Debra Joy Groesser, President/CEO   •   Cheryl St. John, Vice President   •   Don Groesser, National Treasurer

Doreen St. John, Secretary   •  Vanessa Rothe, Educational Director
Charlotte Dickinson, Founding Member

Pauline Ney, Marjorie Bradley, William Schultz - Founding Members

Debra Joy Groesser, President/CEO

Nebraska artist, Debra Joy Groesser is best known for her impressionistic landscape paintings, particularly her plein air work. Debra's ability to render emotion, mood and a sense of place draws collectors worldwide to her work.

"Painting is such a spiritual experience for me. Nothing inspires me more than being out on location, capturing the subtle nuances of color, light and atmosphere that can only be achieved by painting from nature. When I find a subject that triggers a strong emotional response in me, I know that's what I have to paint. My greatest satisfaction is when the viewer has that same emotional response to my subject that I did." 

Debra has participated in countless juried and invitational exhibitions, including American Impressionist Society National Exhibitions, Oil Painters of America National and Regional shows, Salon International, Plein Air Artists Colorado National Exhibitions, Laguna Plein Air Invitational, Carmel Art Festival, Door County Plein Air Festival, and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Biennial Auction. Her work has been featured in numerous national art publications.

Debra is a signature member of the American Impressionist Society, Laguna Plein Air Painters, American Plains Artists and a Master Signature member of Plein Air Artists Colorado. 

A note from your President:

Warmest greetings to you all! It is a tremendous honor to serve as your CEO/President, and I am sincerely humbled and grateful to the AIS board and founders for the confidence and trust that they have placed in me and my husband Don, your national treasurer. I'm very much looking forward to another exciting year and to meeting as many of you as possible! AIS is a successful, highly respected art organization, carrying out the mission of promoting the appreciation of impressionism. 

AIS could not survive without the dedication of our board, officers, founders and volunteers. I want to especially thank Cheryl St John, our Vice President again this year, Vanessa Rothe, our educational director, and Doreen St John, our secretary and newsletter editor. We also thank all of our volunteers who work so hard to make our exhibitions possible. If you would like to be involved, please send us an email or give us a call!

We are so pleased to hold our 3rd Annual AIS Impressions Small Works Showcase this year at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, Michigan from June 1-August 31. And we are thrilled to mark our milestone 20th Annual National Juried Exhibition this year at the historic Salmagundi Club in New York City. We hope you will join us there to celebrate with us!  We are proud to offer many demos, lectures and programs for our members in conjunction with each of these exhibitions, most at no extra charge for members, along with outstanding workshops at a reduced cost for members. We hope you will take advantage of these member benefits!

Finally, for those of you who don't know me, let me quickly introduce myself. I live in Ralston, Nebraska, a suburb of Omaha. My husband, Don, is serving his sixth four-year term as Mayor of our city. As you might expect, we are very involved in our community and enjoying serving. We have five grown children and seven grandchildren. I paint portraits and landscapes in oils, and am especially passionate about plein air painting.

Again, I am looking forward to another exciting year for AIS. It is truly an honor to serve you. 

All my best,

Debra Joy Groesser

Cheryl St. John, Vice President

Colorado artist Cheryl St. John is a fourth generation Colorado Native, with a great appreciation of nature and the environment and the preservation of both. Cheryl works in oils to create impressionistic paintings of the rocky mountains of Colorado, the high deserts of New Mexico, the colorful hillsides of Tuscany and where ever else her heart may take her. Inspiration is all around!

Painting en plein air is always a challenge to Cheryl. The ever changing light and weather conditions create a sense of urgency that translates to a spontaneous and loose interpretation of the scene. "There is nothing like painting on location to catch the feeling of the moment, a beautiful stream in backlight, the smell of lilacs blooming on a warm spring morning or a crisp fall breeze in the middle of an aspen grove", she states. She hopes that these feelings come through to the viewer and tell the story of that particular moment and the joy she felt with each brush stroke to the canvas. Cheryl studied fine art and design at The Rocky Mountain College of Art and The Colorado Institute of Art, as well as with well known artists Kim English, Michelle Torrez, Michael Workman, Ken Backhaus and Robert Spooner. She is a current member of The Art Students League of Denver, signature member of The American Impressionist Society, Plein Air Artists of Colorado, and The Colorado Watercolor Society, and Associate member of Oil Painters of America. She has won numerous awards in local and national exhibitions and is currently in corporate as well as private collections around the world.

