Artist in Residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts in New York and published in Catapult Art Magazine, Huffington Post and others. She has taught at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento has recently been a featured sketch artist on The Dead Files for the Travel Channel. Her current award winning series, the West of Lincoln Project focuses on the people who grew up in - and shaped - Venice, CA, and adversity transformed into valuable life wisdom, despite gentrification. Examples of Ruth’s work can be found at

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Michael Llewellyn

Artist-in-Residence for Image Nation

Michael Llewellyn is a national award-winning photographer and teacher. His work has appeared in Time, Esquire, National Geographic, Fortune, Popular Science, Entertainment Weekly, Greenpeace, Rolling Stone and others. He has photographed Fortune 500 CEO's and celebrities including Wynton Marsalis, Rodney Dangerfield, Dana Carvey, Gene Wilder, Rosie O'Donnell, Rage against the Machine, Van Halen, and K.D. Lang. His innovative work, acknowledged for its unique style & technical excellence by his peers, has won awards from Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, Kodak International, Hasselblad, American Photography, Photo District News, Applied Arts, Uber Morgan, Blad and the British Journal of Photography. Recent examples of Michael’s work can be found here –

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John Deaderick

Artist in Residence for ACTING UP

John is an actor, director and playwright, with a special fondness for Beckett, Albee, Shakespeare and Euripides. He is a member of Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and has been in over 200 plays, films and commercials. He has also acted and presented for radio – with KXPR in Sacramento and KVMR in Nevada City.  John directed Nevada County Arts Council in the early 80s, and chaired the Drama Department at Colfax High School for many years. He now teaches Acting and Theatre History at Sierra College in Rocklin and at Sierra College’s Grass Valley Campus – and, in his spare time, reviews National Theatre Live and The Metropolitan Opera Live at Sierra Cinemas.

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Nancy Schaefer

Artist in Residence and Lead Teaching Artist for ARTISTS IN SCHOOLS

Nancy is a painter and multi-media teaching artist, who, since graduating with a BFA from CSU Humboldt and the University of Chicago, has taught in San Francisco, Chicago and Mexico. Now a resident of Nevada County, Nancy teaches 3rd and 4th graders in the Grass Valley and Penn Valley School Districts. She also teaches a variety of painting classes with ArtsCool at ASiF, and at the Northern California Center for the Arts.

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Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard is an author, dance critic, teacher, and editor. A new novel is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2019.

Her first book was a memoir, The Lost Night. She was interviewed about the book by Ira Glass for an episode of This American Life; you can listen to that interview here. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Gulf Coast, ZYZZYVA,Waxwing (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), O Magazine, OZY, Canteen, Berfrois, the Arroyo Literary Review, and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Her journalism and dance writing have appeared in The New Yorker Online, the New York Times, Ballet Review, and the Hudson Review, among other publications. She wrote about dance for the San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, serving as chief Dance Correspondent for six of those. 

Rachel lives in Nevada City with her husband and daughter.

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Molly Fisk

Nevada County Poet Laureate

Born in San Francisco, poet Molly Fisk earned a BA at Radcliffe College/Harvard University and an MBA at Simmons College Graduate School of Management. In her poems, Fisk probes transitional periods in family life with clarity and wry humor. She is the author of the poetry collections Houston, We Have a Possum: Further Observations from a Working Poet; The More Difficult Beauty (2010); Listening to Winter (2000); Terrain (1998) and a volume of radio essays, Blow-Drying a Chicken: Observations from a Working Poet (2013). 

Fisk’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Marin Arts Council, and the California Arts Council as well as a Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize in Poetry, a Dogwood Prize, a Billee Murray Denny Prize, a National Writer’s Union Prize, and a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Julie Valin

Co-coordinator Poetry Out Loud and Sierra Poetry Festival

Julie is a published poet, writer, editor and self-publishing expert with her small business, Self to Shelf Publishing Services. She is a poet-teacher with California Poets in the Schools (CPITS), and was the Editor for their 2016 and 2017 Statewide Anthologies, the foreword for which was written by Molly Fisk, our inaugural Nevada County Poet Laureate, and Dana Gioia, the State Poet Laureate. Julie is a key member of our leadership teams for Poetry Out Loud, for both Nevada and Placer Counties, and for our annual Sierra Poetry Festival. She is also an accomplished website and book designer, copy editor and social media guru.

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