I am from a family of artists, artisans, art lovers and owners of an arts center, so art always has been, is and will be a significant part of my life.

I am honored to serve on the board of directors of the nonprofit REAL Academy of Art Colorado, the only art school in the state to receive certification from the world-renowned Art Renewal Center.

REAL’s Art Director is the extraordinarily talented realism painter Ali Ghassan Al-Zobaede — one of relatively few artists to be named a “Living Master” by ARC. Ali was an internationally award-winning painter living and teaching happily in his hometown of Babel, Iraq, when war broke out, forcing him and his wife to flee with nothing. I cannot tell you how happy I am that they found refuge here in the United States and that Ali — a newly minted U.S. citizen — took any jobs he could, saved every cent he could, took every English-language lesson he could, to reestablish himself as an art instructor.

It literally has taken years for people to realize a Living Master lives among us. But the word is out! REAL’s enrollment is growing, and its future is very bright. I am honored to be part of its journey — and legacy.

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