A note from your Vice President:

A brief note to let you all know how extremely honored I am to serve as Vice President of AIS. I am looking forward to another year of working with and getting to know each of you and I fully accept the challenges ahead for 2019. I have experienced many outstanding National AIS Shows and have been grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to show my work alongside the many talented artists of AIS as an Associate member and for the last 5 years as Signature member and Vice President.

As Vice President, helping to put together a national show is no small task.... it's a challenge that requires team work and lots of late night hours. I couldn't have taken on what was required of me without the leadership and help of Debra, Don, and Doreen. They are truly a joy to work with and learn from.... something I did a lot of the past 5 years! I look forward to working on another outstanding national show as a team and can't wait to see the many amazing entries from our talented members.

Just a bit about myself....I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. My formal art education began with Rocky Mountain Institute of Art in the late 70's and Colorado Institute of Art in the 80's. Striving to make my living as an artist I entered the field of graphic design and worked for several graphic design and package design firms in the Denver area throughout the 80's and early 90's. My true passion was always in fine art though, and my heart was continually telling me to get back to painting. Finally in the early 90's I gave in and began to explore my desire for painting and enrolled in classes at the Art Students League of Denver. It didn't take long to realize this is where my lifelong passion was and decided to go for it, quit my job and paint full time! I've never looked back!

I feel so very blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to fulfill my passion as an artist. How many people can really say they love what they do? As painters we get to live our dreams by creating works of art each and every day, something I will never take for granted.

I look forward to the year ahead of working to make 2019 the best year ever as an artist and as Vice President of AIS.

All my best,

Cheryl St. John

Don Groesser, National Treasurer

Donald A. Groesser, our AIS National Treasurer, was born and raised in Weeping Water, Nebraska, where he grew up on the family farm. He holds a degree in accounting and has a wealth of business, sales and management experience, including 23 years at Union Pacific Railroad and 10 years with NCR/Teradata.

Don was one of three partners who owned an Omaha real estate firm and also he owned an auction company with his brother for many years. He recently learned that he attended the same auction school in Kansas City as the late AIS Chairman Emeritus T.R. Dickinson did! He is currently serving his 6th term (23rd year) as the Mayor of Ralston, Nebraska, (a city of 7,000 people adjacent to Omaha) and works part time in commercial real estate. He also volunteers his time serving at his church and performing benefit auctions for local charities.

Don has served as auctioneer for the Door County Plein Air Festival and for the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery AL) Biennial Art Auction for the past several years. Don and his wife Debra (AIS CEO/President) have five children and seven grandchildren.

Doreen St. John, Secretary

Doreen St.John's paintings demonstrate her love of the natural environment. “I'm inspired by the way light

and color influence what we see and feel...not only in the landscape, but also in the human form. My work is really about Relationship in the deepest sense of the word - relationships between shapes, light/shadow, and between the viewer and the artist, scene, or subject. My hope is that my work engages, evoking an emotional response or memory in the viewer, allowing my feelings to come through in the work.” Li Po, an 8th Century Chinese Philosopher, said it best:

“I would not paint a face, a rock, nor brooks, nor trees,

Mere semblances of things...but something more than these.

That art is best which to the soul’s range gives no bound.

Something besides the form, Something beyond the sound.”

Born and raised in the art center and resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan, Doreen St.John exhibited artistic ability even as a small child, receiving art instruction from Cora Bliss Taylor, a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute and a well-known local artist. Although St.John pursued undergrad and graduate degrees in education, the need to create was always a driving force. She took her first watercolor classes at the Canton Art Museum in 1980 and later studied under watercolorist Bette G. Elliott of North Canton, Ohio, for 5 years and later went on to study with nationally recognized artists, including Edgar Whitney, Frank Webb, Neil Patterson, Alan Wylie, Frederick Graff, Marilyn Hughey Phillis, Stan Miller, Marc Hanson, David Jon Kassan, Joshua Been, and others. She continues to study to improve her work, believing that growth as an artist is a lifelong pursuit, working from life as much as possible, including portrait, figure, plein air, and studio work.

