The Origin and Journey of Sunny Avenue Arts Studio


I chose the name Sunny Avenue

 after the street that I grew up on as a young girl.

 Moving from this street is where my love for art began…

Joanne Profile pic


How I discovered my PASSION for art   

My journey began when I moved to Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1965. I was 9 years old and in the fourth grade. We moved from Pennsylvania to have the support of family while my father left for Vietnam. This transition was a difficult time for me, so much so that my teacher, Mrs. Snyder, noticed that I was sad about my father being gone and that I was not happy about the move. Mrs. Snyder taught me how to play the piano and encouraged me to draw, color and paint. From this point on, music and art became a way for me to express my emotions. I discovered that being creative brought me great Joy.

In the late 1980′s, many art programs in elementary schools were eliminated due to budget cuts. The loss of art impacted not only my children but the whole school community as well. I strongly believed that the arts were an essential part of the curriculum so I volunteered to teach art in their school. I volunteered for many years and developed a strong interdisciplinary art program. I also created set designs and brochures for the school Talent Show and worked with all grades to paint murals in the school hallways. In 1989, I enrolled at Greenfield Community College as a Fine Arts major to pursue my love of the arts.

In 1991, I began my work as an art consultant at Westhampton Elementary School. I embraced the opportunity to teach at WES and shared my love of the arts with students and the community for many years. Over the years, I continued to develop a strong interdisciplinary curriculum, integrating the arts in all subjects. I believed that the arts enriched student learning and were an essential part of the academic curriculum. I also collaborated with area artists, wrote grants for artist-in-residence programs, and coordinated many permanent installations at WES.

The annual spring art and music program was a highlight every school year. I enjoyed the creative energy and spirit that came forth from students while they prepared for this event. In 2010, I coordinated “This Pretty Planet” festival and exhibited student artwork from this festival at Nashawannuck Gallery, The Guild Art Centre, and Westhampton Library. In 2011, I left WES to devote more time to my family and to pursue my career as an artist. My dream was to open a studio to develop myself as an artist and to continue to share my creative spirit with the world.

In 1995, I began my work at Curtis Blake Day School of American International College, a private school that provides high quality services to language learning disabled children and, more recently, to children diagnosed with nonverbal learning disabilities. I continue to design interdisciplinary art curriculum to support the students at Curtis Blake, as the visual arts strengthen critical thinking and refines cognitive and creative skills. I enjoy integrating the academic curriculum into the art program to help students learn.

In 1999, I was accepted into the Ada Comstock Program at Smith College as an Education / Art History major.  A ten year journey to fulfill yet another dream to become a certified art teacher. As a single Mom of two young children, juggling multiple jobs and going to school was a long arduous endeavor. I was only able to take 1 or 2 classes per semester up until this time due to the demands in my life. I did an internship at the Literacy Project, teaching art to students working toward their GED. An art exhibit was held of their work at the Forbes Library in 2000. I graduated from Smith College in 2003.

In 2001, I established “Sky’s the Limit” summer art enrichment program for children from ages 7 – 9. Three dimensional projects were designed to challenge and stimulate student’s interests and abilites. A FUN environment for self-expression. I explored other creative opportunities and classes during the summer months, i.e, Art Therapy Workshops with Laura Seftel, Zea Mays Printmaking and graduate coursework at UMass.

In 2010, I was nominated and received the Grinspoon Excellence in Teaching Award to acknowledge my Excellence in Teaching Practices and my Positive Impact on Children and the Community.

.grinspoon award

In April 2013, I began work teaching creative art experientials in a group setting at the Gandara Center in Holyoke, MA. I enjoy inspiring and providing a time for all participants to explore and discover insights for personal growth and transformation. My work at Gandara is an opportunity for me to share the joys of self-discovery through the visual arts.

In May 2013, my dream of opening a studio came to fruition. I received a call that a studio space had become available at Paragon Arts & Industry, and voila, “Sunny Avenue Arts Studio” was born with love and great Joy from my life journey that started on Sunny Avenue, Pennsylvania in 1965 ~ “Shine On”.

In December 2014, I closed the physical location of Sun Ave Studio. Closing Sun Ave was a difficult decision. I loved my studio space! Yet, due to low enrollment and personal reasons, I had no choice but to do so. I had hoped to reestablish Sun Ave in my home at Hampden House but medical challenges prevented the fruition of that vision.

In late March 2015, I became engaged to Thomas W. Florez. 

On June 3, 2015 ~ Tom and I were married in Veteran’s Memorial Park, Holyoke, MA. Preparing to move to another state became the focus of all my energy as Tom had relocated in late August 2014 to work in West Palm Beach, FL.

July 5, 2015 ~ On the road to West Palm Beach, FL. ~ Aurevoir Massachusetts!

July 12, 2016 ~ Moved to Port St. Lucie.

January 1, 2017 ~ Happy New Year!!!

joanne ocean meditation




                                 * I am grateful to my teacher, Mrs. Snyder,

                                    who inspired me to discover my creative spirit.

 creativity is contagious