St.John has gained national recognition in major juried competitive exhibitions, winning awards in both oil and pastel, and has been awarded Signature status with the Oil Painters of America, the Pastel Society of America, and the American Impressionist Society. She is represented by the Eisele Gallery of Fine Art in Cincinnati, OH, Castle Fine Art Gallery in Fort Wayne, IN, and Hudson Fine Art & Framing in Hudson, OH.

Vanessa Rothe, Education Director

Once a successful Art Director/Graphic Designer working with Disney Press and Sony, Vanessa Françoise Rothe turned to a more traditional color palette for the past 16 years as a professional fine artist, editor, curator, lecturer, art dealer, and offers her knowledge and time as the Educational Director of AIS. Vanessa brings 16 years experience as the West Coast Editor of FINE ART CONNOISSEUR and recently as writer for AMERICAN ART COLLECTOR. She is proud to have been one of the founding team members of PLEIN AIR magazine.

Rothe grew up in the artists colony of Laguna Beach, CA, the daughter to a well known fashion designer to the Hollywood stars and was painting on silk at age 8. After winning 1st place in the Senior Art contest, she received scholarships and honors in both Business-Marketing and French Literature at the University of San Diego, and University of CA, Irvine. After working in Switzerland as a graphic designer for 6 years, she became Art Director at Walter Foster Publishing. She later studied Fine Art at the Laguna College of Art and Design. She has also had the opportunity to study at fine art ateliers in France and Italy as well as directly with many professional contemporary painters, editors, curators, and writers to build her vast knowledge of the art world.

In addition to her editorial, curatorial and design work, Vanessa Françoise Rothe is a fine artist exhibiting the last 17 years alongside the Nations top artists in galleries, art clubs, as well as Museums. She is an Artist Member of the Salmagundi Art Club New York, a Signature member of the American Impressionist Society as well as its Educational Advisor, and a member of the California Art Club. She was named one of the "Artists for a new century from the Bennington Center of the Arts in 2012. Rothe began her art career with three successful solo exhibitions at Wendt Gallery in Laguna Beach. She is proud to have shown in an impressive list of group shows with todays top painters including: Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction, The Laguna Beach Art Museum, the annual American Impressionist Society Exhibitions, The California Museum of Fine Art, Artists for a New Century at The Bennington Center for the Arts, Galerie DDG in Paris, France, The Salmagundi Club in New York, J. Willott Gallery, and California Art Club exhibitions. After exhibiting at Wendt Gallery for 4 years, she opened Vanessa Rothe Fine Art Gallery in Laguna Beach.

Rothe has been curating exhibitions for such venues as The California Museum of Fine Art, the LA Art Show 2015, Arcadia Contemporary, Abend, and the Salmagundi Club New York. She is currently working with a Historical Early California Impressionist collection, and adding them to her unique exhibits in order to compare them with contemporary works, and to tie in important fine art history comparing the historical and contemporary works. She is the founder of the Paris Seminar and the American in Paris exhibitions, bringing together 15 top american artists who traveled to Paris to study the masters and influence one another, then exhibited their works together in May 2018 to LA and Paris. Rothe is the co founder of the Realism Without Borders. Vanessa was invited to be a part of a seminar in Venice, Italy for "The Alpine Fellowship” in 2015 where she was able to discuss Art and Technology today with some of the top writers, art historians, art critics, painters and poets of today, including Ian McEwan, John Burnside, Ruth Padel, Alan Lawson, Odd Nerdrum and Roger Scruton and has had her philosophical art papers accepted into TRAC the representational art conferences. Rothe is the Educational Director of the American Impressionist Society and endeavors to help create important educational events, demos, lectures and panels, for the esteemed group.

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